Arc III Chapter 10: How Did It Come to This?


Caleb returned to the Hunter Building without further incident, though he did see other signs of damage from the cloaked attackers. They seemed to have been all over the city, and property damage – something heavily avoided by Hunters when fighting Hollows – was rampant. Walls were cracked, streets were cratered, windows smashed, signs splintered, bicycles twisted. Worse still, Caleb spotted blood stains and splatter here and there.

But back at the Hunter Building, as Caleb was tended by healers, he learned that there had been no fatalities, save one – ten attackers had ambushed Jacob Crowley in his office. Crowley had killed one, and the rest had fled, blasting their fallen comrade with some magic that disintegrated their corpse so that the dead could provide no clues to the villainous plot.

But Caleb had come back with clues of his own, and as he delivered his report to Jacob Crowley, he didn’t leave out a single word of what Chase had said to him in their encounter.

“Fredricks… you’re certain it was him?” Jacob Crowley asked. Despite being the victim of an attack, he didn’t have a scratch on him, his clothes were still pristine, and he didn’t look the least bit wearied by the conflict.

“Definitely,” Caleb said.

Jacob Crowley’s eyes flashed. “I’ll look into him,” he said. “I hope that you’re wrong, but the chance that he was a vision caused by Illusion Magic is terribly slim, especially given how close the two of you are – or should I say, were – and that you were even able to see him with time slowed. It would be hard to fool your eyes in that instance. And you say you were saved by a… masked superhero?”

Caleb nodded. “Royal Raven is what she called herself. I didn’t get much of an impression of her before she ran off.”

“Well, keep an eye out for her. I want to know more. She acted as an ally, but any unknown quantity is unacceptable in the current circumstances. We have hooded, masked marauders attacking my Hunters, and now some girl traipses around in bright colors, acting like a superhero. If she’s an ally of ours, she should show her face.” Jacob Crowley sighed. “Greyson, you did well. I want you to know that. Two teams of my best Hunters combined were attacked by just a dozen of those Shadows, and they barely escaped the confrontation with their lives. You handled nearly fifty on your own long enough to be rescued and got out with just a few scrapes. Reiner and Frost were much the same. Whatever you three went through in the Enchanted Dominion, it’s paid off.”

Caleb felt his heart a little lightened by the praise. “What about you, sir? You were attacked as well.”

Jacob Crowley scoffed. “And they fled like the cowards they are when I made clear I am not to be trifled with. I only wish I could have kept the one I killed intact so we could have learned more of who’s involved. Still, knowing Fredricks could be a part of this is a strong lead. Now, I’ve kept you long enough. Go see Reiner and Frost, and… their interesting new friend.”

Caleb wondered at who the “interesting new friend” could be, but quickly discovered that when he exited the elevator on the ground floor and saw Chelsea and Lorelei accompanied by Gwen, dressed in her usual red-and-gold fashion. Caleb quickly told them everything, and they shared with him their own experiences.

“I don’t know how this ‘Royal Raven’ could have known about us,” Chelsea said with a frown. “If she did, she could have helped us before saving you.”

“We did just fine, though” Lorelei said. “Especially when Gwen showed up.”

“I’m glad I couldn’t sleep,” Gwen said. “And glad that the Shadows were so loud, or I might not have known you were in trouble.”

“I can’t believe no one was able to follow them to their hiding place, though,” Chelsea said. “All we ended up doing is surviving, and giving them a bit of a beating. They’ll be back.”

“And we’ll be ready,” Lorelei said. “After a major attack like this, considering the outcome, I’d call this a victory. They came at us in great numbers, intending to kill several of us – I think you, me, and Caleb were their primary targets – and yet they failed and were forced to retreat.”

Chelsea stared at Caleb, pursing her lips. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Huh?” Caleb asked, staring back at her. “I…” He sighed. “Just a lot on my mind, I guess.”

“What’s there to think about?” Chelsea asked. “Next time either of us sees Chase, I say there’s no talking. We kick his butt and drag him to Mister Crowley. Let him answer for what he’s turned into.”

Caleb nodded, but his heart wasn’t in it. “Hey, you guys can go on ahead. I’m gonna go clear my head.”

“Is it safe walking alone?” Gwen asked.

“Mister Crowley’s got all of his Investigators on high alert, patrolling the city day and night now that this happened,” Lorelei said. “It should be all right.”

