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Atonement

Chapter 1.

part 23 of Threshold


The Wood's canopy was an imperfect veil: a distant sun struck Jote's spine like swords of light. As they were placed, Jote could not have seen Mjrn's fascination. A curious trick of shadow to have Fran's daughters look so much like him, a taint as clear as their shortened ears. Jote spoke the Green Word's instinctive rejection:

'Abomination.'

Mjrn had been told agreement was the only rational thing, but she witnessed twinned entrancement dissolve into contempt. One spat, a transparent thread. 'Leave it, Cam. We can learn this place better from books.'

'Wait!' Mjrn could not care for their mouths, but this was a harsher bereavement than her first. 'Your s-sire would have called me—us—your aunts.'

Possibly Jote was spurred by duty or care to dull Mjrn's anxieties; her words wrapped Mjrn in a fog where no challenging shape could rise to endanger her. The Wood offered unequivocal safety.

The twins communicated with the silent fluency of those guaranteed completed understanding. The salvation they offered smelled of discharged guns and oiled leather.

'We are not welcome here, aunt, but you are welcome with us.'

Mjrn's breath rattled in her lungs. It was past time to correct her mistakes.

Continue to Chapter 2


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