Arc III Chapter 34: Irreconcilable


Chelsea watched as Gwen walked up and down the tunnel, placing her hand against the wall and pulsing with light at each interval.

“There’s definitely something strange,” Gwen said, her expression growing more puzzled, more focused.

“Take your time,” Chelsea said. She looked up and down the dark tunnel. “We’re totally fine here.”

“And if that changes, we’ll handle it,” Lorelei said.

Gwen had suggested weaving traps far down either end of the main tunnel they were in to prevent any ambush, but Lorelei had shot that plan down early.

“The longer you can keep your abilities a secret from the Shadows, the better,” Lorelei had said. “For now, we can just investigate. If it comes to a fight, we’re close to the exit. We can run.”

So they’d investigated, sticking to the straightest part of the tunnel, and the wall closest to Grimson Bay – and thus closest to The Gate.

“With the other areas in Grimoire, pulsing and feeling the Underground’s tunnels,” Gwen said, “there was a sense of confinement, of specific structure and design. But this…” She shook her head. “It’s so open, and so empty. I can’t tell details.”

“It’s not the Bay, or the ocean?” Lorelei asked.

Gwen shook her head. “With those, there are a lot of ruins and rocks in the water. The openness of the water is broken up regularly and frequently. This is below the water, and it’s… so very empty. But I can’t say just how empty it is, because I can’t feel every boundary of it. It’s far bigger than I can tell.”

“In width?” Lorelei asked. “Or depth, too?”

“Both,” Gwen said. “It’s too far across for me to grasp, and it continues down too far for me to tell.”

“Can you tell when there are people with that pulse of yours?” Chelsea asked.

“Most of the time,” Gwen said. “Magic used for deception or protection can mask their presence to me, but otherwise I can tell. And I don’t feel anyone, or anything.”

“What about further into the Underground?” Chelsea asked, nodding to the opposite wall.

Gwen stared at her, and then lifted a hand to her chin, furrowed her brow in thought. “I never thought about it at the time, but when I was investigating around the city… I never felt people within the Underground. Everywhere I went, the tunnels and rooms were completely empty.” She crossed to the wall, placed her hand against it, and pulsed once. “There are smaller tunnels beyond here, branching off from the larger ones, and a few rooms that don’t lead to anything else. But…”

“No people,” Chelsea finished. Gwen nodded.

“With all of the rooms leading deeper underground, that’s not too surprising,” Lorelei said. “They’ll want to be hidden – and they’ve been hidden for so long, even though these paths into the tunnels have been pretty accessible, as long as people could find them. This one isn’t locked, or blockaded, it’s just obscurely located. So, to avoid people finding out that the Shadows are meeting here, they created something else farther down, out of sight to anyone.”

“And if anyone did find them, the Shadows murdered them,” Chelsea said, glaring into the darkness.

Lorelei looked back, towards the unfinished subway platform and the stairs to their exit. “How close do you think they’d let us get to The Gate?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” Chelsea asked.

“They don’t want us to investigate The Gate itself,” Lorelei said. “But there are lots of rocks and little islands and outcroppings all over the Bay. Gwen, even if you can’t feel how deep that place goes, you could at least find out how wide it is, and if there are any other features or some kind of entrance or connection.”

“That could work,” Gwen said. “But we should be cautious. It seems like, somehow…” she looked up and down the tunnel, “they’re always watching us. Even when we can’t detect them at all, they manage to be aware of our movements and goals. If we find out too much, and they know that we’ve found out too much –”

“They’ll come after us,” Chelsea said. “And we’ll show them why that’s a terrible idea.”

“Not that,” Gwen said, shaking her head. “They might move. They might change their location, or alter their plans in order to subvert what we expect. Knowledge is good for us, but if they know how much we know, then our knowledge is useless.”

Chelsea sighed. “Then it’s probably best not to even try mapping it out from the Bay. That’s too close, too open, too obvious.” She smiled, and lowered her voice to a whisper. “But at least we still have some knowledge they don’t know about.”

Lorelei and Gwen nodded, but said no more. The notes from Chelsea’s mother, locked away in the Reiner Vault, had proven enlightening. They also remained a closely guarded secret, which were only spoken of within the Reiner Vault. Chelsea, Lorelei, Gwen, and Caleb were the only ones who knew any of the contents of Marion’s journal.

Which also makes us four the most important members of this entire counter-plot to the Shadows. We need to be more careful than anyone else.

