Lysande closed her eyes, and a little later, the two women woke in the castle’s entrance hall. Melissa felt the cold tiles on her bare legs and Lysande’s warm hand in hers. Relieved, she got up. She calmed the servant who leant against the banisters with an ashen face and waved the guards aside who advanced cautiously and with drawn swords toward Lysande. Then she picked up the coat the prince had given her, helped the crying witch to get back on her feet and pulled her along toward the stairs.
“I was promised warm clothing. Meanwhile, you can explain to me where we have just been, what it means and what the guy on the beach has to do with the devastation.”
“But my brother banned me. I have to leave the castle.”
“I can certainly change his mind. After all, I finally brought his son home. Come along.” She linked arms with Lysande and led her into the room the servant showed her. It was small but bright and very comfortably furnished. A warm fire flickered in the fireplace, and an old-fashioned, steaming bathtub stood in front of it on the wooden floorboards. She sat Lysande into the armchair beside the window, hung her coat on a hook behind the door and slipped out of her worn beach dress. With a happy sigh, she climbed into the bath. “Marvellous! I have the feeling I hadn’t bathed a whole century. By the way, I’m Melissa.”
“Like I know your name?”
Lysande nodded. “Something unusual has happened in the vision. I cannot explain it. It certainly isn’t normal to hear the thoughts of another person in a vision.”
Melissa had to make an effort to understand Lysande, who spoke softly. “Did you have visions before?,” she asked.
Lysande stared out of the window. Hesitantly, she talked about the visions that befell her regularly for many years. When she tried to describe the coldness and the hate of the Black Shadow, she stalled. Words failed her.
Melissa understood her nonetheless; she had felt both when Djarret had entered the beach.
“Can’t we do anything? After all, there weren’t hardly more than fifty people.” She fished for the towel that had fallen on the ground.
Lysande did not notice. She took a deep breath. “I have had many visions, and most came true. Only with a few, I managed to avert disaster.”
“What good are the visions if you can’t change what you see?”
“I don’t know but I am afraid. Terribly afraid!”
“There must be something, we can do.” Melissa rubbed herself dry forcefully. “Generally, you did have the right ideas. How annoying that you mistook me for him.”
Lysande buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
Melissa put her hand on her shoulder. “Chin up. The black guys aren’t here yet, therefore we still have options.
“It’s no use. My brother won’t use his army.” Lysande was a sorry sight. She hung in the armchair as if her life had come to an end already.
Melissa wanted to shake her until she realized that she had behaved just like this after the car accident. I must have been disgusting. She slipped into a white woolen dress that lay on the bed for her. Poor Aunt Freya. No wonder she was always irritated. She shoved the memory of the accident aside and said, “I won’t give up so easily.”
“We are helpless without the royal army,” Lysande said.
It knocked, and a servant entered. He bowed politely. “His majesty, King Gregor, and crown Prince Victor expect you in the dining hall, Milady.”
Melissa nodded. “One moment. I want to take something along.” She put her hand in the pocket of her old dress and took the handkerchief from her great-grandmother out. Something bumped on the floorboards and rolled a little way. It stopped in front of Lysande’s feet. Wide eyed, the witch stared at the yellow-brown stone.
“Oh, my stone. I completely forgot about it.” Melissa stooped.
“Your stone? Korosadja is your stone?” Lysande jumped up and grabbed Melissa’s wrist.
“It has a name?” Melissa shrugged and jerked her arm from Lysande’s grip.
“Don’t you know what this is? This is Korosadja! For many years, Ceres, Lord of the Dark Warriors, has been searching for this stone.”