Lilith stood face to face with the beast. That for which she’d feigned apathy towards exposed. It’s reaction to the truth behind her façade was surprisingly wise and gentle. She did not need to ask for its help, it understood.
As darkness fell away and the chamber’s light exposed her, it became evident this was no ordinary woman. Hair as red as fire framed her florid face. Green eyes revealing glimpses of anger and sadness as she peered back at the beast. She was adept at shielding those emotions, but It could reach into her soul.
She moved gracefully, despite an underlying fear. Where others burst forth stammering loquaciously, her approach was careful, reserved.
The beast would listen, but it wouldn’t matter. It was already bound to her.
Charlton grimaced every time the plaintiffs’ lawyers referred to him as “Good-Time Charlie” while assassinating his good character. He’d been cleared criminally, so what if it was on a technicality, he’d done nothing wrong. All this acrimony towards him was nothing more than regret, a way to rationalize a sordid past and leave it behind.
Lilith remained obscured in the shadows. Studying the creature for a tell, anything to gain advantage. Watching as doomed suitors offer wealth and sacrifice in exchange for favour. Each left retreating, begging for mercy in the flashes before receiving a final, brutal verdict.
She expected something sinister in its fiery red eyes. Instead, she glimpsed something she understood, a loneliness shrouded behind the beast’s perpetually shifting facade.
Disarmed for a moment, it sensed her in the darkness. She wasn’t ready, but it was time…
Her fingers stroked the rough-hewn thirteenth-century leather cover. Ancora had outdone herself, Lilith thought.
She flipped until the hand-bound pages fell to the spell she sought. A grin formed as she skimmed the incantation. Lilith wanted to recite it but the bookseller had warned of dangerous consequences. Forbidden to ask for assurances she would need to manipulate the beast into believing it offered to protect her freely. Revenge would have to wait.