Chapter Ten: “A Question of Faith”
Rojer flipped through the report again. A factory nearly destroyed and not a thing to show for it besides knowing there was now at least four revenants in the city. He shook his head and let the folio fall to the desk at his side. He then looked up at the seven men sitting in the briefing room before him. Constables, every one of them, and each having dealt with the revenant issues under Wynfeld Black. They were chosen for their experience, which even as little as it was, outstripped Rojer’s. He had never been on the lines, had never fought revenants. Shane and Megyn had, but Rojer was hardly about to let a sergeant show up his captain, and Megyn was off at the cathedral for her break. That left this to Rojer.
“Alright,” Rojer said. “They trashed the factory. You could have told me that before we started. What else do we know?”
The constables shifted in their seats uneasily, and Viggler, their nominal chief, stood up.
“Sir, we know they entered from the street, making no effort to hide their actions. This would lead us to believe they think they’re untouchable. Likely they’re bulletproof, sir.”
Rojer shook his head. Even without direct knowledge, he had at least read the reports and studies. The same ones that Viggler had been given to read as well, not that Rojer expected the man of having actually read them. He had a growing suspicion the man could not even read, and probably only knew how to sign his own name, which was barely legible as it was on the reports.
“No, they are not bulletproof, chief. Yes, they might not mind being shot as much, but enough lead will stop even the most modified revenant. Besides, if they were so far gone as to be considered invincible, they would hardly be able to blend into the population, now would they?”
“Ah, well, coats and cloaks, perhaps,” Viggler said. “The other one, the one that Chief Black was hunting, was able to hide what he was with long sleeves and a tall collared coat.”
“And I doubt he was bulletproof,” Rojer said. “Remember, the more modified the revenant, the large his steam reservoir needs to be. Someone who was armored enough to be bulletproof would need a tank larger than him to run.”
Viggler narrowed his eyes, not even trying to hide his distain for Rojer. “Then what do you think it means, them breaking in like that?”
“It means they think they’re untouchable,” Rojer said. “Or that they wanted to be seen. Or that they’re just idiots. I don’t know, Chief, I’m not the constable here, now am I? I’m just a military liaison here that is supposed to keep you from making completely ludicrous conclusion. If it wasn’t for me, you’d still think that revenants could fly!”
Technically it was Megyn that had pointed out that flaw in the constables’ reports, but a proper captain knew how to take the credit for his subordinate’s work.
Viggler was red, but he at least had the good grace to sit down instead of continuing on. But from the look on the constable’s face, Rojer made a mental note not to take any shortcuts down dark alleys on his way home tonight.
“Right, dismissed,” Rojer said.
The constables started to get up as the door in the back of the room opened and Megyn came running in. When she saw the constables standing to leave, she stopped and straightened her coat.
“One moment, gentlemen,” she said. “Captain, may I see the report?”
Rojer frowned and nodded over to where the folio was on the desk. “What’s this about, Lieutenant?”
“I just need to confirm something.” She picked the report up and quickly leafed through it. “As I thought. Chief Viggler, did your men search the debris in the furnace room?”
Viggler looked around. “What?”
“I’ll take that as a no,” she said. “I think we should head back the factory and take a closer look.”
Rojer grabbed Megyn by the elbow and pulled her to a corner. “What is this about?”
“I received some new information about the crime,” she said. “I’m following up on it. That is all, Captain.”
“New information?” he said. “From where? Did Troena descend from on high while you were in the cathedral? Tell you to go dig around in the rubbish?”
She pulled back from him and sneered. “I would appreciate it if you would not make light of the church.”
“I let you go to your little pout sessions with the priests,” Rojer said. “But do not assume I’m going to start letting you lead us around by the nose because of some haunch you had while you were muttering to yourself over folded hands.”
“It was not a message from Troena,” she said. “If you must know, it was actually Lord Shadow.”
Rojer took a step back. “Really? I would never have thought of him as a pious man, much less one to go worship in the Royal Cathedral. Or was that where you were?”
“I was,” she said. “And I doubt he was there to pray. He gave me the information and left.”
“And what information was that, exactly?”
“That we should examine the furnace room more thoroughly,” she said. “That there was something important we would find.”
Rojer shook his head. “I doubt that, and you would be wise to simply ignore anything that comes to you from Shadow. With luck, he’ll leave you alone after you fail to act on one of his hints.”
