“Come for a visit?”
Emma turned her back on the figment before her, but he simply reappeared before her. His hollow eyes stared at her, eyes as gray as her own. She’d not come for him, but she’d expected him to make an appearance. Ellis’s words haunted her, and she’d found she couldn’t move on, not without a reminder of just exactly who she was.
The city had faded since she’d last come. The buildings giving way to age and neglect. Even the pillar in the center of the city showed wear. The symbols of warning she’d spent months etching into the stone were near invisible to the eye.
She sank to the edge of the fountain and closed her eyes. If she concentrated, she could see them. See the children as they ran through the square. The mothers as they drew water from the fountain and the fathers arguing with each other at the gates. A couple of lovers leaned against the pillar. The young man said something that made the woman blush and look away, but as she did, she stretched her neck in a way—
“Ah, you’ve been jilted again.”
Emma opened her eyes to the empty and decaying city. The scene in her mind shattering. She knew that if she responded to the figment, it would give him power, but there was no one else who understood. Who could even comprehend living for a dozen lifetimes?
Her eyes flicked back to the pillar. Though, his lifetimes had been lived out differently.
“How about you try something different?” He suggested. “Like… Oh, I don’t know, telling him the truth? But no, you can’t tell anyone that, can you?”
She could feel him as if he was breathing into her ear, even if she knew he was only in her head.
“You can’t tell them you buried your immortal father in a hole and left him to starve.”
Pain lanced behind her eyes.
“For four centuries.”
Emma lashed out at the figment with her magic—the life span of one of those children burning up with its use—once done, the figment was gone. He wouldn’t be able to bother her again for a while. She wrapped her arms around herself. No, Ellis was wrong, very wrong. The world would be better off without her, but if she was gone, there would be no one left to guard people like Ellis from him.