When Arudelle received word of Mi’Raah’s demise, he was at cards with the only two Captains still wealthy enough to stand the Pirate King’s cheating.
“Come now, woman. Calm down and you’re dripping on my good hand.”
Mi’Raah, soaking wet from head to toe in her once silver priestess robes, waggled the gold message bottle in Arudelle’s face.
“‘Dear Sir,’ it reads, ‘I am bound to meet my doom, down here,’ I wrote days ago, ‘…imprisoned as I am. Desperate for reprieve. My only comfort is a Trystian slave who pities me and tells me stories about all the wonders of falling in love with his shackle-mate so near to the end of his miserable life. I’m not bitter, I am truly glad for Syramon. But what about me? All I can contemplate while Syramon divulges the aching of his heart, is that the man I need schemed to put me here on purpose, and is probably laughing his lily-white, never-pirated-a-real-day-under-the-sea-sun arse off–while PLAYING AT CARDS!”
Arudelle then replied to her, without raising his eyes from red and black sets of conch shells, mermaids and north-stars painted next to numbers, “I so love when you read to me…”
Mi’Raah pursed lips and snatched a second message from her golden bottle. “Dear Unsupportable Sir. Now I learn that the Queen of Jyst, herself, has been executed. Is this some lesson for me? Syramon says he overheard that it started when the Queen shouted at the King, because he planned all along to take me from the dungeon as his mistress. Then, he erupted at her on the following night, with fresh knowledge of all her secret extra-maritals… How did you know that was my secondary plan? Even I believed it couldn’t work between Baeltheon and myself–”
“I told you we had got back together, Mi’Raah. I wasn’t going to let someone else take you. King Baeltheon held out for as long as he could, but nobody can resist you, sweet, I know that. It’s why you weren’t executed right away for treason, if you were wondering. So, I paid a few people to ensure the Queen would hear about Baeltheon’s scheme to keep you alive first, and then, second, incense Baeltheon to take it too far. But the whole rumor about the fight being over the Queen’s silver hair color–well that was news. I didn’t start that. Aha! Here’s a High Tide everyone, my hand winds.”
Mi’Raah almost ripped a final letter from the bottle and then slammed it on the table, in the middle of candle-lit treasures Arudelle was presently raking with hands over to his side.
“Dear Sir. It depresses me that this bottle still finds its way via shuttled chamberpots and I am forced to retrieve, read and write back as is your enforced proscription against the deaths of my sisters, but after days of struggling for you with no response, I am at my mind’s end. HOW DARE YOU FORCE ME TO WRITE YOU AS THIS FETID KINGDOM FALLS APART. I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO KILL YOU, ARUDELLE, BUT I DO HOPE YOU DIE, I DREAM OF YOU DYING, AND I WISH VERY HARD FOR SOME MORTAL ACCIDENT TO BEFALL YOU AT EVERY OTHER BREATH. Kindest Regards…”
Arudelle raised up from the table and tugged Mi’Raah into a kiss. Captains Jherpolis and Minthene were clearly holding their breaths.
“Mi’Raah,” Arudelle said gently, “You’re here now, safe, and that’s all that matters.”
“Bastard. You set me up. I was helping you, I was converting mortals to our cause just fine, and then you ordered me to directly involve Rider Koriandra. Why? Why did you do that, when you must have known she assassinated Prince Bonnis, and craved killing Odentalis too? You knew that Odentalis was the god-horse Odeon already, didn’t you! Why didn’t you warn me first, that she was due to learn the truth about Odeon and become homicidal–say anything about everyone, even turn against me, to do as she pleased?”
Arudelle smoothed a hand down her wet hair, and ended bringing a loose end close to his gaze, inspecting it. “This is split I think… And you’re not as heavy as I like you, either.”
“Can you really be serious, Arudelle! I threw myself off a cliff only hours ago, to escape Odeon himself. Though, I don’t really know what I hoped would happen whenever and wherever I landed. Damned tide…”
“I found out that Odeon and the man Odentalis were the same, after hearing too many strange stories about the High Priest from these two.” He nodded at Jherpolis and red-bearded Minthene.
Mi’Raah turned to glare at them, but Arudelle seized her back around. “Mi’Raah, their two names were even similar–”
“But Odentalis was a holy name to match a holy animal, Odeon. The High Priest took rites to change it, which made sense.”
