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Thwack.

 

The metallic sound of the crossbow bolt reverberated off the steel walls of the Keep. Blood rushed through Garrett’s ears as the barbed tip tore through his flesh as easily as through his leather gloves. Every nerve in his palm was on fire. He couldn’t quite stifle a cry, trying not to look at the shaft sticking out of his hand.

 

“Didn’t you know, Garrett,” the Thief-Taker General’s voice rang out, the sound somehow as oily as the man himself, “greed is a sin. And you must be punished for your sins.”

 

Groaning softly, Garrett ducked back into what few shadows there were in the obnoxiously well-lit room.

 

“But I understand greed, my friend. Where it comes from. You made it so easy. All I had to do was get you in the building,” the Thief-Taker went on, tapping his cane on the floor. His voice dripped with self-satisfaction and condescension. “You see, I know you better than you know yourself.”

 

Garrett cringed. He should’ve known that this was a trap. Was he really that easily manipulated? Was he really that predictable? There wasn’t time to contemplate. He had to get away. Steeling himself, he ripped out the crossbow bolt, his vision swimming as everything erupted in a flash of agony. Blood started to flow freely from the wound.

 

“You’ll swing from a noose in the morning, Master Thief.”

 

At least the pain distracted from the man’s gloating, though Garrett couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t right. Getting away with his left hand all but useless would be a challenge. He could already hear the sound of heavy boots on metal flooring. Several guards were closing in on him, alerted by the Thief-Taker General’s signal. There were barely any shadows to hide in. He pressed himself closer to the Great Safe, scanning the room for possible routes of escape. Four guards at least, one of them just on the other side of the safe. It would only be a matter of seconds for him to reach Garrett, and there was nowhere to go.

 

“Guards! Seize that over-grown rat!” the Thief-Taker General yelled.

 

Suddenly the great machinery of the safe started to move. In a split-second decision Garrett jumped and hung onto a small ledge on the safe’s outer wall. He instantly regretted it as the pain in his left hand flared up again and he nearly lost his grip. But he couldn’t see any other option, so he grit his teeth and forced himself to hang on as the safe went up. Two of the guards were looking up at him, clearly unsure what to do, swinging their weapons uselessly. They were only armed with swords, and he was already out of their reach. Garrett didn’t get a chance to be relieved.

 

Thwack.

 

This time Garrett screamed. A second crossbow bolt embedded itself deeply in his left leg, just below the hip. Almost instantly he could feel warm blood trickling from the wound, though for the moment the bolt itself staunched the worst of it.

 

It seemed like an eternity until the Great Safe finally came to a halt at the top of the building and Garrett could drop down onto the landing, careful to land on his right leg. It was difficult to resist the temptation to just curl up and let the pain wash over him for a moment, but even up here it was crawling with guards. There seemed to be at least six of them patrolling the runways in pairs, but he couldn’t be sure there weren’t more. Evading them while being slowed down by a hole in his leg would be difficult to say the least, but he’d come too far to just give up.

 

Getting to the other side of the safe was agonizingly slow. He took the utmost care studying the movements of the patrols, limping from shadow to shadow only when he was sure it was safe. One mistake could easily cost him his life. With only one good hand and leg, he was pretty much defenceless; he could neither shoot his bow nor run away. Eventually he made it to the Great Safe’s doors, heart pounding.

 

Maybe Basso was right, there better be the Trickster’s own gold teeth in a jar inside this thing.

0, 1, 8. Turning the remaining three dials was the work of seconds, though he had to take care not to smear blood all over them. Even the most dim-witted guard wouldn’t miss that. The opening of the heavy doors was impossibly loud in Garrett’s ears. Surely every guard in the vicinity would’ve heard that? When there was no sign of movement nearby he slipped inside and closed the door behind him.

 

***

 

Darkness. So far, so expected.

 

The only thing he could see was a glowing blue stone.

 

He reached for it.

 

Poppies?

 

“You filthy children will do as I say or you’ll feel the sting of my whip! Come here, boy!”

 

Garrett stumbled, his breath hitching. He knew that voice, had hoped to never hear it again. It only meant pain, and hopelessness, and misery. Sickly panic rose in his throat. Quickening his step he turned, trying to get away.

 

“There’s pain here. Screaming, the sick and the dying, I can’t block it out anymore. It hurts, Garrett.”

 

Erin? What was she … ?

