Snitch

Give up on the words and you give up on your soul.

There is a bump on my face that is likely the latest in an aggressive campaign to reclaim my teenage years by covering the entire expanse with zits.  That or a massive face cancer.  One or the other.

……………..

She folded her hands, hand he now saw for the first time, even through the lace of the gloves.  He, this time with no care or consequence for the touch, peeled the gloves away and saw the burns that their first test had marked her with.  The acid produced in this break between worlds, a snapping of an aloe stalk, where in this world, it soothed, in theirs, it bled pain.   Amelia saw the line of suffering trace down her fingertips, move through him and settle, with force, behind his eyes.

“I am so very sorry.
“They do not hurt now.”
“They should never…”

“I do not understand, Ammon.”

“The falcon is not mine, only a sign sent from their side that I would recognize.  A device, I have now come to see that could only have ever been from your father.  It is nothing like the marks they make on their own.  It danced before my eyes at the Manor you’ve learned so much about, drew me away in the middle of my lesson.  I imagine young William must have been…no, I do not recall anything but following it, a sign and sometimes a bird, as it moved through the halls, up the stairs and out the front door.   Places I was never to be, but I didn’t think…I just chased it into the woods.  A day later, they found me, surrounded by…well, it burnt the wild grasses just as well as your fair skin.  It had seemed a dream.  A madness.”

Amelia gazed as this reverie overtook the Professor, and her thoughts travelled with him, seeing the blue ring that had opened above the table on some Midland afternoon, sun pleasantly moving through the trees exactly matching the horrors.

“That night I passed through against my will.  When last I saw you, it was by choice, a choice I…I have learned so much now, now that we are close that I wish at moments, I had flung myself into sea rather than come to bring you back to…”

“I had to mastermind this plot without his aid, thinking I was protecting Mr. Willoughby, Laurence, though

“As I belong to my father, as you belong to yours, so too, does Laurence belong to the King of these…cannibal people, indeed, he is something of their prince.  Though this King, if one could deign to call him such, has no love for his son.  Whatever loyalty remains to Laurence, what awaits him upon his return is something worse than death.”

“Worse than death, good sir, you’re positively shaking…”

“There is no time.”
“If I am to return, I am to return with a sacrifice.  And the Tormented peoples believe that the strongest magic is to be found in what a man has made.  The king hungers…he can no longer be appeased by invention, by charm, by kaleidoscopes and toys.  We cannot distract him with anything but the return of his own blood.”

 

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