“Edgar,” she whispered again, her dark hair flying back into the tumult that raged behind her. “You are bound to me. You must return.”

“REYNOLDS!” Poe screamed again.

The utter despair in his voice shook Isobel from her shock-induced trance. She looked around, searching for something—anything she could do to stop the torment.

She spotted Pinfeathers, still in bird form, perched in the sill of the rain-spattered window. With a flap of his wings, he took flight, soaring across the room, circling to light on her shoulder. His movement from one corner of the room to the other, unnoticed by Poe, Lilith, or the doctor, reminded her that there was nothing she could do. Nothing at all. Because the events unfolding before her had already transpired.

Isobel felt her knees grow weaker with every inch Lilith managed to draw herself from the chasm. She could feel Pinfeathers switching restlessly from foot to foot, rankled as well by Lilith’s presence, even if her visage was only a shadow from the past. Isobel knew he wanted to leave and hide just as the other Nocs had done. But he remained with her. And in spite of everything he had ever done to her, she was grateful.

Poe, his teeth gritted, turned his head away from the demon clawing her way toward him. He clamped his eyes shut to block it out, his face transforming into a tight knot of resigned anguish.

Reynolds, she thought. Poe had been calling for Reynolds. Where was he? Why wouldn’t he come? Why hadn’t he stopped this?

“There is nothing here that can harm you,” Isobel heard the doctor insist. “Edgar, listen to me! It’s over. Do you hear me? Whatever has happened, it is over!”

For one instant, the world turned black. Isobel blinked, trying to regain her vision. She felt Pinfeathers’s talons clamp her shoulder more tightly. Then the blackness lifted and that was when she realized someone else had entered the room, walking through her.

A tall, cloaked figure now stood before her.

Her eyes traveled up his broad back, stopping at the wide-brimmed fedora hat that sat atop his head. She saw the edge of a white scarf.



Lilith’s attention broke from Poe, and she blinked in surprise as Reynolds drew forth one of his twin cutlasses. Her lips peeled back from sharpened teeth in a snarl. “Stop, you fool!” she hissed. “You’ll kill him!”

Poe grew suddenly still on the bed. Isobel watched as he rolled his head to face the doctor, uttering something indiscernible while Reynolds coiled his arm, preparing to strike.

“No!” Isobel shouted, her cry rising in exact unison with Lilith’s.

In the next instant, Reynolds slashed his sword forward in one clean swipe, severing the silver cord that stretched between Poe’s body and Lilith’s clutching hands.

The demoness howled as the cord snapped in two. Her face contorted with fury as the silver light vanished from her grip. She flew up, sucked into the ceiling, while the fog transformed into a whirlpool. Then, in a rush, the miasma dissipated, swept into the smooth plaster until no trace of its presence remained.

Isobel gaped, watching as Reynolds stepped aside and sheathed his sword.

Her gaze fell to Poe, who now lay lifeless, his eyes glazed and unseeing.

“Edgar,” the doctor called.

The figure on the bed made no response.

Reynolds turned, and as he began to stride toward her, a wave of hatred washed over her. With a scream of rage, she threw herself at him, fists swinging.

Pinfeathers fluttered up and away from her, feathers flying, his rasping squawks filling the silent room.

Isobel’s fists passed through Reynolds’s ever-calm visage. He walked through her without so much as a ripple, and Isobel’s efforts sent her stumbling forward.

She stopped and, looking up, froze to find herself standing at the foot of Poe’s bed. She watched as the doctor reached out a trembling hand to close the two sightless eyes, which seemed to have been fixed directly on her.

As he did so, the surrounding walls, floor, and ceiling fell away like playing cards, throwing Isobel into a bottomless vat of darkness.

She fell backward through the dark, and as she did, a glimmer stole her attention. A silver cord glowed in the expansive nothingness, terminating in the center of her body.

It wavered like a ribbon caught in the wind as she flew back and back, falling faster and faster.

Then, suddenly, the cord snapped taut. It began to pull her forward, like a kite being reeled from the night sky. Light broke through her consciousness, and from a place high above, she saw herself—her body—standing in front of the fountain on Varen’s street, her arm still extended as though to take Pinfeathers’s hand, even though the Noc was gone.

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