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“Look at that pasty white face…”
The girl ignored their vile whispers as best as she could. She had known she would not receive a warm welcome in this life. She had not thought it would be this unwelcoming, perhaps, but she had not expected anything pleasant. That, at least, had been a blessing. It would have been a cruelty beyond measure to think she had been given into a marriage where she would be loved, valued, even treated with kindness, only to come to a place where she had known nothing butbrutality from the very first day.
Myrsina had known her life here would not be kind. But she had only herself to blame. Her father had wanted nothing so much as to be rid of her. It was all any of them had wanted.
He was well rid of her now, was he not? He was well rid of her and she was here, alone.
“See how she acts as though she cannot hear us, or see us? As though she thinks herself better than us.”
The malice in the woman’s voice was enough to send a shiver down Myrsina’s spine. The hatred that particular woman carried for her was…unimaginable. And Myrsina didn’t understand why. It wasn’t as though their shared husband had any love for her. He cared nothing for her. He cared nothing for any of them. All he wanted was to get them with child. To breed, then move on to the next. His rutting on them wasn’t particularly pleasant, but nor was it particularly painful. There were no sweet, tender moments that he shared between any of the wives.
A fact Myrsina knew all too well.
“I hear she speaks with devils. That she does unnatural things.”
Myrsina tensed as she went to leave the courtyard. Lifting her head, she stared across the gardens as the woman. Their gazes locked and the older woman smiled. It was a cold, ugly little smile, full of hatred and ugliness and contempt. And Myrsina realized the truth. That woman knew; somehow, she knew.
Myrsina eased the cloak she kept wrapped around her mind, lifted it as much as she dared and she chanced a quick look. Quick, she must be quick—one never knew what awful things lurked out there, waiting for a vulnerable soul. Myrsina had seen what happened when those vulnerable ones weren’t careful. She wouldn’t be one of them. She wouldn’t.
But all she saw when she glimpsed that woman’s mind was meanness. A vicious, ugly woman with a shallow, twisted bit of a heart. But still. Just a woman.
Why do you hate me so?
Then she turned away. She would go about her life. And sooner or later, her husband’s other wives would forget their torment of her. It was how life worked, after all.
But she was wrong.
The taunting and jibes worsened, rather than lessened. Cruel words gave way to cruel jabs in the ribs. Myrsina would find herself stumbling on the stairs, and although she knew which of the women had pushed her, when all of them stood together and assured the husband nothing had happened, Myrsina had simply tripped…
Eventually, she kept her words to herself. Even when she was pushed hard enough that she broke her arm, she said nothing.
It became so awful that she rarely wanted to leave the comfort of the kitchen. There, she felt safe. A woman had taken pity on her and in her, Myrsina found something of a friend. It was as she was sipping from a cup of tea her sixth month into marriage that the woman asked her how she was faring.
“You’ve been sick in the morning, child. More and more.”
And Myrsina knew.
“The seven bloody sisters are myth,” I told him, turning away and moving to the balcony. It faced out over the fountains and I focused on the play of the water as I reached down to cover my belly.
Many memories of my life have faded. Both my time as a Grimm, and my time as a mortal. I’d only been eighteen when I died—when I killed myself. But I remember that bright and shining moment when I realized I was carrying a child. And I remembered those awful, horrid days that followed when I lost the babe. The only one I’d ever carry.
I also remember the day when I was strong enough to strike back. I didn’t strike back as a mortal woman should have and that was my sin. The one I’d borne for all these years.
I could hear Luc moving behind me and I turned to watch him. Krell stood at his side, but the man didn’t touch the dog, and the dog didn’t touch the man. After a moment, the dog moved, nosing a bit here and there. Getting the lay of the land for his master, I knew. If I had felt like being nice, I suppose I could have offered to show them into the sitting area. The suite was enormous and the sitting area was through the doors to our right. But I didn’t feel like being nice. Besides, if I knew Luc, he’d rather find it for himself. And he could do that just fine on his own. Neither he nor Krell really needed my help.
And they proved it too. Moments later, Krell padded into the sitting room and Luc followed along behind him, his steps sure and steady. Nobody looking at the man would guess that he couldn’t see, that he hadn’t been able to see in more than six hundred years. I hadn’t known him while he had his sight. I’d met him a few years after his change, once it became apparent that his psychic skill was going to be rather…substantial. Then they turned him over to me.