Chelsea let out another sigh. Being careful was never her first choice. “Gwen, you’re sure there’s no one down the tunnel?” she asked.

“I can never be completely sure,” she said. “But I’m as sure as I can be.”

Chelsea nodded and pulled out both of her lighters. Holding them out to her sides, she clicked each once. Emerald flames burst forth, roaring down the tunnel in either direction, filling almost the entire cavernous pathway. They continued on to where each end of the tunnel curved, turning along its path. For a long time, their emerald glow could be seen in the distance, but after nearly a minute, that faded.

“And you called Caleb reckless,” Lorelei said, heading for the exit.

“Hey, I just wanted to clean the place up a bit,” Chelsea said, following. “Nothing like a good purge for dark tunnels filled with vermin.”

Back out in the sunlight, Chelsea realized just how long they’d been underground. They’d arrived not long after noon, but now the sun was setting. It was late in the year, so the sun set early, but that still meant Gwen had been pulsing the walls in the darkness for several hours.

“How you feeling?” Chelsea asked, bumping her shoulder against Gwen’s.

Gwen laughed. “Fine,” she said. “A bit hungry, though.”

“Which means you’re ravenous,” Chelsea said. “Always so modest. Let’s check on Caleb and Will, and then grab some dinner.” She grinned at Gwen. “You can choose the place.”

Watching those golden eyes light up with excitement made Chelsea’s heart soar. And sharing these smiles and laughs, these simple joys, was more meaningful to her than the same interactions with anyone else.

After the shadow world, after seeing just how painful her and Gwen’s pasts had been…

Walking here in the sunlight, smiling, laughing, chatting, looking forward to dinner was something truly wonderful.

Caleb and Will were both finished with their investigations, so they all agreed to meet at Gwen’s chosen – and predictable – restaurant: Murphy’s.

Over pizza, breadsticks, and soda, Caleb and Will explained their own adventure, while Chelsea, Gwen, and Lorelei shared their findings. The conclusion of Caleb and Will’s investigation shocked Chelsea.

“You’re sure it was the same shadow?” she asked.

Caleb nodded. “It was just like your mother’s memory,” he said.

“But then…” Chelsea sat back, staring at the table. “Why didn’t it attack you?”

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Caleb said, polishing off another slice and plopping two more onto his plate. “But we have zero ideas. All we ended up with are more questions.”

“Not only questions,” Lorelei said. “You found out that the tunnel by Rose Lane has been intentionally blocked in one direction, and has a locked door in the other direction. That makes it seem like Rose Lane is important. They wouldn’t block things off that close to its entrance unless they really didn’t want people exploring further.”

“And it isn’t one of the two entrances we know are fiercely guarded,” Chelsea said.

Will held up his phone.

They probably don’t think they need to.

“Or they didn’t want to have to,” Gwen said. “So they blocked it off in such a way to make it unnecessary to defend.”

“But now they know we found it,” Caleb said with a sigh. “So they’ll be watching it more closely.”

But we have ways to explore it further. Gwen can check it out without entering the tunnel.

“That’s right,” Gwen said. She was in a pleasant mood, any potential doubts of worries clearly washed away by pizza. She was all smiles. “Let’s wait a day or two, though. If I show up there so soon after you were there, it’ll be too obvious what I’m doing.”

“Daytime and crowds might be better than nighttime when you do go,” Lorelei said.

“Understood,” Gwen said, smiling as she stared out the window, chewing her pizza. Chelsea couldn’t help but laugh.

We may not need to investigate the tunnels any more than we did today.

“Oh, that’s right,” Lorelei said. “Isla.”

Chelsea had forgotten. Isla was a strange character, and someone she’d never even heard of, let alone met, before she joined in their meetings about the Shadows and the Radiance. But she was exploring the tunnels, convinced that she could conceal her movements from anyone.

Caleb’s parents trusted Isla. So did Will’s parents, and Marcus.

Maybe I just have a tendency to distrust. She’s part of our team, an ally who’s doing important work to bring us valuable information.

Assuming we can trust her, Will and Lorelei are right. We don’t need to expose ourselves anymore for the sake of information.

“It could be good to do a few pulses here and there, though,” Chelsea said. “Overlap of information.”

“I concur,” Gwen said dreamily, sighing as she pushed her plate away.

“We only have four days left,” Caleb said. “How do we use that time effectively?”

