The last oil lamp in the corridor flared up high and then lurched off its bracket and through an oil painting on the opposite wall, just as First Ilesias swung the bucket he’d seized up and doused the sudden flames. “Guard! Out!” he bellowed and picked up another bucket, flinging it down the hall as if at someone standing in the darkened end. “You Mahid! You’re dead and I am senior here! First Amitzas Mahid is Senior. I am Senior of the Guard. There is a Gods Blessed Imperator on the Crystal throne!”
The cold and dark grew deeper and the wind blew steadily enough to make Ilesias’s hair and sleeves billow out behind him. The water puddle on the floor crackled and froze around what appeared to be a hole in the floor and a voice crawled out of the dark, a voice full of acid and pain.
“Journeyman. You botched my classes three times. We considered culling you. Poet," the voice sneered vitriol on the word. "Failed line. Your father hung himself in the stairwell behind you...” A whisp of smoke wafted out of the frozen hole and a bent, shattered arm and hand groped up out of the ice, feeling all the edges, nails grating against the stone.
“The Ten have dominion here. You are consigned to judgment! GO!” Ilesias hurled the bucket through the misty arm and it bounced, clattering to a spinning stop in the broken glass without disrupting the coiling thing in the slightest.
“Traitor.” The hand gripped and a torso dragged itself up out of the hole, headless, half crushed, trailing another dismembered arm that began crawling in the glass, groping for things, throwing pieces as it gripped larger shards, trailing blood like smoke and grating raw ends of cut bone against the marble. “Fool. Mis-sworn.”
The broken body hitched itself free of the ice and the hands scrambled back to come up holding a severed head between them, rolled it over so it trailed blond hair behind it, into the light and the eyes blinked open, glowing a baleful, sickly blue. “I. AM. MAHID.”
“Fourth Matthas... run upstairs and fetch the Imperator, immediately. I don’t care if he’s in the garderobe.” Melifee thrust a salt cellar into his hand and he drew a line before him on the stone with it and the wind and cold seemed to slam into a wall.
“I’ll fetch the Fenjitzas,” Jorasa called and the thunder of her boots faded.
“I know you.” Ilesias snapped, staring into the uncanny eyes of the ghost. “Second Amitzas Mahid, YOU are condemned and executed. You are NOT Mahid, by will of the Gods. You will go to your judgment by my authority as Senior Mahid, and by my will. YOU are the bad line, the bad seed. BEGONE!”