She pointed at a place where the main thoroughfare turned and narrowed as it approached the dockside. The street there was lined with sturdy-built stone warehouses and stalls trading in exotic goods from across the seas: a pleasant, well-kept high street for nobles and merchants travelling between their ships and houses.

Aithne’s map told a different story. In between these stone and glass tributes to mercantile respectability, alleyways splayed out from the road.

They had turned down one of those alleys to reach the safehouse, which sat between the dockyards and a down-at-heel artisans’ quarter where craft shops were giving way to brothels and smugglers’ hides.

“The Web,” said Aithne, giving the cluster of narrow streets and rotting wooden hovels pressed up against the stone perimeter of the high street its colloquial name. “What a good place to hide a nest of spiders.”

I’ve been reading about Old Nichol, and as usual it is impossible for interesting things I’m reading not to spill over into my writing.