Chapter 22 - The Past Returns

- Nightfall: Grim Proceedings - Day 10: 10:30pm

I found myself standing in a green meadow. Lush grass and wildflowers grew underfoot, and all around. Hills gently rolled off into the distance as far as the eye could see, covered by trees of every type, and every color. Birds flew through the blue sky. The only sounds were those of the wind blowing through the trees and the grass, and the gentle hum of insects. Jyre, still in my arms, opened her eyes. She seemed as stunned as me. With a nudge, I released her, and she jumped to her feet, which sank into the thick grass. Moments latter, James materialized beside me. I could almost hear his jaw drop. Jyre walked several feet, not saying a word, just looking about in amazement. I doubted that they had ever seen anything like this, since they had both lived in the city all their lives, as far as I knew. Yes, this place, this open fertile landscape, was something slightly alien to this realm.

At last, James spoke. “As nice as this is, this is not what I was expecting. True I have never seen the Maw of Chaos before, but the descriptions I have read are nothing like this.”

I, however, understood. This place was highly magical, ever more so than my home, and I could feel it surrounding me, permeating my body, being sucked in, welling through me. It was almost overwhelming, and quite thrilling. “No,” I said, “This is just an illusion.”

I refocused my eyes, and could see the source of the illusion. I approached, and placed my hand into the midst of the field. An arc of energy jolted harmlessly about my arm, disrupting the magic device. The illusion vanished.

I heard Jyre give a small shriek as the beautiful landscape around her suddenly tore itself apart, and was replaced with a blood-soaked rock chamber, the Trickster’s ceremonial chamber. It was in this same room that the Trickster had, not even a year ago, attempted to complete his Dark Project, but was slain by the thief Garrett, and the tool provided by his Hammerite allies.

I heard James hum thoughtfully. “This is not the entrance to the Maw, this is the deepest point. Why did we come here?” He then answered his own question. “Of course, since we came through the portal the Queen used, she of course made the portal go directly to her destination. But, where is she?”

I heard Jyre shriek again. What nasty relic did she discover now? To my surprise, she was staring right at me! “Jyre, what’s wrong?” I said, trying to make my voice as calm as possible.

“Y… your… Your eyes…”

“My eyes?”

James clarified, albeit slowly. “Oh my word, Dan, she’s right. Your eyes are giving off light!”

“Wow, they haven’t done that in years,” I said, trying to ease their tension. It really was a natural side-effect of having a massive amount of mana stored in your body. Really nothing to be shocked about, that is, unless you’re about to fight someone with glowing eyes, and then you had better watch out. I then realized that Jyre had most likely never seen such a phenomenon, so I clarified. “I used to be a mage.”

I could tell that Jyre was quite overwhelmed. It really was a massive amount for her to take in all at once. I didn’t blame her for being speechless. I hoped that James would offer a word of comfort, but those words never came. Instead, other words came, words I would much rather have not heard.

- Jyre: Anger Builds - Day 10: 10:35pm

I hated it when people spoke to me like that! Just because I was a kid didn't mean I was stupid! But still, if that's how he wanted it...

I wasn't impressed by the meadow, or the fact that it was an illusion. I had, after all, spent six months living in a land of tiny villages scattered throughout countryside that was just as lush as this. I had spent a lot of that time in the company of telekinetics who often created illusions, although not as grand as this one, to hone their skills. I knew how he'd want me to act though. So I gave him just what he wanted. Playing the ignorant little girl had become second nature to me since my mum's death, years earlier. He accepted it, of course, saw exactly what he'd asked to see. The only genuine surprise I felt was when I saw his eyes, glowing now with their own tiny flames. "I used to be a mage," was all he said, as if that should have explained everything. But no mage I had ever met had had eyes that glowed like that! The fact that I had only actually ever met three didn't matter much, not when one of them had the potential to be the most powerful battle-mage ever to live! I didn't say anything though. It was obvious he had no desire to speak to me. So I just watched as he went to examine something James had found.

As they talked, I examined my surroundings. I wasn't particularly interested in them, to be honest. I was more interested in finding a way out. Daneel didn't want me here. He'd made that more than obvious. So I was going to do him a favor. I was going to leave. All I needed was a way out of here that didn't involve walking right past him. Thankfully it was easy enough to find, and it was small enough to stop him following me out of some misplaced sense of duty. He was only keeping me with him because he felt he “owed” me for coming. As soon as he realized I was off his hands he'd be a lot happier. I hesitated once, just in case he should change his mind and invite me over. But neither he nor James even glanced in my direction. I ducked to avoid the low ceiling of the narrow tunnel and started walking.