 

Empty beds blocked his way wherever he turned. The darkness, usually comforting and familiar, was oppressive and … wrong. Everything felt wrong. He wanted to run, but the very air was thick and somehow viscous, time slowed to a crawl.

 

“But underneath all the noise lie the whispers. Follow me, Garrett, and I’ll tell you a secret,” Erin whispered.

 

Garrett obeyed, or tried to, unsteadily making his way through the maze of beds. He had to find Erin.

 

“You grow up strong when you grow up alone. There’s no-one to help you up.” Erin’s voice was soft, but there was an undertone of accusation.

 

“And no-one to hold you back,” Garrett managed to get out. He knew what it was like to grow up alone.

 

“Is that why you let me go, Garrett? Because I was the only family you had?” Erin paused. “We never did see eye to eye. Big brother always knows best.”

 

“I tried to help, but you wouldn’t listen.” It was difficult to speak past the lump in his throat. He had failed Erin. If he’d only found the right words, maybe … Erin would be …

 

“You know, I was just thinking the same thing about you.” Erin was quiet for a while again. “I’m going to make them stop. I want to sleep like you did. Northcrest. You want to know what happened? Where you’ve been? Come to the asylum. Moira harbours truths others would sooner forget.”

 

Garrett’s mind reeled. What was Erin talking about? Northcrest? Moira? Where was Erin? Staggering, he made his way down a corridor until he found himself in front of a door with a barred window. Was this a hospital? A prison? Was she here?

 

“You’re here to save me?” Erin laughed. “Then you’ll need the key. Look behind you. Just steal it. You never hesitated before.”

 

He wheeled around. A statue, holding a key. He took it, nearly jumped when Erin tried to grab it.

 

A flash.

 

***

 

Garrett woke to an almighty rumble. Before he could process what was happening his aching body was violently thrown across the room. The impact knocked the air from his lungs. Gasping, he tried to hold on to something, anything, but there was nothing. The Great Safe. He was still in the Great Safe. His head swimming, he tried to make sense of what had just happened. Had he passed out? Again there was an ungodly shriek of metal scraping against metal, and then he was falling, plummeting … Garrett lost what little he’d had for breakfast that evening.

 

He seemed to be falling for minutes, the safe bumping and bouncing off multiple things on the way down. Every time Garrett was thrown bodily across the small room, until finally the safe slammed into the ground.

 

For a moment Garrett just lay there, stunned. How was he alive? Groaning, he tried to lift his head. It hurt. Everything hurt. Both his hand and his leg were on fire and bleeding heavily, and he was sure most of the rest of him would be covered in blue and black bruises soon. His mask stank of vomit. Disgusted, he ripped it off and threw it in a corner. Gingerly he tried to sit up, hissing in pain as every movement jostled the bolt that was still sticking out of his leg. It would have to stay there for the moment, or he didn’t doubt he’d bleed to death before he could dress the wound properly.

 

Even with all his riches, doctors were a luxury a Master Thief couldn’t afford. He’d have to take care of his wounds himself, or … Garrett considered his options. There was no way he could climb the Clock Tower in his current condition. The Crippled Burrick wasn’t safe anymore. He hated having to face Basso like this, but meeting him at the Siren’s Rest was his best bet. If he could make it there. He’d have to make his way all the way through Stonemarket and the South Quarter, and he could barely walk, let alone climb. The air was filled with smoke and dust, but Garrett didn’t need to see the Clock Tower to realise time wasn’t on his side. The Great Safe had been the last stop of a very long night. It had to be almost morning. He needed to hurry.

 

Garrett forced himself to his feet, trying to ignore the searing pain that lanced through his leg with every unsteady step. At least nothing seemed to be broken. Once he left the plaza in front of the crumbled Keep the smoke dissipated and the air became somewhat clearer. On the one hand it made breathing much easier, on the other it also presented Garrett with a new problem. There was absolutely nowhere to hide on the bridge to Stonemarket, and injured as he was he’d have difficulty passing for a normal citizen. If anyone should see him, he’d be in trouble. But there was nothing for it. It was the only way across the river.  

 

The bridge was as deserted as the nearby streets. Garrett grimaced. Bodies and rubble littered the ground – the Graven had wiped out everything in sight. He hoped Basso had made it through unscathed, but he trusted the man’s street smarts. He’d be alright. Careful not to trip, Garrett slowly picked his way across the bridge. He couldn’t help looking over his shoulder every few seconds, even though he knew it was pointless. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t hide, he couldn’t fight. There wasn’t anything he could do except wrap his cloak around himself in the hope of disguising his injuries.

