sediment in the soul – 19.4

Content Warnings

Animal death
Broken bones
Bullet wounds

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I used to have fantasies about being trapped in a siege.

In the early days after the Eye took Maisie away — but not so early that I was screaming at every unnatural shadow and twisted spirit-creature, not so early that I was a sobbing, inconsolable wreck, not so early that every fantasy was a dark warm place and my sister returned to me. An imaginary siege was one of the fantasies which I retreated to for comfort, for safety, for security inside the soot-marked, crater-pocked palace of my own mind. A decent psychologist could probably get a thesis or two out of that, if their training and world-view survived the transition to being in the know: a young girl retreats inside a mental fortress and imagines everything outside herself as a besieging army. That’s how it felt in the early days. Except the enemy was already inside the castle, leaning over my shoulder and screaming mathematics into my ear.

It was always on the worst nights at Cygnet Children’s Hospital, the ones when spirits had wandered into my bedroom and wouldn’t leave, when I couldn’t tell if the night-time noises were coming from the other children or from things I couldn’t see, when I missed home and my parents, when I rejected the judgement that I was mentally unwell, when I missed Maisie enough to sob her name into the pillow. On those nights I would snuggle down in bed — the sheets and pillows at Cygnet really were very high quality — and I would conjure up a castle.

Never a fanciful fairytale castle, never the sort of sugar-spun spires-and-banners that Maisie and I together might have enjoyed; I required a fortress, a bastion, or at least my childhood concept of one. Thick walls, blunt corners, great big bolt throwers on blocky towers; gates made of adamantium — I’d read that word somewhere and I rather liked it — barred and barricaded. Layers and layers of walls, each one overlooking the last. I’d read about that somewhere too, but I couldn’t recall where. I couldn’t clearly recall much in those days. My fantasies were vague about the defenders — knights of some kind, it didn’t matter — and about the besiegers. Sometimes I would imagine the besieging army was all the bizarre and horrible monsters I saw everywhere, my ‘hallucinations’, but that often made me more upset, made it harder to sleep, ended with me working myself into a panic even huddled under the covers with my eyes closed.

Maisie was always there. Of course she was, that was half the point. Tucked away alongside me in some secret inner keep, looking out of a window together, with a big roaring fire and lots of food and books and a nice big bed and guards right outside the doors — our guards, our safety.

When I grew up a bit and understood myself a little better, I would sometimes add other girls too. Nobody specific; I didn’t have an imaginary girlfriend, I just liked the idea of being cosy and safe alongside nice girls who I could cuddle up to.

With everything I’d learned since then? If I’d ever had an imaginary girlfriend, I’d probably confess it to Evee, so she could put me in a magic circle to check I hadn’t been compromised somehow. Imaginary girls were likely vectors for the Eye.

Sieges were comfort food for my young imagination — but now I was in the middle of the genuine article.

No Maisie, no thick walls, no nice safe room with a roaring fire and books and a bed. But I did have the girlfriends, no less than three of them, of varying kinds from Raine through Zheng and all the way to Sevens. And Evee, of course, though this was hardly the time for that, even if she did fit the type from my old childhood fantasies.

But this was not the kind of siege during which one could snuggle down in bed and fall asleep.

Down on the ground floor of Geerswin farmhouse, everyone was talking at once, peering out of the windows, rushing between doors, shouting and gesticulating and losing their heads.

“Fuck me, fuck me, that is massive, what the fuck—”

“Glasses on! You can’t see it without the glasses!”

“You’ve summoned a kaiju! That’s a kaiju out there! Twil you arse, you’ve jinxed us with horror movie bullshit.”

“I knew you lot would be the death of me.”

“Gave you the chance to leave, detective.”

“We’re perfectly safe indoors. Hey, hey, breathe, okay? Look, there’s a wall of Cringe-dog’s soap-bubble friends between us and that bloody great spider. They could bury it, no problem. We’re safe. Right, Amanda?”


“Hey, it’s a pet name. I mean it with affection. Heather says he’s sweet — so he’s sweet. Any friend of hers and all that. I trust the blob-monsters.”

“I don’t! Fuck them! We should leave, now!”

“Yeah good luck running. You saw how fast the hounds were.”

“That’s what guns are for!”


“A servitor that size is not a one-mage undertaking. I should know. My own attempts never get that far. This is impossible.”

“Hringewindla doesn’t … like … approve? Agree? He does not like this spider. This is … he won’t … I don’t understand, I don’t—”

“Amanda, breathe, close your eyes, focus. You know how it gets when he thinks too fast. Sit down, let him direct his angels. Let him take us in his hands. He will protect us. He always does. Sit, now. That’s it, sit down.”


Zheng rumbled a greeting as I joined her at the glass doors at the front of the sitting room, the ones which led out onto the patio, with a wide view of the fields beyond, the fences, the magic circle we’d carved into the dirt, and the sun-shivered tree line which ringed the farm. I shielded my eyes against the bright and glinting sunlight. I peered out and up — and up, and up, at Edward Lilburne’s response to our assault.

Behind us the chaos was only getting worse.

“What does this mean? What does it mean, hey? Does this mean we can get to Eddy’s house now?”

“It means it is no longer concealed. The way is clear.”

“That’s a kaiju! I don’t know if you’ve seen many giant monster movies, but this is not exactly a defensible position, you twat!”

“Spider. Cute.”

“We’re safe. Trust Evee’s judgement. And hey, trust your god, right?”

“He’s not infallible!”

“I trust Hringewindla. I trust him absolutely.”

“The hell? Ben, you never say that shit. Don’t freak out on me, come on.”

“I am terrified. I’m not ashamed. You get terrified in combat. It’s okay. It’s okay.”

“It’s too big!”

“Fuck big, I’ll climb it and rip it’s head off!”

“Miss Saye, please, I would like to put forward a serious evacuation plan. This is far more than we expected. Hringewindla is powerful and he can defend this house, but I would rather that … spider not put a leg through our roof.”

“Tiles need replacing anyway, dad.”


“Why is the maid just saying ‘spider’?! This isn’t helping! We can all see it’s a fucking spider!”

“Spider. Itsy bitsy.”

“I can take the dogs out from the window. Or I could, if we had an actual rifle, scoped. Even small calibre. They drop with one in the brain, like anything else alive.”

“The dogs aren’t the problem!”

“Are those sloths in the trees? I can see them without the glasses. Big ‘ol lumpy weirdos.”


“Take her back upstairs, Lozzie, please.”

“She’s afraid!”

“Come with me, Tenns. Everything is going to be safe. I promise I will look after you. Lozzie too, take my other hand.”

“Everything is not going to be safe after this. Miss Saye, you are basically in charge—”

“It’s taking a step forward!”

