September 25, 2014

In Which Severin Hears Another Voice

March 15, 1187

Severin's remaining adult children, he was lucky to say, all lived well within visiting distance of his castle. Rare was the day when he didn't see at least one of them at some point or another, and indeed, Vera and her eldest would occasionally accompany his younger children and Jadin's children back home after school. But most of them kept their visits to daytime hours, and most of them did have their patterns. Tonight was not a night he would have expected Vera.

That usually wasn't the best of signs. "Something wrong?" He'd thought the color, at least, had vanished some time back.

As she broke from his embrace, she nodded. "I saw Sparron."

Sparron. She wouldn't have come if she'd meant that casually. "After the fact?"

"I think so. But before I heard. Before anyone heard, maybe, except those kids and the guards." She shuddered. The death of an heir never failed to shake the populace, but those in the know had found Sparron's demise particularly surreal. All there was to be grateful for, Severin figured, was that he hadn't perished chasing illusions, as Octavius had long feared he would. "He was in my room, but the door was locked. He talked to me, and I thought I was dreaming. But then the next day, Xeta showed up and told us.

"What do you think it means?"

He'd had nothing when she'd asked him that as a child. He'd gained nothing since. "I don't know, Vera."

"Could it have been a coincidence? Just a poorly-timed dream?"

"I suppose so. I hope so." But his gut nagged at the thought. His and Alina's youngest had been born with an inexplicable connection to the world beyond, a connection even she didn't understand. To outright dismiss the possibility of a visit from the dead seemed a little hasty, and far too optimistic. "Has this happened before?"

"Once, maybe." A tear fluttered from her lashes; she caught it on her sleeve, then dropped her arm back to her side. "Just before the color went."

"Who was it?" Did he want to know? Did she want to tell him? "If you remember."

Vera opened her mouth, but the voice that answered was not hers. Nor did it come from her. "It was me."

It was a voice he hadn't heard in years. It was a voice he heard every day.