Eyes fixed on the ceiling, the girl trembled as the lights dimmed. “Good job we’re here to show them a good time, right?” she said, the slightest note of apprehension in her voice.
“That it is,” said the doctor. As he stepped outside the circle, he caught Mireille’s eye and gave a nod of approval. This was a good haul, it said. She was a perfect catch.
She didn’t realise what was going on, of course. They never did. They thought they were there to cleanse their bodies of toxins, of the remnants of their previous night’s frolicking in all its forms. At no point did they notice the hands that reached out from the circle to snatch at their abdomens and pluck free the gleams of wandering souls who foolishly thought they had found the gateway to reincarnation. The wheel, as they said, never stopped turning.
“And you’re cleansed,” said the doctor. “Same time tomorrow?”
“Depends on when I get to sleep.”
Mireille, fists clenched with resentment, turned away. He had a job to do.
“But it was just a kiss!” said Jory. “A peck on the cheek! She can’t punish me for that! She can’t…”
Ahead of them stood the door to her inner sanctum, an emerald blade tall as a house. Beyond it lay the truth, the great secret sealed within Mireille’s heart, the knowledge so important, so powerful, that he would pray release from a Maiden’s allure just to keep it safe.
She felt the ripples reverberate through her body, sharp waves of sunlight followed by a cry. This was everything he ever wanted, everything he ever dreamed, and he would pay any price to make sure this moment would never end.
The door creaked open. The way was clear. The truth was hers.
The boy looked up towards the light and took its hand.
“Do you think there are things I do not see?”
The Matriarch sat upon her throne, a figure of such intense beauty, such age and majesty, that even the stars paled in her brilliance. She was to Maidens what Maidens were to humanity, an unobtainable perfection that demanded nothing else but complete and utter devotion. Before her, the four men trembled, mere tools of her whim. She was the angel who had rescued them from life and spared them from death, the goddess to whom they owed their bodies and their souls and their everything. She was the axis around which the wheel spun, the root from which Avalon grew, the will of Samsara, incarnate.
Mireille glanced at his associates. The last thing he needed was for her to question his loyalty. If she suspected, for even a second, that he had a power that was not hers, she would tear the soul from his body and feed it to his own pets.
Morgan stepped forward, hand reaching into his shirt. With all the strength he could muster, he cried, “You will love me! In the name of Ketos, you will be mine!”
Jory had betrayed her love. He had surrendered himself to another, if only for a moment. He couldn’t even meet her gaze.
“If it is a maedan’s love you desire,” she said, “then their love you shall receive.”
Mireille watched from his balcony as Jory thrashed about the pool, realising, at last, the price of his betrayal. One by one, the seven sisters slipped into the water, perfect in their every detail save for the void of their soul.
The crystal flew across the chamber and landed in the Matriarch’s outstretched hand. Her long, silver-white fingers curled around it. “You would dare challenge me? You would dare disrupt the wheel?”
One by one, her daughters emerged from the shadows of her sanctuary. Morgan, stammering for words, turned and stumbled towards the door.
Samsara, from the Sanskrit word for ‘wandering through’, refers to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. When you stop and think about the things such a cycle – that reincarnation – would imply… Well, you get a story like this one XD