The disarray would normally have bothered him, yet now it did not. His thoughts simply drifted away.
A cool breeze blew in through the window, and Galen shivered. He was always cold now. Outside, the mak, the plain of moss-covered rock on which he lived, was shrouded in thick mist. It was as if he lived within a formless limbo where neither light nor darkness could find definition. They could only mix in shades of grey.
On the floor below the window he saw a square shape. He went to it. He bent, picked it up. He opened the cover, flipped through the pages, the recognition delayed a few seconds. Mirm, the Extremely Mottled Swug. It was Fa's book. She had not come to his house in a long time. He had frightened her away. The book must have lain there since... before.
If he had found it earlier, he could have given it to Elric to return. Now. Here it was. He squeezed it tightly, forcing the memories to remain within. It was her favorite book. If he left it behind, it would be destroyed with the house. He must return it.
He had not treated her well. He had never treated her well. She had given him friendship and kindness. He had given her arrogance and impatience. And lately, not even that. He owed her something. He owed her, at least, a good-bye. The picture formed in his head: a smiling, black-robed figure wrapping Fa in a warm embrace, speaking words of love and reassurance, exchanging sleights of hand one more time.
But the figure in the black robe was not he. What he owed her he could not give. He could not find the words, could not perform the actions. He looked down at the book clenched in his hands. He would return it to her through a messenger.
He left his home of stacked stones behind and passed into the mist. He felt like a ghost, lacking in substance