[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
I took Mrs Betton to the Abbey first, of course. They will care for her, for the time that's left. She complained the whole way, as the young man I'd hired carried her. But she should not be here.

I started the fire in the basement. Destroy everything, he said. Make it into nothing. Fall down into nothing, the wheel turning down to the bottom: entropy. What will the phoenix world be like, rising from the ashes?

I am in the Middle Room. I can smell the smoke quite strongly now. I think of the books burning downstairs, and it hurts, a gentle necessary sort of pain. I think of what he said about Westin Sagert, who was a friend and perhaps might have been more: there were books he never saw, that he would have liked very much to see. That is part of the power of this, of course, I think: the destruction of possibilities, as well as what is.

The floors will collapse, I think. Not too soon, I hope. The skulls that have been silent are chattering on the shelves, jaws moving senselessly. Yes, I say to them, father and mother and grandfather and all of them all the way back. Yes, it is Time. Finally, Time.

There is smoke coming under the door. So I pour the lamp oil out in the center of the circle and light it from one of the tallow-fat candles, greasy and yellow. All in this together, a family affair. The flames lick up and the smoke too is greasy, foul-smelling. The floorboards are burning. Bone is charring. I feel my coat catch fire, a low smouldering. I can see them in the smoke, familiar shapes. Oh, I've missed you. The room is a thick haze. I'm burning inwards, and it's a relief, though it is starting to hurt. I won't care about pain.

I feel my skin crackling as it always does under my clothes, this dry dead skin that I was born with, mummified skin, dead thing's skin stretched thin over strange bones: the last of us, born beyond dead, and only my father and mother's death to give face and hands at least a semblance of life. When it is burned, it will look no different from any other man's who died of fire, and I smile.

Her arm is round my shoulders, in the smoke. It damps some of the flames. Don't be foolish, boy, the familiar querulous voice. I'd thought she'd gone too far, but she's here too, my Grandmama. I wonder if the little cat ghost is here somewhere too, twining round her ankles. She's steering me, and I'm in too much pain to know where. "The end, now," I say hoarsely, and she says, Silly boy. The others swirl round, making space in the smoke.

Go, I tell them, go, begone, go and turn the Wheel to the end, lend yourself to Him. They won't. Not our End says an ancient voice, far older than grandmama, and I'm stumbling through a door. How did I get here? Where am I? Is it just a door, or the final Door? Why are they rebelling? I should be on properly on fire by now, I should be dead, and all the weight of all the years leaning behind His Work. But there are more of them than me.

Not our Work, says another voice, more fiercely. My skin is crackling differently now, with heat. No, no, it's not meant to end like this. It's not. I'm sorry, I say voicelessly, I'm sorry. Am I wrong, or are they? I was so sure. I fumble my spectacles off, feel them crunch accidentally underfoot. I still can't see, though. I can't see anything. One way or another, this has to be the end.

Closed
[identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com

An August Evening; The Tower

My daughter is ready; and so am I. Matters have come into alignment. There have been various points throughout the history of this little lump of rock when stars, skies, oceans, calendars, however one marks time, have read that this is a time of Ending, rather then Beginning. Many have tried to make use of those times to bring about the end of all things, because ever since Man was made, he has longed to kill himself and others. But despite all the rumours to the contrary, I have not put my shoulder to the wheel of Apocalypse before now. Things have been done in one of my many names, but I have not led those attempts. Now is the time for finishing, and I will begin it. With blood, of course. It is always blood. It will be when the moon is darkest. That time comes soon.

For now, I see one of my acolytes cross the field to speak with me. This man thinks he wants an end to all things, but he barely understands what it is he serves. Poor fool. I am not much given to looking human, at present, but I put on something that will serve. A man's body, aristocratic in bearing. Flame lies just beneath the surface of its glassy skin. I will not be contained for long.

[open to Foxton]
CLOSED
[identity profile] sapphira-ststep.livejournal.com
[Afternoon of Monday, June 7 (day 372)]
[Down on the Pontarlier]


...well I was certainly not expecting this, I must say.

I could wonder, or I could fuss, but it comes to me that when such weather strikes, some actions are more appropriate than others. So I dress as warmly as I need to, find something appropriate to wear (shaped and painted leather, the colours of warm oak and berries, and thin brass tags at one temple), and set out to town. The air smells of evergreen and snow, and is full of the squeaking crunch of snow under boots and slightly confused laughter. I make my way through a light peppering of snowballs in the park, and head down to the river.

