Chapter Eight

In which Voices speak from Dark Places


Christopher and Emma emerged from the Bungalow into the darkling dawn of a Saturday morning.

Immediately, Christopher noticed that the lawn was far less crowded than when the two of them had arrived. The bustling atmosphere which had greeted them had given way to one of paranoia, suspicion and fear. Some of the merchants’ stalls had vanished completely — no trace of their construction now lingered upon the grass — and those vendors who soldiered on were hawking their wares with far less gusto than had previously been the case. The black tents on the opposite side of the area had been dismantled: clearly, no one had any desire to talk politics for what little remained of this night.

Chase remained in the building. When Christopher had last seen the little man, he had been moving in the direction of a fireman’s axe, and neither he nor Emma had any inclination to stay behind to observe how Chase intended to use it. Chase had told them that he would rejoin them shortly, and they had made all haste for the exit.

It was not yet light enough for the world about him to have blossomed back into colour, but Christopher could tell that sunrise was now not far off. The blackness of the sky above was infused with a subtle light — the night fighting a losing battle against the oncoming day. And the first gentle trills of waking birds lilted down from the treetops, a strikingly serene contrast to the grisly sights he had been witness to in the past few minutes. He breathed deeply of the early morning air, filling his lungs with the freshness of a day too newborn to yet be sullied.

“We need to get that leg of yours taken care of,” Emma said to him softly. Christopher noticed that almost everybody was whispering now. It wasn’t just because people were cowed by the tragic events which had marred this Wandering Parliament: the oncoming dawn seemed to practically demand such reverence. He smiled at Emma gently. In truth, he had forgotten about the wound Lochlann had delivered during their duel. (Was that really less than an hour ago? Did he really see the red-headed woman pass through the bar less than three hours ago?) It had stopped bleeding at some point during their investigations in the Bungalow, but now that he was reminded of it, it began to throb rather painfully.

Emma walked away, towards one of the remaining merchants. Christopher took a look around him, noticing that Davin’s corpse, and indeed the Throne over which it had been sprawled, were gone, and nothing remained to suggest that either had ever been there. He figured that, if the Wandering Parliament was indeed a regular occurrence in Bowring Park, then the Five Clans must be rather adept at hiding any trace of their gathering, even traces as bloodcurdling as a murdered man.

Christopher shook his head at the thought: for years, these meetings had been transpiring just a short drive down the street from where he had lived his entire life. Not just for years — for decades, apparently. He remembered the old woman’s mention of the Great War, around which time the park would have been newly opened. Was the Wandering Parliament held here back then too, or was Bowring Park just the latest in a series of locales down through history? He supposed it must be, and tried to imagine where else the gatherings might have been held in the past.

He wondered now how he could ever return to his normal life. Would he be able to go back to the world of academia and movies and bad reality television, knowing that all this… this magic or whatever it was, was happening just out of sight? Would he be allowed to become part of this existence, like it seemed Emma had done as a young girl? Did he even want that?

Christopher thought back to the moment in the bar when he had laid eyes upon that red-haired beauty. If she was half as lovely in manner as she was in appearance, he could certainly imagine wanting to stay in this life with her. But then, what did it mean that the symbol on the fios stone she had lost was the same as the symbol burned into Eachna’s forehead? Was the red-headed woman in trouble? Or should he be drawing darker conclusions? Christopher tried to push this last thought out of his head.

Emma returned, carrying both a small jar whose bottom was coated with a viscous, pinkish slime, and a pair of old, rusted scissors. “What are those for?” he asked her.

“This is ungadh,” Emma told him, holding up the container. “It’s a salve that should help your injury close up quickly, and lessen the pain. Just smear it all around the wound, and it should work in a few minutes.” She passed Christopher the jar and he unscrewed the top. A foul odour wafted out; it reminded Christopher unpleasantly of a gym bag his friend Ollie had left at the bottom of his locker for nearly an entire school year. He wrinkled his nose in disgust and quickly shut the container once more. “Sorry about the smell,” said Emma belatedly. “It’ll go away pretty quickly once it’s been applied.”

“I hope so,” replied Christopher, still grimacing. “What are the scissors for?”

Emma gestured to his trousers. “I figured those are pretty much ruined, so I thought you might want to cut off the legs and turn them into shorts. Sorry about that… I hope they weren’t expensive.”

