A dim blue glow emanated from the slight gap, lighting a path through the obstacle course of broken stones, low-lying crypts, and uneven ground.

“G-Gwen?” Isobel called, louder than before. Again, she received no response.

The melody, as though drifting up from the depths of some fathomless well, continued to echo through the catacombs.

It was the same song that had filtered through the stereo in Varen’s car in the dream where he’d taken her to the rose garden. The same collection of notes that had squeezed past the static of her bedroom radio the evening she’d found his jacket. It was the lullaby she’d heard playing through the living room TV that night with Pinfeathers, and over the crackling hush of the gramophone in the dreamworld bookshop. The very same one she’d heard only minutes before in this very cemetery.

Isobel began to move in the direction of the humming. She stopped as soon as the toes of her boots met with the edge of the slanted porcelain-blue shaft of light that spilled from the door. Hesitating, held in place by her own indecision, she wondered if she dared look inside.

Did she even have a choice?

Maybe, she thought, she should do something to try and wake herself. If she cried out, would Gwen hear her and be able to rouse her?

While Isobel deliberated, the humming beyond the door grew stronger, the melody rising and falling in its familiarly haunting and melancholy pattern.

Curiosity overriding her trepidation, Isobel took her first step into the blue light, where the coldness of the catacombs seemed to intensify. A draft rose up around her, sending a chill through to her bones, as though every spirit trapped within had decided to come out and watch her approach.

But toward what? Or whom?

One tenuous step after another brought Isobel closer and closer to the door until she stood just beside it.


The door swung inward at her slightest touch, making no sound as it moved.

Where she knew she should have found the cold night and the back of the cemetery, Isobel instead discovered another chamber in the catacombs.

Immediately her focus settled on the source of the humming, a shrouded figure who lay faceup on the lid of a horizontal tomb.

Positioned in the center of the room, the coffin-shaped crypt sat atop a set of stairs stationed directly below a blue stained-glass skylight embedded in the stone ceiling.

Moonlight, sheer and diaphanous, poured through the sapphire panes. It bathed the slender body that lay concealed beneath a snow-white sheet in dappled patterns.

The melody drew Isobel farther, beckoning her like a siren’s song into the room.

Something crunched under her foot, but she ignored it, too distracted by the array of broken and empty-eyed Noc faces that seemed to watch her from their perches on the rows of shelves lining the narrow chamber’s four walls.

Suddenly realizing where she stood, Isobel froze.

She was back. Back in the dreamworld. Back in the blue marble crypt that held the sarcophagus with the stone woman lying on top.

But unlike before, the lid of the tomb was no longer ominously shifted open.

While the shrouded figure kept on humming, Isobel glanced to the far corner of the room, to the place where she had first encountered the blue-haired Noc who had called himself Scrimshaw—the same Noc she had seen in the vision of Poe’s death.

The space he had once occupied was empty, cleared away to reveal the stone floor. Like Pinfeathers, Scrimshaw must have managed to piece himself back together. And now he was out somewhere, roaming the woodlands.

Lifting a hand to her collar, grasping the hamsa, Isobel drew nearer to the tomb. She mounted the steps, and as she edged closer to the shrouded form, the woman’s humming began to slow.

She reached out a quivering hand and grabbed a portion of the stiff fabric close to the woman’s face. Keeping her other hand firmly clamped around the hamsa, she began to draw the sheet slowly away.

The figure beneath stopped humming.

Inch by inch, the sheet slipped free to reveal a girl dressed in a pink party dress, the same one Isobel had worn to the Grim Facade.

She uttered a clipped cry.

Blond hair lay in a halo of loose ringlets around the girl’s head. Soft curls framed an all-too-familiar face—her face.

Isobel let go of the sheet. The covering continued to slide off the sarcophagus, the cloth pooling onto the stairs and tumbling over Isobel’s shoes.

Inky splotches began to seep through the material of the pink dress, the layers of skirts and bodice transforming to pure ebony.

Isobel watched with mounting horror, unable to look away.

The girl lay prone on the slab, her still lips painted a false pink, her eyes closed. A slanted needle-thin scratch marred her right cheek, the cut a deep purple against her ashen skin.

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