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Time Twisters

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Tyme, it sits nestled in between the past, present, and future. It is it’s own city, it is everywhere, and nowhere at once. It sits in a place outside of time, in it’s own dimension. The inhabitants of Tyme are normal people. They can be placed in any era, anywhere and be perfectly at home. The citizens have different occupations; they worked solely with time and its influence on the mortal world. Some weave lives, others make time fly, and still others purpose is to keep the mortals safe from the Time Twisters, rogue Timelings, who can be identified by their silver eyes.
Those who are sent to the mortal world to save humans are chosen at birth. They are born with a large hourglass tattoo in between their shoulder blades, and promptly taken from their parents and put into training right away. These children can control time, mend it or destroy it.
Timelings, as they are called, have such extreme power that, if left untrained, it will kill them.
Timelings are incredibly rare, but every century or so two timelings are born. In this instance the two train and must battle to see who is the more powerful and skilled Timeling. After this battle the victor is free to go into the mortal world and stop disasters, save humans, and protect Earth, which is so closely linked to Tyme. Timelings live much longer than mortals, therefore one Timeling could protect humans for a thousand years before dying. Those who lose will stay in the Temple, frozen in time in order to stay young and retain their knowledge, until the current teacher dies and the next Timeling is born. The teacher will train the Timeling, and once he or she is trained will be refrozen by their student. The teacher will remain in this cycle until the next century with two Timelings, where the losing student will take their place.
She slammed the book shut, feeling less satisfied than when she had begun reading. She had been hoping that the ancient texts would inspire her, would give her the pep talk that she was not receiving from her teacher. That last sentence was Kali’s downfall. She couldn’t lose. She couldn’t be frozen here. This was the most boring place she had ever been, and it was just her luck that she happened to live in one of those “special” centuries where two Timelings were born. Immediately, a young man, eighteen to be exact, with blonde hair and warm brown eyes popped into her head. His voice came from behind her, deep and rich.
“Kali, I see you had the same idea as I. I’ll leave you to your reading.” She scowled in disgust; Kronos.
“No, no come on in Kronos. It is a public library after all.” Kronos strolled in as if he had all the time in the world, which, Kali supposed, he did. He sat down quickly, as if sensing her annoyance.
“Did Teacher follow you?” Kali asked in a whisper so quiet Kronos almost didn’t hear it.
“No, he has decided that we both need time to be alone without being constantly shadowed.” Kronos could feel more than see the relief pouring off of Kali. Her shoulders visibly sagged and she let out a grateful sigh.
“Thank Tyme! Pretending to hate you is getting exhausting.” Kronos nodded beside her.
“I know, it’s ridiculous; how they expect us to hate each other. Although I’m sure they have good reasons.” Kali nodded, trying not to show the gut wrenching panic she felt whenever anyone mentioned the battle.
“Well, that won’t be a problem for us, we HATE each other.” Kronos stifled a laugh as Kali stuck her tongue out at him.
Kronos stopped for a minute and looked at Kali, brown hair hanging in her face and blue eyes alight with laughter. She was so grown up. When did she start powdering her face? When did she start to fill out and become a woman? When had she stopped being his little girl?
He turned back to the ancient text when he realized he was staring.
“Um, so how’s your training going?”
Kali was silent for a minute, “It’s fine. I’m not sure I’ll be ready though.”
Kronos nodded, “Yeah, same.”
Kali gave an exasperated sigh, “No. It’s not the same. You have a two year head start. You have so much more experience and practice and everything more than I have. That’s 730 more lessons that you’ve had. 730 more chances to win.” She sounded more resigned than tired. Kronos’s eyes turned darker and colder.
“And you think that’s my fault? I can’t help how old I am. I can’t help the fact that I was born before you. That’s just the way things are, Kali.”
If Kali could blow steam, she would have. Instead, a tense silence followed. The impending battle was on their mind, it was coming, they didn’t know when, but they could feel the intensity growing in every hallway and corridor of the temple. Kronos cleared his throat, “are you finished with the book or…?” Kali was thrust out of her thoughts.
