His Lordship Possessed Page 24

“Aye.” He tugged on the lead rein, stopping the horses before offering me a hand. “But you’ll ride this time, lass. Like a proper lady.”

“Thank you.” I smiled and let him help me up onto the empty driver’s seat. Once he whistled the tired horses shuffled back into motion, and we were off.

As I suspected, the smell drove everyone away from the carts, even the beaters who came trotting from the direction of Rumsen Main. I hoped as long as I kept my head down and didn’t do anything to draw attention to myself I’d be as good as invisible.

Through the snarls of my hair I noted the brigadiers who were putting out fires by pumping seawater from tanker carts into the household tubes. If the owners survived the night, they’d be returning to a wet, scorched mess, but at least the stone shells of their homes would still stand. I hoped my own place would still be intact, and then I recalled that it wasn’t mine anymore. A laugh escaped me as I realized that I was not only a fugitive murderess but also a vagrant.

The cart creaked to a stop at the back of a loading dock, and the nobber helped me down from the seat.

“They’re keeping the gentry over there, with their boats,” he told me, nodding in the direction of the yacht yards. “I’d walk you over, but I’ve to unload all this scram first.”

I started to thank him, and then did one better by giving him a deep, respectful curtsey. “I will always remember your kindness, dear sir.”

“Aw, now. Weren’t nothing.” He looked pleased and embarrassed. “Get on with you, then.”

I started toward the yacht yard, but as soon as my escort went to hitch the horses I turned and hurried toward the docks. I could see the militia standing guard on the deck of the Talian ship, and counted among the prisoners shackled to the mast Montrose Walsh as well as Celestino. On the dock below stood a beater next to a row of bodies covered by blood- and soot-stained tarps; on the very end was one soaked with wide patches of brackish water.

This thing will occupy my flesh, Dredmore murmured from my last memory of him, but my spirit will go where it can never touch me. I understand now. I will be where Harry has been, all this time.

Zarath hadn’t won. Not yet.

The beater bristled as I approached him. “You can’t be here, miss. Crime scene, this is.”

“Inspector Thomas Doyle sent me,” I lied. “I am—I was—in the employ of Lord Dredmore. I’ve come down from Morehaven to identify his remains.”

“What now?” The beater looked confused. “I thought he were already tagged.”

“I’ve been asked to confirm it’s him.” I walked past him, moving down the line of tarps. I glanced back. “Which one, please?”

The beater took a step after me, stopped, and then waved an arm. “On the very end. Mind you don’t touch him.”

I got to the tarp and dropped down beside it, gripping the pendant tightly as I uncovered Dredmore’s head. Death had leached the cruel beauty from his features; they resembled a waxen mask cast in a too-smooth mold. When I lay my hand on his brow it felt like icy, damp stone.

“I said not to touch!” the beater called to me.

“Sorry!” I removed the pendant from my pocket, carefully draping the chain round his neck before I stood and stepped back. “All right, Lucien. The spell is over. I’m releasing you.”

While I waited for Dredmore’s spirit to return to his body, I wondered how he had fathomed the secret of my pendant. The mystery had come together for me only while Doyle had been questioning me, and even now I wasn’t sure I’d worked it out exactly right. My doubts loomed as Dredmore’s body remained still and lifeless.

“Don’t you do this to me, Lucien,” I muttered, reaching down to smack his face. “Not after all I’ve gone through this night. You’re a deathmage, damn you. Surely you can overcome it—you must try. For me, please.”

A shadow fell over Dredmore’s body, one that was shaped like Inspector Doyle. “Step away from the corpse.”

“He’s not a corpse.”


I turned my head. “I lied to you, Tommy. I didn’t kill Dredmore. He wasn’t in his body, you see, because he put his spirit inside my pendant. Give him a minute and he’ll come back.”

“That’s enough of that.” He took hold of my arm. “Come away now.”

“But he will wake up. He has to.” My throat went tight as I considered the now very real possibility that I had been wrong about my parents, the pendant, everything. “I worked it out, I know I did.” Was there some sort of spell I was supposed to cast? Surely not. I’d break it the moment the words left my lips.

“My fault she got over here, sir.” The beater joined Doyle and glared at me. “Told me you sent her.”

I looked up at the sky. “Lucien? I’ve made a mess of this. I need you to tell me what to do. How do I fix this?”

