“Are you lost?” asked a strange, wiry woman.

Esther huffed. “Not at all,” and she jerked a thumb back in the direction of Arturo’s room. “I came here to check on him.”

The woman stepped forward and waved a hand in front of Esther’s face. She clicked her tongue as Esther jumped back reflexively. “My dear, you are lost.”

A one-sided staring contest ensued, with Esther emerging as the sole participant and loser. “I could have taken your hand off,” she said, as she relaxed her shoulders. “You don’t just wave your hands in a person’s face like that, especially a warrior.”

“I have no doubt it took immeasurable self-control to avoid eviscerating me on the spot,” said the woman, and she bowed deeply. “I am a medium, and I believe,” she paused dramatically, “I am in need of your services.”

“You aren’t really my type.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“Oh, you meant for someone else?”

“Er,” the woman regarded Esther oddly, and then shrugged her shoulders, as though relieving herself of a great burden along with dropping all pretenses. “I’m looking for someone to help me call on the spirit of a young man who died recently of sickness. My power has been,” she stopped for a moment to taste the words, and found them unsavory, “fluctuating, recently. I’m in need of assistance from a woman with considerable personality and power.”

“What do you want me to do, exactly?”

“I just need you to hold my hand–”

“That’s kind of weird,” said Esther, interrupting.

The medium sighed. “Fine, you can stand nearby, it really doesn’t matter. It won’t even take very long. I’m having difficulty concentrating because the Clamor has grown very loud lately.”

“Oh, I know about the Clamor,” said Esther. “Sure, I’ll help.” After a moment, she added, “I’m still not sure what you expect me to do, though. I’m no sorcerer.”

“I need a break from my client, and maybe a little moral support. It’s just so depressing, I needed to get out and walk around. I’ve been trying to reach this boy, and when a body’s willing, but the spirit is hesitant — you know how it is.”

“Not really, no. Well, maybe. Were you trying to channel his spirit?”

The medium nodded. “Then you do know.”

“This might be a strange question to ask, but are you sure the boy’s dead?” asked Esther.

“Gods below!” said the medium. “You remind me of my mentor, rest his soul. ‘Did you check to make sure if he’s dead yet?’ and ‘You can’t channel the spirit of a person who hasn’t died.’ Not that you can’t, I mean. It just takes more work.”

Esther shook her head. “I mean it, though. What if the reason you’re having trouble channeling his spirit is because he isn’t technically dead?”

“What do you mean ‘technically dead?’ They found his shriveled, dessicated — oh.”

Esther nodded, and watched the realization spread across the medium’s face.

“Oh, oh dear. That explains a few things,” she looked at Esther. “But raises other questions.” She clapped her hands together. “Thank you, you’ve been a great deal of help!”

“Don’t you want me to come with you?”

“Nope! I know exactly what to do now, I appreciate all you’ve done!”

The medium turned and walked away swiftly, leaving Esther standing alone in the hall with a bewildered look on her face.