Worth the Candle, Ch 67: A Helping Hand

Fallatehr and I took our second lesson together in the barn, mostly because it was the largest indoor space, with plenty of room around us and little chance for shenanigans. I had Ropey around me as a precaution, but I also had Amaryllis, Fenn, and Grak (for what he was worth), and we’d put quite a bit of space between Fallatehr and myself as well. Valencia was in the basement, manacled to a boiler there, while Fallatehr’s other two minions had grudgingly been given leave to go into town by Amaryllis.

“I wasn’t aware that I would be teaching so many,” said Fallatehr with a smile.

“Just me,” I said. “I should need less instruction than anyone else. I’d like for you to walk me through the process for fixing my hand, both from a theoretical standpoint and in terms of the process and risks associated with it.” I was in full armor, which was streaked with white where it had absorbed hits the day before. My Anyblade was in the shape of a dagger, held in my right hand.

“Tit for tat,” said Fallatehr. “Tell me about your intriguing capacity for learning. Was it acquired, or were you born with it?”

“I was born with it,” I said.

Skill increased: Lying lvl 2!

With Deception ungestalted, I had to level Lying and Stealth back up, but luckily, Fenn had Lying in the mid-30s, which meant that through Symbiosis I had Lying in the high teens so long as she was near me. What I’d said wasn’t really a lie either, depending on the definition of ‘born’. I was pretty sure that my soul had only existed from the moment that I appeared on the plane above the Risen Lands.

“And what domains does your talent apply to?” asked Fallatehr. “Only magic, or other areas as well?”

“It applies to specific domains, not all of which I’ve discovered,” I said. My skill at Lying went up again. It was technically true, given that a few of my skills were still mysteries to me. “Magic does appear to be one of the common threads though.”

Fallatehr nodded. “Can you perform feats that you should, by rights, not have known how to accomplish, or are you limited to only those that have been explained adequately to you?”

“That’s enough questions for now,” I replied. “Tell me about how bone magic intersects with soul magic.”

Fallatehr hesitated, watching me, then nodded to himself. “My question is not just to satisfy my own curiosity,” he said. “You did not train at the athenaeum, and your knowledge of bone magic might not comport with bone magic as it is taught there.”

“That’s true,” I admitted, shifting slightly in my seat. Most of what I knew about bone magic I had learned from The Commoner’s Guide to Bone Magic. “Yes, I have some level of knowledge granted to me that is outside the scope of what I was told or taught, and which I couldn’t have simply worked out from base principles.”

Fallatehr nodded. “So you are not indoctrinated into the dogma of the athenaeums,” he said. “That is likely for the best. In my time there was some contention between the Guild of the Essential Soul and the Athenaeum of Bone and Flesh. They did not want to admit that their art was an extension of our own. Are you familiar with the concept of aspects?” I nodded. So far as I could tell, there was a one to one correspondence between bone-magic aspects and game-layer attributes, at least for PHY and MEN. “They are a gesture in the direction of information written on the soul,” said Fallatehr. “Bone magic, at its heart, is nothing more than briefly adding someone’s soul to your own.”

“Uh,” I said. “There are a number of problems with that explanation, given what I know.”

“By your own accounting, I am the most knowledgeable soul mage left in the world,” said Fallatehr. “But please,” he added, grinning with sharp teeth, “Explain why I am wrong.”

I took a breath. I hated Socratic dialogues. “Most of the bones that bone mages use come from –”

“The term ‘soul’ is imprecise,” said Fallatehr. “You likely think of it as a small white thing pulled from the heart or head after death?” He gestured first at his temple, then at his chest. “That is the anima exa, a physical manifestation of the soul, unique to the mortal species, but not synonymous with the anima ipsa.”

“But the soul can be extinguished,” I said. “And as far as I can tell, that has no bearing on the bones themselves.”

“The anima exa can be extinguished,” said Fallatehr. “And in fact, nothing in the world can prevent that, so far as is known to me. That has little bearing on the anima ipsa.”

I frowned at that. “Naively, that doesn’t make sense. You’re saying that the soul continues to exist in the bones, regardless of whether someone goes to hell?”

“No,” said Fallatehr. “What I am saying is that by every method I have been able to use, the soul continues to be accessible well after death, even for those confirmed by infernoscope to have passed into the afterlife.”

I heard movement from behind me. “If that were true –” Amaryllis began.

