When the answer came, it was not, as I expected, some aged caretaker or hired domestic servant. It was a girl. A very pretty girl, in fact. A little younger than me, with black curls that framed her face just so. She looked me up and down, and I felt a rush of old, familiar anxiety - something I'd thought I had lost.
"Spare me," the voice said, and at once a bitter coldness pushed my feeling aside. I looked the girl in the eyes.
"Whose house is this?" I demanded. "I have traveled long and far, and I would speak to the master."
In her face, I saw a flicker of .. something. Was it anger? Curiosity? Excitement? Not that it mattered. I was hard as stone. Indifferent.
"This is Master Rohn's house," she said. "My name is Miru Rohn. May I ask where you come from?"
"You may call me Samael," I said, "and I come from -"
I stopped. My throat constricted. I could not get the words to escape my lips. Something was binding me, restraining my will by controlling my body.
"From where?" the girl asked. I strained with all my might, railing against the invisible barrier that kept me silently staring. In my mind I was screaming. Riverbed, Riverbend! I come from Riverbend! Yet the words remained locked away behind my eyes.
"Rage if you must," the voice whispered, "but in this much I can control you. Your strength would be better spent elsewhere."
"It does not matter where I come from," I said slowly. "I have left it behind me for good. Now I am here to ask for hospitality."
"Let me take you to my father." There was that spark again - the creeping edge of a smile. "He will know what to do."