Sierra was elated; the feeling of having helped to destroy something judged more beautiful than her had filled her with glee, but it did not last long. Before they could catch a plane home the police came knocking on their hotel door and they were hauled away. There had been security cameras and they had seen everything. Warren was loyal and had lied, telling them that he had acted out of jealousy on his partner's behalf without being asked. He gave a convincing show, and somehow Sierra avoided a prison sentence, but not before Nereida discovered who had performed the attack. She had tried to convince the police of Sierra's involvement, but her rival had years of experience in fluttering her lashes to get her own way. She was required to be present for Warren's trial, but once it was over she was free to go. She left her unfortunate and stupid boyfriend to rot in prison and returned straight to the UK. She felt no remorse for the fact that she had abandoned him, as far as she was concerned he had chosen to do it of his own accord. He would have said no or tried to dissuade her if he had not wanted to be involved.

On her return, her mother had been concerned and was easily manipulated into believing that her daughter had been caught up in something that was entirely her ex partners fault. Sierra had given herself a month to appear as though she was recovering from the incident, and then she had returned to the circuit in floods of crocodile tears. If she was asked about it all she would sob fitfully and claim that she had thought she was being taken on a holiday to relax. She told people that her boyfriend had forced her to accompany him to Nereida's house and that he had promised she would be next if she did not comply. She had embarrassed him by losing the crown and he had gone mad in his need for revenge, at least that is how she told the story. She was convincing enough that she was easily accepted back into the pageant world, and their pity for her made winning that little bit easier. She threw herself back into it all and while she accepted crowns and trophies, she heard rumors of Nereida's surgery and recovery. She would never compete again.

Everything had all been going perfectly, until suddenly one day on the stage her sight failed. She blinked and though she felt her eyes open, her sight did not return. Panicked, she stopped in her tracks, her ball gown catching under her shoe and sending her tumbling to the ground. She landed hard on her hands and her coiffured hair fell about her face in waves. She lifted her head to look at the judges but saw nothing. A shrill scream tore from her lips and tears tracked through the thick makeup on her cheeks. She shouted for help but nothing could be done. She was escorted off the stage where her distraught mother rushed her into an ambulance. Examination found that her retinas were entirely detached. She was rushed into surgery where the doctors attempted to save her sight, but there was nothing they could do.

*****

Unbeknownst to Sierra, Nereida had not simply resigned herself to her fate in the wake of her attack. She had always been fiery, and she was not about to let the misdeed go unpunished.

Whilst lying in her hospital bed with bandages around her face she was visited by her priest and it was decided that it was best for the spirits to deal with her attacker. As soon as her skin grafts were healed she went back to her home where she began her ritual for revenge.

She had her father lead her down the cold stone staircase to her basement. She left him at the door and commanded him to turn back, groping her way into the room carefully and closing the door behind her. She knew that there was an alter on the far side of the room; she had tended to it every day that she was home for years. She could just make out the dim glow caused by a large, flickering candle that stood amidst the other artifacts there. Her sight was gone, but she could still percept changes in lighting.

Confidently she crossed the blackness of the room, her head held high and her arms by her sides. She knew the place so well that blindness made no difference to her. The cellar was her sanctuary. As she moved the air around her began to crackle as though an electrical storm were forming. A gust of wind with no source buffeted at her face, whipping back her long hair and exposing her fresh scars. Her beauty was long gone. Her nose was reduced to nothing, and attempts at a reconstruction were only minimally successful. Her left ear was gone, and her lips had been entirely destroyed. The surgeons had done what they could to re-form them, and her speech had been saved, but her mouth rested in a permanent, open grin. Her eyes were white and the lids scarred; even her neck was raw and disfigured. By the time she reached the altar a quiet moaning filled the warm, fetid air. As she knelt in front of it the groaning rose into a wail, and the moment she closed her eyes sudden silence fell.

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