Snake and Merrow
Invisibility was a singular sensation. It took Seymour a while to accustom himself to walking without a visual reference of where he was putting his feet. The stairs proved to be particularly challenging, and he almost fell down them on two separate occasions. The skirts didn’t help.
On the bright side, it took so much concentration that he nearly forgot his withdrawal symptoms. This evidence suggested, as he would later conclude, that his dependence was more psychological than physiological. More, but not entirely.
It took him longer than he had expected to work his way downhill through the streets of Waelyngar and to the base of the cliff, but not by much. He’d made good time, considering the difficulty of navigating crowded streets invisibly without bumping into anyone. There had been a few close calls, though.
It wasn’t until he had reached the bottom of the bluff and stood facing the gaping, mouth-like prison entrance that the full gravity of what he was doing struck him. It drove the breath from his lungs and brought him—quite literally—to his knees.
You cannot do this. Might as well turn back, what?
He looked up abruptly, expecting to see someone there, whoever it had been that had spoken. Then he realized that the speaker had been in his own head.
But it hadn’t been the nagging little voice that normally resided in the back of his mind; this had been an unfamiliar voice, old and reedy and upper class.
This would just be a grand time to go mad, he thought to himself, in his own voice. Fucking swell.
Go home, the other voice suggested.
Seymour de Winter did not like to be told what to do.
“I don’t know what you are,” he muttered between his teeth, “and I don’t care. But I’d appreciate it if you would be so kind as to get out of my fucking head.”
Go home, mermaid. As soon as you pass through those gates, you’ll be visible again. They’ll see you, and they’ll kill you.
The voice had a point. But it had called him a mermaid.
And if they don’t kill you, it went on, then I will, fairy boy. I shall make a perfect world, and your kind will not be welcome.
“How original of you,” Seymour remarked under his breath. “And in order to create your perfect world, you’re going to end time. That ought to work out well.”
No, it replied, as if explaining a simple concept to a toddler. I shan’t end time, merely turn it back a tad, set it on a different path.
Seymour scowled and got to his feet, watching a prisoner-transport wagon come trundling down the road. It would roll right past him in a few seconds as it made its way to the gates. “I’m sorry to be a killjoy, but I’m pretty certain things don’t work that way.”
And what do you know of such matters, little mortal?
He snorted derisively. “Have fun with that.”
What, exactly, do you mean by that?
Seymour ignored the voice. He was too busy scrambling under the passing wagon, narrowly avoiding death-by-wheel. He reached up and grabbed the post that ran along the wagon’s underside, connecting the axels, and pulled himself up onto it, hugging it like a bear cub clinging to a limb.
The Parasite pestered him no longer.