Galwynn stopped speaking so Lord Lewis could take in everything he had said. This was the dodgy part, thought Kevin to himself. He had either succeeded in planting the seeds for an epiphany; or he had failed, and should gather his belongings, return home to his loved ones posthaste, and await the end of the world. Kevin’s hands began to tremble slightly because of this thought, but he calmed them by occupying himself with another bite of his apple. He was almost down to the core.

Kevin was certain, as only a Master of Enlightenment can be, that Lord Lewis was possessed by Obsession. But Kevin was too enlightened to think logical arguments alone could displace an unseen entity from the baron’s mind. First, Kevin had to reassure Charles that he was not going mad so he could dispel his fear, and restore his greatest strength, reason. If reason was restored, free will could hold sway. And free will is anathema to unseen influence.

That was the crux of Kevin’s plan. He had no other recourse as long as he could not singlehandedly breach the weirding wall, or exorcise Charles’s possession. But for his plan to take effect, Charles Lewis would have to come to an epiphany; and come to it on his own.

Kevin anxiously took the last bite of his apple, and recklessly tossed away the core.

“Could this be true?” Charles said, thinking aloud to himself. His gaze jerked away and then back again, like a man tossing and turning in a fever dream.

Charles’s memories of the past long days and fortnights, and how they made him feel, came rushing back in vivid detail: That balmy, velvet-black, summer’s night that seemed so long ago now. His excitement over trying his new gazing crystal array to study the stars. His feeling of being overwhelmed by how intimately close the stars appeared. His feeling of elation that turned into adoration when he first gazed upon the dazzling beauty of Alta Vystra. His unspoken craving for love that was answered by true love. His loneliness that turned into completeness. 

Then Charles had felt that inexplicable, abrupt narrowing of perspective; the red-hot delirium of the mind; the stifling paranoia; the insatiable covetousness; the never-ending want.

“Some entity lurks hidden inside my mind? It betrays me? It preys on me? It manipulates me? … It torments me?

In the Unseen Domain, Obsession, the treacherous denizen possessing Charles Lewis’s mind, felt a quake in its host. Something was changing, shifting, and not in a way the unseen denizen cared for. Suddenly feeling wary, Obsession began to exert control over its host as it had done so many times before. 

In the Land Domain, Kevin watched anxiously as Charles’s back hunched over, his head hung loosely from his neck, and he swiveled around on his hips to stare Kevin in the face. And in Charles’s eye, there appeared a peculiar glint that did not reflect any other light in the peel tower.

“You’re trying to deceive me, aren’t you, false friend Galwynn?” said Charles in a wolfish, accusatory tone. “You’re jealous of the love the star-maiden and I share, aren’t you? You want her for yourself. You want to take her awayfrom me, don’t you?”

But then Charles Lewis, the rational Charles, interrupted himself, as if debating with an ancient philosopher. “Kevin Galwynn is the King’s Master of Enlightenment. His reputation and integrity proceed him. He is a true friend, not false. I know that. I know that in my heart. 

“And Kevin Galwynn is jealous of no man. His only loves are his wife, his children, his realm; and of course, books and stories and the wonders of enlightenment. I know that too. What aberration could make me say otherwise?”

Charles closed his eyes and pinched his temples between his fingertips, seeking to clear his mind. In his eyes, the unnatural glint guttered like a candle flame about to expire. But then a throaty growl grew in his throat, and the unnatural glint flared up again. 

“All that nonsense about fear and true and false love. It is all a lie! I see it now. It’s all so clear,” shouted Obsession through Charles Lewis’s lips. “You want the star for yourself! …Don’t you? …Don’t you? …But why should you?” Charles rebutted, unexpectedly. 

“No! Lies, all lies! Don’t listen to him,” Charles exclaimed, referring to Galwynn in the third person for the first time. Something was shifting. “He wants the star for himself! Well, he can’t have her. He can’t have her! She belongs to me!” 

In the Unseen Domain, Obsession’s wariness became alarm. Something was wrong! Now there was a resistance in Obsession’s host to unseen influence; a resistance that had not existed before. Now, there was something new; something… fearsome.

In the Land Domain, Charles’s face contorted into a gargoyle’s scowl. Anger, then outrage, and then fury burned hotter and hotter inside his spirit until the emotion finally erupted. “No! I will not have it!” roared Lord Lewis, as he clambered to his feet and staggered back against the weirding wall. “Whatever foul, villainous, transgressor from the Unseen lurks inside my mind, I rebuke you! My will is my own, and I will fight with all that is within me to keep it so!”

In the Unseen Domain, Obsession felt its grasp on the Seen world slipping away…slipping away…slipping away… “No-o-o-o!” cried Obsession, now audible for the first time in Charles’s mind. Something was shifting. “What are you doing? Stop it! Do as I command, foul human!” But from Obsession’s perspective, its host, Charles Lewis, seemed remote now, like a distant traveler walking out of sight over a faraway hill. 

“You can’t take my star away. She belongs to me! repeated Obsession, despondently. “But I swear, human, betrayer, puppet, I will claw my way back into your spirit! I will have my star-maiden yet!” But despite Obsession’s blustering vow, the Seen world grew farther and farther away from Obsession…until it was gone.

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