Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / The Locked Tomb

Go To

Unmarked spoiler warning!

Given the inherently spoilerific nature of most tearjerkers in the series, spoilers will remain untagged.

    open/close all folders 

    Gideon the Ninth 

Chapter 3

  • Although it's Played for Laughs, Gideon's genuine devastation when Ortus and Glaurica steal her shuttle and her best hope for escape is dashed before her:
    Gideon had never confronted a broken heart before. She had never gotten far enough to have her heart broken. She knelt on the landing field, knees in the grit, arms clutched around herself. There was nothing left but blown-out, curly patterns in the pebbles where the shuttle had passed. A great dullness had sunk over her; a deep coldness, a thick stolidity. When her heart beat in her chest it was with a huge, steady grief. Every pulse seemed to be the space between insensibility and knives. For some moments she was awake, and she was filled with a slow-burning mine fire, the kind that never went out and crumbled everything from the inside; for all the other moments, it was as though she had gone somewhere else.
  • And Harrow's explanation that follows the above:
    "[...] I will give you your due: there was no way you could have accounted for [the shuttle pilot contacting Harrow]. I could have spoiled it before, but I wanted to wait until now to do anything. I wanted to wait ... for the very moment when you thought you'd gotten away ... to take it from you."
    Gideon could only manage, "Why?"
    The girl's expression was the same as it was on the day that Gideon had found her parents, dangling from the roof of their cell. It was blank and white and still.
    "Because I completely fucking hate you," said Harrowhark, "no offence."

Chapter 17

  • The Fourth's initial reactions to the Fifth being found dead and the necromancers attempting to call their spirits back.
    In the beginning a group of them had opened their own veins in a bid to tempt the early hunger of the ghosts. That period ended only when the teens, mad with rage at the inadequacy of only Isaac's blood, both started stabbing at Jeannemary's arm. They stood screaming at each other wordlessly, corseting belts above each other's elbows to make the veins stand out, until Camilla took the knives from their hands and began dispensing rubber bandages. Then they held each other, knelt, and wept.

Chapter 20

  • During the Avulsion trial, while Gideon is in horrific agony while Harrow draws from her life-force, Dulcinea holds her and comforts her, and, upon a reread, it's clear that what she tells Gideon is coming from Cytherea:
    "It's all right," someone was saying, over the noise. "You're all right. Gideon,'re so young. Don't give yourself away. Do you know, it's not worth it...none of this is worth it, at all. It's cruel. It's so cruel. You are so young—and vital—and alive. Gideon, you're all right...remember this, and don't let anyone do it to you ever again. I'm sorry. We take so much. I'm so sorry."

Chapter 26

  • Gideon sobbing silently in the makeshift infirmary after the deaths of the Fourth in front of her:
    The only thing that made sense was that she had ended up in the whitewashed room where they were keeping Dulcinea, sitting alone in an armchair, and there she had gritted tears out of her eyes for an hour. Someone had washed out all her cuts with reeking vermillion tarry stuff, and it smelled bad and hurt like hell whenever an errant drip of salt water touched the wounds. This made her feel sorry for herself, and feeling sorry for herself made her eyes even wetter.
  • After the disappearance of Protesilaus, Dulcinea tells Gideon that she just wants to know what happened to him, for good or ill.
    Gideon didn't know whether she could get behind this either. She would've been devoutly grateful to live not knowing exactly the things that had happened, in vivid red-and-purple wobbling intensity. Then again, her mind kept flaying itself over Magnus and Abigail, down there in the dark, alone—over the when, and the how; over whether Magnus had watched his wife be murdered like Jeannemary had watched Isaac. She thought: It is stupid for a cavalier to watch their necromancer die.

Chapter 27

  • After a period where they were getting along, Gideon and Harrow start squabbling over Dulcinea that turns explosive when Harrow sets off Gideon's still raw Survivor's Guilt:
    "I've got my priorities straight."
    "Nothing you have done in the past two days suggests that."
    Gideon went cold. "Fuck you. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you. I didn't mean to let Jeannemary die."
    "For God's sake, I didn't mean—"
    "Fuck you," Gideon added again for emphasis. She found herself laughing in that awful, high way that was totally devoid of humour. "Fuck. We don't deserve to still be around—have you realized that yet? Have you realized that this whole thing has been about the union of necromancer and cavalier from start to finish? We should be toast. If they're measuring this on the strength of that—we're the walking dead. Magnus the Fifth was a better cavalier than I am. Jeannemary the Fourth was ten times the cavalier I am. They should be alive and we should be bacteria food. Two big bags of algor mortis. We're alive through dumb luck and Jeannemary isn't [...]
  • When Harrow tries to stop Gideon's rant, she punctuates it by lashing out at Harrow:
    "Harrow, I hate you," said Gideon. "I never stopped hating you. I will always hate you, and you will always hate me. Don't forget that. It's not like I ever can."
    Harrow's mouth twisted so much that it should have been a reef knot. Her eyes closed briefly, and she sheathed her hands inside her gloves. [...]

