Neck: The brand that’s given to workers at the brothel
Front left knee: From when a customer chose to step on her and break her leg, the bone splintered through her skin
Face: Self-inflicted from when she tried to make herself unpresentable. Though they’re all faded to faint white lines, looking long enough at her face will make them seen. Wears make-up to conceal them, though outside of the brothel, the makeup only makes her stand out more.
Scalp and wrists: Self-inflicted, opening and reopening wounds from scratching from her nerves
Shoulders: bite marks and scratches from more aggressive customers
A spoiled little prince with cherry hair hanging about his shoulders, riding out on his prized destrier, the words of his father
Kill them all don’t let them live don’t let them breathe until they submit to us bury them
ringing loudly in his ears because that’s all he wants: To please
His father that only recently started hitting him, delivering slaps too quickly for his eleven years to register, all because a dragon left him. This is the father he remembers- not that the one before sounds any better, according to
The dead, he remembers all of them- every single one of them dead all because he sent them to scout. And now he finds himself
Visiting the castle in Aldihal had been an experience. He was fourteen then and the suspicion that crawled through him like ice water was an old friend now. So much horror had happened in the past three years that it hardly surprised him when
His love’s feet were the first things he saw, dangling dirty and bare along with the rest of his body from the branches of Waldemar’s castle… With all the rest of the dead that he’d sent to gain information. His poor, poor
Sisas with his bright smile and curly hair- a fisher’s boy from Littlebrooke who learned quickly to talk quietly. He learned to do many things quietly, right along with the prince. If they’d just had
A little bit longer, the prince had begged his father. He wanted to wait a little bit longer before going back out to the war, to be sure that Jerian was okay. To catch his breath. To rest and get rid of the nightmares that plagued him. Every time he went
Home always seemed too far away. In tents or on roads or, one time, in a muddy ditch with burns and wounds all over, sure he was going to die. Except for the fact that he’d never get to meet his son if he died, he felt that would have been nice. When they pulled him out of the ditch, he realized he was seventeen and far too ready for a
Breaking had taken six years- it had taken him six years to finally curl in on himself. He hadn’t been sure how he’d kept it in so long, but when he finally did hit the hard ground he didn’t want to get up, he wasn’t ready, he’d never be
Ready was a quiet word. With ‘ready’ the fires were released, and the first of the trees caught. He’d kept far enough distance to not burn himself, but not to block out the screams. He could picture them, mothers and children and the elderly, clawing at the concrete that had been meant to protect them- clawing at the concrete that now trapped them, that now cooked them. He smiled. He was always
Smiling came easy now- so did laughter. Whether it be in the face of flames or blood or his child- it was easy. His little son would curl his hands around one of his fingers, babbling nonsensical things and screaming with laughter when the prince attacks him with tickles. It had been his first break in years- the first time he’d seen his son, a year old now. At the same time, the very same prince was ignoring the
Bruises line his wife’s face and arms and chest and back- though it’s the cruel scars over her shoulder blades that get him the most, opening every time she tries to draw back an arm to throw a blade like her people had taught. His father had taken her wings, and he tries to kiss them- to repair them, but she elbows him away now, snarling profanities. An animal caught in a trap and he is just another
“MONSTERS,” the people scream as they ride through Hollowtree, the conquering heroes. They throw food and rocks and shit all alike, screaming the word over and over. They fall on deaf ears- he has to make himself deaf so he doesn’t curl in on himself again. A silent smile to silent words is all he needs to avoid that unfortunate happening . He can ignore them so that he can
Sleep is a gift. The only merciful thing my father did was extend my sleep with a morningstar to the head. If he had known our gods, he’d have known Justice would rather me walk through War’s field for the next forty or so years as penance. But he did not, and so my father gave me mercy. That is what I remember from the war.
The skyline had been ruined. As Eliisabett rode towards The Combs, her grip tightened on her reigns.
"Lady Gaern- what is that?" She asked the knight who rode beside her.
Gaern rubbed the back of her head, silver and gold painted armor clinking. “A castle, I’d say, Your Grace.”
“Very good,” replied Eliisabet slowly. “Was it here when I lived here last?”
The knight was double her age, and knew the answer. “No, Your Grace. Your Lady Mother built it two years after you went off to marry that prince.”
Eliisabet nodded, the bitter taste of anger greeting her tongue. “Where did my mother get the funds? Surely not from taxes?”
