Les Rooks montants (Ebooks)
Les Rooks montants (Ebooks)
Les Rooks montants (Ebooks)

Les Rooks montants (Ebooks)

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Lire un échantillon

Alors que Damsport fait face à la guerre civile, Longinus coupe les cheveux de Rory…
Ne manquez pas le dernier volet de la série La Vipère et l'Urchin !

Les Rising Rooks, les rebelles de Rookery, montent une attaque contre Garrata qui, espèrent-ils, la déstabilisera suffisamment pour affaiblir son emprise sur Damsport.

Mais non seulement la mission échoue, mais son échec provoque une rupture entre les Rising Rooks et le reste de Damsport.

Rory et Longinus se retrouvent à se retirer dans la Rookery sans le soutien du reste de la ville et sans ressources. Ils devront utiliser toute leur ingéniosité et leur style inimitable pour arriver d'une manière ou d'une autre à Garrata.

Qu'il s'agisse de couper les cheveux de Rory, de cambrioler un bureau de poste ou de créer des poisons ignobles, Rory et Longinus se battent avec tout ce qu'ils ont.

Réussiront-ils ou échoueront-ils à libérer Damsport ? S’ils tombent, au moins ils le feront avec style…

Saisissez la dernière aventure de la saga de Rory et Longinus.


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The night before a risky and potentially dangerous assault to try to deactivate the explosives Garrata had placed in Damsport’s foundations, the night before the mission that could be the first step in liberating Damsport—in short the night before one of the most important events in Rory's life—that was the night Longinus chose to cut her hair in her sleep.

They had all been staying at Susie's since the raid on the Mansion, as their respective homes would be too dangerous for them to go back to for the foreseeable future. Tess had been sent back to her family, although Longinus continued to pay her salary so she wouldn’t find herself in a bad financial position.

Susie's rooms above the coffeehouse weren't quite big enough to accommodate everyone, so Rory had been sleeping in a storeroom, among the pleasant scents of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and a myriad of other spices.

The smells made the storeroom feel oddly cosy, despite being furnished only with rows of free-standing shelves on which were stacked various jars and boxes. They each had a label, some with familiar names of herbs and spices, but many were exotic, speaking of distant lands she’d yet to visit. Some she couldn’t even figure out how to pronounce. Before falling asleep the previous night, she’d read out the more exotic names, letting the foreign, unfamiliar syllables roll over her tongue, trying to imagine the countries that matched such words. She still dreamed of seeing more of the world.

For now, though, all energy was focused on finding a way to get Garrata out of Damsport. Entire days were taken with strategising sessions, continuing late into the night until Rory, exhausted, staggered into the storeroom, falling into sleep as she fell onto the futon that had been wedged between boxes. Normally Rafe shared the storeroom and the futon with her, falling with as much exhaustion as her. They didn’t have much time to talk, but it was nice to at least finish the days—or the nights—together.

Last night, though, Rafe had decided to sleep in the Rookery with the men and women he’d been training. Clearly, his presence had served as some kind of a deterrent to Longinus, who had sprung into action with his scissors the moment Rafe was out of the way.

Had Rory known, she’d have padlocked herself inside the storeroom. But how on earth were you supposed to plan for the possibility that someone—not just someone, but your closest friend—might cut all your hair in your sleep? You’d have to be on the wrong side of paranoid to anticipate that.

Rory had slept through the whole thing, only realising what had happened on waking up. Longinus had obviously been nearby, because the moment she’d yelled in shock, he’d entered to reassure her that he’d been the one to cut her hair, not some dangerous psychopath.

As if that made things better.

Her disbelief at the situation was possibly the only thing preventing her from committing murder there and then.
“Are you seriously kidding me?” she shouted for the third time, both hands rubbing the fuzz on her skull—all that remained of her hair. Longinus hadn’t just cut her hair but shaved it all off. She was almost as bald as an egg. “What kind of nutter cuts a person's hair in their sleep?”