 

When he finally reached the end of the bridge and found himself in the familiar shadows of Stonemarket he sagged against a wall, breathing a deep sigh of relief. So far, so good. Stonemarket was his home. He knew every nook and cranny here, every dark corner he could hide in. The only unknown was whether he’d find Graven or Watch patrols on his way. Both, if he was unlucky. If only he could make the climb up the Clock Tower, he’d be home safe in no time. The docks and the Siren’s Rest seemed impossibly far away. He looked up. From here the lit face of the giant clock was clearly visible. Almost 5 am. Despite the abysmal weather it was still summer – he’d barely have an hour until the sun came up.

 

With a small groan Garrett pushed himself off the wall and continued on his way. Even at this hour there were usually a few people out on the streets, but now everything was quiet. Had they all fallen victim to the Graven riots? He got his answer as he rounded the next corner. A group of four guards stood over several dead bodies. Garrett winced. So much senseless bloodshed. For the moment however, he was more worried by the presence of the guards. He’d have to sneak right past them, and any mistake would lead to his death. His heart pounded as he passed them, sticking as close to the far wall as he could. The guards were distracted, quietly talking amongst themselves, but should any of them take only a few steps in his direction, he’d be instantly spotted.

 

A toppled-over cart and a few crates offered some rather inadequate cover, but it was better than nothing. He crouched behind them, and then as quickly as he could ducked into the little alleyway across the street from the guards. When he was finally out of line of sight he stopped briefly to catch his breath. This had been the risky part, now came the painful one. Squeezing past stacks of crates and pushing back the heavy wooden beams that blocked his way was an excruciatingly agonizing experience that aggravated the wounds in both his hand and leg. His hand was slick with blood and the left leg of his trousers was nearly soaked through. He’d have to do something about it sooner rather than later, but for now he had to move.

 

The ladder down to the Gullet proved a challenge as well, and Garrett nearly passed out from the pain as he dropped the last metre and landed on his bad leg. He’d have to stay at ground level as much as possible, even though that meant having to dodge guards, Graven and, in the South Quarter, the Eelbiters. Getting across Clocktower Plaza and down to Market Street was easy enough – there were plenty of shadows and few people around, but it was still a slow process. He was limping badly, and he couldn’t take any risks.

 

When he passed an empty apartment he’d robbed only a few days ago, he briefly considered just holing up in there. The temptation to just curl up and sleep became harder to resist with every passing minute, but he knew his injuries desperately needed attention, and he didn’t carry any medical supplies.

 

Too soon another stack of crates blocked his way, and then he found himself confronted with a bigger problem: a Watch tower with a crossbowman stood on top of it. This part of Market Street was a little dicey to navigate at the best of times, and now was hardly the best of times. Usually he’d crawl through a ventilation shaft and go through a basement behind the tower, but there was no way he could do that now. He’d have to get past by some other way, but there were also four other guards patrolling the area. It was late and they’d probably been standing watch for hours, but he couldn’t count on them being tired and inattentive.

 

Garrett studied the patrols for a long time, hoping for a window of opportunity to slip past them, but none presented itself. There was always at least one of them facing him, and the area was lit by electric light. Not that he could have shot a water arrow in any case. After a short search he found an empty bottle. This would do. He hated doing this – it was messy, left behind traces of his presence – but there were no other options. He threw the bottle at the side of the Watch tower and waited until the men went to investigate the sound, then he made his move. Heart in his throat he darted behind a loaded cart, pain in his leg be damned. Only a second later one of the guards returned to his post. Sweat beaded on Garrett’s forehead. That had been too close. He stayed in his cover for a few more seconds, then moved on as quietly as possible. A civilian roamed the area directly in front of the gate to South Quarter, but he paid Garrett no heed.

 

The South Quarter seemed untouched by the Graven riots. The Eelbiters were firmly in control of the district, with beggars and gloomers huddled in the street corners. Garrett had no doubt the House of Blossoms still operated as usual. The dockfrocks certainly did, but neither them nor their clients paid any attention to him as he stumbled onwards. At a casual glance he might’ve appeared drunk, and he was starting to feel a little dizzy. Garrett frowned. He wasn’t sure if he’d hit his head harder than he’d thought or if it was just the blood loss, but neither was good.