“It’s slow.”

“It’s big!”

Evelyn’s voice suddenly cut through the cacophonous madness: “It’s a bluff.”

Her stony confidence stopped everybody panicking and talking over each other for a moment, which was a nice change. I even turned away from the window to look back at her, and found her blazing like a lit torch. Up on her feet despite the draining difficulty of the earlier spell, all her weight on her prosthetic and her walking stick, flinty blue eyes staring past me and past the fields and up at the spider-servitor towering over the woodland canopy. She was so certain, so absolutely unbowed. It was beautiful.

Everybody else — all except for myself and Zheng — were caught in a frozen tableau. Praem was supporting Evee’s other arm. Michael Hopton had been in the process of appealing for retreat, directly to Evee. His wife, Christine Hopton, was tending to a flushed and dazed Amanda, struggling with the demands and fears of her god, Hringewindla. Katey, the spare bodyguard, looked terrified, though she was clutching her revolver. Benjamin Hopton was drawn and grey, like a soldier listening to an incoming shell. Mister George, who I’d figured out was Katey’s father, was chewing the end of an unlit cigarette.

Twil was grinning but the grin didn’t reach her eyes, craning to see the spider and the escorts at the far end of the field. Raine was a rock, unmoved by any of this, not a single hint of doubt in her face; but I could tell from the way she stood and the way she angled her body that she was vibrating to scoop me up and haul me to the car and drive away.

Nicole Webb was taking slow, deep breaths, arms folded, watching the tree-line past the spider. Felicity looked grim, set, like she’d seen all this before and knew it was going to end in disaster; she’d also slid closer to Evelyn, which surprised me. Down in the spinal corridor, Sevens and Aym were leading Lozzie and Tenny back to the stairs. Kimberly was peering around the door. I longed to tell her to go away, forget all this, because her task was done. She’d given enough.

Every baseline human had a pair of modified glasses on their face, some with the silly 3D blue-and-red, some just plain black frames. Nicole was looking over the rims of hers, checking reality against pneuma-somatic truth.

“Evee?” I said.

Our eyes met and she nodded. “A bluff, I’m certain. Heather, look at the legs. Look closely. Even I can see it from here and I’ve not exactly got the best eyesight in the world.”

I turned back to the doors and pressed my face to the glass. Behind me, voices rose again, the chaos resuming as uncertainty returned — but then Zheng rumbled like an angry volcano.

“The shaman must concentrate. Quiet.”

“Thanks, Zheng,” I murmured.

Twil tutted. “Didn’t have to say it like that,” she muttered.

“Shh,” went Praem. “Spider.”

The spider-servitor towered over the farm, the house, and treetops alike; the underbelly of its main body cleared the canopy by maybe a dozen feet. If it had been real flesh rather than pneuma-somatic matter, one could have seen the thing all the way over in Brinkwood. We were exceptionally lucky that everybody in that house was in the know. I suspected that this introduction to the supernatural might go poorly for anybody who’d ever seen a Godzilla movie.

But it wasn’t quite like one of Evee’s spiders.

It was very tall and very large, like a walking oil rig, much larger even than the ancient, exhausted, battle-scarred spider-servitor that we’d seen down on the Saye estate in Sussex, the last and greatest survivor of Evelyn’s grandmother’s generation. It was plated in the same black chitin, but smooth and unblemished, reflecting the sunlight in a glinting sheen of beetle-black. Yet it lacked the crystalline head of the smaller servitors, instead sporting just a black and featureless face plate. It had no bank of swaying stingers, no heat-exchanger vents on its back, nothing but the body and the head and the legs. And the legs were thin and spindly, angular and steep, as if based more on a crane fly than a wolf spider.

The spider took another step forward as I watched, edging into the field and out of the woods.

“No stingers, no eyes?” I said. “It’s not the same as the ones your family made in the past, I can see that, I—”

“The legs, Heather. Look. Confirm for me, please. Somebody else, too. Twil, you have good eyes. Look.”

“Oh!” I lit up with sudden realisation. “One of the back legs is sticking right through a tree! Like a spirit, going through a wall!”

Evelyn blew out a sigh of relief. “Then you see it too. It’s not a servitor. Not a true one.”

“Yuuuup,” said Twil. “It’s moving that leg now, but — yeah, there it goes, right through the tree. Without touching it. It’s not real!”

Evelyn raised her chin and declared: “It can’t touch this house. That thing is a bluff.”

Felicity made a sound like sucking her teeth. “Doesn’t look right. Not to me.”

“Miss Saye, Evelyn,” said Christine Hopton, polite but with an undercurrent of terrible urgency. “Not all of us here are used to the spirit world and its denizens. What do you mean by ‘it can’t touch this house’? Forgive us our ignorance, but we are all a little scared by that … ”

“Kaiju,” Katey supplied. “Also yeah, we don’t get this. How exactly are we safe from that?”

For all her energetic angry terror, Katey couldn’t help but notice that several of us had calmed down significantly — myself, Twil, Raine, Evelyn, even Nicole Webb. Mister George put a tobacco-stained hand on his daughter’s shoulder, which helped further.

Twil laughed at her. “It’s like a ghost. Can’t touch us. Spirit, not servitor! Don’t ask me though, Evee’s the expert.”

I half-expected Evelyn to huff and grumble and refuse to explain, but she nodded curtly to the Hoptons and the other members of the Church before rattling it off in the most concise way I could have imagined. “There are three kinds of pneuma-somatic flesh — spirit flesh. The first is naturally occurring. Pneuma-somatic life, spirits, they’re made of that stuff. It can’t touch us or do anything to us, passes through matter most of the time. Don’t ask me how they touch the ground. The second type is artificial, made by mages or … or gods, I suppose. Servitors, your bubble-angels, they can touch things, but they can’t be seen with normal methods. That spider out there just walked through a tree. It’s not a true servitor. If it was it would have shook the forest as it had moved. Would have seismographs shaking all over the North. It’s just a spirit.”

Michael Hopton asked with a gentle frown: “You said three kinds. What’s the third?”

“Hello,” said Praem.

“The type you can both touch and see with normal eyes, yes,” Evelyn said. “Rare, impossible. Demon-only. Never mind about that right now.” She gestured at the spider with her walking stick. “The spider is a bluff. It can’t do anything to us.”

Raine cleared her throat. “Sorry to burst the bubble, but what if it’s like Marmite?”

“What?” Evelyn snapped.

Marmite?” said Mister George. I think he’d just decided we were all mad.

“Marmite,” Raine explained to Evee. “The spirit which Edward hijacked to mess with Stack’s kid. He’s a spirit, but Edward made him more, right? And he phased through the roof to get away, ignored regular matter when it suited him, but could touch it at other times.” Raine nodded out the window. The spider was taking another step into the field. “What if that thing out there is the same?”