I wouldn't think it was cold enough to freeze, but the ice seems quite solid. Someone is sharing out or selling mulled cider; I'm not exactly sure as I didn't actually speak to them, but a young woman handed me her cup when a friend called her over, and it's very good.

I don't have skates, but I head out onto the ice, take a few quick steps for speed, and manage not to lose my balance or bang into anyone. The tags on my mask are jingling a little, and I'm laughing as I go sliding out across the Pontarlier.

Vive le vent, vive le vent,
Vive le vemps d'hiver...


[Open! (don't slip)]
[identity profile] sapphira-ststep.livejournal.com
[Afternoon of Monday, June 7 (day 372)]
[Down on the Pontarlier]


...well I was certainly not expecting this, I must say.

I could wonder, or I could fuss, but it comes to me that when such weather strikes, some actions are more appropriate than others. So I dress as warmly as I need to, find something appropriate to wear (shaped and painted leather, the colours of warm oak and berries, and thin brass tags at one temple), and set out to town. The air smells of evergreen and snow, and is full of the squeaking crunch of snow under boots and slightly confused laughter. I make my way through a light peppering of snowballs in the park, and head down to the river.

I wouldn't think it was cold enough to freeze, but the ice seems quite solid. Someone is sharing out or selling mulled cider; I'm not exactly sure as I didn't actually speak to them, but a young woman handed me her cup when a friend called her over, and it's very good.

I don't have skates, but I head out onto the ice, take a few quick steps for speed, and manage not to lose my balance or bang into anyone. The tags on my mask are jingling a little, and I'm laughing as I go sliding out across the Pontarlier.

Vive le vent, vive le vent,
Vive le vemps d'hiver...


[Open! (don't slip)]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
Thursday, May 20th
The Manqueller residence and the streets of Excolo


I was woken early by the kittens, the vile brute-beasts. I have asked and asked Mrs Betton to make sure she keeps the door to my bedroom closed, but there they were, tumbling across the bed quilt and climbing on the pillow to stand on my face.

"You are infernal creatures," I tell them as I dress. The weather has cooled, but none the less I fold the well-pressed sleeves of shirt to just below my elbows and leave the collar of my shirt unfastened: after a long winter, there is a great pleasure to be had in feeling the air upon my skin.

"Mrs Betton," I say, sitting down to the breakfast she has provided, "I fear I must remonstrate with you again. Those confounded animals woke me up again - I would swear that they do it on purpose."

"I can't tell you how it happens, Mr Manqueller," she says calmly, setting salt and pepper in front of me with my eggs. "I do my best to keep them out." I am quite sure that she does it on purpose, to make sure I keep hours she approves of.

Her excellent coffee improves my morning peevishness, however. "I think I will go into town," I tell her. "I have an engagement tonight," with a most pleasant gentleman, though there is no need to say that to her, "but I will take the air this morning, and perhaps take a cup of coffee or chocolate at the cafe later. So there is no need for you to prepare dinner, but if you might provide me with some small meal for my luncheon I would be most grateful."

"And for Mrs Manqueller?" I see her expression. Oh, dear.

"Ah. Is she in a - less than pleasant temper again? I shall see if I can jolly her along a little." I finish my food, blot my lips with my napkin and tell her, "I shall see to that now."

Grandmama is indeed in one of her tempers. The curtains in the library are firmly closed, and she is pretending to be asleep when I go in. "Good morning, Grandmama," I say, pulling back the curtains and letting some light in. "Have you had some breakfast?"

She ignores me peevishly. She can be so very trying. "Come, now," I say briskly, "I will have Mrs Betton bring you through a little tray. A cup of tea will set you up pleasantly." I rearrange the blanket over her knees, as best I can with Mibbit purring in her lap. Really, one cannot hold her moods against her: she is so very old, and in such poor health.

"I don't want tea," she said pettishly, and I pat her hand.

"I shall have her bring it anyway. You might find you want it later." I kiss her cheek; In her extreme age her skin holds so tight to her skull that she looks almost mummified, but it feels very soft.

I wave away the coat Mrs Betton brandishes at me. "A light jacket will be quite sufficient," I tell her, pulling it on, and step out into morning sunlight that makes me squint and smile together.

