The screams had ceased abruptly, but not before the mages had located their source, a small broom cupboard set some ways back from the main corridor. The door was locked, and they pounded upon it, shouting the names of those that they knew to be on the other side, hoping that someone would come to the door so that they wouldn’t have to unlock it themselves. If they had to…well, that wouldn’t be a hopeful prognosis for the twins’ condition.
No one answered their shouts. No one opened the door.
“Well,” sighed Alasdair, putting a hand on the knob. “There’s no other way to it, then.”
The locking charm that guarded the door, undoubtedly placed upon it by Henry, was a simple one, and Alasdair waved it aside with little trouble. But still he hesitated before pushing open the door, shooting a long, worried glance over his shoulder at his wife.
“Just open it, Alasd’thair. Get it over vith.”
He started to open it, then stopped and looked backwards again. “Mia, there may be something dangerous in there. Would you—?”
“You von’t tell me to go and to hide somevhere safe, Alasd’thair,” she interrupted, her face set in determination.
“No,” he responded. “That wasn’t what I was going to say. I meant to ask you if you would…I mean, do you have my back?”
She nodded wordlessly, and Alasdair opened the door and walked cautiously inside.
“Rezyn,” he breathed, coming to such a sudden halt that Mialina nearly ploughed into him. “What horror here transpired?”
She craned her head to see around him, looked, and saw.
For all appearances but for their shallow breathing, the Edmund twins might have been dead. They clung to each other, their faces the color of sour milk and contorted into the same expression of terror, eyes wide open and glassy. Although neither seemed to have any outward injury, trails of thick, dark blood ran from their nostrils, the corners of their mouths, their ears, and even, like crimson tears, from their eyes. Their bodies, sprawled on the floor, each clutching the other’s limbs or clothing with such intensity that their knuckles had gone white and their tendons stood out, seemed to be paralyzed, likely from shock. They had, it seemed, been frightened nearly to death.
Mialina looked up as Alasdair put an arm around her. His swarthy face had paled somewhat and shone slightly with perspiration despite the cold. She glanced away from him and rested the side of own face upon his warm shoulder, feeling the soft touch of his deerskin-trimmed cloak upon her cheek. This, unlike his fearful countenance, she found comforting.
“Vhat d’tho ve d’tho, Alasd’thair?” she asked him. “Vhat d’tho we d’tho?”