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Posted September 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm

"You don't strike me as someone who worries about legality," Vlad told her.

"I'm not," Liya answered matter-of-factly. "But I kinda thought you were."

Vlad sniffed. "Technically," he said, "nothing we're doing is illegal."

"Yeah? Why y'all hidin' underground, then?"

They were coming upon another source of light now, a naked lightbulb on a string that was hanging from the edge of a small awning, above a simple door set into the wall. There were orange tiles in the floor around the doorway, arranged in a semi-circle. Beside the door was a set of hooks, and from those hooks hung a couple of other varieties of lightbulbs on strings, though these were not glowing.

"Just because it's not illegal doesn't mean it's not dangerous," Vlad said. "We have trouble with the police and traditionalists."

He hung the glowing float on the hooks beside the door, next to a long fluorescent bulb and a smaller decorative bulb with a pinched end. Its glow started to die off as he did, replaced with the wan greenish light of the bulb by the door.

"You know what the cops are like--" he paused to do something to the door, which made a loud click, before he pushed it open. "The traditionalists are even worse. They print this little propaganda rag, 'Du Medhywa'--" he stuck his head out of the door and looked around, before letting Yoshi and Liya out behind him-- "More than one of us has been driven out of our homes, because they publish our addresses and send slavers after us. Some of us have died that way."

They were now, somehow, in a small alley courtyard. Dusk had fallen deep purple, turning the moss growing on the walls into dark smudges. Some of the floating night light creatures had emerged and were drifting about, glowing a gentle magenta. There was graffiti on one wall of the alley, and a statue in an alcove on the other, the latter a spirit figure lined with faintly glowing etchings of gold.

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