“It was Tahl-Mearis!” yelled the General at his wall, which continued to regard him with utter disdain and disinterest, electing instead to hold up the ceiling. The man paced about the room, back and forth, to and fro, talking to himself and his wall. He caught himself thanking Aluviel for sending Swiftwind’s objective insight at the particular moment she did, but then realized that Swiftwind would probably cause enough trouble to make him regret it soon enough, and decided against it.
“If they could blow up a person…then we’d already be dead,” he continued to the smugly silent wall, “but if the person is barely being held together by the Taint…then it’s not impossible…”
“So,” he continued, “let us assume, wall, that Tahl-Mearis came, Alex felt it first, and evacuated the tower just as I was getting the twinge. Alex kills him…with Marinetta’s Dagger or whatever else is at hand and KABOOM!” he slapped his hands together to illustrate his point to himself, “the bastard’s pasted all over the walls. Alex loses some of his things in the struggle, which we find, and takes the ring for safe-keeping, electing to go to ground instead of…no…he’d tell *someone* about it, Alex isn’t that stupid….”
The wall responded with stony silence.
“So…Alex takes the ring and goes to ground…”
The General paled a bit then, and trotted across the room, ripping Ralben’s autopsy report of the body found in the jungle out from under a stack of reports. He flipped through a couple of pages until he found what he was looking for. He paled further. The report noted a tiny incision in the area of the body’s inner ear, but the damage caused by hours in the jungle with the crocs was too great to make any conclusions.
“The corpse had a crystal…” he muttered to himself, “and it had been in there long enough to work its way deep. The body was a brother…but all the men are accounted for…”
The walls, which to this point had been silent and utterly disdainful of being talked to in this manner, seemed to close in about him.
“Alex didn’t go to ground…” he whispered.
The report fell to the floor with a rustle, and the rest was silence.