“A very well-meaning nutter who was expecting things to turn out differently,” Longinus replied defensively. “In fact, not a nutter at all, but someone who had your best interests at heart.”

“You cut my hair off in my sleep!” Rory shouted, spraying spittle. “How the hell is that having my best interests at heart?”

Longinus wiped his cheek with a gloved finger. “In my defence, I also applied a special alchemical lotion that was supposed to ensure the regrowth of your hair while you were sleeping. By now your hair was supposed to be just the same length as it was before, except without those awful rope-like segments.”

“Well clearly you got ripped off because my hair ain't grown back, now has it?”

“Yes, it’s rather confusing…” Longinus picked up the offending bottle, frowning at the label. “This came from a highly reliable and high-quality source—I’ve never had problems with their products before. I followed the instructions exactly. I really was very careful in the way that I applied it, and—”

Rory slapped the bottle from his hands, sending it bouncing onto the futon.

“Stone the gulls, Longinus! I ain't having a go at you for the way you applied the bloody lotion on my head. I'm having a go at you for cutting my hair off in the first bloody place! I mean, I know your mind don’t work like the rest of us, but what demented part of your brain made you think this was a good idea?”

“I had it all so well planned out,” Longinus said, shaking his head. “I really don’t know what went wrong. Your hair was supposed to have grown back by now, and I have an appointment booked in about thirty minutes with a woman who can make new rope-like segments like your old ones. Just slimmer and more refined. More symmetrical. I didn’t want to get rid of your hairstyle, rather elevate it. You see? I just don’t understand why the lotion didn’t work.”

Rory wanted to bang her forehead against a brick wall. Or better yet, bang Longinus’s forehead against said wall. “We’re in the middle of a rebellion, and tonight we’re fighting Garrata’s guards. Who bloody cares about my hair!?”

“Evidently, I do. And you do, too, or you wouldn’t be so upset.”

Rory hadn’t thought it possible for her fury to increase, but it did just that. “The gods help me, if you’re gonna play the smartarse on top of it all—”

Longinus raised a finger. “And more than that, I care about you and your legacy. The risks will be high tonight, and when facing such danger, we must have our affairs in order. Death could come for any one of us, and this during an event that will possibly shape Damsport’s history. Think of posterity! I know you’re young and that doesn’t matter to you, but it will in time. Historians will write of this day. I couldn’t stand to think of them referring to you as ‘the girl with the tragic hair.’”

“Ain’t it occurred to you that they’ll just use my name instead of describing me?”

“Well, it depends on how famous you become after all this is done.”

“Alright, let’s pretend your reasoning ain’t completely crazy for a moment. Well now, them historians are gonna describe me as ‘the boy with no hair,’ ’cause being skinny as I am, and without no hair, I probably look like a boy, don’t I?”

She only just managed to stop her voice from quavering at the end. The feel of the thin layer of fuzz that covered her skull was awful. Rory felt naked without her hair, and she knew that if she stopped yelling at Longinus she was in danger of crying. She wasn’t some little milksop to cry over something like hair, but damn if she wasn’t feeling the pressure of tears behind her eyes.

Longinus cleared his throat awkwardly. “I’m sorry, I really am. I wasn't trying to upset you. It was supposed to be a nice surprise. You could have seen what your hair is like naturally when it's not all matted. And you have noticed that I was trying to help you refine your rope-like hair, right? I was trying to keep your hairstyle, just make it better.”

Rory closed her eyes, drawing every scrap of strength and patience she possessed. She spoke slowly, fists clenched. “I get that you was trying to help, Longinus, in your weird way what no one understands. But this ain't the kind of thing you do the night before a bloody attack. Not when I've got a ton of things on my plate, and loads more important things to think about today than my bloody hair. On top of which it ain’t never alright for you to cut my hair in my sleep. Ever.” She snapped her eyes open as something occurred to her. “How did you even manage to cut it all off and then shave my head without me waking up? I’m a real light sleeper.”

