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Caduceus

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Lake Tirragen was an incredibly boring view, no matter the time of year, Alex thought. Flat, gray, uninspiring, and, unfortunately, all he could see from his tower window.

Footsteps sounded down the hall, firm and deliberate, a tread Alex knew. He turned and stared in vague disbelief as the door to his cell - they were so polite, his jailers, to call them his rooms, he thought - creaked open.

The face in the doorway was not that Alex expected. Reality froze for a moment, then Alex swept a bow. "Welcome to my humble abode, Lord Thom," he said, allowing the wicked smirk to creep across his face. "How may I be of service to you this fine evening?"

"It's morning, you dimwit," Thom said, and the voice was strange but the cadence was strangely familiar.

Alex straightened and stared.

Thom, half a head shorter than him and burned hollow from long illness, leaned against the door jamb and surveyed Alex through half-lidded eyes. He was silent for a long moment.

It was a little-known fact that Tirragens possessed the Sight. It was not much - never much - just a strange glimmer of color at the edge of vision, but it was enough.

Alex, deliberately, turned his head back towards the window.

Thom should have bristled at the snub. Thom would have, not even half a year ago. Instead, Thom merely asked, words the dry curl of a snake in the grass, "What do you see?" Wicked-bright amusement flickered through his voice like the glimmer of a false dawn.

His eyes, dark and cold as winter shadows, never left Alex's face.

Alex tried to work moisture back into his mouth.

"Red," he managed at last.

Thom laughed, a susurration of star-bright scales over rotten earth, stepped inside, and let the door swing shut behind him.