I rather wish they hadn’t done that.
I rather wish I’d never met the man.
And I rather wish I’d never heard of the seven bloody sisters.
“We’re all myths, aren’t we?” Luc asked from behind me.
I glanced at him from over my shoulder. “Some more so than others.” Then I shrugged and went to wander around the room, seeking anything to occupy my mind. The seven bloody sisters. Why was he here asking about them? I could look; if I really wanted to see inside his mind, he couldn’t keep me out. It would damage him, though. That was what kept me out. I wouldn’t do that, not to him.
Other people, it may not matter—I couldn’t care less if I caused headaches…or worse. But I wouldn’t bring myself to harm him.
“So you’re telling me there is absolutely no truth to their existence, whoever the seven bloody sisters are supposed to be?”
I sighed. I could still hear that silly movie playing. And for some reason it bothered me now. Listening to that silly dialog, that overly high voice, followed by the comical voices of the dwarves, while he asked me about the horror that spawned an awful legend. “The seven bloody sisters—no truth to it? Luc, you should know that one person’s truth is another person’s story by now. But no, there is no truth to that tale. It’s simply the ramblings of an old mad woman. She thought she knew the truth, but her mind was so eaten up by insanity she couldn’t have told truth from fiction if her very life had depended on it.”
Although he couldn’t see me, he kept his face turned in my direction, and I could tell he was thinking through what I had told him. I hoped he would let it go at that. I should have known better.
Yes, he should know by now that one person’s truth was very often nothing more than a fairy tale. But he also knew how very adept I was at twisting words. After all, I was the one who’d created his story.
“Who was this old woman, then?”
I closed my eyes and sank down on the edge of the bed.
The old woman? She was another one of my sins.
I had many of them. But I couldn’t regret what I’d done to her. Not any more than I could regret what I had done to the wives.
It’s no wonder I’ve never found any real hint of happiness. I lack any true conscience, and a woman like me? I don’t deserve peace. I don’t deserve happiness.
“The old woman. She was a something of a mystic,” I murmured, forcing myself to open my eyes and stare outside. “And in the end, she doesn’t matter all that much to this tale, I can tell you that much. She came along more than a millennia after the so-called sisters had already died. The old woman, well, she could sense remnant energies and she was convinced that gave her something of power. She tried to seek out the books.”
I worried the hem of my T-shirt, thinking back to the night when I’d found her the first time. I could have killed her then and never had been bothered by her. Killed her and not felt any guilt. But I hadn’t. I couldn’t even explain why. But she’d been so close to that place; following her was something I simply hadn’t had in me.
I’d stopped her from getting her hands on one of the demon tomes and that had been enough for me. It shouldn’t have been. I should have ended her then.
Blowing out a breath, I rubbed my hands over my face and then looked at him. “She almost had one. I stopped her. If I had been wise, I would have chased her but I didn’t. Because she went to Greece, and that was one place I hated to go. But eventually, I had to follow her there. We always watched those who tried to get the books, you know. And since she’d tried once…”
“She would try again.”
“That was our fear.”
The books. Damnable things. Crafted by demons, beguiling to mortal eyes, the books would seem like one of those silly coffee table or novelty books now. Spells and incantations and shit. Yes, it would seem like nothing but harmless fun.
They were deadly. They’d been deadly when they were first crafted, of blood and skin and death and despair, and they were deadly now. I didn’t even know how many were still in existence. We’d destroyed dozens.
But there were more out there.
Sometimes a new one sprang up.
It took a particularly strong sort of demon to craft one and it was a blight we could all feel—a process that didn’t take minutes or hours, but weeks, months. If we could feel it, we could hunt it. Hopefully find it, stop it.
It didn’t always work that way.
The reason so many of them existed is because for a very long while, Will and I had been the only ones on watch. Hard to guard against all evil when there are only two of you.
Even now, centuries and centuries later, we were still doing the clean up.
“So she hunted the books.”
“Yes. With a lot of success, I fear.” I sighed, looked away from him to gaze out the windows at the dancing waters of the fountains. Usually it brought me peace. Joy. Now it just struck me as absurd waste. This entire waste, a useless extravagance. “Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t let her live because she was so adept at finding them. I destroyed three because of her. Anyway, she had enough power to hear things. Voices of those long gone. And she saw things, things long since past. And she could whisper to those we’d rather not mention.”