“You don’t want me to come with you?” Chelsea asked. Caleb met her eyes, saw the pain there, and reached out, taking her hand in his.

“I just want to be alone for a bit,” he said. “We’re getting together tomorrow, right?”

Chelsea glared at him, then looked away, nodded slightly. “Yeah. See you tomorrow.” She turned away, Lorelei and Gwen caught off-guard by her sudden departure, but then following after her. Caleb sighed, knowing he was probably being selfish, and hoping Chelsea would forgive him. Then off he went, out into the city, walking north towards a place he hadn’t been to in a long time, his favorite place to put his mind at ease.



Caleb thrust his hand forward, carved a path through the water, and then slid his body through. Again and again, he pushed and pulled, making his way down the lane. At the end, a flip, a twist, a kick, and he was off again, back to the other side. Finished with that lap, he took a breath, then grasped handles, facing away from the water. He pushed off.

Backstroke. Down he went, gazing up at the glassy ceiling, a half moon shining down, casting its silver rays here and there, bathing the pool in silver.

A flip, a twist, a kick, back to the other side. He climbed out of the pool, stood on the platform, dove in.

Breaststroke. “Frog style,” as he and some of his old swimming teammates had liked to call it, often laughing way too much at such a simple, obvious joke.

A twist, a kick, back to the other side. Back onto the platform, Caleb dove again.

Butterfly. Caleb’s best stroke, and his favorite. He’d always had flexible shoulders, and he loved coming up, diving down, then coming back up again. It was like flying, like being in two worlds at once. First below the water, in the depths. Then above it, flying over the surface, taking a breath before the next plunge.

And butterflies were on Caleb’s mind. Royal Raven. What a strange woman. She seemed young, and that was no wonder if she was dressing up as a superhero. And that outfit... it was kind of cool, but that was probably because Caleb had a slightly childish sensibility. It certainly looked like an idea out of an eight year-old’s notebook.

She’d saved his life, though. With butterflies, with magic Caleb didn’t entirely understand. He’d have to ask Delilah and Shana about Summons.

And Royal Raven wore a mask. Caleb was frustrated with his attackers hiding their identity, but somehow he wasn’t annoyed at someone wearing a mask when they saved him.

Am I a hypocrite?

What if she has a good reason for hiding her identity? What if she’s trying to protect herself and her family? Or maybe she’s like Delilah, running off to fight danger in secret.

I hope we see each other again. I want to know more about her. And I want to thank her properly.

Caleb came back to the start, stood up in the water, caught his breath. He was tired already.

I’ve really lost stamina. Of course, it’s been... over a year already, since the last time I swam? Add in the year-long training with Midnight, and it’s no wonder I’m not used to the water anymore.

Caleb looked back at the lane, at the silvery water, and grinned.

But I’m stronger. I’m faster, too. If I’d been this fast when I was on the team, I would have done better than eleventh at Nationals.

And even though it’s been so long...

It really feels great, being in the water again.

Caleb looked up, preparing to pull himself out of the pool for another dive, and then stopped.

Someone was standing above him.

Caleb’s heart caught for a moment, but as he looked up, he relaxed.

“Come on, Will,” he said, laughing. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.”

Standing on the platform was Will Rook, Caleb’s best friend. He was short and slender, and had the uncanny ability to go completely unnoticed by those around him. Dressed in a white shirt under a blue hooded jacket, jeans, grey shoes, and black fingerless gloves, he had one hand stuck in his pocket, while the other held his cellphone. Platinum-blonde hair hung down in his frosty blue eyes, which were framed by round glasses. His mouth was set in a thin line. On his head, as always, was a set of large, padded, wireless studio headphones. Will’s long, slim fingers tapped out something on his phone, and then he held it up, showing the screen to Caleb.

You’ve been back for two days. Why didn’t you tell me?

Guilt struck Caleb’s heart, and he looked down. “I...” he started, then shook his head. “I’m sorry. I could come up with excuses, even true excuses, but...” He heard Will tapping on his phone, and looked up.

You forgot about me already?

“I didn’t forget,” Caleb said, sighing. “I... all I can say is I’m sorry. I should have come to you right away. There was a lot going on, and a lot that happened, and I needed to see my family, too, but... I’m sorry. I should have let you know myself.”

Mom and Dad talked to your parents and told me everything. I understand.

Still makes you seem like a jerk.