Chapter 31

  • Once Harrow has finally told Gideon the last secrets of the Ninth that she'd been keeping, all Gideon can say is that she's "so bloody sorry." Harrow is incensed, and finally lets loose the true depths of her own self-hatred about their fucked-up dynamic:
    "You apologise to me?" she bellowed. "You apologise to me now? You say that you're sorry when I have spent my life destroying you? You are my whipping girl! I hurt you because it was a relief! I exist because my parents killed everyone and relegated you to a life of abject misery, and they would have killed you too and not given it a second's goddamned thought! I have spent your life trying to make you regret that you weren't dead, all because—I regretted I wasn't! I ate you alive, and you have the temerity to tell me that you're sorry?"
    There were flecks of spittle on Harrowhark's lips. She was retching for air.
    "I have tried to dismantle you, Gideon Nav! The Ninth House poisoned you, we trod you underfoot—I took you to this killing field as my slave—you refuse to die, and you pity me! Strike me down. You've won. I've lived my whole wretched life at your mercy, yours alone, and God knows I deserve to die at your hand. You are my only friend. I am undone without you."

Chapter 34

  • The description of Colum and Silas's bodies after Ianthe killed Colum after he'd been possessed and killed Silas:
    —and it was Colum again, his face disfigured, neck on the wrong way, sprawled over the pierced shell of his young dead uncle. There was no solace in that big, beat-up body, clutched around his necromancer's in morbid imitation of the whole of their lives. Neither wore white anymore: they were stained all the way through, yellow, red, pink.

Chapter 36

  • Gideon, Harrow, and Camilla, backed into a corner and all heavily wounded, face their impending death all in different ways.
    Camilla closed her eyes and relaxed. Her long dark fringe fell over her face. It was that—Camilla in motion now Camilla at rest—that made the tiny voice inside Gideon's head say, amazed: We really are going to die.
    "Nav," [Harrow] said, "have you really forgiven me?"
    Confirmed. They were all going to eat it.
    "Of course I have, you bozo."
    "I don't deserve it."
    "Maybe not," said Gideon, "but that doesn't stop me forgiving you. Harrow—"
    "You know I don't give a damn about the Locked Tomb, right? You know I only care about you," she said in a brokenhearted rush. She didn't know what she was trying to say, only that she had to say it now. [...] "I'm no good at this duty thing. I'm just me. I can't do this without you. And I'm not your real cavalier primary, I never could've been."
    Harrow laughed. It was the first time she had ever heard Harrow really laugh. It was a rather weak and tired sound.
    "Gideon the Ninth, first flower of my House," she said hoarsely, "you are the greatest cavalier we have ever produced. You are our triumph. The best of all of us. It has been my privilege to be your necromancer."
  • Gideon's Final Speech before she kills herself to save Harrow and Camilla, prompted by Harrow's praise above.
    "Okay," she said. "I understand now. I really, truly, absolutely understand."
    She said, "Harrow, I can't keep my promise, because the entire point of me is you. You get that right? That's what cavaliers sign up for. There is no me without you. One flesh, one end."
    A shade of exhausted suspicion flickered over her necromancer's face. "Nav," she said, "what are you doing?"
    "The cruellest thing anyone has ever done to you in your whole entire life, believe me," said Gideon. "You'll know what to do, and if you don't do it, what I'm about to do will be no use to anyone."
    Gideon turned and squinted, gauged the angle, judged the distance. It would have been the worst thing in the world to look back, so she didn't.
    "For the Ninth!" said Gideon.
    And she fell forward, right on the iron spikes.

Chapter 37

  • Gideon in the form of a hallucination or ghost attempts to get Harrow to focus when she's sobbing about Gideon's Heroic Suicide:
    "Now we kick her ass until candy comes out," said Gideon. "Oh, damn, Nonagesimus, don't cry, we can't fight her if you're crying."
    Harrow said, with some difficulty: "I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it."
    "Yes you can, it's just less great and less hot," said Gideon.
    "Fuck you, Nav—"
    "Harrowhark," said Gideon the Ninth. "Someday you'll die and be buried in the ground, and we can work this out then. For now—I can't say you'll be fine. I can't say we did the right thing. I can't tell you shit. I'm basically a hallucination produced by your brain chemistry while coping with the massive trauma of splicing in my brain chemistry. Even if I wasn't, I don't know jack, Harrow, I never did—except for one thing."
    She lifted Harrow's arm with the hilt clutched in it. Her fingers, rough and strong and sure, moved Harrow's other hand into place above the pommel.
    "I know the sword," she said. "And now, so do you."
  • The final description of Gideon's corpse, knowing that she spent her entire life trying to escape the Ninth only to sacrifice herself to preserve it and Harrow.
    The breeze blew Harrow's hair into her mouth as she ran back and strained at the arms of her cavalier, pulled and pulled, so that she could take her off the spike and lay her on her back. Then she sat there for a long time. Beside her, Gideon lay smiling a small, tight, ready smile, stretched out beneath a blue and foreign sky.