Now Luc’s attention sharpened, focused on me. “She could sense them.”
Them…not the dead. But the demons. He knew, without me saying anything.
“Yes. Every so often, she’d leave and try yet again to get to a book. And she’d be stopped—but sooner or later, I knew there was a risk she’d succeed. The third time, I almost didn’t get to her in time.” I slid him a look from the corner of my eyes. “So I stopped her—I made sure that canny mind of hers was nothing but rubbish by the time I was done. But her power…that lingered. She spent the rest of her years rambling about the energies she sensed. All the folklore from that place comes from her insane ramblings. The place where she tells of the seven bloody sisters—a tragedy happened there once, and she spun this convoluted tale about these women. She said they were sisters and she tells this terrible, heartbreaking story of their untimely death. It’s nothing but rubbish, Luc.”
“Apparently, it’s not. There are people at the place where the legend is supposedly from and they think the place is haunted.” He paused and made a face. “Mortals and their fascination with ghosts.”
I tensed. “What?”
“You heard me.” He pushed a hand through his hair and shrugged. “Will didn’t tell me much more than to seek you out and find out about the seven bloody sisters. That, and we’re to go to Greece. Some fools have a mind to make a documentary and we’re to stop them. I don’t know if there’s any of the demonic involved or not, but he was clear on one thing—we don’t want that documentary made.”
“A documentary?” I stared at him for a long moment and then I turned away, looking outside. Just then, I’d like to shatter the bloody glass and take a flying leap. Except it wouldn’t kill me. It would hurt like hell, it would be all very dramatic and while Will was picking the glass out of my skin, he’d lecture me for doing something so foolish.
My legs went boneless as I thought it all through. A documentary. They were going to make a documentary. About that place.
Where I died. Where I’d lived. Where I’d killed the wives.
And where I’d become.
As my legs gave out from under me, I dropped to the floor and continued to stare outside. This was really happening. I had to go back to Greece.
“Yes?” I asked distantly. I could handle this. I knew I could. I just had to get my mind in the right place. Separate what I had done, who I had been, the child I’d lost, all of that from who I was now. All well and good.
“I would assume, though, judging by what I’m sensing in the air, you know more than you’ve told me. Just what do you know?”
Mortals and their fascination with ghosts. Filming a documentary. There?
Drawing my knees to my chest, I rested my chin on them. “I know that the woman was a lunatic. Beyond that?” Shrugging, I closed my eyes. Perhaps we’d get there and the place would gone. Nothing but a hole in the earth. Stranger things had happened, after all. I was living proof. I’d stabbed myself in the belly and instead of rotting in hell, I was still here.
“Greece,” I whispered. “I assume I’m to go to Greece with you.”
“Yes. And we have to go to wherever this legend was born. You need to tell me more about it, Sina. There’s more to it than what you’ve said.”
As he came around and settled down at my side, unerringly sitting so that he was just a few breaths away, I gazed at him. So perfect. So patient. So not for me. I hated that. Why couldn’t he be for me?
“What aren’t you telling me?”
“Hmmm.” Shifting my gaze away from him, I focused my attention back on the glass. “Oh, I’ve told you everything I can about how the legend came to be. The old woman was born in 1749, died in 1829. I damaged her mind 1804 and she had a quarter of a century to spin tales about whatever she thought she knew. That’s about it for the legend, Luc. Truly. There were no sisters there, Luc. Just an old madwoman.”
He didn’t believe me.
I didn’t care.
There hadn’t been seven bloody sisters.
There had been wives. Eight of them. Seven of them had been terribly cruel, while one of them had been terribly mad.
I had to go back there.
Back to hell.
Back to the place where I had died.
To the place where I’d been reborn.
Back to the place where I’d killed seven women. Where they’d tormented me. Tortured me. Where they’d killed my unborn child…and nearly me.
I supposed there were a few other things I might be less inclined to do. Telling Luc how I felt about him, perhaps. That, and going back to my mortal life—miserable, unhappy years that they had been.
Other than that, I couldn’t think of anything that appealed to me less.
Wanna read about the inspiration behind Myrsina’s ‘myth’? It’s The Myrtle, one of a bunch of ‘Snow White’ type tales.
Enter the contest…
Read more about Blind Destiny… or you can just preorder it. 😉
(This won’t be out in print for a while…it’s not long enough so it has to be paired up.)