Twenty-seven – Sibling Rivalry: To Die Or Not To Die
I had acquired the taste for blood. It filled my nose, coated my throat and reddened my peripheral vision. The fact that it was my sister from whom I was to take the next draught was neither here nor there. She was now alive to everything that was happening and, although the curse that had held her spellbound had been broken, abject fear was rooting her to the altar upon which she’d been lain for this very purpose – the sacrifice to bless our betrothal.
I turned and smiled at her as I advanced with purpose through the scarlet haze; the candles, too, were glowing crimson as they had before Perveen and I had entered this chamber. In fact, all colours combined to produce that same angry red that had pulsated as my queen-to-be and I had waited in the tunnel outside, when she’d tried to prepare me for something like this eventuality but my deaf ears had not listened. Although, I think that even she could not have foreseen this particular eventuality.
It was then that my sister realised what Vlad had commanded me to do. Shuffling back up the table on her hands and her rear, pushing with her bare heels to get away from me she found only the comfort of Perveen and Marie, who blocked her retreat and secured a shoulder each with both hands.
All this time I could feel the Son of the Dragon’s eyes crawling over my back, enjoying this sport. And to think, I was now going to take the life of my sister whose honour only minutes earlier I had tried so very hard to defend, an ill-advised act that had ended up with Billy being slaughtered, my brother in a death grip because of it and me with my soul lost forever. I had presumed to have momentarily took control over the Master’s lust. What little I knew.
In my hand, I found Billy’s axe. I cannot recall picking it up – perhaps like the sword of Gryffindor, it belongs to the one who has rightfully claimed it the last. But that could not be right as my brother still lived, although dying was very much the order of his current predicament. Yet, he had made it is to slay its previous owner with it – then it clicked. I did not like the answer, but I had been given my instructions. This axe would never leave my possession for as long as I had the will and strength to wield it, that was for certain. Billy had slain its owner, whoever that had been. My brother had slain Billy, however his possession would be minimised by the fact that I would be the one to bring about his merciful death. At that, I wanted this artefact’s life-cycle to be complete and think no further of it.
By the time I reached my sister, she had simply accepted her fate. The only glare she cast my way said “Get it over with quickly, you bastard.” It contained anger, true, but also said, “If there is any decency left in you, you’ll do what you have to quickly.”
That hurt more than any mortal wound would ever have done and my conscience had been pricked. I turned to see if the Master had noticed my hesitance, but his attention had turned solely toward my brother, whom it looked like he was attempting to draw through a mental wringer. But it was doubtful whether there was anything left in his mind capable of being twisted further. If there was, Vlad would find it.
Without thinking, I split the skin of my sister’s forearm with the axe as Billy had done to me what seemed like years ago, but in truth was little more than two days hence. The reason for me choosing this method was, at my last recollection, my fangs had not yet toughened to puncture a victim. As I knelt beside the altar and took my sister’s arm to my lips, however, my fangs touched the abrasion before my mouth got close; they had become as hard as tungsten and I felt her blood enter my system through them, as if being drawn up a pipette. All of a sudden, I knew my sister’s life. Her loves, her hatred (I was at the top of that particular pile, but the loathing was merely superficial), her ambitions and her son and daughter. My niece and nephew.
The part of me that was still human pined for release, wished that it could express the self-loathing at the action the corporeal body was undertaking, when really the winged soul wanted nothing more than to usher my sister forth and send her back to her children, as Billy had fooled me into thinking he had done after the Rite of Passage. Perhaps on some subconscious level I had acknowledged his deception and that is why my blow, although Vlad’s comment toward sullying his hands on my sister was the catalyst, found its mark on Billy instead.
I guess my sister felt that emotion, too; saw that I’d tried to defend her honour when she had lain defenceless beneath the sheet in some state of conscious rigour mortis; her expression softened, only slightly, as if she were about to say something. As she thought formed in her mind, another voice cut over our sibling connection. It was Perveen, my almost-queen.