Chapter 22: La Sorcière

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"Did you consider your own soul when you chose vengeance?" Olivier asked softly. If there had not been a reeking corpse spilling intestines across the floor, this might have been romantic. Lucie could not quite decide how she felt.

"I did," she said. "I went to confession, a number of times. I told the priest of my dark thoughts. I know that I may be condemned to eternal damnation should I ever have the chance to carry this through, but I know that I must do it. For Annette."

"For Annette," Olivier said.

Tears pricked at Lucie's eyes, and she bit her lip. "I worry that, if I'm caught, I would be deserting her. That is why I had plotted to get Nicholas Lamoignon in that room alone. So that I might kill him without a witness. How could anyone point me out as a murderer if we are all covered in blood? But... the more I speak with people, the more I should like to turn this party into a pile of corpses, and burn it to the ground."

"I can help you," Olivier said, that strange fire returning to his eyes. "I can help you have your vengeance, and return to your sister."

"But what of this?" Lucienne cried, gesturing to the body on the floor. "What of these murders, which I did not commit?"

Olivier looked down at Bastien's body, as if suddenly reminded. "Oh." He gazed at the mess for quite some time. Long enough for Lucie to gather her wits about her again.

She had not come here with any intention to find a husband, nor to join forces. She had come alone, and she had intended to leave alone – if she left at all, for she had expected an alarm to be raised as soon as the first body was found. A crowded party would be alarmed at a corpse.

Yet nothing seemed to have gone as planned. The body of Jeanne-Baptiste had been found, and while there had been some fervor, none had panicked, not really. It was just another spectacle here at the Victim's Ball. Another cause for gossip.

And Chretienne's body? Perhaps Lucie had been mistaken. Perhaps it had all been some trick, and Chretienne was still alive.

She had struggled so much with that moment, the final plunge of the dagger, and she had been prepared to kill. Olivier had simply changed his mind. Would he be prepared to kill? With the two of them, and a crowd of people who could march past a corpse without stopping, they truly might be able to have their revenge and walk away.

It still disturbed her, however, that someone was killing guests at this party, and she did not know who.

"We can just leave him here, I suppose," Olivier said finally.

Lucie shook her head. "But what about this other murderer? How do we know this other murderer does not wish us dead as well as all these others?"

"Perhaps he does, whoever he is. Or, perhaps there is no other murderer."

"Do you still believe that I somehow killed these people?" Lucie demanded, ready to tear her hair out.

"In a way, yes." Olivier hopped up on the desk to sit. "You say you imagined these deaths in exactly the same way as they occurred?"

"More or less," Lucie said.

"This sounds like witchcraft to me."

"You think me a witch?" Lucie threw up her hands. "I have had enough of this. Thank you for the kind offer, but I will do what I came here to do on my own."

She whirled away and stormed out the door.

"Wait!" Olivier called, but she did not heed him.

The procession had gone elsewhere, likely back downstairs as this wing of the hotel appeared to be communal rooms and the like. She had not thought much about the architecture of this place. The Hotel Thellusson was a hotel particulier, which meant there would be apartments flanking the gardens in back.

"I do not truly think you a witch. There are those with powers of the mind, and if you have powers that would do..." Oliver's voice trailed off as they reached the staircase, where others might hear him. "What needs to be done," he continued, "then, why not simply use them? No one could trace it back to us. To you."

Lucie stopped and looked at him, a few stairs above her now. "Is that really what you think is happening?"

Olivier shrugged. "Why don't we perform a test?" 

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Author's Note: Do you guys like the new cover?  I'm also trying this story out in the horror genre instead of historical fiction... we shall see how it does ;)

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