Several nervous glances criss-crossed the room.

“Miss Saye,” said Michael Hopton. “You have to be certain.”

“It’s not a servitor,” she repeated.

“But can it touch us?” he pressed.

“Yeah!” Katey added. “That’s the important bit.”

I spoke up, staring out of the window, my arms folded and my tentacles tight against a sudden inner chill. “It’s not like Marmite. Edward wouldn’t risk that again. I could … I could just walk up and touch that spider. If he’s piloting it like he did with Marmite … well, I’m more experienced now. He wouldn’t get away from me.” I shook my head. “He wouldn’t risk it.”

“He’s an arrogant fuck!” said Twil. “Sure he’d try it again.”

Felicity said gently, softly, as if she didn’t expect anybody to hear, “Mages are more cautious than that. Old ones especially.”

Evelyn snapped. “And therein lies the bait. It’s a bluff, a trick to draw us out.”

Katey spoke up too. “Ain’t that what the hounds are for? Keep us away from its legs so we can’t … ” Her eyes slid to me, nervous and uncertain. “Do something … unnatural to it?”

Evelyn snorted. “Heather riding Zheng’s back could be past them in seconds. No, the hounds don’t matter.” Then she pointed at me with her walking stick. “Do not actually do that, Heather. I forbid it. This is a trap.”

Zheng purred. “The shaman rides where she wants, when she wants, how she wants.”

Twil huffed. “Thought you were a tiger, not a horse.”

Nicole was still squinting out into the sunlight. “What about the big sloth things in the trees? They’ve giving me the creeps. They’re not moving.”

None of us could quite make out the details of the lurkers in the trees. They were furred and rough, grey-brown lumps, hanging like sloths but each as large as a cow. Michael Hopton produced an ancient pair of binoculars from somewhere, squinted through them, then passed them around so we could all try. I shook my head, couldn’t make them out properly. Trying made my eyes water.

Twil tutted. “They’re real flesh, that’s for sure. Can see ‘em even without the glasses. Fat bastards too.”

“Do not be rude,” said Praem.

Evelyn said, “They’re the real threat. Hundred pounds says so. The spider is bait, to flush us out or scatter us. The hounds are chaff.” She huffed. “But he would know I’d figure all this out. He would know. It’s a double-bluff. Something I’m not seeing here. Something I’m not seeing.” She trailed off, talking between gritted teeth.

“It’s not a spirit,” I murmured.

“What? Heather?”

Katey sighed. “Here we go again.”

“It’s not a spirit,” I repeated. “The spider, I mean. It’s not.”

Nobody said anything so I glanced back and found a room full of bewildered faces staring at me, at my tone of voice. The Hoptons were doubly confused, tugged back and forth between reassurance and fresh panic. Twil was squinting at me in confusion. Kimberly, at the rear of the room, looked oddly calm compared to her usual panic, just nodding at me. Only Felicity seemed to understand what I meant, grim-faced and ready to die.

Lozzie and Tenny had reappeared in the doorway, escorted by Sevens and Aym. I bit my lip at them.

Sevens said, “I could not stop them.”

“Tenns is scared,” Lozzie said. “She has a right to know, like everybody else. Heathy!”

“Brrrt,” went Tenny, eyes so huge and black, staring at me for reassurance. Half her tentacles were wrapped around Lozzie, the other half hugging herself. Her wing-cloak obscured the front of her body, pulled tight, beginning to shift and flutter like oil dancing on water. Her instincts were telling her to hide. She blinked at me, then past me at the giant spider which was taking another striding step across the field, heading for the house. “Heath? Heath-er!”

My bioreactor slid a control rod out, smooth and sharp, then a second, with a quick little pain in my side; I couldn’t stop that from happening, not if I’d shoved a tentacle inside my flank and grown pneuma-somatic flesh over the organs. I felt my skin flush and my thoughts clear. Something hardened inside my chest. Tenny did not deserve to be afraid like this.

“Hey, Tenns,” said Raine. “We’re gonna be perfectly safe. I promise you, I’ll make us safe. Me and everybody else. You hear that, Tenns?”

“Yaaaah,” went Tenny.

“Lozzie,” I spoke up quickly. “If the worst starts to happen—”

Lozzie finished before I could: “Grab as many people as I can and off to Camelot to visit the castle!”

“Yes. Thank you.”

Evelyn hissed. “Heather, what do you mean it’s not a spirit? Don’t just say that and then move on.”

“Sorry.” I snapped my attention to Evee and she blinked as if surprised by something in my eyes. “It doesn’t look like a spirit. I can’t explain it very well, but it’s the same reason that I could tell Marmite wasn’t a true servitor. Spirits look organic. Their logic is organic. Or there’s no logic at all.” I shrugged, thinking of hundreds of bizarre shapes and amalgams and warped creatures I’d seen over the years, stumbling and loping and hopping and drooling. My shoulders felt like electricity and rubber and oil. “Servitors look artificial. Made. Crafted. It’s subtle, but it’s there.” I looked up at the spider. “That’s not organic. Somebody made that.”

“It’s still bait,” Evee said.

“Uhhhhh,” said Twil, tugging the glasses down her face. “What if it’s like, an illusion? Can mages do that? Can we do that?”

Her mother gave a little sigh, “No, dear.”

Raine said, “Illusion would make sense, but it’s a big risk for us to assume. Evee?”

“Somebody needs to check,” said Katey. “Somebody’s gonna have to go out there and check, before it hits the house.”

“And step into this trap?” Evelyn snapped at her. “No. It’s either a spirit or—”

“Evee, it’s not a spirit,” I repeated.

“—or an illusion,” Evelyn finished, eyes blazing at me. “Heather, talk to me, what is happening?”

I blinked at her. “I’m sorry?”

Evee huffed. Twil laughed. Benjamin Hopton nodded at something he saw in my face, nodded with approval. Nicole just sighed and said, “Seen her like this before. Great. Just what we need.”

“W-what?” I stammered, wrong-footed. “I mean, pardon me?”

Raine said, “Heather, you look like you’re ready to fight God. Also like you might win.”

Bewildered, I rubbed a hand over my face and felt it come away sweaty and cold. My eyes were wide, my heart was pounding, and I was vibrating all over — but I wasn’t afraid. Just a little anxious, a seed of anxiety in my chest getting ground to paste by teeth inside my heart. I was ready to do something, Raine was right about that; my tentacles were twitching and aching, inching toward the door handle and the bar over the glass. My body was dying to move. I kept scrunching my toes.

“Stay put,” Evelyn snapped at me. “It’s an illusion or a trick.”

“What about the bubbles?” Nicole asked. “Can’t they deal with it? Check if it’s real, or smother it? There’s enough of them.”

