Author: LM4E PM
He held onto her eyes with all the weight his could muster, as he told her what was true, "As long as there isn't a fence between us, I'll always..." His voice had trailed off, weak, vanished, and he soon recovered to say, "I'll always be at your side."Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 11,851 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 09-03-11 - Published: 03-18-11 - id: 2900073
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Few Words
I'm still deciding what order everything should go in...and what is more important than what in the entire story...but I'm just going to go with it for now. I'm also still so nervous and skeptical of posting things up when I'm not close to finished yet. Right now I'm still writing the beginning...There's three chapters more I've written and I feel like I've made a lot of progress, so writing everything, end to beginning, with my writing issues? Yikes...Also I'd like to know your opinions of this chapter. It's a big change, I think. And I'd like to know in your opinion if all of this should even be included. I'm so iffy about everything involving this story because I don't want to screw it up. Ugh...I'm such a mess. Anyway, enjoy :)
The Empress of Mare
As far as what the world knew, she possessed no name, and so she was called the Empress of Mare. Her royal ranking is so for her reputable achievements. Across every land in Mare, encrypted deep within the gravel of the earth's crust, penetrated lovingly against the dying rich skyline, the Empress is known for the capture and mutilation of the fifth dragon in existence: the Sangwhis. It had in its possession the imprisoned color of red. When she slayed the Sangwhis, the color red was released into its every rightful purpose. Every rose lit, every human glowed, every fire blared, and every apple shined red. Red things became more valuable than diamonds, nuggets, land.
When she killed the Sangwhis, it's body appeared on her white skin, a mark that gave her a legendary status. Across her back left shoulder and down to her lower right hip was the detail of the Sangwhis's scales. It's head entranced anyone who saw her backside, where it roared murderously, where its eyes held a furious pit of glorious insanity, its last expression to the world before it fell dead.
It was said that if you stared too long, the gaze of the dragon would ruin you through to your soul, traumatizing you to your ending days.
The Empress of Mare was loved so dearly by her people that they set up shrines in their homes to honor her strength, her courage, her grace, and her beauty. To the people of Mare, she was the relishing chill that crawled down one's spine after stepping out of a hot bath and into the air's sharp grasp. She was the silent kiss that engulfed one's lungs in the cool, brisk chill of an early morning. She was the empty feeling of wishful thinking and the light sensation of enlightening thoughts. She was the passing sweep of a faint trace of nostalgia, whooshing away in the imprisoning grasp of an unfortunately timed breeze. She was and she was more and she was even more than she was. She was lovely. She was legend.
But she was rarely seen. Some accepted this, while others didn't and felt the creeping responsibility of giving the Empress her reasons; she had much to do that didn't allow her time to visit her people; it was far too dangerous to remain in one village for too long, in case the revengeful spirit of the Sanwhis caught up with her through a flying rumor; she was planning something. Though she was rarely seen, and many souls had yet to know the face of their Empress, it was always known when she was in their presence. Because when she wanted to be seen, she would be seen.
Her night black hair was long and sleek, snaking around her shoulders and down to her knees. Some areas were so black they flowed into shadows. She wore a battered skirt that flew in the wind. Unfinished designs were embroidered on the fabric in red and black, dying away in fading wisps. Her sword was secured at her waist, on a red belt that hung on her hips. It licked her skin with its chilling edges.
Above the waist was bare skin, displaying the marks of honor she had possessed and endured over many years. The most recent had been the Sangwhis. But around her right forearm was the circling mark of a sea serpent, simply its tail that seemed to dash and argue with itself. A red-jeweled band wrapped around four inches above her elbow, where the mark ended abruptly. Along the sides of her hips and snaking up to her ribcages was the mark of a tranquil and deadly forest, where she had managed to survive and conquer, opening its wonders to safe traveling. The forest's enticing foreign flowers, the cruel spindling branches, the razor sharp leaves, and the most mysterious animals were placed in perfect harmony. The tricky and conniving eyeless stag that gave her hell had earned it's own mark. Placed delicately on her stomach, its antlers raced up to her breasts, covering them with what seemed like modesty.
Other 'marks' were not visible to sight. Her speed and agility were inherited from many dashing creatures and abominations. Her strength came from ten foot tall ax men, three hundred pound monsters. Her swordsmanship was achieved through dueling in city tournaments and defeating masters of fight.
All of these traits distinguished her apart from the ordinary people of Mare. They astonished and froze the people in a trance the second after they laid their undeserving eyes on her majesty. But despite all this, her eyes were what people could never forget, for they were concealed by a mark so simple, yet so unheard of, that it left them speechless: a band that blackened her unseen eyes like a mask. It haunted people's thoughts, but she never revealed its origin. It gave people reason to discuss until the early mornings where it could have come from, for no one in history had ever accessed that mark. The mark was peculiar and frightening, and so must have been what she had endured to obtain it.
Apart from that mark, there were two other marks that raised curiosity. The mark at the top of her right arm, where most people found their marks of birth, was etched with a foreign symbol. It was common courtesy that kept the people from asking her outright what it was.
The other was a mark in the middle of her chest, a simple distorted line. This was not as mysterious as the previous marks, for most people knew what it meant: a broken heart. But what it was about the mark that caught attention was the longing desire to know the story. No one dared raise question about it in the presence of the Empress though. That would surely be an act of suicide.
