The curator switched off the main light and looked back into the room. All seven paintings were lit by their individual soft lights. They were placed all around the room with benches for observation in the middle of the room.
Personally, the curator didn’t like this particular exhibition of paintings. They made him uneasy. He couldn’t point out why but they seemed to be eerily alive- especially in the dark.
The curator left the room in a hurry. It was 11.15 pm. He knew he was late. The wife would be angry. He checked the room once more before locking up for the day. His boss would have his head on a platter if anything were to happen to the paintings.
The room with the paintings was enveloped in complete dark barring the lights of the paintings. The room was quite empty and still. Yet something was breathing. Breathing, waiting, anticipating.
The room was aloof from the city while somehow still being a part of it. The muffled sounds of the Halloween celebrations managed to creep in. What they did not manage was to break the calm of the room. Paintings don’t get startled, do they?
At 11.45 precisely, a hooded figure materialised next to the locked door. It was a young woman. She was of slight built and pale complexion. She was panting furiously. The witch was still an amateur. Her name was Francesca Santorini and she had a job to do.
Francesca took a diary out of a baby blue coloured-satchel that hung by her side. This diary belonged to Vanessa Santorini. Francesca came from a family of witches but her family hadn’t produced a competent witch for many a generations. Francesca was the first witch after Vanessa. So, naturally, the burden fell on her young shoulders.
Frannie, as her mum called her, started preparing for the ceremony. She lit seven candles, each kept in front of a painting. She took out an ornate knife. The knife had a marble handle carved with the symbol for house de Clancy. Not even Frannie’s 103 year old grandmother had any idea how the knife had come into their possession.
Frannie used the knife to make a horizontal cut on the first finger of her right hand. It pricked and burned. She had an exremely low tolerance for pain. She ground her teeth and began drawing the necessary runes as per the instructions in Vanessa’s diary.
She was aware that she might not see tomorrow but it was a question of family honour and duty. The Santorinis were fiercely proud of being true to both.
Frannie finished drawing the runes- some of which were tricky to get right- just as the clock struck twelve. It was time.
She gulped down the putrid potion brewed by her mother. Her mother was not capable of anything but brewing the basic potions. This little vial had almost cost her her life.
Frannie began to chant. The temperature of the room rose. The air was charged with an underlying current of power. The paintings began to glow. Francesca Santorini’s violet eyes now had a feverish shine to them. She moaned in pain and ceased to chant. But now the room was filled with voices of those who had once lived chanting the same powerful words as Francesca.
The pages of the diary began to burn themselves into her mind, as if she had lived them herself.
Vanessa Santorini had been adopted by the Duke at the tender age of twelve. Being a charming girl with a sharpened wit had soon brought her the Duke’s favour. She wanted for naught for her every wish and her every whim was carried out by the Duke.
She was left unaware about the witch-blood that was pumped by her heart until the age of 17, the year when she came of age.
The Duke wished for her to get an education. Vanessa was sent to the University where she encountered two people who changed her lives.
It was there that she was reacquainted with her birth-mother who ensured that the Duke’s wishes were carried out. Vanessa did get an education, just not the one expected by the Duke. She was schooled by her mother in the crafts known to all witches. Vanessa was powerful.
Vanessa also encountered a certain Hugh de Clancy. He was like no one she had ever met. He was kind, smart and just so alive. She was instantly smitten by him. Hugh too developed a fondness for her. He found that Vanessa matched him in wit and humour, and they could converse on an infinite number of topics without ever getting bored.
Alas, it wasn’t destined to be for Hugh was engaged to a cousin of his called Margery who he dutifully married.
Vanessa was heartbroken and seeked her birth-mother’s council. Her birth-mother began preparing Vanessa for the fight to gain her heart’s desire. Preparing was all that Vanessa could do for her heart was still meandering near Hugh.
The following summer Hugh invited her to his lands. She graciously accepted his invitation. When Vanessa landed on Hugh’s doorstep, Margery was not around. Vanessa easily laid her trap and seduced Hugh. She expected him to divorce Margery at the very next instant. She thought his heart too yearned for her. Perchance that would have been so, had Margery not returned with a glowing face, a rounded stomach and some news. Hugh was to be a father.
In his inexplicable joy, Hugh forgot about Vanessa and began showering affection on the mother-to-be. Vanessa was enraged. She was envious but without hope. How could she match a baby?
