Though it was nearly six o'clock, she found Clary still
in her workroom, at the far end of Greenhouse 1. It
was a small, crowded room. Pots and trowels cluttered
a high table at one end. Above the table were shelves
full of bottles of seeds, and boxes of string, wire, and
various kinds of powders. Clary's desk was a rickety
table, littered with scraps of paper, all of them covered
with notes in her neat, round handwriting. Two
rickety chairs went with the rickety table, one on each
side. Lina sat down facing Clary. "I have to tell you
some important things," she said. "And they're all
"All right," said Clary. "I can keep secrets." She was
wearing a patched shirt that had faded from blue to
gray. Her short brown hair was tucked behind her ears,
and a bit of leaf clung to it on the right-hand side. She
folded her arms in front of her on the desk. She looked
square and solid.
"The first thing is," Lina began, "that I found the
Instructions. But Poppy had chewed them up."
"The Instructions," said Clary. "I'm not familiar
Lina explained. She went on to explain everything--how
she'd shown the Instructions to Doon,
what they had figured out, how he'd searched the
Pipeworks and found the door, and what he'd seen
when he opened the door.
Clary made an unhappy sound and shook her
head. "This is very bad," she said. "And sad, too. I
remember when the mayor was first starting out. He
has always been foolish, but not always wicked. I'm
sorry to know that the worst side of him has won out."
Clary's dark brown eyes seemed to grow deeper and
sadder. "There is so much darkness in Ember, Lina. It's
not just outside, it's inside us, too. Everyone has some
darkness inside. It's like a hungry creature. It wants
and wants and wants with a terrible power. And the
more you give it, the bigger and hungrier it gets."
Lina knew. She had felt it in Looper's shop as she
hovered over the colored pencils. For a moment, she
felt sorry for the mayor. His hunger had grown so
big it could never be satisfied. His huge body couldn't
contain it. It made him forget everything else.
Clary let out a long breath, and a few of the scraps
of paper on her desk fluttered. She ran her fingers
through her hair, felt the bit of leaf, and plucked it out.
Then she said, "About these Instructions."
"Oh, yes," said Lina. "They might be important, or
they might not be. I don't know anymore."
"I'd like to see them, if you'd let me."
"Of course you can see them--but you'll have to
come home with me."
"I'll come now, if that's all right," said Clary.
"There's plenty of time before lights out."
Lina led Clary up the stairs and into her new bedroom
at Mrs. Murdo's. "Nice room," Clary said, looking
around with interest. "And I see you have a sprout."
"A what?" said Lina.
"Your bean," said Clary, pointing at the little pot of
dirt on the windowsill.
Lina bent to see what Clary was talking about.
Sure enough, the dirt was heaving up a little. She
touched the pushed-up part, brushed away the dirt,
and discovered a pale green loop. It looked like a neck,
as if a creature in the bean were trying to escape but
hadn't yet managed to pull its head out. Of course she
already knew that plants grew from seeds. But to have
put that flat white bean in the dirt, to have almost forgotten
about it, and now to see it forcing its way up
into the air...
"It's doing it!" she said. "It's coming to life!"
Clary nodded, smiling. "Still amazes me every
time I see it," she said.
Lina brought out the Instructions, and Clary sat
down at the table to study them. She puzzled over the
patchwork of scraps for a long time, tracing the lines
with her finger, murmuring the parts of words.
"What you've figured out so far seems right
to me," she said. "I think 'ip ork' must be 'Pipeworks.'
And 'iverb nk' must be 'riverbank.' So this bit must be
'down riverbank'--then there's a big space here--'to
edge.' Edge of what, I wonder? And does it mean 'down
riverbank' as in 'walk alongside the river'?"
"Yes, I think so," Lina said.
"Or does it mean go down the riverbank itself,
down the bank toward the water? Maybe 'edge* means
'edge of the water.'"
"It couldn't mean that. The bank goes straight
down like a wall. You couldn't go down to the edge of
the water, you'd fall in." Lina pictured the dark, swift
water and shivered.
