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Verity Warren sat in her chair by the fireplace and felt herself getting older. It was a subtle, creeping thing - a poison working slowly through her body, killing her. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, Verity was dying. They all were. Well, most of them, anyway. Immortals had their own problems. But Verity Warren had more pressing problems than age. More pressing indeed. ”Have the candidates arrived yet, Cobalt?” ”No, ma’am.” Cobalt stood by the fireplace, posture as ramrod-straight as a coat rack, and checked a pocket watch. “The doors will open in ten minutes precisely.” Verity nodded, trusting him to manage all that. This blasted house… it had been bad enough before the Forgery. Now, after all the damn chaos of the world falling back into its previous pattern, Verity had a rather terrible problem on her hands. There was something very, very wrong with Wickwillow Manor. It was growing, and growing things were hungry things. She had sent out the notice a week ago; it has been Cobalt’s idea, and a good one too. That had been after Willa had gone missing on the third floor. The poor maid had just gone off to change the sheets in the spare bedroom. They still hadn’t found her - or the spare bedroom. What they had found was… well. Not what someone wished to find in their house. Luckily, Verity still had enough staff left to keep this small section of Wickwillow running. The kitchen, the front parlor, the small dining room and one hallway of bedrooms seemed to behave normally. It was the rest of the house that kept changing itself. Adding, removing, scrambling… and the new house guests. So many. Usually not the sort one invited on purpose. She put that from her mind. The parlor had been set for guests, and soon perhaps she’d have the group she needed for this task. By every god she hoped she would. Then maybe she could stave off death a little longer. Delay him. Outwit him. At the very least, outwit this damned house. ”Go open the doors, Cobalt,” Verity said, feeling the weight of years pressing on her soul. “No point in keeping them waiting. Or us. It’s time we got this problem fixed.” Cobalt looked at her for a long moment, then inclined his head and strode from the room. He stepped quickly over thick carpet that turned to marble once he entered the main hall. Then, with a short sigh, he opened the front door. @mathiau @Ookla the Quark @Ookla the Nerdy @[email protected] the Headmuncher