Ritual

He got home, and headed to his suites, where he found the girl curled up on his bed, watching him quietly.

“I had to,” she said.

He looked unsurprised, and watched her with sharp eyes as he moved to pull out a chair across the room.

“I had to. It… you don’t understand,” she sighed. “You don’t understand. My people, I–”

He could see her, trying desperately to figure it all out, how to make it so that she wasn’t in trouble. Desperation behind a childish gaze.

“I didn’t mean to go behind your back. It’s just that I’ve been so worried. She has you so upset, and you just–”

He sat down with a sigh, grumbling quietly, and she jumped on the chance, saying, “If you hadn’t — you were the one who made the magics. You called me here. You were the one who made the choice, and I could do nothing but submit to your will. I was doing it for you. I was doing everything for you, Excellency. You are the master of me. You own me. I’m doing everything I can to–”

“Listen to me,” he snapped, irritable. His wings mantled, and feathers ruffled. “You’re making it worse. I didn’t call you.”

“You did!” she cried. “I felt it. It was a burning. A need. A… a… hunger,” she said, putting her hands to her heart. “I could tell where you were. There was a pull, but then by the time we were on the boat, and it snapped, I still had to get to you. I had to. You felt it too. You know!”

“No. What I know is that I didn’t call you,” he said. “The magic called your sister.”

The woman’s eyes widened, and she shouted, “You knew, then! You took my sister! You took her from me! She was all I had! How could you?”

It was his turn to look shocked, and while he was reeling, she closed on him, putting her hands on his cheeks, her eyes smoldering. “I needed to fulfill her destiny. She died on the ship because of you, and I still wanted to do what she was meant to do. I wanted to do it from the way she talked of you. I wanted to take care of this. And then I saw you,” she whispered.

She climbed right into his lap, then, spreading her legs as she leaned into him. “I saw you, and I knew that no matter what, it would work. I had to have you,” she breathed.

He could see it — could feel it. The lies coming from her were thick.

“Can you even tell the truth?” he wondered, pushing her away. Disgust warred with pity.

She hit the floor with a thump, arms and wings and legs tangling, a squawk escaping her. “I don’t… but… you can’t do this,” she hissed. “You’ve ruined everything. I traveled all the way here to deal with this, to help my sister, to see you, because you cast a spell, and it ruined everything,” she said, getting up off the floor. She began to stalk around, throwing things, sometimes cursing in her own tongue, sometimes simply shouting. She hurled hatred. And then insults. And then vases.

When a vase nearly clipped one of his wings, he ducked out the door and shouted for guards, who came immediately. Four of them dealt with her, but her arms and legs were strong, and she flailed and scratched, howling and shrieking. Two more came, and she laughed as she continued to scream, to bite and scratch. With a nod from him, one of them simply covered her nose and mouth, suffocating her long enough to make her pass out. She panicked, but then went limp, and finally quiet.

She was gone, then — they took her out, leaving him to stare around at his mutilated suite. He called in servants, then, and went off to another private room, to bow his head in prayer.

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