The Damned

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 12 (v.1)

Submitted: May 11, 2013

Reads: 126

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Submitted: May 11, 2013

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12

 

Foxwood Hall, Yorkshire, 14th December 1537

 

“The earl bought me.”

Thomas felt his mouth drop in disbelief. “He bought you?”

Conor’s dark eyes looked vaguely amused. “I see you look shocked, Thomas, but what did you expect? I have already told you that I had no place there. In their eyes, I was an outcast and always would be. When the earl offered them money for my services, all they could see was a solution to their problems.”

“But your mother … She must have tried to stop them.”

Conor laughed coldly. “My mother initiated the sale.”

“Your grandfather…” Thomas protested.

“Alas, Thomas, you’re still such a romantic.”

Thomas found it hard to hide his disgust and incredulity. How could anyone sell their child?

Seeing his face, Conor laughed again, the sound hard and brittle. “Your overzealous sense of morality is endearing.” He turned to Isabel, taking her chin between his fingers. “Can’t you see that it would be criminal to make one so innocent live among us?”

“He is no innocent, I have seen to that,” she purred, insinuation in her eyes. Conor’s fingers fell from her ivory cheeks as though he had been scalded, but her long, slim fingers grasped his neck, forcing him to look at her still. “No more innocent than I was. Was I really so soiled that I was fit to live among you?”

He shook his head, looking at her almost pityingly. “You did not lose the innocence I talk of at my hand. You were a Devereux. You were born knowing of the corruption inside of men. You were born to indifference, born to manipulation. He isn’t. He has a poet’s heart. Let him glimpse our world and you will ruin him.”

Her bejewelled fingers caressed Conor’s pale cheek. “You have forgotten what it is to be human, my love. It is not only the innocent who would be shocked by such a story.”

He placed his hand on top of hers, trapping it there. “But it is only the innocent, the one who has never seen how cruel life can be, who would be so unable to grasp that such an action could be motivated by love.”

He spoke as if humanity were foreign to him, as if it should be foreign to her too. But what was Isabel if not human? With her perfect mortal form, and a body which seemed made for mortal pleasure. Her eyes cried tears of blood, it was true, and she was more beautiful than any artist’s rendering of an angel, more alluring than the marble nymphs carved by ancient sculptors, but she cried out at a human touch – his touch. Their bodies fit together, as God had made them to fit together. She was Thomas’ own self, his mirror image. And if he was human, then Isabel was too. He must speak with a human voice, as she did, for they were human. But what did that make Conor, a creature that could not. “Then I am an innocent, for I cannot understand. You speak of ones who loved, and you speak as if you loved them too. But you do not speak of hatred,” Thomas said disbelievingly. “How can that be? What are you, that you can so easily forgive them?”

Conor refilled his goblet, swallowed the contents in one gulp. His black eyes observed Thomas over the glass, and a dark laugh boomed from his lips. “I am one that was innocent once, but is no longer. I am one who cannot judge the folly of men, nor condemn them as sinners. I am one who has seen inside a thousand human souls, and so can understand most things, forgive most things. The family I speak of were motivated by kindness, just as Isabel has convinced herself that she possesses the same motivation. But the kindest intentions can deliver the cruellest consequences, as Isabel understands better than anyone.”

Isabel wiped a slow drip of wine from the side of Conor’s glass. Her pink tongue licked her pale finger, and she closed her eyes, savouring the sweet tang of the expensive liquid. She wiped a second drop, and placing her finger against Conor’s lips, she traced their outline, painting them red. “Your intentions were never kind, Conor. You were motivated by a selfish desire to have me by your side. But over the years I have grown glad of your selfishness. I did not wish for death then, and I do not wish for it now. I do not despise what I am in the way that you do. I’m not like you. I regret nothing, except for her.”

Conor took her by the tops of her arms, their faces so close that they might have kissed. His voice was sorrowful, broken, disappointed. “You must, for we are monsters, Issy.”

Isabel’s voice dripped with scorn. “You have been a monster, but Ari taught me well.”

Conor released her, turned away from her. His tone was harsh. “And what of her death? Were you not monstrous then?”

Isabel shook her head, her pearl earrings trembling. She reached for him, and drew him towards her by the velvet of his sleeve. “Once, but there are greater monsters than me walking among us. I have saved a thousand lives in recompense for the one which was wrongly taken.”

“And what of his life?” Conor asked, looking at Thomas. “How will you atone for the evil you would do unto him?”

She beamed, too widely. “It is a kindness. I love him so much that I would give him heavenly delights. I am sure you remember those.” There was nothing more beautiful than Isabel, with her eyes teasing and her mouth open, her teeth shaped into points. “And in return for all that I would give him, I want only his soul.”

“That is no kindness. It is a cruelty born out of good intentions, just as hers was, but a cruelty nonetheless, my love.”


© Copyright 2018 Jordana J Sacks. All rights reserved.

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