The Truth Comes Out

Here, we have the new section of “The Stars Say Goodnight”.

**

It took some time for Nicholai to find clothing that he felt was suitable to wear to dinner. However, soon, he was headed out of his chambers wearing a crisp white shirt and tie, with brown trousers and a matching long coat over a waistcoat with stripes in dull, earth tones. He made his way outside and began a tour of the property.

The grounds were modest in size, but they were well managed. He started at the perimeter wall and worked his way inward in a spiral pattern, until he returned to the main house. Once he was satisfied that it was clear, he headed back inside.

He tugged off his jacket and hung it beside the door. Then, he headed towards the washroom. He wanted to make certain that his hands were clean before he joined his host for dinner. He looked up from the sink when he heard the front door open. His brows furrowed and he headed back to the entryway.

The man at the door was so slender that he reminded Nicholai of a walking corpse. His brows furrowed as Lord Andrien greeted the man and welcomed him inside. It was obvious they were acquainted, but it was just as clear that they weren’t friends. Lord Andrien treated the guest with a certain amount of reverence. Whomever he was, he was important.

“My Lord,” Nicholai said, nodding his head politely.

Lord Andrien gave him an easy smile. “Ah, Mikas,” he said, waving him over. “I was wondering where you had gotten off to. Come, there’s someone here that you must meet.”

Nodding, Nicholai stepped closer. “I decided that it would be wise to patrol the grounds, my lord,” he said. “Once I was satisfied that it was secure, I returned.”

“Thank you,” Lord Andrien said. Then, he looked up at his guest. “This is Mikolojus Grigoravicius, although he’s kindly asked me to call him Mikas.”

Nicholai nodded. “Or… Nicholai, since that’s what they called me at my former posting,” he said. Then, he shrugged. “Whichever is easier for you to pronounce.”

“I’m called Rail,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m the Chief of Obrian Intelligence, Master Mikolojus.”

“An honor to meet you, sir,” Nicholai said, taking the hand in a firm grip and shaking it. “Am I to understand that you are my superior, then?”

“Yes,” Chief Rail said.

“Dinner is nearly ready,” Lord Andrien said, waving towards the dining room. “Won’t you join us, Chief Rail?”

Rail nodded and followed them to the dining room. Nicholai trailed behind him, watching carefully. He caught Lord Andrien casting him concerned glances and frowned. Had he done something wrong?

“Mikas smiles more,” Dmitri said, his voice soft. “You’re too tense. Just… relax and try to ask yourself what Mikas would do.”

“I’m not Mikas,” he breathed, before he could catch himself. He flinched when both men stopped to stare at him. Closing his eyes, he breathed a curse. They’d definitely heard him. Now, what was he supposed to say? In a way, he was Mikas. At the same time, he most definitely was not.

“If you’re not Mikas,” Rail asked, “who are you?”

Nicholai heaved a sigh and looked over at them. “Nicholai Grigorovitch,” he said, his voice soft. “It’s sort of hard to explain and… it sounds crazy.”

“How many?” Rail asked, crossing his arms over his chest. When Nicholai stared at him in surprise, he said, “How many do you know of?”

“Six,” he said, his voice faint. He tensed and shook his head. “Does it change anything?”

“He knows what is going on,” Dmitri said, his voice filled with awe. “Maybe he knows how to help Mikas.”

“There’s probably more then,” Rail said, shaking his head. “Minor identities that haven’t matured as much as the ones you know about.”

Nicholai blinked. “You do know what’s going on,” he breathed. For the first time in many years, he felt a tiny glimmer of hope. They’d been managing, so far, but surely life could be better. Then, the man’s words penetrated. “More? Bolze moi,” he said, shaking his head. “I… Mikas is crazy, isn’t he?”

Rail gave him a wan smile. “An associate of mine said once, if you think something is wrong, you aren’t crazy,” he said. He shook his head. “Are any of your personalities dangerous?”

“To Lord Andrien or his lady wife, no,” Nicholai said. He gave Rail a weak smile. “I’m an assassin. Mikas is the security agent. I know how to protect people because I can spot trouble – it takes one to know one. Mikas is different.”

Rail nodded. “Sounds like you make a good team,” Lord Andrien said, smiling warmly. “Has it always been so?”

Nicholai shook his head. “Until a year ago, Mikas didn’t know about the rest of us,” he said. “He thought he was going mad. He’d have black out if one of us took over.”

“What changed?” Rail asked, scowling. “Did you – or he get help?”

“Alexei tried to kill him,” Nicholai said. He grimaced and shook his head. “The only person he’s ever tried to hurt was Mikas. He… tried to hang him, but Anya shot him. Mikas woke up in the hospital.”

“Suicide is common among people with your… disorder,” Rail said, nodding.

Nicholai shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s suicide if one of us kills another,” he said, “but that’s arguing semantics. Anyway, we decided to tell him the truth.” He laughed and shook his head. “Then, he was sure he was going crazy.”

“Why are you… here, rather than Mikas?” Lord Andrien asked. “What caused you to… come out, so to speak?”

“Mikas heard a door slam, it triggered a memory and I came out to… calm him down,” Nicholai said, shrugging. “I guess.” He shrugged. “I don’t really understand how it works. I just know that when he sees blood or goats or gets scared, out I come.”

“Goats?” Lord Andrien said, chuckling.

Nicholai rolled his eyes. Dmitri was already scolding him. Mikas was never going to forgive him. He’d never live it down. It was worse than Dr. Schneider’s fear of butterflies. Really, who was afraid of goats?

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