It took me a moment to realise that Nicole was referring to the circular wall of bubble-servitors, Hringewindla’s angels arrayed in a ring around the house and clustered on the roof. Semi-transparent, oily and greasy and sliding over each other in a slow standing wave, they had barely reacted to the spider-servitor or the hounds so far. I could still see the few of them which were stationed on the corrugated metal roof of the animal stables, low and waiting, not engaging either spider or dogs or the lumpy masses waiting in the trees.

Twil must have followed my eyes, because she said, “Hope the alpacas are alright. Poor buggers.”

“Language,” Evelyn snapped. “Tenny is here with us.”

“Plllllllbbbttt,” went Tenny.

All of a sudden, Amanda Hopton opened her eyes and stood up. She’d been settled in a chair for a while now, hugging herself, taking slow and steady breaths, eyes closed tight, as if trying to fight down a panic attack. But now she stood, groped for Christine’s arm, and spoke in a broken rush.

“Hringewindla does not like this, he will not send his angels— his— his parts, his buds. This is a trap, Evelyn Saye is correct, Hringewindla agrees. There is a trap here that none of us can see and he cannot see either. He will not move for this, he will protect this house. He will protect this house and seal us in flesh if he must, but he will not move.”

Several worried expressions graced several frowny faces.

“‘Seal us in flesh’?” Twil asked. “Yo, what.”

“Yuck,” said Katey.

Benjamin swallowed hard. “Don’t insult him.”

“I’m not, it sounds fucking yuck—”

Felicity spoke up. “I don’t like the sound of being swallowed by an Outsider, even a … friendly one. We should move. I’m … ” She couldn’t meet Evee’s eyes. “I’m … sorry … Evee, but we have to. We can’t know what that spider really is. I don’t know what it is. And I agree with the Outsider. Something isn’t right here.”

“We stay put!” Evelyn snapped. “It’s a bluff. It will pass through us. If we move now we open ourselves up to being scattered and picked off. If something attacks the house now, we’re all together, we support each other. Nobody runs.”

Her eyes flicked to the back of the room — to Sevens.

Sevens took a breath and sighed, ice cold. Evee didn’t even need to ask the question. “I can do nothing here, Evelyn,” said Seven-Shades-of-Self-Selection. “It is far outside my definition. I am as you.”

“Then we stay put,” Evelyn repeated.

Zheng rumbled long and low and loud, the sound vibrating in her chest, deep and resonant as she turned away from the window and strode for the corridor. “Mages and gods alike, both cowards. I spit on your divinity and your fear.”

“Zheng?” I said her name, but onward she strode. Tenny and Lozzie ducked out of the way for her as she stepped into the corridor.

The room erupted in chaos once again.

“What? What’s her plan? What’s the big zombie doing now?”

“Trust her! I trust her!” That was Raine, bless her heart.

“Hringewindla won’t go, we shouldn’t either!”

“Zheng! Somebody stop her! Zheng!” Evee, shouting.

But who could stop Zheng except me?

For a moment I thought Raine was going to try — she hurried away from the general mayhem and into the mouth of the corridor just as Zheng was stepping through. She touched Zheng’s arm with her fingertips. Zheng paused and dipped her head in silent question.

“Plan?” I heard Raine say, underneath the shouting and the demands and the argument.

“Punch a leg,” Zheng rumbled.

“That’s it?”

Zheng shrugged. “If I cannot, it is not real. If I can, I pull it apart and eat it.”

“Spider,” said Praem.

Raine grinned like an absolute madwoman. She nodded, once. “I’m in.”

Zheng grinned back. “You stay here, little wolf. Watch them.”

“Got it. Good hunting.”

Zheng strode on into the corridor. Evelyn was shouting about how Zheng shouldn’t go out there, about how demons were not invincible, about how she was being a moron and trying to get herself killed. I noticed that Evee’s free hand was wrapped tight around one of Praem’s arms, perhaps to stop her joining this doomed sally forth from our castle gates.

Abyssal instinct agreed with Zheng. Abyssal instinct picked up my feet and trotted me after her to catch up before she reached the front door.

Evelyn screamed my name.

“Heather! For fuck’s sake! Praem, grab her, stop her!”

I turned, my face blazing, my mind already leaping ahead. Before I answered Evee, I met Raine’s eyes. Raine nodded once, my rock, my confidence, the source of everything I could do.

“Raine, I’m going to—”

“I get it, Heather,” Raine said quickly. “I get the plan.”

“Well I don’t!” Evelyn snapped. “Heather, stay here. Stay put—”

Words spilled from my lips. The plan was already fully-formed, as if abyssal instinct could see it clearer than my monkey-brain could dare. The plan was all speed and timing and muscle, predation and quick escape, the very currency that abyssal instinct understood the best of all.

“Evee, Evee, it’s fine! Listen, please. It’s safer this way. If it’s a trap, then I can just slip myself and Zheng Outside in the blink of an eye — um, bad metaphor, but you see what I mean. Zheng wants to punch that spider in the leg, but I can do better! All I have to do is touch it with my tentacles and I can send it Outside. I can send it anywhere, dump it somewhere horrible, or in Camelot so the Knights and Caterpillars can dismantle it—” I glanced over my shoulder at Lozzie as I said that part. She nodded with great enthusiasm, still wrapped in Tenny’s silken black tentacles. “And if Edward really is stupid enough to be remote piloting it, then we’ve got him! I can chase him down, easily and quickly. I did it before and I know what I’m doing. I’m not losing myself to anger. This is — this is clear. It makes the most sense. And I’ll ride on Zheng’s back. Like before.”

Evelyn stared at me with an expression like she had eaten an entire lemon.

Raine cleared her throat. “It does make sense, Evee.”

“Yeah I vote for this,” Katey added.

Felicity met my eyes. “Be safe. Be back quick. We don’t know what those are in the trees. Could be … about a dozen different things, and I don’t like any of them.”

“Could it be something that would punch through Hringewindla’s angels?” I asked.

Felicity considered for a moment, then shook her head. Amanda looked vaguely sick at this suggestion.

Evee crunched out her words at me, clipped and short. “If one of those things in the trees even twitches in your direction, you leave, you slip, Outside. I insist, Heather. I trust you, but I insist.”

“I promise I will,” I said. “Just the spider. You insist and I obey. We’ll be right back.”

It was a strange combination of words which spilled from my lips; I had not planned to say that. I obey. But it felt right and it made my insides sing, it made the bioreactor run smooth and sharp and clean, deep down in my belly. It made Raine’s eyebrows shoot up and Twil splutter and Felicity stare at me with something oddly akin to affection. But most importantly it made Evee nod.

