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“Dear Penchant,

I regret to inform you that your progress is disappointing. Since you have not fulfilled our bargain, measures have been taken. Five minutes of our agreement is hereby rescinded.




“No! Please, Mistress, no!” Penchant began to say as she felt the heat rise from her toes into her calves as if they’d been stuck into a furnace. A force beyond this realm gripped her as the sensation of fire spread quickly throughout her body, causing her to writhe in excruciating pain. Suddenly, reality unzipped to a place in Hades near the lake of fire where she and others burned alive. Flesh peeled, then charred, as heat from the lake’s flames induced screams of agony beyond all human endurance.

Hellion watched with dispassion as his mistress contorted in silence on the ground before him. Knowing full well what she was going through, neither mercy nor concern for her pain moved him. Though he had never dealt with Beauty personally, he knew only too well the wrath of her kind and the penalties for disobedience.

Contracts, signed in your own blood, were just a fact of existence in the afterlife. Everyone hated them, but no one could escape them. Essentially a furlough from Hades, as long as you met the terms of the agreement, which were never negotiable, the pain stopped and you could, after a fashion, live again.

Suddenly, Penchant came back to her senses, coughing violently. Voice cracking with the stench of sulfur still in her nostrils, she wretched the contents of her evening meal onto the ground. Shaking uncontrollably, sobbing quietly for a moment, she then collected herself. Wiping her mouth with her sleeve, Charlie’s mistress rose to her feet. Slowly at first, then with more resolve, the lad’s governess made her way towards the house.


Bren awoke with a start slightly after midnight with a heaviness in her chest and a tightness in her stomach giving a sense of foreboding. Ever since she had first come to Charlie’s house, these sensations in her midriff started coming. After witnessing the lighting of the candles that evening, they’d grown even stronger. Nowadays, she sensed Charlie quite strongly whether in his presence or not, feeling his sadness grow daily.

However, tonight was distinctly unpleasant even to the point of feeling sick in her spirit. Just like that queasy feeling a person gets, just when they are at the point of vomiting or not, Bren couldn’t decide what to do next. Should she wait, hoping it will pass? Or did she need to do something make it pass.

Like waking up from a nightmare that you can’t fully remember, Brenzel felt the remnants of terror in her soul. The only clear image that lingered was of two red eyes staring at her through the darkness.

Her palms cold and sweaty, Bren felt a sudden urge to swing out of bed and started pacing the floor. Moving to the second-story window, she stared out into the moonlit garden below. As she did, she saw a dark silhouette, she guessed was Penchant, coming in from the garden. What is she doing out so late? Brenzel thought to herself. On the other side of the garden, near the back gate, she could swear she saw something – something evil.

A chill crawled down her spine, causing her to shiver uncontrollably. She put her hand to her mouth, as she saw it move away. Something was not right, something was terribly wrong.

Seeing green

Hellion, looking after his mistress as she made her way to the house, raised his eyes to a window on the second story of the manor. Seraph hunters are always trouble, he thought grimly. Unpredictable, showing up at the most inconvenient times, eternally drawn to those like Penchant’s ward. Through the darkness he saw Brenzel’s green luminescence, feeling a slight shiver run down his spine.

At breakfast that morning, everyone seemed muted. Penchant, normally dower and formal anyway, looked especially grim. Charlie spoke little as he dutifully cleaned his plate. Winston, putting down the morning paper said, “My word, the world’s gone crazy! Now it looks like we are headed for war!”

Brenzel glanced down at the daily paper laying on the table, reading, Great Britain Declares War On Germany.

Bren, unlike many girls in the English countryside, learned how to read from her grandmother. Teaching from a well-worn Tyndale Bible, Nana carefully and patiently taught her how to sound out and then recognize the printed word. Starting to read the words on the newspaper, Bren’s heart skipped a beat as she read, “August 4, 1914.”


No, this can’t be! Bren thought, the year is 1687! Suddenly, everything started to fit together in a blinding flash of insight. The house, the furniture, and the different sayings were not just because she was in the big city! Excusing herself hastily from the table, Bren fumbled her way upstairs, feeling the world spiral out of control. Until this time, though things seemed strange, a feeling of calm always gave her peace. Now, great sobs of pain and anguish welled up inside her as she realized what the young man who gave her the hat meant. His words, “Never visit anyone from your past – ever”, hit her full force like a sucker punch. It meant that everything and everyone she ever knew was gone. Unable to catch her breath, fingers tingling, the room spun out of control as everything went black.