A woman with a boar’s head?
Dementia often occurred in the final stages of Lud Sellum poisoning and Elymas wondered if this was happening to him. He pictured himself in the workroom, counting the ten drops. Had any soaked into his skin? He shook his head. Nothing had sloshed or spilled.
The pool beneath his feet was now a sea of turmoil; the darting minnows had changed to huge monsters with gaping jaws waiting to feed. Of course, it was an hallucination. He knew that, yet he didn’t move from the safety of his throne.
Something was happening at the entrance doors again. The woman with the boar’s head was gone, but in her place was a form of sort, a indigo cloud of smoke, billowing toward him.
Elymas strained forward. Someone was in the smoke. He could make out a figure, the shape of a head. A foot appeared. Rather small, he noted, and dared to look at the floor again.
The shadows were merely shadows. He sat back in his throne, tapping his fingers against the wood. He would get to the bottom of this and when he did . . .
A giant gar leapt from the floor and snapped a half-inch from his nose. Teeth protruded from its long-jawed mouth, knife sharp.
Elymas screamed, a high-pitched sound that echoed in the room, bouncing from the walls again and again. When he uncovered his eyes, the gar was gone, but he could still hear himself screaming.
There was another sound as well.
Laugher. Someone was laughing at him.
The smoke cleared completely and he saw her.
It was only a woman, and a small woman at that. A serving girl come to clean whose gown hung about her like shadows. Her dark hair was loose and hung down about her shoulders.
One moment Elymas was screaming for his life and the next in pure rage at the servant who stood before him.
“You worthless bitch!” he shouted. “I’ll have you flayed for this!”
The girl smiled and stepped closer, reaching out a hand to pet the bobbing head of the gar that rose to meet her. She stroked its long neck and Elymas watched, in horror and fascination, as it settled into the stones of the floor.
Smoke rose and smoke thinned.
Elymas gasped in shock. The woman had changed again.