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The Writing on the Wall CH30With the spider gone, and the Hollow Man standing before me, I could see the difference between the two. The spider had been like a pet, almost. It had held parts of me in it. What the general had said shuddered through me, even as I backed away, scooting on my rear into a corner between two humming machines.
The Hollow Man did not harbour gratitude as the spider might have. Where the spider had hoped, and had some sort of... at least an illusion of fellow feeling, Hollow Man had nothing. His name had been given by an astute person.
Howling in a dry, cracked voice like icy smoke eking out of a frozen pipe, he advanced upon me. Each step appeared to pain him, but it was an act. I couldn't read his intentions anymore, nor did I have any feeling inside that even connected me to him, but this Hollow Man was not a creature struggling to survive. He was a thing with prey in sight and within reach.
The Writing on the Wall CH29Heading out into that hallway again, without the cloak of borrowed darkness, was like walking naked into a rosebush. Fortunately, I wasn't in the lead. Kosmo took point, so to speak, and I had to deal with sharing a sort of place in line with Chrysander. He had latched onto me again, in a way that I was almost becoming accustomed to. Demetrius was last, taking up the rear with a sullen, but dutiful air.
They were all so much like soldiers that I found myself thinking of the general. The spider skittered about as if thinking about the man was like bringing up his name in front of an enemy. It felt so loud that I actually held a hand over my chest, in case someone heard the scratching of hairy legs on glass.
My chest tightened, but no one came running to inspect the sound. Perhaps only I could hear it.
Chrysander looked about, then turned to Kosmo, who pointed down the hall. It lead in two directions.
The Writing on the Wall CH28What was not complicated, however, was knowing what I had to do. It was not going to be easy to accomplish, but I didn't have any trouble deciding what it was. In the vaguest form, anyway.
I pushed myself off of the table and brushed myself off, affecting far more composure and dignity than I actually felt. "Thank you," I said, unsure of what else I could say to Kosmo. He had known my father. I barely knew my father, but it sounded right, the way Kosmo had complained about him. Or maybe it didn't and he was just concocting some wicked ruse.
At that moment in time, hardly seemed to matter. He did not appear to hear me in any case. He was still pacing, his hands in his hair. With his seemingly natural suavity so near to being utterly gone, he actually looked shorter. Older. "This is not at all how I would have liked this day to go," he mumbled.
"How did you want it to
The Writing on the Wall CH27The woman flapped out the collar of her white coat, as if coming so close to me gave her chills. "Very well. I was to inform you of such things in any case, Miss Idony." The way she pronounced my name made it sound like a curse. She turned, made a motion to Kosmo, and then turned back.
There was a crack of paper and suddenly I was no longer holding it. My bluff would not have gone well, it seemed. I pretended that whatever it was he had done, it was beneath my notice.
"As you can see, we have been working on a rather ambitious project," the woman said. She brushed past me, her collar still turned up, and I could see a name tag bearing the label of 'Miss Saccourt' pinned to her coat. "It has produced extensive results, but not terribly impressive ones."
"I don't see any results at all," Noni said, obviously trying to sneer at the tubes. Instead she just looked apprehensive. Mayb
The Writing on the Wall CH26Call me sheltered, and I would hardly argue, but I knew a city when I saw one. "We're in the middle of the countryside!"
Chrysander, his mind still no doubt standing by the bloody linden tree, twisted to press his face against the window. He muttered a half-finished oath under his breath. "We are. I-I think."
"That can't be right." General Thornbehr leaned against the dashboard, squinting at the windscreen. That particular view was one with a city, albeit a blurred one. I could even make out the castle. "Don't be foolish."
"I'm not, look out the side windows."
"You're acting strange, even for you," Demetrius said, leaning against his own window.
"Maybe so, but--listen, try your dispel magic." It was rather a desperate thing to say. Even with as little as I knew about, I felt, anything.
"More foolishness," the general grumbled, as if to agree with my thoughts. "Dispel
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