“I said get out, Seidux.”
“If you should require anything—”
Quaisoir got up suddenly and pitched herself through the veils in Seidux’s direction. The suddenness of this assault took Jude by surprise, as it did its target. Though Quaisoir was a head shorter than her captor, she had no fear of him. She slapped the cigarette from his lips.
“I don’t want you watching me,” she said. “Get out. Hear me? Or shall I scream rape?”
She began to tear at her already ragged clothes, exposing her breasts. Seidux retreated in confusion, averting his eyes.
“As you wish!” he said, heading out of the chamber. “As you wish!”
Quaisoir slammed the door on him and turned her attention back to the haunted room.
“Where are you, spirit?” she said, moving back through the veils. “Gone? No, not gone.” She turned to Concupiscentia. “Do you feel its presence?” The creature seemed too frightened to speak. “I feel nothing,” Quaisoir said, now standing still amid the shifting veils. “Damn Seidux! The spirit’s been driven out!”
Without the means to contradict this, all Jude could do was wait beside the bed and hope that the effect of Seidux’s interruption—which had seemingly blinded them to her presence—would wear off now that he’d been exiled from the chamber. She remembered as she waited how Clara had talked about men’s power to destroy. Had she just witnessed an example of that, Seidux’s mere presence enough to poison the contact between a dreaming spirit and a waking one? If so, he’d done it all unknowing: innocent of his power, but no more forgivable for that. How many times in any day did he and the rest of his kind—hadn’t Clara said they were another species?—spoil and mutilate in their unwitting way, Jude wondered, preventing the union of subtler natures?
Quaisoir sank back down on the bed, giving Jude time to ponder the mystery her face represented. She hadn’t doubted from the moment she’d entered this chamber that she was traveling here much as she’d first traveled to the tower, using the freedom of a dream state to move invisibly through the real world. That she no longer needed the blue eye to facilitate such movement was a puzzle for another time. What concerned her now was to find out how this woman came to have her face. Was this Dominion somehow a mirror of the world she’d left? And if not—if she was the only woman in the Fifth to have a perfect twin—what did that echo signify?
The wind was beginning to abate, and Quaisoir dispatched her servant to the window to remove the shutters. There was still a red dust hanging in the atmosphere, but, moving to the sill beside the creature, Jude was presented with a vista that, had she possessed breath in this state, would have taken it away. They were perched high above the city, in one of the towers she’d briefly glimpsed as she’d gone around the Peccable house with Hoi-Polloi, bolting and shuttering. It was not simply Yzordderrex that lay before her, but signs of the city’s undoing. Fires were raging in a dozen places beyond the palace walls, and within those walls the Autarch’s troops were mustering in the courtyards. Turning her dream gaze back towards Quaisoir, Jude saw for the first time the sumptuousness of the chamber in which she’d found the woman. The walls were tapestries, and there was no stick of furniture that did not compete in its gilding, If this was a prison, then it was fit for royalty.
Quaisoir now came to the window and looked out at the panorama of fires.
“I have to find Him,” she said. “He sent an angel to bring me to Him, and Seidux drove the angel out. So I’ll have to go to Him myself. Tonight. . .”
Jude listened, but distractedly, her mind more occupied by the opulence of the chamber and what it revealed about her twin. It seemed she shared a face with a woman of some significance, a possessor of power, now dispossessed, and planning to break the bonds set upon her. Romance seemed to be her reason. There was a man in the city below with whom she desperately wanted to be reunited, a lover who sent angels to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. What kind of man? she wondered. A Maestro, perhaps, a wielder of magic?