“Your and Will’s parents will cook up a plan for the defense, I’m sure,” Chelsea said. “The five of us should focus on training, gathering knowledge, and preparing for what’s inevitably coming.”

Caleb nodded, staring out the window with a far-off look in his eyes. “We won’t be fighting Hollows in these streets. We’ll be fighting other mages – the strongest mages they can throw at us.”

“So – training before patrol?” Chelsea asked. Nods all around. Their waitress came by with the check, and as Caleb and Chelsea both reached for it, Lorelei slipped between them and took it for herself.

At Greyson Manor, Adelaide had joined the five, sitting on a bench by the wall, cheering them on and commenting on their training methods.

She was particularly taken by Chelsea’s fire.

“How do you make it all green and pretty and stuff?” she asked, watching as Chelsea launched another spiraling gout of flame.

“It just happened that way,” Chelsea said, staring at her lighters for a moment.

I remember asking that question myself as a kid. Mom’s fire was blue. Mine is green.

But I didn’t pick its color, and I’m guessing she didn’t, either. And Lorelei…

“Why’s your ice blue?” Chelsea asked.

Lorelei shrugged. “It’s always been that way,” she said.

Chelsea shared that shrug with Adelaide. “There you have it. We don’t know why.”

“Well, I like it,” Adelaide said, smiling.

Chelsea smiled back at her.

I like it, too.


Callum stood at the doors to the Council Chamber. Located on the top floor of the Zodiac Building, the Council Chamber was where all meetings of the Council of Mages took place. Its doors were always closed, though rarely locked – if one had the clearance to reach the top floor, they’d already gone through enough locks.

For a long while, Callum had been standing there, staring at the doors. They were adorned with symbols, each representing a class of Magic.

There were fourteen. One, Callum had always noticed, was conspicuously missing: Time Magic.

Now that he knew, from Caleb’s reports on his training with Mister Midnight, that Time Magic was a form of Birthright Magic, that made sense. But the people who had made these doors, by all accounts, hadn’t known that. Time Magic was widely accepted as another of the classes of Magic used by mages all across the world.

Six on each door, twelve of the symbols were paired – Mobility with Containment, Guardian with Support, Energy with Confrontation, Divination with Illusion, Summoning with Elemental, Containment with Manipulation. Not every pairing made perfect sense, but most, in Callum’s mind, were understandable combinations. At the bottom of the doors, its symbol duplicated so it paired with itself, was Enchantment.

At the top of the doors, split with half of it on the left, half on the right, was the thirteenth symbol.


Light and darkness. For many, Celestial Magic was, at best, frivolous. Illusion Magic could create the perception of darkness, and there were numerous classes that could create a variety of light sources.

Callum, Deirdre, and only a few others knew the truth about Celestial Magic.

Light and darkness.

Life and death.

It wasn’t a simple metaphor. Celestial Magic, for those who could unlock its secrets, held perhaps the greatest power of all magical classes.

But that power, even more so than with Time Magic, came at a great cost. Any who learned that much knew that Celestial Magic was a class not to be trifled with, and not to be used, either.

In a sense, Celestial Magic was locked away – forbidden, untouched.

It was fitting that the symbol for Celestial Magic on the doors was overlaid atop a mirror. For mirrors, like a small number of other objects within the universe, were inherently magical.

And their magic was Celestial.

How long has it been since the last time I pondered over these symbols?

But it wasn’t surprising that Callum pondered them today. His purpose, his reason for being here, outside the Council Chamber when a meeting wasn’t scheduled, led him to this line of thinking.

His friend and mentor, Blaise Mathers, Head of the Council of Mages.

How many times has he spoken to me about Celestial Magic? He’s the only one I ever knew who both knew about its secrets and earnestly desired to unlock them.


What have you done? What have you become?

Callum looked to his right, at the empty space beside him.


I know why you left me alone for this. But that just makes this all the harder. I don’t…

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to know. If he’s become a monster, a leader of some horrible group that is wreaking havoc in my city…

If he’s the one who killed Marion…


Callum fixed his expression into one of determined resolve. He placed a hand against the doors.

Now isn’t the time for indulgence or fear.

Now is the time for truth.

Now is the time for courage.

Callum pushed the doors open and stepped into the Council Chamber. Slowly, the doors swung back, closing themselves.

Silently, as always.

The Council Chamber, when it wasn’t occupied, was always silent. Even when all of the members of the Council were here, even in the fiercest of debates, there was a hushed aura.