“It is,” said Fallatehr.

“There would be metaphysical implications of that,” said Amaryllis. “If the souls of those in hell could be manipulated by means on Aerb we –”

“They cannot,” said Fallatehr.

“Why not?” asked Amaryllis.

“The principle of planar disjunction,” said Fallatehr. “It was the talk of the Guild of the Essential Soul, prior to the subjugation and death of ninety percent of its members when Manifest’s exclusion zone was created.” He seemed slightly wistful for a moment. “Obviously I had no ability to conduct novel research on planar disjunction from within Amoureux, and I was not allowed the courtesy of taking a copy of the relevant studies into the penitentiary, but all available evidence pointed to the fact that the soul was, in fact, incapable of crossing the planar boundary.” He waved his hand. “Much of this is tangential to the subject at hand.”

“Har har,” I said, raising my deformed hand slightly.

“We might think of the bones as intermediaries,” said Fallatehr. “If the soul is a complicated book of exceptional length, the bones are men who study that book and give answers to those who seek them. Each has a deep connection to the soul, and is conversant on its own area.”

“But when you burn a bone, you affect the soul,” I said. “So it wouldn’t seem like a very good metaphor to me.”

“Metaphors are rarely good,” said Fallatehr with a shrug. “We — I say we, but there are by your accounting few left alive who might have given me a proper conversation on the subject — don’t understand precisely what happens when bone magic is used. It appears to affect both donor and recipient at the level of the soul, with other effects as a result of that, but the actual mechanism is opaque, despite the numerous tests we’ve done.”

“Such as?” I asked.

Fallatehr gave me a grin. “I do not believe that you would appreciate such scientific pursuits,” he said. He was watching me, and I tried not to give anything away, but I had no clue whether I was successful or not. “I have given you enough, tell me more about your ability, and its working. Have the things that I’ve told you measurably improved your ability with soul magic?”

“No,” I said. I realized only too late that I should have waited before answering, or given a non-committal answer. A quick answer of no indicated that I had some indication of when my power was working, which was information that I hadn’t intended to leak. (But at least I realized that I had leaked it. There was something about Fallatehr that scared me, beyond what I knew of him, something that made me think that he was reading an enormous amount into everything I said and did, and I worried that I was giving things away without even knowing I had done it.)

“I really would like to see whether you are able to repair your hand,” said Fallatehr, leaning back slightly in his chair. “Does my saying that unnerve you so much that you would resist me?”

“No,” I said. If it was a trap, we would just kill him. The odds that my attempt to replace a single bone on my left hand would go so catastrophically that I would need to be rescued by him were very, very low, especially given how much he would have to be pinning on that moment. So long as I didn’t get lured into my own soul, or trapped there, neither of which seemed likely, we didn’t need him, and if either of those things happened, his help would be so untrustworthy that we’d be better off killing him. “I won’t ask you to describe the process, since that would defeat the purpose of your inquiry and I do want to have a working relationship with some level of –” quid pro quo, is that an expression on Aerb? “–tit for tat, but what are the risks to me, assuming that I do everything wrong?” I asked.

“Your hands are human, and not perfectly symmetrical,” said Fallatehr. He briefly ran a thin tongue along pointed teeth. “The soul is resilient, and should accommodate for what you will be attempting, but I am willing to admit that it may not, given that you will be using a supernaturally assisted version of the art. In that case, the worst that will happen is that you will lose the hand, but it won’t be something that can’t be fixed through proper soul magic.”

“Uh huh,” I said. Not going to happen. “No other points of failure?”

Fallatehr smiled at me. “Oh, if we’re speaking of possibilities, there are many,” he said. “You’re using a power — unique?”

“Yes,” I said, before even realizing that was a lie. Arthur too.

“You’re using a unique power that only you possess to interface with the root of all magic,” said Fallatehr. “The possibilities are endless, given our mutual areas of ignorance. Perhaps you will attempt to copy over the pattern of a single bone and grab hold of the nerves of your hand instead, accidentally pulling them out and then finding yourself unable to put them back in. It is, I must admit, a possibility, as are many other such scenarios.”

“It would be fixable though,” I said.

“The soul has only a conception of the body,” said Fallatehr. “What is shown in the soul is not what the body is, but what the soul believes is the pattern the body should adhere to. Any damage you do, even removal of the body-conception entirely, could be remedied by a master.”