- Nightfall: Misconceptions Realized - Day 10: 10:36pm

“Dan, this is quite unexpected, come look.”

I turned around to see where James was, and found him crouched by the central pedestal in the ceremonial circle. He was by some skeletal remains. I approached. “What did you find?”

“This is the remains of a Satyr, but not just any Satyr, look at the skull.” He pointed to the large skull, with a few shreds of mostly rotted skin still clinging to it. My eyes lit up, literally, with shock as I recognized what I was looking at. The skull has a third eye socket, in the middle of its forehead. This was the remains of the Trickster.

“How can the Faery Queen do a ritual sacrifice of the Trickster’s corpse if the Trickster’s corpse is still laying where it fell, and she has obviously already been through here!” I said, half to James, and mostly to myself.

“Perhaps they planned to fetch it when the time was right?” he said, not buying his own explanation.

“Or perhaps we were all wrong about what she’s planning to do here.” I paused for a moment, totally puzzled. James broke my silence.

“When Garrett replaced The Eye, the Trickster’s artifact of power, with the mechanical eye built by the Hammerites, was the mechanical eye ever salvaged, or was it left?”

“I always figured that it was destroyed,” I said, almost sure at what he was getting at, but not totally.

“I do not think it was destroyed, nor was it taken back.” I nodded in agreement. “So why, I wonder, is it not on that pedestal where it should be?” I looked up at the central pedestal in the chamber, where the Trickster had made his final incantation, and sure enough, The Eye was not there.

I played the devils advocate. “Hundreds of things could have happened to it. Why should we believe that the Queen made this her starting point so that she could claim it? “

“Because it is the only logical explanation I can think of at this time.”

“So the Queen wants The Eye. Does she know that it is a fake eye?”

“She is no fool.”

“What would she want to do with it?”

“The real Eye was an artifact of pure and utter chaos. This mechanical eye was forged by human hands, and is thus a result of technology. It is technology in the guise of chaos. It is a lie. In essence, it is chaotic technology.”

“That’s a bit of a stretch,” I said, again playing the devil’s advocate.

“Again, it’s all I can think up right now. I wish I had my entire archives with me and a good week to research it, but alas, my mind and several seconds will have to do.”

“But does this change our plans?”

“Not really, but now we have no means of predicting anything.”

“Indeed,” I said grimly.

“Where’s Jyre?”

- James: Search - Day 10: 10:40pm

It was stupid. We should have known better. It broke every rule in the book. Maybe I was shaken because one of my quill pens had turned into a rather cute little lizard during the passage through the gate, and it had escaped. But Daneel and I saw two passages out of the ceremony room. Jyre left no footprints. And we agreed to split up.

Straining my senses, I moved down the tunnel, seeking for any sign of Jyre’s passage and occasionally making scrape marks in the moss to mark my own path. Slowly, I became aware of talking in the distance, and began to track towards it.

- Jyre: An Old Friend - Day 10: 10:40pm

I was on my hands and knees now, crawling across the sandy ground. I had just rounded a small bend when the stone around me began to flicker. Ripples of flame seemed to wash through it, casting the tunnel in an eerie orange glow. I backed away hurriedly, expecting my hands and knees to blister and burn. It took me a few seconds to realize that there had been no change in the temperature of the air around me. I touched the glowing stone apprehensively, my muscles tensed and ready to pull back before the heat could do any real damage. The stone was just as cool as it had been before. I carried on, now aware of the stone's crushing weight bearing downwards, making the air around me thick and heavy. The tunnel's end was in sight, a bright orange glow which dimmed that of the walls' into insignificance. I squeezed through the last few yards and wriggled out onto a small ledge. The ground dropped away just inches from where I sat, giving way to a deep trench filled with bubbling lava. Sweat blossomed on my skin from the rising heat. I edged my way along the ledge, past another opening, hoping that the ledge would lead me towards my eventual goal: The Lady. I was disappointed. The ledge ended abruptly, with a few broken stones sticking out over the lava indicating that it had once continued further. I cursed openly. My only choices now were to double back and hope I didn't run into Nightfall and James again or take that other passage and risk getting seriously lost.

