Alexander Thomas sat alone in a darkened room, sighing heavily as he went over the paperwork in front of him for what felt like the hundredth time. Madame Walker would not return to the Logarius estate for several days, and yet it seemed like his duties as her assistant had increased tenfold during her absence. Even more than usual, a number of suspicious characters had inquired after the Madame this week. On the tail of the last visitor, an interior alarm had been tripped; some intruder was after the records kept in the third storeroom, but escaped without leaving a trace. Alexander frowned. The Madame would not be pleased upon her return.
Footsteps approached from the direction of the west wing. Alexander glanced at his timepiece and went back to the work in front of him. It was well past an appropriate hour to be any visitor.
“Excuse me,” said an unfamiliar female voice. The stranger down the hall had come to stand in front of him.
“If you’re seeking Madame Walker, she is not here,” he stated flatly, without looking up from his desk. “And it is quite late to be…” he trailed off, suddenly shivering. Had he left the window open?
“That won’t be necessary,” the woman said quietly. “I’ll have everything I need right here.”
The room grew uncomfortably cold at an alarming rate. Alexander felt a freezing touch creeping up his spine. This was no nighttime draft. Try as he might, the clerk could not lift his limbs or his gaze to see the woman in front of him. An icy hand under his chin spared him the struggle, revealing a crown of seashells atop a watery mane. This was not a mortal woman, no; her eyes were cold as she looked down her nose at him, leaving his skin frostbitten wherever she drew her fingers.
“Who are you?” he managed to stutter, his voice hoarse.
“Insects have no business addressing a Queen.”
Alexander felt his pulse slow to a stop as his veins fractured and burst within him. With her hand on his throat, dark energy radiating from her, he could not even find the voice to scream. He felt his skin tear apart before his vision froze for good upon the faery before him.