“Hey, Heather,” Raine said quickly. “Turn on Zheng’s phone and call mine. Keep the call connected, so we can hear.”

“Yes! Okay!”

Evelyn hissed. “Alright. Go. And quick!”

I turned and ran down the shadowy spinal corridor of Geerswin farmhouse, right past Sevens and Aym — Sevens reached out to me and I ducked my head unthinkingly, to kiss her fingers in a fleeting touch. I never could have done that on anything less than a full dose of adrenaline and abyssal chemicals and hormones racing through my veins; I would have blushed myself to death.

Through the falling sunbeams and onto Zheng’s heels as she opened the front door.


Zheng didn’t sound very surprised. She paused as I scrambled up her back, climbing her with hands and tentacles and then clinging on tight around her shoulders and neck. She was so warm, warmer than the sun-kissed brick steps that she stepped out onto. She didn’t question me mounting her back, just kept her head half-turned to listen.

“Better plan,” I hissed. “Get me close enough to touch the spider’s leg. If Edward is in there I’ll chase him down and … and eat him alive. Eat his mind. If he’s not in there then I’ll zap the whole spider Outside, though I might pass out if I do that so maybe we’ll go with it, to Camelot. And if it’s an illusion, we’ll know.”

Zheng broke into a grin. “I like this plan, shaman. I like any plan where we are together.”

“I love you too, Zheng,” I whispered, and held on tight. “Give me your phone. I need to keep us connected.”

Zheng jumped down the steps and onto the crumbly, broken tarmac in one long bound. My heart soared already, to move with such speed. She fished out her phone and pressed it into one of my tentacles. I dialled Raine, heard her on the other end, and then let the call sit.

The ring of bubble-servitors was all around us, an oily, jellied wall of Outsider angels, reaching upward in hope of becoming a dome. Zheng turned toward the field and they parted for her. I couldn’t help but think they knew she would just rip through them anyway, if they refused to move.

The spider-servitor towered over the house and the field and the treetops, black and shiny and glinting in the clear crisp sunlight. The leaves shivered and shook in a gentle breeze. All around the spider’s feet a dozen hounds surged forward as protection, shadowing the legs as it strode toward the house.

“Ready, shaman?”

I tightened my grip on Zheng. The plan was perfect. Only she and I could have pulled this off — Zheng’s speed and strength and power, with my hyperdimensional mathematics as a payload. If it really was a trap, we didn’t have to turn and run, we could simply be gone, elsewhere, Outside. If there was a secret magic circle in the underbelly of the spider, waiting to trap me and drain my blood, I would be ready for that too, diving into it all tooth and claw and spiked tentacle; Edward wouldn’t know what hit him. We were ready for anything. Edward could have a team of men stationed inside the tree-line with rifles and I would simply flick the bullets away, I was so switched on, so ready.

Twil and Praem both appeared in the doorway of the house. Twil hung out and stared up at the spider, then met my curious look.

“Just here as backup, ‘case you gotta run,” she said. “Go, go, bloody hell!”

“Zheng,” I whispered.


The Heather of six months ago would have been a vibrating mess of jellied nerves and a heart like a panicked dove. The Heather of a year ago would be struck catatonic with fear. The Heather of my childhood could barely have imagined this. But the Heather right then and there was flush with abyssal instinct and purpose and a burning need to protect my friends.

“I love this so much,” I managed to say in the split-second of thought I had left before Zheng broke from a standing start.

And she was off, flying like the wind.

Zheng moved so fast that I had no time to think, no time to compose or plan or change course; all I could do was cling on hard and keep one tentacle free and ready for the final task. She vaulted the fence into the field in one smooth bound, landed on the balls of her feet in the packed mud, and then shot straight toward the giant spider-servitor, aiming for the nearest of the legs. She darted around the piles of day-old grass clippings, leapt the remnants of the mud-cut magic circle, and refused to veer away from the onrushing hounds.

“Zheng! Dogs!” I screamed — though it was totally unnecessary.

The hounds surged forward before Zheng and I could reach the leg. Evelyn was right, the hounds were meant to keep us away from the siege machinery. Raine would explain the principle to me later, but most of it went in one ear and out the other, something about how armour and infantry had to work together. Zheng liked it, because in that metaphor she was a missile.

Evelyn was right about something else too: the hounds were chaff. All dozen of them came for Zheng at once, snapping steel-toothed jaws in blind faces, wired joints racing, leaping for her belly and throat, darting for hamstrings and ankles.

Zheng kicked one of them so hard the hound burst on the spot. She turned and punched another, ripped out a throat with her teeth, roaring through a closed mouth. She pulled off a leg and speared it through the belly of a different hound, thin dry blood going everywhere. And I was in the middle of the carnage, face buried in her back, trying not to scream.

One hound got behind her, slinking low and quick into her blind spot — she would have turned and killed it the moment it leapt for her, but I lashed out with my spare tentacle before I had time to think, jabbing it in the eyes and throat and knocking it off balance. Zheng spun and brought a fist down, breaking the hound’s spine.

The remaining dogs fled beyond reach, whining and panting and bleeding, to growl at us from the edge of the field.

Zheng did not stay to gloat or laugh. As soon as the pack disengaged she whirled around and sprinted for the nearest spider-leg.

That massive black-armoured leg was in motion again. The spider had taken several minutes just to edge into the field, creeping slowly despite its huge size. I decided in that last split-second that Evee was probably correct: this was a trap. It made too much sense not to be. The spider moved too slowly, the hounds were too few in number, and the hanging shapes in the trees were too obviously not yet committed to the assault.

But we were ready, Zheng and I. We were perfect. Her speed and strength and limitless violence, my brain-math and abyssal instinct. We would confirm the spider for what it was and call Edward’s bluff; let him spring his trap, we would be gone before the blow could land. And then the mages — my friends, my family, my pack — would take his answer apart.

The brain-math prep was going to my head like alcohol; as we raced those last few steps toward the spider, I plunged my thoughts into the black and sucking tar down in the base of my soul. I grasped three different sets of equations at once, preparing to use all of them — or none of them. I braced my tentacles against Zheng, coiling up the one spare.

We were under the body of the spider, feet away from a black and chitinous leg. Zheng skidded to a halt in the mud, kicking up clods of grass and dirt; she didn’t want the impact to whip me off her back.

I uncoiled my free tentacle like a frog’s tongue, a dart of pneuma-somatic flesh. As it flashed through the air the tip hardened into bio-steel and sharpened to a blade: a harpoon with enough force to crack the armour and sink into the meat beneath, to make the connection, one from which Edward Lilburne could not run.

And the dart passed through the leg as if through air. Not even pneuma-somatic flesh.

“Illusion!” I cried out, loud enough so both Zheng and the phone could hear me. “It’s not real!”

