Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vaelina's Resolve

    The answer was death.  It had taken a long time for Vaelina to come to that conclusion but it really was her best course of action.  The light of the moon cast an eerie glow over the cliff edge and the silent figure standing at its edge.  It was high enough she figured; if it wasn't and she missed all the rocks, the water would certainly finish the job.  She looked to her feet, a flash of doubt coming into her eyes.  With a few thoughts she banished it, however. This wasn't a decision she had come to lightly...


    Tears were flowing freely down Vaelina's cheeks and she watched the second coffin descend into the sodden earth.  She felt as though it should be raining but the world didn't follow her emotions.  At least the sun wasn't shining and instead there were clouds covering the sky, thick with a downpour to come.  It was as if the sky was trying to hold back its tears at the death of her children.  The murder of her children.  This coffin was small, and it held her youngest, a daughter named Marie.  She had only been nearly a year old and her son had just had his fourth birthday.  Geoffrey and Marie were her reason to live.  They comprised her entire purpose in life and making sure they grew up well and happy was everything she wanted.  Watching them was the only thing that made her happy.

    Her husband, Lord Terrence Practon, wrapped his arm around her shoulders in a show of comfort for the other nobles who had attended out of respect for the distinguished – and quite rich – Lord Practon.  She flinched away instinctively but he held her firm.  Her tears started to slow though her sadness hadn't ebbed in the least.  She was growing angry; she was angry at The Powers, the world's cruelty, but most of all she was angry at her husband.  She loathed him.  Hated him.  Despite this, there was nothing she could do to that would help.  


    Vaelina had been married to Lord Practon in the typical manner.  Her father had seen his growing popularity and wealth so he forged a link between their houses using her to do so.  At first she had been against the idea.  She had always imagined finding the right man herself and her father would either approve or they would run away together, maybe head for Alandrast where you could live in peace so long as you weren't powerful.  That wasn't how it happened though and she couldn't help being disappointed.  However, it was short lived and she decided she'd make the most of her situation and be happy in spite of her father.  She began to ask around about her betrothed and learned quite a bit from other nobles that visited her father.  Unfortunately, she wasn't allowed to leave the manor and ask more reliable sources so that her purity would be the same as it was when her dowry was agreed upon.  She was fairly pleased with her father's choice though.  Lord Terrence Practon was said to be gentle and kind with everyone, even his servants.  He was loved by many in court and she was a point of admiration by the other noble women for landing such a fine husband.  He was originally thought weak due to his gentle disposition but he proved a shrewd and ruthless businessman and smooth-talker.  He won favor of many prominent houses which quickly made him many lucrative deals increasing his prominence further.  Some still looked down on him since his money wasn't old but few cared enough about that when he was such an important figure.

    They were married soon after the original arrangements and her life seemed to be looking up.  He stood in front of her with the priest at their side and his eyes seemed to pierce her soul forcing her to suppress a shudder.  They had never seen the other before and his eyes seemed... hungry.  She tore her eyes away from his to look at him and he was even more handsome than the rumors had led her to believe.  He was not too heavily muscled as he is noble but quite well sculpted.  His face was handsome and she had never dreamed she'd even see a man so beautiful.  His jaw was firm and he smiled lightly.  When she looked back at his eyes they were soft and kind.  She completely forgot her initial impression.


    Disillusioned was the best term she could think of for herself.  The other was often stupid but that's hardly best.  Her husband wasn't the angel he was known as socially but a demon in disguise.  Her side ached from the most recent night he was home.  Most of the other bruises had faded but not this one.  It was still large and discolored her skin along most of her lower ribs.  He had kicked her hard in the ribs.  He never hurt her face though.  If one of his noble friends wanted to spend time talking or drinking at Practon's manor she couldn't have her face affected.  If she misbehaved even slightly during these visits the beatings were worse that night.  She fought back each time but she was small and he could easily overpower her even when drunk.  She wasn't the only one he mistreated either; the servants were terrified and for good reason.  He was good about not killing them but he could make their existence miserable.  No one would care either should he decide to outright torture them.  They were only servants.  Apparently the rumor of his kindness was from social events and that none of his slaves had died from beatings since he arrived.  None of them would dare raise a hand to help her.  To them, she was just a bad as him for being born noble and she deserved how he treated her.  

    It had been a couple weeks since he was back and things had started to seem peaceful.  She was trying to devise a way to escape or fix things but it wasn't going well.  As his wife she was his property and had very few rights.  If she tried to leave the country they would check for her noble markings (and see her wife's brand) and be refused exit without her husband.  She couldn't just run away and stay either and he would organize a search and the beating that would follow being found... It was unimaginable.  She knew that staying here alone was pointless and would only bring her more misery and pain but she was scared.  She couldn't help it.  She wanted to fight back and disobey or leave and escape but anything she did was met with such pain... Her best recourse seemed to be trying to sneak past the border patrol and so, decided, she was going through her preparations to leave so she could the next time her husband did.  That way it would be longer before anyone noticed her absence.  However, as she was going over things in her head she realized something.  She was late.  It wasn't just a day either as that wasn't too unusual for her.  She was nearly a week late.  She was pregnant.  It wasn't all that surprising considering every beating had been followed with her husband satisfying himself but it was still shocking.  Nothing could have prepared her for the feeling inside her as she knew she was mother to her child.  Her child.