  • After everything she'd gone through with the sole purpose of becoming a Lyctor so that she could save the Ninth, once Harrow has actually succeeded, and meets the Emperor, the very first thing she does is fling herself out of bed to beg him to undo it and return Gideon to her.
    She pressed her forehead down onto the cold, clean tiles.
    "Please undo what I've done, Lord," she said. "I will never ask anything of you, ever again, if you just give me back the life of Gideon Nav."
  • Harrow can't bring herself to even look at her reflection after becoming a Lyctor.
    There was a vague reflection of her in the window, interrupted by distant space fields pocketed thick with stars. She turned away. If she saw herself in a mirror, she might fight herself: if she saw herself in a mirror, she might find a trace of Gideon Nav, or worse—she might not find anything, she might find nothing at all.


    Harrow the Ninth 

Chapter 2

  • Harrow, newly amnesiac, coming face to face with Palamedes' remains:
    Nor could you locate bodies within either of the plain grey-sheeted hexagons intended for the sixth, though there were pitiable scraps and remains in one: leavings only, much less than a corpse. Something flickered in your nervous system that was a bit like an emotion, but it struggled and died, much to your relief.
  • The Wham Line that makes it clear how deeply traumatized Harrow is after the death of Gideon:
    "Ortus Nigenad did not die for nothing," he said.
    As he spoke, his mouth looked strange. A hot whistle of pain ran down your temporal bone. Your body was numb to grief; perhaps you had felt it once, but you did not feel it anymore. "Ortus Nigenad died thinking it was the only gift he was capable of giving," you said, "and I have wasted it—like—air."

Chapter 7

  • Harrow seeing a child who resembles Gideon in the River:
    A rubber-bodied toddler with a painted face and very red hair lay dead beside your knee and for some reason it was this that destroyed you, it was this that kindled within you something you had no hope of defending against. You howled in a purity of fright.

Chapter 33

  • Camilla's quiet anguish after Palamedes' death:
    Camilla Hect was a closed object, with locks and snaps; she had an expression like the rock before the Tomb, inexeroable, giving nothing away. But her eyes—her eyes were dark as the grit mixed with the soil, neither grey nor brown but both. They were the eyes of a winter season without any promise of spring. In comparing the eyes to the face, you saw into a zipped-up agony.
  • Palamedes' genuine horror that Harrow consumed Gideon to ascend to Lyctorhood:
    "[...] I am Harrowhark the First, formerly and in everlasting affections the Reverend Daughter of Drearburh: I am the ninth saint to serve the King Undying, one among his fists and his gestures. I did not know you in this life, and I will not know you in the next one."
    He stopped dead.
    "You became a Lyctor," he said.
    "That was always the plan."
    "Not for the Harrowhark I knew. Tell me you did it correctly," he said, and there was a quick, questioning eagerness to his voice, something beneath the confusion. "Tell me you finished the work. You out of everyone could have worked out the end to the beginning I was starting to explicate. Your cavalier, Reverend Daughter—"
    "Has become the furnace of my Lyctorhood," you said.
    The dead Warden stopped. He looked at your face as though his eyes could peel through dermis, fascia, and bone. And he said, quietly: "How God takes—and takes—and takes."

Chapter 51

  • The entire beginning of the chapter, which discusses Gideon's childhood love of her mother, a woman who planned to murder her to pursue her revenge, and her lashing out at Harrow prompting her suicide attempt:
    I remember the time you caught me telling her, I love you, and I can't even remember what you said, but I remember that I had you on your fucking back—I put you straight on the fucking ground. I was always so much bigger and so much stronger. I got on top of you and choked you till your eyes bugged out. I told you that my mother had probably loved me a lot more than yours loved you. You clawed my face so bad that my blood ran down your hands; my face was under your fucking fingernails. When I let you go, you couldn't even stand, you just crawled away and threw up. Were you ten, Harrow? Was I eleven?
    Was that the day you decided you wanted to die?
    You remember how the fuck-off great-aunts always used to say, Suffer and learn?
    If they were right, Nonagesimus, how much more can we take until you and me achieve omniscience?

Chapter 52

  • Gideon, once again facing an impossible situation and dying in Harrow's body, talks to her about what they are:
    Harrowhark, did you know that if you die by drowning, apparently your whole life flashes in front of your eyes? I didn't know, as I died and took you along with me—having kept you alive for what, a whole two hours?—whether it was going to show me both. Like, at the end of everything, if it was going to be you and me, layered over each other as we always were. A final blurring of the edges between us, like water spilt over ink outlines. Melted steel. Mingled blood. Harrowhark-and-Gideon, Gideon-and-Harrowhark at last.

     The Mysterious Study of Doctor Sex 
  • Although Cam doesn't say it explicitly, the letter they're reading at the beginning is clearly from the real Dulcinea. She seems like such a nice and funny person, and it just makes what we know to be her eventual end even sadder.
  • Despite the short story being fairly light-hearted, the final lines end on a very bittersweet note as the ever stoic Camilla reflects on Palamedes.
    Palamedes remembers everything. That was his problem.
    I always remember him. That's mine.

Alternative Title(s): Gideon The Ninth, Harrow The Ninth


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: