“Granddaughter?” Rei blurted from her position on the floor. She rose and placed her hands on her hips. “What is this nonsense? Old Woman! What are you saying?” She stepped closer to the raised platform, frowning.
“Not now, Rei,” Marianna snapped.
“Why not now? Have you betrayed us, Old Woman? You took in so many of us, saved us from the shadows, raised us to believe in the Goddess, and you’re one of THEM? You’re The Other? How can this be?”
“I said, ‘not now, Rei!’ You were never any good at following orders,” The Other huffed, turning her attention to the female guard.
“I think you owe me an explanation,” Rei demanded.
“I owe you nothing,” The Other hissed. She raised a bony finger. Pointing the skeletal digit at Rei, she made a slashing motion in the air. A stripe of red appeared the front of Rei’s white tunic, and the woman clutched at her chest with a surprised expression. She fell to her knees. Several kneeling people rose to break her fall, and gazed fearfully at The Other.
The Child smirked. “Temper, temper, mine child, watch your temper,” she sang. She met Marianna’s glare with a chuckle, and shifted her gaze to Xia. “This woman may be the living link to your blood roots, but I am your God. Which of us will you choose, hmm?”
Xia swallowed hard, but before she could spoke, Marianna rushed in to say, “You can not listen to this – this – perverted twist of unnaturalness, child. This is no God. This is a demon, a murderer, a -”
“Are you sure you should be referring to me with those terms, Marianna Iskandra, hmm?” The Child questioned her.
Marianna froze. “I do not know of that which you speak of.”
The Child chuckled again. “Really, now, Marianna? Then perhaps you would like me to explain to your precious granddaughter how you were stripped of your Marks?”
Marianna fumed. “This is not the time-”
The Child kept talking. “Mmm hmm, had them burned right off her skin, she did, yes she did. For the crimes of betrayal and murder.”
“What?” Loud gasps and sharp intakes of air rippled through the temple. Xia turned a shaking gaze to her grandmother.
“Murder?” she asked.
Marianna was shaking her head and mouthing something, but Xia only heard The Child say “Yes, child. Murder, she did it, she did it, yes she did.”
“Who did she murder?” Xia asked involuntarily, afraid of the answer that she was sure would come..
The Child looked shocked. “You don’t know? My child, she murdered your mother.”