Chapter 12 - Revelations
- Nightfall: The Mystery Man - Day 10: 12:00am
It was raining once again. The rain was different this time, though. It was more natural and neutral. It was not an evil rain, but it was still intense. I kept the horse running at a steady pace, slightly below her maximum speed. I didn't want to wear her out. There was still quite a ways to go. I rode her down the road the Hammers had built, of course. I must have been riding for a couple hours, a good half of my journey, when I saw something on the newly built road up ahead. My keen eyes identified a man carrying a lantern. He was standing in the middle of the road waiting, for me no doubt.
As I grew near, I recognized the man. It was the same man I had seen twice this day: once when I first came to the lodge, and then when I was watching during the night. It was James.
- James: A Full Report - Day 10: 12:00am
Trudging through the mud and rain is not, in my opinion, a pleasant way to spend one's evening. Nevertheless, there I was, and that was what I was doing. I had gathered all the information I needed. Rest had proven impossible, and now all that was left was to present my report to Daniel. My plan was to go home, compile it all into a document, and have a man deliver it to the camp, where Daniel was most likely staying.
I paused on my journey as the distinctive sound of horse hooves hitting mud at a gallop came to my ear. I did an about-face, curious to see who my guest would be. Within moments, I saw it was Daniel, behaving rather unexpectedly. I opened the shutters on my lantern so that he would see me. It took him some time to get to where I was standing. I would have told him to "get a horse," but he had one. When he approached, he spoke first.
"I saw you, twice."
"Yes I know," I replied. "The first time was several moments after you arrived at the lodge. You saw me out of the corner of your left eye as I stood forty paces away, mostly concealed behind a large rock." He grinned as I said this, so I continued. "The second time was when I was investigating the post 'Hammerited' villa, or what was left of it."
"Yes," he said, "You were startled by something you saw on the stump. Was it the stream of metal?"
"No," I said, "and if you will let me deliver my report, I shall tell you all about it."
He put down the horse's reins, but remained mounted. "Please, go on."
"Well, it's a fair amount to tell, so bear with me. As you have discovered, matters are looking unpleasant. First, the information that we have dug up in our researches." Getting no reaction from him, I proceeded.
"I came out here to fully confirm the suspicions I hinted at earlier, and which research has given shape. The Lady is no normal threat. The streets have produced no information other then knowledge of her existence, save one informant who was killed before making her rendezvous; others clearly know of the Lady but are too terrified to speak. So much would indicate strong current coercive power. However, a curious glyph was left carved on our informant's back after she was killed; and this has been a worrisome clue."
"She?" he said with slight alarm in his voice. "Who?"
"Swantella was her name. You never met her." He nodded solemnly, and I proceeded.
"The same glyph that was found on her back has been found in a number of references Corinne has dug out of the archive; and there, too, it is only referenced en passant and in tones of terror. The power behind the glyph is linked to the Trickster and the Wood, but as a sometime ally, not as a servant. Certainly a dark and chaotic force, in any event, and ill-disposed towards man. Is the use of the glyph in this age merely an accident? I think not. Is it a false lead, set by a normal enemy to deceive, or to wear the mantle of an ancient terror? Again, I suspect not. The terror is forgotten for long years in the records, only to crop up anew when it has slid from memory. So I decided I needed to have a look at this villa, or lodge as Jyre called it, and my trip there has confirmed my darkest suspicions. Incidentally, Corinne discovered a small fact about it: it wasn't listed in the Hammer records because, quite simply, it hadn't existed 2 months ago. Quite a feat. Let me explain what I have found there."
I could see Daniel was getting impatient with my long-windedness. I wondered where he was going in such a hurry. I tried to describe events quickly, so that he would not lose interest and dash off before I was done.
"You passed along a report on the shape of the villa: 'In the shape of a Pentagram, with towers on each corner'. The structure I found had no towers. Instead, piles of something unknown adorned each corner of the star. As I watched, part of the structure collapsed, and I moved cautiously towards it."
"Yes, I saw," Daniel interrupted. I simply nodded and continued.
"It stank. The piles on each corner were skin and bones, of a wide variety of creatures, mostly humans. Doors - or rents - had appeared in the strange material forming each facet of the house. I entered, carefully inserting a small iron nail into the strange fabric of the "door" to create a path out in the event of sorcery. The interaction of iron and Woodsie magics is not fully understood; does forged metal gain a magic of its own from the work of its creation, in the same way that building a structure in the earth can enforce on some creatures its floor plan of walls, doors, and windows long after the structure has crumbled into dust? Or is it more simply a matter of direct counteraction, the logical physical reality of iron dismissing the arcane psychological glamour of the ancients of the Wood? But I digress."
