The girl in the tree looked exactly like a certain woman who had grown into that tree, and this was most certainly not the fault of a certain goddess of love.


Asaka was not amused. "Do you really think that anything good can come of this? Have you so quickly forgotten what Désirée's fate was?"

Erzulie didn't turn to acknowledge the earth goddess, instead staring at the luxurious fabric of the dress she currently wore. It really was a pity that she couldn't remain in this body for long, if only for the dress.

As Asaka put her hand on the goddess's shoulder, Erzulie finally responded. "Désirée was beautiful! It was the boy's fault – his family was what kept our goals from being fulfilled. With help from me, and our dear Ti Moune's influence on the world, his son will be different."

Unlike Erzulie, Asaka had simply taken the body of a peasant. The more ideal of people had cried that all the barriers between rich and poor had shattered along with the gates of the Hotel Beauxhomme, but that was just that: idealism. No matter what physical limits may be removed, people will always separate themselves – rich and poor, light and dark. Vain Erzulie, thinking that love and beauty could conquer all the problems humanity inflicted upon itself. In this way, at least, Agwe had no need to interfere in their lives. They made things difficult on their own.

"Erzulie, you aren't allowing her to choose her own fate."

Erzulie grinned, a sudden light disrupting the smooth darkness of her face. "When has that ever been an issue for me?"

Asaka averted the eyes of the peasant woman, disgusted. "As if Agwe wasn't cruel enough! You will be the death of this island."

Erzulie's returned, in a venomous voice that what certainly not lovely, "And how is the man that was once your lover? No doubt quite happy to be away from such a weakling!"

With that, the goddess walked away, magnificent dress swinging around her ankles. Once she was out of Asaka's sight, she reached into her pocket, and smiled as she felt something prick her finger.

"Vain Erzulie. Vain, stupid Erzulie."

The butterfly seemed quite lost in the snarled arms of the tree. The peasant girl smiled as the colorful papillon circled around a thick branch for the third time.

Eventually, she took pity on the confused creature and parted a few thin branches it was flying toward. It fluttered out through the opening and off toward the morning sky. The favor done, she once again leaned back and rested her head against the tree's trunk.

'Oh, don't do that, ma belle – it tangles your hair!"

Startled, she looked to her side, from which the voice had come. A woman whose beauty rivaled that of the dress she wore smiled at her. Then, she spoke again.

"Indeed, your hair is so lovely. But the wind has taken its toll – along with the bark of trees, apparently. Here."

Bringing her hand forward from the folds of her dress, the woman produced a small trinket – a bloodred comb with wide, long teeth.

"Take it. You will be grateful to have it on your journey."