The redhead was laying on her hay bed, staring up at the ceiling.
I went to the table and sat down.
Minutes went by. I regretted not thinking to bring a deck of cards down. In my haste to finish my work and start what was supposed to be a quiet night, I’d not taken them from the study.
Paulo had shown me how to play various Santian solitary card games. I particularly enjoyed the game ‘dead man’s run’. Some nights I even bothered with a book… not that we had many to choose from.
Left without my usual distractions, I found myself thinking about Lethia’s words.
I didn’t want to speak to Elmiryn. Just what would I say, anyway?
‘I never liked you, but if you die on my sister, I’ll piss on your grave?’
“Quincy really did think of everything, didn’t she?” Elmiryn muttered suddenly.
I blinked at her in surprise. In all the days we’d spent watching her, no one had ever mentioned her speaking to them. At least, not in a civil manner. The first week especially had been punctuated by violent tantrums that consisted of wild threats and incoherent screaming.
“Um…” I scratched at my cheek and lifted my eyebrows. “I suppose?”
Elmiryn’s head rolled to the side and her craggy eyes fixed on me. Not as bloodshot as a few days ago, but it was a very small improvement. The lantern light had a nasty way of lending a burning edge to her gaze.
“Kali, tell me the truth. You’re all afraid of me, aren’t you?” she asked with an even tone. As if she were only asking what the weather was like, or what I’d eaten for dinner.
I stood up from the table and glared down at her. “You almost killed us all. You tried to take Lethia, too. Of course we’re afraid of you. We’d be stupid not to be.”
Elmiryn lifted her eyebrows. “Is Nyx afraid of me, too?” Her voice gained a touch of breath.
My expression relaxed some. I crossed my arms. “Not like the others. She fears for you.”
“Hmm…” Elmiryn returned her gaze to the ceiling. Her brow now had a small crease.
When it became apparent that she wouldn’t say anything else, I asked, “What were you going to do with Lethia that day?”
Elmiryn didn’t look at me again. Instead she simply lifted her finger and traced a slow indiscernible symbol in the air. “Drink her blood.”
My eyes widened. Was she that insane–?
“Just kidding,” Elmiryn remarked lightly. But she wasn’t smiling. She hadn’t smiled or laughed in days.
The woman sighed and rolled onto her side, away from me. To the opposite wall, she said, “I was going to give her to the upside down voices to shut them up.”
Now my face twisted in confusion. “The what?”
Elmiryn lazily tapped her ear. “The upside down voices. They always start nice, but then, sǝʎǝ ʎɯ uı ɹɐʇɔǝu ǝɹɐɯʇɥƃıu ɹıǝɥʇ ǝɹɐɥs ʎǝɥ⊥”
I recoiled from the unnatural sounds, my hands slapping to my ears as I retreated backward toward the doorway.
Were those even words?! How could she speak like that? Was that even her voice?
No, no, no!
I wouldn’t let her madness infect me anymore than it already had. I had to get away. Back up to the stairway where Elmiryn’s curse couldn’t infect me–
My legs froze. I stared wide-eyed at Elmiryn. She’d gone silent again.
Nyx was at the border of our shared mind, practically on the verge of pushing herself to the fore. But she didn’t. She held herself back, just enough to let her presence bleed powerfully into my fear-stricken senses.
She spoke firmly, and though the pain was present in her voice, I could feel her resolve beating like a massive drum.
Elmiryn is just trying to understand what’s happening to her.
I tried to still my trembling lip. I replied inwardly, Don’t you see her fae nature is gaining strength? She’s searching for her freedom… See how she eyes Quincy’s wards?
Speak to her. Tell her something. Anything.
I grit my teeth.
YOU tell her something! She isn’t interested in what I have to say!
I heard Nyx sigh inside of my head.
Then gently, she said, Let me through.