What Once Was Lost:  Stranger and Stranger

          The day went like any other, although I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something inherently wrong about it all.  Maybe it was the headache I found myself suffering all morning and afternoon.  My head hurt so much that I was tempted to skip my last class and just go home so I could curl up in my bed and die.
          I endured, though, and when I finally stumbled into my room that afternoon, it was to find it dark.  Jude wasn’t there – she usually was.  My head hurt too much for me to think of why she might not be there.  I simply found my way into my bed and passed out.
          Or, at least, I tried to pass out.  Something kept me awake and staring at the ceiling as my head pounded.  My imagination began to run rampant, and I began to see images on the ceiling as I lay there.
          I saw a man that looked like Lance, mounted on a horse.  He drew the string of a bow back to his ear and let an arrow fly toward a soldier who seemed intent on killing someone.
          That someone, I saw, was me.
          It was weird.  I’d never found myself looking down on a scene with Shai of Clellan without being Shai of Clellan.  She looked like me, I noticed, although she was a little leaner, more muscular.  Her hair was long and hung down her back in a thick braid.  She was wearing what appeared to be some sort of leather armor over a red shirt and dark leather pants.  I saw her lips move, but I couldn’t hear any sound.  Blood trickled from a cut across her cheek.
          I closed my eyes for a moment, and suddenly I was there.
          “—appreciate the help, sir archer, but I’d appreciate it more if you’d leave and forget you saw any of this.”
          The man that looked like Lance grinned at me, showing straight, white teeth.  “You are Shai of Clellan, are you not?”
          I was kneeling next to the body of the dead soldier – one of the Dan’ling, I guessed, since that’s what a part of my mind seemed to be telling me.  Slowly I was sinking into who Shai of Clellan was, knowing what she knew and remembering everything she’d seen, said, and done.
          What’s going on with me?
          I looked up toward him.  “What does it matter to you?”
          He dismounted and walked toward me.  I straightened immediately, going for a dagger I realized I didn’t have.  I balled one hand into a fist, ready to punch him and run if needs be.  “Whoa!  Calm down.  You’re more skittish than a frightened colt.  Craig’Ian sent me to find you.”
          For some reason, it felt like a hole opened up inside of me.  I don’t know why – hadn’t I—she—just seen him?  “Why?”
          The man put his hands on my shoulders.  I didn’t make any moves to bolt.  I knew this had to be important.  “He’s in trouble.”
          The next time I opened my eyes, I was staring at the ceiling again, but there was nothing there.  I felt something wet on my cheek.  I reached up and touched the moisture.
          My fingers came away red with blood.


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