by Beth C.

It had always seemed like a dream, like her imagination playing tricks, like a memory made from the stories of mulo and fear told to her by the elders of the tribe. But with his feet padding loud behind her and the knowledge that he would reach her long before she reached safety, she knew not all childhood fears were false

For many years, while America was still a dream and before she was sent to university there, the only life she knew was at the carnival they ran through the countryside. She was still Jana then and not Jenny, spending her days traveling through the land to their resting place, and sleeping beside the vardo in the deep grass in the hot summer heat.

When she was still too little to work but too eager not to stay on the fairgrounds, Jana would sit at her dai's feet while she read fortunes. She would watch those who were not of their kind giggle about the dirty gypsies, and spit on the ground beside her when they did not like what the cards read.

As she got older, Jana would sit beside the boys of the clan as they ran the rides long into the night. The shimmering metal and lights would radiate colors across the fields where they parked, and would glow long after Jana was sent to watch the younger children get to bed.

The elders had chosen her early in life to be the lucky child who would be educated by members in England. She was to be sent into the outside world, to be trained to watch over Angelus. But in those summers, watching the stars shine in the sky besides the ferris wheel, Jana knew she would be happiest traveling with the carnival across the countryside.

But in that last summer, with the youngest children tucked in tightly, Jana saw her.

She was the high priestess draped in white from the card tucked in her dai's tarot, she was a goddess floating across the ground with her feet barely touching.

She was paler then any of the spirits that ran across the fields at night, and under the lights of the fair carrying on in the distance she seemed to shine.

But it wasn't with the light that missionaries preached to them, or that purity Jana's puridaia seemed to glow. It burned behind eyes even darker than Jana's, stinging and painful like the winter against bare skin. It hurt to look into them, but she captured Jana's stare immediately.

The woman was mahrime, but with the delicate way she seemed to move through the grass, Jana knew that in days long ago she was just like Jana, young, good, and wuzho.

The dress draped over her skeletal frame, with sharp shoulders and no soft angles. It looked like it would hurt to be her, ache to live in her marble skin pulled tight over rigid bones. She looked so cold, so young, and so stiff, holding herself with posture straighter then any woman Jana had seen, and with hair even straighter, lying almost jet-black on the white dress.

When she finally spoke, her voice held that pain Jana expected.

"Pretty Nightingale," she sang softly, "Do you want to sing for me?"

Jana just gazed into the eyes that were deep and black like the sky above them.

"Sing for me sweet thing," she moved closer to Jana, "Do you want to know what I see?"

She giggled loudly, grabbing at a strand of Jana's hair. "I see roses Nightingale," she twirled the strand, "I see roses and cold, just cold. You are shiny now, but you won't be then.

"Who are you?" she asked quietly, moving closer to the woman, letting her satin dress graze her skin.

The woman looked at her curiously, as if no one had or cared who she was for many years. "I guess I am Daddy's pet," she answered.

"No, not that," Jana said more boldly, "What is you name?"

The woman slapped her hard, and she could taste blood in her mouth as she hit the ground. "Little bird doesn't know better," she giggled wildly, "I told my answer, Daddy would be quite angry if he heard you talking like this."

Jana felt tears starting to roll down her cheeks, "What do you want from me?"

"I was sent by the stars to stop the sparkling wheel from shining so brightly," she knelt beside Jana, "But then I saw another light shining even brighter." She touched Jana's cheek lightly, and Jana leaned into it, frozen by the touch of her icy cold fingers."

"I wish I could put out your light Nightingale," the woman sighed, "The stars aren't happy with you at all."

"Are you going to hurt me?" Jana asked, as her mind screamed and her body drew even closer to the woman.

"Heavens no," her eyes grew wide in shock, "The stars are being unreasonable, because they know what they read."

Jenny shut her eyes as the woman leaned into her, "What do the stars read for me?"

"You will see, for now only a taste because Daddy needs you for later," she breathed heavy on Jana's neck, "You will be naughty and he needs to punish you."

Her teeth pricked Jana's neck, and she felt her body fall limp in the woman's arms as a pressure built within her. She was drowning yet floating in the sensation as she was taken more gently then any boy had ever tried. Something was being taken from her, or maybe she was giving it away, with her heart beating terribly fast in her chest, and the wetness flooded between her legs.

As her fangs released, Jana saw the stars the woman was moaning about exploding behind her eyes.

"You taste like jasmine blooming in the night," she smiled evilly, "Daddy is very lucky."

"Drusilla!" a voice screamed from across the field, as a figure ran towards them, "Where did you go?"

"Oh my Spike is worried about me," she placed a finger over Jana's lips, "Hush now darling, I will see you again."

It seemed like a dream then, but it was all getting pieced together as she saw him right in front of her.

His fingers were tight and heavy on her neck, and those last moments taught her why the drabami refused to read her fortune.

It had already been read by a broken creature blessed with a gift, and cursed by the same creature that had killed their most beloved daughter.

She hadn't failed her uncle, it was her fate to fall at his feet and Drusilla had seen it. But with the amria sitting on her computer, Jana knew what her Puridaia's cards would read for Drusilla next.

Those with the sight can't always see the exact path of their future.

Angel would fall next, and her clan would have their way once again. Jenny had served her family well.


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