I stared down at the lava as I tossed the choices about in my head. Had I done the right thing, leaving Daneel? Had I truly understood him properly? I had been having doubts for a while now, not that I had dared to acknowledge them. I was too much of a coward to admit that I could have been wrong. Only now I was being forced to rethink. And what I thought left me scared and a little intrigued. Could it be possible that he was like me? That he found talking to people just as much of a struggle as I did? I felt a twinge of guilt as I realized just how badly I may have misjudged him. Running away had been stupid! I needed to get back to him. If he wasn't going to talk to me then I was just going to have to talk to him!

I was about to turn back when I felt the fine point of a blade prick the back of my neck. I froze.

- Nightfall: Bad Karma - Day 10: 11:00pm

This was insane!

She was more childish than I had previously imaged. On the verge of the final confrontation she goes and does this. It was enough to make one want to melt solid stone.

There were two ways out, both newly constructed. The original entrance to this room had been recently blocked off by rocks, which fell too perfectly to have been caused naturally. James went left, I went right. I could sense her presence in that direction. I could also sense something definitely not her in the other direction.

The labyrinth had given me a small taste of my former magical abilities, but this place gave it all back, and even more. When I fully realized this, I stopped, closed my eyes, and began to explore this place with my mind. She was not far off at all. Returning to my body, I took the path which would allow me to intercept her. I had to make haste, for another group of individuals were making their way towards her, and they reeked of bad karma.

- James: Viktoria, I Presume - Day 10: 11:00pm

I found the source of the sound: a huge, oval-shaped room, covered in vines. I crept up slowly, concealing myself on a small outcropping of rock near the ceiling, at one end of the oval. It was a perfect place to hide and observe. Almost too perfect. In the very center of the room was an oval shaped pool of lava. At the far end, a gigantic ceremonial star had been prepared, on, of all things, a metal floor. Strange demihuman guards patrolled the outer edges of the star. Towards the center was a knot of people. Some were guards, two were bound and lying on the floor. And one was the Faery Queen, formerly known as Viktoria, still in her human form.

Stretched across the far wall was a portal, but it did not match the description of that which Garrett had disabled. His had been elementally powered. This one did not seem powered by elemental forces – or in any event, different ones. One corner steamed. Another corner had a smooth, polished metal ball. The third flashed with sparks, and the fourth simply flashed a strange series of glyphs and letters from various languages.

What was she up to? I found a place to observe behind some vine-covered rocks, my mind freewheeling through the data I had read on her, in the past weeks. Finally, the answer began to come to me. It wasn’t pleasant thinking, and it left me with no better idea of what we might have to do.

- Jyre: Ranson - Day 10: 11:10pm

"Long time no see, my little sweet." The sound of his voice sent shivers down my spine; Ranson. I started to turn but he stopped me by digging the point of his blade deeper. "Not so fast, huh, sweatie. Just you slip your hands behind you so Ranson can make 'em nice and secure now."

I stared into the lava below. For a second I even considered jumping. Then I slowly moved my arms behind me. I wasn't ready to give up fighting yet. Ranson would take me to her. That I didn't doubt. And once there I might still get a chance to hurt her in some small way. But even if I didn't, there was nothing she could do to make me hurt more than I already did. The blade stayed at my neck as Ranson deftly bound my wrists with his free hand. Then he spun me about and pushed his lips against mine. I did nothing, just waited for him to finish. At last he moved away, grinning. I studied his face. There were wrinkles on his forehead now, and a touch of white in his hair. He still held himself in that same arrogant manor he always had though. His appearance gave the impression of someone well into their middle years, surprising for someone who was only nineteen.

"Walk with me, sweet one," he said as he wrapped an arm around my shoulders. The edge of his knife now lay against the flesh of my throat. He led me towards the opening I had passed earlier. "I've missed you, you know. I was angry at first, when you chose him over me. But I got over that." We turned into the opening. "To tell you the truth I never expected to see your precious little face again. He stopped and turned to look me up and down.

"Same old Jyre," he said at last. "You ain't changed a bit." He laughed. Mad anger grew in his eyes. "So why'd you go with him, Jyre. Why'd you pick that filthy traitor over me?!" His hand was trembling. I could feel blood on my skin. "Answer me!"

"I... He never gave me a choice!" The answer came out before I had a chance to think. It was true enough, I suppose. "All I remember was that one day I was in the cage and the next I was with him!"

