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Chapter 40 : The Phantom Circle
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Pain rippled up from the base of her spine and across like a wave, surging the breath out of her lungs, the heat from her body. Eva gasped for air that couldn’t come, then her legs gave way and she fell to her knees. She had to catch herself to not collapse entirely, but then those criss-crossed patterns on the paving stones were all she knew, swimming in and out of her vision as the rest of the world surged away.
Don’t stand on the shadows.
Albus was yelling, but she couldn’t hear the words in the rushing air, the sucking void of darkening spots appearing in front of her eyes, and it was all familiar, so familiar…
The first breath she could draw, she almost spent on a laugh where irony would have hurt as much as a stab wound. It was only fair that she be undone by such a move. It was, after all, just how she’d killed Elijah Downing.
‘You,’ Geiger was saying, his words coming to her as if through water, ‘aren’t as useful a prisoner as him, though. Raskoph will reward me for stopping you, but he doesn’t need you alive for that.’
Alive. Alive, as blood seeped from her body, just like it had with Elijah Downing on that rooftop on Brillig Island. Where she’d killed him and, in a way, killed Eva Saida, too. But it hadn’t made her Lisa Delacroix, not really, and she’d still gone on to break trust, hurt Al…
Al, who was still struggling in Geiger’s grip, who was as good as dead if she succumbed.
Didn’t Downing take a lot less time to die?
She’d been precise with that stab. Picked where to strike, how hard; had twisted the knife and pinned him in place as he jerked and struggled and bled. But this was just one stab, lower than where she’d struck Downing, and then nothing. No follow-up. No twist. Most wizards wouldn’t know how to hurt someone in such a mundane manner; they pointed their wands, they cast their spells. It took a true specialist in causing pain to know what killed someone and what didn’t, and she had been a true specialist.
A true specialist who’d just been stabbed by an amateur. Again she almost laughed, but instead settled for collapsing on her front.
It was very easy to make it look real.
A shadow fell over her, and it wasn’t Geiger, who hadn’t moved. It was the Thornweaver who stabbed her. He’d tossed back the cloak, approached and with a sharp kick, sent her wand skidding from her grip. Fully visible he stood before her, wand lowered by his hand, and she remembered Albus commenting years ago how the Invisibility Cloak was great, but it could be uncomfortable to move in, restrictive to fight in.
And why did he need to hide from her, after all?
Her wand was gone. But the sword still twitched in her grip, and then it was moving before she was thinking. The blow of an enchanted, sharp metal edge that slashed across the Thornweaver’s knee was powered by that oldest instinct Eva could command. Survive. Survive. And, now, joined by something perhaps more powerful. Save Al.
The Thornweaver screamed as she all but severed his leg. He collapsed as she rose, her teeth gritted against the pain of her wound, scowling against the spots in front of her eyes, and with fading strength she caught him. Not to save him, but to pull him against herself, let the blast from Geiger’s wand thud into him, not her. He went limp, fell against her, and she stumbled, collapsing onto her back with the impact and the man’s weight, the sword dropping from her grasp.
Which was when Albus elbowed Erik Geiger in the gut.
Move. Move. Black spots flickered across the spinning, domed ceiling of the Department of Magic that was all she could see. Hot blood spilt across her, but she didn’t know if it was hers or the Thornweaver’s, who lay across her lower half. It didn’t matter much, because it still hurt, hurt.
Geiger cursing, Albus yelling something incoherent. Albus had the element of surprise, perhaps, but Geiger was a big guy and he still had a wand -
She pushed the body on her aside just as Geiger pressed his wand to Albus’ gut and blasted him flying back across the lobby. Which put her in the perfect position to scrabble for the unconscious Thornweaver’s wand and send a Stun thudding into Geiger’s side.
He staggered and she rolled onto one knee, hurling out another spell, she didn’t even care which, and it collapsed his next shield. Then another spell, and another, and then she was on her feet and he was falling, hitting the lobby floor hard, wand rolling from his grip. He stirred only weakly as she stood before him, chest heaving with agonising breaths, stolen wand crackling with energy as she levelled it at his face. Whatever she’d hit Geiger with was enough to bewilder him, and he stared at her with uncomprehending eyes, tried to move a body that had taken such a hammering it would not, could not obey his commands.
‘I told you,’ she gasped, voice coming like it had been shredded with knives as badly as her body. ‘I told you I would march through all your Inferi, all your Thornweavers, all of your fury and your might. And I told you that when I was done, you would beg for me to kill you.’
