She pressed her fingertips to the coolness of the grand, sweeping wall of glass, still marveling at the sensation and wondering idly if there would come a time her amazement ever ended. She understood, intellectually at least, that the humans all about her did not feel everything anew with every least sensation. She learned the human mind must, by necessity, filter their environment, that they could not marvel at the glint of sunlight in a child’s wide eye while simultaneously catching him mid-fall from a high stair. She was told humans learned, after the first touch, how cool and hard glass would be beneath their fingers, and were not moved by the touch thereafter. But she was moved. She always was. And she hadn’t the least idea that the strange heaviness in her chest was the first inkling of sympathy for the fragile, sensory-starved human race. Pale grey eyes swept the small universe in miniature spread out below her, where the lights of New Glasgow twinkled like a tiny, earthbound galaxy following the seemingly celestial flow of the remains of the River Clyde. The griminess, the ugliness of the more modern lines and neon and clapboard constructions shoved haphazardly into this ancient city, millennia old even before Flare Fall, disappeared entirely. The night sky blanketed the dingy streets and the squalid buildings jutting from so many once venerable neighborhoods like tumors, and if she squinted her eyes, all that was left were stars: the red giants and the white dwarfs, the yellow suns and even the occasional back hole on this earthly plane. And no one would ever know her inordinate and entirely innocent pride at having created that analogy, all on her very own. "Come away from the window Imogen." Alisdair’s voice called to her from the darkness, where she heard him moving from the tangle of his bed sheets. “You know I do not share.” There was laughter and steel in that voice, and Imogen obeyed as she always. Her flawless skin silver-lit and luminous in the cold moonlight, Imogen padded softly across the chilly and ancient wood floors, shivering deliciously as the sensation traveled up the soles of her bare feet. Certainly she could have explained to the man holding out the long, pale blue silk robe for her, there was simply no way for anyone outside the high tower of the reconstructed Inveraray Castle to see her. She might have explained the physics of the matter, and how the optics of the human eye – even aided with binoculars - would certainly fail to penetrate the glass to perceive anything at all but, at best, a reflection and nothing of the body behind the glass. Imogen had even tried once, but Alisdair had only become annoyed with her. And so she slipped into the robe, allowing him to pull the lengths of her dark auburn hair from the collar as he liked, covering her as tenderly as one might a beloved child. He cradled his face in her hands, bending to kiss her forehead as she wrapped her arms about his still-muscular waist, laying her head against his chest just as she knew he liked. “Would you like me to draw a bath?” she asked, savoring the warmth of his skin on her cheek, the prickly feel of his chest hairs on her ear, the muffled thud of his heart. “Yes Imogen.” Alisdair smiled, and let her go to start drawing a warm bath in the cavernous, marble-lined bathroom off his bedroom. His Grace Alisdair Cavanaugh, the Duke of Argyll: before Flare Fall those titles meant a whole other world, a whole other time that no oneliving had ever known. For the people of New Glasgow and what was left of the United Kingdom and western Europe, this new generation of self-professed nobility had come to stand for forces far darker and more powerful than any of the ancient noblemen could have ever dreamed. Yet Imogen remained blithely unaware of the nature of the man who possessed her, and thought not a wit on the halls of power and all the unspeakable evil men would do to keep that power. No, for the moment, Imogen was focused entirely on pleasing Alisdair before broaching the subject of all she truly wished this night. Downstairs in the grand library, there hung a painting – and such a painting! Tiny, meticulously precise strokes of color occupied every inch of the canvas, a whirling wind of a night sky, the purples and yellows in the most magnificent profusion as they danced among the stars and the wheat fields. It was magnificent, dizzying to her eyes and she had spent untold hours before that painting, willing it to tell her its secrets. Imogen knew the man who painted this suffered horribly in his lifetime, a suffering of the mind so agonizing he could not bear another moment more, and finally took his own life. And yet… And yet, he created this painting. This painting that was so… Alive! She could not comprehend how this could be, but Imogen felt sure if she were simply patient, she would eventually understand the impossible juxtaposition, this perfectly human paradox, the ability to teeter between bliss and agony, life and oblivion. Fortunately, patience was a commodity Imogen possessed in endless bounty – she would work out this secret, one day, she felt sure. And so for the moment, all she had to do was please Alisdair and beg a few hours from his side tonight. Thankfully, pleasing Alisdair was not difficult in the least. Not when he seemed to bask in her very existence, delighting in her willingness to happily attend to his every wish. Yes, he could afford to be magnanimous with his sweetest of pets.