“Oh, you'd be amazed at what can be achieved with narcotics,” Longinus replied breezily.

His expression quickly dropped back to something more contrite when Rory sent him a glare that could have turned granite to dust. “I ain't amazed. I don't wanna be amazed. I want my hair back, and I wanna know that when I sleep you ain’t gonna drug me and cut my bloody hair again!” She yelled the last couple of words.
“Fear not, I have no plans to repeat this unfortunate foray into the world of coiffure.”

“I should bloody well hope not.”

“You use the word bloody a lot, have you noticed?”

Rory loved Longinus like a brother, she really did. She’d never had a brother before, so she had no real benchmark to compare him against, but she couldn’t help but wonder if all brothers were as idiotic, annoying, and frustrating in a throttle-him-and-bang-his-head-against-a-wall kind of way. It really was a testament to how much she cared for Longinus that he was still alive. Truly.

Some of that must have shown on her features, because Longinus hastily said, “Right, right, I will leave you some peace and privacy.” He picked up the bottle and turned to leave. “I’ll find out what went wrong with the lotion, and see what can be done to remedy the, er, situation.”

“The problem ain't the bloody potion,” Rory said as he walked out the door. “The problem is you cutting my hair in my bloody sleep!”

Longinus hurried away, and she slammed the door after him. She pressed both hands up to her temples where she could feel a headache building. This was not starting out as a good day.

* * *

Once she felt calmer, Rory headed out of the storeroom to get on with the day. Since Brandt and those working for Garrata wouldn’t know of Rory and Longinus’s association with Susie, the coffeehouse and lodgings in the upper floors had turned out to be the perfect place to set up headquarters for the Rising Rooks.

The sleeping situation at Susie’s was a hodgepodge of futons and sleeping mats laid about Susie’s suite of rooms as well as within the coffeehouse. For a time there had even been a few people sleeping in the coffeehouse’s kitchen, although that had caused problems. The people had been from the Rookery and hadn’t been able to resist the opportunity to steal food and kitchenware.

Rory wasn’t angry—she understood. It was as ingrained as the reflex of squeezing your eyes shut when something came flying at your face. Rookery folk were reliable, truly they were—it was just that most of the time they could be relied on to rob you blind. Sometimes, though, they could be relied on for other things as well, and if you knew to expect the thefts, you could take appropriate measures so that it wasn’t a problem.

The Rising Rooks weren’t trying to sabotage the cause, they just weren’t thinking much further than the immediate future. The thieves had been made to give all the stolen loot back, and they’d done so apologetically, explaining they didn’t think it would be missed, since ‘posh folk got so much stuff, it’s coming out their ears.’ Given half the chance, they’d have explained how, in fact, they’d done Susie a favour. Rory knew this because that was exactly what she’d have done a couple years ago.

The problem was that while one person stealing here and there was manageable, multiple thieves robbing Susie blind wasn’t.

This had also highlighted a larger problem. Donations of all kinds—weapons, clothes, money, food—had been steadily pouring in from the rest of the city, slowly making their way to Susie’s through various members of the Rising Rooks. Rory had no doubt that a decent amount had been skimmed from what eventually arrived at the coffeehouse. But they really couldn’t afford to have people steal the growing stash from the coffeehouse.

Those resources were going to be essential if the Rising Rooks were to do anything useful to free Damsport. So Pip and Alice had volunteered to sleep with the goods which were stored in the main room of the coffeehouse. They were very light sleepers, and both had been given incredibly loud whistles to blow the moment they heard anything.

There had been a couple of alerts early on, and Adelma had done what Adelma did best, convincing the would-be thieves that any repeat attempts would be extremely bad for their health. It hadn’t taken long for the robbery attempts to stop. And a good thing, too—yesterday Smythson, Damsport’s largest weapons dealer, had delivered a whole set of weapons ahead of this evening’s attack. They couldn’t afford to have that go missing.
Rory slipped down the service corridor towards the main room, where she knew there would be food laid out for the day.