Voices whooped on the other end of the phone, still tucked against my chest. I think I heard a sigh. Somebody said, voice tinny and distorted: “Heather, leave, now. Go! We agreed!”

“Yes! Yes of course of—”


Zheng went still. She was staring at the trees, at the bulbous sloth-shapes within. Even this close they were impossible to truly make out: odd lumpy fur and too many limbs clinging to the trees. No visible eyes, but thin stalks rising from headless shoulders like the current-feelers of some undersea organism. Claws, but poking out at all the wrong angles, in the wrong directions. Each one was huge, the size of a horse, but I had the sudden and distinct impression that size was a lie. A glance made my eyes water.

As one, they dropped.

I had called Edward Lilburne’s bluff. He had sprung his trap on something that could slip away with supernatural ease. I did not stay to watch, I did not stay to see if Zheng could outfight one of these things. I kept my promise to Evee; I spun up those old familiar equations, that burning acid on the surface of my mind, that well-mapped pain of going Out.

But at the last second I slammed the equation to a halt, choking and spluttering on Zheng’s back, snorting nosebleed all down her shoulder.

The sloth-shapes had dropped — then shot upward, out of the tree-line, blossoming and scudding through the air above the field on an arc like a barrage of artillery shells.

Unfolding their flesh, peeling open the disguise of fur and claw, revealing the lie coiled inside; each of the creatures that had hung in the trees was a blob of writhing, wet-red flesh, punctuated with mouths, spines, and muscular tentacles, all joined together by bizarre five-pointed biological structures. Tendrils ended in black eyeballs. Trumpet-shapes pointed backward, like underwater jet propulsion. Spines bristled and mandibles clacked and claws jangled.

It wasn’t the shape of the things that was awful; in isolation they looked almost like rubber monsters from a terrible old horror movie. Attack of the flying blobs. I’d seen a hundred things far worse, things that made my skin crawl and my hair stand on end.

The awful part was the way their flesh tore through the air, as if at odds with this plane of reality. Even watching them move made my eyes hurt and my stomach clench. I realised they’d been folded up like that not to act as bait, nor to hide the sting of the trap, but to conserve energy. They were dying as they moved, because they were not meant to be here. They had been summoned in an act of sacrificial violence. They would not survive more than a few minutes, but neither would anything they were pointed at. Living missiles. These horrible, twisted forms were probably mockeries of how they usually looked.

Later on, in the aftermath, Raine used the word “Shoggoth” — and Evelyn told her off for spouting fictional nonsense.

The nightmare amalgams were not servitor or spirit or demon. They were from Outside, summoned directly, in the flesh, and they were dying as they screamed.

And they weren’t reacting to Zheng and I. They were going for the house.

“Zheng!” I screamed — but she was already turning and sprinting back the way we came. Not fast enough. The Outsiders had gotten a head start of a few seconds. As they passed through the illusionary spider-servitor, the oil-rig sized projection wavered and vanished, the trick having served its purpose.

The wall of Hringewindla’s angels rose to meet them in a mass of oil-slick bubbles.

There were a dozen of those pitiful, obscene Outsiders. They hit the bubble-servitors like ingots of red-hot iron dropped on a block of ice: great gouts of blood and flesh and oily bubble-mass went up like clouds of superheated steam. Whirring, slicing, sucking, pulling. Limbs and teeth and claws flew aside and flopped to the ground, severed and twitching. Bubble-servitors were turned into shredded goo and fell apart, then reformed and sealed the gaps. One of the Outsiders went down covered in angels, like a wasp overheated by bees. Another was pulled into pieces, right down to red mist. A third had a hole through the middle, a bubble-servitor burrowing through its flesh.

A dozen Outsiders hit Hringewindla’s angels. Six survived long enough to hit the farmhouse. They smashed through the windows in a shower of brick and wood and shards of glass.

By the time Zheng’s feet touched the crumbly tarmac, we were only a split-second behind the dying Outsiders, and I wasn’t properly conscious.

My bio-reactor had shunted all the control rods free, my tentacles had covered themselves in hooked claws and plated their flesh with chitin armour, my blood was a cocktail of exotic abyssal compounds that had no place in a human body; my eyesight was incomprehensible, my throat was hissing, and the moment we were close enough to the door I threw myself off Zheng like a badly aimed flying squirrel.

I think I broke the Hoptons’ front door. If I didn’t, then Zheng finished the job, hot on my heels.

I don’t remember much about the next sixty seconds; I was there, I was present, I did everything intentionally, but the images blur together into a rush of nonsense which only makes any sense in retrospect. Panic and adrenaline are radioactive to coherent memory.

Gunshots, screaming, a cacophony of voices and roaring and tearing flesh.

One of the Outsiders, pinned against the wall, lashed to pieces, to mince, taken apart by tentacle-hook and razor-sharp blade. Yellow fur at my side, yellow scent and yellow embrace.

Somebody — I think Raine, or maybe Nicole — screaming “Where’s Lozzie!? Where’s Lozzie?!”

Lozzie, with Tenny sheltering under one arm, reaching out to touch one of the Outsiders, so it just dropped dead at her feet — and Lozzie collapsing into the most awful weeping.

Gunshots, a lot of gunshots.

My own face caught in the mirror. Bleeding from the gums. Eyes with two sets of nictitating membranes flickering across my enlarged pupils. Bruised all over. A corona of sharp flesh and hooked claws.

Zheng howling with laughter in victory. Kimberly behind her, screaming.

Praem saying, quite clearly: “Ambulance.”

Evee’s hand on my neck. Then sleep.


I didn’t pass out for long. A few seconds at most. I came round lying on the floor of the Hoptons’ dining room, feeling like I’d been worked over with a rolling pin and Zheng’s fists.

“She’s fine,” Raine called from next to me as my eyes creaked open. “She’s fine. She’s just spent. Pulse is normal, everything is good.”

“Raine?” I croaked.

Raine turned back to me quickly, wiping the sweat and the blood off my forehead. “Heather, hey. Look at me, look at my eyes. You’re with us, right? You’re right here, yeah? Focus on me.”

Lozzie’s face peered over her shoulder, tear-streaked and snotty. “Heathy’s right here.”

My throat felt like sandpaper. My eyes ached. My teeth hurt. My neck felt like a vice was clamped to the sides. A dozen bruises complained when I moved. “What … Raine, is everybody … ”

Raine wet her lips and hesitated — which made my heart shudder with fear. Then she very gently helped me sit up, in the ruins of Hoptons’ beautiful dining room.

“Mostly,” she said, in one of the most leaden tones I’d ever heard from Raine.

“Mostly!” Nicole grunted from somewhere behind me. “Mostly doesn’t include my fucking leg! Ahhhh!” She screamed as Praem said: “Hold still.”