She didn’t leave but spent all her time staring vacantly at the lush green grounds. Her plan lay forgotten. That is, until she received a letter from her birth-mother. With her mother’s words came Vanessa’s days of sloth to an end.
Hugh might have allowed her into his bed but she wanted more. She began lacing his meals with potions. Love, lust and devotion. Hugh’s attentions shifted again and Vanessa basked in them. Margery was reduced to the abandoned pregnant wife for Hugh had no time for her anymore.
One bright summer afternoon, the future Lord Hugh de Clancy proposed an arrangement to Vanessa Santorini. She was to stay in his mansion, not as his wife but as a mistress.
Vanessa was shocked. She, a Santorini, become someone’s mistress? That was unacceptable. She refused. Her pride was hurt. She realised Hugh would never be hers.
Meanwhile, Margery wasn’t willing to go down without a fight. She used all her resources to unearth Vanessa’s secret. Practising wicca was forbidden by the human law. Margery went to the authorities.
Vanessa was cornered by the Sheriff and the villagers but she escaped using the very powers the mob despised. Hiding in her birth-mother’s cottage, she poured her wrath into seven paintings- each standing for one mortal sin that she had committed. They were all there- lust, envy, sloth, greed, gluttony, pride and wrath.
She performed a spell that split her soul into seven. She escaped the mortal world leaving behind a diary for the squalling red-faced baby she had pushed out of her womb.
Vanessa Santorini would get her revenge.
The room in the art gallery was a mess. The curator was sure that he was going to lose his job.
There erstwhile spotless white floor was now a horror covered with dried blood. The seven priceless paintings by the mysterious artist Vanessa Santorini seemed to have exploded leaving behind shreds of the canvases. Candle stubs and wax blobs were stuck to the floor.
Bloody footprints were leading towards the exit. Vanessa Santorini, immortalised by her work, had to wreck havoc on the de Clancy family. It was her time for revenge.
About the author:
The author of this story goes by Mia, is a giant nerd and proud of it. She loves potatoes, desserts and almost all other kinds food. Mia blogs at Diary of an introverted schmuck. She is a Whovian, a Potterhead, a Westerosi, a Demigod, a Padawan and a Feminist. Her heart’s strongest desire is to watch Green Day, The Submarines and Fall Out Boy live.
Mia wrote the story inspired by this prompt:
I really liked what she did with the prompt- and to think she almost didn’t submit the story!
Yeah, remember how I said the previous one was probably the last one?
So Mia submitted hers today, which she wasn’t able to complete earlier due to various reasons, but I’m glad she did.
Now I could say that it was always meant to be posted and it was like a surprise, bonus story for all the readers- but you, loyal readers, know that I’m just not that kind of person, and I just tell you whatever is the truth.
That’s just my thing.
Now that I’ve gotten the extremely unnecessary ramble out of the way, let me proceed with the usual stuff.
If you like the story, comment here or on Mia’s blog telling her about it!
She’d love to know your feedback.
The list of prompts was inspired by this article I happened upon, quite a few have stories written about them so go to the Fiction category on my blog, and you can read all of them and more there!
This is the sixth story of a part of a series of stories I’m posting, which were written by my friends, I talk about it here.
Here’s the previous story, you might like it too.
And here’s the very first one, if you’re interested in reading that!
I did say that I had a story in progress but clearly that’s not happening and January is over as well!
But if and when I do finish it, I’ll post it here, and I’ll link back to a few of these stories so you know exactly what it was supposed to be a part of… Believe me, you’ll need reminding!
Have a happy February and I hope that the extra day brings you extra joy!
(Once upon a time, I liked leap years… I’m growing more and more cynical every year- or at least, every four years!)
(You know what? I’m actually wondering if you guys even read all the stuff I write after the story is over… I mean, the story is definitely the most interesting part, so why would you?
But if you do, then I’d really like to know about it…. Hmm… comment below saying “Feta and Avocado” and I’ll know you read it- it could be like a secret code word, and then, those who don’t read it will wonder why people are talking about salad-y things after reading such a wonderful fictional story….
Even better! Instead of commenting only on this one, randomly pick another story posted this month- you could pick your favourite- and comment on that!
Hahaha… This’ll be so much fun.
Unless none of you comment: then it’ll simply justify my cynicism.
Ha! It’s a win-win!)