Ranson nodded slowly. "She knew you would come, you know. Told us to bring the cage along for you." He must have felt me tremble because he put a hand to my cheek and stroked it softly. "Easy, my sweet. It doesn't have to come to that. She'll give you a second chance. I know she will."

I couldn't answer. Saying the wrong word now would probably get my throat slit.

"Els was given his. He made the wrong choice. But I saw to it his death was quick. For your sake."

"You killed him!"

"It had to be done. Surely you understand. He was a traitor and he stole you from us." He wiped away the tear that had slid onto my cheek. "Come back to us, Jyre. Come back to where you belong."

I swallowed and stared into his hard eyes, remembering.

"I'll look after you like I always did. I promise." He touched me, just like he had that first night. I took a step back, refusing to let the memory come. I took a long deep breath. Those days had been so easy. I hadn't even been aware of what he was doing half the time. "And I'll make you your special drink." The words were spoken softly. It was almost as though he knew what I was thinking.

"Ranson, I..."

"You're sorry. Yes, I know."

I let out a long sigh. All I needed to do was nod and this would be over. The pain and the memories would just slip away into the void that existed in the back of my mind. Just a little drink and I would forget everything. Nothing that happened then would matter. It was only when you woke up that it hurt and if the look in Ranson's eyes was anything to go by, I would never have to wake up again. I was tempted.

"Don't become another Els. Please."

Tempted – but not won over. He couldn't have chosen a worse thing to say. I shook my head. "I'm not the naive little kid you once knew. I'm not gonna fall for your tricks this time."

I never saw the blow coming. It dropped me to my knees. My head was still ringing when he dragged me forward by the hair. "If that's your choice, bitch!" He yanked me to my feet. "I'm gonna enjoy watching you rot!" My vision swam and I found myself staring at a dizzying whirl of sand and blackness. I remember stumbling and him dragging me onwards. Shouts from a distance. His reply. Then I was dropped to the ground and left there.

"You have done well, Ranson." It was the Lady's voice. "I will always remember how faithfully you served."

I heard sounds of a scuffle. Someone bumped into me. I couldn't move.

"B-but –"

"The time for weak manflesh is over fool! I have better things planned."

Something hard hit the back of my head. The world spun and I knew no more.

- Nightfall: - Day 10: 11:30pm

I'm not sure if it was just the exhaustion hitting me again, or if something truly bad happened, but suddenly I just felt horrible. This sickening feeling crept through my chest and into my throat. Yet I pressed on. It was not far until I made my way to a populated area. This section of the maw was in heavy use. There were creatures patrolling everywhere. Some were undeniably monsters, while others seemed to be human, but with signs of transformation already strongly evident. Some of the transformations looked painful, and all disturbing. I wondered what type of control she must have over these people in order for them to willingly allow themselves to become the beasts that they now are. It was horrifying.

Coughing down the sick feeling, I concentrated my powers on concealment, and went into stealth mode. Using my magic cloak to conceal myself, even the slightest shadow could be used to render me invisible. I kept to the outer wall as I walked slowly down the curved corridor. The inner wall had many gateways that lead to what seemed to be a very large central chamber. I concentrated my thoughts on Jyre's presence up ahead. She was still alive.

- Jyre: In the Hands of The Lady - Day 10: 11:35pm

I sat in the cage, staring out at his corpse. It swung back and forth, dripping blood all over the ground. His dangling fingers left trails in their wake. I was too numb to be sickened by the bloody sight. My mind had already fled from the evil it had witnessed. But in a way the thing it had fled to was even worse: Daneel. He was in danger and I had abandoned him. Just like I had abandoned Els. And why? Because I was too damned selfish to think of anyone else but myself! I had come down here to help him, not make things worse! I had played right into the Lady's hands by leaving him. I don't know how he felt about me but if it was in any way close to the feelings I held for him, the Lady had just gotten herself the perfect hostage. If he came to any harm... I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The stink of blood filled my nostrils. For a second I imagined it was Daneel, not Ranson, who swung from the beam. If only I hadn't been so bloody stupid! Ranson's death played through my mind yet again, only this time I was watching it happen to someone else.