Daniel nodded, urging me to get back to the main tale.
"Gone were the rich trappings and careful corridors of the report. Inside the villa I found little; not even walls, for it had become a hollow shell. In the dimly lit center I found an enormous oaken stump, ripped off at a height of perhaps 3 metres. Something, probably the remains of the central tower, was draped over the top of the break. On the south side of the stump, a stairway which appeared to have grown, rather than been carved, lead downwards. I entered, driving a small iron nail into the footing of the first step. The stairway lead down for some 4 metres, and then opened out into a room whose roof was formed from the spreading secondary roots of the tree. Peering about in the light of my torch, I discovered that little was left here either, though the stench suggested a slaughterhouse. To the west I found another stairway leading down, and on the ground near it, a small fragment of a clay tablet. Wedging my torch between a set of roots, I pulled the tablet out of the ground for a closer look."
I handed the tablet to Daniel. He reached down and took it, and turned it over several times in his hands, examining it. He read it out loud. "Dead thoughts."
"The reference was clear; the full chant ran through my head as soon as I saw it." I recited the chant for Daniel, to refresh his memory.
"Builds your roofs of dead wood.
Builds your walls of dead stone.
Builds your dreams of dead thoughts.
Comes crying laughing singing back to life,
Takes what you steal,
And pulls the skins from your dead bones shrieking."
"Yes," he said, "I know that one all too well." He handed the tablet back to me. I took it, pocketed it, and continued.
"This villa must have been a temple of the Wood, active recently, and after the demise of the Trickster, and apparently run by a Lady. The inference is clear: The Lady of the Wood, the Faery Queen of legend, the Queen of Night, the Viktoria of last summer's events, is still active despite her husband's demise. I doubt she has become any more kindly disposed towards humanity for her loss. Her activity also clarified the speed of the villa's construction, and the meaning of its sudden collapse:
And when learns the Woodsie Lord of this,
He sends His beastesses to the manfools,
Who attacks and hammers saws their useless fleshes
And build him a house of they rotting skins....
"The villa, constructed of human skin and bones, had been given fairer form by the will of the Queen; and with her departure, the glamour was wearing off. I wondered at the time what would become of the poor souls she had trapped to power the spell; but as you know, they have been granted release. I concluded it was best to vacate the premises before the collapse completed itself, in case it included the stairway I had used to come into the Temple. Indeed, the stairway was becoming less stair-like, and the nail I had driven into the wood had begun to glow red-hot in its opposition to the magic in the wood. The skin and bone structure of the villa was also far less sound when I arrived again on the surface. The structural change was disorienting, but the path formed with iron held true and drew my steps out to safety."
I paused to see if any reaction was forthcoming from Daniel. I saw none, so I went on.
"I waited and watched when the Hammers arrived. You were obviously among them, so I shan't go into detail on the events which you witnessed first hand. I confess that despite my distaste for many of the Hammer's ways, I was moved to murmur the prayer along with the Hammers as the human remains were cremated. Did my glance mistake itself, or did your lips speak the prayer too, Daniel? I was too far away to be sure. When the fire became coals, and the screams of those once-tormented souls faded into peace, the main Hammerite force, including the captain and the priest, departed, leaving only a small token guard behind, and yourself."
Daniel nodded. "And still, you investigated once more after we had settled for the night. What did you hope to see?"
"If you wait a moment, I shall tell you. You of course noted that there was a large stump which was not destroyed by the Hammerites. It was this same stump, beneath which I found this tablet, of course. I moved to investigate. Where once there was a stairwell, now there was nothing. The stump had sealed itself somehow. I then noted my nail, which had melted further, becoming a cooling streak of metal running downward, spanning the trunk. The wood it touched had turned to ash."
"Yes, I noted that."
"You investigated after I had departed?" I asked
He nodded a yes. "James, tell me of Jyre and Els."
"Shall in a moment, Daniel, but first I have a other matters to report as well. Some days ago, I concluded it was necessary to perform a somewhat drastic act, in the event of our needing to oppose this Lady. At the Circle there was a curious iron stone that fell from the stars. I have previously mentioned to you the potential power of this item. It is time to use that potential. I have taken the stone to a smith whose discretion and skill I have the greatest regard for, and from it he is cold-forging a weapon we may need in opposing the Lady. Have no doubts, it will be expensive, but I think it will prove worthwhile."
