Some people think the world is ending. They’re right. The world is always ending, winding down to nothing. The light that shines from the stars is the last echo of their lives. When one winks out no one notices. When the world ends, the worriers will not notice. Edward thought this a deep thought. He wasn’t certain though.

His toes barely touched the floor as he rolled back and forth in his wheeled chair. This had been his father’s office. Bookshelves filled with knowledge, a table for dreary paperwork and a window set upon the highest tower. His father had abhorred ornamentation. In his odder moments he had flayed the slaves, removing their tattoos. A few books lay open on the table. The Disturbed Mind, The Infinite Jest, The Art of the Deal. Notes like spiders filled their margins. Echoes of the man who came before. At a young age Edward had been taught the secret of perfect recall. If he closed his eyes he could picture any page, any line. Yet he understood nothing he beheld. He sat in a daemon lantern’s light and looked out upon a world ablaze.

It was a small world, too small for the Englitch, his people. So they had stretched their hand out to the stars. In reaching they had neglected the earth below. The slaves saw their chance. They marched in uprising, burning, lynching. A thousand years of vengeance repaid in one night. Yet as their masters gazed too far, so the slaves’ sight fell short. All this had happened before, all this would happen again. For them it was freedom or death. For the Englitch it was entertainment.

The door jingled. Edward had added the bell. He swivelled in his chair and there stood his sister, Sarah. The youngest of his elder siblings. She was draped in blood. Not fresh blood, not anymore. It had caked and congealed becoming a series of nasty brown stains. More concerning for Edward, she was armed.
She laughed, throwing her knife away. It landed point first in one of his precious books. She crossed the room, the stink of viscera in her wake.
“I knew I would find you here. You have such sentiment for a man who hated you.”
Edward’s stomach curdled “Did you get bored already?”
He inched his chair back. She outpaced him and swung it to face the window, draping herself alongside. She touched a bloody finger to his lips
“Taste it.”
Edward had no choice. Blood, dirt, acid. All these things assaulted his senses. He was repelled. Yet some part of him submitted, obeyed, enjoyed.
“There is so much more. Why do you hide here?”
“Em said she would break my neck the next time there was a revolt and blame the slaves.”
“She will do no such thing. My little friend saw to that,” her gaze flicked to the knife.
Edward’s eyes widened, staring at the blood plastering his sister’s face “You-”
“A slave stabbed her in the back fourteen times. Or was it fifteen?”
Sarah licked her fingers with relish.
“Have you come to kill me too?”
“Emilia was a crown princess of the Empire, general of the fourteenth army and third in line for the throne. What are you?”
Edward hung his head “Worthless.”
“Father had such cute pet names for us,” her arms encircled his head and for a moment Edward pondered death
“That is why I love you, little brother. Should you ever feel threatened again, by man or god, just whisper their name to me.”
“Thank you, sister.”
She stepped away, giving a laugh that showed all her teeth. Then she was out the door, back into the madness. Edward peered at his books. Darkness stained the pages.

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