“Oh my God, Rory! What happened to your hair?”

Rory turned to find Rafe hurrying towards her from the back entrance, his eyes full of concern. Her stomach sank. She didn’t want Rafe to see her like this. Looking like…like a boy.

“Did something happen? Are you alright? Are you…” Rory saw Rafe's eyes drift over to look at someone behind her.
She spun around to find Longinus at the end of the corridor, in the middle of making frantic ‘abort’ gestures. He froze as their eyes met and gave her a sheepish grin, letting his hands fall to his sides.

Rory turned slowly back to face Rafe, feeling her anger rise up again. “If you wanna know what happened to my hair, ask the soon-to-be dead man behind me. And that man, if he knows what's good for him, better not still be here when I turn again or he’ll go from soon-to-be-dead to actually dead, quick sharp.”

“Right-oh,” Longinus said quickly. “Point received. I had come back to, er… never mind. As I said before…um… I’ll give you space and privacy…” Rory heard him hurrying away.

“What happened?” Rafe asked. “I was only gone one night.”

“Apparently that's quite enough for Longinus to cause some serious damage,” Rory replied glumly.

Rafe put an arm around her and ushered her through into the main room. Susie's coffeehouse was officially closed for renovations, so they had the whole place to themselves. The so-called renovations allowed Rising Rooks members to come and go, disguised as tradespeople, without attracting attention. Deliveries were made or parcels were collected, hidden among the building materials. Susie had been absolutely incredible in helping with the rebellion effort.

The main room of the coffeehouse was a comfortable space decked out in burgundy velvet and dark varnished wood tables, with booths and partitions for privacy. The dark colours and tinted glass at the windows made it impossible for anyone to see anything from outside.

Now, though, the partitions and most of the tables were pushed out of the way, making spaces for boxes and crates. The futon Pip and Alice slept on was in front of the donations, so anyone wanting to get to the goods had to walk past them. They were gone for now, already getting on with the day’s tasks. They hadn’t had to deal with a madman cutting their hair in their sleep.

At the other end of the main room was a long trestle table on which Susie had loaded all kinds of food, so everyone could help themselves throughout the day. It was the perfect setup, given that everyone was constantly coming and going at all hours of the day.

Rafe handed Rory a plate, and she began heaping food onto it. Corn and coriander fritters, fried tempeh with peanuts and chilli, turmeric rice, and several ladles of jackfruit and pumpkin curry. There was no meat, so the dishes could be left out all day in the Damsian heat without spoiling.

“So tell me what happened?” Rafe asked her.

Rory brought him up to date in a few terse sentences.
Rafe shook his head in disbelief. “How on earth does he think up things like that?”

“Beats me, but now I'm left looking like a boy.” This time Rory’s voice wavered. She hated how upset she was over this. But she wasn’t exaggerating—she really looked like a boy. And what would Rafe think? That thought made her want to run and hide.

“Well actually, in a weird way, I think it suits you,” Rafe said.

That, she hadn’t expected. “You ain’t seriously taking his side?”

“Course not. No matter which way you look at it, cutting someone's hair in their sleep is a seriously messed-up thing to do. And the way he justified doing it is… the man’s mind is so weird it should be studied. But it kind of suits you—probably because your features are so fine. Like a little pixie. And it brings out your eyes. It’ll be nice when your hair goes back to normal, but you still look great.”

Rory stared down at her plate for a heartbeat, her face growing uncomfortably hot. And then she looked up at him again. “Do you really mean it?” Her voice came out small and insecure. Pathetic.

But the thought of Rafe no longer finding her attractive made her feel—she didn’t want to think about that. The gods knew she wasn't the prettiest of girls, even with hair. So now…

Rafe put down his plate and crooked a finger under her chin, lifting it up until she was looking him in the eyes. “There's a lot of things I like about you, Rory. And yes, your hair was one of them. But that's far from the only reason I find you amazing, and I still find you just as amazing now, without hair.”

