The mice of the Palace are loud, squeaking and scampering beyond the walls of the suite.
The moon gives a deep maroon glow, casting the walls and the floor with faint shadows the shape of tree branches; against the qerbek, the patterns are barely visible. I cross the room, pulling myself onto the empty bed at the center. My body weighs a thousand pounds.
After a moment, I close my eyes and push the world away. The tiny squeals grow louder, and then die down at the sound of a pair of footsteps on the floor, minute mice feet scampering away.
Silence follows. Silence in the room, in the halls, in the Palace.
I turn over, breathing into the stiff pillow. I'm grateful when consciousness starts to fade. Blackness pulls at me, drags me into sleep.
But on the rim of sleep, the edge of peace, I see her.
She's alone. Kneeling in the dark, on a floor the color of ash. Her eyes are wide and gray, her skin waxen.
"Azure?" I whisper, and she looks up.
I step closer to her, reaching to brush the tears off of her cheeks, and then she's screaming.
My eyes snap open and are met with a set of faint red shadows on the wall.
I struggle to pull breath into my lungs, to shut her scream out. I strain to hear something else. The squeaking of the mice or the scrape of door hinges or the murmur of a voice.
But the Palace has gone silent.
I close my eyes again, and she's still there, the girl with the gray eyes that used to be blue.
I don't leave her. I sit by her all night within my dreams, praying for her screams to end.