Mai swore. She ran a finger along the jagged edge of a piece of oiled parchment. The leather back of her tome mocked her.
“It’s okay, Mai,” she muttered. “I’ve performed the Ritual a thousand times. I don’t need that page.”
Mai’s breathing slowed. “No, it can’t be coming this fast.” Her heart crashed against her ribs for several beats. Then its pumping went soft. The setting sun, image shimmering through stained glass, dissolved—along with Mai’s vision. She gurgled.
The maid’s bright laughter echoed behind her. Mai heard parchment crumble.
Her other senses bled away, one at a time.