He reached down and kissed her gently. When they pulled apart, Rory gave him a shy smile, her heart fluttering like a bird in a cage. “I feel like such an idiot for even worrying about it. I mean at the end of the day –"
Rafe kissed her again, probably to shut her up. It was remarkably effective.

By the time they broke apart, she felt better. “What about you? You were alright, sleeping alone last night?”

Rafe tended to sleep better when Rory was there. It helped keep the voices at bay, settled his mind.

“You mean did I talk to teacups?” Rafe broke into a smile.
That was the joke they'd come up with, their shared code language for the fact that Rafe still sometimes heard his mother’s voice in his head. He feared that one day he’d grow mad like her. She’d spoken to teacups, back when she’d been alive, and Rory and Rafe found it better to jokingly refer to it, rather than dive into an intense moment or ignore it.

“Teacups were quiet all night,” Rafe said. “I didn’t feel the urge to talk to any of them. Not even to a teapot.”

Rory grinned. Since he’d come clean about his past and all the things that were bothering him, Rory was amazed at how much he’d changed. It was nothing big, but rather a multitude of little relaxations that she could see in the way he moved, the way he talked, even the way he smiled. And the fact that they were able to joke about his mother's voice seemed to have somehow brought them closer together.

“Don't worry about me,” he added. “I’m fine.”

And unlike before, Rory knew that he genuinely meant it, which was a relief. The possibility of turning mad like his mother still hung over him like a dark cloud, but it was a cloud that now had shafts of sunlight coming through it.
This time she kissed him, twining her arms around his neck.

“Oi, you two lovebirds, get a room! Or at least get out of my way. This is heavy.” Adelma walked in carrying a large crate. “More stuff from Smythson. That woman's really come through—there's both guns and ammo in here.

Don't think I've ever seen anyone as gifted at finding crates what fall off the back of steam wagons.” Adelma grinned. “Come to think of it, I ain’t never known anyone so good at convincing steam wagons that crates should fall off the back of them.”

She looked as strong and imposing as ever. If Rory hadn't known that a few weeks ago she'd been a complete wreck, there would have been no way for her to tell.

Adelma carried the crate with her good left hand, the mechanical pincer hand that Cruikshank had made clamped around the right crate handhold. She’d been training relentlessly, both to increase strength and improve her ability to operate with the mechanical hand. Veins bulged on her bare biceps, muscle straining beneath her dark skin. The artificial hand only served to increase her strength, and there seemed to be nothing that she couldn’t punch or lift.

In short, there was no trace left of the woman who had fallen so spectacularly apart. She was so confident with the artificial limb that it seemed she'd had it for years. It was so good to see, it never failed to cheer Rory up, and this time was no exception.

Hair could grow back, after all. It wasn’t a big deal. If Adelma could get used to a fake hand, Rory could get used to being bald.

“Perfect, I was waiting for this,” Rafe said. He took a step towards Adelma, paused, and looked back at Rory. “Are you going to be alright? I need to get these out to my sharpshooters.”

Rory nodded. “I’ll be fine.”

Adelma frowned. “What happened to your hair? Why d’you cut it all off?”

“I ain't explaining that again.” Rory picked up her plate and headed out for the coffeehouse's reception. There would be a lot of people coming and going today, and it was her turn to act as pretend receptionist, turning away any real customers and dealing with any of the Rising Rooks, directing them and their cargo to the right places.

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Hi! I'm Celine

I write different flavours of fantasy with a twist, but always with one uniting thread: quirky, flawed characters and heart-warming found families.

My books span the sub-genres of steampunk (but set in a secondary, tropical world) urban fantasy (set in Asia and London) and gothic gaslamp fantasy.

I'm French, grew up in the UK, and for the last few years I've been living a life of nomadic adventure, exploring the world with my laptop as my constant companion. My adventures have been a great source of inspiration for my stories.

These days I'm trying to figure out where in the world I might stop and setup some bookshelves.

I love to hear from readers, so feel free to contact me at celine@celinejeanjean.com.

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