Days of the Dead 7 - Adla Thera and Jan Varouf

From the cookie gifted out of charity to a beggar under her window, to a production in greater scale, it was a small step. Adla convinced the nurses she would be absent from her usual duties, as she was working on a new plan to raise money for the miners. A surprise, she claimed. Meanwhile, she took over a small room at the nurses headquarters, and kept it locked. A surprise, she repeated. Inside, she could conduct her experiments in peace.

And experimenting she did, for a long time. Led by the idea that the difference between a healing herb and a poison was just a matter of dosage, she started working on a special brand of fortified ginseng, that she would then crush and cut with regular poison, just for good measure. Fortunately for her, ginseng sold in bags was often quite compact and no one would be able to see the difference.

She was blinded by her thirst for revenge, and did not aim at specific targets. Sooner or later, her ginseng would get to her enemies, ravaging the cities on the way, if needed be. She only needed a good channel to assure distribution. Then, from ginseng bath salts to Lerlin, to the special blessed flowers of the Knights of Silver, passing by all traditional channels of the black market, she was pretty certain her reach would be far and lethal.

And so it happened that, on day, knowing that Lance Waltham was going to drop by, to try to convince, for the 100th time, the Nurses to adopt a line of uniforms from his fabrics, Adla left the door of her little room ajar, so that the magnate could catch her red-handed. As predicted, Lance Waltham did not stop to think, presuming immediately that the cleric had changed her main source of income, and offering to help. Distribution assured. Soon enough, the ginseng changed hands, and all she had to do was sit back and laugh, as the news would start pouring in from all over the world. She could hardly wait to see that sudden flood of tears.

One problem, however, remained. What would she do with her husband? She could not help but think of him, as she closed the door of the little room, when the last back of the drug was taken by Dodd, Waltham’s innocent helper. How did she feel about Jan? If, on the one hand, she knew she owed him her life - for he had been stupid enough to give her a second chance -, on the other, Jan had only married her because she wasn’t Adla Thera anymore. It revolted her to the guts to think that her husband had married a woman with no memory of her own identity. So, she decided, she would give him the gift of knowledge, and tell him of what she had done.

The evening was warm and pleasant. When the Senator got home, his wife surprised him with an invitation for a walk before the meal. The two left the house, hand in hand, and headed to the road. Adla wanted to go to the bridge, she said, to see the salmon leaping down, in their long voyage towards the rivers, where, finally, they would get to multiply. Varouf, tired as he was, didn’t find the courage to say no to his wife. When they got to the bridge, Adla asked Jan if they could visit the guardhouse of the traitors. Jan agreed, though there were prettier views around.

“In this place of betrayal, my dear Jan, I have my own to confess.” And there she told him her story, quietly, almost tenderly, recapitulating everything, from her early childhood with Doursa Lachon, to her time in Brigobaen. She was still holding his hand, and marking her words with the cadence of her steps, heading closer to the shore, from the guardhouse to the softer sand. He listened to her quietly as well, fearing where the tale would end, not knowing how much she recalled, not wishing to interrupt her.

As they got to the shore, she reached the end of her tale, raising in tone, from the soft memories of a distant past, to the burning anger of the present. Jan Varouf, himself, though paler and visibly shocked, was not angry. He knew this could happen one day, and he took that risk when he decided to protect her. Exhausted, let go of her hand to rub his eyes, for a moment, before beginning to answer. That was all she needed. She took a step back to gain momentum, and she pushed her husband to the water, where two hungry sea serpents were ready for a feast.

It was done. She watched him being devoured without even blinking, enjoying the smell of blood filling the air. She was free, at last. Free to go looking for her true family, while the world reaped what she had sown.

In her joy, she did not notice another creature approaching. When she turned back, the larger bear of the group was standing on his hind legs, growling, ready for dinner with his family.
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