[Open]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
Thursday, May 20th
The Manqueller residence and the streets of Excolo


I was woken early by the kittens, the vile brute-beasts. I have asked and asked Mrs Betton to make sure she keeps the door to my bedroom closed, but there they were, tumbling across the bed quilt and climbing on the pillow to stand on my face.

"You are infernal creatures," I tell them as I dress. The weather has cooled, but none the less I fold the well-pressed sleeves of shirt to just below my elbows and leave the collar of my shirt unfastened: after a long winter, there is a great pleasure to be had in feeling the air upon my skin.

"Mrs Betton," I say, sitting down to the breakfast she has provided, "I fear I must remonstrate with you again. Those confounded animals woke me up again - I would swear that they do it on purpose."

"I can't tell you how it happens, Mr Manqueller," she says calmly, setting salt and pepper in front of me with my eggs. "I do my best to keep them out." I am quite sure that she does it on purpose, to make sure I keep hours she approves of.

Her excellent coffee improves my morning peevishness, however. "I think I will go into town," I tell her. "I have an engagement tonight," with a most pleasant gentleman, though there is no need to say that to her, "but I will take the air this morning, and perhaps take a cup of coffee or chocolate at the cafe later. So there is no need for you to prepare dinner, but if you might provide me with some small meal for my luncheon I would be most grateful."

"And for Mrs Manqueller?" I see her expression. Oh, dear.

"Ah. Is she in a - less than pleasant temper again? I shall see if I can jolly her along a little." I finish my food, blot my lips with my napkin and tell her, "I shall see to that now."

Grandmama is indeed in one of her tempers. The curtains in the library are firmly closed, and she is pretending to be asleep when I go in. "Good morning, Grandmama," I say, pulling back the curtains and letting some light in. "Have you had some breakfast?"

She ignores me peevishly. She can be so very trying. "Come, now," I say briskly, "I will have Mrs Betton bring you through a little tray. A cup of tea will set you up pleasantly." I rearrange the blanket over her knees, as best I can with Mibbit purring in her lap. Really, one cannot hold her moods against her: she is so very old, and in such poor health.

"I don't want tea," she said pettishly, and I pat her hand.

"I shall have her bring it anyway. You might find you want it later." I kiss her cheek; In her extreme age her skin holds so tight to her skull that she looks almost mummified, but it feels very soft.

I wave away the coat Mrs Betton brandishes at me. "A light jacket will be quite sufficient," I tell her, pulling it on, and step out into morning sunlight that makes me squint and smile together.

[Open]
[identity profile] glass-beddau.livejournal.com
[Sliding towards midnight, Wednesday, May 5 (day 339)]
[Out at the Abbey graveyard]


Cannot sleep, or don't care to, and after a while I dress and step out and take myself down Main. The clouds are coming in again, crossing over the stars, and when the moon's even there it's down to the thinnest arc of bone, mouse's rib. Out past the lights and down away from town, the road's a long twist of blacklead in the dark, faint promise of something that'd shimmer were there light to speak of.

Take myself down to the graveyard, the far old end where the graves that were there afore the world broke lie aground. My clearing work from last year's been worn at some by winter, but I can make out some of their spaces, and it's no great work to step around the others. Draw closer to the younger dead, feeling myself set to ease, and after a moment I find a clear space and settle down. Sitting out in here the ground's cool, and not moving doesn't help, but the coat Kate made me's solid work. Donner's grave's there, stark and unloved in the settled dark, and I consider it a moment.

"Mentioned of late that I'm glad you're dead?" I say mild. Not taking him for hearing me; ill at ease here, truly, but call that memory of what he'd done. At heart this's yet a graveyard, and that's a fine place to be on a night in early summer. Shift a little, uncomfortable, and try to ease the weight I'm carrying. Not much luck, but it's a small knot in the whole of the night, mild tingle of air and clear cool colours and the slow dreaming murmur of the dead. Settle for a moment and listen to the night, waiting and watching the way of it.

[Open]
[Closed]
[identity profile] glass-beddau.livejournal.com
[Sliding towards midnight, Wednesday, May 5 (day 339)]
[Out at the Abbey graveyard]


Cannot sleep, or don't care to, and after a while I dress and step out and take myself down Main. The clouds are coming in again, crossing over the stars, and when the moon's even there it's down to the thinnest arc of bone, mouse's rib. Out past the lights and down away from town, the road's a long twist of blacklead in the dark, faint promise of something that'd shimmer were there light to speak of.