“And that was so with every High Priest before him… High Priest Odeno, High Priest Nodeon, and there-forth… It was always the same creature. Odentalis was his best effort at manhood yet. I was startled to learn a horse could ever figure how to turn into a person, but then I doubly realized that, here you are–an impossible, beautiful woman–and also so tangible. An angel in colors.”
Mi’Raah swatted Arudelle’s roving arms away. He grabbed her. She yelled and put both hands around his throat. The veins in his neck all turned blue, with her powers. “Sir! I am done, playing with you. My life is not a game.”
Captains Jherpolis and Minthene stood, drew their swords.
Arudelle looked only at Mi’Raah. He managed angrily, “It follows… that I don’t trust you.”
“You own me, you do whatever you want with me, and expect everything in turn from me, but you don’t trust me? If that is so, then, I am a slave. I am not your wife. And certainly not when, you already have a wife. I remember, clearly, that her constant name is Euginnia, always in my guilty head.”
“You don’t wish me… to be kind to my slave?”
Mi’Raah wanted to squeeze and crack his spine, or make ice-crystals of the whites of Arudelle’s eyes. If his henchmen did get to her sisters… perhaps it would be a mercy. For her sisters, and for the world. To prevent anyone being used like this. Belief was just belief. Suffering would always be suffering. Like choosing between two miserable lovers.
And then, something made Mi’Raah let Arudelle go. She turned gaze just over her shoulder, licked silvery blood as it came to the edge of her mouth, and observed the same steely glint cut through her back and rend through her stomach, on the other side. A man’s hand gripped the sword that stabbed her by its elegant, wire-coiled pommel.
Red-bearded Minthene had done it. He then gently set Mi’Raah down while withdrawing sword, as if there was a kindly way to un-stab a lady. Jherpolis helped to get her by the arms and place her dress neatly while she lay bleeding.
When it was done, Arudelle stood over her. “I put you away in that dungeon because I did not want you to get hurt when I knew what was coming, on their streets, and in their palace with the Queen fated for beheading. But, it seems I wasted my time with you, Mi’Raah. When it came to this anyway.” then, Arudelle stepped heavy boots by her ear and down the wooden floorboards, to call directions for the ships to be put this way and that before the morning’s attack, as if she no longer existed.
Mi’Raah had not been mortally cut before. For so long, she and her sisters had always been too clever for it. Made themselves into goddesses with guarded temples before any one wild person might dare try it. Now, as she waited for death to come–that it had been her second time helping it along amused Mi’Raah a cruel little–she learned that her fear of it was worse than a what a sword-wound actually could do to her immortal body. Curious.
Or, was it like so many games mortals liked to play? Three of a kind, or worse, a third strike, and her long life would finally snuff out. The First Ones were mortals, after all. Noble people with a grand, vast vision for their world. Suppose they were still fallible, for making people who could only live as toys?
So then, what was her real purpose? To go on being used, then hide from use on a glittering shelf, only to re-emerge and offer herself to users like this again, forever?
Arudelle returned in the night, mewing in worse distress than she recalled doing earlier, for her own wounds. Her silvery blood had gone. He was able to put a blanket around both their warm bodies, and apologize. “It’s just that, you made me look weak in front of the men. And they are all real pirates, do you understand?”
Mi’Raah curled fingers into a fist, then gave it up and swallowed.
“Tomorrow will be better, sweet. Tomorrow, we take Jyst for ourselves. After, you can pick out the very Queen’s bed and sleep in it. I’ll hold you again and say sweeter things to you, when we have more time. Better than this salty old floor. I know you must agree with me. Say anything, love, please.”
“Goodbye, Arudelle.” Mi’Raah closed her eyes and wished she could mean it for more than one night. The toy-woman pretended to die, if only she might enjoy hearing Arudelle panic and believe in it. Then, he might give up on torturing her, for a moment.
But then, just as the golden bottle never ceased coming back, her damned heart beat one more time.
1, Mi’raah’s Virtue :: 2, The Dancing Beaches :: 3, On His High Horse :: 4, Off His High Horse :: 5, Bottled Message :: 6, Horse Huntress :: 7, Rider Koriandra :: 8, Oh No He Di’int :: 9, Talking Horses :: 10, That Damned Bottle Again :: 11, Believing is Seeing :: 12, A Choice Between Two Lovers :: 13, Last Vortextual Process :: 14, End of the Prose