Aurora was speechless. It wasn’t possible. She wiped her tears angrily with the back of her hand and turned back from the window. “I don’t believe you Jasmyne. Why are you making up such lies?”
But instead of apologising, her sister got to her feet and repeated the words that had sent her mind reeling.
“Aurora, there are no monsters. A long time ago Stefan told me that when the tribe came into our village and you saw your parents killed you were beyond upset. He said you made up some wild story about monsters, maybe to make everything seem less real. He said you believed the story for so long that by the time you grew up, you could no longer tell what was real and what wasn’t. But it wasn’t real Aurora. There were no monsters. Another tribe killed all of our parents, that’s all.”
Aurora stared at her sister in disbelief as the world folded in on itself. She reached out and grabbed at the dresser just to try and keep herself from falling. Stefan had betrayed her, but why?
“No, I saw them with my own eyes,” she began.
“No sister, you didn’t. It’s just a scary story you made up to try and justify what happened. I don’t blame you and I’m not judging you. It must have been awful to see your mother killed and in a lot of ways it makes sense that you’d bring this up now.”
“Makes sense? What do you mean?”
“Well, maybe when you saw Stefan’s body it brought back the same kind of trauma you experienced as a child. Maybe you’re falling back to that same story now because it helped you then.”
Aurora paced the room, desperate to believe that if she kept moving her sister’s words would not take hold.
“Do you have any proof?” Jasmyne continued. “You said you’ve been trying to figure out what these things were. Did you ever find anything?”
“I did,” Aurora gushed. “Here, look…”
She pulled at the cord around the small velvet couch and tipped its contents out onto the bed. A claw, curled and ravaged by time, fell out onto the quilt. “I found that by the doorway the next morning. It belonged to one of them.”
Jasmyne picked up the claw and held it toward the light. It was as long as her finger and extremely sharp. “Aurora, this could have belonged to any predator on the plain. A wild cat, a juvenile bear, anything.”
“No Jasmyne, you’re wrong.”
“Aurora - ”
“No! I know what I saw. You don’t forget something like that sister.” She took a deep breath. “And how do you explain my vision and the fact that strigoi turned up here? There are no strigoi left Jasmyne, not in all the world and yet he was here inside this house.”
“Yes, where he killed Stefan. Aurora, I won’t tell the others about this but you need to pull yourself together. I know Stefan was your brother, but conjuring up some childhood ghost story is not the way to deal with his death.”
“How dare you!” Aurora hissed, flames igniting in her eyes. “Get out of my room.”
“Sister - ”
“I said get out Jasmyne, now!”
When Jasmyne left Aurora slammed the door with so much force that tiny splinters of wood fell away from the wall. If Stefan was still alive he could explain everything, he could have told her why he had made up such lies, but he was dead. Murdered by that hunter.
Aurora pictured her brother lying on the floor, his face covered in blood. As she replayed the words her sister had said, she was overcome by a hate so powerful that a hot wind began to rush around the room. It shifted papers and lifted the curtains like an invisible hand. None of this would have happened if that fool had not broken into their home. None of this would have happened if he didn’t exist. Unable to hate her brother and unwilling to accept what Jasmyne had told her, Aurora directed all of her rage toward the hunter. Her sister was right. To hell with the treaty. He had to pay.