“Hello there,” said Mercer. “This is a surprise, I didn’t think we’d see you again so soon, not after, well–” He opened the door and gestured for Myrtle to come inside. She walked past him without saying anything.

“Are you, eh,” he paused to consider his words carefully before he continued, “feeling better?”

Without turning to look at him, she answered casually. Myrtle was looking around the room, taking in the recently familiar surroundings, and trying to put a few unwanted thoughts out of her mind. Mercer’s own mind was full of questions, which he was forced to silence with a simple admission that women were all a mystery to him.

“Where’s Arturo?” she asked. She hoped his answer amounted to a ‘somewhere else.’

“Ah, he’s out at the moment. Told me he needed to clear his head, breathe some air, or something. I think he’s out watching the Gilded Flame’s patrols. He’s a little–”

“Obsessed?” offered Myrtle.

“Aye, more likely than not, poor lad,” he closed the door and walked farther into the room proper, keeping careful distance between himself and Myrtle, as if to remain outside of striking distance. He crossed his arms and asked, “How can I help you, then?”

Myrtle was about to launch into a full account of the last two days, including the revelatory information she received from the tiny wax figure, her subsequent research, and startling discovery since, when her attention was drawn to a tiny wax figure sitting on the table next to Mercer.

Pointing at it, she demanded to know where it came from. Startled, Mercer scratched his beard and replied that he didn’t know for sure, only that it was given to him.

Impatiently, she asked, “I understand that, but who did you get it from?”

“Eh, the curse-shop girl, Simona. You know, the one who dabbles in spells and strange–”

“I know who she is,” snapped Myrtle.

Mercer had to shake his head and mutter “mystery” to himself to keep from shouting back. He was otherwise at a loss for words. Myrtle walked over to Mercer and he flinched, then he relaxed when he saw she had picked up the wax figure.

Myrtle turned the figure over in her hands. It looked the same as her own, it had the same weight and texture, and was in all ways identical — except that it had its hands cupped to its ears, as though encouraging a whispered secret.