Caleb nodded. “Sorry,” he said softly. He looked down, and then felt Will’s hand on his head. He laughed at the gentle touch, and looked up. Will knelt down, his eyes meeting Caleb’s.

“You good?” Will asked. His voice was soft and came out in what sounded to most like a flat monotone. Coupled with his lips barely moving when he spoke, and it was no surprise that people who didn’t know him well thought him cold and distant. If it weren’t for the many years they’d been so close, Caleb would have heard it the same, wouldn’t have heard the subtle hints of Will’s concern.

Caleb nodded. “Yeah, I’m good.”

Will pulled his hand away, pointed at Caleb’s face. Caleb reached up, touching the faint, mostly-healed cut on his cheek. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “I didn’t want to bother the healers too much with something that wasn’t slowing me down, that’s all.”

“Alone,” Will said.

Caleb nodded. “Yeah, that too. I wanted to be alone... after...”

Tap-tap-tap. Will held up his phone.

I’m glad you’re alive.

Caleb laughed. “Yeah, me too.” He leaned back, staring up at the moon. “I... I don’t understand what’s going on, man. I come home, and everything goes to heck.”


This isn’t the first attack by the Shadows.

“That’s what you’re calling them?” Caleb asked. Will nodded. “And they... what happened last time?”

There were just six then. They attacked Kelsey’s team. They’re both okay, but since then Mister Crowley’s had all Hunters operate in teams no smaller than three. That’s probably why he put Lorelei with you and Chelsea. That attack was two weeks ago, though. This is the first they’ve attacked since then, and this was a lot worse.

“Mister Crowley didn’t say anything about it when he met with us,” Caleb said.

Probably didn’t want to worry you. There was no guarantee it would happen again.

“I guess.”

You’re okay swimming with glasses on?

Caleb laughed at the sudden change of subject. Will did that a lot. “Yeah. And if I wasn’t, I’d have to be. I can’t take these glasses off for any reason.” Caleb ducked his head under the water, then came back up and tapped the lenses on his glasses. “Check it out. They’re water-repellant. And –” Caleb tapped the spot where the frames hooked over his ears, “they can adhere to my body through magic so that they won’t fall off. Better than my best goggles.”

I still don’t know how you managed to lose so many pairs of goggles during races.

“Because I’m an intense swimmer, obviously.” Caleb laughed, and Will’s mouth twitched upward in the slightest smile.

“It’s late,” Will said.

Caleb looked up at the clock. “Almost three already? Geez.” He sighed. “Well, I guess I should try to sleep eventually.”


Caleb nodded. “After... well. I guess my mind’s just super overactive right now. I’m physically exhausted, but my brain feels like it’ll keep me awake for days.”

A soft bump of knuckles against Caleb’s forehead as Will “punched” him. He tapped away on his phone, held it up.

As soon as your head hits a pillow you’ll be out like a light.

Caleb laughed. “You think so?”

That’s what always happens. You’re predictable.

Will stood, reaching down a hand. Caleb took it, and Will pulled him up and out of the water. Despite the climate control in the indoor swimming center, Caleb still shivered at the frigid touch of the air, and quickly rushed over to his rented towel, drying off.

“Shower,” Will said.

“I don’t want to keep you,” Caleb said.

“I can wait.”

So Caleb showered, relishing the hot water and steam. Dried and dressed, he met Will in the lobby. “How’d you know I’d be here, anyway?”

You’re predictable.

A short pause, then Will typed a new message.

Also, Chelsea might have mentioned it.

Caleb laughed. “I’m glad she did.” They both had winter coats hanging by the exit, and they threw them on and zipped them up before heading out into the frosty midnight air. They took a few steps, and then Caleb stopped. Will turned back, giving him a questioning look.

“Hey, so...” Caleb said, fidgeting nervously. “I, uh... well, you know, it’s been a long time, and I never meant to leave like I did, and I...” Suddenly he stepped forward, wrapped Will in a hug. Bumping his cheek against the right ear of Will’s headphones, he said, “I missed you.”

Will nodded, hugging Caleb back. “Missed you.”

As they walked, Will held up his phone.

Apartment, or parents?

“I figured I’d finally get back to my place,” Caleb said. “It was nice crashing in my old room, back home with mom and dad and the others. But... in a weird way, I miss my dinky little apartment.”

You can afford a better one. Or at least a better bed. Sleeping on a rock like that isn’t good for you.

