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The Scarred Sorcière of Death

My face, my mother always claims, is the most gorgeous she has ever seen. But that’s what mothers are supposed to say. By the time I was ten, I begged her to stop saying such things. I have convinced myself that I am not perfect. That no one is perfect. No one can be the most beautiful ever, because there will always be someone who’ll disagree.

But yet, whenever we ventured into the city, people would remark about my beauty. Old women would complement my luscious golden brown hair and my cheekbones. I once had a man say I have very interesting eyes and perfect lips.

I get it, my face has my best features. My body is fine too, don’t get me wrong. But so many people are entranced by my apparently perfect face.

Just to please mother, I dab a little rouge on my lips and liner on my eyelids. It may be my very special day, turning sixteen, but mother has her standards no matter the day. Even on laundry day when she’ll help our two maids, she has blush on her cheeks.

“Ready, Mara?” mother calls from downstairs.

I set down the palette, and check my outfit in the floor length mirror again. The periwinkle dress that Grace, my mother’s maid, has set out is a little longer than typical, and I’m not sure of how I feel of it.

“Coming, mother,” I announce when I leave my bedroom. Slowly, as my mother has taught me, I click down the curving stairs like a lady. At the front door, my mother is waiting. “You look wonderful, dear.”

I smile. “Thank you, mother.” I join her at the door, and after a moment of silence, I dare say, “What are we waiting for?”

Mother cuts me a quick glance. “The carriage, of course.”

Right, the carriage. Mother won’t tell me where we are going for our outing, and the only thing I can think of is that she wants to take me to a tea parlor. One of those parlors where only women can enter that everyone rumors about here and there.

“There it is, dear. Step outside, will you? We’ll be late if not.”

Feeling a little surprised, I clasp open the door and step out onto the front steps. The carriage comes to a complete stop, and the driver jumps down from his position and opens the door for me. “Thank you, Finn,” I say, taking his hand and letting him guide me into the closed carriage.

A half hour later, the carriage stops, and mother peaks past the curtains. “Oh, Mara, we’re here. Let’s go.”

Finn opens the door for us, and we step down into an overwhelmingly crowded street full of dull dressed people shouting and pointing. It quickly dawns on me that we are in a commoner’s market square.

“Ah, glorious Fallan!” mother beams at me with her eyes sparkling.

Confused, I ask, “Fallan?”

My mother recomposes herself. “I came here often as a child. Fallan has one of the best market squares in the country. There are things here that’ll keep a person occupied for hours. Now; our adventure starts!”

Staring at the busy market square in shock, mother pulls my gloved hand along. “What a day, what a day, Mara. You’re sixteen now! This is when your life will begin. Now- before we begin, I have to make a stop at the Cathedral on the left.” She pulls me along towards the magnificent, old building, and I squeeze my hand out of my mother’s tight grip. Hurrying to walk alongside her, I quicken my pace. I am sixteen after all. Nobody needs to hold my hand anymore.

We enter the cathedral through rune-marked wooden doors into a small lobby. Mother turns and smiles down at me. “Wait here, Mara. Then we’ll be on our way.”

I nod quickly, and mother disappears into the sanctuary. Nervously, I pace in a tiny circle, studying the carved walls. It looks a like a huge panorama from one perspective of everything happening around them. Along the floor and ceiling though, are more runes that are similar to the ones on the door. Otherwise, the room is empty.

After a few skewered minutes, my patience wears thin. Where is mother? When is she coming back? I begin to consider going to find her when I hear female screams directed from the sanctuary. They sound like my mother’s screams.

Immediately, I whip the door open and dash into the sanctuary. On my left is a man draped over chairs, dead. Blood is gushing out of multiple wounds and is dripping onto the floor. My eyes widen in horror at the sight.

In the center, in front of the altar, is a black cloaked figure, slowly turning to face me.

On the right is a second man and my mother. “No!” she screams. “Not Mara. Don’t take my Mara!”

Terrified of the sight, I eagerly take a step backwards, and to my relief, the cloaked man turns back to mother. “There needs to be a second and third sacrifice. The girl is of blood, would it not matter? She’ll do just fine.” I can sense the dark evil and roughness in his voice, and start to panic. Sacrifice, did he say?

“No, take me, take me, not my daughter! She knows nothing of this! Leave her alone, Death!”

The figure turns towards the window, and I can see a small smirk upon his lips. “I could do so. I could train her as a daughter of my own. She would be better than any other sorcière in the order.”

My mother begins to sob. “Not her, not my daughter!”

“A sorcière of Death,” Death contemplates, “That actually sounds nice.”

Death turns to face my mother and the man, and with a slap in the air towards the pair, they fall, close to death.

“No!” I cry. “Mother!” I scream, jerkily running towards her. I drop to her side, and mother manages to focus on me. “Daughter,” she whispers, “You can escape now. I am sorry. Je t’aime Mara.” Now I myself am sobbing, and I watch as the light in her eyes disappears.

Wiping away her tears, I stand and twist to face Death. “How dare you! You took my mother! Bring her back!”

Death stares down coldly at me. “Such a beautiful face,” he murmurs, reaching a pale hand forward. I snap back, but he reaches my chin first and grasps it. “You’ll make a wonderful sorcière, my dear.” I stare in horror at his blank, black eyes as he raises a finger, and drags it down my cheek. I scream loudly, louder than I would think possible. I can feel the blood rushing down my face, and I know he just left a permanent mark, scarring my face forever.

The words, “A wonderful, wonderful sorcière,” are the last I hear before I fall to the ground, unconscious.

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