She hadn’t cast the Cruciatus in so long. It had been a tool for so many circumstances, the perfect motivator. She had never enjoyed it before; she simply hadn’t cared, had been so focused on her goal that she could summon the magic and wait dispassionately for the screaming to stop and the actual results to begin. But thinking of it now was like thinking of an old friend she hadn’t seen in an age, warm and comfortable and right, and yes, for once, she could enjoy this -
Then Albus’ hand was at her forearm, a gentle touch that didn’t push her wand away, just brought her back from the fantasy and into reality. ‘Eva, you don’t need to do this.’
Her feet weren’t that steady, but she could still force her arm to stay level. She didn’t look at him, because it was easier to look at the weak, defeated Erik Geiger, and easier to hate him. If she didn’t hate him, she was going to have to do something else, and hate was far, far easier than the unknown. ‘I know,’ said Eva, and her old voice came out, the cold, dispassionate one. ‘I want to.’
‘Right now, you do. But you’ll regret it. In a day, in a week, you’ll look back on this moment and you’ll feel sick.’
‘I know what I’m capable of more than you -’
‘You know what you were capable of. You’re not that person any more. You’re better than that.’ His other hand came to her upper back, gentle, careful, and she wondered if he was trying to encourage her or make ready for when she passed out. It didn’t feel like that was so far away a prospect.
So she had work to do in the meantime. ‘I’m not better than that -’
‘You are now.’
‘I’ve killed so many, he’s just one more. I killed Elijah Downing with a knife, and I killed Lisa Delacroix with a wand -’
‘And the last person you killed was the person you used to be. I see who you are now, and you don’t need to do this.’
When her wand dropped, she told herself for a heartbeat that this was just because she’d been stabbed in the back. It was hard to keep a good posture and focus on a really good doling out of pain when she was bleeding. She was just in no state to hurt Geiger, no state to fight, no state to really do anything.
Except maybe look, at last, at Albus. At those bright green eyes, blazing with concern and, did she dare think it, affection? That honest brow furrowed by worry, his hand on her arm still close, careful. So all she could do then was prove she was in a good enough state to hurl herself at him, hands coming to his cheeks so she could kiss him full on the lips. He rocked back, surprised by her and staggered from the fight and, when his arms snaked around her, mindful of her injury.
‘I thought you were dead,’ she breathed against his lips once she’d pulled away. She had to collapse into his embrace, both so she could stand and so she could cling to him, tangible evidence that she was wrong.
Her hands had smeared blood across his cheeks, which only made his anxious smile shine all the brighter. ‘Then why did you come?’ Al shook his head, sobering. ‘Never mind. You need to sit down so I can patch you up. Then we’ll truss up Geiger and get out of here; the IMC will be happy to get their hands on him.’
Eva nodded. ‘There’s a Portkey to Nairobi still at International Transportation,’ she said. Then passed out.
‘We’re going down there in that. Do you want us to die?’
Selena was upset. She was in uncomfortable wellies, a waterproof winter coat that made her look like a giant marshmallow, with the freezing sea sloshing up the pebble beach and crashing over her ankles. The seaside was no place to visit in late November, so far as she was concerned - or, if it was the British seaside, any time of year. But here they were, on the shores of one of the small islands off the west coast of Cornwall, with all the best and brightest minds of their research task force. Not to mention the Aurors stuck to her side like glue since Winchester.
De Sablé waded out towards them. The tide was low, but the waves foamed around his knees, and had Selena been less miserable she would have found a Knight Templar Wizard in galoshes hilarious.
There was nothing hilarious about this beach.
‘It’s safe, Miss Rourke,’ he assured her, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. The diving bell, a large metal sphere that looked more like a possible coffin than a vehicle for exploration, lurked in the shallows, waves crashing around it, ancient and cantankerous and heavy. ‘The finest in British maritime magics.’
She looked at Matt. ‘I thought you said wizards suck at exploring the oceans?’
‘They do.’ He was bundled up against the cold and wet, too, but somehow managed to look like a rumpled explorer and not any kind of spongy sweet. ‘Which is why we only have the dirigible, not anything more sophisticated. But it won’t breach.’ He turned to de Sablé. ‘What did you find?’
De Sablé lifted his hands. ‘I would not have asked you down here if it were not impressive. Lowsley and Nejem agree. But they do not want to climb out of and then back into the dirigible.’ He pronounced the ‘g’ softly, accent creeping in.