Caleb laughed. “I know I can afford better,” he said. “And hey, don’t knock my bed. Although... maybe I’ll sleep on the floor tonight.”

See? It sucks.

“Okay, you got me there. But anyway, I...” Caleb shrugged. “I’m saving up as much as I can.”


Caleb put a finger to his lips. “It’s a secret.”

Bet I know.

Caleb scowled. “I bet you do, too,” he said, shoving his hands deeper in his pockets. “So? Wanna crash at my place?”

If anything, you should crash at mine. It’s bigger and more comfortable.

“I told you, I miss my place.”

I’ll come with you. Dibs on the couch.

Caleb laughed. “You got it, pal.”

They walked along well-paved paths through Lunar Park, in the dead of night with no one else around them. The flowers all around seemed to glow, as if from magic, and it probably was. Flowers didn’t normally bloom so much this late into the year, with winter on their doorstep, but in Grimoire it wasn’t uncommon at all. Year in and year out, it was no surprise in winter to see snow piled high, with flowers of all kinds and colors poking out in full bloom.

Beyond that was the Crater District, and Caleb and Will kept to the widest, most open paths and areas. Though the danger had been fought off, there was still an air of uncertainty, a tinge of tension to the world. The Shadows had struck, and in great numbers. Hunters had been gravely wounded, though none killed. Though the Shadows had retreated, how long would they stay away? When would the next attack come?

Yet it seemed tonight the danger was truly passed. Caleb and Will made their way up the main street, finally branching off from it near the southward end of Grimoire to take a few short walks to Moonstone Bridge across Lunaria Lake, and to the Libra Apartment Complex. Up the stairs they went, and Caleb paused in front of his door.

It’s really been a long time. And longer than for anyone else, because of Mister Midnight. I don’t know why I’m getting emotional over my stupid little apartment, but...

It’s home. And I haven’t been home in a very long time.

Caleb deactivated his magical locks first, then unlocked the regular locks on the door and entered. As soon as he and Will were inside, Caleb locked it all back up, flipped the light switch, and stared at his home.

There were only two rooms: the main room, and the bathroom. Unlike some of the more spacious apartments in the same complex, Caleb didn’t have laundry machines of his own. His kitchen was part of the main room, taking up almost half of it. A few shelves here and there gave some color to the white walls, floor, and ceiling. Furnishings in the main room were limited to a plush blue couch, a leather armchair, a dresser, his bed (currently folded up against the wall), the few bookshelves, and a small TV stand on which sat a twenty-three inch television. Hooked up to it was a single game system and a video player, and the shelves below held a disorganized collection of video games, movies, and TV series.

It was a bit messy. Caleb cleaned up every weekend, but he’d been spirited away from Grimoire on a weeknight, so he hadn’t had a chance. A few tracks of flour were visible on the black kitchen counter. One of his couch cushions was on the floor, and on it was a game controller. A very thin layer of dust lay on every surface in sight.

“I think... maybe I should clean before sleeping,” Caleb said with a chuckle.

“I’ll help,” Will said softly. They set to work, and it went quickly in such a small apartment. When they were finished, Caleb let Will borrow some spare pajamas and they both changed. Sheets and pillows were laid out on the floor and couch, but the boys sat up and talked a little while longer.

“Plans tomorrow?” Will asked.

“Oh, glad you asked!” Caleb said, smacking his forehead. “I forgot – Chelsea is holding a meeting. Lorelei and I’ll be there, and she asked me to invite you, too.”

“About what?” Will asked.

“Can’t say until then,” Caleb said. “She’ll explain things. But we’re getting together at Murphy’s.”

“Casual meeting, then.”

“Well, we want it to look casual, anyway. And we miss pizza.”

Will chuckled softly. “Anything else?”

Caleb stared at the floor, nodding slowly. “Yeah. I’m… going to try to see Chase.”

Will tapped away on his phone, held it up.

You sure that’s a good idea? He tried to kill you.

“He, and all the others with him, attacked me in the darkness of night,” Caleb said. “I’m going to confront him in the light of day.” He smirked. “If he’s still going to try to attack me in the open like that, I’ll be fine. I’ve learned the perfect skills for escaping any fight while I was gone.”

Shouldn’t I come with you?

Caleb shook his head. “I’ll be all right. You and Chase barely know each other. This…” Caleb clenched his hand in a fist, fought against the frustration within him. “This is personal.”

And personally, I think it’s time for bed.