"This word," said Clary, putting a finger on the
paper. "Maybe it isn't 'edge,' maybe it's something else.
It could be 'hedge.' Or 'pledge.' Those don't make much
sense. But it could be 'ledge' or 'wedge."*
Lina saw that Clary was no better at deciphering
the puzzle than she was. She sighed and sat down on
the end of her bed. "It's hopeless," she said.
Clary straightened up quickly. "Don't say that.
This torn-up piece of paper is the most hopeful thing
I've ever seen. Do you know what this word is?" She
pointed to the word at the top of the paper, Egres.
"Someone's name, isn't it? The title would be
'Instructions for Egreston,' or maybe 'Egresman,' or
something like that. The person the instructions were
"I don't think so," said Clary. "If you add an s to
^ this word, right where this tear in the paper is, you get
$|^, 'Egress.' Do you know what that means?"
"No," said Lina.
'It means 'the way out.' It means 'the exit.' The title
of this document is 'Instructions for Egress.'"
When Clary left, there was still over an hour before
lights out. Lina raced across the city to Greengate
Square. She glanced in the window of the Small Items
shop, where Doon's father was reaching for something
on a shelf, and then she dashed up the stairs and
knocked on the door of Doon's apartment. Right away,
she heard quick steps and Doon opened the door.
"I have something exciting to tell you," Lina said
"Come in, then."
Lina went across the cluttered room to stand by a
lamp. She pulled from her pocket a tiny piece of paper
on which she had written "Egres." "Look at this word,"
"It's from the title of the Instructions. Someone's
name," said Doon.
"No," said Lina. "It's meant to be 'Egress,' with two
s's. I showed the Instructions to Clary, and she told me.
It means 'the way out.'"
"The way out!" cried Doon.
"Yes! The way out. The exit. It's instructions for
the way out of Ember!"
"So it is real," Doon said.
"It is. We have to figure out the rest. Or as much of
the rest as possible. Can you come now?"
He darted into his room, emerged with his jacket,
and they ran.
"All right" said Lina. They were on the floor of the
blue-green room at Mrs. Murdo's. "Let's take the first
line." She moved her finger along it slowly.
riv ip ork.
"We know that 'ip ork' is Pipeworks," she said.
'"Exp' could be 'expand,' or 'explore,' or 'expose'..."
"There's a big space between 'Exp' and the rest,"
said Doon. "There must be more words in there."
"But who knows what they are? Let's move on."
Lina swept her straggly hair impatiently back from her
face. "Look at number two."
2. ston marked with E by r
Lina put her ringer on ston. "What could that be?"
"Maybe 'piston,'" said Doon. "That's part of a
machine, like the generator. Or maybe it's 'astonish.' Or
it could be..."
"I bet it's just plain 'stone,'" said Lina. "There's a
lot of stone in the Pipeworks."
Doon had to admit this was probably right. "So
then," he said, "it would be 'stone marked with E....'"
He frowned at the next bit. "This must be 'river's edge.'
'Stone marked with E by the river's edge.'"
They looked at each other in delight. "E for
Egress!" cried Lina. "E for Exit!"
They bent over the document again. "There's not
much left of this next line," said Doon.
3. adde down iverb nk
to edge appr eight
"Just this part--which must say, 'down riverbank
to edge'... something."
'"Edge of water' would make sense. But right after
'edge' there's 'app.' What would that be?" Doon sat
back on his heels and gazed up at the ceiling, as if the
answer might be there. Lina muttered, "down riverbank
to edge, edge." She thought of Clary's guesses
about that line. "Maybe it's 'ledge,'" she said. "'Down
riverbank to ledge.' There could be a ledge down near
"Yes, that must be right. There's a stone marked
with E, and down the riverbank at that point there's a
ledge. I think we're getting it."
Once again they crouched over the page, their
heads close together. "Okay" Doon said. "Line 4."
4. acks to the
wat r, find door of bo
ker. He hind small steel
pan the right . Rem
ey, open do .
