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I was elbow deep in yet another rebuild of my gravitational suspension engine when Kesrie found me. I don’t know how long she’d been watching me work, but it wasn’t unusual to find her smiling at me from the doorway or some other corner of my workroom. I say she found me, but Kesrie always knows where I am. It’s more like she woke me. It usually takes me until I’ve gotten past whatever problem I’m absorbed in before I realize she’s there, but this time her laughter pulled me from my hyperfocused state long before I would normally have surfaced.


The night sky has always been where I felt most free. As a child I would stare at the stars and dream of wings that would carry me to them, to the smallest of lights deep in that great black expanse of silence. There was freedom in the dark heavens, freedom I never found below the ground, surrounded by family and expectation. I wanted to fly, wanted to leave the close, stifling darkness of the Necropolis, and the legions of the dead.


“Witch.” “Paladin.” The two women stared at one another for a while, before the knight finally cracked, her expression sliding into a tired, sideways smile. “It’s good to see you, Gwyn.” The witch, Gwyn, felt her face soften in return. “It’s been a while, Ari.” Ari unbuckled her sword and shield. “It has. I’m sorry. Can I come in?”


“Okay, well, the first thing is that nobody really knows what it is that lives in Shadow Lake. Ghost, spirit, monster, demon—there are a million different guesses, and just as many local legends. Could even be a mutant dinosaur.” We all giggle at that, and she gives us a half-hearted glare. “Nobody knows. But everyone agrees there’s something.”


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