Caleb laughed. “Past time, I think. Good night, Will.”

“Good night.”

“Hey, I… thanks for coming to find me.”

“Next time, you should come find me.”

Caleb laughed, rolling onto his side on the floor, resting his head on the pillow. “Sure thing.”

And just as Will had predicted, Caleb fell asleep instantly.


The next day, Caleb awoke at nine in the morning, much earlier than he’d expected after all the excitement of the previous night, and how late he’d gone to bed. But he felt refreshed. It had been a good idea to sleep on the floor instead of his bed.

More than that, he felt focused.

Chase, I’m coming for you.

And I hope I can save you.

Will was still worried, but he let Caleb leave on his own. Jacob Crowley had Investigators on constant, undercover patrols. The city would be relatively safe, and even more so during the day. Caleb wasn’t worried. And if worse came to worse, he could use Time Magic and run away. And if it got really dicey, he could just Phase Step through a building or two, totally disappear from sight of his pursuers.

He wasn’t afraid of physical danger.

He was afraid of who his friend and mentor had become.

He didn’t expect to find Chase at the Fredricks House, a sort of “mini-Manor” near the Rosewood District to the northeast, but it was the most obvious place to start, so he was surprised when Chase’s grandmother said yes, Chase was home, and he’d be right out.

Does she even know what her grandson’s become?

When the door opened and Chase walked out, Caleb’s heart skipped a beat.

Last night was no Illusion Magic. That had really been Chase. If what Caleb saw didn’t prove it, Chase’s next words did.

“Nice job surviving last night,” Chase said, nonchalantly, as if he hadn’t been the one trying to murder Caleb. “A lot of us were frustrated, but some, like me, were more impressed than anything else. I’ve never seen you fight like that. I guess your long disappearance did you some good.”

“Why?” Caleb asked softly.

“What’s that?” Chase asked.

Caleb cleared his throat, spoke up clearly. “Why? Why would you be a part of that, why would you do things like that? I thought we were friends. What about your family? Mister Crowley has Investigators searching for you. What if they find you, and take you? What’s going to happen to your grandmother?”

“Leave my family out of this, Caleb,” Chase said, his tone suddenly growing icy. He started to walk in a wide, clockwise circle around Caleb. “You have no idea what’s happening. Have you ever wondered what our magic was for? Have you ever asked what it means to be a mage, to wield such power? Have you ever thought that it was foolish of us mages to defend those without magic?”

“Not for a second,” Caleb said. “Power should be used to defend those without power. That’s why the Hunters exist. That’s what we fight for, every single night.”

“Why?” Chase asked, spreading his hands out, smiling. “Why be beholden to those beneath us? If they weren’t a part of this city – or, better yet, if we didn’t have to trouble with them at all, anywhere – think of how much we could accomplish. Our power could be in the open. We wouldn’t have to hide, we’d be able to research, train, develop magical technology openly and at a rate never seen before. We could be gods, Caleb. And why shouldn’t we? With power like ours, we’re more than human already.”

“’gods,’ huh?” Caleb asked, his heart sinking. “I’ve met a few people who think like that. They’re on their way to Grimoire, if you didn’t already know. And they’re very powerful. But even with their power, they’re still human. Just like us.”

“How can you believe that?” Chase asked, stopping in front of Caleb, shaking his head. “We’re ‘still human’? Really?” He unwrapped his scarf from around his neck, held it in his hands. “Is it human to be able to do something like this?” He snapped his scarf up towards the sky, and it cracked like a whip. A bolt of blue energy streaked upwards, struck the blue sky above, and transformed it into a swirl of grey clouds. Thunder rumbled, and rain began to fall. Chase spread his hands, undaunted by the frigid downpour, a proud smile on his lips. “We can control the weather, the elements, matter itself. We have magical beasts at our beck and call, enchant weapons with amazing properties, form shields and barriers with a flick of our hands, create illusions to fool and deceive the mind, and command the ability to see through illusions and deceptions. You – you of all people command perhaps the greatest power of us all: Time itself.” Chase’s eyes took on a hungry glint, and he stepped forward eagerly. “You command more power than forty mages, as you displayed last night. You can slow time, and what else? No one else knows the extent of your power, because no one else can wield Time Magic, but you know. You know just how powerful you are. You must know. With power like yours, how can you call yourself human at all anymore? If anyone in Grimoire is worthy of being called an ascendant being, a higher life, a god, it’s you, isn’t it? You, who commands time itself with just a pocket watch.”