He was silent, listing intently. I noticed that the rain had died down, so I no longer needed to speak with the same volume.
"I do not know what exactly the Lady plans, but these are my suspicions. Last year, Garrett destroyed the Trickster with a Hammerite device. Normally, the Trickster - then Constantine - is replaced by his successor in ritual single combat. Garrett did not destroy the Trickster in that ritual combat, and thus the line was not extended. It is probable that Viktoria intends to ritually kill the Trickster in order to assume unto herself the powers of both the Wood and Faery. Thus arrayed she would be a formidable force, as the bickering that has traditionally divided Chaos might be, dare we say it, ordered by a single will, and thus be a much greater threat. We must think carefully on our next step."
His brow furrowed, showing deep concern. I went on.
"The man called Els, who visited you, was killed several nights ago, and I suspect it is the Lady's work." At that, Daniel grew outwardly disturbed, but did not speak. "In addition, Jyre apparently accepted a job from Ramirez that took her into the Forbidden Sector, and she has not been heard of since. I have strong suspicions of links between the Lady and Ramirez, probably originally through Bafford but later more direct. You said that they had left the Lady's service, and I suspect this is her vengeance. She directly slew Els, and indirectly slew Jyre by sending her on a suicide mission via Ramirez, who was acting as her pawn."
"Damn," he said. He spoke under his breath, words which I read his lips to say, "You fool, you let them both die." I pretended that I did not see him say that.
"That's all I have to report on them at this time. I would have more on those two, but people of their social class do not normally have records, and I had all my resources devoted to the Lady."
Daniel seemed frozen, and then suddenly reanimated. "Thank you James." At that, he sped away on his horse.
I should have paid more attention to that; I should have realized he was losing his sense of detachment, and would do something rash. But I was exhausted, and my only thought, as I trudged home, was, "Builder's hairy bollocks, Dan, you might have given me a lift!"
- Jyre: Out of Context - Day 10: 1:00am
I stood at the bottom of the stairs to Nightfall's tower and gazed at the giant structure. He was the only "friend" I had left around here. I made my way up the steps slowly, hobbling along on my makeshift crutch. It felt oddly pleasant to be walking this path between the rows of trees, listening to the gentle songs of the night birds. I halted before I came within sight of the guards at the gate and ducked under the branches of the nearest tree. My desire for human company was even lower than normal. Winding my way through the trees, I eventually came to the steel fence. Climbing it was easy after my time spent in the haunted district. Once on the other side, I darted from shadow to shadow until I reached the side of the tower. A little searching and I came to the tradesmen's entrance. After listening with my ear pressed to the door for several minutes, I turned the handle and stepped through into the cool room beyond. Thankfully, it was empty.
The room was small, square and nearly empty. The only furniture was the wooden bench along the left wall. There were no decorations either, just bland tiled walls and floor. There were two other doors, one on the right, which, judging by the size and condition of it, led to some sort of cupboard, and one in the wall opposite the entrance. I dropped down on the bench to rest, exhausted. To tell the truth, I should never have done this. My body needed to rest and recover, not be dragged half-way across the city on a whim. I slipped a bottle from my belt, uncorked it and drank. The contents tasted foul. It was a stimulant, nothing more. Something to keep me going despite my condition. When its effects finally wore off I would pay dearly. But right now all I cared about was finding Nightfall.
I pushed myself up of the bench and went through the second of the two doors. It led into a long hallway. I glanced left, then right. Neither way suggested itself to me so I just shrugged and went left. The hallway was carpeted so, despite my crutch and hobbled leg, I was able to move fairly quietly. It was surprisingly quiet inside the mansion and I found myself wondering if anyone was home. Not that it really mattered. If Nightfall wasn't here, I'd just have to wait for him. I paused at the first door, cracked it open and peered in - a kitchen. I moved on. Five more doors and two hallways later, I came across what appeared to be a study. The luxury of the place amazed me! Leather chairs, carpeted floors, curtains and even glass in the windows! And so many books - two whole cases full! And then there was the desk. It was made from some sort of dark-grained wood, with beautiful carvings on the edges and a leather inlay on the top. I picked a letter from the top of a large pile, sank into the nearest seat and began to read.