“Charm.” Tommy grabbed me by the arms and shook me until my teeth chattered. “Stop it. You can’t do anything more for him.”

“Damn you.” The moment he stopped I shoved him away. “You swore you wouldn’t do this.”

“I’m not—”

“Tommy Doyle calls me Kit, Harry.” I pushed him a second time as I advanced on him. “Only you call me Charm. Tell me how to bring Lucien back. Tell me.”

“You’re not Aramanthan, and neither is he. There is no coming back for mortals.”

He dodged my quick fist, teetered on the edge of the pier, and dropped into the water with a huge splash.

I leaned over to see that he bobbed to the surface, and ducked the white mist that rose from the water before I tossed a rope down to a very confused-looking Doyle. “Grab hold of this, Inspector.”

The beater came after me, his trunch held ready to pound my head in, but the white mist descended between us and reformed into Harry. That was enough for the beater, who spun round smartly and ran the other way, shouting for help.

“You can’t defy fate, gel.” Harry blocked my path back to Dredmore. “Killing him is what you were meant to do. What you were born to do. Even he knew it.”

“Then why did he say I had to release him?” I demanded.

“Death is his release.” Something like pity glimmered in his eyes. “You’ll find another chap someday, Charm. One who will treat you as you deserve.”

Since he was of no use to me, I forced myself to think. Mr. Jasper had said shattering the dreamstone dispelled its power . . . “What if I break the stone? Will that free him?”

“It’s nightstone, my dear,” he said. “You can’t.”

But I was a spell-breaker, and the stone was spelled, and suddenly Harry wouldn’t look me in the eye.

“You’re a terrible liar, old man.”

I knelt down and pulled the pendant from Dredmore’s neck. The only hard object I had was my father’s pocket watch, and once I wedged the stone against the dock boards I pulled it out.

“No.” Harry sounded genuinely frightened and swiped at me, but his hand passed through my arm. “Charm, if you smash it you’ll be torn to pieces—”

“Then I’ll go and be with him.” I brought down the pocket watch as hard as I could, smashing it into the stone. The watch’s crystal shattered, and a piece banged into my chin, cutting me.

Harry let out a long breath. “Thank the Gods.”

Blood dripped from my face onto the nightstone as I lifted the ruined watch a second time. “Goddamn you, Lucien, come out of there.”


The second time I hit the nightstone I felt it crack. Purple-black light poured across my face, freezing my skin and blinding me. I fell back, feeling as if the dock had begun spinning like a top, and rubbed at my eyes until they cleared.

“You are the most stubborn, idiotic, mule-headed mortal female it has ever been my misfortune to know,” I heard Harry say as the sky blurred and the Talian ship began to turn transparent.

“What? Wait.” I looked over at Dredmore’s body, but it and the tarp were gone. “Harry? Where is Lucien? What have I done?”

“Made your father happy at last, I expect.” He sat down beside me, as solid as I was, and put an arm round my shoulders. “Close your eyes now or you’ll get very dizzy.”

I couldn’t even blink; the world had gone mad. Night turned to day as the sun rose in the west and climbed backward through the sky. The tide rushed in and out. Great clouds of black smoke funneled down into the city, dwindling to thin streams before disappearing altogether. Cargo handlers working faster than could be followed dragged crates out to load them on ships that raised anchors and sails and moved against the wind out to sea.

“I don’t believe it.” I thought my eyes might pop out of their sockets. “Everything is going in reverse.” I raised a hand to cover my gaping mouth, only to see it growing as transparent as Harry. “Am I dying?”

“No, my dear. You’ve worked the only magic you can. Your father’s science.” My grandfather made a rude sound. “That wasn’t a pocket watch. It was another of his blasted mechs.”

I glanced down at the ruins of the watch. “What did it do before I smashed it?”

“Doesn’t matter now; you’ve bonded his mech and her magic with your blood, and the watch’s power has been released.” His voice grew distant. “I’m afraid you’ve turned time on its head, Charm.”

I tried to stand, but my legs wouldn’t work. “When will it stop?”

He was only a faint outline in the air now. “When you’ve returned to the beginning of it all, of course. Assuming you survive the journey.”

Harry vanished, and then, so did I.


I floated through the darkness, seeking the voice calling my name. Only after some time did I realize it came from inside me, and was enough like my own for me to believe I’d spoken.

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