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The Mutari

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Beautiful, isn’t she? the voice whispered with clear adoration.

            Letti gaped at the enormous, floor-to-ceiling gilded frame of astounding artistry. It was a monument to the girl in the door, with the same details and more. This was a side-profile portrait, but full-bodied. Now, she could examine the pale white skin that lay in stark contrast with the vivid, literal flames of hair licking down past the woman’s waist. She was still sleeping, her body cradled by the crescent of a red moon far darker than the light flames of her hair. Her arms hung limply across the moon.

            But somehow, perhaps from a source only visibly from the other half of the painting, a bright blue light emanated from the woman’s chest, straining against the empowering darkness of the black background. Draped across the moon, the woman with the hair of fire was at the end of this nightmare.

            “Letti, you see something, don’t you?” Kole muttered, staring at her face. Letti nodded dumbly, mute in amazement. “Well, what is it?”

            “Um… what do you see?”

            “A broken frame with nothing in it,” Hunter answered. There was obvious annoyance in his voice.

            “I see—”

            Lie.

            She didn’t miss a beat this time. “—a very beautiful picture of the moon and the sun.”

            That was terrible.

            A frown formed on Letti’s face at his insult. She thought that was pretty good.     

            Hunter growled, “Still nothing.” The others murmured in agreement.

            Why just her? she wondered regretfully. Why couldn’t anyone else be burdened by this?

            She expected a response but didn’t receive a thought by her probable to-be murderer.

            “Well, there isn’t anything else you see?” Kole asked.

            “No, just the painting.” Which was the truth. The rest of the room was entirely bare. “But there’s something odd about it. Please let go, Hunter.”

            Grudgingly, he released her. Letti didn’t waste time in rushing forward to the painting. When she stood before it, she pretended to examine it closely as if she were looking for something. Then, slowly, in no place in particular, she extended her hand. Fear was thick in her as inches closed between the artwork and her fingers. For all she knew, this could be a deadly trap.

            Don’t you trust me? the voice mused cynically.

            Then, she felt it. As far as she could tell, it felt completely solid. Flimsy like canvas, but solid nonetheless.

            Push.

            So she did. Immediately, her hand slowly began to slide through the painting. Panic spiked when she thought she tore a hole through the painting. Just because this was a life-or-death situation settled all on her shoulders didn’t give any excuse to ruin such a marvelous painting.

            Her hand pulled back out sharply, and her wide eyes stared at where it had gone through. There was no hole. The perfectly fitted canvas didn’t move an inch.

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