The law had appointed the la Croix its instrument, but this was not justice. You picked up the knife, an old, well-kept thing with a polished bone handle, and put a hand on the back of the murderer's head.
"You remember the incantation?" Grandmother la Croix had asked.
The man in front of you sobbed through his gag.
"Yes, Grandmother. And I've the silver, here in my hand." You could feel it against your palm, little nuggest of the precious metal, like an accusation.
"End his fear. Make it clean, Brianna la Croix. We are not torturers."
The knife went up, just under his chin, and pierced the bottom of his brain. You chanted and swore in a dull voice, an ache in your chest like heartbreak, as you felt the life flee from your victim.
Your shadow flickered and stretched while the blood splattered your pants in hot bursts. Your grandmother's eyes bored into your own, grey and serious, full of sympathy and a sort of watchful, wary attention.
And then he was dead. Bleeding, yes. Warm against your stomach, with his last breath rattling out of his lungs. But dead, with the soul fled from the body, and his terror bound into the shadow cowering at your feet.
Your arm dropped, dully, and he hit the floor with a hollow 'thunk'. What kind of sound was that, for a person to make? Someone with a life, with dreams, with hopes, with a soul? A thunk of bone on wood, like a fucking door knocker, and no one to mourn him.
The tears welled up in your eyes, and your grandmother swept you up in a hug.
"It's a hard thing I asked of you," she had murmured. "You did well, Brianna. You woulda done your mother proud."
"Never again," you whispered.
"Sweet child," the old woman said, sadly. "I can't promise you that." > Wake Amy and Nathan, offer them tea and breakfast. > Talk to Miranda. > Ask Fetch how he'd feel about you acquiring a shadow.> Write-in.