The world beneath her gaze was awakening in the sun's rebirth. The light illuminated the black abyss below, revealing a village of early morning dwellers. She resisted the urge to run down the side of the mountain and deem the village hers. If she did not control the urge it would consume her like the previous mark, the dragon's mark. It had been powerful enough to drive her mad, but somehow she had conquered it. She couldn't be worthy if she hadn't. Thankfully the new mark she earned by killing the City of Rein's king wasn't nearly as powerful.
Kicking aside some scattered burning fragments of wood with her bare, bloodied feet, she walked to the corner of the concave, nestling into its darkening shadows. The light from the rising sun contorted the shadows to blanketing masses of darkness. It calmed her. Darkness was less threatening than that sun's light, where she could see it for what it truly was.
She never liked having the mark of sight across her eyes. It made her different, and in a bad way. She couldn't explain it and she didn't like to dwell on it very long in fear of her sanity.
A red flash crashed into the concave and she bolted upright, her hands clawing for the nearest weapon, a massive stick and shielding it across her weak points.
Immediately she registered the threat; it was a bird. A red bird, poor thing. She felt terrible knowing the madness she'd caused when releasing the color red from the Sangwhis. She knew that this bird had most likely been having a rough life, judging by its frightened stance. It trembled and teetered back and forth, weary of her but testing her reaction.
The Empress sat down slowly and folded her arms around her knees. She looked away, out at the mass of trees and nearby sea.
The bird soon calmed down and settled in its own corner.
"I'm leaving now, little bird," she spoke softly, and the bird's attention was captured by her spellbinding voice. "But I want you to know a secret that has been haunting me for as long as I can remember."
The bird remained silent and still, its beady eyes glistening attentively.
She continued, "In so long I have not heard my name properly called out to me, I fear that one day I will cease to remember the sound of it. So I will tell you this and you must promise not to repeat it to the next soul you cross or any other you encounter in your short lifetime."
The bird twitched, as if in response.
"The Empress of Mare is a legend, a name that holds more meaning, more weight than any other. It is the single sequence of letters that bonded together a universal language, the common denominator of a divided world and lasting dispute. It is whispered behind children's lips, promised against men's lies, and seen in women's dreams. It is boundlessly able to test the limits of even the most heaviest affairs. The Empress of Mare is invincible to every perishable threat and is more powerful than the idea of an omnipresent being-" She paused abruptly, locking eyes upon the bird with a fiery passion it would never forget. "They call me the Empress, little bird, but my name is just Grace."
She leaped from her corner and down the mountain, leaving the red bird to die alone in peace.
She walked into the village when she finally controlled her new mark. The village was teeming with life, though the lack of color in the world of Mare prohibited the growth of happiness. Without the vibrancy of color, a part of the people's souls were left with a void concave, much like where she had just left the red bird.
The soil beneath her stinging feet soothed her wounds. She did not own a pair of shoes for the simple reason that they slowed down her speed and agile footing. She ignored the pain as much as she could, focusing her thoughts on bigger pains.
Like the mark on her chest. The mark of a broken heart. The feeling of emptiness left her more weak than any other wound. And the mark was a reminder that would never heal.
The first to notice her appearance was a local merchant. His carriage was filed with aromas of colorless food that had Grace's stomach quivering in hunger. She had stepped in front of his line of vision and asked for something to eat.
His eyes widened in disbelief. His mouth slacked open and he looked her over.
"The legend is true, the Empress of Mare exists!" The merchant scrambled to give her a slice of bread. His hands shook vigorously with gratitude when he offered the food. "Eat up, my Empress."
"Thank you," she said quickly before devouring the bread.
A crowd had gathered seconds later.
"Please, Empress, help us!" they pleaded. "There is a ravenous beast living in our woods that preys on our children!"
Grace thought about it for a moment. Defeating a beast was something she'd done countless times before, but she didn't know if she wanted to possess another mark to ruin her again.
The sound of her voice was speaking before she could stop herself, "I will kill the beast and skin its thick mane as a blanket for the poorest living families in this village. And I will offer the rest of the body as the main course in your next feast."
The crowd's roaring cheers filled her ear canals, reverberating throughout her body in silent tremors.
When she walked, the crowd parted for her, and she looked at all of them, wondering how far they would go to please her.
"Leave me be, until I slay the beast."
The crowd nodded, dispersing back into their normal routines, all the same watching her next moves.
She slipped behind a house and disappeared into the woods.
Grace was not afraid of the beast. She walked the woods like they were her halls, and she only waited for it to appear. The river nearby coaxed her to its promise of a cleansing. She stripped off her clothing and stepped into the water, swimming for a moment to clean the caked up dirt that had been weighing her down for miles.
A trembling in the earth paralyzed her. Something massive had just moved, and she had to bet it was the beast. She stayed still, dropping low into the water until all that shown through was the top of her head and the curve of her glistening eyes.
The beast appeared at the other end of the river, and she didn't know what her previous assumptions of the beast's appearance would be, but it was no where near what she laid her eyes on now.
It was huge, its head concealed by the underside of the trees. It reminded her of a snow monster, enormous and hideous, yet filled within every inch of it thick hair. She would need time to kill this abomination. Time she knew would be a great sacrifice.
The village grew weary with each passing day. The cries of the beast were heard every night, and they did not understand why. What was the Empress doing?
When she emerged from the forest, the village froze and with intent interest watched her.
She was red. Completely and vividly red.
Behind her she dragged the remains of the beast, placed upon skillfully woven ties. The trail was enormous, and it was not fully inside the village until she was almost at the other end.
And at the point where she dropped the tie, she only continued on.