‘Well, if Lowsley thinks it’s important -’
‘Let’s see,’ interrupted Matt. She had to accept that was probably fair, and she followed suit in pulling on waterproofs and waded out with him into the shallow tides.
Then she was aware of another of the shore party, ready to receive the dirigible and record its results and guard the area, wading out with her, and she looked back to see her Auror bodyguard. ‘Jennings, there is barely going to be enough room for the five of us in that thing before you join in.’
Auror Jennings’ anxious face creased. ‘But I’m supposed to offer you security, ma’am, like in Cardigan.’
In Cardigan Bay, looking for some sign of Cantref Gwaelod, on foot and on a little speedboat that had made her want to throw up, the biggest contribution Jennings had made was to hold her ice cream while she pinned her hair back. ‘Who’s going to abduct me at the bottom of the ocean? Really, if you were taking bodyguarding seriously, you’d stop me from getting into this death trap.’
‘That’s not an order, I’m going. And I’m with an immortal wizard knight; that is far more badass than you.’
Auror Jennings wilted like she’d been soaked by one of the waves, but didn’t stop Selena as she waded out to join Matt and de Sablé by the huge spherical dirigible. It sat, heavy and still on the sand, the waves coming up to their waists by now. De Sablé gave Matt a leg-up to the hatch, high at the top of the dirigible and accessible by a ladder that didn’t quite reach far down enough. Selena drew a hissing breath as she watched Matt’s prosthetic struggle with the ladder, then he got a foot on the rungs and carried on and she pretended she hadn’t noticed, hadn’t worried. He wouldn’t thank her. She scrabbled up after him, with de Sablé’s, help to the top of the fifteen feet high spherical contraption, and when she swung through the hatch inside, her stomach lurched.
‘Oh God, we’re all going to die in here.’
Matt helped steady her as she landed, but he looked beyond thrilled to be stood in this confined space, a spherical chamber adorned with control knobs and levers and brass panels and tiny portholes framed by thick metal and hefty bolts. To him, Selena reasoned, this was probably an adventure. To her, it was a death trap.
‘Welcome,’ drawled Nejem, sat on one of the metal-backed chairs before a control panel, ‘to the fevered nightmares of Jules Verne.’
‘Who’s he? Did he design this? I hate him.’
‘This,’ said Matt, awed, ‘is brilliant.’
‘Yes, well. You’ll be more impressed when we get there,’ said Nejem. Lowsley sat next to him, head in his hands, looking pale. Nejem elbowed him. ‘Perk up, old boy, you won’t feel so sick once we’re underwater.’
‘I won’t feel nauseous from movement when we’re underwater,’ Lowsley groaned. ‘I will feel nauseous from fear.’
‘Look at it this way; we go down with the Captain this time.’ Nejem jerked his head at Matt.
‘That doesn’t help.’
De Sablé appeared through the hatch, hanging above them for a moment to close it before he dropped to land on the deck with a clatter. ‘Shall we be about it?’
Selena made a bee-line for the only chair left and strapped herself in. ‘This had better be worth it.’
Lowsley groaned. ‘I hate to say it. But it really might be. I just hope it’s worth me throwing up on you, too.’
‘Trust me,’ said Selena, fiddling with buckles as Nejem reached for the dirigible’s controls, ‘unless we find the exclusive Weird Sisters reunion concert down there, it will not be worth that.’
They crested the final rise to see Helluby laid out before them, like twinkling galleons dropped on black velvet, and Rose let out a sigh of relief. ‘People are still there.’
‘Or the entire place is still on fire.’
From this vantage point at the front of their sleigh at the top of this hill, she could see Helluby was a wreck. Buildings were burnt-out husks or had been ripped apart, but some still stood, and it was from there that the light gleamed. Squinting through the gloom showed movement, but it wasn’t the frozen white hides of Inferi, their loping advance. They were witches and wizards bundled against the cold, and her heart soared when she saw the white tents set up at the outskirts, the tarps covering holes in buildings. Just like the aid work in Hogsmeade.
So her relief was short-lived, as they urged the elks down the slope towards the settlement. Even if the IMC were here and helping, they were only here because people were dead.
‘I wonder if it’s your mother’s charity,’ she mused, then remembered what Castagnary had said and bit her tongue.
Scorpius sighed. ‘Maybe, but they were in Durban. Who knows.’