I frowned slightly at that. I could see his angles, and they weren’t working on me, which I was grateful for. “Amaryllis, Fenn, give me two hours, then if I’m not back out from inside my soul, try your best to wake me.”

I was getting familiar with my soul. It was, in some respects, just another interface, if one that was laid on top of some deeply personal and complicated mechanics. I had always been good at picking up new interfaces, maybe because video games gave me a lot of exposure to switching between them. I zoomed in on the body and then down to look at my right hand, the one that still had the bones in it.

What Fallatehr had said about making novel mistakes was on my mind as I looked through the layers of my body. It didn’t seem like I could accidentally pluck at the wrong thing, because it was possible to change the view so that only the bones were showing. It was all done with the mind, so I was cautious not to think in the direction of change, only observation. I tentatively zoomed closer to the end of my pinky finger, isolating the final bone there, the distal phalanx. I took a breath and then poked it with my mind.

My view changed slightly, showing ghosted images at the very tip of the finger where skin, nail, nerves, fingerprints, and capillaries were, all surrounding the bone itself. I didn’t want to move or change the bone, or do anything to the surrounding tissue, all I wanted was to copy it. There weren’t any options associated with it, and no apparent menus, but from what Fallatehr had said — not that I trusted him — it should be possible to copy it over. I directed my will toward that task, which finally caused a dialogue to appear.

Move / Copy / Modify / Delete

I stared at those options for a bit. Copy was obviously the one that I wanted, but the other three gave me a good guess at the actual failure states for the change I was trying to make. I didn’t know what Fallatehr saw when he looked into his own soul, but I didn’t imagine that it was this, and perhaps he was thinking that I would screw up in such a way that I would need his help; accidentally removing one of the bones from my finger, leaving me without a replacement, or making a modification that I couldn’t undo.

I selected the option to Copy with a thrust of my will, and felt something come into being just beyond my field of vision to the left. Shifting my focus there showed a bone, hovering slightly in the air. I turned back to the skeletal form of my hand, then zoomed out the view and went over to my left hand, where the bones were missing. I looked over to my left, where the bone was, and with a push of will got the same four options again. This time I moved it, using my mind alone, until I had slotted it into place. Another dialog box appeared.

Merge / Conform / Replace / Cancel

I started at that for a moment, trying to work out what those commands meant. The bone still needed to be mirrored, but even then it probably wasn’t going to be correct, because the two halves of my body weren’t exactly the same, just as Fallatehr had said. The options, unfortunately, weren’t terribly descriptive, aside from Cancel. I took a steadying breath, reflexive action that became a startling reminder that I still had a body out there in the real world. I could back out of my soul now and simply ask Fallatehr, but I didn’t want to give anything away to him if I could help it.

It was just one bone, the tip of my pinky, the least important part of me. And if I picked the wrong one, it seemed likely that I could try again, since my right hand was still in perfect working condition. I selected Conform, and saw the bone warp in an instant, perfectly taking the shape of the red outline. I stared at it for a moment, wondering if something was going to happen, but no, it looked just the same as it had on my other pinky finger.

“Okay,” I said, blinking slightly and looking around the barn. “Ropey?” I asked. It formed into a hand and gave me a thumbs up, and I smiled at that.

“It is done?” asked Fallatehr with a raised eyebrow. “So swiftly?”

“I don’t know,” I said, raising my deformed hand. I probed it with bone magic, and could feel it alive once more, connected to my soul. “I need to test it.” I reached into my bandolier and pulled a bone from it, then burned it slowly, focusing the healing energy on my pinky. I saw a change come over it, albeit a minor one, as the bone there made a minor change in shape and the loose skin straightened out. I looked it over carefully, worried that I would see it go white from a lack of circulation, or that something terrible would happen to it.

Quest Progress: Boneitis – You have cured the soul of its affliction, at least in part, and begun to bring your body back to what it once was. The only thing that remains is to finish the job.

Affliction: Drained Bone (x50)

“Congratulations,” said Fallatehr with a nod. “You have accomplished within a single day what men spend years learning.”

“What are the limits?” I asked.

“Limits?” Fallatehr replied.

I licked my lips, trying to think of how to say it. “Was it common, in the time of the Second Empire, to mix soul magic with bone magic? If you can burn out a bone and then replace it like that, it would mean that someone with a foot in both schools would have a renewable resource on hand — so to speak.”