I stared at the scrap of paper the note had been scribbled on and shook my head. Meaningless. At least to me.
We will have to go through with it ahead of schedule. It must be done in three days. We're counting on you. Make it good, like you always do.
"That's because it wasn't meant for your eyes, little one."
I dropped the paper and looked up, expecting to see Els standing over me with his usual displeased frown. Only he wasn't. And he never would be again. I felt tears prick my eyes and I wiped them away. Guilt welled up inside of me as I glanced around. I shouldn't be doing this, prying through Master Nightfall's private things.
"No. You shouldn't."
Damn memories! I put the letter back where I had found it, fighting back tears. I had thought them gone, that night on the hill when I said goodbye. Or was it just my own conscience speaking with his voice? I got to my feet, crossed to the door and put my hand on the handle. I paused for a second then returned to the chair, picking up another letter from the desk as I passed it. Conscience be damned, I needed to know who he was!
From one of Nightfall's operatives. A scholar by the sounds of things. This "Smith-in-Exile" sounded familiar to me but whatever memory the name linked to, it was too far gone to give any real insight and just annoying enough to make me want to hunt it out and read it. I probably would have, had I been more relaxed, but the mention of Hammer scriptures made me nervous. I wondered why Nightfall would need such things. More than one reason sprang to mind.
On the streets I am known as "Octopus," so I would appreciate it if you credit that name. I have here the translated (into modern tongue) chronicles of the Smith-in-Exile concerning the time of the Peril.
If this is deemed worth posting in your museum, I shall write more Hammerite scripture as and when I have time.
"Do you really want to know?"
I actually smiled this time. It was comforting to know that Els was still there, living inside my head to guide me. Perhaps death wasn't as final as I had thought. I waited for a response that never came. Did I really want to know? Actually, yes, of course I did. I was burning to know. I picked up the next letter and read it.
Nothing important. I placed it to one side, not really taking in what had been written there. My thoughts were still on the last note. Hammer scripture. Reasonable enough if all he wanted was information that would help him learn more of their ways. But something told me that wasn't the case. The Circle of Stone and Shadow had existed long enough untouched by those religious maniacs to suggest Nightfall knew a good deal about them. Enough to keep himself and his associates safe from their prying at least. So why then? A study of their history? A better understanding of their beliefs? I shook my head in confusion. Did I want to know? My hand hovered over the next paper as my mind wavered. Could I cope with not knowing? I lifted the paper from the desk and found my answers.
I actually have a spot of fresh news from an unexpected source, including a sales figure.
It should go up tonight.
MEMO- 09.08 08.23
Betrayed. That was the one thought that echoed through my head as I returned the letter to its place on the desk. I had been betrayed. I had gone to him in good faith. Trusted him even. Only for him to turn around and give everything I had revealed to those filthy Hammers! I felt my anger start to rise as I sat there and thought about what I had just read. I knew I should have left there and then. After all, next time he saw me he could just hand me over like he had that poor thief.
DISPATCH NUMBER 475125462
ORDER OF THE HAMMER
COURIER REGISTRY 54-AF
RAFAEL MORTANGRO STEINKLAW,
HIGH PRIEST, THE ORDER OF THE HAMMER
LORD OF STEINKLAW MANOR
DANIEL ELIAS TODD, ALIAS "NIGHTFALL"
MASTER, THE CIRCLE OF STONE AND SHADOW
LORD OF UNNAMED ESTATE, REGISTRY NUMBER 543-AD4
