Avarice

By chloeirene1 All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

A v a r i c e | T h i r t y F i v e

T h i r t y F i v e

❝The beasts hunt for her flesh;

while the witch sits and rests.❞

DAYS WENT BY QUICKLY NOW AS the ball became closer and closer. Mother had me very busy. After the whole witch fiasco, she would go out every day to the bar or the market to see if anyone had heard about it. There were people who saw me leave, but they had just figured it had something to do with my high standing because I came back.

So, no one thought I was a witch. Well, no one that went to the bar or market.

While mother did this, I wasn’t allowed out of the house. I was essentially grounded, even though what had happened wasn’t actually my fault.

In fact, I had no clue whose fault it was, but I intended to find out.

So, while I was stuck home by myself (most of my siblings and their partners were out and about, getting ready for the ball themselves), I kept on thinking, if it hadn’t been Cain or Samuel, who the hell could it have been? Maybe someone had seen me during the ball, shouting those things? Sam had said he hadn’t seen anyone, but they could’ve just been hiding.

I had Cain try and ask the king, but the king wouldn’t give a name, sadly. Cain kept on asking and asking until finally the king said that it’d been an anonymous tip; that no one knew who it actually was. Cain seemed to believe him, too, so there was no use in trying to compel the king into telling the truth.

Not that I would’ve actually done that.

It was just simply an option.

Now, with two days until the ball, it seemed like everyone was busy, even Cain. I took the past few days of which I was grounded to learn more spells; more Latin. I’d actually gotten pretty good at it, too. I’d doubled the spells I knew and was pretty fluent in them. I hadn’t gone to see Lilith any time soon, however.

Shortly after I’d confronted my brother on whether or not he had turned me in, my mother had taken me to the side, away from everyone, and confronted me. She didn’t look angry. In fact, she looked frightened.

Her thumbs kept on dwindling, and she hadn’t look me in the eyes, instead staring at the floor as if there were something interested on it. There hadn’t been. “Cerise,” she had begun. Her voice had been quieter than normal, shakier. “I...I wanted to ask you something.” I had nodded for her to go on. She’d motioned for us to sit, so we sat across from each other on my bed. Mother had taken in a deep, calming breath.

“Cerise...are you visiting your grandmother still?” I had blinked at her, completely taken aback by the directness and abruptness of her question. Had she seen me? Did I give something away? Why would she even think that?

It had taken me a second to even come up with a response. “No, no.” I had lied. “Of course not! What would make you say that?”

Mother had bitten her lip as she took a stand. She had shaken her head. “It’s nothing dear. Really. Forget I even asked.”

I hadn’t wanted to pressure her because that would’ve given her more reason to think I was lying. So, I let it go and let her leave without another word about it.

So, because of this strange conversation with my mother, I decided it would be best to not visit Lilith so often, so Mother wouldn’t think I was betraying her. However, today I needed to speak with her, just so I could clear my nerves.

I made the potion I’d made invisible, leaving it on my nightstand, and quickly left the house before anyone could stop me.

I was wearing my red cloak, thankfully. As I walked through the woods, it became clearer and clearer to me that the lycanthropes were just becoming angrier. It was frightening; I was concerned that they would hurt Lilith or Cain due to their anger with me.

Fortunately, when I came upon Lilith’s cabin and she opened up, I could see that no harm had come to her. She looked just as she always had.

“Cerise,” she smiled widely and opened the door for me. “I haven’t seen you in quite some time. How are you?”

I rushed into her home immediately, sitting at the table. Lilith wasn’t phased by this. At a slow pace, she closed the door and got some water from the stove, pouring me some tea, undoubtedly. I drummed my fingers against her table, leant back in my chair as I thought about what I would say to Lilith.

“I was arrested,” was the first thing that finally came out of my mouth.

Lilith raised an eyebrow, her eyes widening slightly as she set the tea in front of me. I reached out and gripped it, just so I could onto something. “Oh?” she questioned. “Why’s that? What happened?” Lilith was curious.

“I had been reported as a witch, apparently. I’m not sure who said it. No one is sure, not even the king. It had been anonymous.” Lilith frowned at that, and held her tea to her face, blowing on it to cool it down a bit. “I had thought maybe it was Cain, or Samuel, but it had been neither of them.” I sighed in agitation, my eyebrows furrowing. A headache was beginning to form.

“It seems like someone is messing with you,” Lilith said insightfully.

I nodded. “That it does. But who?”

Lilith shrugged. “Maybe Marquise?”

I tightened my lips, staring ahead. “Perhaps,” I allowed, and took a sip of my tea. “I’m nervous about the ball, when the plan will be put into action. I haven’t spoken with Cain much these last few days, and everything seems to be so hectic. I’m frightened that I will do something wrong.”

Lilith nodded in understanding, a small smile playing at her lips encouragingly. “You won’t, dear. Just remember that when you use a potion, you must give up something yourself.” I had completely forgotten about that part, and frowned when she told me.

“So, I just have to...cut my hand? Like what you did?”