“It was practiced, in the Second Empire,” said Fallatehr, “But soul mages were rare, and most often, it wasn’t worth the time when bones were so widely available.”

“Ah,” I said, relaxing slightly. It was a question of economics, not practicality. I couldn’t trust what Fallatehr said, naturally, but it seemed like the sort of thing we might possibly be able to confirm by either speaking with the crystal that held Amaryllis’ dead great-grandfather, or looking through a few history books. That in turn lowered the chance that Fallatehr was lying about it.

I took the time to do the rest, one at a time because I couldn’t figure out a way to go faster, phalanges and meta-carpals, all twenty-seven bones. This took a fair amount of time, and was relatively tedious while at the same time being somewhat nerve-wracking as I kept thinking about the consequences of making a mistake. When I was finished, I opened my eyes, conferred with Ropey, and then healed my hand, watching it return to normal. Sensation flooded back into it for the first time in weeks.

Affliction: Drained Bones (x24)

And that just left the ribs.

“Thank you,” I said to Fallatehr.

He shrugged. “It was far less work than it had any right to be.” He stared at me. “You had inquired about a hypothetical before, how you would deal with a problem without such symmetry to exploit. Not just a hypothetical, if I read you correctly.”

“My ribs,” I replied. With my hand fixed, I was willing to give him that much.

“All of them?” asked Fallatehr, face blank of expression

“All of them,” I confirmed with a nod. I was tempted to offer up some defense of myself, to say that the situation had been desperate, that I hadn’t actually had any training as a bone mage beyond what my power gave me, but that was just my instinct toward justifying myself talking, and there was no sense in telling him things he didn’t need to know.

Fallatehr seemed to ponder that for a moment. “Your chest will be more difficult, as it forms the link for your internal organs and there is nothing to take from, but from the pace you’ve been keeping, it should only be a matter of days, at which point our primary business will be concluded.”

“Implying that we have secondary business,” said Amaryllis.

“So far as I am aware, Juniper still needs a teacher,” said Fallatehr. “I have some interest in the endeavor of his education, so long as I am allowed to study him by way of compensation.”

“Abso-fucking-lutely not,” said Fenn.

“We’ll have to discuss it as a group,” said Amaryllis. “Privately. In the meantime, I think that’s enough of a lesson for today.”

“We’ve barely started,” I complained. “I’m actually not sure how useful this was, as a lesson.”

“It has been many years since I taught,” said Fallatehr, “But when I did, I always thought it important to understand my pupil.”

“You were a teacher?” I asked, genuinely curious. That didn’t quite fit with my idea of him as a mad scientist.

“There were elements of dysfunction within the Guild of the Essential Soul,” said Fallatehr. “In a better world, those pursuing their own lines of inquiry and study would not have been forced to interact with the neophytes. It was not so segregated as it should have been, and given that I was forced to spend a portion of my time away from actual work, I made some effort to be good at it. There were always one or two pupils who were promising candidates for assistants, and later, peers.” He grinned, without showing his teeth, as he said that.

“You’re saying that you can’t give skills directly?” I asked. “You can’t just … transfer knowledge over to another person?”

“Have you seen that, in your own soul?” asked Fallatehr.

“I spoke to a bone mage who implied that it was possible,” I said, which was a half-truth. “Not that knowledge could be transferred, but that knowledge in some sense existed within some bones, and could be pulled from them.”

“But have you seen it?” asked Fallatehr, leaning forward slightly.

“Yes,” I replied, biting the bullet.

“You don’t want to give away too much of your ability, even with soul magic,” said Fallatehr. “Were that mindset not used against me, I might find it commendable.” He brushed a stray bit of dust off his knee. “To answer your question, it was once possible to transfer skills in such a manner, near the dawn of soul magic. It was excluded before I was born.”

I frowned at that. “I don’t believe the location of that exclusion zone is common knowledge.”

“The zone is a mystery,” said Fallatehr. “All that is known is that a certain thing was possible for a fair amount of time, and impossible afterward. Who, where, or what are not questions that were ever answered in my time. What is left is the ability to carve out such things from someone else, given sufficient training and ample amount of time.”

“And you can teach me how to defend against attacks like that,” I said, watching him. “You said that people were stripped of their skills when they were put into the penitentiary, but you retained your abilities as a soul mage.”