 

Bracing himself against a wall with his good hand he inspected the wound in his leg. Though it was still plugged by the shaft of the bolt, the constant movement and shifting of the muscle had allowed it to bleed freely. His trouser leg was saturated with blood and … he was leaving a trail of bright crimson droplets. Panic began to rise. Anyone could’ve followed him. The bounty on his head was astronomical – most of the City would gladly see him hang or worse – if anyone were to recognise him and realise he was hurt, they’d only have to follow the trail and finish him off. Was someone following him already?

 

Garrett took a deep steadying breath. Panicking wasn’t helping. He needed to find something to staunch the bleeding. Two streets down he spotted a laundry line. Despite presumably being freshly washed the clothes hardly looked clean, but he was in no position to be picky. Cursing his short stature he clumsily scrambled up a crate to pull down the darkest piece of clothing he could reach. He needed something that wouldn’t stand out too much in the dark. With the use of only one hand it took a while to tear the once-green shirt to strips and get it wound around his other hand and leg. The result was messy and probably wouldn’t hold for long, but it was the best he could manage. As much as he hated the thought, he’d need Basso’s help to dress his wounds properly.

 

The Siren’s Rest was still a long ways away, and to his great concern the sky was already starting to get lighter, the shadows less deep. Time was running out. Garrett warily eyed the low rooftop to his left. There wasn’t any better way over the canal; he’d have to climb it. The roof was just about at his eye level – easy enough under normal circumstances, but right now it seemed downright impossible.

 

Getting up there was an undignified and almost unbearably painful scramble. Stars danced in front of Garrett’s eyes as he finally lay on the roof flat on his stomach, trying to catch his breath. Every inch of his battered body screamed in agony. The makeshift bandages were soaked with blood and had already half come off in the struggle. Moaning softly, Garrett forced himself to roll over and sit up. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t just lie here forever. He had to go on. Cautiously he dropped down onto a walkway on the other side of the roof, careful to land on his good leg, but the impact still jostled the bolt. A fresh wave of pain washed over him. He didn’t know how much more he could take.

 

Movement in his peripheral vision spurred him into action. An Eelbiter patrolled the canalside; he had to get away from here. He’d stay off the ground for now – fewer patrols, and people rarely looked up, though there was the occasional crossbowman to look out for. The skinmarket was bustling with activity even at this time of night— Day. It was nearly day.

 

Garrett’s heart skipped a beat as he nearly lost his footing on one of the narrow walkways. His vision was blurring, everything feeling off-kilter. He blindly grasped for something, anything, to hold on to. Icy sweat ran down his back. It was a long way down; he’d break his neck if he fell. His blood-slick fingers found a narrow window sill, and leaning back against the barred window he waited for the dizzy spell to pass and his vision to clear. When the world around him had stabilised a bit Garrett moved on, clinging to the wall for support, only vaguely aware of the red handprints he was leaving. He knew he should be more concerned about them, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to care about anything other than going to sleep and the pain to stop.

 

At Eels End the Thieves’ Highway petered out and he was forced to drop down from the rooftops and continue at ground level. The Eelbiters patrolling the area were distracted by their conversation – Garrett absently noted how they wouldn’t shut up about some dockfrock, as if there was nothing more important in the world – but there were three of them, and he was running out of shadows. It felt like hours until all of them had moved away and he could make his way to the docks. He could see the Siren’s Rest from here. Only a few steps more and he’d be in safety, or as safe as he could be outside his Clock Tower, at least. But there was no cover, no shadows. For the last few metres he’d be in plain sight.

 

The Siren’s Rest was nearly empty. Only a few patrons in various stages of inebriation were scattered here and there, and the bartender was busy washing glasses, probably about to close the bar for the night. Garrett found Basso at one of the tables in the back. The fence’s eyes widened as he spotted Garrett.

 

“Upstairs. Now,” he hissed by way of a greeting.

 

Garrett winced but didn’t resist as he was bullied up the stairs and into the first room on the right.

 

“I’ll be right back. By the Trickster, sit down before you fall down.” Basso shot him a long look and then disappeared through the door, closing it behind him.

 

With the adrenaline subsiding, a wave of exhaustion washed over Garrett and he barely managed to take off his weapons before he collapsed on the bed. He was nearly asleep when Basso returned to the room, carrying a basin and a stack of fresh linens. Garrett heard Basso set down the basin on the small table by the window and then the bed dipped as the fence sat down heavily on the edge.

 

“I told you,” he thundered. “I fucking told you not to go, but you wouldn’t listen. What happened? You look like you got chewed up by a burrick.”