Take myself down to the graveyard, the far old end where the graves that were there afore the world broke lie aground. My clearing work from last year's been worn at some by winter, but I can make out some of their spaces, and it's no great work to step around the others. Draw closer to the younger dead, feeling myself set to ease, and after a moment I find a clear space and settle down. Sitting out in here the ground's cool, and not moving doesn't help, but the coat Kate made me's solid work. Donner's grave's there, stark and unloved in the settled dark, and I consider it a moment.

"Mentioned of late that I'm glad you're dead?" I say mild. Not taking him for hearing me; ill at ease here, truly, but call that memory of what he'd done. At heart this's yet a graveyard, and that's a fine place to be on a night in early summer. Shift a little, uncomfortable, and try to ease the weight I'm carrying. Not much luck, but it's a small knot in the whole of the night, mild tingle of air and clear cool colours and the slow dreaming murmur of the dead. Settle for a moment and listen to the night, waiting and watching the way of it.

[Open]
[Closed]
[identity profile] npc-excolo.livejournal.com
Time has little meaning here, though your body back home may disagree.

Dream.

A forest.


A forest of the oldest sort, thick with brambles, trees snarled with centuries of life. It stretches for miles, many of them very dark, because the trees grow so close that it is hard to see. From a high vantage point, on one of the hills of the forest, one may glimpse a tower at the heart of the forest, a great graceful column of grey stone. Here and there there are clearings, bright with sunlight, and streams running with clear water. But mostly there is dark.

In the distance, the howl of a wolf.


[OPEN TO ALL]
[identity profile] npc-excolo.livejournal.com
Time has little meaning here, though your body back home may disagree.

Dream.

A forest.


A forest of the oldest sort, thick with brambles, trees snarled with centuries of life. It stretches for miles, many of them very dark, because the trees grow so close that it is hard to see. From a high vantage point, on one of the hills of the forest, one may glimpse a tower at the heart of the forest, a great graceful column of grey stone. Here and there there are clearings, bright with sunlight, and streams running with clear water. But mostly there is dark.

In the distance, the howl of a wolf.


[OPEN TO ALL]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
Sunday Jan 31
Morning
The Miskatonic


When I come downstairs Mrs Betton is cleaning my grandfather's Chronophage, as carefully as it deserves. I smile a little at it, and her: an eater of time. It is such a pretty conceit, swallowing the seconds that lie between us and the End.

I had thought, when I emerged from the Middle Room that day and found the town in the grip of that strange forgetting, that it was That which has come to the water tower. I am well aware of what it is. But it became clear that it was not, and that intrigues me..

The thing itself intrigues me. It wishes some kind of worship, I believe, like a god; or, if not worship, then homage. Enslavement, I might better say, in the end, and I have no time for that.

No time. Hah. It is a jest in itself, if a thin one. But yes, no time - no time for slavery or worship or gods. A god may be a useful thing, it may be used to power a greater working: may be shovelled into it as coal is shovelled into a stove. But beyond that, what purpose can they have? Principles walking around dressed up as men! And it is one of them too, after its fashion, the thing in the tower, a purpose that has put on flesh, or may do.

But ah, that one would be the greatest fuel, would it not? It is already a working in itself, a great wreaking all bent towards destruction and the end of things. It weights the Wheel, and it weighs far heavier upon it than I or all my forebears may. I cannot deny that I am fascinated by its potential.

"I will take breakfast in town, Mrs Betton," I tell her. "You might see to removing that animal from my bedroom - it has spent the whole night attempting to encroach upon my pillow. And its hair makes my eyes water."

Once I would have taken a little tea in the Dormouse, but it has been entirely too - disruptive in there of late. Miss Von Sach-- but of course I must think Mrs Whitman, now - seems to entertain all manner of disruptive guests these days. I take myself instead to the Miskatonic, which at least is likely to be without dramatic happenings at this time in the day. Really, Excolo has more disruption in a week than I found in a whole summer in Ladon, where the worst I endured was the squabbling of the Temple ladies.

The weather has lifted a little, though it is hardly pleasant. I am not about to resent it, however; winter is so much kinder a season to me that summer, with the restrictions on how I may dress.

I take a corner table, where I may see the room, and order tea and an egg. I wish to see if town has fully returned to normal, or what passes for it in recent months.