“There are a few methods of defense,” said Fallatehr, “But none that are absolute. In my particular case, I was known to the men who would normally have done the extirpation, and they both respected and feared my skill, including my ability to fight back against them, should our souls have made contact.”

“Mutually assured destruction?” I asked.

“That would be one way of putting it, I suppose,” said Fallatehr. “You and I might reach that point with each other, such that you would no longer fear me.”

“Unless I need to sleep,” I replied.

“Is the tattoo of Kenner’s Eye no longer in use?” asked Fallatehr.

“Its use is more regulated,” said Amaryllis, before I could make a fool of myself. “The specific materials necessary became quite a bit rarer following the Appetency War. Acquiring one for each of us is on our path, but it’s going to take some time.” I nodded at that, though I had no idea what the hell she was talking about.

“There are precautions that you can take, to ensure that I have no opportunity to interfere with your soul,” said Fallatehr with a shrug. “Whatever you think my motives might be.”

“Thank you,” I said. “That would go a long way toward creating a working relationship.” I hesitated. “There’s one more thing that would help, which would be your assistance in learning how to access someone else’s soul.”

Fallatehr raised an eyebrow, then glanced at Grak. “No,” he said. He stood up from his chair and I heard the very faint sound of Fenn’s bow being drawn. “Not today. You will not allow me access to your companion, which means that I would be unable to fix any mistakes that you might incidentally make, and if I came in behind you to correct your errors, I might not be able to figure out exactly what was done. It is a more dangerous thing, to touch the soul of another, and I will not have the blame fall to me when a neophyte, even an exceptionally fast learner, makes one of the typical mistakes.”

“Bullshit,” said Fenn.

“Either way, my answer is no,” said Fallatehr. “Think what you’d like. I believe we were concluding here anyway.”

“I don’t want to stay in this place for longer than another day or so,” said Amaryllis. “We have to assume that it’s going to raise some questions that we don’t want to answer. Parsmont isn’t a perfect place for us, but we can go into the city without attracting attention now, and get a place to stay in the longer term.”

Our core group of four (yes, Grak with us) was sitting in the master bedroom. Fenn sat beside me on the bed, with Grak in a heavy wooden rocking chair, his feet dangling above the ground, and Amaryllis standing, pacing slightly.

“So far I think that he’s been of only marginal help,” I said. I glanced at Grak, as I’d done three times now, measuring my words. “It’s only when I hit level 20 that I think he’ll really help me in a concrete, mechanical sense. There wasn’t anything in that conversation that I wouldn’t have been able to figure out on my own, at least as far as soul magic was concerned, though there were a few pieces of historical importance, I guess.”

“You’re assuming it works like that,” said Amaryllis. “We haven’t tested the tutor theory yet.”

“The wording is ‘amateur training’,” I replied. “‘Amateur’ must mean something, otherwise it would just say ‘training’.”

“Maybe,” said Fenn with a shrug. “Or maybe we shouldn’t be trusting the game that got us into this whole mess in the first place.”

Amaryllis gave me a pointed look that I was fairly sure was meant to indicate that she hadn’t forgotten about the non-anima in the basement.

“Well I’m pretty sure without the game we would all be dead,” I said. “So let’s give it a little credit.”

“I would still be alive,” said Grak.

“Would you have assaulted Aumann’s tower on your own?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I would have waited until I had a good opportunity. If you had died, I would not have met you. I would still be waiting.”

“Okay, whatever,” I said. That response probably wasn’t the way to increase his loyalty, but I wasn’t willing to play on a strictly strategic level, not when he was going to be contradictory for no reason, or act like teaming up with us wasn’t a good thing.

“We’ll go into Parsmont, keep our heads low, and find a more permanent, less unconventional place to stay,” said Amaryllis. “I don’t want to leave any single person alone with Fallatehr, and obviously there are lingering concerns about Grak’s condition,” lingering being a diplomatic way of putting it, “so I’m going to suggest that the four of us go into Parsmont together, leaving Fallatehr here. That means taking eyes off him, but that’s going to be something that we’re going to have to accept.”

“So that he can soulfuck the neighbors?” asked Fenn. She gave a slight frown of thought. “Wait, that would imply that it was consensual, soulrape the neighbors?”

“How big a problem that would be depends on what we believe about the things that he’s said,” replied Amaryllis. “If he’s unable to imbue someone with skills, and changes revert back after some length of time, then I think it’s a risk worth taking.”

