.:Betrayal by blood:.

-Chapter One-


One by one my allies were removed, turned against me until they all fought for my death. They were twisted, manipulated, into my enemies. It happened again and again until I was alone.

I wanted to stop fighting. I willed for my hands to never touch a sword again, but they had to. I had to fight, something within me compelled me to do so. I suppose you could call it my conscience, my warped sense of morals.

Even when I was outnumbered, even when I was surrounded by the bodies of my fallen foe, I couldn't stop fighting. I wouldn't stop until I had made it change. I guess that was my greatest strength … but in some ways my greatest weakness.

On the empty battlefield, lying half-dead among the corpses, that was how you found me. You pulled me off the ground, dusted me off, and gave me back my sword. You looked me in the eye, like you did all those years ago, and whispered so softly I almost missed it…

"Yvienne Quaint, I will never betray you."

Then, you took my sword from me and protected me from my foes, my former allies and myself.

You were the only one who kept your promise. You never betrayed me.

You never betrayed me until the day we both died on the battlefield.

And that battlefield is still there, baron and empty, covered in corpses, like it was when you found me.

And my sword, my beautiful blood-stained sword, awaits the true successor to pick it up.

I always loved you.

When we died I found that you loved me too.

I was happy, until I remembered…

History always repeats itself.

I leaned my head against the cold stone walls of my cell. Everything in my cell was grey and lifeless, much like me at the moment.

I, in short, looked dead.

My black hair, which I had kept long all these years due to tradition, had become tangled and knotted together. My skin had turned a ghostly white, due to the three weeks I had spent underground. My already shallow face and my thin arms had been reduced to basically skin and bone. It looked like someone had carved my face out of chalk.

Then there were the injuries. My torso was still bandaged up in rags and my left eye had a blood-stained make-shift eye patch over it. I would have been a prime target for my fellow inmates, if not for my fearsome reputation.

The irony: the reputation that I had earned when I fought for them now kept me safe whilst I fought against them.

I heard footsteps. My head jerked up.

It was the guard, carrying a key. I knew what it meant. No one was ever just released from the highest security prison in Rion.

"I'm sorry, Ava," he said shaking his head.

I shrugged.

"Are you ready?" He motioned to the key.

Would I ever be ready to die?

I didn't know the answer. I nodded nonetheless.

When was it that we first met?

I met you when you offered me a hand, but I think you knew me long before that.

I can still remember how you stood above me, stretching out your arm, telling me to accept.

And I still remember how I spat at your open hand and rejected your offering of trust.

Sometimes I wonder, my dearest, if things would have turned out differently if I had accepted your hand that day.

Sometimes I think that decision to reject you was the most foolish choice I ever made. Sometimes I decide that fate brought us together and that it doesn't matter.

I was always reckless back then, wasn't I? So eager to make my own way, I turned down the only true ally I would ever have.

So, my dearest, do you resent my decision to turn you away? Or do you think that our end-point was inevitable?

I hope you forgave me … from what I remember, you did.

I kept my head hung down and my shackled hands by my side. I didn't try to fight back as they forced me to my knees and held a blade to my throat. I sat obediently and listened as my best friend denounced me as a traitor.

To think I trusted her … to think I respected her … to think I fought for her…

She was the one person in this world that ever taught me to trust others, and now she spat it back in my face.

It's only those who you love who betray you. It's the sad fact of life. If you didn't ever really love them, then it isn't betrayal, is it?

As humans we fear betrayal more than anything. We fear the idea that the people we trust the most could turn against us at any second. We know the other sad fact: everybody has a price.

For some it's money, but for others it's the safety of those they value above all else: these are the prices that someone has to offer in order to get people to turn against you.

These prices lead to hard decisions. I had to choose between my family and my beliefs. I chose my beliefs. My family did the same.

But you, you never asked me to choose. You told me I shouldn't choose when I could have both.

Human beings are selfish creatures, aren't they?

The speech went on. The queen, for I refuse to call her my friend any longer, droned on about my various crimes.

She had been offered a choice I suppose, me or her values. She'd chosen her values over her best friend. I suppose she never really valued me to begin with.

I looked at the clock tower. It was five minutes to noon.

