Here’s how deep the delusion sank: See, this group was confronted with evidence, later on, that Sed was probably about as sick as they said they were. Did they say, ‘Shit, my bad’? Nope. Arkady was who piped up with the notion of “I bet the gods knew they were faking their illness, and decided to actually make their lie true. That’s what you get!”

Visarden had been half vampire, half elf. Because of course he was. I remember when Arkady had first unveiled his appearance to me. He’d bought sclera lenses and a long black wig that he’d tinted with the slightest hint of violet. I’d opened Snapchat to see Visarden beaming at me, looking like Holly Black’s muse come to life. “Yeah, so… Here’s… Me.” The memory can still bring a flutter to this tired, mechanical heart.

Do I think Ash is evil? No. But the truth seems to be that that they’re so easily influenced by whoever is their favourite person at the time that you practically have to cryogenically seal them to trust them– Encourage a friend’s suicide? Blame Lapa. Turn on your fiance? Blame Sedona. Go through March’s documents? All my influence, obviously. Going through my journals? All Seven. I mean, all justified– I mean–