Silence reigned for long moments, the hoof-beats of their elks and the hissing of the sleigh on ice as they descended at a gentle pace. ‘What’re you going to do about that?’ she said at last.
‘I don’t know. Talk to her, I guess. If I get the chance.’
He looked abashed once he’d said that, and she suspected he hadn’t meant to remind her of his limited time. But it was feeling all the more churlish to ignore such a reality, even if Rose was less ready to give up than ever. She reached for the reins to turn the sleigh towards the biggest gathering of tents and light, and felt something solid inside her pockets. ‘What’s…’ She’d not paid much attention to her big coat, with the fighting and the fleeing, but now she reached inside a pocket to pull out the hefty, worn, leather pouch. The moment it was in her hand, she felt cold. ‘Oh. This was - I got this off Cassian’s body.’
Scorpius took it, and tugged at the thronging. ‘Probably just some coin. Look at us, looting the dead.’ He didn’t even try to sound wry, and huffed when he looked inside. ‘Yeah. Some galleons and - huh, what’s this?’
Rose looked over as he pulled out a rock the size of his fist with an etching on it. ‘Bet you it’s magic.’
He gave her a sliver of a silver smile. ‘That’s my line.’
‘But seriously, it looks like the ward-stones you get in the Ministry and the DMLE HQ. The ones which let the carrier Apparate into the appropriately warded places. I can figure out where this one lets you in.’
‘Probably Niemandhorn. We can break in and… listen to super boring Convocation sessions.’ He slipped the stone into the pouch and passed it back. ‘I’ll send the journal and powder to Bachelet. I think he’d want her to have it, now.’
‘That’ll be a comfort,’ Rose muttered, and only once the words were past her lips did she realise she’d said that out loud. He looked surprised, so she sighed. ‘Alright, yes, I’m projecting, but I bet she would have much preferred to go with him than be left behind so he could go missing and never be seen again. And, who knows, maybe together they could have beaten Raskoph -’
‘Oh, thank Merlin,’ Scorpius growled. ‘We’re here.’
She drew the sleigh up as they reached the white tents at the outskirts of Helluby, lit up by lanterns and a huge, roaring fire in the open. Figures had come out to greet them, relief workers wearing badges of the IMC, and so they disembarked into a wave of witches and wizards first making sure they weren’t a threat and then, once identified, breaking into a fuss of checking up on them, asking questions. They did their best to explain what they could of the Helluby disaster while, Rose noted, not explaining their full mission or that they were, sort of, responsible for the Council’s attack in the first place.
The death count was high but not complete, and the IMC had been there for the last couple of days to help the injured and infected, destroy the Inferi, and begin the rebuilding work on this ancient magical settlement that might never recover.
But within five minutes there were footsteps thudding into the crowd, relief workers pushed aside, and before Rose even noticed a newcomer there was a flurry of wild hair and she was pulled into a maddened embrace. ‘Rose! Don’t do that to me!’
Rose couldn’t answer her mother because she was being smothered, but she returned the hug. It gave her a chance to mask her surprise - but of course Hermione had come out here, of course she’d lead the relief and the search for her daughter personally, because after all they’d been through, after all the near-misses, there was no way her mother was going to leave anything like this in someone else’s hands. She would want it to be done right. She would want to be sure.
Still, she had to claw at the embrace to pull back for air, to look her mother in the eye and give her a firm, reassuring smile. ‘Don’t worry,’ said Rose Weasley, master of hypocrisy, ‘I told you I’d come back.’
‘So this is exciting,’ said Selena, looking through the dirigible’s porthole at the gloomy depths of the ocean’s floor.
‘We’re getting there,’ said Nejem, taut. ‘It’s not a quick journey.’
‘I know, we had to wait for you to surface, and it was cold up there.’
‘It’s not a barrel of laughs down here,’ Lowsley groaned, still a bundled mess on his chair.
That, Selena had to admit, made her more likely to believe there was something worth seeing at this reef. Lowsley was the wettest blanket she’d ever met, but he’d not scrambled for the shore when they’d surfaced. He’d stayed on board and insisted they should stick it out, even if it made him miserable.
‘There it is,’ said de Sablé, much to her relief, and pointed at the viewport. ‘Does that look like a reef to either of you?’
Matt, stood next to him, leaned forwards. ‘We should be at the reef now.’