Upon reviving I had found myself staring straight at his terrified, upside down face. The Lady had obviously been waiting for me to come round because as soon as I stirred she had given the order to begin. They had started at his feet. Carefully paring the flesh and stripping it back from the muscle underneath, exposing raw nerves and tissue to the air. Sick fascination kept me watching despite my revulsion. They peeled it off like a piece of clothing, taking great care not to let it rip or tear. His thrashing lasted only a few seconds, as did his screams. But I could see the life in his eyes.

And the agony.

As I watched his eyes locked with my own and I could see the accusation in them. Your fault, they seemed to say. If you hadn't left us...'

I shook my head in denial. "I never meant... Didn't think."

"Do you ever think?" Blood dribbled down his chin into his mouth as he asked that. The pain in his voice was unbearable but there was nothing I could do now to make things change. "It's always Jyre, Jyre, Jyre with you, isn't it?" His back arched as the knife bit into it. "Do you ever think of anyone else but yourself?" His whole body convulsed in agony as they tore the skin from his back. He lifted an accusing finger and pointed at me, his lips forming the word "traitor". Then his arm dropped back down and his eyes slowly glazed over as the last drop of life left him.

Guilt surged through me. I wanted to scream. This was my fault! Daneel was dead and it was all my fault!

I heard laughter. Swallowing hard, I looked up. Ranson's dead, staring eyes met my own. Not Daneel then. Not yet, anyway. I sobbed in relief as I remembered those last few seconds of Ranson's life. His lips had parted as though he were about to speak. Then he let out a long, deep sigh. When his death finally came I was grateful it was over. The man may have been a bastard but he hadn't deserved that!

"You see young one," The Lady stepped between me and the corpse, "what it is that awaits you?" She moved back a step and gave Ranson's body a push. He swung forward, his face slamming into the cage. I jerked away as his blood spluttered over me. I could feel it running down my face but had no way to wipe it away. It still felt warm. Odd. I had always expected the heat to flee when life did.

Victoria bent down to look me in the eye. Her skin was smooth and unblemished. Her hair cascaded around her face in black waves. If it weren't for the coldness in the deep pits that were her eyes I wouldn't have believed her capable of this. She turned her head slightly as she studied me and for a second I could have sworn her white skin turned first green, then gray. She smiled and lifted a finger to wipe a drop of blood from my cheek. "You will be the final one," she said as she stood. "Your death will be my rebirth."

Death. I would welcome that. No more pain. No more misery. But, more importantly, no more hurting the people I loved. Daneel would be better off without me. They all would. All I ever did was cause trouble. He was strong, intelligent, he would get through this with James's help, and he would be rid of the burden that I created for him. So, perhaps my running off had been a good thing after all. It would leave him free to get on with the important things rather than having to contend with a selfish bitch like me. If the Lady had given me the choice, I would have ended my life right there.

"Not long now," she promised as she walked away.

"Yes," I answered in agreement, a wicked smile on my lips. Not long before Daneel's iron finds your black heart!

- Nightfall: And There She Was - Day 10: 11:36pm

I reached a point where there was finally a passageway on the outer wall of the corridor. This was where Jyre was. She was not alone. There was also great evil down here. I suspected that the Faery Queen was with her. Quickly I darted down the dimly lit passage, and into a small chamber. On the far wall was a great double-door, flanked by two large leafless trees. Something was approaching from the other side.

The trees each moved to open the door, forming a large branch into a sort of arm, to pull each side of the door open. Out stepped the Queen. There she was, finally. The Faery Queen, Viktoria, The Lady, the Dark Dryad of Chaos. Whatever you chose to call her, there she was. To the common eye, she appeared as no more than a breathtakingly beautiful noblewoman. She was wrapped in a greenish robe, which covered all but her forearms. She seemed to glide as she walked, the robe flowing softly over her slender body. Her face was mostly covered by the hood of the robe, but her pale chin and black lips could be seen, as well as the black hair that poured out the corners of the hood onto her shoulders. For an instant, she almost reminded me of the enchantress.

However in that instant I was looking at her body, not the intense black aura that engulfed her like a cloud of furious evil. Not since I looked upon the Arch-Bishop of Dorvakk had I seen an aura that intensely sinister. Focusing on it rather than her, the body became little more than a shadow, irrelevant in the midst of such awesome chaotic power.

She was looking right at me.

