This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The shriek came from a young woman, whose eyes had turned wide as she saw her frail mother being dragged out of their home.
The older woman, who had pale hair and wrinkles carved into her face around her eyes, was shoved down by strange men dressed as darkly as the shadows. She and her daughter looked almost nothing alike. If it weren’t for the latter’s desperate cries. The daughter saw her head hitting the ground. Fear pried deep into her as she frantically thought that the blow had given her a concussion. But worse things were to come.
“What an unfortunate turn of events, Frieda. Your own father abandoned your own mother for a blond whore and her child, even casting out his eldest daughter...”
There came the sweet voice of a killer. Kenny Ackerman. Frieda had met him on rare occasions before together with Rod Reiss. She knew of his shady background. And despite his lax posture his dark presence had always triggered fear in Frieda’s own minds.
Now, Frieda feared that his would be the last voice she would hear, and the last face she would see. This man had been close friends to her uncle. The thought terrified her and grieved her to no end.
But instead of coming to her first, Kenny Ackerman turned to her father, whom she had momentarily forgotten was still there.
“So, Lord Reiss” He inquired nonchalantly. “Do these two bear any relations to you? Is this woman not your former wife?”
Frieda turned a desperate eye towards her father, giving him one last pleading look. He could save them. She knew he could. One word from him, and they’d be free. One word, and this night’s events would disappear like a bad dream - never happened, never spoken of again.
Instead of looking at her mother, who was unconscious in Kenny Ackerman’s arms, Rod Reiss turned to his eldest daughter and returned her gaze. From his cold and jaded eyes, something stirred as he regarded Frieda. But what was it? Regret? Sadness? Remorse? The last of what could be remotely called fatherly feelings?
Whatever it was, for but a few seconds, that soft look gave Frieda hope. Futile. Foolish. Naive hope - hope that even now, as her arms were trussed behind her and a blade ready to slice her throat, she would be delivered.
The next words he spoke would be a hammer onto her fate.
Lord Reiss clicked his tongue, his face was hardened with resolution.
“...It can’t be helped. They have no relationship with me.”
The cry was ripped out of Frieda’s lips - shrill, disbelieving, and furious - before a hand clamped down on her mouth like a guillotine.
In an instant her mother was forced down on her knees. Kenny Ackerman was behind her like a phantom, the sinister grin on his face and the glinting blade in his hand made him looked like a devil ripper.
“In that case...” He bent over her mother, left hand cradling her chin like an infant, and deftly placed the knife between her throat.
“You didn’t exist. You didn’t live inside this house. Nobody knows anything about you..."
Frieda lunged forward. Her sudden burst of strength had stunned her captor enough to wring herself free. She put a fist to the man’s jaw and twisted his knife into her hands. Clenching its hilt in her fist she sprinted towards Kenny with a primal cry.
Then, she was grabbed from behind. This time two pairs of hands trapped her like a vice. Her hair was pulled upwards to expose her slender neck. Despite her violent struggling, she couldn’t even move. For a second her body grew limp at the stabbing realisation that not only was she too weak to stop her mother’s execution, she was powerless to stop her own.
"You -” She hissed, eyes full of disbelief, sorrow and anger. “NO! Stop it! Stop it! What did we ever do!? MOTHER!”
Kenny the Ripper turned towards her. His eyes alone were enough to silence her, her screams drowned in her throats. Those eyes held nothing like pity, only perhaps a cross between boredom and impatience. Still, they were colder and harsher than the blade he was holding to the flesh of her mother’s neck.
“Sorry kid. If you want to blame someone, blame your useless mother who can’t keep herself from falling out of favour.”
She gazed at her mother, at the lines on her face, at her thinning hair and hollowed eyes; and her bones turned cold, for Kenny had been right. It was age. Time had stripped away her youth and beauty.
But is this her crime? Not being beautiful enough to satisfy the whims of men of power? For this, her husband would abandon her and their daughter? For this, blood had to be spilled, and bodies cut open and slaughtered like animals?
Her mother blinked hazily. Upon regaining consciousness a moment before her death, she tried to look for her daughter. But Kenny ended her quickly. With a slash of the silver knife deep into flesh. Perhaps he did it out of mercy, killing her before she became fully conscious.
Her mother’s lifeless body fell to the ground, dyeing it with her own lifeblood.
Frieda also slumped to the ground, the weight of reality too great for her knees. She could only stare, but she didn’t know where she was looking at. Frieda, though she was alive that moment, felt it was her own throat that had been cut into so deeply.
What did she do that morning? She remembered waking up and combing her hair, greeting her mother with a smile and heading to the library after breakfast. It was a bright and lovely day. Regardless of her will, her memories - the best of them- began racing through her mind.
Frieda’s eyes followed its every movement, but - again - saw nothing. Slowly, she closed her eyes, not wanting to accept that the scene around her would be the last she sees in this world. A calm darkness enveloped her, more comforting than reality.
Death would be like this. It would be like falling asleep, she told herself - with no more suffering than living. Words from an old story from a more peaceful time came to her. Pity not the dead, but the living. She understood those words now.
But... but the injustice of it all, the damning cruelty of this world. She couldn’t help but weep. For the world. For herself. For her mother. For her younger sister whom she would never see again.
I’m sorry. Farewell.
The single voice that could have saved her then. Her father’s. It rang out when the knife had only been a hand’s length away from Frieda’s throat. She opened her eyes as if something had commanded her to do it.
“Your name,” He met her with shadowed eyes. Though stained with grief, she peered at him deeply and questioningly, unseeing at first but with growing clarity.
Same pair of eyes. One as icy as a lake in winter. One burned like blue fire with bitter hatred.
“... is Freya Klein.”
And with those words, Frieda - heir to the Reiss bloodline - was forever dead. And a new person was born from her ashes.
emmaneal74: I loved this booked. Would definitely buy it when published and read it again. The story flowed in such a way I just couldn't put it down. I was never confused about the characters or their roles in the story which can happen sometimes with so many lead. I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to r...
Giuliana Cassetta: My face is full of tears, I never cried like now with a book or even a movie. I loved every single chapter. I truly don't know what to say, I'm out of words and my eyes hurt from crying. Such an bittersweet story, it's so wonderful. One of my favorites for sure. Keep it up!
usubitha1: There are many things in this book that I liked but most of all the way the author wrote this story. This is a clear inspiration for humans and inspired me much. I liked the author way of presenting the characters of the story, the plot of the story and most of all the inspiration. There are som...
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
catd69: Karim is a very talented writer. When I started reading his journey it took me into the book and I was in the story till the end. I've never felt this way with any other writers stories. If you want to read a gripping adventure, this will be the one book I would suggest you pick.
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
Jennifer Sibley Jannise: So, I originally read the book because my daughter asked me to. However, I read it in 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is well written and thought out. If the author writes and publishes any more books, I would definitely read them.
noelia herrera: I could not stop reading this book. it was truly great and it caught my attention quick. there was some misspelled words and some misplaced. but overall, IT WAS FANTASTIC! great job. I recommended this book to all my family and friends.
JONANNA: As an avid reader it is not often I say that about a book. The plot is what was different and the twists where unexpected. This book is defiantly a page turner and enjoyable read. I can't wait to reread this novel after a little editing to finish off the shine on this wonderful novel.