Antoinette Giry stood in the center of her room with her hands on her hips, an immovable pillar in the storm of babbling, terrified girls. She ruled the ballet corps with an iron fist, but some things happen no matter how sensible and disciplined you are.

"That's enough," she said. She didn't have to raise her voice too much. "Morgaine, tell me exactly what happened. Do not embellish. I don't want a single adjective."

Morgaine Roseau, in all likelihood, didn't know what an adjective was. "My three sisters and I had to stay here for Christmas. We were going along the hallway by the prop rooms; we wanted to get up to the catwalks." Her eyes widened. "Then something appeared at the end of the hallway. It looked like a man, but it had claws and only half a man's face! Its eyes glowed with evil!" She waved her arms in the air for effect. "We screamed, and nearly fainted. It turned to face us and snarled, baring its hideous fangs! It growled in its demon language, and we ran for our very lives!" The other ballet girls began to wail.

Antoinette knew that she would never get anywhere with that. Followed by most of the ballet corps, she went into the third room down, which was shared by all the Roseau sisters. Alexandria was the only one there. She was five, and her perceptions were often much more accurate.

"Alexandria, can you tell me what you and your sisters saw over the holiday?"

"Tell her about the ghost we saw!" Morgaine cried.

The girl's brow furrowed. "When we was going to the catwalks?"


"Well… Morgaine told us it was a ghost, but it looked like a man. We surprised him. Then he looked kinda mad and said, 'What are you looking at?' Then we ran."

"Alexandria!" another sister, Victoria. "That wasn't what happened at all!"

"Describe him," Antoinette said, ignoring the other sisters.

Alexandria thought about this. "He was dressed in a real nice suit. He only had half a face. He was pouting."

Antoinette sighed. That was Erik.