Merryn glanced up as Clementine swept through the door. Even in his bewildered state and with a horrified look upon her face, she was stunning. Her blonde hair was coifed and styled back in a complex array of curls and braids. Her feminine figure was apparent in the tight corset and cream embroidered bodice that flared out to a pale blue, full skirt. He knew he looked terrible in comparison and he knew she felt the same.
“Ryn,” she whispered, “what happened?”
The dark hollows beneath his red-rimmed eyes and the greenish pallor to his skin conveyed the truth before he uttered any words.
“It was Ma that they burnt last night. I ran away Clem. I ran as soon as they tooked her away. But the smoke got me. It was like it talked to me Clem. It told me I couldn’t go. It told me that I had to stay here. So I came to you. I don’t got nowhere else to go Clem,” his voice trembled as he scraped a hand through his greasy hair. A dark flash on his wrist caught Clem’s attention.
“Show me your wrist,” she demanded, stretching out her hand.
He tentatively turned his hand over and she pulled back his sleeve. A swirl of black, angry lines encircled his wrist. The skin was red and puckered, the black lines branded into his skin.
“Bloody hell,” he breathed.
“Can I touch it?” she asked warily, her fingers poised slightly above the surface.
He nodded and she cautiously brushed her fingertip over the marred skin. Yelping, she snatched her hand back. A black chalky substance coated her fingers.
She watched in horror as the black substance started to bubble and seep into her skin, the tendrils disappearing into her fingers. A tingling warmth spread through her hands and slicked up to her wrist. She could feel it swirling under her skin, increasing in temperature as it built up speed. She cried out when the heat of the tumultuous black mess became unbearable. Swooning, she fell back onto the tapestried cushions.
Merryn gaped as similar lines to his own smouldered onto her skin. They darkened as the skin around them bubbled and became a livid red. She moaned then fell still. He gently grasped her hand, careful to avoid touching the black swirls on her wrist, hoping that his touch would lend some comfort. He studied the churning lines on their wrists.
He shuddered. They were of opposite symmetries.