“But, if there is some clue—”
“Oh, there will be,” Rojer said. “But I ask you, why is it there? Why did Shadow tell us, or more specifically, you? The man has his reasons. He plays his own game, Lieutenant, and to an end none of us can see, I am sure.”
“That sounds oddly responsible of you, Captain,” Megyn said. “So, what is it really? Are you just angry that he talked to me instead of you? Maybe that he had information that your contacts in the underground did not give you?”
Rojer grit his teeth. “You are walking a thin line, Lieutenant.”
“Then give me one good reason we should not go take a second look at the crime scene?”
Rojer clinched his fists. He had already given her a good reason, but she was right. Rojer had been contacted by Shadow before, and that he now chose to give information to Megyn was salt in a wound. Most of Rojer’s underground contacts had dried up since theLogain Streetincident. It turned out that thieves did not overly care for it when it became whispered knowledge that you had backstabbed one of them.
“Fine,” he said. “We’ll go see what bit of evidence Shadow has planted, and I’m sure that is exactly what it will be.”
She forced a smile. “We’ll see when we get there, won’t we, sir?”
“Yes, we will.” He stepped back towards the constables. “Chief Viggler, ready some carriages. We’re going back to the crime scene.”
* * *
Jaeger flipped through the report again. Constable Viggler had delivered a copy on his way to meet with Captain Hares, but Jaeger had known what it would say even before he read it. The broadsheets had pounced on the latest revenant sighting like half-starved leopards. Three days of peace, although he had never relaxed, never thought or even dared hope that just maybe the problem had fixed itself, that the revenants had quit or moved on. No, he knew they were just biding their time for something, and the fear of what it had been had kept him up at night.
He looked up and shrugged. On the other side of the desk, Lord Holmes had an expression much as if he had bitten into an unripe grapefruit.
“I don’t know what you expect me to say,” Jaeger said. “The factory was attacked, but beyond that is was by revenants, there does not seem to be much more I can tell you at the present junction.”
“You can tell me that you’re on the trail of the men that did this,” Holmes said. “That justice will be served. That is your responsibility, isn’t it, Count Jaeger? The safety of the city?”
Jaeger sighed and folded his hands. “You know, I actually studied to be a constable once, when I was still young at theVoxfeldianUniversity. Learned quite a bit before I shifted my studies away for various reasons, so, allow me to give you some insight about why this is not quite like a normal crime, shall I?”
“I don’t see—”
Jaeger held up a hand to beg patience. “Normally, a regular criminal or gang of criminals commit a crime, and the constables go and collect evidence. They interview witnesses, look for motives and suspects, and then make their arrests at a place where the suspect can be reasonable expected to be found. Now, we have descriptions of these criminals, but it is somewhat hard to track them down. Normally, criminals blend into society, have friends and enemies we can use to trace them. These revenants, though, do not mingle with the underground. People don’t know where to find them on a given night. They are more wraiths than criminals, truly, existing only to commit their crimes.”
“Also, before now, all of our revenant related crime was mindless. Random killings, petty thefts, minor property destruction. This is the first major crime they have committed.”
“But why my factory?” Holmes said. “Why target me?”
Jaeger leaned back. “You tell me, Holmes. Have you upset anyone recently that would want to publicly hurt you like this? Someone who would think to use revenants and target a factory instead of, oh say, the bank you chair or your manor?”
“I am a pillar of this community,” Holmes said. “Of the country! You know that. As to why the factory, probably for the lasting damage. It’ll take weeks to set it back to rights, if the Meisters’ Guild ever agrees to fix it.”
“The guild?” Jaeger said. “Are they asking some exorbitant amount for the contract?”
“If only,” Holmes said. “It might be extortion, but I’d just pay it and file it with my insurance if that was the case. No, they’re taking their time processing the request. They said they won’t even be able to get out to the look at the damage and give me a quote until next week!”
Jaeger smiled. “That’s funny, I thought you and Qristina were on such good terms, what with that horrible law you helped to force through.”
“She is a brazen hussy that has no respect for authority,” Holmes said. “Wait, that’s it! The Guild is under the authority of Sunset House. You could order them to make my factory a priority!”
Jaeger’s smile broadened, and Holmes leaned back, obviously confused.
