Chapter 12:

Callum's Lament

Theodora Plays to Win (With Cheat Codes)

Just before dawn Edith left the cave. Water dripped from upper jaw of the cave, but the storm had long passed. Edith was still weak from the night before, but able enough to teeter outside and wander back home, leaving behind the stranger she would never forget. Her life had been saved by a worthless waste of space, a space that would forever more be empty.

The last two days had been a whirlwind. They’d both been stupid, reactionary children. The future was waiting, and death was inevitable. Edith accepted this now. No matter which direction they picked their journey would have ended the same. Edith trotted through the twisting forest. The sun was still low in the sky, just starting to rise behind the trees. As she journeyed further through the forest the sun rose with her, and by the time she’d made it back to familiar surroundings it was shining directly into her eyes, It’s orangish morning glow long faded.

She didn’t know what awaited her, but she was determined to face whatever it was. Keep it simple; put one foot in front of the other and take each new problem as it comes. With this mantra firmly in mind she exited the forest.


The sun was still low in the sky, just starting to rise behind the trees. The orange halo of dawn entreated on Theo’s final resting place, and as if following the sun’s lead, a certain flying octopus floated in. Bessos, Cambria’s familiar, flapped it’s stubby black wings into the center of the cave.

It floated above Theo’s corpse, it’s wide, dark eyes bulged at the sight of her lifeless sweat drenched body. It floated in closer. It’s tentacles twitched as it moved in. It’s tentacles snaked their way dramatically across the ground, running slowly across her legs and slithering up her exposed thighs. Bessos’s pitch black eyes seemed like they might burst from their sockets. The tentacles began to slip under her gown when a familiar figure suddenly appeared at the cave entrance. His tentacles slingshot back as Callum enters.

“Thank the great creator, you found her Bessos.”

Bessos gives what could be interpreted as a self-satisfied smirk.

Callum slowly approaches the body. Her skin was still shiny with sweat, and pale, so pale. Out of habit he kept his distance, carefully arcing around her. “The sun’s almost up, it’s time for you to return home.” He spoke softly. He began to reach out to her when the sound of chatting and a the snap of a branch announced the arrival of a third party.

“Hide me.” Bessos wrapped itself around Callum and flew into the shadows.

“What’s even the point? They’re probably dead, the forest is a nasty place, there’s no way they survived the night, and even if they did manage-”


A large man in a blue military coat entered the cave.

“A body?” A smaller man in a similar but more gold adorned coat observed.

“Appears so.” The large man confirms.

Callum watches the two from inside Bessos’s Shadow Tunnel, the place where he lives during the day. From here he could see everything playing out from behind a veil of black.

The littler man inspects the body.

“There are a few scratches and bruises but nothing that would be fatal on it’s own.”

“Exhaustion then?” The large man exhaled impatiently.

“Which one is she?”

“Theodora White. Dhalia’s youngest.”

The tiny man shrieked at the mention of Theo’s mother.

“Dark Red Dhalia!?! This is bad! We can’t tell her one of her children is dead. She’d cut me down!” The little man attempts to climb onto The larger man.

“Shut up! I’ll cut you down if you don’t get off me!” The little man backs away. “Dhalia has all but retired. That’s not to say she’s lost a step of anything, she’s just not as spontaneous, or cruel. That’s neither here nor there I suppose. Look, this one was the dud. Theo, was born without any magic or good looks, or anything distinguishing whatsoever, other than her vile attitude. The village might even celebrate the loss, and Dhalia won’t care one way or the other, so you can calm down.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Theo’s father had the Kissing disease meaning deaths’ had a hand on her since she was born.”

“Oh, I feel so much better. But what about the other 2 runaways. Figures we wouldn’t find all of them in one place.”

“There was blood outside and stains on the floor and wall. It’s believed Edith, Lady White’s second youngest, was traveling with Theodora against her will. Chances are she headed back home, and she’s likely injured.”


“So, we’ve confirmed the child’s death. Now, we’ll head back to Rhoadstahl.”

“What should we do about the body?”

“Will we be compensated for the extra trouble of burying it? No. Will anybody rejoice or feel moved by the act of bringing it back? No. Let the monsters of the forest have it for dinner. The beasts will be more thankful than the villagers.”

“Yes sir!”

The two men exit the cave, leaving the body where it was. Once he couldn’t hear the men anymore Callum emerged from the shadows.

He took a seat on his knees next to her. This was the closest he’d been to her in years. This both was and wasn’t Katya but nonetheless the guilt had kept him close to her ever since she first died. It was all his fault after all, this time and the last. He tried to get here as fast as he could but something wouldn’t let him. It may have been out of his control, but he felt guilty all the same. Bessos hovered around back corners of the cave. Cambria’s unusual familiar which had bolstered her reputation as a prodigy was actually Callum’s, sent to watch over Theo when he could not personally be there. To be more precise he’d used the dormant magic stored within this body to summon the creature to watch over her.

He caressed her arm softly.

“I saw Katya’s body when I went back to the lab. She was strapped into a recliner with a helmet over her head. I’d never felt so angry in this lifetime, If angel’s could remember what it was like to be like them I’m sure we’d be better equipped to deal with it. I trashed the lab, throwing tables, destroying machine after machine, punching at the walls until the entire building began to crumble around us. I even used a one of my three heavenly favors to summon an Earthquake. As the Earth shook beneath my feet, I looked over to Katya laying in that recliner, still as a painting. I felt myself drawn to her. She pulled me forward. I stood by her side much like in the current moment, and took off her helmet. I wanted to see the woman I’d killed. I wanted to look at this innocent woman that I let die, in the eyes. I wanted the guilt to open like a crater beneath my feet and swallow me whole. She just wanted to play a stupid game! And I…

I wanted to bring her back. There are some mistakes that are impossible to correct. If she still had any amount of life left in her then it might have been possible. I want to bring you back, I wish I had that sort of power. Even heavenly favors have limits. If I’d just gotten here a couple hours earlier…”

Callum put his hand on her neck. “Cold like mine.”

“I killed you twice. I wonder if you’d forgive me.” He lets her go and lays down next to her, vacantly staring up at the ceiling.

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