She senses them coming long before the knock on her door.

“Let us in Tish!” Cyril calls, pounding on the door.

“Come on! I know you’re in there! I can smell the blood!” Leigh begs.

She doesn’t undo the chain as she opens the door, so they can’t slip in. “Oathbreakers!” she hisses, blood dripping down her face and from her fingers where she’s gripping the polished wood. “You’ll get nothing but curses from me!”

“We didn’t break the oath!” Cyril’s voice cracks, tears threatening to spill. “We didn’t! Tish let us in! Please!”

“Just let us explain! They’re going to kill us Tish! Do you really trust us so little?!”

She takes a deep breath, eyes flicking down and up their frames as she studies them. Cyril starts crying and Leigh wraps an arm around his shoulders, comforting him, supporting him. Finally she slams the door, undoes the chain, and throws it open again.

“Hurry,” she whispers, glancing around outside to make sure no one is watching. “You have ten minutes. Then I let them have you, traitors, oathbreakers.”

The inside is just as the boys remember it, with blood smeared and dripped across the floors and walls. Good ol’ Tish.

She’s muttering to herself, picking up books and skins and skulls and shifting their placement until they have room to sit inside the pentagram.

“I can’t believe you boys,” she hisses. “What? What happened? Quick now, or I’ll lower the enchantments. What happened?”


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