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Who is Annabel? you might ask. She is Maggie MacNamara's great aunt--Skye's great-great aunt--who accidentally opened the door for Taranis to return to our world when she was a child. You may remember the old lady whom everyone thought was mad, and who said she was trapped in a story between our world and the other world (which, incidentally, inspired Taranis' punishment of Randall). Maggie's father went to visit Annabel when Maggie's mother disappeared. This is a window into her story...
Annabel was alone. Her parents had gone to another party, and her nanny was asleep in front of the fire. The quarter bottle of brandy that the nanny had brought with her was now empty on the hearth at her feet. Annabel tiptoed past the snoring woman and crept into her mother’s dressing room. Softly, softly. Pulling the door most of the way shut behind her, Annabel donned her mother’s pale silk dressing gown and pearls, and sprayed herself with the atomizer that always stood on the mirrored table. Then, as she always did when her parents were away and no one was paying attention to her, Annabel gingerly opened the table’s narrow top drawer and taken out the drawer’s only contents: an unusual deck of cards that lay wrapped in a carefully folded length of red silk. Smiling to herself, Annabel slowly untied the ribbon that held the silk in place and began to shuffle through the cards. (See the history here? The cards go back generations. Even young Annabel’s story began before this night.)
As she gazed dreamily at each card, it seemed to tell her a story. Some told tales of lovers; some told tales of great deeds, and brave men and women. Some spoke to her about the ways and whimsies of the ancient gods. On this particular night, however, as she sat curled up in her mother’s chair, Annabel allowed herself to be lulled by her nanny’s snores as well as by the images the cards created in her mind. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour or the brandy the nursemaid had liberally splashed into Annabel’s warm milk (the girl had cried when her parents had taken her older sister with them to the party), but Annabel found herself listening to each of the cards longer than usual. In fact, she even took a moment to look into The Challenger’s story, a rather frightening card that she usually passed over as quickly as possible. This time, however, she gave the card her full attention. Saw the cartoonish illustration resolve itself into the face and figure of a stately old man with cruel eyes and a slightly surprised expression. She stared at him curiously for a moment then dropped the card with a shriek as she realised that he was looking back at her.