"This is where it says 'door,'" Lina said. "Somehow
the door is by the ledge. Does that make sense?"
"And there's that "small steel pan'--what can that
mean? What would a pan have to do with anything?"
"But look, but look." Lina tapped the paper
urgently. "Here it says 'he' and here it says 'ey.' It's
talking about a key!"
"But what is it a door to?" said Doon, sitting back.
"Remember, we thought about this before. A door in
the bank of the river would lead under the Pipeworks."
Lina pondered this. "Maybe it leads to a long
tunnel that goes way out beyond Ember, and then
gradually up and up until it comes out at the other
"What other city?" Doon glanced up at the drawings
tacked to the walls of Lina's room. "Oh," he said.
"You mean that city."
"Well, it could be."
Doon shrugged. "I suppose so. Or it could be
another city exactly like this one."
That was a gloomy thought. Both of them felt
their spirits sink a little at the idea. So they turned back
to the task of deciphering.
"Next line," said Lina.
But Doon sat back on his heels again. He stared
into the air, half smiling. "I have an idea," he said. "If
we do find the way out, we'll need to announce it to
everyone. Wouldn't it be splendid to do it during the
Singing? Stand up there in front of the whole city and
say we've found it?"
"It would be," Lina said. "But that's only two days
"Yes. We have to hurry."
They were bending again over the glued-down
fragments when Doon remembered that he should
check the time. It was a quarter to nine. He barely had
time to get home.
"Game again tomorrow," said Lina. "And while
you're at work, look for the rock marked with E."
That night, Doon had trouble sleeping. He couldn't
find a comfortable position on his bed. It seemed to be
made up of nothing but lumps and wrinkles, and it
squeaked and groaned every time he moved. He flailed
around so much that the noise woke his father, who
came to his room and asked, "What is it, son? Nightmares?"
said Doon. "Just can't sleep"
"Are you worrying? Frightened of anything?"
Doon wanted to say, Yes, Father. I'm worried
because the mayor of our city is taking for himself the
things that people need, and I'm afraid because any
day our lights could go out forever. I'm worried and
afraid a lot of the time, but I'm also excited because I
think there is a way out, and we might find it--and all
those feelings are whirling around in my head, which
makes it hard to sleep.
He could have told his father everything. His
father would have plunged in with great enthusiasm.
He would have helped them decipher the Instructions
and expose the mayor's thievery; he would even
have come down into the Pipeworks and helped search
for the rock marked with E. But Doon wanted to
keep these things to himself for now. Tomorrow, the
guards would announce that an alert young boy had
uncovered the mayor's crime, and his father, hearing
the announcements along with the rest of Ember,
would turn to the person next to him and say, "That's
my son they're talking about! My sonV
So in answer to his father's question, he simply
said, "No, Father, I'm all right."
"Well, then, see if you can't lie still," said his father.
"Good night, son," he added, and closed the door.
Doon smoothed out his covers and pulled them up to
his chin. He closed his eyes. But still he couldn't sleep.
So he tried a method that had often worked for
him before. He would choose a place he knew well-- the school, for instance--and imagine himself walking
through it, picturing it as he went in minute detail.
Often his thoughts would wander, but he would always
bring them back to the imaginary journey, and something
about doing this would often make him sleepy.
This night he decided to retrace his explorations of the
Pipeworks. He held his mind to the task for a long
time, picturing, with all the clarity he could muster,
everything he had seen in that underground realm-- the long stairway, the tunnels, the door, the path along
the river, the rocks along the path. He felt sleep
drawing closer, a heaviness in his limbs, but just as he
was about to give in to it, he saw in his mind's eye the
wrinkled rocks that bordered the river at the west
end of the Pipeworks, the rocks whose strange ridges
and creases had reminded him of writing. His eyes
flew open in the dark, his heart began to hammer, and
he gave up on sleeping and lay in a state of terrible
impatience for the rest of the night.