Evelyn piped up from somewhere behind me too. “You’re lucky it was only a leg, detective.” Her voice was shaking. “Somebody needs to put her in a car, right now. We can’t deal with broken bones ourselves.”

“On it,” said Benjamin Hopton.

“Oh,” I murmured, looking around, saying stupid things because I was dazed and bruised and had spent a full sixty seconds wearing the abyss like a suit of armour. “Oh. Oh no. We hurt the house.”

Somebody laughed, but it was very weak and not very amused.

In truth, ‘we’ had done very little damage to Geerswin farmhouse. Most of the real hurt had been inflicted by the Outsiders shattering windows and ploughing their way through doors. The dining room table was in three ragged pieces and two of the sad flesh abominations were splayed out across it, bleeding into the carpet, full of bullet holes and claw-marks and even a few bites — Twil’s contribution. The lovely patio doors were completely broken, glass everywhere, the beam buckled and bent from the impact.

We pieced it all together later. In the actual seconds and minutes of aftermath, nobody cared exactly how it had gone down in that single minute of terrible violence, just that everybody was accounted for, not lethally wounded, and not eaten by an Outsider blob monster.

Of the six Outsiders which had reached the house, one had gone straight in through the window to Twil’s bedroom. Lozzie had killed it with a touch.

“It’s not mercy and I’m never doing it again. Never! I hate him! I hate my brother and I hate my uncle! He doesn’t have the right to do this!”

She couldn’t stop crying.

A second had crashed into the kitchen. Twil had duelled that one alone, assisted by random pot-shots from Katey. ‘Duel’ is perhaps too polite, because Twil had lost a lot of clothes and was covered literally head-to-toe in blood, even when she shivered out of werewolf form. She looked worse than Kimberly had after the spell. She’d fought the thing by just hacking and biting at it, out-healing the monster ripping at her flesh. She’d shaken it to pieces and made the worst mess one could ever imagine in the Hoptons’ kitchen.

A third had circled the building at speed and came in through the side-door in the little sitting room, late to the party. Zheng had caught that one as she’d followed me inside, then taken it apart with great and savage joy.

A fourth had ended up in the corridor somehow. We weren’t quite sure where it had come from — maybe from the kitchen when Twil had been fighting number two. It had been trying to get at the rear of the action in the dining room, to surprise the mages.

“You landed on it,” was all Kimberly could say, staring at me shell-shocked and shivering. “You landed on it and … um … there was a lot of … you had hooks in your … tentacles … ”

I wasn’t surprised she couldn’t describe the encounter in detail. There wasn’t much left of number four, just minced meat. I remembered very little of that — mostly blood, and yellow fur at my back.

The fifth and sixth Outsiders had formed the main event. They’d come in through the patio doors, right at the largest concentration of prey, of human beings and others.

Evelyn and Felicity had done some rough and raw magic, broken something inside both creatures. They’d paid for it with bleeding throats. Evelyn couldn’t stand properly; Praem was all but carrying her. Felicity was in a corner, vomiting bloody bile, wiping her lips, insisting she was okay.

The others had bought the pair of mages time to work that magic, and some had paid for it.

Nicole’s left leg was broken in two places — “Clean breaks,” said Praem. “Fuck!” said Nicole.

Praem’s maid dress, her lovely new one that she’d picked out herself, was ruined. She was thankfully untouched.

Katey had a very minor head wound: “Scrape on the scalp, it’s nothing, just a lot of blood.”

Benjamin Hopton had broken the shotgun; literally, the stock was splintered, his hands were bloody, his forearms covered in scratches like he’d dragged himself through a bramble patch. “I’ll live.”

Amanda Hopton was curled in a ball, whimpering. A bubble-servitor was pressed to her back. The cone-snail god under the woods had not approved of this vile trick.

I was bruised all over, felt like I’d pulled something important inside my abdomen, like my bioreactor had overheated and shut down in emergency mode; my side was tight and hot and my head swam when I tried to stand up; my eyesight kept swirling sideways, thick with black at the edges. I needed rest, but that didn’t matter.

Tenny was crying, which was a war crime as far as I was concerned.

“That was his real shot,” Evelyn kept saying. “That was his real shot. That was the real thing. Outsiders, actual creatures. Physical presence. The real thing. That was his real shot, he’s spent it. We stuck together and we won.”

None of that mattered.

Because nobody could find Sevens and Aym.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Outsiders! A big fight! Heather goes whee! Apparently some readers have been taking my little notes here as like actual official meta-textual content for the chapters, but anything I say down here is just for fun, really. Please don’t take this too seriously. Hope you enjoyed the chapter! I don’t often get to write big fight scenes, and this one was a bit unique, so … maybe another one sometime soon! And oh, hey, if you haven’t checked out the Katalepsis fanart page in a while, there’s quite a few new additions! Including a special Lozzie. Go see!

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Subscribing to the Patreon!

All Patrons get access to two chapters ahead! No matter what level you subscribe at! That’s almost 20k words. The more support I get through Patreon, the more time I can dedicate to writing, and the less chance of having to slow down the story. The generous and kind support of Patrons and readers is what makes all this possible in the first place, I would literally not be able to do this without you, so thank you all so very much! You can also:

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Next week, the aftermath, the clean-up, the injuries and the mess. And where’d Sevens get to?

18 thoughts on “sediment in the soul – 19.4

  1. “You insist and I obey” I literally squealed in glee on the inside. All the interactions in this chapter between Heather and her Poly we’re so precious and sweet.
    Poor family, they won but it cost them.
    Edward is going to pay in blood if he hurts Sevens.
    Thank you for the chapter.

    • Heather obeys! She and Evee are slowly developing something quite unique and different. It’s worth the effort for them, I hope.

      Yah, it cost a lot to tank this attack, but at least nobody died (that we know of).

      What could Sevens and Aym be doing? Mystery!

      And you are very welcome indeed! Glad you enjoyed the chapter! Thank you for reading!

  2. Holy shit! That was amazing! Our Sevens better be ok! Loved the little hand kiss. Sevens need so much more affection!
    Thanks for the chapter!

    • Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Oh yes, if Sevens is in trouble, Heather might just go berserk again. She cares too much! Sevens deserves it though, she is loved.

  3. Oh no! that’s probably not a good thing, nothing like fighting a giant fake spider with missile outsiders to throw everything into chaos, and lose some outsiders in the process. Thanks for the chapter.


    2 seventh part.


    There is a clock above what’s left of the fireplace. The urn is still floating. I can’t read the time it. Spins erratically, when I’m not looking it.

    Almost as if tAc has done nothing.

