XXXVIII.

And the darkness spoke to Lyra in a bodiless voice, an apparition whose language was feelings. So it said,The thing came from his shadow. Specifically his shadow that got cut off from him as he slammed the door too hard and fast. Mother opened the windows in the usual mighty struggle, coaxing the roses’ sweet scent to alleviate the fumes Father left behind. But the fumes were only gone since we breathed it in, my share of chopped shadow already enough to choke me.

Knowing that I already have the smallest serving I rushed to my room and vomit there. Found a page and spilled some ink, then from boiling my blood it mauled the pages instead, simmering scripts to tell the tale of how a doctor broke someone’s back. His wife’s back.

She was the envy of the township and beyond, her grace and poise and intellect and beauty supposedly worthy of a man as educated as him. People whispered in general good will, wishing that she would be dumber, and him a little handsomer, but otherwise ‘tis a good pair.

So? He wasn’t thinking all that, though, for as long as his wife’s father’s trade continue “love” was well fed.

Of course. This world is not ruled by the Divine. Trade fails. “Love” fails.

The pages grew more numerous at each door slammed, each piece of shadow curtailed from its often drunken source then stuffed down our throats.

“Silence,” He hissed. “Get yourself educated so you can be more reasonable.” A mumbled contradiction: why would he grimace at the tutors should he truly wish his daughters educated?

From the pages the thing grew, a dark shadow came from each bent of my pen.

I’ve done a terrible thing, I realized too late, to infect the pages with such spite. They were not even cheap, these flimsy old things, and their potential was priceless, now ruined. But from there I found my beast, my demon, whose sole purpose was to soar for me on clipped wings.

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