 

“Thief-Taker shot me,” Garrett mumbled. It was difficult to focus. Sleep was pulling at him. “I … the Safe … the Safe fell.”

 

“The safe fell? Are you telling me you were in it when it fell?” Basso sounded incredulous.

 

Garrett didn’t answer. Too much effort. He lost consciousness.

 

***

 

“... Garrett. Garrett! Wake up, you can’t sleep now!” Garrett slowly became aware of Basso’s voice near his ear, of the heavy hands that shook his bruised shoulders. “Wake up, you taffing fool, before you bleed to death on me.”

 

Garrett opened his eyes to find Basso leaned over him, brows furrowed.

 

“Get up and take off these clothes. We need to get these wounds seen to,” he ordered.

 

Dazed, Garrett attempted to sit up. Every smallest movement hurt, and he couldn’t suppress a low groan. He trusted his fence with his life, would never have come here if he didn’t, but he hated showing weakness like this even in front of Basso. It was almost as bad as having to ask for help – he realised he wouldn’t be able to take off his armour with the use of only one hand.

 

Basso seemed to have read his mind and started to undo the laces on Garrett’s harness. Gritting his teeth Garrett let it happen, uncomfortably aware of just how close the other man was. He wanted to bolt, needed to get some space between them, but he knew this had to be done so he just concentrated on keeping his breathing even. This wasn’t the first time Basso had to patch him up after a job gone wrong, not by far, but to not even be able to undress himself – he abhorred feeling helpless.

 

Once he’d removed Garrett’s harness, bracer and elbow pads, Basso moved on to his gloves. He pulled off the right one first, then looked skeptically at Garrett’s bloodied left hand. Retrieving one of the linens from the table he tore it into strips, then turned his attention back to the glove.

“I’m sorry, Garrett. I’m gonna have to cut this one open.” Basso pulled out his knife and carefully cut open the glove at the seams. Fresh rivulets of blood streamed from the wound as Basso gently peeled off the ruined glove. “This is gonna hurt.”

 

Garrett nearly screamed when Basso produced a bottle of whisky and poured a generous amount over his hand. He then wound one of the strips of linen tightly around Garrett’s hand and scrutinised his handiwork.

 

“It ain’t pretty, but it should hold until i get a chance to get proper bandages from the apothecary,” Basso conceded. “Now take off the rest of your gear. All of it. Need any help?”

 

Shaking his head, Garrett hesitantly pulled down the zipper of his leather hoodie, silently thanking Basso for at least turning away to give him some space. To his dismay it quickly became apparent that taking off the hoodie was more difficult and painful than he’d imagined, and the bolt in his leg would probably have to come out before he could pull down his trousers.

 

“Basso …” he began, unsure how to admit that he needed help. The fence turned around.

 

“Bloody hell, Garrett!”

 

Garrett flinched, startled by Basso’s sudden outburst. Basso stood staring at him, mouth open. Looking down at himself, Garrett found his exposed chest mottled with blue and black bruises. He winced. No wonder it hurt. There was barely an inch of skin left unscathed.

 

With a deep sigh Basso leaned down and helped Garrett cautiously pull off his hoodie, then knelt and removed his boots.

 

“You’re gonna be the death of me, Garrett,“ Basso groaned. “Now here comes the fun part. Lie down, on your side.”

Uneasy, Garrett obeyed, his stomach churning. He knew what was about to come. Pulling out his knife once more Basso cut off the shaft of the crossbow bolt close to the head, taking care to keep it as still as possible. He couldn’t completely avoid jostling it and Garrett gasped as the movement sent flashes of searing pain through his leg. Basso swore under his breath and discarded the shaft on the floor. Garrett recoiled when the fence reached for the fastenings of his trousers.

 

“Sorry, sorry … I’ll let you,” Basso apologised quickly.

 

With trembling fingers Garrett undid the zipper. This was mortifying. After a short struggle he had to accept that he wouldn’t be able to tug down his trousers without Basso’s help. He’d only hurt himself further. Basso seemed to realise this and began to slowly, inch by inch, pull down the leather, gently lifting it over the remains of the crossbow bolt. It took them minutes to work the trousers down Garrett’s legs. By the end of the ordeal Garrett was shaking and sweating profusely, his lips bitten raw. But he knew the worst was yet to come.

 

“You might wanna get pissed for this.” Basso held out the whisky bottle.

 

Garrett shook his head. He’d only been drunk once in his life, and he didn’t wish to repeat the experience.