There was no surging spire of rock or coral or whatever a reef was - Selena was a little hazy on that point. Certainly nothing stabbed up out of the ocean floor to scrape across the hulls of unsuspecting Muggle vessels, send them sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Whatever was down here wasn’t tall enough to threaten ocean ships.
‘Those look like walls,’ she said.
‘Indeed. Outer walls. You can still see a gatehouse,’ said de Sablé, sounding almost wistful. ‘And it carries on.’
‘When we first got here, the dirigible’s controls tried to steer us away,’ explained Nejem. ‘I had to really concentrate to get us back on course. I bet most Muggle ships find themselves taking a detour. The ships themselves would try to go around, and the Muggle sailors wouldn’t even think twice about it.’
‘So how come some sank?’ said Selena.
Matt shrugged, eyes not tearing away from the approach to the underwater ruins. ‘Particularly bad weather might drive them off-course, whatever the wards do. If a Muggle was hell-bent on going straight across to make up for lost time, maybe they’d force their way through the wards, especially if these are fifteen hundred years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if magical defences might then try to tear the hulls of outsiders apart.’
‘…are they going to tear us apart?’
‘They didn’t last time,’ said Nejem. ‘And we went very far in.’
Matt leaned forwards and looked up, peering towards the surface. They couldn’t see it from down here, especially on such an overcast day. ‘We’re quite deep,’ he said. ‘But a magical city might have had protections not just against Muggles finding the place, but against aerial assaults. I wonder if those persist, I wonder if they’re interfering with any ships passing over.’
‘You’re saying we’re safer because we’re approaching at what would have been the ground level?’ said Selena.
‘How lucky of us,’ said Nejem. ‘I will keep low.’
They drifted through the watery depths, across the ocean floor and bobbing only just over the ruinous remains of the outer walls. Selena, despite her better judgement, unbuckled her seat and moved to stand next to Matt, peering through the porthole. ‘What does that look like to you?’ she murmured.
‘Old,’ he said, then blushed. ‘I mean - that level of architectural sophistication shouldn’t have been seen in Wales or Cornwall until five centuries after this place probably sank. But it’s still different to the Welsh castles the English constructed. It’s a little like Carolingian castles but… but not quite. It’s all off.’
‘Makes you wonder who gave the Muggles these engineering ideas,’ she pointed out, and he nodded - but didn’t take his gaze off the porthole, transfixed. She smothered a smile and reached for his hand, entwining their fingers. He squeezed back but still didn’t look at her, and this time she didn’t succeed at hiding her smile.
‘So you can see it’s not just an outer wall,’ Nejem narrated as he guided the dirigible onward. ‘A lot of bits inside are flattened, but we’ve got houses, boss, and streets - this is a whole bloody city! It’s not very big, but it’s a castle town so -’
‘Take us to the temple, Nejem,’ urged de Sablé.
‘Oh - right, right. But, I mean, boss, we could study this place for a lifetime. You’re going to be a bloody legend in wizarding archaeology.’
‘You found the place,’ said Matt, hushed.
‘Only because you sent us here.’ Nejem’s hands roved over the controls, and their little dirigible bobbed through broken streets of shattered houses. Seaweed and ocean life had encrusted across the ruins of this sunken city, so details were difficult to make out, but it looked to Selena like any medieval town she’d walked through. If, of course, massively ruined and dunked at the bottom of the sea. ‘Most of this is really broken up,’ Nejem continued. ‘But we had some magical signatures to search for - or, Sir Reynald did - and they led us to this western district. It’s a bit away from the main keep, but the buildings are less broken down.’
Shadows still rippled on this ocean floor, masses of seaweed or even clouds high above blocking out what little sunlight might creep through. But as Selena stared at their heading, she realised the darkness on this western part of the ruins was perfectly still, uncaring of gaps in the sunshine, and she felt a chill run down her spine.
No time to waste. This is only the first quarter. But you will be alright?
My Patronus is fine, Methuselah, I promise. I’ll hold this spot. You go on.
Her breath caught, and Matt’s hand tightening around hers felt, for a heartbeat, like a constriction instead of a reassurance. But she forced herself to relax, blink away that memory she’d not let herself linger on in so long. ‘What the hell is this place?’
‘The heart of everything, Miss Rourke,’ said de Sablé gently. ‘Where gathered the worshippers of Arawn, God of the Otherworld in this city. Perhaps the people who doomed it to the oceans. Or perhaps not; ultimately that doesn’t matter. It is what we seek.’
