I wish I could say that Plum had tenderly reassured me that forcing me to kill Hiromi had been her way of attempting to free me from the curse. What actually happened was that Plum retreated behind a defensive wall. The fear in her eyes was burned away by anger. She turned on me.
“Oh, give it a rest Patricia. I already explained why Hiromi had to die. I’m not going over all that again, just to ease your guilty conscience.”
“Then why didn’t you kill her? I didn’t want to do it and you knew that! Why did you make me do it?”
“Stop whining! Do you ever get tired of being a victim? If you felt that strongly, then why take the sword down there? You chose to do it, knowing good and damn well what the plan was! Besides, you told me that you wanted to learn battle magic. You sure as hell won’t survive your first battle, if you’re not willing to end someone who comes after you. War is about winning by any means necessary.”
“What does slitting someone’s throat have to do with magic?”
“How can you stand there and ask me that, after Hiromi literally used magic to turn you into a sword wielding assassin? Climb down off of your high horse Patricia. From a moral standpoint, using black magic on someone is no different from launching a violent physical attack. If your opponent dies, then blood is on your hands whether or not you can see it.”
“I was only going down there to confront Hiromi, not to kill her. I just to get you off my back.”
“Let me get this straight. With no regard for your life Hiromi hexes you against your will, sicks you on me and you think the appropriate response is to what…tell her that she hurt your feelings? You’re a fool!”
Plum’s eyes widened with disbelief and scorn. Her disgust was like a stinging smack across the face. It left me speechless. Standing there stunned, with my mouth hanging open I felt foolish. Plum nodded in a self-satisfied way, turned on her heels and took her leave of me. I stood there sifting through my wrecked feelings and it slowly dawned on me that she had neatly sidestepped my question. Plum’s bedroom door slammed, making it clear that all discussion was over for the night.
I trudged up the stairs towards my room with a defeated slouch hating myself. The hall light was off. All the doors were closed. I had never felt more alone. A single window at the opposite end of the hallway served as the only illumination. Out of the corner of my eye, I perceived someone flit past the window and melt into the shadows. Had someone been eavesdropping at the top of the steps? Emboldened by impotent anger, I rushed down there determined to have it out with whoever had the nerve to be listening in on my argument with Plum. Halfway down the long hallway, a chill in the air made goosebumps pop up across my arms and down my back.
Sensing a supernatural presence, I abruptly halted. Frightened, I hastily scanned the darkness. Was I imagining things or was there furtive movement in the corner? What if someone or something was crouched and waiting to spring out at me? Calling out for Plum was not an option. She had just accused me of being a coward who couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag. What was left of my tattered pride wouldn’t withstand any more withering looks from her.
Unwilling to turn away, I backed down the hall to my room and tripped in my haste to get inside. The unnerving encounter put to rest any questions I had as to whether or not the curse on me was broken. Either Hiromi had miraculously survived having her throat slit or Plum had lied about Hiromi’s death breaking the curse. Plum was never going to give me a straight answer. I was beginning to think that throwing in my lot with her had been a big mistake. The other ladies in the coven always followed her lead. If she couldn’t be trusted, then I was better off on my own.