Or was she? Her attention was focused at my area, but she did not seem to notice me. I realized that she could sense my presence every bit as well as I could sense hers, so why had she not pinpointed me? She knew I was here. I stayed motionless, standing still as death in the shallow shadow which I clung to. I had my bow, and the arrow James gave me. I could end it here and now. But if I drew my weapon, she would see me and attack. Who was faster? Should I act now? Was I, in my full might, now more powerful then she? I doubted it.

My contemplation was cut short, as was hers. Jyre's mind screamed out in horror. The Queen turned around slightly and glanced over her shoulder. A thin smile graced her lips and she spun back around and left the room quickly.

Slaying the Queen could wait. I needed to save Jyre.

- Jyre: Awaiting Release - Day 10: 11:37pm

I stared at the stone of the wall opposite me and wondered just how long I would have to wait for The Lady to kill me. That was all I had left now. Waiting. I wanted it over. Finished. Me gone. The Lady gone. And everyone else left to return to their normal lives. The stone fascinated me. Even from this distance I was able to pick out all the tiny little grains that went into making it. I traced the pattern of the contours in my mind, imagining myself an explorer mapping it, noting the peeks that formed the mountains and the tiny crevices that became huge valleys. I did it to relieve the boredom whilst I awaited death, granting that tiny bit of my mind that still remained the luxury of having something to do. I could almost feel the texture of the stone beneath my fingertips. Rough, flaking. Tiny grains breaking off at my touch.

"Bring her."

I think it was The Lady that spoke those words, although I wasn't sure anyone had actually uttered a thing. I was aware of the lid being removed from the cage and the shackles falling from my wrists but to say I cared would have been a lie. Then I was lifted clear of the metal bars and place on my feet. Whatever it was that had lifted me gave me a prod. I stumbled forward.

Daneel! No illusion this time. No figment of my imagination conjured up to fill in the hollow in my chest. He was really there! I stood frozen, staring at him. Just the tiniest bit of light. That's all there was. Eyes. I knew it was him!

I was pushed again. I fell to my knees, my eyes still fixed on his face. Sweat broke out my body. Dread filled my heart. If I could see him, then so could she!

I was dragged to my feet. Shoved forward. "Move!" At first I thought it was The Lady who had spoken, so soft and feminine was the voice. But then I turned my head and for the first time since I had been caught, I actually brought my eyes to rest on Ranson's killer. What I saw made me feel sick.

Bugbeast. That was the name James had given the strange green creatures that I had seen depicted in one of his books. At first I was certain that was what I faced. But when it smiled at me I knew I was wrong. The way its lips curled up. The light reflected in its eyes. Its expression. Human traits, all of them, far too human for a mere beast. And then I noticed other things. Its hands. Fingers. Five of them. The middle one a long sharp thing, like a giant nail. Hair. On its head. A little on its face. And the way it moved. It had the grace of a man, not the clumsiness of a mere beast. I understood what it was, what The Lady had done. She had mated them. Human and beast. And the thing that stood before was the result.

"Move," it said again. Grinning. Showing its teeth.

I heard the tinniest of noises. Like a tiny pebble scuttling across stone. When I looked I discovered Daneel had moved. He was too obvious. Too easily seen. I had to give him a chance! I charged straight at the Human/Bugbeast, knowing it would mean my death. Welcoming it even. It would distract her for a second, let him act. Perhaps even ruin whatever it was she had planned! If my death was sudden enough. Ranson's death had been part of some sort of ceremony and I was fairly certain she intended for mine to be as well. So, my death would solve two problems then. Deprive The Lady of her glory and grant Daneel a chance to bring her to an end. And all I had to do was drive myself onto one of the beast's vicious claws. I think I was laughing as I ran forward to be impaled.

- Nightfall: Blocked - Day 10: 11:37pm

The doors would not open! In a way, I was lucky. At least the two guardian trees did not attack me. Instead they simply refused to open the door for me. There was a large amount of activity in the room beyond. Jyre was in dire need. I could blast the door open, but that would put the entire place on full alert, and they would hunt us down one by one. I reached out to Jyre's mind, trying to find out what was happening and what I could do.

She was delirious, near panic, and desperate. There was something else in the room with her, and it meant death to her. I needed to let her know I was close by, and trying to get to her. It may give her the little hope she needed to survive long enough for me to get to her.

- Chapter 21 - Holy War / Chapter 23 - One Villain's Death is Another's Birth

Correspondence of Thieves copyright, 2000, Steve Tremblay, Lytha, James Sterrett, Alexandria Thomson, and Daniel Todd.