    The cellar is filling with moss and the backyard is a growing forest. It’s too late to trim, my friend is leaving all to soon. it’s only been a day, why must she leave now??

    I remember when we went up the tower in a town. How small everything seemed from up there. How I touched the circles wall with both hands, and tried to find ʇ̴̩̤̈́ɐ̵͍͙͔͙̰̹̈̋̊̔̐̊͠ͅČ̴͔̻̊  The circle takes up most of the living room.

    I have to be careNotful, because I’m not sure what would happen if the states are wiped away.

    I found the curtains in the cellar. Smashed wine bottles made the floor sticky, my friend is coming down the stairs so quiet, but I can hear her, my hand itches.

    The clock is moving slowly.


    My cars almost out of gas, which is impossible? I swear I did come back tʜϱiЯ Abigail?

    It’s like… A circle is surrounding OutaCr home. fog obscures the neighbor hood. I drove through slowly, there are no lights but the cars headlights. each home is dark and all seem to be in disrepair, some worse then the house, then taCs house. and all seem to be present, but I still see them. I did not leave the car till I parked till I got to a… Store.

    They weere scratching their face when I handed them back the other jour nal.. I swiped this new journ al from their bedroom, I’ll give it back nelaterver.

    Their hand is hairy.

    What store is this? It has no name but there are lights.

    It shines in the fog


    It’s a Lie, but I can feeltaC my friend writing in my journal. but these words will not reach her.

    I’m tired again. the circle is the living room, when had I last wrote my thoatCughts, I need to remove the states…

    I saw a light from where we traversed, longer then I could walk upon.

    She left tomorrow, I think. I want to dream again, my eyes are drooping but no I must stay awake to compl


    Damnit Abigail you need to stop being so.

    We stood at that spire together.

    M̴̧̧̨̛̗͉͉͔̣̦̹͇̘̥̭̙̻͑̀̃̇̆̒͐̂͊̈́̐̈́̈̌̒̍ę̷̡̨̧͖͎̺̥͈͍͖̖̬̮͕̉̈̾̈̐̅͐͂̈͒͊̐̐͒̔̕ ̶̡̢͙͈̜̠͍̩͎̲̟̝͙̮̥̥̭͗̀̈́̍̈́̏̐͒͋̎̃̾̾̈̐̀͘ą̵̙͇̗̗̭̪̼͉̯̼̜̘̦͍̈́̏̿̌̄͌̾̆̃̒̐̏̋͒̚͜͝n̵̢̧̝̮͕̳͖̰͖̖͈̫͔̟̞̫͌̀̓̓̀̃̈̾͑͋̾͋̀͌̉͗͠ḑ̸̡̛̹͙̤̟̘̣͙̭̻̜͚̠͔͕̊͑̏̎̌̈́̍̊͐̈̽̈́̑͝ ̷͍̺̗̹̥͎͖̤̫͕̖̺͉͔͓̘̖̿̊̎̅̀̑̎͋̾̾̃̌̄̀͐̚͠ţ̶̢̙̙̪͚̬̤̜͍̪̱̝̞̙̣̄̂̀̀͌̎̉̈͆̇̓͂̎̒͘͜͝ą̶̨̨͔̹̙̯̹̖͙̹̮̮͓̪̯̏͌̒̃͐̀̔̈̇̏̿̓̑́̔̚̕ͅC̷̢̡̨̪̝͕̘̙̝̣̖͈͖͈͎͋̈̃͒̿̽͌͋̿̎́́̊͌̈́̈́͘ͅ I could not see the end of the long road to nowhere. But we’d made it.

    I’m afraid to get out of my car, the gauge is almost empty. I may not be able to drive back. I may.

    The haze conceals all but the stores entrance, two doors. the parking lot is empty tar, it’s so dark and the fog takes everything but the windows and doors of this… Store.

    My keys are in my pocket, and I’m getting food, my wallet has cash.

    -Read until your.

    • You’re very welcome indeed! Glad you enjoyed the chapter! Missing Outsiders are no good for poor Heather, she’s going to have to locate Sevens quickly …

      More fanfic! For reading! Let’s see …

      You should put all these together into a single piece! I think it would work very well as a horror short story somehow. Maybe as a literal set of diary entries or something. As always, adore the atmosphere, thank you for sharing it!

  4. Hmmm.

    i don’t think Edward knows much about sevens and really doubt he had a plan for a rainy day to handle catching the demon haunting loretta’s saye’s former apprentice just in case.

    betting he has nothing to do with sevens and aym disappearing.

    • True! He’s a very experienced mage, but Sevens is beyond his context and he’s simply never encountered Aym before. It would be pretty weird for him to have something set up to contain them, especially if this was all an automated response.

    • “Demon” is just the common mage word for the result of summoning something from the abyss into a physical body. Most mages are not going to be aware of the distinction between Outside and the abyss; the only reason Evelyn knows is because of Heather.

      Outsiders are physical things that live Outside, no matter the scale. The Eye is an Outsider, and so are the Shamblers, for example. The Shamblers are a rare case of Outsiders who can briefly visit Earth, probably because their home dimension isn’t too different from our reality, or perhaps because they bring a ‘bubble’ of their reality with them, or some other method. Whatever creatures Edward summoned here are from somewhere so different that merely being present on Earth was killing them, but that difference in their biological/spiritual makeup briefly gave them a lot of power here.

      No mention of Aym! But it’s just a note. Perhaps I should stop doing those post-chapter notes like that, I don’t want people to attach too much meaning to them.

  5. Nice try, Edward. Impressive show. His monsters were never going to be able to take out his most critical enemies, but there could easily have been fatalities among the more vulnerable allies. Probably the most ominous implication is he’s shown he can punch through Hringewindia’s defenses, thus punishing HW and the cult, excuse me, Church for their involvement and forcing the Heather/Evelyn team to take on the liablity of protecting them.

    • Indeed! Though this attack would probably have worked against a less well-prepared group, or against a group that was strung out through the countryside trying to find his house after the initial spell. Perhaps he didn’t expect the bubble-servitors at all; perhaps he fully expected this to work and Hringewindia was black swan inclusion he couldn’t have foreseen. Or perhaps this was just one of many things he could do and he still has other things on the way.

      Evelyn is going to have to make an educated guess about which of those is correct. Very dangerous situation to be in!

      • Ah, it seemed like the attack was targeted against the house specifically, but I see it could just have been automagically honing in on whoever performed the spell, in this case, Evelyn, Felicity, and Kim, who were all in the house.

      • Very true! It could have been targeted at the mage who performed the spell, or at the house itself, or if it wasn’t automatic then Edward himself could have been directing things from behind the scenes.

  6. Between the Shambles and the “Sloth Missiles” it seems Edward has an affinity for “taming” outsiders. Concerning, to say the least.

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