“Would that I could,” Jaeger said. “But, unless you’ve not noticed, any attempt I make at strong arming the Guild only results in Prince Dorian countermanding my orders, apologizing to Tesma, and then growling at me for a week to not test him.”
“And, while I’m at it, why don’t I point out that the entire reason this crime wave is going unanswered is because Dorian refuses to let me draft new constables. He says the benefit would not justify the expenditure, that the city’s budget is already being cut for other, more important projects on the national level. Tell me, Holmes, why is it that whenever Dorian cuts my purse strings, I’m the one that people come to blame?”
Holmes had the grace to appear abashed at first, but as Jaeger continued on, his face contorted from shame to fury. He stood up and grabbed his cane from where it lay against the desk.
“Count Jaeger, remember you are speaking to the Lord Chancellor! I will not be lectured to by the likes of you, some popinjay that is more foreign than not. I think you learned too much at that vauntedVoxfeldianUniversityand none of it good. You are the Sunset Count, and you are tasked with the safety of this city. See to it. Good day!”
He stormed off, and Jaeger leaned back and sighed. He had not meant to go as far as he had with his little lecture, but he could not make himself truly want to take the words back. When the city flourished, Prince Dorian was always the one congratulated, but if even one sewer started to back up, Jaeger was who heard about it. He had known being the Sunset Count would be a thankless job, but knowing it and living it were too different things.
He looked up at his mantelpiece and noticed the time. Holmes had been an unexpected visitor, and thus perhaps it was good that he had left so suddenly and in a huff. The man was renowned for talking for hours if given the chance, and Jaeger had an appointment he had been trying to arrange for a week, and for once, it was one he had to go to instead of waiting for it to come to him.
Normally, only the king and crown prince could require the Sunset Count to attend them. It was, Jaeger had found, one of the few perks of power he was afforded that even dukes were expected to meet him in his own office. Sadly, a third man had recently come to the city that could expect the Sunset Count to come calling on him, and it was this man Jaeger wanted to meet.
He locked his office and walked quickly to the other side of the castle, where the Royal Cathedral faced to the southwest, as was traditional. The pews were mostly empty, but an altar boy stood at the end of the nave as diligent as any page. Jaeger did not even have to speak to the boy, and soon as he was at the railing that separated the laity from the priesthood, the altar boy opened the gate and guided him back to a set of offices off of the transept. Jaeger walked in, went to a knee, and kissed the ring on an outstretched hand.
“Raise, my child,” Cardinal Anglind said. “Come, be seated.”
Jaeger found his seat as the Cardinal dismissed the altar boy with a gesture and moved around to the other side of his desk. This office had been unused for quite some time: there had not been a sitting cardinal in Tijervyn for over a century, ever since the Great Cathedral was completed in Dunhold, near the Voxfeldian border. It must have taken the altar boys and church attendants several days to make the room usable again.
“So,” Anglind said. “What can I do for you, my child?”
“Your Eminence,” Jaeger said. “I was hoping I could speak with you about a subject not strictly ecclesiastical. In particular, I understand that you were acquainted with Lady Kanadis while she was in Adervyn.”
“Ah, Lady Vorrena she was then,” Anglind said. “I was of a passing acquaintance with her, yes. I must admit, she was not often at my services, but then, I would not have expected her to be. My offices and congregation were in the Cloister District, and she spent much of her time in the ducalpalaceofGerra.”
“Still, she was at court, yes?” Jaeger said.
“You have a question you wish to ask,” Anglind said. “Please, do not hedge with me and simply ask. I am a busy man and do not have time for all of these politics, Count.”
Jaeger swallowed. The problem with the clergy, he had always found, was that they were as mired in politics as much as anyone, but always refused to admit it.
“I am curious of her association with Meister Lazris. She has mentioned that she spoke with him often.”
“That I can confirm,” Anglind said. “I do recall seeing her talking to him at numerous court functions. I normally can’t say I follow such things, but she does so stand out, what with that Kanadis fire in her hair.”
“And do you know what her opinion of the revenants were?” Jaeger said. “Did she speak out against their use at all?”
Anglind tilted his head to one side and folded his hands. “Count Jaeger, I am unsure of exactly what you are driving at, but let me assure you, Lady Kanadis is a devout Troenan and abhors those monstrosities as is right and fitting. I have even seen her reading the Sermon of Purity to the infirm, spreading the truth of the evil that is this so-called Secret of Silver.”