[Open]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
Sunday Jan 31
Morning
The Miskatonic


When I come downstairs Mrs Betton is cleaning my grandfather's Chronophage, as carefully as it deserves. I smile a little at it, and her: an eater of time. It is such a pretty conceit, swallowing the seconds that lie between us and the End.

I had thought, when I emerged from the Middle Room that day and found the town in the grip of that strange forgetting, that it was That which has come to the water tower. I am well aware of what it is. But it became clear that it was not, and that intrigues me..

The thing itself intrigues me. It wishes some kind of worship, I believe, like a god; or, if not worship, then homage. Enslavement, I might better say, in the end, and I have no time for that.

No time. Hah. It is a jest in itself, if a thin one. But yes, no time - no time for slavery or worship or gods. A god may be a useful thing, it may be used to power a greater working: may be shovelled into it as coal is shovelled into a stove. But beyond that, what purpose can they have? Principles walking around dressed up as men! And it is one of them too, after its fashion, the thing in the tower, a purpose that has put on flesh, or may do.

But ah, that one would be the greatest fuel, would it not? It is already a working in itself, a great wreaking all bent towards destruction and the end of things. It weights the Wheel, and it weighs far heavier upon it than I or all my forebears may. I cannot deny that I am fascinated by its potential.

"I will take breakfast in town, Mrs Betton," I tell her. "You might see to removing that animal from my bedroom - it has spent the whole night attempting to encroach upon my pillow. And its hair makes my eyes water."

Once I would have taken a little tea in the Dormouse, but it has been entirely too - disruptive in there of late. Miss Von Sach-- but of course I must think Mrs Whitman, now - seems to entertain all manner of disruptive guests these days. I take myself instead to the Miskatonic, which at least is likely to be without dramatic happenings at this time in the day. Really, Excolo has more disruption in a week than I found in a whole summer in Ladon, where the worst I endured was the squabbling of the Temple ladies.

The weather has lifted a little, though it is hardly pleasant. I am not about to resent it, however; winter is so much kinder a season to me that summer, with the restrictions on how I may dress.

I take a corner table, where I may see the room, and order tea and an egg. I wish to see if town has fully returned to normal, or what passes for it in recent months.

[Open]
[identity profile] kateohara.livejournal.com
Wednesday lunchtime

I look out of the window again and bite my lip. The snow is still falling, and I am certain that in the last hour it has begun to get thicker. The wind has picked up, too, and just as I think that the door flies open, a gust of cold air and snow blowing in. The bell rings madly, and I shut the door with effort, making sure that this time it catches on the latch properly. I'm glad that my fireplace and scuttle are well stocked with firewood and coals, because I know that this sort of weather can sometimes knock out the power. The store itself only has an electric heater, but there is a grate in the store room - but if the snow gets much worse I imagine I'll be shutting the store up for the day anyway. It's been a quiet morning, with only a few customers.

I sit down behind the cash register again and pull out Wanda's invitation for the third time this morning. Surely, surely she can't know what she is doing. Surely she can't. I keep avoiding looking at the Dormouse in case I can no longer resist running over there and pleading with her not to throw her life away. Well, maybe I should do that, although I am certain people who know her better have already tried. Just the thought of it makes me feel sick and my teeth ache in the way they do when I hear chalk scrape across a board or I bite into icecream that is too cold. I rub my arms, even though I am quite warm, and put the invitation aside, instead opening my ledger and looking through this week's accounts.

[OPEN]
[identity profile] kateohara.livejournal.com
Wednesday lunchtime

I look out of the window again and bite my lip. The snow is still falling, and I am certain that in the last hour it has begun to get thicker. The wind has picked up, too, and just as I think that the door flies open, a gust of cold air and snow blowing in. The bell rings madly, and I shut the door with effort, making sure that this time it catches on the latch properly. I'm glad that my fireplace and scuttle are well stocked with firewood and coals, because I know that this sort of weather can sometimes knock out the power. The store itself only has an electric heater, but there is a grate in the store room - but if the snow gets much worse I imagine I'll be shutting the store up for the day anyway. It's been a quiet morning, with only a few customers.

