In the midst of this shock of color Jessica and Omicron sat very still and quiet. They were surprised, to be sure. For a long moment the Great Hall was silent as courtier and creature alike held their breath to hear the reply of their Ruler.And then something odd happened.There was a surreal hiccup in the Great Hall. For a moment it seemed that Jessica and Omicron had shifted position very slightly and very suddenly. Was Jessica's hand resting on the horns of her dragon companion just a moment ago, as it was now? Or was it supporting her chin in thought? And Omicron's fiercely violet gaze, which was boring into Paddy's face with surprise and concern a moment ago, had now dimmed slightly and was focused on some invisible point in the air some twenty feet away. And yet nothing else in the hall had moved a breath. There hadn't been enough time.Time...Paddy knew perfectly well that his old friend Jessica was nigh-omnipotent in her own domain of Urainia (and more, he had some inkling of why that was), and he recalled that occasionally she would use her power to stop Time itself. But why had she done so now?"We will help you, Lord Paws," came the voice from the Throne of Joy. Jessica was being overly formal here, perhaps for the benefit of the assembled courtiers, most of whom probably hadn't been alive long enough to remember the old days or Paddy himself. There was Harold, of course, but the flamboyantly-dressed herald who once announced him with silly rhymes was nowhere to be seen. Had he, like the flowers, faded?Paddy began to feel a bit dizzy with the strangeness of it all.