Christopher took the scissors from her and began to cut away the material from where Lochlann’s sword had sliced into his garment. “Nah, I’m not much one for pricey clothes,” he assured her. “It’s a good thing Cecily isn’t here, though — she bought me these for my birthday last year. I doubt she’d be too pleased if she saw what’s happened to them.”

“Cecily… Your ex-girlfriend, right?”

“Yeah. We broke up pretty recently,” Christopher mumbled as he finished his makeshift tailoring. The words still sounded odd and unnatural in his mouth.

“I’m sorry,” Emma told him, and she meant it.

“Don’t be. It wasn’t pretty, but… I think it was inevitable anyway. If it hadn’t happened now, in the way it did, then it would have happened sooner or later, somehow.”

“Does that make it feel any better?”

“Sometimes,” Christopher said with a shrug. He could see in Emma’s eyes that she understood; there was no need for further elaboration. “Anyway, we had a couple of great years, but now I need to move on.”

“To a certain mystery woman with red hair?”

“Maybe,” said Christopher, a little more sheepishly than he would have liked. He toyed absently with a loose thread dangling from the rough edge of one of his now-abbreviated trouser legs. “This doesn’t look too bad.” He pinwheeled his arms about: the greyness now touching the sky had done nothing to dispel the oppressive humidity that hung there, and indeed the air was further encumbered by a dewy heaviness. “Looks like shorts are going to be a good idea today anyway, and who knows when I’ll get home to change.”

“You know you can leave whenever you want. There’s nothing keeping you here, Christopher.”

“I know.” But both of them were well aware that he was long past the point where that was true.

“Hopefully this business with Eachna’s… um… with Eachna won’t take long. And then we can get back to finding you the woman of your dreams.”

A part of Christopher wished Emma hadn’t used the word ‘dreams’, because it reminded him of the fact that it was now well past the hour when he should have been asleep, and the adrenaline which had been driving him onward would not last forever. He was a little grateful that he had spent so much time convalescing in bed over the past week; otherwise, he felt sure that his eyelids would already be drooping with exhaustion.

Emma left Christopher then to apply the evil-smelling pink solution to the deep cut on his upper thigh. She seemed to be making an effort to chat briefly with those few Clansfolk remaining at the Wandering Parliament, for a short while taking solace in what ought to have been the night’s primary activity. All about them, people were slowly drifting away into the early morning, down the asphalt paths or behind the Bungalow, presumably returning to waiting taxis and whatever other means of transport were available to and from the park.

Christopher had just finished applying the ointment — and was marvelling at how quickly the sensation of being stuck through the leg by a hot poker was dwindling — when he felt a presence beside him. It was Donovan Chase, now clutching something wrapped in an old blanket beneath one arm. Christopher noted that the object in the blanket was roughly the size of a human head, and realised that he did not need to inquire as to what Chase had needed the axe for.

“Are we ready to go?” the little man asked him briskly.

Christopher nodded. He saw that Emma had noticed Chase’s emergence from the Bungalow, and was now making her way back towards them. “What is our destination, exactly?” Christopher inquired.

Chase merely waggled his eyebrows, rather infuriatingly. “You’ll see soon enough, my boy.” Emma sighed. “Have you used the Ways before, Mr Prescott?” the British man asked, and Christopher responded in the affirmative. “Good. Where we’re heading can be accessed only by the Ways, you see.”

“There are such places?” Emma asked. Christopher noticed that she seemed a bit shaken by how much more Chase appeared to know about these things than she did. In a sense, Christopher was better prepared for this than Emma — he had already accepted how little he knew.

“There are a few,” Chase confirmed. “They’re well-guarded secrets, even amongst our kind. And for good reason.”

“What reason is that?” Christopher wondered, a feeling of trepidation welling up inside him. He had developed an instinctive trust in Emma and yet had been wary enough when she had led him out of her house and into the unknown, earlier that night. He had no such faith in Donovan Chase, and feared that they might end up in a place much worse than even the scene of carnage within the Bungalow. That Chase again refused to answer his question — this time not even with a vaguely-worded sidestep — did nothing to alleviate his misgivings.

“You said time was short,” Emma reminded Chase. “Can we get on with this? If we can help figure out who killed all those people, I want to get the word around as quickly as possible.”

“Of course,” Chase agreed. “Come with me, both of you.” And he led them across the lawn along the paved path which Christopher and Emma had followed upon their arrival in the park.

