Chapter 1. Death by the Cliffside
She died with the taste of blood on her lips and salt water in her mouth. Her ribs cracked and broken on the jagged stones, with her body being soaked with every cold spray of the ocean.
Everyone saw her limp form being dragged up the cliff, the servant boys tugging on the thick rope tied over her torso. The rough weave dug into her already purple skin. Her thick hair hung over her face like a veil, hiding the swollen lips and red eyes from view. The blood dripped from her lips, staining them to look like rose petals.
The townspeople circled around the boys, dressed in the purple velvet uniforms of the noblemen. For even the servants must fit with the wealthy's image. The townspeople didn't acknowledge their past friends and family, their employment made them as good as dead to them. So, they whispered amongst themselves. Their hushed voices were barely heard over the sound of the crashing waves.
Her body was finally lifted over the cliff's lip and onto the dewy grass. One of the boys stepped forward, his hair combed back into a neat bun. He untied the thick rope and muttered a small prayer before signaling the other boys to lift her onto a stretcher and carry her to one of the mansions that sat on the forest's edge.
The three tallest of the boys lifted her and placed her onto a cotton stretcher. The smallest of the boys, with strawberry blonde hair stepped forward and laid a white sheet over her still body, a series of tears ran down his face, the face a of a child forced to work under the rich.
As they set off, the townspeople spoke louder. A man dressed in a yellow coat, torn like the fall leaves in autumn to be stepped on, covering equally tattered trousers and button down spoke first.
"What'll they do now?" He croaked like a frog.
"I reckon they'll have a vigil then bury her. Just like us," said the lady next to him, hunched from age. Her knit shawl just as worn as the man's yellow coat, but took her nearly a year to finish, the yarn was once white, but with time turned the same grey as her hair.
"Commen en deasth," said another man through his rotting and missing teeth. The crowd laughed dryly, knowing that although they look the same in the ground, but their lives were far from the same.
The nobleman sat in their mansions, sipping mulled wine while their portraits were being painted. The townspeople worked day in and day out to make a living, if one could call it that with barely enough food on the table.
Even the wealthier merchants felt the stabs of hunger upon occasion. Very few townspeople knew satisfaction year round.
The crowd dispersed, unable to waste anymore valuable daylight on drama. As they left, they pressed the pad of their thumb to each other's foreheads, a sign of compassion and well wishes until they next met.
A young woman dressed in a modest white dress, hanging to her ankles, and grey cloak, stayed at the edge of the cliff. Under her cloak, her hair was woven into a braid dark as the water crashing on the cliff rocks. She watched after the dead girl, be carried to sit in a tall house until her family found her, the Summoner, a fabled being able to raise the dead. Why wouldn't the living let the dead lie peacefully? The kiss of death was gentle, letting the troubled souls finally rest. It let the ill find health, the old find their youth, and yet the privileged views death as a curse. Only they knew life in its wonderful glory, the one the children of Hades had found.
The wealthy, surrounded by their greed, wouldn't let the poor daughter of the wealthiest Lord rest peacefully. The rich had never needed to worry about such a trivial thing as death, but as the Summoner learned to hide from them, they too knew the grief of losing a loved one for eternity. It was not a comfortable feeling for them.
She turned and went back to the small cluster of houses that made up the outskirts of the town. Walking through the houses, the girl glanced around. A house had a blue flag on it, showing passerby's there was a plague present in the home. Another had a black flag, a recent death.
The girl turned and walked to the house. She looked around, making sure no one saw her before knocking on the door. Once.
The door opened to show a round woman with grey hair wild as a bird's nest would be. Her eyes bloodshot from crying. A ring, snug on her left hand.
"May I come in, Mrs. Juliana," whispered the girl.
"Eirene, please, please, yes, come in," sniffled the woman. She moved to the side letting the girl in.
The darkened room, lit only by the dying fire, smelled like death. There was another woman wrapped in blanket sitting on a makeshift cot. Her face was green and pale with blank eyes.
Eirene walked to the edge of the bed and sat. The woman closed the door, and turned to see the girl sitting on the bed.
"I wouldn't, she's sick."
"I don't fear an illness," Eirene said, staring into the eyes of the sick woman, she still had time left in her, she was not ready for death.
"You should," Mrs. Juliana whispered before sitting at the wooden table under the window closed by thick curtains.
Eirene watched as the light of life faded from the woman. She fell back onto the pillows, dead.
The other stood up quickly form the table, pointing a shaking finger at Eirene.
"You, were going to heal her! You said you would spare her from death!" She spit out, lunging at her dead wife.
Eirene looked away from the dead woman to the one cursing her to a thousand damnations. She held up her hand, silencing the widow, who paused before cradling her wife.
"I will spare her from death, please wait," she said calmly. Eirene turned her attention back to the corpse as Mrs. Juliana slowly retreated back to the table.
Eirene closed her eyes, and let her head fall back. From her hands, tendrils of shimmering liquid looking as melted silver would, poured from her palms. It fell onto the body, drenching the blankets in silver. It splattered over the corpse's closed eyes and poured into her open mouth. The liquid covered the woman, so she appeared as a silver shell of what she was.
Eirene closed her hands, stopping the flow of the liquid. When she opened her eyes, they glowed white with no pupil or iris. Her body began to convulse and shudder. Her breathes came in ragged pants. Her head fell forward then back, twisting in every direction. Even once, spun back so the woman at the table looked into Eirene's white eyes. Eirene's head snapped forward before her body slumped to the ground.
As quickly as the shuddering came, it stopped. Eirene looked up from the ground as the silver casing began to crack. It split down the middle into two halves. Once the metal separated from the body, it melted and flowed down the bed to Eirene, where it was absorbed by her skin, making silver spirals ebb over where it made contact.
Eirene stood as the last of the liquid dropped away from the woman. She turned to leave, gliding past the widow.
"Thank you, for your time," Eirene said, reaching out a hand to press her thumb onto the woman's forehead, but she jerked backwards, her eyes bright with fear.
"Please, j-ju-just go," she stuttered. Eirene bowed and opened the door. It seemed as soon as her hand touched the doorknob, the woman on the bed, drew in a shallow breath.
"Aislin?" The woman gasped. Her mouth gaped like a fish struggling on land. She turned to Eirene, but she had already left the house and was walking up the street.