The Writing on the Wall CH6If anyone had laughed at me then, I would have lashed out and hit him or her, even if Demetrius had tried to stop me. I spun to face him, hands balled into fists. "How long have they been here?!"
He raised his hands in casual surrender, his ruddy face innocent and maddening. "I haven't a clue. If they had come before my father sent me for you, I would have sent you home with them. I promise you that."
I believed him too, blast me. It was all I could do not to weep openly. It was more than I could do not to run for the wide open double doors and tear out past them as fast as I had ever run in my life.
Outside, it was raining. I'd been out in the rain plenty of times before, being restricted to the university had never meant that I couldn't go out, only that I never leave the grounds. But before it had always been the tame spring rain that had ambled steadily to the city. This wa
The Writing on the Wall CH5It took a remarkably short time to get to the grandmaster's study. With Demetrius leading the way, it seemed almost a straight jump from one hallway to another. Either Noni had been leading me around in circles waiting for me to explain myself and my 'guest' status, or she didn't know her way around half so well as she knew how to appear as though she did.
I had to admit, thinking that it must be the latter gave me a little thrill of humour that I dared not speak aloud. After her tantrum in the garden, I was still a bit wary of her.
Inside the study, though, she fell into a demure lady's silence, her hands clasped delicately in front of her. The walking stick was cradled in the crook of her arm. Even her hair seemed to darken a bit, to a light red colour that made the pink seem like it had been an earlier trick of the light.
Apparently even his son's fiancee held Grandmaster Trevino in some awe. It was worth noting.
The Writing on the Wall CH4By conditioning and a small stroke of luck, I managed to sleep through dinner. Mostly due to the fact that I was almost literally run off my feet, but it helped that I had exhausted myself trying to find some kind of writing utensil. I'd lost my chalk in the forest, or private park, whatever it was. Chalk was, of course, the best tool for sigil writing. It worked on most surfaces and lasted longer than a pen.
There wasn't so much as an old dusty quill and a scrap of someone's old grocery list. Even the vanity had yielded nothing. An hour after Demetrius had left me to my own devices, and I had searched the whole room over, I would have gladly settled for lipstick and the mirror. But to no avail. The vanity was empty of even the most basic feminine product.
Under other circumstances, I would not have complained. I didn't know foundation from eyeliner. Except what I had learned f
The Writing on the Wall CH3"What did you say your name was?"
Of course, I hadn't said my name, but I wouldn't have been surprised to find the butler had. This was the sort of place where one was 'announced', after all. I bobbed another curtsey, a real one this time. "Athena Idony," I said, my voice once again rising treacherously high in pitch.
Grandmaster Trevino continued staring me down a moment longer, then turned on his heel the same way I had seen Demetrius do not so long ago. It was hard not to crack a smile. It helped to remember the position I'd landed in. "I see," was all he said.
It was not enough for me. I folded my arms over my chest, hoping it didn't look too silly with my arms bare and a bit goose-pimply thanks to the lacking parts of the day dress, and frowned deeply. "Do you? I am afraid I do not."
"Are you registered, young miss?"
The truthful answer was no, but it was also the short answer that w
The Writing on the Wall CH2Demetrius gave me a look that would have scorched a salamander. "Why didn't you say something immediately?!" he snapped, a vein in his forehead twitching.
My excuse, though technically a reasonable one, was too embarrassing to divulge, so I decided to just go on lying. Just a little. In for a step, in for a marathon, maybe. "People see things when the Hollow Man comes for them." The best lies have some truth in them, after all. May as well start with that much. "I thought that I was only imagining you."
"For fifteen minutes?"
Was that how long we had been walking? No wonder I was so light-headed. The top of my head might as well have been rubber, I felt like a balloon. "It was the first time I'd ever had such an encounter. All I know about Hollow Man is the stories."
This appeared to placate Demetrius somewhat. Although I had a suspicion that this was not
The Writing on the Wall CH1Three raps at the door. Each of them was like the sharp, staccato footsteps of Old Lady Tessernack, her gnarled cane just outside the sinister rhythm. I held my breath, cheeks bulging, and shut my eyes tight.
Even with my back pressed firmly against the back wall, I couldn't get far enough away. Three more raps. Never more than three, never less. The cement was hard and cold through my back, but I didn't move. Didn't shift. For all I knew, he could smell me, or sense movement through the door.
Then my brain decided to let me know just how little it cared for me by pointing out something. The door was only made of wood.
Fingers trembling, I reached into my pocket for the lump of chalk I kept there. It glowed slightly, somehow catching the light spilling in from the gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. I tried not to let myself measure it, but years of training didn'