 

“You sure? Suit yourself. But keep it down, and you may want to find something to bite down on. This is gonna hurt like the devil,” Basso warned.

 

“Get on with it already,” Garrett pressed out between clenched teeth. He just wanted to get this over and done with and go back to sleep.

 

Basso sat down heavily on the side of the bed, which looked like a murder scene by now. There was blood everywhere. The innkeeper would be furious, though Garrett couldn’t care less at this point. His eyes widened in alarm when Basso reached for his knife. A hoarse cry tore from his chest as the blade cut into his flesh. In an instant a wad of cloth was shoved into his mouth. He sputtered and flailed, but Basso was unrelenting.

 

“Keep it down, I said,” he hissed. “You’re alerting the entire pub!”

 

Garrett barely heard him. A haze of agony clouded his world. There was nothing but pain. He vaguely registered Basso turning back to his leg, and then he blacked out.

 

***

 

When Garrett awoke the first thing he noticed was the stench. The whole room stank of blood and whisky. He blinked open heavy eyelids and tried to sit up. His entire body ached, but the sharp pain in his leg had eased off to a dull throbbing. The crossbow bolt was gone and the wound neatly bandaged – well, a lot neater than his own attempt earlier at least. Basso sat in a chair beside the bed, the now empty whisky bottle in his hand.

 

“How long …” Garrett croaked.

 

“Two hours,” Basso replied sharply. He sounded angry, and more than a little drunk. “You were out cold for two fucking hours. You could’ve died, dammit! Nearly did, you were bleeding like a stuck pig. I’m a fence, Garrett, not a fucking surgeon. One day you’re gonna do something to yourself that I won’t be able to fix, and then what?”

 

Basso got up and started pacing the room, clearly agitated.

 

“Why the fuck did you do it, Garrett? Was the legendary Great Safe really worth two new holes in your body? We already know you’ve got brass hammers, so what the fuck are you trying to prove? Or is the promise of loot enough to throw all caution to the wind and walk straight into a trap? You’re a fucking idiot, Garrett.”

 

Garrett cringed but didn’t say anything. It hadn’t been his finest moment.

 

“So, what was in it?” Basso challenged. “Gold? Jewels? The baron’s underwear collection?”

 

“It was empty,” Garrett admitted quietly. It wasn’t quite true. There had been something in it – a strangely glowing crystal. And Erin— Garrett tried not to think about it. Was he going insane? Was it the Gloom? Was he being haunted? He’d never really believed in ghosts and the like, but ever since he’d woken up in that cart, the world had gone mad. Maybe this was Erin punishing him for all his failures. He’d done so much wrong. If he’d only found the right words, listened to her more … if he’d been stronger, faster ... maybe she’d still be alive.

 

“Garrett? You look like you you’ve seen a ghost.” Basso’s anger had drained from him and was replaced by something else. Concern?

 

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Garrett asked hesitantly. It felt like such a silly question, and yet— “You know … spirits. The dead ... coming back to haunt the living? Punish them.” The look on Basso’s face made him almost regret asking the question. “Erin …”

 

“You think Erin’s haunting you?” Basso’s voice sounded incredulous.

 

“I don’t know, perhaps.” Garrett lowered his gaze. He couldn’t face Basso, struggled to get the words out. “I remember a … a ritual … some kind of explosion … Erin died. I’ll never forget it. And everything else is … gone.”

 

“Aw, c’mon Garrett … I know you wouldn’t have put that gal in harm’s way,” Basso protested. “She’d have put herself there easy enough.”

 

Garrett was silent. Erin had always been reckless, had acted without thinking. He’d tried, but ultimately he’d failed to teach her to be more careful – and after tonight’s fiasco he was hardly one to talk. Had he really been so blinded by greed and ambition that he’d completely abandoned his own principles?

 

“I need a favour.” Garrett nearly choked on the words. He wanted to run, hide, anything to escape this conversation. “You still have your boat?”

 

“Now hold on, Garrett,” Basso objected. “You’re in no condition to go anywhere. I’m not taking you anywhere until you’re better and this whole thing has blown over.”

 

“I need to do a little research. About Erin. I need to get across to the Moira asylum.” Garrett hoped Basso wouldn’t ask too many questions. He didn’t want to talk about the hallucinations. Admit that he was possibly going insane, or worse. He’d said too much already.

 

“I’ll take you there. After you’re healed. Assuming the innkeeper doesn’t kill me first.”