Chapter Six I crawled across the floor to the cot in the corner, trying to ignore the things that squelched beneath my fingers or crawled over my hands. The fever seemed worse, wracking my body with cold sweats and shakes. I climbed up onto the cot, groaning with every broken motion, until I lay down. My head span. As I lay there, I tried to take stock of my situation. Not good. Locked in a cell in the most secure prison in the Empire, accused of murder, a new soul rattling around in my head, and the summons from my mistress would probably kill me by the morning. Actually, the more I thought about it, the more that last seemed a silver lining. I drifted for a time, the fever leaving me light headed. Sometime later, it forced me down into scattered dreams. In one, I piloted my X-wing through the Wyrding, pursued by a Fael ship I could not see. In another, two moirae pursued me across the dunes of Tatooine and I knew that they were coming for my soul. In a third, I wandered through the empty corridors of the Three-Eyed Goat, following Tess' disembodied voice. When I came to, I don't know how many hours later, a woman stood at the end of my bed. Lizzy. It had been months since her soul had come out of hiding. Left weak by the fever, I could only lie there and stare at the woman I had loved. The woman I had killed and whose soul I had stolen. Covered in blood, she held her arms out towards me, her mouth moving silently. I moaned and tried to move away, but in my weakened state I could barely even lift a finger. She drew closer to me. I felt a cold draft wrap around my body, giving me chills due as much to her presence as to my fever. She clambered onto the bed, her body moving with erratic, jumpy movement. Slowly, she started to climb up my body. I lifted my head and watched her draw close. Soon, her face hovered above mine. She still wore the same terrified expression on her face as she had the day I killed her. Even up close, I couldn't read her lips enough to decipher what she was saying. Finally, she lifted her fist and made a knocking motion on my forehead. Then she vanished. Moments later, I heard knocking. I lay there, unable to move. The knocking came again. I mumbled for whoever had knocked to go away, I wasn't in any state to have visitors. Besides, the Wookies were still playing sabaac in the corner. Or something to that effect. The knocking came again, louder this time, and followed almost immediately by a cracking sound. I turned my head very, very slowly and saw the metal deck plates a few steps away crumble inwards. Out of the hole appeared a flashlight, followed by an arm, then a shoulder. Moments later, a man's face appeared. He seemed vaguely familiar, with half of his face hidden behind a leather mask, from beneath which grew half a head of dirty blond hair. The man who lived beneath the floor grinned when he saw me. "Welcome back, brother." I opened my mouth to reply, but instead I vomited over the side of the bed. Then I fainted. Again. *** When I woke up, I was sat in a chair. Great waves of pain rolled over me, descending from my head down to my toes and then back up. Over. And over. And over. I started to shiver. I couldn?t move anymore than that. My head rolled back against the cushions. The fire beside me held back the cold from outside, but the cold inside my body left my teeth chattering and my knees trembling. I heard a door open behind me. Moments later, Tess appeared behind the chair opposite. My eyesight wavered, and the mirrormask she wore over her face seemed to ripple like water. Only her eyes were visible, green as a Rodian?s snout, but holding the cold passage of time locked in them like some ancient creature frozen in amber. At that moment, though, they were filled with fear and panic. ?Danil? What is it?? She looked past me at the man who had appeared from below the floor of my cell, and who now towered above my chair. A man I now recognised. Drea. Talon Drea. ?Talon? You didn?t tell me it was this bad.?