“What? Yeah, no, I’m done.” She walked away as Kronos turned to the book, but she paused to say: “I’ll be in the sanctuary if you need me.” A sly smile escaped the side of his mouth. Anyone who wasn’t Kronos would think she meant the Timeling sanctuary, the place where the current Timelings went to pray to past Timelings for guidance, strength, and wisdom. This place was sacred, and only Timelings could enter.To Kronos and Kali, however, it had a different meaning. The sanctuary was a secret room between their two rooms. The two of them went there when they needed to be alone, without teachers constantly supervising them. Despite the fact that the teachers claimed to be giving Kronos and Kali space, they were always watching. No moment was private, and therefore the two of them needed their own space.
Kronos sat, staring at the book, thinking about what Kali must have to tell him. Was it some stupid, childish confession of love? Kronos hoped not. She was like a sister to him and he didn’t want to hurt Kali, not today anyways.
Kronos looked around the library as he thought about the ever approaching battle. The room crackled from the warmth of the fire and the power that sparked off of him. The sweet smell of books and old paper penetrated every corner, lending to the sense of timelessness. Because the room had no windows to the outside one could spend an entire day in the library without realizing the time that had passed. Darkness seeped from the many shadows in the room, combated only by the two fireplaces, steadily blazing day in and day out. Endless rows of shelves lined the walls, creating a stiff yet relaxed atmosphere about the place that had always made Kronos both comfortable and wary of touching anything that looked old or important, aside from the ancient texts. The book lying before him was a beautiful shade of brown, the color of seventy-two percent pure cacao dark chocolate. Inside the book, the words were written in gold ink, in the ancient language. The words themselves were beautiful if one did not know their meaning. The ancient texts radiated power, causing small skips and freezes in time as pages turned or certain paragraphs were read. Shadows fell across the paper while the gold ink was accented by the light of the fire, giving it an ethereal look.
The book was a constant reminder of the battle, it was always on his mind, and this week he and Kali had taken a “field trip” outside the school to visit their parents. Kronos told his parents that he loved them, for the battle could be tomorrow or ten years from now. They had looked at him with the sympathy that was reflected in his own eyes. He couldn’t imagine having a Timeling child. You would never see them; Teacher would watch your child grow up, but you would stand outside the Temple, hoping for a glimpse of your child through the window
These thoughts ran through Kronos’s head as he climbed the stairs to his room. He then proceeded to turn the picture on the wall exactly 361 degrees, opening the entrance to the secret room.
It had once been dusty, full of cobwebs, empty. Slowly, year by year, Kronos and Kali had changed that. They accumulated chairs and a rug and a desk, cleaned out the room and created a better place to just….chill. Something they didn’t do very often. Kali was sitting on the floor with her legs crossed. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was steady. With each breath, the hairs hanging in her face swayed back and forth like a pendulum.
Kronos sat down across from her, mimicking her position, her breathing, until they were in sync. There they sat, for how long is unknown, simply enjoying each others company. A small whimper broke the silence. Kronos’s head snapped up and saw silent tears leaving trails on Kali’s face.
“Hey,” he said moving to hug her and pull her into his lap, “what’s wrong?” She shook her head and buried it deeper into his chest, like a small child.
“Come on Kali. You can tell me.” He had never seen her like this, so vulnerable, so sad, so…..needing. She breathed in a sob, trying to settle down. Her hiccups slowly subsided and she looked up at Kronos with red, puffy eyes.
“It’s tomorrow.”
Kronos’s world spun. Kali’s crying made sense now. The battle. The battle they’ve always waited for, but never had is now here. They knew it was coming, but….tomorrow? Would Teacher really spring it upon them without any warning whatsoever? Kronos didn’t realize he had stood and left the room until he fell down on his bed. Tomorrow. It was here, finally, it was here.

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Kronos didn’t remember falling asleep, but he remembered waking up. Teacher began to shake him, urging him to put on his clothes, to wake up and prepare himself. Prepare himself for what? He didn’t remember anything from last night. He got out of bed and walked down the stairs to a grand courtyard. He saw Kali, looking just as confused as he did. The entire Temple was silent as the grim procession marched through the corridors and stopped outside The Court.
The Court was a room that was always locked, and no amount of time traveling had ever revealed the key. The Court was saved solely for the final battle. The battle that would decide the fate of the two Timelings. Last night…...something tugged at the corners of his mind, but he couldn’t reach it.