“Of course not,” Gaern snorted, looking at the thing ruefully. “The people would have revolted. They hate the damn thing, if you do not mind my saying so.”
She was glad they agreed on that. The castle was built in the cold, closed off fashion of her step-mother’s initial seaside home. Worse, the garish thing was made from black stone, off setting the white of the Eldereye Tower. It pulled attention to both as well as the canyon just past it- which was the last thing the people of The Combs wanted.
"Her Ladyship used the funds you sent," Gaern said quietly. "None of the people in The Combs knew a thing about it-she swore the guard to keep it quiet."
The funds Liis had sent to fortify the tunnel walls and chambers.
"Gaern- when we arrive, I want you to have Captin Alir empty the castle. Then sound the East Horn once you are positive everyone is out." She tugged a ring off her finger- a simple bronze band with three trumpets engraved on it. "Use this so they know who commands them."
Gaern took the ring, stowing it away in her glove. She looked back at the young duchess, eyebrows creased. “What for, Your Grace?”
"My step-family must repay what they stole from The Combs, Gaern. They will start with that thing ahead of us.
Eliisabet arrived at her childhood home in a riding dress fit for the queen she might’v’e been. But barely a moment after shed descended down into The Combs, she changed to the clothing of her people. When she strode into the wretched black castle, she wore a short grey blouse and trousers a shade darker tucked into plain boots. The only bit of color was the gold embroidery on the hem of the blouse, and the shortened gold cloak that hung from her shoulders.
Would it be the plainess of her clothes helped her blend in, they instead helped her stand out- not a single Tunjilis motif could be found in the darkened halls of her step-family’s creation.
Her step mother was sitting on a great tall throne that spiraled upwards into a sort of perch- which fit perfectly the woman seated on it. Her and her daughters were hawkish women, with piercing eyes and permanent scowls.
"Our would-be queen has arrived, girls," her step-mother said. The japes about her lost crown had hurt when she’d been upset- now they only served to fuel her anger.
"Your would-be queen is furious," she snapped, stomping a foot. The black stone cracked beneath her- far more satisfying than it should have been. "What is this?"
"A castle- has your husband taken your wits with your pride?"
"Who is your most prayed to god, Paavo?"
The boy’s eyes widened, blood leaving his face as he looked at Matthias.
"The Guardian, of course, m’lord," the boy said quietly.
“My lord, it is two words not one… Now, without fear, who is your patron?”
Paavo ducked his head, replying quietly, “Hope, m- my lord.”
Matthias nodded, seeming satisfied. “Pray She never seeks flesh, Paavo. Once the gods seek to walk our earth, their hearts are captured by the first honey tongue that passes by.”
Paavo’s eyes widened, looking up at the man. “I can speak goodly, m’lord!”
Matthias smiled at that, reaching over to ruffle his page’s hair. “Perhaps they’ll give you a throne next, too, then… But it’s well, not goodly.”
A single, perfect child. That is all she asked for. She’d prayed to God every night, kissed the knuckles of every priestess she could find of any religion, had worn gold until her dreams were full of it.
God- The gods- whatever had deigned her prayers worthy of answer- delivered her a single daughter, squalling and scrawny and far too early.
When the child had gotten bigger, she didn’t answer any sound, and fell mute herself quickly.
A pre-mature child, silent in ear and tongue.
Ploratia prayed her thanks every night to every god for her beautiful, perfect child.
"But you do not need to cut out your tongue. The orders were not for you.”
"But I must for I have made those vows to our gods, for whatever my attendants suffer, I must suffer as well."
"Your gods are false-"
"And when my mother hears of the wounds inflicted on my person, her men shall turn against yours, and the whole war will run for longer."
"You do not need to cut out your tongue-"
"But I must, your majesty!"
"She must!" Chimed the young prince, who had become confused.
"Hush, child," his father growled.
"Hush," agreed the child solemnly.
The king sighed, knuckling his forehead. “I will leave your whore’s tongue intact-“
"You must not name my attendants whore," Cvetka said quickly, wiping her eyes.
Matthias’ face was red at this point, and he smashed a fist down on his throne’s arm. “I would name her queen if it would stop your prattlilng on!”
Cvetka smiled, shaking her head. “I feel that would be inappropriate, your majesty.”
As the Lady of Lebendal led her newfound attendant out of the throne room, the king sunk into his seat, eyes blazing with fury.