by Raven Sharp
There are traces in the air – someone killed the Fourth Minister. Find the murderer.
|“You will not be able to defy them forever,” she trembled. Her hands shook as she frowned at him.
“No, but I have the right to care for my sister.” He stared squarely up into her charcoal eyes.
“She is all but gone. Perhaps it is her time. But, no. If you deny this invitation then surely they will take not only her, but your own life away.”
“Did I ever say I would refuse?” He raised his brow. “It is true, what they say. You must know your enemy.”
“Oh, brother.” She converged downward, wrapping her arms around him. “You must take care. They…” A cold draft blew through the room, cutting off her words. She turned towards the large oak door. “Fiona.”
Fiona stood hunched in the doorway, her hand clutched over her heart. Her skin was white as a cloud, her hair the color of sunlight. Her blue eyes stared blankly between the two.
“The forbidden comes.” She spoke softly, a whisper in the wind, yet her words lingered as if spun on a thread between them.
“Or so the word hums.
The one hated by authority,
Remnant of a lost minority,
Who speaks with stars
And hides her scars.
Shield her from the church.
Protect her from the search
That follows death.
As the final breath
of God nears,
So will her fears
become a solemn reality.
She is not a triviality.”
“Com now, honey,” the woman traversed the room. She took Fiona’s shoulders. Looking back, she bid: “good luck, Lucian.”
Red silk shimmered like blood in the sunlight as the Fourth Minister preached. His skin was weathered and his hair dark silver even in the beam of sun. The girls of the River House stood bleary eyed behind His Grace. The majority were the Devil children abandoned into the home at birth. Their sky-blue eyes and garishly pale hair marked their unholiness.
“Today,” Four preached. “They shall be cleansed and accepted into the sisterhood, where they may become the embodiment of purity and attempt to escape the bowels of Hell. As they have stood here today and listened reverently, it is time they should be accepted into the fold of the Lord. Now, good people of Braeghel, let us forgive them of their origins. Recite with me:” and the people said after him.
In blood we see thee
Unholy thou bea
Alight is thy soul
With the flames of cold
We choose now to forgive thee
And set thy soul free
There was a pair of flaming orange eyes in the crowd. The only girl on the platform with dark eyes and hair spotted them. She stared as if there was a magnet pulling her gaze to those mesmerizing eyes. Those eyes filled with hate and burning. She could see the flames in her mind’s eye. They danced crimson in her mind as the minister’s words punted, each one like a rock into her soul. She had to contain that fire, that pain. That determination and anger and hate reached deep inside her soul, to a place where she had contained a thousand screams of death.
Barely had the last word been uttered, when a silent energy enveloped the block. The air was so thick it seemed a miracle the sun could pierce it. The people stirred restlessly, and a mumbling chatter grew into the minister’s silence. Lucian couldn’t see what was ailing the minister from his seat behind. The chair beside him clattered off the podium as the aid rushed to assist the minister. Lucian rose from his seat.
“He’s… choking. Fina, he’s choking!” Lucian exclaimed. He immediately scanned the crowd. He turned to his sister. Her eyes were closed and completely relaxed, despite the shrieks and threats emanating from the audience as the minister collapsed. “Do you sense anything?”
“There is a thread of power…” she started. “It’s coming from the girls.”
Bishop Angling had appeared on the podium in an attempt to calm the civilians.
“He is dead!” the aid cried out. Josephine jumped. “He is dead.” The aid repeated quietly. “There are traces in the air – someone killed the Fourth Minister. We must find the murderer.”
“Don’t worry,” the young bishop intervened. “There is an easy way to find the killer.”
“Find her,” Lucian urged his sister. “Make sure she is protected.” She gave him a fleeting look of urgency before she disappeared.
A dark orb cracked with scarlet appeared in the air. This silenced the crowd, then a loud cheer spread across the multitude. The exalted noise pierced the sky like a thousand ravens cawing.
The girl ran. She knew doom waited behind her, kept her eyes straight ahead. Any civilian would recognize her red robes of sin. Yet, as she passed through a crowd at the end of an alley, they parted gracefully. As she turned into another dark alley, she finally slowed. Behind her, an orb dripping with blood neared. She couldn’t stop her shaking or the cold sweat running down her neck. No, she had known this day to be coming for a long time. There was no way the church would allow one of her race to survive. She clenched her fists and made her decision. Then the Orb started to steam. She could feel the death inside it, the lava and fire and final screams of souls. Outside of the shell, mild air so cool and free beckoned. Slowly the Orb halted, then evaporated.
A woman stepped out of the shadows. Her hair was in a low bun, her dress blue as the holy lake in the woods.
“Come child,” the woman held out her arm. The girl shook her head. Muffled voices came from outside the alley. “The soldiers are coming. We must run.”
“Why do you help me? You know it’s a sin.” The girl sobbed.
“My sister is a sin.” Footsteps echoed down the passage. “Come now, there is a safe place for you.”