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By Sarah Hapgood

Bengo and Hoowie carried Glynis’s luggage out to the galleon, and took it all below to Kieran and Joby’s cabin. Glynis was to have this for her own use during the journey, whilst Kieran and Joby decamped to the sofa in Bengo and Bardin’s cabin for the duration.

“There, put it down there on the sofa”, Bengo directed, imperiously.

“Yes alright!” Hoowie snapped “The way you’re carrying on I’m gonna be expecting a tip!”

“Thanks for this, fellows”, said Glynis, following them in.

“Hope you’ll be comfortable in here”, said Bengo “Joby complains the bunk’s like a bed of nails”.

“Well complaining was always Joby’s favourite hobby”, Glynis smiled “I’ve got a bunk AND a sofa. I’ll do alright”.

“And”, Bengo swung open the cupboard under the wash-stand “Kieran’s limitless supply of whisky. He always has a bottle stashed away in here. Always. We’ve never been able to work out how”.

“I’d better collect me shaving-tackle”, said Joby, coming into the room “I’ll leave the magic whisky bottle for you”.

“You don’t have to”, said Glynis “You might want it yourself”.

“No, I’ve got access to the cooking-brandy i the galley”, said Joby.

“Is that magical too?” said Glynis.

“Seems to be at times”, said Joby “Are you gonna be alright in here on your own?”

“Well I survived the gloom of the Town House on my own”, said Glynis “Believe me, this is a vast improvement”.

Glynis refused to come on deck when they passed the remains of the Big House. She said it brought back too many memories of the days when she had been married to Codlik.

“That I can completely understand”, said Adam.

The sky was still red and raw, as if it had sustained a massive wound which was taking time to heal. Part of the Big House had been destroyed, and lay as a crumbling, blackened ruin. Some of the vast sprawling estate was still intact, looking every bit as grim and forbidding as it had always done.

Fortunately Bardin showed no inclination to linger in its vicinity, and the galleon pressed onwards.

The glass had been replaced in Jonathan and Hannah’s conservatory in their absence, and on this morning Glynis sat inside, basking in the sunshine. She noticed Kieran walking round the side of the building. Although he had lost the pasty-faced gauntness he had earned after the confrontation at the Big House, he still seemed even thinner than ever, and intensely preoccupied all the time.

He walked into the conservatory, and stopped short when he saw Glynis, wearing her speedwell blue silk dress.

“Why Glynis, you’re a sight for sore eyes, sitting in the sunshine there”, he said.

“I wanted to bring one dress with me”, she said “It’s silk, so it rolls up easily, doesn’t take up much room. First time I’ve worn it in months”.

“It’s a lovely colour”, said Kieran, sitting down on the window-ledge next to her “How are you? I haven’t had a chance to chat”.

“Well you have been rather aloof”, said Glynis.

“Have I? Ach, I’m sorry about that”.

“Joby said you sometimes get spells like this. And that ‘we’ll just keep an eye on him’”.

“Typical of Joby to talk about me as if I’m off me head!”

“After everything that’s happened I wouldn’t blame you if you were!” said Glynis “And it’s not over is it? There’s a whole devastated world out there, and we don’t even seem to know a fraction of what’s gone on”.

“I heard some rumour you don’t want to go to the City after all”.

“I don’t see the point”, said Glynis “The children haven’t been children for a very long time now, they don’t need me. And I like it here. Everyone’s been so friendly, and I’m tired. I feel I can be of more use in this little sanctuary”.

“I’m relieved you’ve said that. I don’t want to imagine what the City’s like. It was bad enough after Father Gabriel’s reign of terror. The thought of us abandoning you there was unbearable”.

“And if I don’t go, will you shelve your plans to go there?”


“But I take it you’re still intending to go back to Snow Lake? Even though the Cyanide Sisters are there?” said Glynis.

“We’re nosy bastards”, said Kieran “We want to know what’s happened there”.

“Can’t you stay here? For a while at least? You can always disappear round to the other lake when you want to leave for a while”.

“Ultimately it’s down to Bardin. And he’s usually as restless as a ferret in a sack at the best of times”.

“I know”, Glynis sighed “It’s a shame”.

“We’ll be back”, Kieran nudged her arm playfully.

Suddenly Jonathan appeared in the doorway. He stopped short when he saw Kieran there, and obviously had hoped to find Glynis alone.

“Well I’d best be getting back to the ship”, said Kieran, rising to his feet “Things to do and all that”.

He returned to the galleon, smiling. When he got below deck, he found Bardin alone in the dining-room. He was sitting at the head of the table, with maps spread out all around him. He was chewing on a pencil nervously.

“Ah the maps are out I see”, said Kieran.

Bardin grunted. Through the open port-holes came the sound of everyone else, either on the decks or on the lawns which sloped down from Jonathan and Hannah’s house.

“It will be soon”, said Bardin “Time for us to go I mean. Will that decision make me unpopular?”

“Not amongst us”, said Kieran “Bardin, let’s go to bed”.

“You can be pretty damn forceful when you have a mind to it”, said Bardin, a comfortable while later “For someone who’s supposed to be a bit of a masochist”.

“Did I get carried away?” said Kieran.

“No I don’t mind”, said Bardin “Just commenting, that’s all”.

He lay on his side in his bunk. Kieran rolled onto him and kissed his bare shoulder, scooping up his hair and kissing the base of his neck as well.

“I’ll be as gentle as I can now”, Kieran said, softly “Because you deserve so much kindness. You are not well are you?”

“You haven’t been either”, said Bardin “You’ve looked like the walking dead at times lately”.

Kieran had to laugh at Bardin’s Sagittarian bluntness.

“I’m glad we went to Toondor Lanpin, for Glynis’s sake”, he said “But it was almost as draining as our fun and games up at the Big House. And you Bardin, how have you been?”

“I’ve been sick a lot”, said Bardin “Sick in my stomach, and wobbly with it. I don’t like to mention it, otherwise Bengo makes a fuss. You know what he’s like”.

“It will pass”, said Kieran “It just needs time. Like the world needs time”.

“And we don’t know the half of it yet”, said Bardin.

“Indeed we don’t”, said Kieran “But it’s not the end. There were times on this journey when I’ve wondered if it was. But it’s not really. It can be put back together. The hardest part is stopping the remains of Them from getting back together and wrecking some more havoc in the future”.

“You can never stamp out Evil completely”, said Bardin “All we can do is stymie it for a while, and hopefully we have. We almost need to do a recce now. Snow Lake first, and then see how the rest of the world is doing. That way we can uncover any colonies of demons still around”.

“That sounds like a good plan to me”, said Kieran.


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