I sit down behind the cash register again and pull out Wanda's invitation for the third time this morning. Surely, surely she can't know what she is doing. Surely she can't. I keep avoiding looking at the Dormouse in case I can no longer resist running over there and pleading with her not to throw her life away. Well, maybe I should do that, although I am certain people who know her better have already tried. Just the thought of it makes me feel sick and my teeth ache in the way they do when I hear chalk scrape across a board or I bite into icecream that is too cold. I rub my arms, even though I am quite warm, and put the invitation aside, instead opening my ledger and looking through this week's accounts.

[OPEN]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
September 17th
Morning


I returned from Ladon late last night. It is a comfort to be home, indeed, but though Miss Betton had the fire in my room lit and the bed warm, I still felt chilled when I woke this morning.

It's a pleasantly bright day, at least. I take breakfast in the morning room, enjoying the eastern light, before repairing to the library. Miss Betton's cat is there again, a fat puddle of grey fur in my favourite chair. The creature does nothing but eat and sleep and shed, and from time to time chase the scuttling shadows in the corner of the closed-up rooms. Absurd animal; I have no idea why I allow it house room. It is of no use to me.

I scratch its ears absently as I say good morning to Grandmama, and it vibrates under my hand. I must ask Miss Betton to clean Grandmama's case: the glass is smeared, and dust lies in the joins of the wood. Grandmama's been fading these last years, only a faint querulous sense of her in the room, but there's no need to expose her to that kind of indignity. The dust lies lightly on the stretched brown leather of her mummified skin as well, but I shan't ask Miss Beaton to dust her. That's a task for family alone.

I pass through the library, and into the Middle Room.

Nothing has been disturbed, of course. The grease-and-static feel of the ancient wards is still firmly in place, and when I light a candle the workroom is as I left it. The amulet I'm looking for is in the top left drawer of the apothecary chest; I open the pouch and unwrap the silk and shake the little bone out into my hand.

A small charm, for a small spirit. A single fingerbone, smooth and yellowed with age. Little left of the dead man: a little shred of consciousness to be commanded. Most of him has frayed away long since, to wherever these things go; what is left is a husk, a rind, but a useful one.

I send the poor wisp of being out into the day, feeling it shiver away, and sit down at my work table until it returns. When it comes it brings much news: a great power passed, another set loose upon the town. This shall be interesting indeed. I wrap the bone up again and shut it away in darkness, preserving what's left of the dead man against future need.

"I'm going into town," I tell Miss Betton when I've closed the Middle Room up again. "I have some business to take care of."

[Closed]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
September 17th
Morning


I returned from Ladon late last night. It is a comfort to be home, indeed, but though Miss Betton had the fire in my room lit and the bed warm, I still felt chilled when I woke this morning.

It's a pleasantly bright day, at least. I take breakfast in the morning room, enjoying the eastern light, before repairing to the library. Miss Betton's cat is there again, a fat puddle of grey fur in my favourite chair. The creature does nothing but eat and sleep and shed, and from time to time chase the scuttling shadows in the corner of the closed-up rooms. Absurd animal; I have no idea why I allow it house room. It is of no use to me.

I scratch its ears absently as I say good morning to Grandmama, and it vibrates under my hand. I must ask Miss Betton to clean Grandmama's case: the glass is smeared, and dust lies in the joins of the wood. Grandmama's been fading these last years, only a faint querulous sense of her in the room, but there's no need to expose her to that kind of indignity. The dust lies lightly on the stretched brown leather of her mummified skin as well, but I shan't ask Miss Beaton to dust her. That's a task for family alone.

I pass through the library, and into the Middle Room.

Nothing has been disturbed, of course. The grease-and-static feel of the ancient wards is still firmly in place, and when I light a candle the workroom is as I left it. The amulet I'm looking for is in the top left drawer of the apothecary chest; I open the pouch and unwrap the silk and shake the little bone out into my hand.

A small charm, for a small spirit. A single fingerbone, smooth and yellowed with age. Little left of the dead man: a little shred of consciousness to be commanded. Most of him has frayed away long since, to wherever these things go; what is left is a husk, a rind, but a useful one.

I send the poor wisp of being out into the day, feeling it shiver away, and sit down at my work table until it returns. When it comes it brings much news: a great power passed, another set loose upon the town. This shall be interesting indeed. I wrap the bone up again and shut it away in darkness, preserving what's left of the dead man against future need.

"I'm going into town," I tell Miss Betton when I've closed the Middle Room up again. "I have some business to take care of."

[Closed]

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