- 4 -

Flames licked the walls; the girl crouched next to her mother's body. Coughing and sobbing,

she looked around for something. Sri knew, as you do in a dream, that the girl was searching

for her brother. The burning room disappeared and a new one materialised in its place. A large

leather armchair stood in the middle of the room, with its back to her. Jules Vireo stood next

to it, as though waiting for orders. He was much more subdued than he had been on the night

Sri saw him with Wraith for the first time. Then a voice spoke. Sri felt the hairs rise on the

back of the back of her neck as she recognised who it was. The snake-voice! It was Wraith!

"You fool! You let the girl escape! Now really Jules, that was quite neglectful of you."

Wraith hissed.

Jules' reply was sharp. "So? I bet that you couldn't have done better. I didn't realise that she would be

able to get out of Vitiateton so fast."

"Of course she got out quickly. It was she on the roof that night. From what we

managed to squeeze out of that fool Gooney, she is an extremely accomplished thief. She

probably stowed away on a ship of some description, no doubt to Hrangtya. I wonder

how much she heard?"

"Why Hrangtya?"

"That's where she came from. Now, thanks to your incompetence, we will have to go

there our selves. We must have her, be it dead of alive."

Sri noticed sweat beading on Jules' forehead. "Are you kidding? I thought you

wanted her alive."

"Not any more, she knows too much as it is. Just bring me her eyes. That is

the only part of her that I truly need for the spell. They should act as powerful lures

to those I wish to destroy."

"Very well."

"Before you leave, please turn my chair around, I wish to look at the stars."

Sri noticed that Jules didn't seem to like this request. His whole body shuddered like a tree in a

windstorm, as he slowly spun the chair around so that it faced the window and Sri. Then she saw the

nightmare sitting in the chair. Wraith was old. So old that he was almost decayed. Wrinkled, leathery,

grey skin covered his skeletal body, hanging off him like ill-fitting clothes, showing stick thin arms and

legs. But the most horrifying thing was the face. Instead of eyes, nose and mouth, there was just a few rips

and tears, black holes in a piece of greasy, ruined, creased linen. And in the hacked out deep pits that

formed the eyes, dark, purple marbles floated with pupils that were paradoxically of the purest white that

was ever seen. Sri shrieked in revulsion.

"Sri! Wake up! It's a dream! Sri!"

Sri moaned, and opened her eyes to see Jori leaning over her narrow bunk, shaking

her shoulder, with Araun just behind him looking concerned.

"Are you alright?" Jori asked, "You were screaming and thrashing around

something terrible just now."

Still shaking, Sri levered herself into a sitting position using the wall as support, and

fearfully told Jori and Araun about her dream.

"Oh now we find out that she has true dreams," Jori grumbled half in awe

and half in exasperation.

Sri was confused, "What? I'm no seer!"

"Either that, or you have a seriously disturbed imagination," commented

Araun, "take your pick."

Sri looked at them with eyes wide with shock.

"Assuming that Sri is a seer, seeing as although the second one is just as

likely with her…" Jori paused to wince as Sri hit him, and cried out in

indignation at this ill-timed joke, "then at least we've been warned that we're

being followed," he pointed out quickly, chastened. "Actually, I think that all

of your magic might have something to do with those eyes of yours."

Sri looked pensive. "I can see why you'd say that… they said that they wanted

them… still…" she paused, then asserted certainly, "I definitely don't want to have

that particular dream ever again." She shuddered again as she remembered that face,

and buried her own in her thin pillow, "If my dream was real, then that, that thing,

that Wraith is real too. I seriously do not want to see him again, ever, ever,

ever, ever, ever again."

Araun and Jori both nodded fervently and both thought privately that they

were awfully glad that they hadn't seen him.

Araun broke the unease by asking, "By the way Sri, did you know that your

eyes glow in the dark?"

"They do what!?"

Jori supported his brother's statement by saying, "You know, I noticed that

down in the tunnels you never needed a torch. I think those flame eyes are

both a blessing and a curse."

Sri didn't have to ask him why.