The cool night air, the gentle breeze breaking the silence, none of these did anything to quell the flames of hatred burning within Anna Fugo’s chest. If anything, the new moon above only stoked the fire to a feverish level of discomfort. This discomfort had followed Anna for years, and even when dormant it left her with a dull ache that seemed to permeate her very being. Tonight, however, it was anything but dormant. As she gazed at the dark sky, the black outline of the moon’s shadow cast against the inky canvas ripped open the door to her most painful memories. A single word escaped her lips, the very name of her agony itself.
“Ernesta….” she whispered into the night, gripping tightly to the window sill of her family’s estate.
With the beginning of Granbelm merely 2 weeks away, she would surely show her face again, and Anna had every intent to end this all consuming blaze that she lit years ago.
Memories flooded back into her mind, and tore the wound in her psyche ever further open.
It started with admiration, as these things often do. As Ernesta’s capability for magic grew, Anna’s plateaued. Anna would copy Ernesta’s habits, and take every opportunity to practice alongside her, to little avail. After one such practice session, while Anna laid in bed, she had a fleeting thought that would begin an endless spiral, one that would shape the course of her entire life.
“I wish I could be like Ernesta”
She shook the thought off. After all, she was destined to become The Witch. She performed the family’s most sacred technique at such a young age, and no one could take that away from her.
Anna’s pride took a blow every time she was outperformed by Ernesta, but she could always cling to that day. She would eventually claim her rightful place, and her best friend would surely support her every step of the way and stay by her side. She had nothing to worry about, she assured herself. Ernesta loved her as much as she loved Ernesta.
She slept peacefully that night, but the seeds had taken root. With every accomplishment Ernesta reached, Anna grew colder. Eventually, days would pass where Anna wouldn’t speak with her. The cold shoulder didn’t go unnoticed by Ernesta, who made a conscious effort to hold back her abilities when Anna was near, but Anna continued her single minded pursuit of her desire, spending most of the day either studying or stewing in the newfound lack of confidence that Ernesta had cultivated.
The envy was as cold as ice in her veins. She pushed Ernesta away, she pushed her mother away, and even her sister Clare, who loved Ernesta as dearly as her own sister. As much as she practiced magic, as much as she studied magic, Ernesta’s progress dwarfed her. A Sisyphean task lay before her, and she grew ever colder every time she fruitlessly attempted to ascend. The cold darkness surrounded her, as dark as Ernesta’s hair, as cold as her demeanor. It closed in, she was enveloped in it, and frantically searched for someone to pull her out. In the darkness, she saw Ernesta reaching out her hand. She reached to grab it, to take hold of her friend’s hand, but as she did, she froze solid. Ice encased her and she was dragged further into the void, far away from the embrace of the one dearest to her.
She woke up in a cold sweat late at night, on the evening of the new moon. A dream. Just a dream. She wandered down the halls of the mansion, trying to take her mind off of the girl who had once been her best friend. Hushed voices from downstairs drew her attention. Her mother and Sasha, the butler were speaking in serious tones, and she found herself listening in before she knew what she was doing.
“-preparations have been made, Mrs. Fugo. All is accounted for.”
“We’ll deliver the news to the girls tomorrow. If they’re to be siblings, this..divide between them has to close.”
“Are you sure she will accept it?”
“Whether she does or not, the burden of being the family’s representative to Granbelm is too great a burden for Anna to bear. Ernesta will have to-”
Before she knew it, Anna was running. The ice in her veins melted with every step, her body temperature climbed to new heights. No longer did she feel the ice cold sting of envy and sadness, but scalding rage. Her blood boiled over as she reached Ernesta’s bedroom door.
Her footsteps seemed to have woken the girl, as Ernesta stood next to the bed, brushing her long dark hair out of her eyes. “Anna…?” she inquired. Her voice burned in Anna’s ears, as she played innocent to what she had done to her. As the white hot rage continued to scream from Anna’s very soul, she screamed.
“I hate you. Ernesta. I hate you. I will become The Witch. I will destroy you for what you’ve done to me. For what you’ve taken from me.”
“Anna-” Anna ran off again, shutting herself in her room.
She didn’t come out for 3 days, and when she came out she heard the news. Ernesta rejected the adoption, and left in the middle of the night. She left ashes in her wake. Anna was never the same. She was consumed by her pride, her lust for revenge. Her family took in two other children from lesser mage families, but Anna was unaffected. They were fools if they thought they could be anything but tools to help her achieve her ultimate goal.
Her trip through her hottest and coldest memories ended when the sun started to creep up above the horizon. The sun was rising, and would someday expand to scorch all of the Earth, leaving nothing in its wake. She smiled to herself, thinking of the day when Ernesta would burn. She hoped to see it. She hoped to be the cause of it. The Carmine Witch was prepared to stake her place, through the heart of the one who had ruined her.