Mara sat down in a comfy chair in the corner of the living room.  She bounced on the cushion a few times, almost giggling.  Once finished, Mara folded her hands in her lap and smiled, while we sat on the couch. 

            “Ethan has been chosen to perform a Task for the Lord.  He was chosen before he was born, and designed for this one Purpose.”  As Mara spoke, I could hear a special emphasis put on certain words, as if they were of great significance.  I capitalized them in my mind as topics to ask about.

            “Ethan has a purpose?”

            “All humans have a Purpose.  Their Dharma.  Ethan’s special destiny is this quest.”  Mara was smiling with pride.  “He is a Champion.”

            “What’s he going to do?  It has to do with Reza, doesn’t it?” I said, on the edge of the couch cushion.

            “His dark half, yes.  He will find the Dark One, certainly.”

            “When and where?  We have to help him.”

            “Ethan told us to come home and stay safe,” Eve reminded me quietly.  “He doesn’t want us endangering ourselves anymore.”

            “I don’t care what he said, he’s alone.  When is he coming back?”

            “You haven’t detected the pattern yet?”  Mara grinned.  “You’re supposed to be the clever one, Gwennie girl.”

            I glared even more fiercely as this stranger used Ethan’s nickname for me.  “You’re not part of this family!  You don’t get to say things like that.”

            “I’ve been a part of your brother’s life since the beginning, dear girl.  I’m not here to be your enemy.  Ethan sent me here.”

            “Why?”

            “Because he loves me.”  Mara grinned broadly.  “He wants me to find myself, just as I told him to do, so long ago.  He brought me here so I would be safe while I learn how to be human.”

            “Learn how to be human?” Genevieve repeated.

            Mara giggled.  “There’s so much to tell you both.  My mother was human and my father is an angel.  I’m a hybrid, and I was raised in Heaven.  I never knew what it was like to live on Earth, and it became my dearest wish.  Ethan saw the truth of that, and his sword transformed me into a human being so that I could experience the part of my nature that wasn’t being expressed in Heaven.”

            “Ethan used his sword on you, too?” I asked.  “Genevieve’s been a proper pill ever since he hit her with it.”

            “Gwendolyn Pitney, no one should use language like that.”  Genevieve’s tone was soft, but that was exactly what was bothering me.

            “Genevieve Pitney, you used to swear like a sailor if you were pissed off.  I’d rather you yelled at me, then this ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ bit.”

            Mara giggled again.  “Teach me to swear like a sailor!  Please?”

            We both looked at her.  Genevieve looked at least as shocked as I felt. 

            “Um, pardon?”

            “I want to know how to swear.”

            “I think you’re missing the point,” I said.  “Eve isn’t acting like herself, since the sword.  And you say that it hit you too.”

            “Well, yes.  But that makes sense, doesn’t it?”  Mara smiled.

            “No.  It doesn’t make sense.  That’s why our faces look like this.”  I gestured at Genevieve’s perplexed expression.  “We don’t know what the sword did.  I’d like my sister back the way she was.”

            “I’m glad you feel so confident expressing yourself, Gwendolyn, but I’m afraid I have to disagree,” Genevieve said pleasantly.  “I used to be full of anger, and now I’m not.  Truthfully, I’m a lot happier this way.”

            “How can you be happy?” I yelled.  “Most of humanity is dead, and Alex was butchered before your eyes just a few months ago!”

            Genevieve’s eyes misted up and she fled from the room sobbing.  I sat back on the couch, exasperated.  At least something got a reaction out of her.

            “That wasn’t very nice,” I heard Mara say.  I looked in her direction. 

            “It was honest.” I folded my arms. 

            “So was she.  Genevieve has been purified of her falsehoods, her sins.  Everything she says, everything she feels, right now is the truth of her heart.  That’s the power of Ethan’s sword.  It reveals truth.  I wanted to be human, and now I am.”

            “Truth like hers doesn’t belong to this world.  It’s full of ashes and death.  There’s nothing left for us.”

            I stood and walked to the window, which looked out on a sunny yard and garden.

            “This, this is a lie.  There’s nothing like this in the rest of the world.  And I think you know why.”

            “Of course I do.  And I’ll help you to understand.”

            Mara smiled, and I believed her. 

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