The Fáidh nodded, but his affect grew serious—the most serious Jennie had ever seen him. “I am worried that the Zaar has deliberately left us a trail to follow,” he said. “The ease with which we tracked him to the Temple of the Orb, the trail of footprints, the way he mentioned his destination as if by chance…I think, young lass, that we need to be wary.”

“What, are you worried that the ridiculous ritual I looked up and we practiced won’t work?” Jennie said. “Don’t worry about it. I still have my very illegal pepper spray and the highly illegal pistol that Whelk was using. If it looks like things are going south faster than geese in the winter, I’ll use one of them.”

“All I meant, young lass, is that Zaars are tricky spirits that draw strength and succor from the misery of others and the chaos of a world unglued. As Jim Morrison said, ‘some are born to sweet delight, some are born to the endless night’ and Zaars are the blackest and most unpredictable part of that endless midnight, I’ve heard.”

“Again, that wasn’t Morrison,” Jennie said. “It was William Blake, that lovable nutjob, in ‘Auguries of Innocence.’ And don’t worry. I know that the Zaar is dangerous, but if we keep our heads and think logically through things, we’ll be fine.”

The Fáidh nodded, brightening as he did so. “You’re right, young lass. Let us onward and look for clues of our quarry’s whereabouts or a place to set a trap.”

Treading softly over mossy stones, Jennie caught up with her other companions. The sky was overcast with a rather more sinister level of shadow than was usual even for Dublin, and the walkway was offset by stone sentinels ever few feet, each bearing the name (and, presumably, likeness) of a High King of old. Ard Rí Mac Ercéni…Ard Ri Óengarb…Ard Ri Aíd Olláin…Ari Ri Diermait…

“Oi, Cary!” barked Syke, gesturing at a well-preserved statue of Ard Ri Snechta Fína. “I think I’ve found you a fellow. You think he’s your type?”

“Ohmigawd, Syke,” Cary giggled, holding up a hand and smearing the makeup and lipstick on her face into a positively Picasso smear. “That is totes funny. But I never could.”

“Cor, why not?” Syke patted the statue on his shoulder. “He’s well-built, you can’t argue that.”

“I totally prefer guys who are more limber,” said Cary. “And I could never, like, marry so totally far above my social station.”

“What that, then?” said Syke, cocking his head. “Social station?”

“As Ard Ri, King Snechta Fína is totally royalty,” Cary continued, “while I’m like landed gentry without even a hereditary title or stuff.”

Syke shook his head. “The stuff that comes out of this one’s mouth, I tell you…”

“Well, how about this one?” said Cary, rushing a little ahead and losing the sunglasses from her stony eyes as she did so. She stopped in front of an imposing female statue, the only such on the Causeway that Jennie could see, which bore the inscription of Ard Ri Macha Mong Ruad. “Ohmigawd, she’s totally your type, Syke. She was like a friend to all the trees and was able to totally kill her rivals for the throne by like tracking them down in the wilds of Connacht, and she ruled even after her husband died of the plague, and on top of all that she’s the only female Ard Ri, or High King (or is that Ard Banríon, or High Queen) in the centuries-long history of Ireland, and-”

“Cor, it’s like squeezing a sponge with this one sometimes,” said Syke as Jennie quietly giggled behind him. “How do you know all this sodding trivia, Cary? I’m a natural-born son of this soil, and I don’t even know it. Fáidh, do you?”

“Well, I knew that there was a High Queen of a sort,” the Fáidh said, “I am, after all, a quarter fae on my mother’s side. But other than that-”

“Ohmigawd! Would you like me to ask her if she likes figs, Syke? I totally will.” Cary did an excited little hop, the weight of which was enough to ruin both of the charity shop shoes Jennie had her in.

“What?” Syke yelped.

“It’s totally true, I can,” said Cary. “Every statue can see and hear just by like virtue of being of anthropomorphic shape and affect, y’know? They’re not animate like me or probably even conscious—but you never know, Syke!—but if you speak to ’em in the Stonetongue they totally will spill like all their beans.”

Syke looked helplessly to Jennie. “Why not?” said she. “Go for it, Cary. You’re probably just instinctively reading lichen patterns, heat signitures, or pheromones, but if it helps us, whatever you want to call it is just fine with me.”

Cary bent over the statue and made a noise that sounded like two cement blocks being rubbed together irregularly. She got what could have been either a stony scraping in return of just an echo, though of course Jennie immediately pronounced it to be the latter.

“The statue of Ard Ri Macha Mong Ruad totally says that a man…no, like a thing in a mannish shape passed by here not long ago,” Cary said. “He took the left fork in the tomb-path ahead.”

“Well done, Cary,” said the Fáidh. “Let us press forward.”

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