Caleb was speechless for a long time. Finally, he sighed, and pulled out his pocket watch. Holding it in his hand, he stared at it, shaking his head. The rain continued to fall, bouncing off of the metal. It soaked Caleb’s hair, dripped down his face like tears. He put his watch back in his pocket, and stared at Chase. “How did it come to this?” he asked. “How did you become so obsessed with power, so greedy? We’re not gods, no matter how much you try to say we are. We’re humans, with more power than other humans, but still just humans. That isn’t good enough for you?”

Chase shook his head. “You’re lost, then,” he said, and there was sadness in his tone. “I thought you of all mages would understand. Your power is wasted.”

“Wasted how?” Caleb asked, voice rising in a desperate hope to bridge the gap between him and Chase. “I’ve saved lives. What greater calling is there than that? What more value could I ever aspire to? People who would have been dead long ago are alive because I’ve used my power well, because I’ve fought for their sake.”

“And you get no thanks,” Chase said. “They don’t even know it! You take pride in being a secret hero, in them never knowing who it is who saved them?”

“I do,” Caleb said firmly. “And I always will. I take great pride in it. Because my power doesn’t consume me. You talk of being a god, but you…” He shook his head. “You don’t control your power. You’re a slave to it.”

“A slave?” Chase asked, laughing. “How am I a slave?”

“You’re consumed by your power. Your power made you greedy, and you can’t see beyond that. Your power and your greed are controlling you, not the other way around. Wake up, Chase! You’re going down the wrong path, but you don’t have to stay that way!”

Chase shook his head. “Face it, Caleb. You’re just on the wrong side of history.”

“The wrong…” Caleb stared, blinking. “What the heck does that even mean?”

“It means you’re stuck in the past,” Chase said, spreading his hands wide, smiling gleefully. “The world is changing, Caleb, right beneath our feet. Gods are rising, and mages who cling to a false humanity will be left behind in the dark, forgotten corners of history.”

Now Caleb was truly speechless, because he was more confused than he’d ever been before. How could Chase believe this? How could someone be so… so utterly…


Was that what Chase was? Had he lost his mind? Or was there more to it? Why couldn’t Caleb reach him? Why couldn’t they reach an understanding, together? What was this gulf between them, where had it come from, and what could cross it?

The rain fell, and Chase, probably because he was the one who had brought the rain into being, stayed dry. Caleb was drenched to the bone, but he barely felt it.

All he felt was a deep sadness in his heart, a deep longing for things to be set right.

Why are my words useless? What can I say to change his mind, to set him right?

Footsteps sounded on the wet stone, and Caleb and Chase both turned to see the newcomer. Even though Caleb had never seen him before, he recognized him instantly, for he matched Shana’s description perfectly: hugely muscled, a mountain of a man the likes of which Caleb had never seen before. His hands alone were larger than Caleb’s entire head, and his shoulders were like boulders, bulging with muscle even through the layers of his coat and the shirt underneath. His neck was as thick as a tree trunk, his legs pillars of corded steel. Yet his squarish face and chiseled jaw were surprisingly calm, almost friendly, at a glance. His short, dark hair left his brown eyes clear to see, and though he looked unhappy, his expression wasn’t a menacing one.

“Boy,” Bronn said, glaring at Chase. Even his deep, gravelly voice was somehow calm and reserved. “You talk too much. We’re leaving.”

“We can’t just –” Chase started.

“Crowley’s men are coming for you,” Bronn said. “We’re leaving. Now.”

Chase didn’t protest anymore, and didn’t even look at Caleb, let alone speak to him, as he walked towards Bronn and then past him. The massive man turned to walk away, but then stopped, turning his head to peer at Caleb over his giant shoulder.

“Greyson,” he said. “Leave Grimoire if you value your life. Take your family and friends with you if you value theirs.”

Caleb opened his mouth to respond, but then Chase turned back, fixing a cold stare on Caleb. “If you keep pursuing this,” he said, “you won’t have to worry about the Shadows, or Bronn, or The Master. I’ll kill you myself.”

“Boy,” Bronn said, his tone edged with the slightest bit of sharpness. Chase nodded, turning away, and the pair turned a corner, vanishing from sight.

Caleb stared at the way they’d come. “How did it come to this?” he asked in a whisper.

The rain continued to fall.


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