Chapter Three: A Strange Reconnaissance

     I have been having strange dreams again.  Sometimes, it seems I swallow green sea-water, the seaweed in my hair.  Sometimes I dream of music, and of a most beautiful angel, all in white.  At other times I dream of a droning sound, strange music, that penetrates my senses, and a blue knight.  I hardly know what this all means, yet the dreams recur, night after night.
     Today of all days, a few days before my departure for Esradis, I read in the Gazette that there is to be a pianoforte concerto in the city. It has been so long since I have been to the city, and so long since I have heard the sound of the pianoforte, the harpsichord, for I dare not play myself, lest it wake the spirits, her spirit, from its slumber.
     And I have seen her too, Lynoria, in the grand mirror, a reflection of her at the old spinet . . . whether in my nightmares or by candlelight, I do not remember, but I am afraid to sit at the spinet now, even as this great house falls into ruins and could crush me beneath its weight, still, I fear the dead.  I fear their intensity of purpose . . .
     So today, I will go. Arrayed in deep lilac chiffon; hair perfumed with honeysuckle; a locket of amber around my neck.   long to see the world, if at least for once in the gloomy midst of my younger years.
     The coach is fast.  It arrives well before its time.  The coachman heralds me in . . . a strange expression on his face . . . I wonder, do the people talk of me now, this forlorn daughter of the d’Ravnosil?  I banish any inquiring gazes, look outside my window . . .
     Dappled greys and blue-black roans take us to the hall. The whip brought faster, the reins loosen now. Like the horses, I feel a sense of urgent freedom, but am still bridled . . . I feel an unknown fear, then a tinge of joy.  Perhaps it is not as bad as it seems, perhaps I will survive this after all.  I fan myself.  Giant willows droop to meet me like fine gentlemen.
     I enter.
     Not a sound . . .
     Crowds and crowds of fancy people, so busy I am not even noticed.  I enjoy this anonymity.  Rushing through, I find my place at a comfortable distance.  No one even notices that I am alone, it is as if I do not even exist.  In my private box, I pull out the pamphlet; inspect it.  The list begins with several Sonatas by Dauphine, a dark Sonata simple known as “The Melancholy”; following this, a sprinkling of art songs by Kaulrottingen and Flamensci; such works of grandeur, none finer to be found on any coast, either in New Esradis or her predecessor.
     As the music began, I felt myself drift — the sounds spoke directly to my soul in fits of sadness, rage, indignity, retreat; softly pattering like rain with a sprinkling of beauty and sadness. The sonata was my favourite. It seemed to speak of the infinite and the wild, the forlorn; a great weight lifted as the final passage resounded — it was as unfettered and uncaring as I was now, loosened of life’s trifles, perfectly eloquent.
     The lieder that followed, though pretty, were mere little jewels to fit in an ear compared to the masterpiece of The Melancholy . . . and I had an ear that understood . . . His music, Renaulte Dauphine’s music, spoke of black birch woods and doves now, the final crescendo of the summer morning, with flowers in a forest; then depressive winter, frozen fields, a lonely hawk; and a boat, traveling down the blue river, a bride weeping there . . . a bride in white . . .As I listened, I saw something, in the mirror.  I turned all of a sudden and a flash of white, a woman, her veil being lifted.  This the mirror revealed.  Who was it?  Her deep breathing seemed only too real.  I looked away now and next I knew, she was gone.
     By now the concert was over, yet I had not even noticed when or where . . . I lost track somehow; I felt a bit unsteady, and the flash of white of the bride’s veil still in my vision.  I walked carefully; the crowds now converged, and I panicked . . . this way or that?  I could not fathom.  I steadied myself on a railing.  Down below, down below I thought I saw someone look up at me.  I made my way there, my gloves against the marble balustrade, feeling faint now.
     Down, down . . . I steadied myself again, felt a strange deja vu . . . the words of the mystic reverberating . . . “like the Angelus . . .”
     Yes, and so it was.  The Angelus.
     What I felt was absolutely chilling, like the ice of an underground dungeon, it froze my blood cold.
     There, in black, there, with eyes like the Angelus, just as was foretold, I though it could not be, that he could not still live.  No!
     Had he seen me then? Had he not recognised me since then? He did not seem to, but even unconsciously, acknowledged something, an invisible exchange . . . and as I moved with the crowd we were soon parted.
     The entire trip home I thought about this. I thought about Stephane Dauterive, a flood of memories it unentombed.  Tonight, I hoped to have dreams of a better kind, and hoped, again, to find him, for in a few days I would leave for Old Esradis and then all would be lost, forever.

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