And here it is friends. The final volume of the Immortality Shattered series. Remember to grab your set for less than a cup of coffee before the end of the month!
She watched her younger sister picking wildflowers with mild interest. The colors did nothing for her, nor did watching Essie. In fact, she’d come to view their relationship most unfavorably the older they got. Essie was only six years old and already a thorn in Arlie’s side. Her parents practically forced her to watch over Essie, even when Arlie had other plans.
She’d lost friends because of it and missed out on important events that no parent would understand. How could they? It had been so long since they were eleven. Every child knew that parents were simply out of touch with the true goings on in the village. Arlie fumed when her mother sent her after Essie, today of all days! Arlie and her friends were supposed to meet by the old town square fountain to discuss the technicalities of the upcoming summer dance.
Only she couldn’t go now and was going to miss everything! All because of her stupid sister. Arlie wished things were the way they used to be, before Essie came along. Life had been perfect then. A happy family with no conflicts. Essie changed it all. Arlie found herself grinding her teeth. Her jaw was sore and she swore tiny bits of tooth were floating in her saliva. Arlie frowned. Yet another calamity to heap upon her sister.
She glanced up, despite knowing better. Essie stood in the middle of a bed of lavender flowers. Several were clenched tightly in her small hand. The smile stretching across her face radiated joy. Arlie snorted. They were just flowers.
“Mama will be pleased!” Essie beamed.
Of course, she will. You’ve become her favorite, robbing me! Arlie’s eyes narrowed dangerously thin. Her fist clenched as fresh rage sparked. She wondered what her friends were talking about. “They’re just flowers, Essie. No one cares.”
Despite being scolded, Essie maintained her smile. “Mama said you need to be nicer to me! I heard her tell it.”
Arlie rose, placing both fists on her hips. “Why should I? You ain’t done nothing but ruin my life, Essie! They loved me most before you came along.”
Essie threw the flowers down. Tears threatened to spill. “How can you say that? We’re sisters! We’re supposed to be best friends.”
“I liked my life better before you were born! Mama and Da only talk about you now. They forget all about me,” Arlie raged, feeling relief at finally being able to express herself. She didn’t care if she hurt Essie’s feelings. Hers had been getting abused for years. “Sometimes I wish you had never been born.”
Essie broke down and cried harder than a newborn babe. Between sobs she managed, “That’s not fair, Arlie. I love you.”
The admission fell on deaf ears. Arlie was no longer listening. She closed her eyes as years of pent up anger flushed through her. She felt it suddenly, unbidden and … powerful. Her entire body began to vibrate. Softly at first. A gentle caress from her inner core. The intensity quickened until she felt as if she were being torn in two. Arlie threw her head back and screamed.
Essie dropped to her knees, hands over her ears, as she watched in horror as her sister began to fade. A kaleidoscope of colors rippled over Arlie’s flesh, pushing through her organs before bleeding off through her fingertips. The ground trembled, tearing in places. Steam issued from the gaps. Bushes and grass wilted, dying in the span of a breath. Arlie fell.
She writhed on the ground. Her body contorted into impossible shapes as it was being remade from the inside out. And then the remarkable happened. The pain faded, ever so slowly. Replacing it was an overwhelming feeling of euphoria. Arlie relished the previously unknown sensations taking control. She wanted more.
Arlie’s screams turned to unchecked glee. She’d never felt so alive. Never dreamed such was possible. A tiny hand stretched forth. Bolts of electricity danced between the fingers. Arlie had once heard rumors of a magic user in the Port of Grespon, but chose to ignore it as foolish gossip. Everyone knew magic was rare in the Free Lands, if it even still existed at all.
“This is …” she gasped, as the hem of her dress caught fire.
She vaguely heard Essie scream. The poor fool! If she only had an idea of what was truly occurring. But Arlie didn’t care. It was her anger at her sister that was responsible for sparking this dramatic change. A change she knew she’d never be able to undo or return from. Nor did she wish to.
Every feeling and emotion became amplified as the raw magic consumed her. She looked upon Essie and felt contempt. The root of all her problems and she now had the strength to act upon it. Righting what had previously seemed impossible. Flames sprang up around her collar, singeing the little hairs on the back of her neck.
Essie reached out, her fingers barely scraping against Arlie’s forearm. “Arlie, no!”
Arlie watched in muted awe as her sister burst into white hot flames, collapsing in a pile of ash a heartbeat later. It would be many years before Arlie realized the full extent of her actions, but by then, her plans had already formed. The world would kneel before her. Ironically, she knew none of it would have been possible if not for her sister.