OUR SCOUTS HAVE RETURNED FROM INVESTIGATING THE STRUCTURE, THE LOCATION AND NATURE OF WHICH YOU INDICATED TO US DURING THE EMERGENCY SESSION OF THE HIGH COUNCIL OF THE ORDER OF THE HAMMER ON 09.07. YOUR SUSPICIONS WERE CORRECT. SAID STRUCTURE DOES EXIST, AND IT BEARS THE MARKINGS OF OUR ENEMIES, THE FOLLOWERS OF THE NOW DECEASED TRICKSTER, THE PAGANS. HOWEVER THE BUILDING SEEMS TO BE ABANDONED, SAVE ONE WOMAN WE FOUND TRESPASSING ON THE RESIDENCE. THIS WOMAN APPEARED TO BE A THIEF, WHOM WE CAUGHT DURING HER RAID. SHE WAS CONVICTED ON FIVE ACCOUNTS OF RESISTING ARREST, BREAKING AND ENTERING, TRESPASSING, THEFT, BEARING FALSE WITNESS, AND CONCEALMENT OF EVIDENCE. SO FAR ALL OUR INTERROGATIONS OF HER HAVE ONLY PRODUCED HER NAME, "LYTHA". WE SUSPECT THAT THIS IS NOT HER TRUE NAME. THIS WOMAN IS ALSO SUSPECTED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BURGLARY OF THE WESTERN BRANCH MONASTERY SEVERAL WEEKS AGO. SHE IS BEING INTERROGATED FOR INFORMATION INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE FOLLOWING TOPICS: HER PRESENCE IN THE STRUCTURE, HER POSSIBLE INVOLVEMENT WITH THE PAGANS WHO MADE RESIDENCE THERE, THE LOCATION OF THE EVIDENCE SHE UNDOUBTEDLY STOLE FROM THE RESIDENCE AND IS NOW CONCEALING, THE METHOD IN WHICH SHE BROKE INTO THE MONASTERY (SO THAT CORRECTIVE SECURITY MEASURES MAY BE TAKEN), THE NUMBER OF, NAMES OF, AND LOCATION OF ALL HER CONSPIRATORS AND CO-CONSPIRATORS, AND ANY AND ALL OTHER INFORMATION WHICH MAY SERVE US IN DETERMINING HER PAST CRIMES, THUS INFLUENCING THE SEVERITY OF HER PUNISHMENT, AND THE METHOD OF HER EXECUTION.
AT NOON TODAY, THE TASK FORCE, WHICH HAS BEEN ORDERED TO DEMOLISH THIS STRUCTURE SHALL SET OUT ON ITS JOURNEY. I ASK THAT YOU BE THERE, AND ACCOMPANY THE FORCE DURING THE ENTIRETY OF ITS MISSION. YOUR ABSENCE FROM THIS EVENT SHALL BE CONSIDERED A DIRECT INSULT TO THIS ORDER, AND WILL BE ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.
IN THE MASTER BUILDER'S NAME,
LORD RAFAEL MORTANGRO STEINKLAW,
FIRST IN THE ORDER OF THE HAMMER
I was on my feet, pacing back and forth anxiously, the paper clutched tightly in my hand. I glanced at the door then the desk, then crossed the space between them, the paper tapping against my leg. I read it again, just to make sure I really had read the words it held. Nothing changed, despite my wish that I had been wrong. It was all there in black and white. Nightfall had gone to the Hammers.
No. It was more than that. He was part of their organization. He had attended one of their meetings. Probably more, if the casual reference to it was anything to go by. I stopped by the door, reached out to open it and heard someone speak. The words were too low to make out but they sounded as though they came from the other side of the door. My eyes swept over the room, searching for somewhere to hide. Only one place presented itself. Under the desk. I scurried under the small place and waited anxiously for the door to swing open and my mess be discovered. My eyes returned to the paper I still clutched in my fist. One line stood out from the rest:
SAID STRUCTURE DOES EXIST, AND IT BEARS MARKINGS OF OUR ENEMY, THE TRICKSTER.
I frowned at the paper. The Trickster? But it was the Lady's lodge. Of that I was certain. And this Trickster was no more than a myth created by the Hammers to cultivate belief in their so-called God. But if Nightfall had given them the information in the first place, then surely he knew much more about this lodge and the Lady than I did. Coldness clutched at my chest as I realized he would trust those filthy hypocrites with the information and not the person who had supplied it in the first place. I felt used. Nothing new there, at least.
I shifted slightly, trying to avoid cramps, and heard something rustle beneath me. I padded the carpet with my hand until I found a small crumpled note, which must have dropped before.
I stared at the note blankly, utterly confused. Then I reread it. Twice. It still didn't make any sense. Pawns? In the Hammers? But why would he need pawns when he happily worked alongside them? Or was this Rembrant as mislead as I had been. There was something there I could be certain of though. Nightfall's secrets were not as safe as Rembrant had made out.
The deed has been done. Expect no traces to yourself, the other guy, or myself. The spoils shall be coming to you shortly. I do not think it would be wise to discuss specifics in this document, so let me be brief. The first thing was done easily, but I had to forgo the second thing. This is not a problem though, for the third thing took care of it. Because the first thing went so well, I did not have to bother with the fourth thing. Your secrets are safe once again. Must be fun to have pawns in the Order of the Hammer, eh? May the Master Builder kiss my black ass.
