Flavio Cruz

Seven Kisses

This tale is from an era when people still dwelled in quaint villages. Sagar and Roland were two brothers who lived with their parents. They were barely in their youth when their father succumbed to an illness rampant in their region. Their mother followed a fortnight later. The elder brother, Sagar, was taken in by relatives a few miles away, while the younger stayed with a close family friend. Life proceeded, not without hardship, but it did nonetheless.

As the years passed, the brothers saw little of each other. One day, Sagar received the distressing news. His brother, Roland, had passed away from poisoning. In desperation to understand the tragic event, he packed up and set off to his brother's village. Upon arrival, he spoke with an elder, a de facto community leader, as the friend who had cared for Roland had passed away years earlier. The elder reported to him that Roland had been buried already due to urgency but affirmed that he had indeed been poisoned.

Seven sisters residing in the village with their father were prime suspects; the elder was convinced that the culprit was one of them. They bore a striking resemblance to each other, and few could differentiate among them. When Sagar confronted the sisters, their father proposed that if Sagar truly wished to identify his brother's poisoner, he could kiss each of the seven sisters in turn, potentially discerning the murderer through their kiss.

The proposal seemed bizarre and irrational to Sagar, but no one would dare challenge the patriarch, so he complied. He cautioned Sagar that after kissing all seven, he would have three chances to identify Roland's killer. If he failed, the crime, actual or not, would be dismissed forever.

The following day, Sagar and the seven sisters assembled in the patriarch's home. The elder indicated Isabela, the eldest, to proceed into the next room for Sagar's kiss. She bore his kiss with icy indifference, standing as motionless as a statue, her lips as cold as ice. Adriana was next, her kiss lukewarm and barely eager; her lips carried a trace of cinnamon. The third was Sabrina, whose kiss was enthusiastic, devoid of affection or love. Celeste, the fourth sister, had lips as soft and innocent as a child's, but she trembled noticeably. Adelina, the fifth sister, offered a pure, loving kiss devoid of passion. Her kiss tasted of honey, an odd sensation for Sagar, who was searching for vengeance. Alicia, the sixth sister, tasted bitter, gall-like. The final sister, Mistag, draped in a red dress with a white veil over her face, gave Sagar a deep kiss filled with genuine love and passion, unlike anything he had ever experienced.

Upon Sagar's return, the elder questioned him about the identity of the malevolent woman who had poisoned Roland's drink. Without hesitation, Sagar accused Alicia, the one with the bitter kiss. The elder laughed at Sagar's naivety and reminded him that he had two more guesses. After a moment's thought, Sagar pointed to Isabela, her icy kiss resonating as a silent admission of guilt. The elder chuckled once more, stating that this was his final chance. With the pressure mounting, Sagar decided that Sabrina's loveless passion was suspicious, accusing her of seducing his brother and poisoning his drink. The patriarch merely shook his head in disappointment, uttering, "Now you'll never know," before everyone dispersed.

As Sagar started his lonely walk home, he heard a voice call out. It was Mistag, the sister, who had displayed desire and love. She offered to help him and led him to a secluded house. The table was set as though someone was expecting them. Mistag claimed to know the killer’s identity and promised to reveal it. As she poured them each a goblet of wine as red as her lips, she proposed a toast, "To the truth." The wine was potent, and Sagar's head spun instantly. As they made their way to a bed in a room of the house, he thought he heard her murmur, "My name is Mistag, which means deception in Swedish." She then said, "In vino veritas," which translates to "In wine, the truth."

His suspicion was high, but the desire for Mistag overshadowed his doubts. As they kissed, he tasted a blend of passion, bitterness, and cold. His senses blurred as he heard her confess that the wine held more than truth—it also contained magical dust, the same that had killed Roland; she also revealed that Roland had betrayed him; he had kept the gold bar only for himself. Mistag and her sisters now claim the gold inheritance left by their parents. As the poison coursed through his veins, he knew he was dying.

Mistag exited the house, joining her father outside. With no witnesses and a treasure at their disposal, their lack of conscience was unmistakable.

As for me, the narrator, I hope this tale is merely fiction. The truth of it, I do not know. I am just a storyteller seeking no more profound meaning.

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Flavio Cruz.
Published on e-Stories.org on 06/18/2023.

 
 

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