“I’m not sure we’re in a position where we can rely on him for truth,” I replied. “I mean, yes, I don’t think that he can completely overwrite a person in short order, because if it were possible to do that the Second Empire would have looked a lot different. I also think that he probably can’t just skill boost, given that the elves we fought alongside weren’t much better than we were, and neither were the pelehr, and to assume that he was simply orchestrating it all to provide cover for a lie is … I don’t want to say too paranoid, but it seems like too complex and uncertain of a plan. That’s especially as opposed to something like him saying that changes wear off, which is a pretty easy and painless lie to tell with potentially large benefits to him.” I again glanced at Grak, who made eye contact with me that quickly grew uncomfortable.

“You’ll be able to see into Grak’s soul soon,” said Amaryllis. “Once you do, that should clear him of suspicion and we can let him in on what we know. If the four of us are going into the city together, you can use your free time to practice with the soul, which might be enough to look at Grak’s soul without needing instruction.”

“In which case we can slit Fallatehr’s throat,” said Fenn. “Easy peasy.” She glanced at the bottle, which she’d set out in the sunlight. “All we really need in town is a place to stay, right? Somewhere that’s going to let lessons and training get on without too much risk of anyone stopping us? Because if that’s the case, I think Joon and I should handle that part while Grak and Mary teleport somewhere to store this bottle.”

“I don’t like the risks of teleportation,” said Amaryllis. “That two hour window where we don’t have a failsafe escape plan makes me uncomfortable. But … if we have some time to find a suitable place to come back into Parsmont, we should be able to make that work.”

“Agreed?” asked Fenn, looking to me and Grak.

“It’s reasonable,” said Grak. “I can put up wards in order to protect the bottle. You’re most worried about sunlight?”

“Yup,” said Fenn. “Without the baby sun in there, we should at least be keeping it out of the dark.”

“I’m not sure that it matters,” I replied. “In theory, only a small amount of sunlight is actually hitting the bottle anyway, and that’s getting spread out over a square mile, so …” I trailed off, at first because I was doing the math, and then because the math was grim. “Depending on how the magic of the bottle works, it might have already been through the equivalent of two days without sun.” I wasn’t sure that the bottle didn’t have some secondary magical effect though, because it hadn’t felt like only a fraction of the light was hitting us, and I didn’t quite believe that we’d actually been shrunk down.

“Okay,” said Amaryllis, briefly touching the hilt of her sword. “Then we’re good to go, two hours time waiting for the key to recharge should give me some time to contact my ancestor again and try to get some confirmation about the things Fallatehr has said about the soul.”

“I’d like to talk to Valencia before we go,” I said. “She’s –” I glanced at Grak. He was already in the loop on that one, though I’d be looping him in a little more by leaking information. “One of us.”

“I’ll come with,” said Fenn, hopping up off the bed.

“No, but thank you,” I said. “I do really enjoy your company, but –”

Fenn waved me off. “Understood, I can be a pain. But if she’s going to be one of the gang, then I do need some time with her at some point.”

“She’s not going to be ‘one of the gang’,” said Amaryllis, making quotes in the air, with one hand still around her sword hilt. “Not unless we figure out a way to deal with the possession problem. Every time you speak to her, or even speak in her presence, that’s information that goes to a large number of devils intent on causing whatever pain and destruction they can. And if a demon ever gets into her, you’ll have to fight it, which means that she needs to be manacled at all times.”

“But she’s only got the strength of a fairly weak human woman, right?” I asked.

“Imagine a soldier training for thousands of years, in a wide variety of bodies, all with perfect killing intent,” said Amaryllis. “That’s, admittedly, the worst case. I still need to pick up that book on infernal topology.”

“Do you actually think that I’m in danger?” I asked.

Amaryllis hesitated. “I want to ensure that you take this seriously and don’t put yourself in a situation where you underestimate the danger that she poses.”

“I won’t,” I replied.

“I’m not sure that increasing her loyalty is a good idea either,” said Amaryllis. “There’s clearly some connection between our souls, and I don’t want you to make a connection to a devil.”

I frowned slightly. “In theory she doesn’t have a soul,” I said. We were getting dangerously close to the sort of thing that we couldn’t talk about in front of Grak. “But I’ll try my best not to be too nice. All I want is more information. The game inserted her for a reason.”

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Worth the Candle, Ch 67: A Helping Hand

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