Hearing footsteps moving away from the door, I finally crawled out from under the desk and returned the papers to their rightful place. I wasn't happy with what I had discovered. In fact, I was furious! I was about to go and confront Nightfall about it all when I spotted Els's name on yet another letter. I hesitated, glanced towards the door, then returned to the chair to read.
I was helping Els pick out his equipment, as you asked, when he demanded that I let him go home to get something. I offered to go with him. He refused. I told him that I needed to get him some health potions first. He said that he hates the stuff, and never drinks it. I told him that he was in no condition to run across town and back to get only one item! He wouldn't even tell me what the item was! I told him that I'd send a servant after it. He refused, and told me that no one should follow him when he went. I told him to at least get some equipment before he went, and he refused again! He left, and I was unable to stop him. I tried to follow him, but he lost me. I'm sorry Daniel, I haven't seen or heard from him since.
- Nightfall: A Misleading Discovery - Day 10: 1:00am
Why had Sheam not contacted me? That was totally unlike her. She would never forget something like that. Something must have gone wrong. I knew the answer soon enough. I didn't notice him until I was almost on top of the corpse. There, standing in the road, was the body of a man. I halted my stead and jumped to the ground, quick to investigate. He way laying, face down, in the mud. His back was covered in claw marks, and blood was everywhere. I could see his exposed spine, which was snapped. Carefully, I turned him over to get a look at his face. I had seen him before; only in passing. He was a messenger; one of my messengers. Swallowing my remorse from the loss, I inspected his pouch, determined to not let his sacrifice be in vain. Empty. Someone had taken the message he was bringing for me. Relieved, I found it not a second latter; clutched in his hand. I pulled the ragged sheet of paper from his cold fingers and read it. To my dismay, it was soaked with water and blood, and I could barely read it.
I shut my eyes and clutched the paper hard. I could barely read it, but I think I got the message. Ghost had failed. Lytha was dead. They were probably both dead. So many people have died because of my carelessness. None of them deserved it. They came to me, and I repaid them with death.
........... I me... he....h......wr............. ka.......... .. Ghost did not.... meh .. both dead... found killed in his ..... perhaps Lytha had ..... I fear the wor..... do not exp .... Is st... alive...
I rode hard and fast through the night. My head was swimming. There was no way I could have known. There was nothing I should have done. A part of me kept telling myself that. I never really listened to that part of me. As a result of inaction, Captain Els was now dead, Jyre was dead, Lytha was dead, and Ghost was most likely dead as well - all because I got careless. I didn't think things through far enough and consider the possibilities of my action. I did not think things through and Lytha died. My desire to remain as uninvolved as possible from private affairs resulted in the death of Jyre and Els. I had acted like a Keeper. Now I was damning myself for it.
In what seemed like no time at all, I found myself at the head of the road. Taking no time to reminisce, I plotted out the shortest route to my tower, and rode there at full gallop. I did my best to not think of the past, only the future, and what I had to do. I needed a way to navigate through this underground labyrinth, and find the Queen and her minions. More pressing in urgency was a way to either get across the rift, or down into it safely.
When I finally brought my mind back to where I was, I was already home. The all-too-familiar sight of my tower loomed into view, dark black against the starry sky. For an instant I had a flashback to days long past, as I hastily fled to my old tower in the Sajot mountains, in a far off distant land. I shook the memory from my mind as I tethered the horse and dashed up to the tower. The front door unlocked and opened as I drew near, and I nodded to my two guards standing watch as I entered.
All the servants were asleep. The place was dead silent and quite dark, exactly how I liked it. Once again, I could not enjoy it. As I made my way through, I chanced to glance at the great spiral staircase which lead to my tower and bed chamber. I quickly put any notion of rest out of my mind as I instead made a beeline to the basement.
Not all of my rare artifacts are kept in The Circle. I dashed through the hall and chamber of my cellar, making my way to the secret entrance. All the while I ran what had happened through my head; what I should have done differently; where I turned left where I should have gone right; the task at hand, and what was possible if all that I had deduced, all that James had reported, and all that the Keeper had told me, was true. However, the things that burned in my mind like acid were: I had let Jyre, Els, and Lytha down, and now they were all dead. You don't forgive yourself for things like that very easily.
- Chapter 11 - Aftermaths / Chapter 13 - Reunion
Correspondence of Thieves copyright, 2000, Steve Tremblay, Lytha, James Sterrett, Alexandria Thomson, and Daniel Todd.