the dark side of the sun.

I may not always know what's right, but I know I want you here tonight.

Ángela seemed to accept Tristan’s imaginary teacup. She leant across the gap between them with her own teacup extended, expecting him to chink his against hers. She noted his form, with the extended pinkie, with approval.

“Daddy,” she said as Arthur shifted her slightly and reached towards the artefacts on the table beside him, “Tristan holds teacups better than you.”

“That’s because he’s the president of the teacup society.” Mallos answered back without missing a beat, taking the parchment from Arthur. He studied it carefully while Ángela rounded on Tristan and demanded to know why she hadn’t been told about teacup society meetings.

There was nothing especially interesting on the document: just a few epithets of Rhaegar. The parchment itself, however, had to be a good few hundred years old. The paper was yellowed, brittle and thick, holding little resemblance to the neat-cut, thin white printing paper produced in modern western societies. The epithets were hand-written in black ink; the strokes indicated a brush had been used rather than a pen, which was another sign of its age. Slight wobbles in the lines indicated the writer had been trying hard to be meticulous, but perhaps lacked the confidence or experience to write quickly and accurately in the pictorial language. Mallos passed the document back and relieved Arthur of the pendant instead. Most imitation divine pendants looked very close to the real thing, but contained minor errors in workmanship and held no magical power at all – this was different. The wolf-shaped pendant was a genuine replica, cast with magic from the original, made for someone who was close to Rhaegar.

As he passed the pendant back to Arthur, Mallos felt a gentle tugging at the edge of his mind. Recognising the feeling, he dropped his psychic defences a little and heard a familiar voice in his head.

‘Came by to say hello but you seem to be out,’ Aura said telepathically from the other side of the castle. ‘I’ll come back later?’

‘Just in the throne room. Actually, can you come down?’

‘One second.’ Pause. ‘Ahh. I will. Hold on a few minutes, though.’

“I think someone’s dying in your castle.” Mallos told Arthur casually as he stepped off the dais and back towards the young woman.

There were a number of time travel or time suspension spells which could cause amnesia. Fortunately, it was relatively easy to see if a time spell had been cast on a person, since they then became an anomaly in the time-space continuum and time would bend around them. Mallos held his right hand out, palm up, and concentrated on generating a glowing ball of yellow light about the size of a chicken egg. The little ball of light lifted away from his hand, floated through the air and came to a stop in front of the young lady’s face. There it hovered, an inch or so from her nose, for a few minutes before dissipating. Mallos shrugged.

“Well, you’re in the right time.” He informed her, as though that explained everything.

The familiar presence reappeared at the back of his mind. Mallos spun back to the dais, looking expectantly at the area just behind it, which was the most shadowy part of the room. A split second later, Aura stepped out from behind Arthur’s throne, resting one grey-white hand on the back. Since she was clutching her magic scythe with her other hand, she was dressed in her full reaper outfit: flowing pale blue robes with her blue-and-silver star pendant visible over the top. Her hood was up, but she didn’t reach up to pull it down as she usually did whenever she landed in the Realm of the Living. Instead she stood, frowning and chewing her lower lip, her arresting blue eyes resting with more intensity than usual on the mystery woman.

“You… shouldn’t be here,” she said slowly, “you should be dead.”

I've learned enough to know I'm never letting go
Photography by Raul Soler


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