‘Long is the day,’ muttered Matt, ‘and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn.’
‘You’re just full of ominous comments to make everything seem creepy and more historic, aren’t you?’ said Selena, sharper than she meant.
‘Worry not, Miss Rourke,’ said de Sablé. ‘We have been here before and, while the place is unsettling, it is safe.’
‘It had better be. Because if we get underwater Dementors, this is going to be a shitty day.’
Lowsley lifted his head, eyes bloodshot. ‘Underwater Dementors?’
‘Easy,’ said Matt, voice gentler, and he squeezed Selena’s hand again. ‘You’ve done this before. You can do it again. Show us, please.’
Nejem bit his lip, but nodded and steered the dirigible onward. He began to angle it down, bearing for what Selena could now see was one of the few buildings that was not just a ruin. It was a low and squat structure, wide and flat, but the doorway was huge and dove down, onward into darkness. ‘The temple keeps on going underground,’ he said. ‘But you’ll see what caught our eye in the entranceway.’
Selena looked up as the dirigible reached the archway of carved stone, bigger than it looked at a distance. Nothing here had been settled by sea fauna or even flora, the rock bare and pale and untouched by time or erosion. ‘Oh, there it is,’ she mumbled as the dirigible passed through the huge entranceway to the temple. ‘I hate that swirly pattern.’
Matt grimaced as he followed her gaze. ‘It’s been a useful guide.’
‘And we are at last making some sense of it,’ said de Sablé.
Selena bit back an unhelpful comment. She might have been prepared to take Matt down a peg or two, but de Sablé, she reasoned, had been searching for answers about the Chalice and its nature for almost a thousand years. Mocking him felt cruel. So instead she shuffled closer to Matt, let his presence seep through her to dismiss the chill in her gut and the whispering at the back of her mind, and tried to not feel like a traitor.
‘Can you understand that writing?’ asked Matt as they emerged into a wide, open, rounded chamber. The inside walls were just as untouched by the ravages of time or waters, and the parts that weren’t covered in that swirling, stylised markings that had followed the Chalice everywhere were etched with markings Selena would have assumed were just further decorations.
‘I can pick up the odd word,’ said Nejem. ‘We didn’t look too close. You’ll see why in a minute, and then you’ll want to get out your wands because the magical signatures here are absolutely crazy, and I know for sure that the writing on the wall will be the least of your interests.’
He pulled the dirigible up, closer to the ceiling of the chamber, and Selena’s breath caught as she saw what lay at the centre below. It was like a wide, round basin, except there was no reason for the surface to shimmer like water because they were already under the ocean. And the sea’s surface didn’t shimmer like that, with dark wisps and swirling shapes seeping in and out of sight, all greys and shadows and echoes. ‘That’s a Veil.’
‘Yes,’ said de Sablé. ‘It most certainly is. A passageway between realms, in the very heart of a temple to Arawn, master of the Otherworld - or those are the myths and legends by which wizards and witches of the time would choose to understand life and death and the magics thereof. You will want to feel your way through the magics humming through this place, Matthias, even if they are only echoes of what has once been,’ he continued, nodding to Matt. ‘You will find them most familiar. Life and death in one, intricately wound together.’
Matt reached for his wand. ‘Just like the Chalice.’
‘Only more so. I’m quite sure of it, gentlemen, Miss Rourke.’ De Sablé straightened like a burden had been lifted from his shoulders, but in the gloomy light of the dirigible’s controls and its external lanterns, there was a furrow to his brow as if fresh worries had come to take its place. ‘This is where the Chalice of Emrys was made.’
A/N: ‘Long is the day, and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn,’ is Matt reciting a traditional saying from the Cardigan area. And being a pretentious little sod.
On an unrelated note, for those of you who haven't spotted, Dobby Award season is upon us! As ever I'd be lying if I pretended this is only a Public Service Announcement, as it's nomination period still and Ignite's picking up some steam in some places. But! Rock over to the forums and make sure your favourite stories get love and attention and nominations, even if they're not mine.
I also have good news! Yesterday I wrote the first draft of Oblivion's Epilogue, and no, I didn't skip to the end. The first draft of Oblivion is finished! Some stuff might get chopped and changed around, and there's a pair of chapters I think might become three by the end, but at PRESENT, Oblivion is 57 Chapters and an Epilogue long. You know how I said it'd be shorter than Starfall? I LIED.
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