Author: Aeryn's Last PM
Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 1,413 - Published: 08-02-06 - id: 2223119
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This challenge requires you to write a story in exactly 1337 words. Write your l33t piece drawing inspiration from one or many of thequotes. As some of the quotes are quite long, you don't have to incorporate them into the l33tness. Instead, draw your inspiration from them and show us your l33t interpretation.
Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
"Daughter, please calm yourself," he ordered wearily, fingers rubbing careful circles at his temples. Alexis turned, unique eyes flashing, and angled her chin higher.
"My Lord, this is not necessary," she replied, each word formed with a biting edge. But it would not do to scream like a child.
Her father raised his eyes to the Heavens. "It is perfectly necessary," he corrected, and did not elaborate further. Alexis fumed.
"But, My Lord –" she began, ice lacing her words, only to shut her mouth with a snap as her father stood. Clenching her jaw, she bowed. The Councilmen echoed her gesture. The Emperor held out both hands, and his Aides took his arms to help him down from the dais and towards his daughter. The room fell silent, broken only by the soft sizzle of his robes.
"Alexis," he said quietly, tilting her chin up with aging fingers and meeting her fiery gaze. "I am not getting any younger, My Child. If anything, age is taking me quickly."
"Do not say that –" she snapped, incensed.
"And you will take the Royal Ring," he continued, as if not interrupted by his passionate daughter. "Time is short, no matter what the philosophers say, and you will be too busy sorting through the Deserts as your own to find a man to stand by your side. It must be done."
Chastened, Alexis stared at the Emperor, and then sighed in defeat. She stood, wincing at the cramp in her back, and nodded, her features arranging themselves into a calm mask, the façade of the Goddess-Blessed.
"As you wish, My Lord," she murmured. "It will be done." And, as was tradition, she crossed wrists behind her back, bent forward again, and waited. She knew it would hurt her father. He was not one for tradition and found the little differences wearisome, but she was angry and wanted him to know so. It was petty, true, but there were at least ten more years before she would acquire the Ring. She had time to make her Desertmen trust her as a cool and calm and fair leader.
There was another sigh from her father, so tired, and she backed away in her bowed position before reaching the doorway, turning and retreating.
"Alexis, was that really necessary?" Marianna sighed, following her charge as the Goddess-Blessed strode away from the Council Hall and towards the grounds. Alexis sucked in a calming breath and nodded.
"Yes," she replied tightly. "It was necessary."
Marianna matched her stride, glancing at her hesitantly. "You hurt him," she replied quietly. Alexis flinched, but her composed expression didn't waver.
"Yes." She watched the shadows play on the halls. Her eyes faltered. "He has invited many Defenders to our home, from places that have long hated us for being more beautiful, more dangerous. If one of them were to win my hand..." Marianna followed her gaze to the training grounds, where a certain Sir Jude of her Court fell beneath a practice blade to the laughter of those watching. Alexis's eyes were sad. "I know I could not kill my husband, for it would start a war, but I cannot say that others would think about such consequences."
The hall was too quiet. An ominous thought. But Alexis moved her yellow gaze to the barracks where the Defenders now rested, ready for the next day when the first Task would begin. Movement made her straighten. Just there, a familiar face, someone she had always found suspicious...
"Marianna," she murmured. Her eyes were heavy-lidded, dark. "Who is to say that they will wait until they have my hand to cause destruction?"
Marianna leapt forward, but the silk of Alexis's garments slipped through her fingers and her charge was gone, fading into the shadows as she had been taught. "Alexis!" she called, annoyed. "Why she had to learn to fight is beyond me."
There was a shriek, and then the smell of thick, choking smoke. Her eyes widened, fear clawing at her throat, matching the voice of another, a male, Jude - "Alexis!"
Alexis shuddered, pressing shaking fingers to numb skin, feeling the agony of the rough and burning membrane, melted into horrific welts that marred what had only minutes before been flawless features. Her mouth trembled, desperately caging wretched sobs as barbed tears flooded glazed eyes.
"An Empress should not be broken," she murmured, voice wavering, breaking on the last word, body curled in on itself, frightened of the eyes that could see, the blind who could feel.
"And an Empress should just die already!" her attacker roared, rising, sword balanced in the right hand, a little awkward, but still deadly in a furious hand. Alexis threw herself to the side, sword clashing on sword, pressed painfully onto rock as she twisted, feet hooking on ankles and yanking with all her might. The man stumbled with a cry, blade flashing towards her breast in a sudden lunge that was enforced by his unsteady feet, and she shifted, but too late. Too late.
Choking, blinded by fear and tears and smoke, her fingers loosened on the hilt as her shoulder shook with the pain of the unfamiliar steel ripping through bone. Her right hand clenched, searching swiftly for dagger hidden in her boot, but the man laughed and boot crunched on wrist.
"Traitor," Alexis hissed, consciousness burying in dark spaces. "I know who you are."
"Believe what you will, Alexis," he laughed, mocking her. "But you will never be able to speak my name."
Knowing she was dieing, Alexis smirked. Did he think she was stupid? She was the Empress and she had been taught by the best. Her mind was far more astute than this man believed.
"You think I did not tell anybody? That I went to confront you without telling everything I knew about you and your traitorous friends?" Yellow eyes glinted triumphantly, watching as his features darkened and that small tendril of doubt wormed its way into his expression. "Even if I die, someone knows. And they're coming right about…" She looked painstakingly to the left, eyes reflecting the moons that were brought together in one single moment. She sighed. "Now."
It seemed that nothing was happening, that no one would come, and he sneered down at her, blood from his lost arm dripping sadistically on her ruined face. But she knew. Jude was not one to break promises or be late. And with calm steps he appeared, leading the men who wished to fight for her Hand with stormy expressions.
It was then, as they took care of the traitor and his band, that her eyes fluttered to a close. Through darkened gaze saw Jude's handsome face, his distress at finally taking in her damaged features, and his whispered breath across thick, numb skin.
"You will not die."
And she couldn't help the smile, though lost and broken, that crept upon cold lips at the taste of salty tears from the man who never cried.