Kali was just as confused, she saw images, but none of them made sense. Last night…...what had happened? She remembered hearing Teacher talking, but not what he was talking about or who he was talking to….though she sensed that it had been important.
The Court was a white, empty room. There was literally nothing in it. The monks,Teacher, and parents soon appeared above them, outside The Court, but looking in. This way no one would be harmed, but the family could still watch and Teacher could still judge their performance. Kali was placed on the opposite side and and glass wall separates the two of them. Teacher spoke, his voice containing no emotion whatsoever.
“When that wall comes down, you will fight. You may use any techniques you have been taught. There are no rules, and I mean no rules, save one. You must fight. The winner will leave to defend the mortal world, while the loser will live in the institution until the next Timeling is born.”
Kali’s eyes were brimming with tears, about to spill over. She seemed to be oceans away despite the fact that a simple, power absorbing wall stood between them. Her blue eyes had turned a depressing shade of gray as she reached out to touch the wall that stood between her and the future. Kronos did the same, but his eyes held a soft and comforting quality that hypnotized Kali. It was in that moment that she realized why Teacher had tried so hard to instill hate between them.
The pair stretched out their hands and touched the glass wall, feeling the power being soaked up from their body. Kali spoke, but the wall absorbed all sound. Tears streamed down her face in rivers as she desperately tried to get a message to Kronos. She screamed and tears flowed faster. She beat her fist against the glass and wailed, but still he could hear nothing. The silence in the room was oppressive, Kronos could see Kali’s mouth moving and her fists banging, and yet none of that was heard.Kronos moved so that his entire body was pushed up against the glass. His breath left clouds of moisture on the window as he spoke to her. His voice was low and quiet, as he tried to contain his sobs. Kali did the same and despite the power being sucked out of them they did the impossible.
They stopped time.
It was just for a moment, but in those few precious seconds they composed themselves and were able to say their last words, even though the other would never hear.
The ground began to shake. The glass wall slowly rose upward.
The battle had begun.
Kali wiped at her eyes, desperate to clear her vision before Kronos made his first move. Her eyesight was still blurry when she felt the air rip.
Kronos’s weapon had been chosen.
He had gone with an old weapon, a typical sword. She smirked. Good, old fashion Kronos. He would never learn that she was much more adept than him when it came to the old weapons.
She focused herself, reaching deep down and letting go. A vat of light emerged from a slice in the air as Kali reached out and thrust her arm through, retrieving her own sword. It was well loved, it was powerful, she had stolen Excalibur.
Fear crossed over Kronos’s face as she twirled the magnificent weapon and held it up, ready for the fight. Kronos took a step forward, but Kali ran straight towards him. He held up his hand, stopped time, and threw her aside like she was a ragdoll. The white wall now had a streak of red from where Kali had hit her head. Enraged, she froze Kronos and ran toward him, sword aimed at his stomach. At the last moment, he broke free and rolled to the left. Cursing, Kali allowed him to get away for the moment. She would have him.
Frustration pumped through Kronos as he twisted the sword’s hilt. The medieval weapon became a futuristic gun.
Kali gasped. How could she have been so stupid? Kronos would never chose a weapon that wasn’t his strong suit, not for such an important fight. She felt foolish, holding a now useless weapon. She ripped back through time and replaced the sword in the stone before stepping into the distant future and grabbing the more advanced version of the same gun.
Kronos pointed the weapon at her. Kali’s heart stopped. He steadied his hand and violently shot the laser...up. The power absorbing wall came crashing down and pinned Kali to the floor. She tried to rewind time, but could feel her power being slowly absorbed by the glass. Kronos ran to her.
“Give up Kali. Please give up. I don’t want to hurt you anymore.” She didn’t realize she was crying until the water splashed down into the curve of her neck. She spat at Kronos.
“Never.”
She could feel her power slowly draining.
“Kali, if I leave you like this you will die. Give up and we can get you out. You can live, you can be free and do great things if you only surrender.”
Her face was slowly draining, her energy being sucked out. “I would rather die than be frozen in time forever.”
“It won’t be forever Kali. It’ll only be a little while. It’ll only last a short time. You won’t even notice the time passing.”
Kali gasped for breath, her lungs straining to fill against the giant wall crushing her. Her face was losing more and more color, becoming less and less Kali. “I won’t do it Kronos. You know that I won’t. I don’t want to live like that. That isn’t living.” Her eyes began to roll back in her head as she struggled to stay conscious.
