Dusk falls. Verity Bashford is nervous, but hardly terrified. She is lost, of course. As the sun settles below the horizon, she hugs herself for warmth. The thin fabric of her dress keeps her taupe skin covered, but hardly insulated. She wishes she had accepted Phineas Langridge’s offer to escort her home. She had refused on principle, leaving the party with him would give rise to the possibility of courtship, not to mention the rumours.

Phineas Langridge is one of those young gentlemen that makes a “fine” marriage for a mere merchant’s daughter such as Verity, but is also quite uncomely. His skin is on the grey side, as if he had absorbed the dust generated by his family’s extensive library. His coarse blond hair is bleached to a fashionable fairness, but it clashes terribly with his skin. His eyes are the same hazel tint as Verity’s, but with a glassy sheen to them. Worse, he is even more horribly dull. Verity is always loathe to give him an opportunity.

Ordinarily, she has no trouble walking home, but that is with a cadre of friends who live quite near her own home. She reflects bitterly on her choice to not accompany her friends to Yaskul. They had told their parents that they were going to see the recently unveiled Wonder Machine. None of them were quite sure what this Wonder Machine was supposed to do, but it was stopping for a demonstration in Yaskul on its way to the capital of Geist. Verity’s peers had leapt at the excuse to visit the infamous Yaskul, a seedy city not far from their hometown of Lumis  that offered young people the thrill of the taboo. Verity herself was what some people might call more straight-laced, and felt she would be better served by attending the ball. Of course, the only person to agree with her analysis was Phineas Langridge.

The streetlamps sputter as Verity walks in their glow. She must have wandered into the poorer section of the city, where fewer inspections take place. Her steps quicken and she clutches her skirts. She looks around fervently, hoping for some sign to point her toward home.

Halfway between two streetlamps, she is startled by something brushing past her. She gasps and nearly stumbles. Then the thing flies into the cone of light in front of her, and she laughs in relief. It is only a bat, swooping through to nab the moths fluttering around the lamps.

As Verity enters the same cone of light, it goes out. Undeterred, she walks toward the next lamp. Before she reaches it, something grabs her from behind. She would scream, but a hand is clamped over her mouth. A sharp pain in her neck elicits another muffled cry. Her vision blurs, and then goes black. She falls unconscious.


Author’s Note: This seems backwards, my blog is still titled “Site Title” and yet I’m posting in it.


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