“So you don’t think she would have a revenant in her employ?” Jaeger said. “Perhaps in secret?”
“That is not for me to say,” Anglind said. “But I do not appreciate you slandering a noble lady with such calumnies.”
Jaeger sighed. “I was just asking questions, Your Eminence, and I often find that the question we were loath to ask was the one we should have.”
“Then consider your loathsome duty adequately fulfilled,” Anglind said. “Will there anything else, my child?”
Jaeger licked his lips and looked around. Even if the room had been in continuous use, he doubted the décor would have changed. The heavy mahogany finish and dark, rich drapery spoke more heavily of the glory of Old Gorlido than even the Cardinal’s robes. The next question would be tricky, but again, it had to be asked.
“Actually, my other business is more to your office,” he said. “I wish to speak with you about your recent sermons and the edicts you have sent out to the priests and bishop.”
“You are speaking of Doctrine of Purity.” Anglind’s voice told Jaeger he was on unsure footing. “What of it?”
“Yes, well, I am sure you’ve heard: we’ve had a rash of revenant related crimes in the past weeks. It is the feeling of Sunset House that your edict might be exacerbating the problems. It is bad enough when people read the broadsheets and see another revenant crime, but when they are being frightened half to death at the services as well, it makes for a very nervous population. We are already dealing with riots enough as it is.”
“You are suggesting that I not spread the word of Troena to these people?” Anglind said. “That I not education them on a very real example of Praedin’s evil?”
“Hardly,” Jaeger said. “But I think you will find it in the better interest of the people if we do not alarm them. We would all sleep a little better at night, I think.”
“Tell me, Count, since when was a person’s soul accounted less important than your sleep? No, I will not retract my edicts for your petty politics and failings. Perhaps the people will grow tired of the Adervynian Devilry and take care of the issues on their own. You would only be so lucky.”
“Painting revenants as villains is not going to solve anything.” Jaeger felt his temper slipping. “I thought the Sthavara sent you here to help bridge the divide between Adervyn and Sentat, not make it wider. Preaching that all of our problems are the fault of revenants is not going to turn people against revenants, it will only fester the wounds the war left.”
“Just what are you suggesting?” Anglind said. “That I defend these monsters? Let me tell you something, Count Jaeger. I went before the Regents of Adervyn when they were considering the Reclamation Project. I warned them they were not only damning the souls of the men they turned into these monsters, but their own souls as well. They did not listen. They have unleashed an evil upon this world, and it is apologists like you that will allow us to be consumed in it. Only the systematic eradication of the halfman plague will save us. There are those in the Sthavara that agree with me, and I can only hope those that don’t will see the light soon. All halfmen will descend into wickedness, and it is my sacred charge to protect my flock from that.”
“But, Your Eminence—”
“Get out,” Anglind said. “If you see the error of your ways, I will take your confession, but know that you place your immortal soul in peril with your words. I will pray that Troena lift this veil of shadow from your eyes.”
“I said good day.”
Jaeger stood, then went to his knee and kissed the offered ring again. He had burned a bridge today, but he was unsure of how he could have avoided it. The altar boy led him out, and made his way to his office, where he locked himself inside and nursed a decanter of bourbon, lost in thought.
* * *
Megyn walked into the old factory and stopped. She had read the report, but she could not believe how much damage had truly been done. Rojer walked up next to her and frowned.
“Well, this is a right mess,” he said.
“Show some respect,” she said. “People died here last night.”
“Oh please,” he said. “I’m sure you saw plenty worse in the war.”
“And what does it say that I’m still moved by this and you aren’t?” She glared at him then moved deeper into the factory, following the nominal path the constables had picked through the wreckage. Ahead of her, one of the patrolmen was looking at a side door. He then glanced back and saw her.
“Yes Constable Snette?”
“I think someone broke in here.”
Rojer laughed. “Oh, just figured that out, did you? I wonder why there’s such a crime wave, with such powerfully deductive minds in our constabulary.”
“I mean again, sir,” Snette said. “This door was still locked when we responded earlier this morning. Now its open, and the lock looks like it was picked.”
Megyn frowned and drew her pistol. “Weapons out, men. There might be hostiles here. Make a sweep of the place, teams of two.”
The constables looked at her in confusion, and Viggler stifled a laugh.