The Chamber was perfectly circular, with no adornments, decorations, or special furnishings. The walls and ceiling were a reddish wood that matched the round table in the center. Underneath the black chairs that encircled the table was a white carpet.

And across from the entrance, beyond the table, was another door embedded in the wall. It easily went unnoticed, as it was flush with the wall and the same color as the wood, but the seam was visible for those who knew what to look for.

That door was Callum’s real challenge. Beyond that door…

Was the office of the Council’s Head. Blaise Mathers awaited.

Callum walked around the table, stopping near the far side, running his hand along the top of one of the chairs. His chair. It was slightly worn at the edge of the left arm rest, where Callum frequently tapped his fingers during meetings.

From that place, he looked around the table, out at the empty chairs, and memories came back to him, one after the other.

Memories of debates.

Memories of stories.

Memories of laughter.

Memories of anger.

Memories of tears.

He and Deirdre were the youngest members of the Council, yet in the six years they’d sat at this table, they’d become close to each of its members. Deirdre always sat beside Callum, and Isla beside her. Oscar had sat across from Callum, for just a few months, before he’d resigned from the Council.

They kept trying to rope you into it, and you finally accepted, only to leave shortly after. You never said anything about it, no matter how much I asked.

You didn’t…

You didn’t know about what was happening then, did you?

You didn’t know what was going to happen back then, did you?

Callum then looked at the head chair. It alone was white, while the carpet beneath it was black.

There had sat Blaise Mathers, every year that Callum had been on the Council, and for many years before then. And it was there that Callum had occasionally seen strange, unnamed individuals.

Blaise occasionally invited guest observers to Council sessions. One of them had been a woman with violet eyes, who Callum now knew was Anastasia.

Another had been Jormungand.

Blaise’s guests never spoke a word, and always stood slightly behind him to his right.

It’s impossible for him to be completely clean… isn’t it?

Callum stared at the door to Blaise’s office. His heart rate had quickened, and he took a few steady breaths to calm himself.

In his mind, he thought over so many memories.

He thought over being assigned, during his Hunter internship, as Blaise’s shadow. And how, just two years after that, Blaise had been selected as the next Head of the Hunter Guild. He thought of so much laughter. He thought of long conversations into the wee hours of the morning.

He thought of a friend, a companion, an ally, a mentor, a role model.

He thought of his first day on the Council, when after the session had ended, Blaise called him into his office. Placing a hand on his shoulder, Blaise had smiled at him.

“One day,” he’d said, “this will be your office.”

I followed him. Every step of the way, from the moment we met, I followed him. From a Hunter, to the Head of the Guild, to sitting on the Council of Mages. And as soon as I reached the Council, he declared me his successor.


If you’re really a part of all this evil, why did you do all of that for me? Why were you so kind to me, so helpful to me?

Why did you allow me to climb so high, encourage me to climb so high, and yet never for a moment show the slightest hint of the evil you were a part of?

Why declare me your successor?

Callum shook his head, steeled himself, and approached the door to Blaise’s office. He raised a gloved hand and knocked twice.

“Enter!” came the energetic voice within.

The same as always.

Callum pushed the door open and strode inside, letting the door close behind him.

Blaise’s office was circular, just like the Council Chamber. On the far side, behind Blaise and his desk, the entire curved wall was made of glass, windows looking out onto Grimoire. Bookshelves curved around the left and right of the room. Even Blaise’s desk, while not circular, was an oval.

In the light from the windows, the first thing Callum noticed about his friend and mentor was his left hand. The light struck his wedding ring just right, so that it gleamed, golden and beautiful, in the office.

Blaise stood, and the gleam faded. As he crossed around his desk to greet Callum, all seemed normal.

He smiled, just like he always did, with a youthful exuberance that belied his age. He walked tall and swift, despite using a cane. Blonde hair that was nearly half grey was slicked back, and clear blue eyes glittered with warmth and wisdom. A slim frame and angular features disguised the strength of his grip as he shook Callum’s hand.

Blaise Mathers was the same as he always was. Kind, strong, and quick to smile. And as he studied him, Callum couldn’t see it.

He couldn’t see any lies. Any deceit. If the Blaise he knew was a façade, he could see no cracks.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve paid me a surprise visit,” Blaise said, his voice light and clear. “Take a seat, old friend.” He leaned forward slightly, his eyes flickering with concern. “Is everything all right? You look a bit pale.”

“I’m fine,” Callum said, waving Blaise off. “I just…” He took a seat and let out a heavy sigh.

“Deep thoughts, I see,” Blaise said, not returning to the high-backed chair at his desk, but instead plopping down in the armchair for guests right next to Callum’s. He sat silent.


Everything’s the same as always. He doesn’t push. He recognizes when something’s wrong, and he waits for you to open up.


Why do you have to be the same as always? Why can’t you show some hint, some flash of evil or darkness or cruelty or something? Give me something to work with, here. Don’t…

Don’t make this so difficult.

In the midst of his hesitations, the words of his wife came to mind.

“Just use the truth,” Deirdre had said. “Tell the truth. See how he responds to it.”

Callum took a deep breath, and then looked up. He had an idea of where to start.

“You know,” he said, “Chase Fredricks, Caleb’s friend and mentor among the Hunters, turned out to be a member of these ‘Shadows’ running all over the city.”

“How’s Caleb holding up?” Blaise asked.

So sincere. So genuine. Stop making this so difficult.

“He’s… hanging in there,” Callum said. “But I… well, of course I’m curious about who the Shadows are. We all are. They’ve attacked Hunters, they’ve even attacked Jacob in his own office. And the only one we know the identity of turned out to be someone who should have been a close ally. We’re in some sort of shadowy, clandestine war. And most don’t know who’s in charge.”

“You sound like you have some ideas,” Blaise said, leaning closer.

And there it is. That glint in his eye, that curious spark.

Nothing malicious. Nothing sinister.

So why…

“Do you know a woman named Anastasia?” Callum asked.

“With violet eyes?” Blaise asked.

Callum had to fight very hard to suppress his surprise.

He isn’t going to deny it, or talk around it? What the…

“I should have introduced you,” Blaise said with a chuckle. “I know I had her observe a Council session once. She’s hard to forget.”

Callum steadied himself, nodded. “Well it turns out… you see, she said she was working for you.”

“That’s true,” Blaise said. “She and I have been close for a long time. She’s a good friend, and a trusted ally.”

What the heck is this? You’re not going to hide anything? You’re not going to deny anything?

“And the thing is…” Callum continued, “it turns out there’s this man, Bronn. He’s Chase’s ‘handler’ or some such among the Shadows. And Bronn has at least implied that he works for the same person that Anastasia works for. He only calls this person ‘The Master,’ but… well, considering the evidence, it makes me wonder…”

“If I’m in charge of the Shadows?” Blaise asked.

Callum met Blaise’s gaze, and struggled within himself. Nothing in Blaise’s eyes, in his expression, in his body language or tone, suggested anything evil, anything wicked, anything cruel or deceitful.

He was wide open, honest, earnest.

“That…” Callum started, faltering. “I mean… I just… it seems so ridiculous. But I just… I’m not exactly spoiled for options or evidence here, and the Shadows seem to have some terrifying plans for the city, and it seems like they’re going to be unleashing those plans very soon, so I…”

“Callum, old friend, you don’t need to be so flustered,” Blaise said with a smile. “What is it you want to know?”


Don’t make this so difficult, Blaise!

Are you in charge of the Shadows?”

Callum stared at Blaise, waiting for his answer.

Blaise let out a short chuckle. “Well. There it is. That wasn’t so difficult, was it?”

What the heck is this, Blaise?

“The simple answer to your question is yes,” Blaise continued. Still, he was steady. His eyes and voice were light and clear. “But things are a bit more complicated than all that.”


Then un-complicate it.

“Callum?” Blaise asked, leaning forward. “What’s the matter?”

Are you seriously asking me that?

Are you seriously still acting exactly like the Blaise I know? What’s with this honesty? What’s with this light, all around you, that air you’ve always had of goodness, of compassion?

How can you admit to being the leader of an organization that tried to kill my son and threatened my youngest daughter and look so…


So good?

Blaise chuckled. He stood with the aid of his cane and strolled to his desk, where he leaned against the front of it while he watched Callum with those kind, clear eyes. “I suppose I can understand your concerns,” he said. “I know what my Shadows have done. And I know what such a name – ‘Shadows’ – evokes in the mind and the heart.” He walked to the wall, to a spot between the bookshelves. “Callum, old friend, you’ve heard this phrase before, right? ‘To fear the darkness is folly. For one to grasp the true nature of the world, one must walk in both darkness and light.’”

Callum looked up, and saw that Blaise had a plaque on his wall that he was reading from that showed that quote. “Yes,” he said softly.

“It was apparently said by one of the Lunar Architects,” Blaise said. “After founding Grimoire, he also went on to be the first Head of the Council of Mages. He was… truly a man of vision.” He turned, eyeing Callum with the expression Callum knew as the face of his mentor, of the one who was always ready to impart wisdom and knowledge to Callum’s listening heart. “You see, there are horrible things wrong with this city. There is evil right over our heads. And unless someone willing, someone capable, stands up to this evil, it will consume us all.”

The evil in this city is the Shadows. It’s… it’s you. What are you talking about?

“People talk of evil and darkness as if they’re one in the same,” Blaise continued. “But our great founder knew the truth. To understand the true nature of the world – to understand the nature of good and evil – one must walk in both light and darkness. That is not the same as walking in good and evil. But it does mean that sometimes the methods necessary to undo evil are less than savory to those who do not understand.” Blaise sighed bitterly, turning away to look out the window. But in that turn, Callum caught a glimpse of an expression filled with anguish. “I hope you can understand, old friend. I kept you out of this for your sake. I knew you would never agree to what must be done. I know that you, too, understand the need to keep secrets, even from those closest to you, but you’re also remarkably sensitive to the prospect of others doing the same to you. But I’m hoping… hoping you’ll continue to stay out of this. Once I’m finished, that’s it for me. I’ll resign from the Council, depart from Grimoire, and leave everything to you.”

“To… me?” Callum asked softly.

Blaise nodded. “I’ve spent my whole life fighting. Violence is what I know best. War has been upon this city, has ravaged this beautiful home of ours, for so very long. In times of war, you need a man of war to lead. But…” Blaise turned, offering a ghost of a smile. “When the war is over – when peacetime comes – it is not the soldier’s place to lead. You are a man of peace, old friend. And the peaceful world I will leave behind is one perfectly suited to your talents.”

“You… you tried to kill my son,” Callum said, staring in disbelief up at Blaise. “You threatened my youngest daughter.”

“I should have explained things better,” Blaise said. His eyes were filled with sorrow. “I have made mistakes along the way. I have built an army, but I was less prepared to lead it than I expected. Those closest to me, those I trust most, have continued to be perfectly loyal, perfectly honed weapons who do exactly the right thing. But in an army, in a band of soldiers, when violence is the way of things, you are bound to have some soldiers who lose control, who give into their passions and their demons.” Blaise let out a sigh. “A truly effective soldier must practice perfect self-control, at all times. And that is a tall order for far too many. I cannot count the number of times I have had to purge my ranks, and yet still I find weaker, lesser men and women under my command.” He shook his head. “I am truly sorry for the pain you have endured on my account. I hope you can understand –”

Understand?” Callum asked, his voice rising to a shout as he shot to his feet. “Understand what, Blaise? Understand that you’re perfectly calm about destroying my city?”

Blaise shook his head. “You misunderstand me.” He lifted his left hand, placed it on Callum’s shoulder. He fixed his gaze to Callum’s, his expression completely serious. “I am trying to save Grimoire. You have no idea the horrors I’ve prevented. You have no idea the horrors that, through this final push of mine, will be forever prevented. Violence is unsavory, and ugly, but it is not in itself evil. You know that violence is sometimes – far too often – necessary.”

Callum reached up, gently removing Blaise’s hand from his shoulder. He took a deep breath, and let it out. Though he wanted to scream and shout, he measured his next words, and spoke softly but firmly. “I have only one question, and then I’ll leave: did you kill Marion?”

Blaise stared back at him, his eyes flashing with confusion, and then he shook his head. “No. I would never –”

Callum turned away, striding to the door. “Goodbye, Blaise,” he said.

“Callum, wait,” Blaise said.

Callum stopped at the half-open door, turning back to face Blaise.

He really does look wounded, torn up over my reaction to his words.

He really…

He really believes everything he’s said.

“Callum –” Blaise started.

“Don’t do this,” Callum said.

“What?” Blaise asked.

“It’s the only warning you’ll get,” Callum said. “Don’t do this. Disband the Shadows. Leave this city alone.”

“Callum –” Blaise started.

But Callum didn’t hear whatever Blaise was going to say. He strode from the room, slamming the door shut behind him.


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