(Necro story - I probably ought to have a better working title!)
Tyrrae read the book in one sitting – the discipline ingrained within her ignored all hunger pains and the need for sleep. Nor did the habitual movements of the skeletal servants disturb her- only Jokna and Hrok were allowed within her quarters.
Her mother looked in on her during the second day, as the servants usually had some fashion of keeping her informed of Tyrrae’s doings. She had recognized the object as a Book of Power, and murmured something about being glad to see her studying. There may have been an inquiry as to where the book came from, but Tyrrae paid no attention. Tyrrae had inherited all of her Power from her mother’s line, and surely, she could always find out for herself with a small bit of effort. Since she had requested Tyrrae speak with Grandfather that fateful night, perhaps she already knew. Tyrrae’s mother smiled, and closed the door softly on the way out.
On the third day, she snapped the book shut, and went straight to her mother’s workroom. A basket tied with a ribbon sat on the worktable. Tyrrae approached and read the card. “While I shall miss both of you very much, please consider these tools a wedding gift. I am proud of you, my secondborn.” Tyrrae raised her eyebrows in surprise, briefly. Then she shrugged, checked the basket’s contents, and carried it off downstairs to Grandfather’s room.
“Grandfather,” she said firmly, putting the basket down and locking the door, “it is time.”
“Praise the god!” he rasped. “Make it quick, child, and I will thank you for it later.”
She set a basin to catch the drips, smiled as she kissed his forehead, and efficiently slit his throat.
She had almost 12 hours alone with Grandfather when Lize broke the door down. To be more accurate, she had Nurgh do it- he was the bulkiest skeletal servant that they had. Lize looked at the pot of boiling bone and blood in the firepit and watched Tyrrae smear a coating of something grey on the stretched out skin. “How dare you!” Lize exploded.
Tyrrae did not even look up, but concentrated on using all of the grey matter evenly on the stretched skin. Tanning isn’t ever easy and this was her first attempt. “Do go away, Lize,” she said. “I am trying to focus on the task at hand.”
“You are trying to usurp my Power in this House, which is something you have no right to do! I am the firstborn, and it’s my privilege to sacrifice the old! I would have at least had the decency to wait until after your wedding before I killed him! How dare you go through this ritual here!”
“You would have let him suffer too long. He was glad of the knife at the end.”
“It should have been me holding that knife! Not you! And where did you learn…” Lize spotted the open book on the table.
“I wouldn’t touch it, if I were you. It hasn’t been given to you.”
Lize ignored the calm, tired voice and snatched at the book. She screamed as the smell of burnt flesh added to the stench of the room. The words were not very clear, but Tyrrae could tell they weren’t flattering to her.
Tyrrae rubbed in the last of the grey matter, and then pulled the book from her sister’s badly burned hands. “As you can tell, Lize, it is my Grimoire now. It was a gift of Grandfather’s the night I was betrothed.”
“He should not have given it to you! It should have been mine!” Her face was contorted with rage.
“Not everything in this house belongs to you, Lize.” Tyrrae was too tired to comment on her sister’s coarse behavior.
“It will be mine. It is my birthright!”
“Over my dead body,” said a voice from the doorway, with an edge of steel.
Both girls whirled to see their mother standing there, her face as impassive as ever.
“Over your dead body can always be arranged,” Lize hissed.
“The Council will intervene in suspicious deaths,” Tyrrae said quietly.
Lize whirled back on her. “Maybe the Council should look into this death! You’re in betrothal seclusion! You aren’t supposed to do anything but prepare for your wedding. Instead, I find you killing the old man- they’ll look into it- I’ll see to that.”
“They’ll find his letter filed properly last fortnight,” their mother said. “With Tyrrae properly listed as dispatch. I filed it myself.”
Lize had the bad manners to drop her jaw in shock. “But... but… seclusion!”
“She IS preparing for her wedding. She needs servants for her House. Jobna and Hrok are not enough, and you know it. You make yourself look foolish with this immature display of petty jealousy. You will return to your studies and forget about your sister now.”
“But why must she marry before me?”
“Your match requires more careful negotiations. The future of my Line depends on it. If you wed a Second, he becomes of this House. If you wed a First, which I prefer, we must not dissolve the House, but negotiate which House is Ascendant. I married a Second, which did simplify things. But it brought no glory and few allies. It only brought me you two.”
Tyrrae wondered for a moment what would have happened if there had been a Third or a Fourth. Privately, she thought it would have only increased Lize’s possessive nature. Perhaps a younger sibling may have had an interest in Father’s eccentric hobby of botany.
“Has Holm spoken for me yet?” Lize brazenly asked.
“You are not to know of such things!” Mother replied sharply. “The negotiations are strictly between parents, as you well know, and when they are settled, you shall be told. Meanwhile, don’t act so foolish as to pin your hopes on a favorite. The last thing any of us need is a dispute over your firstborn! Go to your studies.”
Lize bowed her head slightly to her mother, ignored her sister, and left the room.
“Unnatural child! She shows too much emotion and reveals too much. I can only think a long seclusion to be good for her.” She looked back at Tyrrae. “When you finish organizing your things here, seek me in my work room. Even with the addition of Daner to your staff of servants, you will need more.”
Tyrrae bowed deeply to her mother, and returned to the grisly business. When she finished, she was not to think of him so fondly as Grandfather, and instead by his true name, Daner. He would be her most trusted servant.