To Riddle Alone

Chapter 1

THERE ARE TWO MEMBERS IN THE CHAT ROOM:
AVRIL
JESS

AVRIL:
So everything's set then? I dunno why you moaned about that old house so much – it's great! I can't wait to come back.

JESS: I think I just hated the change. I was angry with Mum and Dad, mostly. I've gotten used to it now. Anyway, you sure you wanna come? Mrs Shilling is still here, you know.

AVRIL: Oh, that old hag! Oh well, I'll just have to spend the whole two weeks arguing with her and avoiding her… again.

JESS: She misses you too.

AVRIL: Yeah, well, whatever. Gotta go – Mum's telling me to go the chippy, lazy cow. See you later XXX

AVRIL has left the chat room.

E: Hello, Jess.

JESS: ...Epsilon?

E: Of course.

JESS: Wait, wait, wait. You've not talked to me (your occasional clues notwithstanding) for TWO YEARS since the Miradel collapsed. You let me think that you'd been injured or something crazy like that so that you couldn't do your whole 'scare the life out of Jess in the cottage' thing, and NOW you just pop up again as if nothing happened?

E: That would be an accurate, if not very detailed, summary of events, yes.

JESS: ...

E: I see you haven't grown out of your sulking yet.

JESS: My WHAT? I do not sulk!

E: Oh, so your extended silence was a mark of your newfound maturity?

JESS: ...You are so irritating.

E: Thank you.

JESS: ...You enjoy that, don't you?

E: What?

JESS: Irritating me.

E: It is quite entertaining, yes.

JESS: ...

E: Are you still sulking?

JESS: ...

E: Aren't you curious as to why I am here?

JESS: Fine. You got me. Why are you here? You disappear for two years, other than dropping the odd Lumic clue you know drive me mad, and suddenly you're back. Why?

E: To warn you. The Dark Beings are growing... restless. I've yet to discover why.

JESS: Wait, the Dark Beings? Didn't they just, I dunno, stop after... after the tower fell? Dr. Parker and Ely and all the others haven't been doing anything weird; just normal stuff. Looking after sick people. Fixing nets. That kind of thing.

E: If it all 'just stopped', then why did you not say the Inverter's name?

JESS: What? Are you doing that freaky 'watching-me-while-you're-not-actually-there' thing again?

E: When you hesitated before writing 'after the tower fell'. Yes, I can see you again. Are you going to answer my question?

JESS: Dunno.

E: You don't know if you are going to answer, or why you hesitated?

JESS: I dunno why I couldn't write his name. Just didn't feel right. Like I shouldn't.

E: The way it did in the cave? When you saw his name carved into the wall?

JESS: …Alright. Yeah. But why do I feel like that now? I'm in my bedroom, nice and safe and normal, with my parents, a crazy old aunt who is as likely to roast someone alive as say hello, and a huge dog downstairs. Why should I feel uneasy about saying his name?

E: Because you are too fixated on 'normal'; you have forgotten – precious little concerning Lume is 'normal'. And to have your family around you may be a comfort, but it does not mean you are safe. Your house is not a fortress.

JESS: Well thank you for thoroughly terrifying me.

E: I apologise. But it is necessary. This is as real as it was before.

JESS: I know. And I know, two years isn't that long, especially if you can jump through time like a jack-in-the-box. But it feels like ages to me – and I don't want to get wrapped up in all that stuff again. It's more than scary; it's dangerous.

E: I know. But this isn't something that will go away just because you're scared; it will only get worse. Something dark is happening again, and you may be as involved as you were the last time. I need you to help me, Jess.

JESS: Totally not panicking here. But… OK. Just no more riddles. Please.

E: Thank you. But I cannot promise that. Remember the jigsaw?

JESS: Yes. I feel ill just thinking about it.

E: I need you to watch the followers of the Dark Peril. They may be stirring once again. Look for any odd behaviour. Can you do that, Jess?

JESS: Ugh. Yes. What else do I need to do?

E: That is all, for now.

JESS: What, no riddles? No more ghostly relatives of mine to show me?

E: Not yet.

JESS: I'm going to assume you mean the riddles and not the ghosts when you say not yet. And wow. I may actually get through whatever is happening without throwing up multiple times. Okay. I'll... will I see you at the cottage? The way you used to be, I mean. Not just a silver shimmer.

E: You might.

JESS: Really?

E: You might.

E has left the chat room.

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