The Way Out
The next day was Song Rehearsal Day. Everyone was
let off from work at twelve o'clock to practice for
the Singing. It was a slow morning for messages. Lina
had a lot of time to sit at her station in Gam Square
and think. She put her elbows on her knees, rested her
chin in her hands, and stared down at the pavement in
front of the bench, which was worn smooth by the
many feet that had passed there. She thought about the
mayor, down in his room full of plunder, gorging on
peaches and asparagus and wrapping his huge body in
elegant new clothes. She thought of his great stack of
light bulbs and shook her head in bewilderment. What
was he thinking? If he still had light bulbs when everyone
else in Ember had run out, would he enjoy sitting
in his lit room while the rest of the city drowned in
darkness? And when the power finally ran out for
good, all his light bulbs would be useless. Possessions
couldn't save him--how could he have forgotten that?
He must be thinking the same way as Looper: everything
was hopeless anyhow, so he'd live it up while he
She leaned back against the bench, stretched her
legs out, and took a long breath. Very soon, the guards
would storm into the secret room and seize the mayor
as he sat stuffing himself on stolen goodies. Maybe
they already had. Maybe today the stunning news
would come: Mayor Arrested! Stealing from Citizens!
Maybe they'd announce it at the Singing, so everyone
could hear it.
No one came with any messages to be delivered, so
after a while Lina left her station and found a step to sit
on in an alley off Calloo Street. She pulled back her
hair and braided it to keep it from sliding around.
Then she took from her pocket the copy of the Instructions
she'd made just after she sent her note to the
mayor. She unfolded it and began to study it.
This is what she was doing when, a little before
twelve o'clock, she looked up to see Doon running
toward her. He must have come straight from the
Pipeworks--he had a big damp patch of water on one
leg of his pants. He spoke in an excited rush. "I've been
looking all over for you!" he said. "I've found it!"
"The E! At least it looks like an E. It must be an E,
though you wouldn't know it if you weren't looking for
"You mean the rock marked with an E? In the
"Yes, yes, I found it!" He stood breathing hard, his
eyes blazing. "I'd seen it before, hut I didn't think of it
as an E then, just a squiggle that looked like writing.
There are all these rocks that look like they're covered
"Which rocks? Where is it?" Lina was on her feet
now, bouncing with excitement.
"Down at the west end of the river. Near where it
goes into that great hole in the Pipeworks wall." He
paused, trying to catch his breath. "And listen," he said.
"We could go there right now."
"Yes, because of rehearsals. Everyone's going
home, so the Pipeworks will be closed and empty."
"But if it's closed, how will we get in?"
Grinning, Doon produced a large key from his
pocket. "I ducked into the office on my way out and
borrowed the spare key," he said. "Lister--he's the
Pipeworks director--was in the bathroom practicing
his singing. He won't miss the key today. And
tomorrow, everyone will be off work." He did an
impatient shuffle. "So come on," he said.
The town clock struck the first of its twelve noon
time booms. Lina stuffed her copy of the Instructions
back in her pocket. "Let's go."
The Pipeworks was empty and silent. Lina and Doon
went up the hallway past the rows of boots and the
slickers hanging on their hooks. They didn't take any
of these for themselves. This was not a Pipeworks
tunnel they were about to enter, they were sure; it
wouldn't be dripping with water or lined with spurting
They went down the long stairway and out into
the main tunnel, where the river thundered alongside
the path, its dark surface strewn with flecks of light.
Doon led the way along the river's edge. As they
neared the west end, Lina saw the rocky outcroppings
Doon had described to her. They were strange bulging
shapes creased with lines like the faces of the very old.
Not far beyond, Lina could see the place where the
river disappeared into a great hole in the Pipeworks
Doon knelt down beside a clump of stones. He ran
a finger over their convoluted surface. "Look here," he
said. Lina stooped down and peered at the deeply
carved lines. It was hard to see the E at first, because it
was surrounded by such a tangle of other lines, and
because she was expecting it to be an E drawn with
straight strokes. But once she saw it--an E drawn with
curving lines, a script E--she was sure it had been
carved on purpose: it was centered on its stone, and its
lines were deep and even.