There are, it bears repeating, many paths through Bowring Park. There are the obvious routes, such as the asphalt roadway which joins the most popular facilities. There are also well-groomed gravel trails which snake through much of the park, following the course of the Waterford and South Brook Rivers, or briefly darting through a wooded copse or past a secluded flower bed, giving one the fleeting sensation of not being in the midst of a city at all, but rather adrift somewhere in the untamed wilds.

Then there are the routes which would not appear on any tourist’s map of Bowring Park, but which are well-enough known all the same, and obvious to all but the most casual of observers. These are dirt paths, often crisscrossed by a labyrinth of protruding tree roots, created and maintained not by park staff but by the passage through the years of many curious feet. Some of these trails are merely shortcuts between the park’s myriad attractions, while others are most often used by lovers in search of a few moments’ torrid privacy, or by mischief-makers trying to evade the eyes of parents or park officials.

But then there are the other paths — those known to just a select few, that might be stumbled upon only by the most outrageous of chances. Most passers-by would not see a path at all: merely a narrow corridor between two bushes, or a low tunnel beneath the bending trees, no doubt leading quickly to a dead end or to a part of the park far more conveniently reached by other means. Most would walk right past these trails without a second thought, blissfully unaware that there was even a trail there to be explored.

Donovan Chase knew of such paths, however, or at least of one such path. Walking at a sprightly pace, he led Christopher and Emma across the concrete bridge which overlooked the route followed by the trains which had ambled through Bowring Park in days gone by, itself now a broad trail. They passed what many people still thought of as the “new” swimming pool (even though it had stood on the spot for decades now) and the burgeoning playground which seemed so much more impressive than when Christopher had cavorted there as a child.

Looking beyond the swings and see-saws, Christopher could now see the first glimmers of yellow-white light touching the Southside Hills, which rose mightily in the near distance to their left. The innumerable fir trees which bedecked their slopes were still visible as little more than a solid black mass, but Christopher thought he could make out a hint of green now, as the monochrome of night gradually faded.

Finally, just past the western entrance to Bowring Park, Chase turned onto a wide gravel path and navigated around a barrier erected to impede the passage of cars. Christopher was familiar with the route, having strolled along it occasionally in the past. To their immediate left was now a plunging wooded ravine, leading eventually down to the banks of the South Brook River. At the point where the descent was steepest, a warning sign stood forlornly, warning passers-by to keep well clear of the crumbling edge. As they reached it, Chase extended his arm and grasped the slender metal post upon which the sign was erected.

“Here we are,” he murmured.

“Um… here where?” Christopher asked, looking about. The trail continued on for quite a while ahead of them, and to their right was a densely forested area.

Chase extended his walking stick, pointing down the precarious incline. “This is our route,” he told them.

“Are you serious?” retorted Emma. She was standing at the edge of the precipice. Loose dirt and gravel skittered down the hill into the river valley below.

“Usually,” returned Chase. “Be very careful,” he warned. (“You don’t say,” muttered Christopher.) “Tread only where I tread, until we join the Ways. Even then, follow close behind — we travel along dark and lonely avenues, and the going may be more dangerous than you’re accustomed to.” And with that, he readjusted his grip on the morbid package he carried under his arm, and stepped over the edge.

“I guess I’d better keep my eyes open then,” Christopher whispered to Emma.

She smiled at him comfortingly. “Are you up for it?”

“He’d better be!” Chase declared without turning around.

Christopher decided that the worst part of the walk down the slope was not the dizzying angle of the ravine but the vertigo it induced. He tried desperately to just look at his feet, but his vision was drawn inexorably to the shallow river, which could be glimpsed in flashes through the gnarled and twisted trees which hugged the hillside, and he kept feeling as though the ground beneath his feet would give way at any moment, sending him careening downward.

Fortunately, though, Chase seemed to know exactly where to step as they went — the earth was as solid and stable as if the invisible path they followed had been paved with flagstones. Only when Christopher did not follow Chase’s lead precisely, stepping a few inches too far to the right or extending his stride to a length greater than the smaller man could muster, did his footing feel at all precarious. He noticed that Emma, walking between Chase and himself, was having no difficulties at all in treading exactly where she was meant to.

Chase lead them along a frustratingly circuitous route, sometimes moving almost perpendicular to the incline, sometimes bounding virtually straight downhill, and sometimes even doubling back and ascending once more towards the gravel path they had left behind. On one occasion, Christopher found himself circling a dying maple tree not once but twice, and he began to wonder if Chase wasn’t playing him and Emma for fools after all.

He wiped his brow, now damp with sweat as the emerging day renewed the ferocity of the heat and humidity. The sun had finally cleared the top of the Southside Hills, although it was barely visible through the lowering grey clouds which filled the sky from horizon to horizon. Christopher could sense the promise of rain in the air, but it was pent up, like an obstinate piñata which refuses to burst.

As they continued on their wandering hike, Christopher became a little surprised that Emma had not protested at the seeming randomness of their route. Indeed, she had been completely placid for the whole of the journey, apparently doing nothing more than concentrate on where next to place her foot.

And suddenly, Christopher realised why this was.

The world around him had become a little darker. At first, he thought the sun had disappeared behind a cloud, before he remembered that the sun had been masked by the clouds ever since its rising. Looking about, Christopher realised that it wasn’t the quality of the light that had changed — it was the resolution of their surroundings. Everything had suddenly become a little blurrier, a little murkier — the leaves on the trees lost their definition, the sparse grass on the ground faded into a morass of green on brown and grey. And with each step he took, following Emma following Chase, the phenomenon became more pronounced.

“Hold my hand, Christopher,” Emma instructed. She reached back, though she did not take her eyes off Chase. Christopher obeyed without question.

“What’s happening?” he whispered.

“We’re moving onto the Ways,” Chase called back; Christopher was surprised the man had even heard his comment. “Though this is a seldom-used part of them indeed. Remember, Mr Prescott, you must keep moving unless you wish to be cast out of the Ways. The places you might wind up from here would likely be… forbidding indeed.”

Now Christopher found himself walking through a darkened void. He wasn’t even sure what he was placing his feet on: it certainly didn’t feel like dirt or rock, and he could no longer detect the steep incline of the hillside. Ahead of him, Emma and Chase floated in his field of vision, pallid and distorted, like images in an old photograph that had blurred down through the years.

The noise of birdsong and the smells of midsummer flora had vanished too. They were replaced only by a faintly echoing rushing noise and a scent like a closet filled with mothballs, one that has just been opened for the first time in years.

“This isn’t what it was like the first time I passed along the Ways,” Christopher said to Emma.

“This isn’t what it was like any of the times I’ve used them either, Christopher,” she told him in an uneasy tone. “The Ways are usually brimming with energy. This road… it feels almost dead…”

“Very apt, Miss Rawlin, as you’ll shortly see,” Chase murmured. “Now, be quiet, both of you. We don’t want to attract any… undesirable attention down here. And keep treading close behind me — this is not a place you want to become lost in.”

Christopher gulped, wondering what Chase meant by ‘down here’. Somewhere, impossibly far away, he thought he heard a mournful wail, and a noise like the ocean crashing against rocks on the shoreline. Occasionally, he thought he could make out vague shapes in the dark, a deeper black moving against the blackness to his right and left. He tried to ignore these passing apparitions, and the low, insistent whispering that seemed to arise in their wake.

Once again Christopher reached up to mop his brow, and run his hand through his matted hair. The quality of the heat had changed — it was no longer a cloying humidity, but instead an aggressive warmth, like that which infested the furnace room in his parents’ basement. To make matters worse, no wind blew along this road — the air was stagnant and lifeless.

After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably closer to fifteen minutes), Christopher felt something change. He couldn’t put his finger on what exactly was different, but he was gripped all of a sudden by a sensation of dislocation — it was still dark and hot, but in a way that was subtly altered from what he had been walking through just seconds earlier. He felt his stomach churn and spots flared in front of his eyes. He staggered and Emma, who had been maintaining a steady grip on his hand the entire time, did her best to steady him.

“It’s okay,” she whispered soothingly. “We’ve moved off the Ways. We’ve arrived at our destination… wherever that might be.”

Christopher nodded, trying to steady himself. This trip hadn’t been as bad as that first time he had traversed the Ways back on George Street, but he knew that his body was still far from accustomed to the experience.

He tried to take a deep breath, and instantly regretted it. The stale air was now laden with something even more unpleasant: it was the odour of death. Not the kind of recent, pervasive death which had assaulted him in the Bungalow; this was the scent of old death, of corpse dust and of bones denuded of their flesh, of mouldering shrouds and of coffin wood long rotten beneath the earth. It was the smell that lingered long after the life has fled a mortal vessel.

“Where are we, Chase?” Emma demanded, in a voice she barely kept from shaking.

Chase’s head was slowly panning from left to right, though Christopher had no idea what the man could possibly see in the darkness. Then he nodded and turned to them. He appeared to be fumbling in the pockets of his jacket — Christopher couldn’t be too certain, because the weak, spectral illumination which had allowed him to see his companions during their trip was slowly fading, like a flashlight whose batteries have run low. After a moment, Chase found whatever he was looking for and the smell of sulphur briefly assailed Christopher’s nostrils as a match was lit, the sudden light dazzling before his eyes. He blinked furiously to try to clear his vision, and as detail returned to him he realised that Chase had, rather absurdly, produced a stubby tallow candle — complete with a tarnished silver holder — from somewhere, and was using this to shed light on their surroundings.

“Where… are we?” Emma asked again, but this time her impatient tone had given way to one of incredulity.

“The city of St John’s,” said Donovan Chase, “has existed in one form or another for nearly five centuries. As the popular history books have it, it has endured savage frost, searing fire and terrible pestilence; and it has experienced far worse things you’ll find in none of those histories. Through the years, it has been built and rebuilt, it has expanded and absorbed, and many things have become lost in the process.”

He turned around again and held the candle out before him. Though the light it provided was not strong, Christopher could see that they stood in a cavern of some sort: the walls, ceiling and floor were all formed of rock and hard-packed earth, leading off into the stygian gloom. Tree roots, ancient and gnarled, protruded from the dirt, but so too did other things, and it was these that arrested Christopher’s attention. For exploding outward at intervals from the walls and floor and ceiling, at every possible angle, were coffins — or at least the remains of coffins, such was their unimaginable age.

“This is the Forgotten Cemetery,” Chase intoned funereally.

“We’re underground?” Christopher asked timorously. Emma still hadn’t let go of his hand and he could tell that she was more than a little anxious; and that, in turn, was having a deleterious effect on his own frayed nerves.

“So it would seem,” Chase acknowledged. “Popular rumour has it that we’re somewhere uphill from St John’s Harbour, below a parking lot or a business centre or even the catacombs of a church. But I tend to have little faith in popular rumour.” Christopher imagined the number of people who probably walked over this spot every single day, without giving the barest of thoughts to what might lie just a handful of yards beneath their feet. For all he knew, he could well have been one of those people, once or even hundreds of times.

“I’ve heard of this place,” Emma said softly, almost reverently. She was thinking of whispers she had heard during her time amongst the Five Clans — mentions in barely-remembered stories, allusions in the ravings of the old and infirm. “I always thought it was just a legend.”

Chase shook his head. “No, Miss Rawlin. We live amongst folk who can live for a hundred years without aging a day, people with the eyes and senses of a great bird, men and women who can skim the surface of your thoughts as easily as a shallow pond. We don’t have legends, we merely have things which have passed out of the common culture — things which have been hidden or misplaced or suppressed as our society dwindles towards inevitable obscurity.” The last words were spoken with a mixture of bitterness and melancholy, unanticipated emotion from a man who seemed stoic almost as a rule. Christopher wanted to ask Emma what he meant, but decided to wait until they were back in the open air.

Chase handed Emma the candle and then pulled the bundle out from under his arm, holding it gingerly in both hands. “Now,” he said, “we mustn’t tarry here too long. Let’s be about our business and away.”

“Okay,” mumbled Christopher, not entirely sure what he was meant to be doing. Emma merely nodded.

Chase looked around, his neck straining forward as if he were trying to penetrate the dark shadows around them without having to take another step deeper into the Forgotten Cemetery. After a moment he motioned to Christopher and Emma to move closer, and as they did so, the light from the candle caught something large and oblong resting on the ground a few feet away. “Ah,” said Chase, and together they approached the object.

Unlike the other visible caskets, which were all made of wood of varying quality, this was a stone bier, of such venerability that it almost seemed to be a part of the cavern rather than a man-made object. Writing — or perhaps iconography — was carved upon the lid, but it had long since faded into illegibility. At some point down through the years, the sealant around the lid had weakened and the slab had shifted slightly, exposing a narrow aperture. It was before this that Chase halted. He placed his swaddled burden on top of the bier and said in a clear voice, “You know why we have come?”

Although Christopher could not see anybody else in the cavern, he had no doubt whatsoever that Chase was not addressing him or Emma. He shivered a little despite himself, and he and Emma squeezed their hands together more tightly.

“You know why we have come?” Chase repeated, more forcefully this time. Suddenly, the candle Emma was holding flickered — although there was no movement of air in the Forgotten Cemetery — casting strange and unnatural shadows onto the earthen walls. Then, all around him, Christopher could hear a susurrant noise like the earth settling. In the silences, more subtly but more disturbingly, was another sound which he could describe only as dry bone scraping against rotted wood. And in the conjunction of these noises, Christopher realised that he could make out words, low and mournful:

… You come seeking knowledge from beyond the veil…

“Yes!” declared Chase. “Vital knowledge, knowledge which may impact the very survival of the Five Clans!”

… But you are not of the Five Clans. You are apart…

“I have their interests at heart nonetheless,” the little man muttered. “I represent them. As does this girl.” And he gestured towards Emma, who shuddered involuntarily.

… And what of the other?...

Christopher realised the voice was referring to him. “A tagalong,” shrugged Chase. “I needed a third, and he was willing.”

… Let him speak for himself…

“I… I just want to help,” Christopher offered lamely. “I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t be here.”

… No. You alone are welcome in this place, Christopher Prescott…

Chase crooked an eyebrow. “Really?” he murmured. But the sepulchral voice continued unabated.

… For you, we will abide by the precepts of the ancient rite. He who calls himself Donovan Chase may proceed…

“Very well. We three have come, as tradition demands, céad, déanach, and idir. We bear the candle made from a condemned man’s hand —” Christopher blanched at the statement, and was amazed that Emma hardly flinched, but continued to hold the candle steadily aloft in her free hand “— and the mouth of the departed we wish to hear speak once more.”

… Yes. The ritual is satisfied. Ask your questions, Donovan Chase. But do not try our patience…

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Chase responded straight-facedly. “Eachna of the People of the Caribou,” he called out in an imperious tone of voice, “tell me how death befell you.” Christopher realised that Chase was speaking directly to the blanket-shrouded form he had placed atop the bier.

The candle flickered once more, and it looked to Christopher as if all the shadows in the cavern were converging on the ancient stone coffin. He watched with widening eyes as the object within the blanket appeared to move, almost imperceptibly — a small, jerky motion, like a mouth opening and closing against the folds of the cloth. And then another voice was heard in that place, one which seemed to come from impossibly far away and yet which also emanated from the shape enfolded within the blanket. “In life… I was Eachna…” said the voice, and it was followed by a piteous howl, brimming with rage and sorrow and regret.

“Does that sound like her?” Christopher whispered to Emma. His companion nodded curtly.

Chase shot Christopher a brief but unambiguous glare. “Please, you must answer my question,” he ordered the swaddled form, in a voice which was respectful while brooking no argument.

After a moment, the wailing ceased, and Eachna’s voice could be heard again. “I remember… we had arrived at the Wandering Parliament. We knew there was something wrong… we had been followed along the Ways… But it was a feint, a diversion — they were already waiting for us. They fell upon us in a swarm, tearing and rending and killing. They took such… perverse glee in the way they mutilated us. They were so many…

“Davin was the last to fall, apart from me. They were aware that he was Speaker and I was First Minister, though how they came by this knowledge, I cannot say. They made me watch as they tortured him, and then left him on the Throne for others to find once they’d departed. Then they surrounded me, and conducted a fell ceremony the likes of which were new to me… and I remember no more. Please, how long has it been? How many years have passed since I was murdered?”

“It was only earlier tonight, Eachna,” Emma said in a choked voice.

“Oh… it seemed as though I had already passed many years in the dark, alone.”

“Eachna, tell me what the purpose of the ritual was,” demanded Chase.

“The eochair, the Waykey, was in my possession. They sundered my very soul and claimed it as I died.” Christopher wanted very badly to ask Emma what a Waykey was, but once again forced himself to hold his tongue.

“Eachna, who did this? Who killed you, and stole the eochair?”

There was a lengthy pause. Then the answer came, as if ripped from Eachna’s dead throat: “The Sixth Clan. It was the Sixth Clan!”

Copyright © 2006 Shannon Patrick Sullivan.