“Come closer.” Kronos leaned in, straining to hear her last words. “I want you to remember this Kronos. I want you to remember how you brutally killed your only friend. You will be seen as a murderer, a killer, you will never save anyone.” She took one last gasping breath and lost all consciousness. Cheers echoed all around as his parents rushed to congratulate him on his victory.
He stood up with grim resolve.
“You’ve given me no other option Kali.” A time vortex opened up in front of Kronos and he stepped through. He was gone.
Kronos felt the power of time running through his body, the ticks of the clock matching the beat of his heart as he traveled back. It had to be fast, just a few seconds into the past. It was risky, he knew if he made eye contact with himself he would die and leave scars in all dimensions, but it had to be done.
Time screeched to a halt around him and he stepped out into the not so distant past. He saw himself, about to shoot the gun that would kill Kali. He raced across the floor, being careful to never look himself in the eye. His finger is on the trigger. Kronos closes his eyes and tackles himself, causing the gun to fire off into the distance, saving Kali. His past self sat up in shock. Then stood with a malicious gleam in his eyes.
"Together?" His past self asked.
"Together," Kronos answered. They turned and rushed Kali, catching her off guard, as she was still piecing together why there were two of Kronos. Past Kronos catches her around the waist. If this wasn't a battle and these two were just normal people Kronos could see the two of them playfully running, Kronos tugging her around the waist and pulling her onto the soft grass beside him. Unfortunately, they were not normal people. They were Timelings. They would never playfully roll down a hillside or lounge in the green grass or sip lemonade by the lake with their feet making ripples on the surface. None of that belonged to them, none of that was theirs. It was simply a dream.
Kronos landed on top of Kali, pinning her beneath his weight. She struggled and twisted.
"Give up Kali. It's over." Past Kronos got up and turned his back on her. She shrieked and reached for Future Kronos. She put her sword to his throat.
"Walk away from me and your future dies." She said with such conviction that Past Kronos halted. The Kronos from the future panted, his adrenaline pumping like a sprinters arms in the last leg of the race. He didn't know what would happen if he died, would this past Kronos die also? Or would nothing happen? Would his consciousness be absorbed by the Kronos that was here or would he simply disappear? These questions raced through his head as Past Kronos turned around slowly, being careful to avoid eye contact.
"Kali, you don't want to do this." Her tears, warm like the sun, splashed onto Future Kronos's shirt, leaving small dark splotches where they were soaked up. Kronos tried to pull his neck back to avoid being pierced by the sword, but a trickle of ruby red blood escaped and left a trail down his throat before vanishing beneath his shirt.
Her hiccuping gasps were getting worse and with each gasp the sword inched backwards, slowly digging into Future Kronos's flesh.
Out of nowhere a third Kronos appeared, his knife pressed into Kali’s back.
"Step away from him. Me. Whatever." Kali doesn't let go. Kronos number three plunges his knife into her back, wounding her, but not fatally. Future Kronos freezes her as she falls, to stop her from taking his head off as she goes down.
"Where did you come from?" Future Kronos asked Kronos number three.
"A reality you don't want to live in." He says turning away. "You came to this past, but when this one didn't work out you went back and actually shot Kali. She died instantly and you....I.....couldn't handle that. I've lived for a year without her. It's been horrible. I can't even explain to you the helplessness you feel when you lose her. She's your only family Kronos; protect her. Keep her safe at all costs, do you understand?”
“Wouldn't keeping her safe include not stabbing her in the back? Literally and figuratively?”
“Well, yes, but that doesn't matter. She's going to live. She's going to live and you will be free of a guilty conscience. Everyone wins." Future Kronos sunk down to the floor.
"But Kali will be trapped here forever. She's only ever wanted to get out into the mortal world and save people. Her whole life has been leading up to this moment and now she'll have to be trapped until I die." The three Kronos’s sat in uneasy silence as thoughts swirled in the air like leaves in the autumn wind. Future Kronos stood up.
"I know what I have to do. Thanks guys, I mean me? Whoever you are, thanks. I won't be seeing you in the future." Kronos closed his eyes, clenching and unclenching his fists. His mind had been made up, he had to go back and fix this. The air wavered in front of him and ripped open, pouring forth a golden light, as if the universe was agreeing with him. He stepped through time and into the past.