I had five minutes left to live.

It's slightly disconcerting to know when you're going to die.

You try to put your affairs in order in your head, make it so that you have no regrets, but in the end, for me at least, the fear in the back of my mind never went away.

I wanted to scream out to the crowd, declare my innocence, but I knew it was useless so I bit my tongue. I desperately desired for the ability to scream to the person I once knew as my friend, who I now refuse to acknowledge. I restrained myself. I would not let my last moments become an ugly display of my inability to move on.

The queen finished her speech.

The clock tower chimed noon.

On the first chime, I closed my eyes.

On the second chime, I discarded my regrets.

On the third chime, I settled my scores within my head.

On the fourth chime, I clenched my fists.

On the fifth chime, I prayed for the safety of my loved ones.

On the sixth chime I heard the executioner raise the blade above his head.

On the seventh chime, I prayed for my safety.

On the eighth chime, I relaxed my muscles.

On the ninth chime, I unclenched my fists.

On the tenth chime, I lowered my head.

By the eleventh chime, I had given up.

On the twelfth chime, the executioner brought his blade down upon me.

There will always be those in life who betray you. You can't escape betrayal; it happens all the time, too many times to count.

Yet, just as you can't avoid betrayal, you can't avoid having true allies. Some people are blessed with many, some have few.

You can't avoid the moments when you are about to give up, and then you are saved. You can't avoid those moments when you think you are alone, and then someone arrives and proves you wrong.

It happened to me, my dearest.

Betrayal is a funny thing. People betray you when you least expect it, but people also stick by you when you think they've betrayed you.

Those people who stick by you no matter what, they're your only real allies. I only had one. I had only you.

The blade never reached my neck. It clashed with a stronger blade mid-air. I heard it happen. I opened my eyes.

Standing, no towering above me, was a figure dressed in black. The figure's robes were ripped and torn, it's face hidden.

"It's the Black Reaper!" someone shouted.

That's when I smiled.

"Run for your lives!"

The Black Reaper was dead. I killed him. There was no way this figure was him.

"He'll steal your souls! Run!"

I knew who the figure was. It was the only other person who knew the Black Reaper was dead. We'd killed him together.

The floor of the execution platform fell out from beneath me. The Black Reaper and I fell into a neatly dug tunnel below the platform.

"Elizabeth," I said with a smile.

"You look like death, but I'm not sure about you being warmed up," Elizabeth said, pulling her hood off.

"Don't even get me started on how I feel."

Elizabeth looked quietly at me, then nodded.

"We need to move," she said.

I nodded back at Elizabeth. She was my real best friend: the girl who'd saved my life almost as many times as I had saved hers. Elizabeth Cave: she was my true ally.

History repeats itself; it's a cycle held together by a common thread. People are betrayed by others, people betray others; nothing can stop it. People scramble desperately against death, only to be killed and people resign themselves to death, only to be saved.

Nothing can stop the cycle that is history, not even you, my dearest.

But when there comes a person who struggles hard against the cycle, who strives to break it, that person is exceptional. They can't stop the cycle, but they can break it.

We tried to break the cycle, my dearest, but we failed.

Our only choice was to leave our task to the next generation, hoping that they were stronger.

My sword is no longer abandoned on a battlefield. Someone prised it from my deathly grip not so long ago. The sword found its successor, my dearest.

We can finally rest in peace.

© Copyright 2012 Mari Thomas. All rights reserved.

A/N: So… this is something that just popped into my head whilst listening to some music. And I HAD to write it down. This story's pretty dark, by my standards at least, at the moment, but I think it'll get better.

As of current, I have no idea where this story is going to go (worried face) and I can't believe I just wrote all of this down. It would be nice if you guys could tell me what you think, because although I have no idea of the main plot, I have a good idea of what's going to happen to Avery (that's the main character's first name, sorry, only called her Ava in this bit) and that Elizabeth isn't a main character.

NOTE: I don't actually write only fantasy. It appears, however, that I only ever feel satisfied with my fantasy stories enough to post them online. I actually love to write normal, psychological stories with romance in them, ones that really make you think.

Please review it, 'cause if you haven't, I'm gonna be mad.