Alexander stood gazing into the mirror, adjusting the sash draped across his chest without disturbing the medals pinned precariously to the top. When he was finished, he took a step back to admire his work.
“It’s been years since I’ve seen you in a uniform…” Alexander looked up to see the reflection of his father, standing in the doorway.
“I was just thinking the same thing, actually.”
The General leaned against the doorframe, a strange look on his face.
“You’re back from your assignment three months early.”
“I’ve gotten all the information Saben wanted and then some.”
“Nevertheless, he’s likely to get grumpy and huffy over it.” The General paused for a while then, so long that Alexander finally turned from the mirror to face him. “You felt her, didn’t you?”
Alexander’s heart jumped into his throat. The feeling had come the previous night, while he was carousing around a richly furnished tavern in Magincia, playing the part of a visiting dignitary from Britain. He was had been dancing with an attractive young girl, daughter of Sir So-and-So of Where-the-hell-ever, when the world around him changed, and he had found himself alone in the middle of a cobblestone street, blood pooled about his feet. And then he saw Her. She had glided towards him in her gossamer gown, her raven-black hair flowing behind her as if blown by some ethereal wind. She had reached to him, and the second he felt her cool fingers brush his lips he was back within himself, tumbling into his unexpecting dancing partner and toppling three other pairs in the process. He immediately got himself extracted from the operation and was back in the tower the following afternoon.
“I felt…something. I…I wanted to be close.”
His father nodded in that sagely manner of his.
“Do your…friends have anything to say about the situation?”
That gave Alexander his second start – the normal chatter of the spirits that haunted him had been silent for hours. He looked around to find only the shade of Delayne Muerdetta in the room, sitting in a shadow in the corner, her knees at her chin, sobbing quietly.
“They’ve been pretty quiet today,” he said in answer to the query, “I’m not sure why.”
“Well,” his father said, straightening up and tugging at his sash to insure its military perfection, “regardless of the circumstances, it’s good to have you home for a while. I’ll have Saben clear your schedule, I want those eyes of yours standing post around here for a change.”
The General turned and strode away down the hall.
“We’re all going to die,” muttered Muerdetta from the corner, “she’s coming and we’ll have no way to stop her this time.” The shade stood and drifted over to face Alexander, her ghostly eyes shining with tears and despair. “She’ll come, and this time she’ll kill your father, she’ll kill the rest of Mengst’s line, and then she’ll kill you.”
Alexander met her intense gaze for a time before walking over to the window to gaze out over the jungle.
“I know,” he said, because he always had.