“Oh.” Isobel’s mom blinked in surprise. “Gosh. Well, in that case, why don’t you stay and have lunch with us?”

Gwen paused. She hesitated, clasping her knit hat between her gloved hands. “I dunno. I don’t want to intrude. I mean, is that gonna be okay with Mr. Lanley?”

Isobel’s mom seemed to stiffen at this question. “Of course it will be,” she said. “Besides, it’s refreshing to see Isobel have some company for a change. Here, let me get these dishes, and you girls go upstairs. I’ll call you when it’s time to eat.”

“Gee, thanks, Mrs. Lanley,” Gwen said, her voice syrupy sweet as she backed toward the hallway door, looking as sly as a cat with a canary locked in its jaws. Isobel scooted back her chair and stood to follow Gwen through the archway.

When they reached the hall, Gwen stooped to pull up her bag from where she’d let it drop in the foyer, grunting as she hoisted it onto her shoulder.

Isobel glared at her, arms folded. “You planned that whole thing out, didn’t you?”

“Right down to the lunch invitation. Now, c’mon. There’s something I need to show you.”


An Eidolon Named Night

“Close the door behind you,” Gwen said, dropping the messenger bag onto Isobel’s bed.

Isobel shut her door. She pressed her back to it, watching as Gwen threw open the flap on the bag, pulled forth a large green book, and laid it gently on Isobel’s comforter.


Gold foil glinted on the cover and spine, revealing floral motifs and elegant lettering. The book’s yellowing block of pages looked almost too thick for its own binding.

Curious, Isobel edged closer to the bed. A Guide to Jewish Magic, Myth, and Mysticism the embellished title read.

The subject matter sent a worming sensation through Isobel’s lower stomach. It made her wonder—and dread—how the information contained in the book connected to what Gwen knew.

Gwen didn’t wait for her to start asking questions, though. Opening the behemoth volume, she began flipping through whole sections at a time, as though searching for a name in a phone book. The chunks of pages slapped against one another until finally, Gwen stopped. The page she halted on depicted a single letter, a large and elaborate L.

Isobel’s gaze followed the path of Gwen’s spindly fingers as they slipped to the top right-hand corner of the book, hooking the thin, almost filmy paper. This time, she turned each separate sheet slowly, the pages whispering against one another as they lifted and settled into place once more.

As Gwen leafed through, Isobel caught glimpses of strange symbols and squiggly characters—probably Hebrew—interspersed between long sections of English text.

Isobel shifted her weight from one foot to the other. She fiddled with the cuffs of her sleeves, then folded her arms, waiting and yet somehow knowing what had to be coming.

Gwen continued to turn page after page, past engravings and artist’s renderings of scrolls, past detailed diagrams depicting interlaced wheels and six-pointed stars, past human figures cloaked in robes and draped in scarves—until she turned one final page.

An intricate engraving of a beautiful woman unfolded itself, the artwork filling the entire left-hand side of the book.

The image sent a shock wave through Isobel.

Black hair coiled around the woman’s head in thick, snakelike tendrils, intertwining with the length of her arms. It twisted upward, too, writhing through the air above her as though caught in a gale. Her white hands clutched and pulled at the swaths of gauzy fabric that encased her, as though she were a moth straining to tear herself free from coils of cobweb.

The lacelike curl of her lashes lay folded down, fringing closed lids, creating spidery shadows against her cheeks.

Innately, Isobel knew the woman couldn’t be sleeping. Her expression seemed too intent and aware, as though she was gazing far into the future.

At the woman’s feet, ghouls converged, a mess of sharp, tangled limbs and withered frames, of gaping hollow skull faces and howling mouths filled with serrated teeth. Even though they weren’t an accurate rendering of the Nocs, Isobel had no doubt that was who the wasted creatures were meant to depict.

In the background of the etching, the craggy branches of pencil-thin trees poked out from a decorative border that framed the picture. The hunched forms of inkblot birds dotted their knotted boughs.

“Soooo,” she heard Gwen say, “I’d ask if this was ringing any bells, but by the look on your face, I can practically hear them myself.”

Isobel offered no response.

How was this possible? Here before her was the same woman Isobel had encountered, face-to-face, in the dreamworld. The only thing missing was the silver rim of light that had surrounded her, like the ebbing glow that haloed the winter moon.

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