We’re back with a brand-new episode of our queer, Philly-based switchblade-and-sorcery web novel, The Dread Eclipse, with new updates published weekly on Thursdays!
In “Déjà Vu,” Ash finally tracks down the site of Luke and Severin’s murder, where he makes a shocking discovery…and runs into an unexpected guest.
story by Mabel Harper & Emrys Webb
written by Emrys Webb
The sun was low in the sky, its golden light stuttering between the naked trees, as Ash veered down the barely-discernible footpath off Yellow Trail in Wissahickon Valley Park, twigs, decaying leaves, and dead grass rustling under his feet.
According to his information, Hermit’s Cave was just a short walk ahead.
A few paces along the footpath, he stopped, his heart turning a sudden somersault in his chest. The air here was thick with a charge that set his mana channels roiling—some kind of weird energy field, deep, dense, churning.
Ash continued on, slowly, warily. With each step the static intensified. The fine hairs on his body, flyaways from his mane stood on end.
What the fuck is going on with this place?
Is this a nexus?
…How could the Auctoritas Magicae not know about one this big?
But it didn’t feel like any nexus Ash had ever encountered. The energy was stronger—much stronger—and chaotic, lacking any detectable pulse. It brought on a range of weird body sensations and urges: tension, arousal. A sudden impulse to punch a tree as hard as he could, or pick up a stick and scratch himself bloody. A compulsion to laugh.
None of which Ash did. Freeze response, inaction was his default—its thick blanket descended, stiffened his limbs. He balked, asked himself if it was safe to keep going. What a foreign energy this strong would do to his channels if he continued toward it.
Follow the trail, golden boy, whispered Valentine’s voice in his ear.
Heart thumping, Ash resumed his path deeper into the woods, deeper into the morass of chaotic energies, as the sun started to dip below the horizon up ahead.