By Rayvn Salvador
Seiko watched from the shadows, her coven encircling the altar, readying for the evening’s events, their black cloaks billowing like smoke in the breeze from the ceiling fan. She’d been struggling with her role in all of this. Her duty to her magickal family warring with her responsibility to those of blood. She knew their dark patron demanded his due. And it had come time for her to pay. Each of her coven sisters had offered up what was asked of them. She was the last to pay tribute. She knew this was right. So why, then, did she feel so…sad all of a sudden? The grand picture, the perfect plan, was in motion. Her sacrifice would be the final cog in the machine. The fuel to feed the fire of their devotion and ensure the blessings they were to be given. And once blessed, the world—and everything beyond—would be their oyster.
She had been a part of the Moon Call coven for her entire life. Her mother having joined when she emigrated to the States, giving birth to Seiko and bringing her up in the coven’s ways. Reinforcing the family’s beliefs. When her mom died, and a new priest assumed the mantle, Seiko never thought twice about staying and carrying on the family legacy. She’d seen the gifts bestowed upon the devout. Felt the power their patron bestowed. She wanted that for herself and for her coven—always. Even if that meant giving up something that she was told not to become too attached to when instructed to become the vessel for change.
“Daughter.” Seiko turned as Lance moved toward her, his stola a shocking blood-red stain against the blackness of his cloak, his hood covering most of his facial features.
Seiko clasped her hands and bowed, showing the man the respect he was due as their High Priest. “My lord.”
Lance put a finger under her chin and tipped her head so her gaze reached his. “Are you ready for tonight?” he asked, running his thumb over her bottom lip before moving back a step to better look at her.
“I am, my priest. It is my time. And I am honored to be of service to our patron and the coven.” She glanced in the opposite direction, looking at the tiny cradle in the corner of the room, the bundle inside quiet in sleep.
“You honor us. Brightest blessings upon you, Seiko.” He leaned in and kissed her gently, something he did with all of his witches. Usually, she felt special, even though she knew she wasn’t the only one. Tonight, she felt something else. Something she couldn’t quite name. Something she didn’t want to put a title on.
“Have you prepared?” Lance asked, and Seiko once again looked at the cradle before turning her attention back to the man in front of her.
“Not yet. I wanted to be sure my sisters didn’t need anything before I left to do just that.”
Lance caressed her cheek. “We are fine, my sweet. Go. Take care of your rituals. You are the guest of honor tonight, after all.” He smiled, and she saw the flash of white from within the dark pit of his cowl.
She wasn’t the guest of honor, but Seiko didn’t say that. It wouldn’t do to show her trepidation—or any kind of emotion, really. Things didn’t end well for those who disagreed with Lance.
“As you wish, my lord.” She bowed again and stepped back before pivoting, pulling her hood over her head to hide her face and the tears she felt prickling at the backs of her eyes. When she reached the corner, she saw that her baby was awake, staring in wonder at the world around her as if she could learn how it worked just by being in it. Such a smart, beautiful child. A pang tore through Seiko’s chest, her heart feeling for a moment as if it might shatter into a million pieces. She caressed her daughter’s cheek with the back of a shaking finger, feeling love flare for a moment, only for resignation to quickly replace it.
This was her duty to her coven. Her tithe to the dark lord. Her willing sacrifice tonight—her child’s life offered up as a blessing on the night of the harvest moon—would be the final piece to ensure long life and everything her priest and sisters desired. She would be elevated in the coven to sit at the right hand of their leader, a direct conduit to the dark entity they served.
She swiped at her tears and straightened her spine. Tonight was not a night for sadness. Instead, it was a time for celebration. This was an honor.
And it wasn’t as if she wouldn’t see her child again.
Once she passed beyond the veil, they would be together forever. First in the realm of mist and shadows, and then on Earth once again as they were reborn. And Seiko would find a way to ensure that her darling daughter served as the dark lord’s mistress and was taken care of, as was her right.
After all, that is what Seiko had been promised.
However, as she gazed lovingly at her daughter’s dark eyes, that knowledge didn’t stop her heart from nearly beating out of her chest now, or her mind from racing, trying to think up ways that she could accomplish what was needed for the coven yet save her baby.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t think of anything. Maybe after her ritual salt bath and dressing for the rite, she would have a better handle on herself and be able to think clearer.
Maybe she could talk to Lance, and he would see that this wasn’t the only way to reach their goals. Maybe he would want to save his daughter as much as Seiko wanted to save her.
Or perhaps some unknown angel would take the choice out of her hands.
One never knew in a world of magic.
Want to find out what happens to the dark coven and Seiko’s daughter? Be sure to check out Malum Discordiae, Haunted New Orleans book 2, coming Summer of 2022.
Book #1, Memento Mori, is available now—release 10/26/21!
Today’s contest / giveaway is for a prize bundle including (if winner is U.S.) a signed copy of Memento Mori, solid copper Memento Mori coin, and a bunch of Rayvn Salvador swag — or — (if winner is non-U.S.) eBooks of Rayvn’s entire backlist.
There are multiple options for entering, all via the Rafflecopter link below.
CLICK HERE FOR RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM
Contest starts today. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced in our wrap up blog post on November 1st.
Check out the Kick-off post HERE to see the full list of authors participating in our 2022 Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event. Links will be added to the main post each day when that author’s story goes live. Each post will include the inspiration image from a DeviantArt creator, the story, and the contest/giveaway info.