Lilith nodded. “Yes. And empty the blood into the potion. Only then will it work properly. Remember not to say ‘tempus’, as you want her to permanently have the potion on her, forever more until she is released from this world.”

I nodded, sighing. This was just making me get a headache, trying to remember all of this. Then, I frowned slightly, remembering the first time she’d taught me about temporary and permanent potions. “What about your hand?” I questioned.

Lilith raised an eyebrow, clearly confused.

“You cut your hand and then used a potion to temporarily fix it. Wouldn’t the wound open back up?” I elaborated. Lilith had been frowning, but after my explanation, her face cleared of wrinkles and she smiled at me, nodding.

“You cannot heal someone permanently. It’s simply impossible, even if you did say the words. Someone would try to be immortal that way, and magic just doesn’t permit that to happen. Permanence is only for things unrelated to healing. That’s why it isn’t used very often.” Lilith told me.

“Oh,” my eyebrows pulled together. “If it isn’t used very often, than why say ‘tempus’ while healing?”

Lilith shrugged and stood up to get more tea. She offered more to me, but I shook my head. After getting herself more tea and sitting back down across from me, she said, “I’m not really sure why, honestly. I believe it is because a truly powerful witch can break the laws of magic, and make someone - or herself - immortal. To prevent that, everyone has been taught to say ‘tempus’.”

I nodded. Well, that made sense, I suppose. “But we’re seers, so does that really apply to us?”

Lilith nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. Just in case.”

I sighed, staring down at the table while I processed all that she told me. Finally, I pushed myself up into a stand. Lilith stared up at me expectantly. “I suppose I’d better get going, then,” I murmured. My nerves still weren’t as calm as I’d hoped they would be, but I would make do. I just needed to calm myself somehow.

“Alright, my dear,” Lilith nodded and stood up herself, walking me out. “Be careful. I’ll see you at the dance, if not sooner.”

I nodded back and waved at her, exiting her home. It had become increasingly colder while I was in her home, and I wrapped my cloak tighter about myself, putting the hood up to block the cold from getting to my ears or face.

Having the hood up obscured my vision. Although I had sensed another’s presence, I hadn’t looked around, still stuck in my thoughts. It wasn’t until I heard a growl that I looked over to see a lycanthrope on my left side, nearer to me than I would’ve liked. I stopped abruptly, glancing to my other side. Another one stood there, staring at me with dark, small eyes.

I looked all about myself. I had been surrounded. Although they couldn’t actually hurt me, my heartbeat quickened slightly at the sight of them all. They seemed to be larger, or maybe there was more now. They had already grown in size before. Or maybe there had always been eight of them. I doubted lycanthropes could breed...right?

Which meant somehow Marquise Trill was creating more of them.

But how?

Whatever the reason, I marched onwards. The lycanthropes followed me, mostly silent. I was hyperaware of their moves, every once in a while glancing at them nervously. Where was I supposed to go? What was I supposed to do? I made my way through the woods, towards town for the most part. I couldn’t lead them to it, and I wouldn’t. I just hoped that they would leave.

Some of them did. Only two stayed, the two flanking my sides. And soon, another broke off. The one beside me trudged on, his head held high and his eyes piercing. My heart raced. When I’d gotten too close to town for my taste. I turned towards him and held my hand up. “Relinquo!”

The lycanthrope went hurling backwards with a howl.

No doubt the townspeople had heard it, right? So they would get away.

I’d hurt the lycanthrope pretty good. He’d hit a tree, and although he couldn’t be killed, he could get seriously damaged. I’d broken his front leg, and he howled in pain, stretching his neck far.

“Cerise!”

Everything happened in slow motion. Another lycanthrope, this one very angry, came running through the trees, and leapt at me. My cloak would’ve deflected him instantly, but at the same moment, Edward had followed the howls, lycanthrope hunting no doubt. When he saw the lycanthrope coming at me, he threw himself in my way, knocking me down.

Edward turned back around and began to unsheath his sword, but he wasn’t fast enough. The lycanthrope would be upon him soon, I knew.

I did what I had to do. I had no choice, really. I couldn’t let the lycanthrope kill Edward. I wouldn’t be able to handle his death. I needed to protect Lydia’s brother, my own brother. I would not let him be killed just as his sister had. He would survive.

While still on the ground, I quickly pushed myself up into a sitting position and held my hand out to the beast. I could feel my power course through my veins, pulsing and seemingly stronger than it ever had been before as I said, “Relinquo.”

It was frightening how fast the lycanthrope was deflected, and how hard it had been. My power had never been so extreme before. The second I said the word, it was like a gust of wind pounded into the lycanthrope, sending him flying into a tree. I could hear his bones, his spine, breaking into pieces. I knew they would soon be fixed, but I winced nonetheless. The lycanthrope dropped to the ground, immobile, while the other lycanthrope ran away limping from the scene.

Edward, with his sword now unsheathed and his body completely rigid, stared at the sight before him, and then looked back at me. His eyes were wide with fear. I could practically read his thoughts, overthinking about what had just occurred. He had no doubt he thought I was the witch, I was certain.

“Cerise?”

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