Isma sensed something inside herself slam shut like a prison door. She stared at the corpse of her mother—a woman she had both loved and hated—and felt absolutely nothing. Everything seemed distant, unreal.
When Isma spoke, her voice was dead and papery: "It is."
She suddenly noticed her mother's missing jewelry. Lady Altera had always prided herself on her elegant taste and fashion sense; she wouldn't have been caught dead leaving the manor without some sort of expensive ornament draped around her neck or wrapped around her finger.
With a steady, surprisingly gentle hand, Isma smoothed her mother's hair and closed her eyes. Lady Altera looked almost peaceful. Isma's eyes lingered over her mother's face for a moment—memorizing the curve of her nose, the softness of her lips—before she slowly lowered the shroud.
Isma stared at the chest at the end of the bed and on the shelf. I won't let those murderers have your things, Mother. I won't.