There is a book beneath Zahara's pillow. Bound in simple leather, the pages are crisp and creamy white where they are not covered in elaborately detailed plans and sketches of various arcane rituals, artifacts and Essence diagrams. About two-thirds of the way through, several pages contain only text. Written in an elegant hand, only one who knows her writing intimately well could tell when her hand was shaking while writing.

I remember when I used to want "feelings" and wondered if life would be better if I had them.

I'm beginning to suspect the answer here is "no, it's not better at all."

Before, everything was so clear. Oh, I pretended to care when it suited me. I made it a point to appear to care, when Lucent joined us. But fooling people and manipulating them into doing what I wanted was so easy. Just figure out what they care about, and twist. The things that people loved - those were simply tools for me to use to control or destroy them.

Cerin. He came into my life with that hair, and those eyes, and the eminent deadliness and wicked grace of the predator. So damn sexy. Slowly, the game we played became real. The dance became closer. I let him in, and I started to think of him more than myself - love? It must have been. It was powerful and it moved me in a new way. I thought I knew what it meant.

Power. I didn't want to admit it to myself, but I knew what I was giving up when I gained it. I didn't know what it really meant, though. Not then. I was still protected from feeling. Time passed, and our love grew. It became central to my existence. The rock against which all chaos would break on. And I reveled in the power that I held, and the power in him, that he chose to use for me.

Akuna. I am a master at my trade - and so is he. In some sense, I admire what he did. So many little details perfectly aligned. If I ever had doubts about the effectiveness of the collars, they are gone. Having Markuran there was a particularly effective touch. I never thought I'd see him again but I should have known I would. Just not like that. There were moments in the darkness that proved my strength, my will, my power, even powerless. I would not have broken. I was not afraid.

Fear. The unknown bargain. I still don't know the exact details of what Cerin promised Siram. I didn't need to. Neither of them would say what it was, other than that it was not death or pain. I knew instantly that it must be worse than either of these, since they were reassuring me with their absence. I have since learned that this was not Akuna's plan, but Siram's. I suspect Akuna would have used Cerin as a tool to break my will, had he succeeded in capturing him without me escaping. I cannot quite tell which would be worse.

Pain. The soul-deep kind that comes when the rock you built your dreams on is suddenly gone. The world was suddenly wrong, and all clarity was lost. Feelings dominated my every waking moment, and my darkest nightmares. I walked in a haze of red and black. My schemes became more dangerous, more dark. I had nothing left that I cared about losing... but...

Power. I ceased to care about maintaining my iron grip on it, and the people I thought were friends pulled away the foundations. Undermined my authority and mocked the idea that I had ever held it. My oldest friend went behind my back to destroy herself and be reborn anew with no warning. Only one thing held my rage in check.

Tevezst. The cruelties of life and its ironies were well at work with the faerie. He stole from me when I was young. Stole from a child the tools she would need to be truly human. To be loving and compassionate and caring. He set me on the path to being monstrous, and so I paid him back with the fruits of his labor. Oh yes, he endured much in the White Room. I could see it change him, being powerless and alone, with only my iron knives for company and my rage for sustenance. Oh, Lucent was horrified by it, but he didn't understand. He never knew who or what I was until that day, when I took off my mask and showed him what fear meant. And yet... he still believed in me.

Freedom. The freedom to accept the consequences of your actions is human. To tear fate back from the abyss is divine.


The last of the written pages ends halfway down, with no sign of why it was abandoned. The sketches continue on after that point as if it was never there.

Page last modified on April 03, 2009, at 05:50 PM