It was her favorite story, that she remembers, but she would be hard-pressed to retell it now, faithfully, as it had been told to her. All she could recall were frayed, sleep-watered images of a forgotten castle in the middle of a wild forest, stone statues, crimson roses, and a dark, animal presence never seen, but which stained her memory of the tale, even past its edges to the daylight after.
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Some curses fade and leave nothing but the faintest mark, a tea stain on watered silk. There are those that are so malevolent that, upon defeat, explode in a fiery burst of sulfurous flames, burning everything they touch as they die. Others dissolve like morning mist in the brightness of the midday sun. Some cannot be defeated at all, but feed upon the energy spent trying to vanquish it, growing more and more potent with each failed attempt. And then there are those ancient curses with deceptively simple antidotes that shatter like jagged shards of a vast mirror. These curses may be broken, but never completely destroyed, sharp slivers of light distorted.
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He felt that he had always been there, among the apple trees, watching for the woman in the tower to come to her window. Seasons may have passed, years may have grown green on the bough, then withered and fallen, but he would stand there and wait for a chance to keep a promise he had made.
An endless scream pierced the frigid night air and shook the world with its rage and sorrow. The aged stone and brick that had withstood the great quake over a hundred years ago now trembled before its pain, and even the austere grimace of the lonely grotesque, its only witness, softened in pity.
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He lowered his head, his mouth on her neck. 'You're all I think about. I can't breathe without you in my head, my body, everywhere. Even when I close my eyes, you're there... ' Sera arched her neck and moaned, feeling as if every inch of her skin was begging to be touched by those lips. Unable to stand it any longer, she found his mouth and pushed herself against him, wanting to devour him and, in turn, be devoured by him. She was falling, falling, falling...
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