"So from here we should look down at the river,"
said Doon. "That's what the Instructions said, 'down
riverbank to ledge."'
He lay on his stomach next to the rock and inched
forward until his head hung out over the edge of the
path. Lina watched him anxiously. His elbows stuck up
on either side of him, and his head, bent down, was
nearly invisible. He stayed that way for long seconds.
Then he shouted, "Yes! I see something!" and
scrambled to his feet again. "You do it," he said. "Look
at the riverbank right below us."
Lina did as he had. She lay down and pulled herself
forward until her head was over the edge. Eight
feet or so below her, she saw the black water churning
by. She tucked her chin in and looked at the riverbank.
It was a sheer rock wall, straight up and down and slick
with spray, and at first that was all she saw. But she kept
looking and before long could make out short iron
bars bolted into the bank, one below the next, almost
directly below her. They were like the rungs of a ladder.
They were a ladder, she realized. The bars provided a
way to climb down the riverbank. Not a very appealing
way--the bars looked slippery, and the water below
was so terribly fast. And because of the dimness and
the flying spray, she couldn't actually see if there was a
ledge at the bottom or not. But the E was clearly an E,
and the bars were clearly a ladder. This must be the
"Who'll go first?" said Doon.
"You can," Lina said, getting to her feet and stepping
"All right." Doon turned so that his back was to the
river, and he eased himself carefully over the rocks,
feeling for the first rung with his foot. Lina watched as
he sank out of sight, little by little. After a few moments
his voice called up from below: "I'm down! Now you
Lina inched backward, just as Doon had, letting
one foot dangle over the edge, lower and lower, until it
touched the first rung of the ladder. She shifted her
weight to that foot, clinging with cold fingers to a
ridge in the rock, and lowered herself slowly until
she was standing on the rung with both feet. Her heart
was beating so hard she was afraid it would shake her
fingers loose from their grip.
Now she had to move downward. She felt for the
next rung with her foot, found it, let herself down. It
would have been easy if it hadn't been for the river
waiting below to swallow her.
"You're almost here!" called Doon. His voice came
from right below her. "There's a ledge--one more rung
and you'll feel it."
She did feel it, solid beneath her foot. For a
second, she stood there, still clutching the ladder. The
surging water was only inches below her now. Don't
think about it, she told herself. She moved sideways
two steps to stand next to Doon, and there in front of
them was a rectangular space carved out of the river
wall, rather like the entry hall of a building. It was perhaps
eight feet wide and eight feet high, and would
have been invisible from anywhere else in the
Pipeworks. You had to have climbed down the riverbank
to see it.
They stepped into this entry hall and walked a few
steps. Enough light to see by came from the tunnel
Lina stopped. "There's the door!" she said.
"What?" said Doon. The water roared so loudly
they had to shout to be heard.
"The door!" Lina yelled happily.
"Yes!" Doon yelled back. "I see it!"
At the end of the passage was a wide, solid
looking door. It was dull gray, mottled with greenish
and brownish blotches that looked like mildew. Lina
put her palms against it. It was metal, and it felt
cold. The door had a metal handle, and just below the handle was a keyhole.
Lina reached into the pocket of her pants for her
copy of the Instructions. She unfolded it, and Doon
looked over her shoulder. Together they squinted at
the paper in the dim light from the main tunnel.
"This is the part, right here," she said, pointing:
3. adde down iverb nk
to edge appr eight
4. acks to the
wat r, find door of bo
ker. He hind small steel
pan the right . Rem
ey, open do .
Lina ran her finger along line number 3. "This
must say, 'Something something down riverbank to
ledge approximately eight feet below.' That's what
we've just done. Then four is something about . . .
'backs to the water, find door... something.' And then
'He hind'--that must be 'key behind,' and then there's
the small steel pan. Do you see a small steel pan?"
Doon was still studying the paper. "It says 'right.'
We should look to the right of the door."
And quite easily they found it. It wasn't a pan at
all, but a small square of steel embedded in the wall. "A
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