Episode 2 Chapter 30

Theodore found the Tall Man on the outskirts of the manor, on a hill overlooking the road back to the city. Graves dotted the hilltop, with one newer than the rest. The ghast bent down to rest a hand on the loose soil.

“I used to hate humans,” he said. “Anthony was the one that changed that. He was a timid child. He knew what I was, but he asked to be friends anyway. That’s what made sense to him.”

The afternoon heat was fading. Wind was blowing through Giselle’s hair. She listened.

The Tall Man stood up. “He wanted to be brave, so my haunting became a game. With practice, he became hard to frighten. As time went on we came to visit for the joy of one another’s company. We made time once a month to talk over tea. It meant a lot to me.”

“He never mentioned you,” Giselle said.

“I insisted on secrecy, to spare my pride.” His arms hung slack. “I expect it was difficult for him.”

“And the ring?”

“His idea. He wanted to go to sea but worried we wouldn’t meet again.”

The Tall Man turned toward Theodore.

“I would ask for the ring back but I am afraid that is not how the hex works. You accused me wrongfully, hunted me, and nearly caused my death. It angers me to be linked to a man like you. Yet, it cannot be helped. You and I are bound now until death.”

Theodore ran his fingers over the gemstone. The reminder of his mistake left him feeling sick. “I’m sorry,” he said. The words felt feeble, inadequate.

The Tall Man leaned over him. “Let it serve to remind you to never let this occur again.”

Giselle knelt down beside the grave, staring at the etching of her husband’s name.

“Oh, Anthony.” Tears welled up. “You’re gone, and I nearly killed your friend.” She sobbed into her mourning veil. The Tall Man placed a hand on her back.

“He was a good and kind man. He would not have blamed you for this. But I know he would expect us both to take the best of what he was and carry on.”

Giselle nodded, drying her eyes.

In the distance Theodore could see the watchmen marching Flip through the city walls.  The witch was arrested but he knew it did not make up for his failure.

He grew uneasy. He descended into the manor yard where the remaining watchmen were documenting reports from the farmers on what happened.

Theodore found the hilt of the knife in the mud. Fragments of the blade were scattered, half buried. Even though he told the watchmen what he had done, the evidence went uncollected. No note was made of his confession. It felt like his mistake would be forgotten.

He spent a few minutes picking the shards out of the muck. Shame hung like a stone around his neck.


Theodore’s self-loathing was interrupted. Oboe swung him off his feet and pulled him into a crushing hug.

“I’m sorry!” She said, on the brink of tears. “I wasn’t there to help! I’m sorry I ran off! I’m useless!”

Theodore struggled to get free. “Oboe—”

“All I did was get myself captured!” She said. “Look at you, you’re all beat up! I messed up so bad!


“I know you won’t want me around anymore, but please let me stay! I just wanted to make sure we did things right!!”

“Oboe!” He raised his voice. “Put me down!”

Blinking, she set him on the ground.

Theodore straightened his glasses. “There is no reason for you to apologize. I’m the one who should be sorry.” He softened, relieved that Oboe was okay. “The only reason I was able to stop Flip is because you kept investigating. I should’ve listened to you from the start.”

Her eyes wide, startled by the recognition. “I did okay?”

“More than okay,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better partner. Thank you.”

She burst into tears. Theodore was uncertain of what to do. He reached out to give her a reassuring pat and was pulled into another massive hug. She sobbed into his shoulder, dribbling snot.

“Yay,” she in a soft squeek.

Lieutenant Fritz coughed for attention. He was standing off to the side, looking uncomfortable.

“Well,” he said. “As you can see we recovered the faun from the witch’s hideout, per your instructions.”

“Oh!! I forgot!” Oboe dropped Theodore and ran off. She brought back a hulking chest that she dropped at Theodore’s feet. “Look! I brought all this evidence! Look!”

Theodore peeked inside. It was overflowing with illegal magic product collected from Flip’s shop. Dubious potions, enchanted weapons, and forbidden spell components.

“She was insistent and thorough,” Fritz said with visible irritation.

“Incredible.” Theodore felt overwhelmed. “There will be no way for Flip to escape conviction with all this evidence.”

“Deputy!” Captain Myra Redriver strutted up to join them with Wendy, Alderman and the remainder of the watchmen in tow. “This is the man who attacked you, isn’t he? I want to hear it firsthand.”

“You don’t gotta make him say it.” Pearce hung his head. “I did it, alright? Devil damn me. I thought it was the right thing to do.”

“There was no lasting damage,” Theodore said. “I believe he’s learned his lesson.”

Myra shook her head, grim. “Lessons are great and all, but this is a serious. Assault on an appointed officer is a breach of the Hierarchy. The Alderman will have to be detained until a Justice decides whether he’s still fit to lead.”

Wendy pressed a hand to Pearce’s chest, looking up into his eyes.

“Will you wait for me?” Pearce said.

“As long as it takes, my love,” Wendy said.

They were permitted an embrace and then the Alderman was taken away. Theodore watched, thinking on his own mistake. How close had he brushed with tragedy? How much of this was his fault? Theodore reached into his pocket and felt the hilt of the broken knife. It was proof of his failure as Ranger Deputy. There was one last thing left to be done to make this right.

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