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London

May 27, 1850

The wind had finally settled down about mid-morning after keeping Wren awake most of the night with howling and the flinging of small pieces of debris against the windows of the tiny flat above the tavern.

Today she would venture outside after having kept to her quarters for most of two weeks except for forays downstairs to check on the staff, receive supplies and for meals and a bit of company.

She’d felt a bone-weary, soul-numbing fatigue and had waited it out–just a cycle such as occurs in the natural world. There were some moments when she’d wondered if she’d been poisoned, but she wasn’t important enough for that. She’d also considered whether she’d acquired the affliction that had been spreading around London for several years now, but the familiarity of her extreme languor and irritability called for dismissal of that possibility.

It was more than simple melancholy; she’d paced the floors, slept a lot, gazed out the windows and avoided her scrying ball and cards.

Today would be the day to coax and push herself back out into the bustling city even though she didn’t feel quite ready–in fact, she had a sinking feeling of dismay in her solar plexus.

Without a mental list of things to do or any plan at all really, she cautiously opened the tavern door and stepped out into the street. The air was damp and sooty; she was drawn immediately to the gentle and patient eyes of a horse attached to a nearby carriage. The driver was in the tavern having a quick pint; Wren whispered in the horse’s ear and scratched around his head–a perfect beginning to re-entry into the world.

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