The night before she lost her mind, Lady M, alone in her chamber, looked down at her hands. Blinked. Clutched her fingers into fists, unfurled them slowly, looked again.
What there, in her palms? A premonition.
Dark and slick and flecked with light. Night sky spread against flesh. Stars made of sinew, celestial bodies of spatter. In the time it took the light to reach her eyes, she saw a thousand daughters born to a hundred mothers, all powerful and beautiful just like her, all made of starlight and magic.
The galaxy pulsed along her lifeline. A dozen moons and suns and countless stars, all beckoning to her to choose the future. And she might have, yes, she might have chosen the sky and the stars and a power that outlived her body, had not her chamber door swung open.
“My lady—it is time.”
She curled her fingers inward. Closed the stars up tight in the prison of her palms. Felt them squeeze and ooze between her fingers, dripping onto the chamber floor. From her dressing table she drew a dagger, passed it to her husband. Another kind of darkness already staining her palms red.