The seconds seemed to condense around him, forming a blockade to protect him from the future, but it could not be done. He stepped out into the past, into the few precious moments before that glass wall lifted and the end came. Two figures followed Kronos out of the portal, the other Kronos’s from other futures.
The Kronos from this present had his body and hand pressed against the glass, getting as close to Kali as possible before they would become enemies. The Kronos’s from the other dimensions turned into the gold dust, drifting towards the man against the wall and whispering what he had to do. The gold dust of the other Kronos’s left a splotch of fog on the glass from where they entered the present Kronos’s mouth.
His eyes, previously closed, opened and shone with gold light. Inside him, he held the power of four Timelings, something that would kill ordinary people. However, Kronos was not an ordinary person. He was a Timeling. He would not let Kali die, he had a purpose, a mission, if you will. He had something to live for.
Kali beat her hands against the glass, oblivious to what was really going on, oblivious to the golden tint in his eyes, oblivious to everything but her own pain. She hastily wiped at her eyes as the glass wall slid upwards, trying to clear her vision before Kronos attacked.
The glass wall slid upwards and he plunged his hand into the deep icy fabrics of time. A laser gun emerged with his hand, bathed in a golden glow.
Kronos took a step forward, but Kali ran straight towards him. He held up his hand, stopped time, and threw her aside like she was a ragdoll. The white wall now stained with red from where Kali had hit her head. Enraged, she froze Kronos and ran toward him, sword aimed at his stomach. At the last moment, he broke free and rolled to the left. Cursing, Kali allowed him to get away for the moment. She would have him. One mistake and she was done, she had to remember to be cautious as well as daring.
Kronos pointed his weapon at her. Kali’s heart stopped. He then violently shot the laser...up….but this time he shot the wall twice, changing it’s trajectory. The glass wall came crashing down, pinning Kronos under it’s weight.
“I surrender Kali!” He screamed, agony escaping in his voice, as if those were his last words. “I surrender.”
Kronos family came pouring through the door. His parents rushed to him, desperately trying to pry the glass off of him. Kali stood with her back against the wall as her teacher came to her. He put his hand on her shoulder but she pushed him away.
“Why would he do that?” she asked. “The trajectory of that wall was headed straight towards me. Why in the name of Tyme would he ever shoot it again. That just messed up the balance and forced it onto himself.” She spoke in a detached manner, as if she still couldn’t believe what had happened. All that time, all that training. She never imagined that it would end with Kronos throwing the most important battle of their lives.
“Your happiness was more important to him than winning.” Teacher replied. Kali had almost forgotten he was standing there. Medics rushed to Kronos and Kali and gave them the fruit of Tyme, healing both completely with one bite.
Kali walked slowly to Kronos, trying to think of something to say, but Teacher stopped her.
“He has to say goodbye to his family.” Kali looked in bewilderment.
“What do you mean he has to say goodbye?”
“He has to say goodbye, his family will not see him for a very long time, if at all.”
Kali’s eyes filled with tears, Kronos would never have children. He would be forced into an icy cold block of time, destined to wait there until the next Timeling is born. Kali nodded. She went to her parents, but she wasn’t interested in them. She wanted to speak to Kronos. She wanted to say her last words, what she had been so desperately screaming before the wall had been raised. Those words could do more harm than hurt, after all, Kronos was going to be trapped in an ice block with those words to think about until she died and the next Timeling came into existence.
“Kali,” Teacher said, “come with me.”
Kali was led into a small room with a white marble slab positioned in the middle, she could see kneel marks in the hard stone, as if people came here to pray. Teacher led her behind a screen, where a white dress waited for her. She changed quickly, knowing this was part of the ritual of graduating to a Turner. When she emerged Kronos was there, in a white shirt and pants. He looked awkward, uncomfortable in any color other than the black that he so prefered to wear.
She ran to him and threw her arms around him.
“Thank you,” she whispered, “I know what you did for me.”
He looked at her with surprise in his gold eyes…..gold eyes?
“You know?”
She nodded.
“And you’re okay with it?” A melodic laugh escaped her lips.
“Of course I am.” He sighed, tension spilling out like water.
