Tired, she wiped make-up and magic from her face. With tears in her eyes and drooping shoulders, she left the room and shuffled down the stairs.
When she reached the entrance hall, she saw the girl with the red hair, accompanied by a servant, walk along the corridor that came from the garden. She looks so harmless. Lysande shook her head doubtfully. It is hard to believe that she is the Black Shadow. If only she hadn’t introduced herself so skillfully to Gregor. Victors rescue was a stroke of genius. I have been duped like a beginner.
She bit her lower lip and clenched her hands. Then, she breathed twice and walked as upright as possible. The girl smiled, but Lysande frowned. Schadenfreude. There has to be something I can do. Something to stop her. When the girl was only a few steps away, Lysande had an idea. Gregor will probably execute me for this, but I must risk it. She extended her hands and flung the pain that she felt during her visions of the Black Shadow at the girl. Blue lightning shot out off her fingertips.
The girl screamed and raised her arms. She spread her fingers, and Lysande’s lightning bounced off the air like arrows bouncing off a knight’s shield.
Lysande gave up. She’s better than me. It’s all over. She felt a new vision reach for her. In her despair, she took a couple of steps, grabbed the girl’s hand and dragged her spirit along into the vision. She noticed with surprise that she still felt the hand of the girl in her vision.
Together, the two floated through a fog. Gently and calming, it invited them to forget. Lysande was horrified. She had never been in the Fog of Forgetting in one of her visions before. She closed her eyes and tried to remember as many things as possible.
Astonished, she noticed that she knew the name of the girl and that she came from a far away world. She had never experienced anything like that. Her throat felt dry and her heart beat faster. The fog became thicker, and Lysande felt it creep toward her. Already, she did not know any more why they floated through the fog. She moved forward in panic.
Somebody held her hand and said, “I don’t like this fog. We should leave.”
Lysande wanted to leave, too. She tried to remember King Gregor’s castle. Light pierced the fog and dissolved it. What the vision showed them next was unpleasantly familiar to Lysande. With the sight of war and destruction, robbery and murder, death and ruin, her memories returned. Pain shot through Lysande’s body. She felt the suffering of every single person. But this time, she did not fling it out of herself with blue lightning but passed it unfiltered onto her companion.
Melissa’s scream echoed through the vision. It startled sated crows and ravens that perched on the trees. Lysande dragged Melissa’s spirit to her brother’s castle. Accusingly, she pointed at the burned ruin and the fresh graves in the embankment. Prince Victor’s helmet and a piece of paper with his name hung on a simple wooden cross.
Melissa stared into the sky, where the clouds reflected the inferno that devoured the villages on earth. “Where are we? What does this mean?”
Amazed, Lysande let go of her hand. Unbelievable. She can talk here! Nobody can talk in a vision.
“Of course, I can talk”, Melissa said. “Why shouldn’t I? And how did I get into a vision?”
Lysande did not answer. She couldn’t believe that Melissa could hear her thoughts. It chilled her to the bone, and the hairs on her arms rose. She is a far superior witch. Lysande trembled. Desperately, she felt for her anger, but she only found it when Melissa asked, “Why do I know who you are, and what you are called?”
“You are responsible for all this”, Lysande pointed at the chaos around them, grateful for the rage that let her overlook Melissa’s superiority.
“How can this destruction be my fault? All I want, it is to return to my own world.”
“Don’t lie. Everything you say is a lie”, Lysande said, but she was no longer as sure as before.
Melissa put her hands to her hips. “Well then, prove it to me. Go ahead, show me how this war is started, how I’m responsible”
“One cannot steer visions.”
“I bet you never tried.”
Lysande’s cheeks burned. The foreign witch was right. She had never tried to steer a vision.