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Reflected Embers

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Scritch scritch.

A pen glided softly across the paper, leaving trails of ink in quick, somewhat messy cursive. It spiked and curved sharply, finishing off with a name across the signature line.


A silent moment of pause, broken only by the woman’s relaxed breathing before hesitating for a split second. A small creak in the old leather office chair as the woman shifted, followed by a deep, weary exhale. But then another creak, another shift, and the woman leaned forward again and rested pen tip at the start of the signature line.

Scritch scritch.

Another signature finished. She shuffled papers again, vaguely noting the stack underneath the newest one before letting out another full sigh. The young woman pushed back her chair and straightened, arching her back in an attempt to pop it before standing. As she rose to her feet, she made her way over to the window, hands grasping each curtain and pushing them wide open to let the muted sunlight filter into her office. From her second floor window, she could see the light overcast starting to drift in overhead-it was definitely going to be a soft day today. Lowering her gaze from the sky, she could see the rolling Galway hills outstretched from the back end of her property and beyond, and a soft smile flickered across her face as she idly watched a small patch of goats and cows skitter across the pasture. Needless to say, it was a good break from a full morning of paperwork.

Honestly, with the state of things, any break was a blessing. Even if it was only a small o-

Her train of thought was broken by a soft tune, a woman’s voice, drawing her attention back to the desk and the phone that had suddenly buzzed to life.

Huna blentyn yn fy mynwes
Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon”

She stared for a long moment, letting it go for several long seconds as her eyebrows furrowed slightly. But then she shook her head, brushing long red curls back behind one of her ears as she took the handful of steps back to her desk to grab the phone.

Even with the phone in her hand though, she hesitated, lingering a moment longer on the silence that was laced with the soft foreign but familiar lullaby.

“Breichiau mam sy'n dynn amdanat,
Cariad mam sy dan fy mron”

But finally she shook her head and sighed, hitting a button and lifting the phone to her ear. “Sis? It’s…” She paused for a moment, drew in a breath and shook her head before clearing her throat. “It’s been a while. I don’t think I’ve gotten a call from you outside of work since our disagreement.” She shifted a little so she was leaning lightly against the desk, absently but carefully nudging things away from the edge to mitigate chances of knocking anything off. “Which I haven’t actually changed my mind about, by the way. Assuming that’s what you’re calling about-?”

“Brigid.” The Welsh voice on the other end was grim, immediately piercing through any set standard of casual like a gunshot. “He’s awake.”

The redhead blinked a couple of times with wide eyes as she slowly straightened to her feet again. Her mouth worked to find words for a few long seconds, but finally she found enough of her voice to ask. “ When?”

As she spoke, she crossed the room again to peer out the window, as if half-expecting to see the ‘him’ in question. But nothing, all was still quiet and peaceful-although now it seemed like a sharp contrast to the newly-introduced tension in the room.

“Last night, I think. I already sensed stirrings, but I thought the training was enough. I thought he had a handle on him-” A pause. “I miscalculated. I believe proximity to the core fragment supplied just enough stimuli for him to break free entirely-”

“There shouldn’t have been enough proximity between fragments to even pose a risk to begin with,” Brigid scolded, quickly drawing a curtain shut. “What have you done?”

“If I’d just had another month or so-”

“And I told you: he shouldn’t have even been considered, especially without his consent. Teaching him, preparing him for such a thing while he’s also tainted with such an entity-it was just far too much of a risk, one that’s clearly not working out so well. Is it?”

“But had it gone well-” But a frustrated sigh broke the argument; the redhead could sense the blond on the other end shake her head. “Nevermind. It’s no longer an immediate concern.”

“Fair play. Do you know where he is right now?”

A long silence, finally followed by a reluctant, “No.”

The redhead let out a deep sigh, starting to pace the room. “ Shit.

“I don’t think he’s left Great Britain yet, for what little that’s worth. I would think he’d try and return home, but since the arson there’s really no home for him to return to…”

“He’ll try and go after the others-”

“Possibly. I’ve already put some protective warding on the home of the core fragment’s vessel, for what little help that will provide.” But then a weighted pause followed before being tentatively followed up with, “He might try and go after you too though.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. This isn’t the first time he’s walked freely from his prison-”

“Circumstances are different now. And Brigid? ...He’s powerful. More than he’s ever been. Or at least, he has great potential to be. I don’t think he’s ever inhabited the body of another unbound wizard before. He has not only his own power but also that of his vessel’s and whatever magic his vessel absorbed from our brother. To top it off, we are among the few that actually know how to stop him...and you especially, being his original teacher. It puts you at risk.”

“I’ll be fine, Guin. You of all people should know that survival has been ingrained as a second nature to me. I’ll pull through in some way or another. You just make sure to watch your own back, and please keep an eye out for any of the fragments running out and about. I want to be one of the first to know about it.” She drew in a deep breath before adding, “He is my responsibility, after all.”

“Brigid? You’re not planning to pursue him are you? Remember what happened to our brother-!” The redhead lowered the phone, hearing a sharp, faint, “Brigid!” before hitting the ‘end call’ button.

The petite woman wandered over to the office chair, collapsing into it just as heavily as she did into her own thoughts. She remained there in still silence for a few long minutes that stretched on before she finally sat up and opened the main desk drawer, pulling it out just enough so she could lift the drawer tray and slip her hand underneath. A light metallic scrape against wood, between her fingers a dusty old iron key. She reached down to the very bottom drawer, jamming the key into the lock and giving it a twist to hear a soft click, then pulled the drawer open to shuffle through the odd bits and old ends, some old photographs and files and notebooks. After a while she finally found what she was looking for, withdrawing the item and sitting back in her chair to look the thing over.

The item was thick and cylindrical, dated and barely fit in her hand. She clicked a button on the top to peer at the surface interior-and to see that nothing had changed. The gold was engraved with intricate design, an ivy pattern along the edges that crawled up onto the face of the mechanism. Two black and green hands still ticked with amazing reliability, jumping from letter to letter in the place of numbers. ‘C-F-N-A-S-E-D-B-O-T-M-L’-the hands covered each of them in turn. She would hear it every now and then from the drawer, sometimes calm, sometimes in a frenzy. She knew those moments, what was happening then-but she willfully ignored it each time.

But it was something she knew she couldn’t continue to do.

It was a mistake on her end...a madness on his, that had long-since gotten out of hand.

Her eyes drifted to the ‘ O.H. 1650 ’ scratched into the inner casing, lingering for a long moment before her hand closed, snapping the old watch shut. A sigh issued from her lips as her eyes closed for a moment, but finally she twisted in her chair and rose to her feet, heading out of the office with a soft murmur on her breath.

“Well, Doran. Let’s figure out where you are.”