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“Well, that sucked,” says Fenric, as we stand in the middle of the room, Eleanor’s footsteps diminishing up the stairs to the surface.

So we’re standing there. It’s quiet, except for the distant sounds of gobliny jubilation from down the stairs. It’s like being in the Winter Market at midnight of a holiday.

“Okay,” says Janet. “So it’s back to Insmoor for us as well, I guess.”

“Yeah,” says Fenric. “Try again later.” He laughs. “The Lapis Circlet still beckons! Well, this was but a scouting foray.”

“Yeah,” I say. I start walking toward the stairs up. I’m playing with my wand, thinking a million thoughts. I hold it up and say a re-enforcing gao, and there, that’s the last drop of my spell energy.

At some point on the steps I realize I’m well ahead of the other two. I don’t stop till I’m in daylight. It’s early afternoon: the Sun has come out and I practically have to cover my eyes in fingers till they adjust.

I feel Janet and Fenric on either side of me. I squint at them in turn—they’re squinting too.

“You okay?” asks Jan.

My eyes adjusted, I look around. I can’t think what to say. I can’t think what to think. It’s just one of those days. And Time? It’s tired out after its little outburst of bizarreness down there. It seems to have dozed off.

“Hey,” says Fenric. “You okay?” He waits a moment, then goes on: “We have to shake it off. Go back and get on that horse. I mean, there’s lessons, there’s tons of lessons. We learn those lessons, right? We hire some more warriors—!” He laughs. “Those guys. I mean, really. I feel bad for Hurcus, I really do, but—!”

“Discipline,” says Janet.

“Exactly. I’m sorry to say it, but—!”

“Then don’t,” I burst out. It literally feels like it’s bursting out of me.

“Daisy, I’m—!”

“Just don’t. Don’t say it.” I take four steps away from them, toward town.

“Daisy,” says Janet. I stop and let her talk, but I don’t go so far as to turn toward her. “Daisy, we lost those four guys. They didn’t deserve it. We can’t put them back together. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. But we can’t put them back.”

“Daisy,” says Fenric, “we can’t change what happened. We can’t change what we did. The only question is what we’re going to do now.”

“Well,” I say, still not turning, “I guess I’m going back to work. Because you know what? I still don’t have a stinkin’ shilling.”

“Okay, that’s fair,” says Fenric, as I start walking away. “We all need to go back to work. Then we can think about next time—!”

“Not listening,” I call over my shoulder. “La la la la la, not listening.” And singing that song, I pick up the pace and soon leave them behind. I’m pretty sure they’re already planning their next foray for the Famous Circlet.

Around the bend in the road, I see a half dozen people coming toward me. They’re mostly men, and two women, one with a bow and one with a wand. The wand girl is my age, but she’s not from around here. She’s pretty, she’s in a short dress over leggings, and she looks in charge.

“Hail, enchantress,” she addresses me. “Have you come from the Catacombs of Valen? How goes it there?”

“Oh, it’s great,” I say. “Gold strewn in the halls. Only mind the orc arrows.” And with that, I go around them and head on into town. I have potion blanks to jug up.