The Lesser Twin
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by Elisabeth Waters
Description: Blood may be thicker than water, but is it thicker than everything? Just how far can you go to protect your sister from herself?
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1990 Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, issue 9
eBookwise Release Date: October 2005
38 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [17 KB]
Reading time: 8-11 min.
Kiara was just coming upstairs to wash the hall floor when she heard her sister start screaming. For an instant she froze, standing there with the bucket of water in her hand. The wizard Tarnor's instruction, as relayed by Karina, had been clear: they would be working is his temple all afternoon and were not to be disturbed for anything.
"As if I want to disturb them," Kiara had thought in disgust. She and Karina were twins, and the loved each other, but they were not at all alike. Karina was the elder and the beautiful one, with pale clear skin and glossy black hair that fell to her hips, while Kiara had skin that turned into a splotchy mass of freckles the minute the sun hit it and an unruly mass of very curly red-orange hair. She'd given up on both skin and hair long ago, so her complexion was now almost uniformly brown and her hair, as short as she could persuade Karina to chop it off, stuck out in random directions. The twins also differed in their approach to life: Karina flitted effortlessly from enthusiasm to enthusiasm (and from man to man), while Kiara followed quietly in her wake, picking up the pieces and trying to lend a bit of stability to their vagrant existence.
She'd be glad when Karina got over this craziness. Tarnor had met Karina eight months ago, when she was living with a wealthy and generous merchant, a middle-aged widower with two small sons. Kiara had lived with them and helped look after the children, and she still missed them. But Karina had been getting restless and had been easy prey for Tarnor's offer to make her his priestess and a great sorceress. So they had moved into Tarnor's tower; Karina to share his bed and study and Kiara to run the place and feed them at the irregular intervals at which they surfaced. From the variety of different tastes showing in the decor of the place, Kiara suspected that they were only the last in a long series of "priestesses." Fortunately Tarnor didn't seem to notice her much, which was fine with her--Karina could have him, whyever she wanted him.
But she was not going to stand by and see her sister hurt if there was anything she could do to prevent it, and there was both terror and pain in those screams. She hurried down the short stone corridor which separated the temple from the living quarters, shoved open the heavy wooden door with her shoulder and pushed her way in. A sword, which had apparently been leaning against the door, clattered at her feet, but she stepped over it without seeing it, her attention focused on her sister.