The Mortal Knife

Free The Mortal Knife by D. J. McCune

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Authors: D. J. McCune
white lights. ‘See how the Luman’s soul shines so very fiercely in the Tapestry. And yet one day even these threads will be cut.’
    She turned towards the group and her voice was sweet but poisonous. ‘All souls pass through my hands on their way to the Hinterland and their Light and  …  beyond. All souls have their time – but mine is the right to harvest some before their allotted time. My quota. Souls chosen by me, taken in their prime. You Mortsons of all Lumen understand this because you guide these very souls.’ She shook her head. ‘Their threads still burn so bright. Death must be so unexpected for them.’ She shook her head, feigning sympathy, and in one black second Adam realised that he hated her.
    â€˜
This is the law!
’ Morta’s voice changed and now the cavern echoed with the sudden, harsh sound. ‘I may take the souls I please. It is for the Concilium to uphold the law in these matters.’ She looked around the silent men standing before her. ‘I trust you will all remember your duties, should anyone be so foolish as to cheat me of what is rightfully mine.’
    Heinrich bowed his head but there was an edge to his voice. ‘Of course, Lady Morta. Although I understand that it is within your power to limit the number of souls taken before their time. To ignore your quota and let some of these souls have their allotted time?’
    Morta appeared not to hear him. She pointed to a tiny, sparkling mass to the east of a vast ocean of blackness. ‘The Kingdom of Britain. Observe the white lights.’ She smiled at the group. ‘Those, dear Lumen, are
your
souls. Someday they too shall meet the Mortal Knife. Let us hope that is a distant day.’
    Adam stared at the lights mesmerised, wondering which one was his own. He understood Morta’s message only too well. She was sending a warning. She
knew
that someone was saving souls. If he kept doing it she would exact her revenge – and she would exact it on the Mortsons.
    It was a subdued group that trailed down the spiral staircase in Morta’s wake, back into her chamber. The ‘party’ dragged on, Morta chattering gaily as though nothing had happened, but there was a fresh tension in the air. Most of Adam’s family seemed confused. Nathanial put on a brave face but Adam knew he understood the message. Heinrich had warned him that there was a rogue in the Kingdom interfering with the Fates. What Nathanial
didn’t
realise was that the rogue was his own son.
    Adam sighed, wishing he was at home. A movement caught his eye. Clotho the thread-spinner was hovering on the edge of the crowd, silent and withdrawn. Her eyes roamed over the group, studying each face in turn. When she came to Adam their eyes locked. Adam stared and she stared back, curious and unabashed, the way little kids did. For just a second her eyes widened but a moment later she turned and disappeared into the tunnel behind.
    The minutes dragged by, until finally Morta seemed to have had enough of their company. She raised her hands in the air and the music stopped abruptly. The chatter of conversation died in an instant. ‘Such a pleasure. Alas, I can spare you no more time.’ She smiled. ‘There are threads which need to be cut. Hurry home, Lumen!’
    A chill ran down Adam’s spine. For the whole time they had been there not one person on earth had died. He had a feeling Morta would make up for lost time.
    She led the way to an alcove in the wall and pulled back a tapestry, revealing a door of ebony wood. Morta opened the door and smiled at them all. ‘Farewell, Lumen. Perhaps we shall meet again someday.’ She looked around the group, her eyes lingering on Luc. He tried to stare boldly back but Adam could see the uncharacteristic flush in his brother’s face. Morta shook hands with each of them in turn as they left. Auntie Jo could barely contain herself but managed to

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