“You heard the lady. Make sure we’re alone, eh?” He turned to her. “Probably just some scavengers come to see if the thieves missed anything else.”
“Awful lot of effort,” Rojer said. “Not like there wasn’t a giant hole right in the front of the building they could have used instead of picking a lock.”
Viggler shrugged. “Who knows how the criminal mind works, eh Captain?”
“I’d hope you would, chief,” Megyn said. “Why don’t you go help your men check over the factory again.”
Viggler looked to Rojer, but he was looking wistfully up through a skylight, probably daydreaming that he was anywhere but here. Viggler turned around in a huff and followed the other constables deeper into the factory.
“Right then, I guess that makes this a little easier,” she said. “The furnace room is this way. Shall we see what it is we are supposed to see?”
“If you insist,” Rojer said. “Although, whatever it is, I think I’ll put about as much stock in it as I do the rest of veiled hints and directions that come out of a cathedral.”
She ignored his jape. This was hardly the first time he had tried to draw her into a religious debate.
“How have you been enjoying Cardinal Anglind’s sermons?” he said. “I imagine attending your services in the Royal Cathedral is quite the step up from that hovel in the slums. I hear he’s a real fire and brimstone kind of gent.”
“He’s Adervynian,” she said.
“And about as anti-revenant as they come,” Rojer said. “Funny, that. I hear the Regents dismissed the Doctrine of Purity as rubbish during the war, and now they’re trying to make it look like they never wanted revenants in the first place so they can get back in the Sthavara’s good graces.”
“As well they should,” she said.
“So you agree?” he said. “You think revenants are all inherently evil, doomed to damnation because someone stuck a spike in the back of their heads without asking?”
She stopped and looked back at him. “Are you saying they aren’t?”
“I’m just taking a practical approach to it,” Rojer said. “You may have seen the war, Lieutenant, but I think that I’ve seen more of the evil man has to offer. It isn’t on the battlefield where the greatest sins are committed, let me assure you. But then, you already know that, don’t you?”
“I never said revenants were the only evil.” She frowned, again mad at herself for ever thinking that her vigilante forays into Docktown had gone unnoticed by a man who made it his business to notice things.
“Are they, though?” he said. “I wonder if it might be a matter of circumstance instead. What would happen if you or I were made into revenants, but were still allowed to live our lives unmolested? Would we be robbers and killers within the week? Or would your self-anointed crusade in Docktown suddenly be the work of Praedin instead of the hand of Troena?”
“Stop trying to sound clever, Rojer,” she said. “You don’t pull it off very well. What is right and good is right and good, regardless of who does it.”
“So even a revenant can be an angel,” he said.
She did not answer, but instead quickened her pace regardless of the treacherous footing. She knew, deep down, that revenants were evil. It was not just the war. It was not just the Doctrine of Purity. It was something else, a belief she had to hold onto. In a world where good was so hard to find, there had to be obvious evil. She was sure of it.
But her mind kept going back to Markus. He was a thief, and if some of the reports were talking about him, likely a murderer. A monster. And yet, she had liked him. He had been a friend, a kindred spirit who understood the horrors of war. He had even understood what she was doing in Docktown, even if he could not bring himself to join her.
It was a conundrum, but Father Morgan had always said that was what faith was meant to be. If the answers were simple, then keeping faith would be easy, and then it would not mean very much. But she would keep her faith, even if she did not know the answers. She wished she could talk to Father Morgan, but she did not know what she would do if she saw Markus again. She could try and talk to the Bishop, or perhaps even the Cardinal, but neither of them seemed to have the understanding Morgan did. They saw the world in black and white, the way Megyn wished she could see it. Morgan understood the gray, though, and that was what she needed.
They reached the furnace room, and sure enough it was just as shattered as the rest of the foundry. Rojer just stood in the door, looking bored, but she started to pull aside fallen sheets of metal and racks of tools, wondering what she was supposed to find. Lord Shadow had not said anything more than to look again. Was it supposed to be something he planted, and he had not had the chance yet? Perhaps it was really a blind alley.
She pulled the shattered remains of a bellows away and took a step back, stifling the scream that tried to come out. Under the broken steel and canvas, there was a hand. At least, that was what she thought at first, until she noticed it was made of metal. Rojer walked over and picked it up, pulling a segment of arm up with it that stopped just after the elbow.