    She knew she couldn't leave while she was pregnant as she would barely be able to provide for herself even if she managed to get out.  She had to protect her child at all costs, including her own well being.  For the duration of the pregnancy her husband nearly killed dozens of servants since he was unable to do so to her.  Afterwards he naturally took many of them the same way he would have with her.  They were all his property and he could do as he pleased.  Only she held his heir.  Once the child was born her old situation came back to her but in spite of her anger and desire to leave she needed to do what was best for her children.  She had some reprieve around a year later during her second pregnancy.  Unfortunately her second son was silent as he was brought into the world already having passed from it.  It wasn't long after that her bones were being set by a doctor for her "fall" down the stairs.  She was only mostly healed when her life returned to its hellish ways.  Her son was growing up though and about two years old.  He was handsome and bright for a child.  A few months later Vaelina was pregnant once more.  After bringing Marie into the world, she was happy to keep her husband's attention on her instead of the children.

    A year passed in the typical manner but one night was different.  Geoffery had just turned four a few days ago and felt like a real man.  Lord Practon was already drunk when he got home and he drank even more.  The way he was looking at Vaelina made her wish she had some way to dull the pain.  That evening he was more brutal than normal and she was aching all over, multiple bruises forming.  He had just broken her arm eliciting her first scream of the night and he grinned wickedly.  She looked up at him and saw him grinning down like a feral demon excited by the blood and pain.  He told her to get up for him.  She knew if she didn't he may break more of her bones so favoring one arm she pushed herself up and to her feet.  Anger and pain flashed through her eyes as he grabbed her broken arm.  Seeing resistance in her he instinctively backhanded her across the face, splitting her lip and knocking her back to the ground.  Head ringing, she looked looked up through blurry eyes in time to see her son come in and run at her husband.  He spun around, grabbed him and threw him back toward the door where his head impacted with the edge hard and he fell to the floor, utterly still.  The ringing in her ears started to clear and she heard Marie's screaming and crying from the crib nearby.  Head aching and still rattled she was torn between which child to run to.  She needed to go to both but couldn't get up.  As she was struggling to clear her head and help her children, Lord Practon stalked over to the crib and kicked it hard.  It flew across the room and landed sideways, ejecting the contents even further.  The room was silent except for the ringing in her ears.


    Vaelina lay in her bed after the funeral hating the man next to her.  He ruined her life, beat her regularly, killed her children, and had the gall to try to keep up appearances by comforting her in public.  She couldn't do anything about it though.  The story was of a break in by a servant angry at the nobles.  Practon had killed one of them to make the story more believable   His body had been tossed into the desert to the east for the animals: the most shameful treatment of a body there is.  Vaelina wished that it was her husband treated that way but no one would believe her even if she did anything.  If she confronted her husband directly he would lock her away where she couldn't do anything.  Anyone else would think she had lost her mind along with her children and she would be locked up elsewhere.  She wasn't allowed to get a divorce unless he wanted one and that wasn't going to happen.  Escape was even more unlikely with him staying home for a while to "keep her safe".  There was only one thing left.


    Vaelina looked at the water below the cliff.  It was beautiful; the rushing water reflected the moonlight.  She had always been thoughtful and resourceful.  Now, after her five years of marriage, she was also more experienced than any other 20 years old in the country.  Her marriage had been miserable and there was nothing left for her here.  There was only one thing left to do...  She steeled her nerve and pushed the unconscious drugged body of her husband off the ledge.  She watched as her old life fell limply toward its end.  It was high enough she couldn't hear a thing as the bastard's body crashed violently against the rocks and water below.  The answer was death.


Wiping her hands she walked off south in the moonlight toward Alandrast to find her future.  She was hopeful it would be happy but she knew better than to be too hopeful so she walked on.  The warmth of freedom from her bonds tinged with the cold of losing her children settled across her shoulders.  Her thoughts were running in circles so she focused on her plans to cross the border without getting caught and contingencies for if she walked, alone.  However, she wasn't actually alone.  Death must have though her a fine traveling companion and he walked with her, unseen, smiling at the thought of taking her husband where he belonged and the future of Vaelina who he really was rather fond of.


  1. I love this, especially the twist at the end. However, though it adds an interesting color to the end, I think you should have woven Death as a character throughout your story. It's not exactly necessary and distracts from the main story a bit.

    But it is a lovely story. And by lovely I mean well written. I don't think that spousal abuse and infanticide are lovely, I promise.

    1. Thanks Variable Star! I agree that the scene with Death in uneccesary and originally it wasn't in there but I added him when I fixed the ending. Thing is, I decided to do these short stories in a larger world during this and I am exploring it as I write. Alandrast for example, is a city and country I created when I started writing a novel (that wasn't good enough so I shelved for a while). I'm planning to explore Death's character and role in the world further in an upcoming short story/scene. When I get around to it of course. If you liked this one, I have one other one on here called Vaelina Watched and you may enjoy it as well. Thanks again!