“Let’s get on with it.” Teacher snapped. “Kali, lay down.”
She didn't understand, but she jumped and pushed herself onto the altar where she lay down. The stone was cold and unyielding beneath her, causing chills to run up her spine. Kronos placed his hand on top of hers, his hand burning and hers reflecting the cold of the slab.
Their teacher began to chant, and sway. Nodding at Kronos, giving him the signal to start.
"You won't feel a thing Kali. You'll be fine. You'll wake up and everything will be just like before."
"Wait, Kronos, what are you talking about? What's going to happen?" She felt a pinch in her legs, as if someone was gently pressing down on them.
"Kronos?! Kronos what's happening?!" Her voice rose to a panic as the feeling spread up her legs.
"But I won! You surrendered Kronos! You lost!" Her cries crescendoed to a scream, pleading for Kronos to help her, to explain to her what was happening.
"They chose me Kali. They chose me because of what I did."
"What do you mean? Kronos? What are you talking about?"
"I went back in time Kali, to find an ending where I would win, but you wouldn't die. I kept losing you, but I couldn't, I didn't want to lose you. So I went back in time, and when an ending that was good for both of us never appeared, I created my own ending. They told me that that was what they were looking for in a Turner. They told me that even though I surrendered, I was the winner."
Kali couldn't feel anything below her waist. Kronos slowly moved his hand across the air, wherever it passed, another part of Kali lost feeling. Tears plopped onto her dress, tears that were not her own. She looked into Kronos's eyes and saw tears spilling out of them. Silent tears rolled down his cheek, merging with hers when they slapped her face. Each tear was a knife in her heart.
She couldn't comprehend what was happening, couldn't comprehend that he was doing this to her. She had only ever wanted to get out of Tyme, to leave and never come back, to save the world, to see places others never would have seen, but all that was over.
Kronos's hand reached her neck and was going to freeze her face, but stopped.
"Kali, what were you trying to tell me before the fight? You were screaming and crying and I wanted to comfort you, but I couldn't and it was killing me. What did you say?"
She gestured for him to lean in closer, then she whispered in his ear.
"Don't you wish you knew."
His heart dropped into his stomach. There had never been secrets between them, but now the girl he loved more than anything, the girl who was more of his family than his parents, wouldn't tell him her last words.
Kali’s mind raced, she tried to struggle, but she was trapped. Her skin would be young, her knowledge would be retained, and her mind would be sharp as ever when she woke up. But she would have to live without her parents, without friends, and she would have to wake up everyday and teach the child that used to be her, that used to be Kronos.
Kronos. She had to tell him, her last words. Her final statements to him. If she didn't say them now, she would never say them. The next time she woke up, Kronos would be dead and a child would be her constant reminder. His hand began to move.
"I love you!" She screamed before her entire face was frozen. Frozen until Kronos's death. Frozen until the next Timeling was born. Frozen in time, in an eternal sleep forever.

Epilogue
Kronos had left, the realm of Tyme was at peace, at least, for now. A figure clad completely in black strolled through the streets, paying no attention to anyone around him. He strutted up to an old building with beautiful Greek style columns. He snuck inside, being careful not to make any noise. He stumbled upon a young girl in a white dress. The skylight showed the stars twinkling outside and the open window let in a slight breeze. However, not a single piece of her moved. The fabric of her dress was stagnant, and not a curl of hair blew out of place. She was trapped, imprisoned in time. This man, this dark dark figure looked at her with his silver eyes and began to whisper.
"Hello Kali." He crooned. "You have never met me, but I know all about you. You were robbed of leaving this world, you were robbed of your experiences in the mortal world. I can fix that." As he spoke he waved his hand over her, slowly melting away the ice that held her in this place.
"I can show you things you could never imagine. You don't just have to see the mortal world, you can rule it. You can come with me and be free." Her face stayed stoic, unsmiling, never moving. He waved his hands more rigorously now, with a purpose, with the need of a mad man. He bent close, and in a rasping whisper revealed what she so wanted to hear.
"Come with me, and you can be with Kronos."
Her face, once placid, began to move. Slowly at first, as though she was just waking up. The fabrics melted away, faster and faster.
A maniacal smile crept into the corner of her mouth.
Her eyes fluttered open to reveal nothing.
Nothing but silver.



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