“Well, isn’t that something,” he said.
Megyn walked over and took it from him. She had seen shattered bits of revenants before. “Looks like it was shorn off when part of the furnace fell from overhead.”
“Bet that stung,” Rojer said. “At least we know one of them is hurt.”
“Not likely,” she said. “They’re called revenants for a reason. If it isn’t fatal, they will just get repaired and be right back. They don’t even have to feel the pain of the missing arm. They can just turn it right off.”
She turned the hand around, looking at it. It was amazingly good craftsmanship, better than most of what she saw in the war, even. Whoever was making these revenants, they were good and well funded.
As she turned the hand around, one of the plates covering the forearm came loose and fell down. Rojer picked it up and laughed.
“Well, would you look at that?”
He held the plate so Megyn could clearly see the engraved Meisters’ Guild symbol on the underside.
“This is what we were meant to find,” she said. “Let’s take it back to Count Jaeger, see what he wants to do.”
“Fine by me.” Rojer looked around and found a burlap tarp, which he used to wrap up the arm. “Let’s go earn our pay, shall we?”
* * *
Maaike smiled as she looked down into the salon from the elevated promenade. Below, several nobles were gossiping, and she could just barely hear some of the louder remarks. Of course, she had not just heard the gossip, but had been present for what started it all. In the middle of court, Cardinal Anglind had stormed in and demanded a private audience with the king. This naturally meant that at least five different nobles found a way to eavesdrop, and before court was back in session, it was well known that Anglind had asked the king to strip Jaeger of his titles and office and throw him in the dungeon for heresy.
It was almost too good to be true. Not that Jaeger was much of a thorn in her side anymore, but seeing his continued fall from grace was at the least an amusement. She only hoped it did not completely undermine his constables. She had already been forced to try and hand feed those blundering fools the clues she had been more subtle about hereto.
It had actually been Shizan’s suggestion to leak into the underground that one of the revenants had been hurt in the furnace room of Holmes’s factory. Mortimyr had provided the spare arm with the meister crest in it that Shizan then ruined and planted. With any luck, some informant or snitch had brought it to a precinct.
She heard footsteps coming along the promenade and glanced up to see who it was and gave a start. A tall man in a coat, cloak, top hat, and mask walked towards her. He stopped a few feet away and sketched a bow.
“Lady Kanadis.” His voice was raspy, like a rusty file. “I presume you know who I am?”
She swallowed and took a step back. There actually was something vaguely familiar about the man, but that was not what he meant. “Lord Shadow.”
He tipped his hat. “I figured I should make myself known to you, seeing as you have become more of a player than any of us would have thought here in Tijervyn.”
“What does that mean?” she said.
“The underground of Tijervyn is a swirling storm,” he said. “It can consume those who are not familiar with it. I sit at the middle of that storm. You would be wise to use that.”
“I can’t say I have any idea of what you are talking about,” she said.
He walked over to a window. “Be that as it may, come, see that planter down on the balcony?”
She moved over to another nearby window and looked. She was not about to step close to this man. Part of her said she should simply scream for guards. Surely Count Jaeger would love to apprehend the elusive Lord Shadow. That thought stopped her. That, and the thought that it might be wise to listen to his offer.
“Yes, I see it.”
“If ever you need the kind of assistance I can give, leave me a note there. You will see the place to leave it. If I can help, I will.”
“And at what cost?” she said. “What do you get out of this little arrangement?”
She got the sudden feeling he was smiling under the mask. “I extract my payments, don’t you worry. Information is a currency of its own.”
“So you’d sell my secrets to someone else,” she said. “Hardly sounds like a satisfying arrangement.”
“I wouldn’t be Lord Shadow if I did that,” he said. “Nothing will ever be linked back to you. I merely point to the ripples in the pond that anyone with an eye can see. I let the rock sink as it will.”
She rolled her eyes. “A beautiful analogy. You really expect me to trust you?”
“I expect you to have faith. You have my offer,” he said. “Good day, Lady Kanadis.”
He tipped his hat to her again and walked away. Once he was out of sight, she followed after him. When she turned the corner, though, there was nobody in the hall, and nowhere to be seen that he could not have reached without running and raising a ruckus.
“A shadow indeed.”
She looked back out a window down to the balcony and saw the planter. Yes, a shadow, but, just perhaps, a useful one.