The front door turned out unbelievably easy to do away with. Meme smirked to herself as she watched its ashes settle down at her feet. So, for the past few years at least, the real prison had been inside her own mind, with no guards save for her memories and night terrors and haunting thoughts tugging her mind in two opposite directions. She stepped across the threshold, almost staggered by the contrast between the dank, decaying atmosphere of the ruined house and the crisp freshness and vibrancy of the great beyond. For a moment, she recollected her old wanders with her father - the flashback pierced her heart like a dagger, and she had half a mind to back away into her prison never to stir out of it again; but this time, her longing to see what was going on in the town proved to be stronger, and, conjuring up a blade just in case, she made the first, slightly faltering steps along the path that led from the House of Krex to the town's outer streets.

The first thing that struck her when she finally reached the first buildings was the emptiness. As far as she could determine, it was midday - but the streets were uncannily deserted, and so quiet that her ears ached. The doors of most houses were ajar, like gaping mouths of dead bodies, with not a breath of life escaping from within. As, bound sword clasped tightly in one hand and a small bluish light flickering in the other - a closed flower bud, ready to unfold at any moment into a Ward - she moved, slowly, cautiously, from the outskirts to what was customarily called the town's main square, the silence grew almost unbearable. It rang inside her mind like the shrill, throbbing note of a torn lute string, much more oppressive than the drowsy silence of the ruined house had ever been. Finally, after a considerable amount of mental struggling, Meme took an encouraging breath of air and strode inside one of the seemingly abandoned dwellings.

It took her all the strength she could muster to wake up her voice that had been lying curled up somewhere between her collar bones all those years, stirring only on those rare occasions when she felt like talking to herself or to one of her memories - which, in her view, was not one and the same thing. The sound that she eventually managed to squeeze out sounded more like a cry of a wounded bird than anything else. She cleared her throat and tried again, this time producing a fairly decent, though scrapingly hoarse, 'Hello! Anyone alive?'.

Her half-strangled call seemed to have alerted something inside the house, for Meme could have sworn that she saw something stir in one of the dark, dusty corners - too dusty, incidentally, to signify anything good. She drew closer, passing her tongue over her lips and resummoning her ghostly blade, - and froze, an invisible icy hand gripping her heart tight in its bony fingers and then letting go again. The shadow that she had almost taken for the house's overly cautious inhabitant, was in reality nothing but her own reflection in a tall cracked mirror, which stood propped up against the wall, adorned with cobwebs like with some bizarre garland. For a while she stood in front of it, transfixed, silent tears of crushed vanity streaming down her face. She had altered almost beyond recognition, reduced to little more than a distorted shade of the carefree little redhead she vaguely remembered herself as. Her body was nothing but bones, thrown together in a heap and then stitched carelessly to one another to form a remote semblance of a human figure; her face was a pallid mask, some parts of which - mostly round the eyes and cheekbones - had been pushed in while the wax was still soft; and the rich copper of her unruly hair, which she would sometimes cut clumsily with whatever even remotely sharp objects she could find in her prison, now had quite a few strands of fine silver woven into it. Before she finally tore her gaze away from this alien image, Meme replaced her readied Ward spell with an ice shard and fired it at the mirror's centre, where her reflection's heart was supposedly located. The echo of shattering glass was the only sound that filled the emptiness within her soul as she exited back into the desolate streets.

The tidal waters of depression ebbed away, however, to give way to other feelings, when, after mechanically turning a corner or two, she came across one of the bonfires she had seen from her prison, wounding the night with their scorching glare. It was now extinguished, a great black mound piled across the street, barring almost any progress. The adventurer's instinct rearing inside of her once again, Meme peered down to investigate the bonfire - and bit hard into her lips, sealing them together like a dam to resist the pressure of a torrent of nausea. They had been burning bodies.