I should have died instead.
The thought came unbidden to my mind, but I was too grieved to protest it. Tears stained my cheeks, and my vision was blurred. Racing through my mind were a million plans that I could have executed to save her. I could have done something. I heard the thin noise of ice cracking.
The Master was awakening.
"Marishka!" he leapt from his stone coffin, landing on the floor silently.
I looked up at the ceiling, gazing at my mother and her sister. Their long robes hung downwards, along with their abundant hair. They had tears in their eyes.
The Master walked across the room to one of the many pillars. He proceeded to walk up it. "Why can't they just leave us alone?" He asked; his voice choked. "We never kill more than our share and less than our fill. Can they say the same?"
My mother and her sister looked at each other. They tried to hold back tears.
The Master continued, gesturing angrily with his hands. "Did I not stress how important it was to be finished with Anna Valerious… before she destroys what we are trying to create?"
Verona, my mother, and Aleera whimpered. Tears threatened to fall down their beautiful faces.
"We lost Marishka!" My mother wept.
"Those vermin!" Aleera added weakly, wrapping her arms around herself.
And then they let the tears fall. They grieved openly and sobbed. I tried not to let anymore tears fall from my eyes.
"There, there, my darlings." The Master said comfortingly. He approached them on the ceiling. "Do not worry. I shall find another bride."
Verona gasped in disbelief. "What?"
Aleera's eyes shifted suspiciously down to me, but I remained silent as the grave. She looked at him in shock and anger. "Do we mean so little to you?"
"Have you no heart?" my mother added, trying to cover her face.
Aleera started whimpering again, restraining herself from reaching out and hurting him. She looked half-crazy with anger and grief.
"No!" the Master replied, throwing his arms out. "I have no heart!"
He leapt down from the ceiling and paced feverishly. "I feel no love; nor fear… nor joy, nor sorrow. I am hollow… And I shall live forever." He stopped, drawing a long, shaky breath.
Aleera held Verona's hand comfortingly. "Oh, my lord…" she began.
"It is not so bad." Verona said softly.
The Master laughed: a harsh, bitter sound. "I am at war with the world… and every living soul in it! But soon, the final battle will begin." He turned to look at my mother and her sister. "I must go find out who our new visitor is."
A huge shadow loomed from behind the cloth that separated that room from the next. There was roaring heard. The shadow fought against chains binding it, and the Master turned to gaze at it.
"You will have to make a little aperitif out of him." he said. "We are much to close to success to be interrupted now."
Aleera looked pained. "No!" she protested, leaping down from the ceiling. She landed in front of the Master.
Verona followed her, saying: "The last experiment was a failure!"
"Please," Aleera begged, "say you will not try again."
"My heart could not bear the sorrow," Verona confided, teary-eyed, "if we should fail again."
The Master's lips tightened briefly. I saw anger welling in his blue eyes, and I cowered silently beside his coffin. He opened his mouth and unleashed a mighty roar. His pointed fangs protruded noticeably, and the brides backed away from him in fear.
My mother and her sister cowered. Their sobs and whimpers echoed in the stone room. The Master recognized his mistake and held his arms out to them.
"Come." he said softly. "Do not fear me. Everybody else fears me."
Aleera and Verona slowly approached him. They threw their arms around him and showered his face with kisses.
"Not my brides." the Master murmured. He looked over at me, and nodded his head for me to come.
I approached him, and he held me in his arms. He kissed my forehead. The shadow growled and struggled against the chains. The sound of electrical discharge was heard.
"Igor?" the Master called. He looked around for the hunched deformity that was his servant.
"Yes, Master?" Igor's gravelly voice grated as he stepped from behind the dirty cloth barrier. He was holding a staff of some sort. Electricity crackled and sparked from the end of it.
"Why do you torment that thing so?" The Master asked. He briefly glanced down at his brides, but paid no heed to me.
Igor looked incredulously at the Master for a moment. His breathing was heavy. "It's what I do." he replied obediently.
"Remember Igor. Do unto others…" the Master started.
"Before they do unto me, Master." Igor replied. He half-bowed.
"Now go." The Master said. He looked about the room, towards the Dwergi gathered at the railings above. "All of you, to Castle Frankenstein!"
He and my mother and her sister levitated slightly. They flew backwards, towards a hollow in the stone wall. I knew I should let go of him now, but I wanted to be in his arms for just a moment longer.
"Yes, yes. We will try again…" Aleera murmured breathily as she kissed his face.
They effortlessly slid into the ice that occupied the hollow in the wall. I backed away, lest I be frozen in the ice with them. I could not survive the cold in there.
The Master gave me one parting glance before he dipped his head to capture Aleera's mouth in a kiss. They froze in the ice, and then grew to fill the space.
I was left alone.