A hundred black roses were lined up in a hundred glass vases underneath the large window, displaying a cascading and snowy world that clashed with one hundred shadowed, petalled silhouettes. Each thorn, save one, had been meticulously sliced off each of the dyed stems. She knew he did that by hand for her, to remind her that the dark ones were like these flowers. Singular, lovely, dangerous. How many nights had their trainings ended with that harsh reminder, a haunting and longing whisper breathed into her hair.
Each blackened bloom had also been dipped in dreamer’s bottles, she knew, for their subtle scents evoked memories, each one sung into the dream-mixer’s potion by him before the flowers would steep in a hundred stories.
Katana plucked one perfect, inky rose from the neck of its translucent container and stared at it before tearing off several midnight petals and crushing them between her fingertips. She could feel her eyelids trembling as the memory spilled over her. She felt his gaze on her hands again, the smell of his hands shaking leather bags filled with coins and her burning wrists when the magic went too far.
She revelled in that instant, the seconds she allowed herself to enjoy the dark velvet and pulpy mess to smear in her hands before she knew she would venture out into the crystal and blinding white-tinged cold, into a mysterious place which may or may not hold the answers she desired. Glancing at the moss covered grandfather clock that to the hour had marked every second of her life, Katana wiped her darkened hands on the velvet robe she had left in a softly folded puddle on the stone floors of her chamber, allowed herself one last look at her mentor’s dark gift, and pushed against the iced winds, opening the door and gasped in the waiting snow.
She knew that she could leave him to die and no one would blame her for doing so. One hundred questions echoed in the empty room she left behind, the loudest one asking again and again, “how, how. how.”