In times of war we turn to the wicked
in hopes of keeping our own conscience clean.
She was born daughter to a notoriously vicious leader of one of the bands of savage barbarians in the North. Her childhood was not unlike many of the childhoods experienced within the group; flecked with memories of physical training, war patterned mental degradation, nomadic tendencies, overwhelming religion and superstition. At a young age the children were taught that their value amongst their people would be earned, never given, and never truly set in stone. Food would be laid out for the group of youths and with no moral questioning the tribe would watch the strong and the vicious become well fed and the weak would grow weaker with starvation until they were just memories, warnings, of the faults of unchecked laziness. Her father never worried that the messy haired blonde would waver when survival was necessary. He kept a watchful eye and fist always near enough that the child knew no parental approval beyond violence and it quickly became that her mother’s embrace made her wince with distaste and she savored the lick of the whip for proof that she was one of their bloodline. But this was the way.
Soon she looked down on the others, on the blatant weakness of their couplings, emotions and relationships. She saw them all as competition for food and for survival and so the emptiness in her human need for love and acceptance started to create a hole inside the twisted thing.
On the day that the skies matched those of her birth night there was a celebration. This was the 12th year she had survived and such a celebration was customary, for the next year would be the test and then she would be considered an adult amongst the tribe. Even at the age of 12 her presence twitched awkwardly between a coy beauty and a vicious fighter, both traits that were valued by the savage barbarians, and so it was no surprise that on this night she would receive an offer of courtship. The boy, not much older than herself, cautiously approached her where she sat, surrounded by people, and extended the already fierce looking pup towards her. She seemed unfazed, dark chestnut eyes starring past the twisting ball of fur and finding only the eyes of the boy; eyes that struggled to portray confidence as they oozed the truth of his inner turmoil. To her he simply looked petrified, nervous, and unsure. She curled the corner of those vibrant lips up at him and reached out to accept the puppy. He relaxed, everyone relaxed; this was a joyous day. A clearing in the forest that, only moments ago, was chocked with tension broke into a collective laugh. Music began to play and the girl cuddled the puppy into her arms. Her father wrapped his arm around the boy in a bear like embrace and led him away, no doubt discussing the not too distant future when this man would be responsible to watch over his daughter and supply him with more warriors.
Later that night the tribe’s camp was deathly silent. The booze, dancing and late hour lingered over them all like a witch induced coma, each finding their bed to simply collapse. All, that is, except for the girl. She picked her way through camp, stepping around the bodies that were unwilling or unable to make it the few feet home, long rope hanging from one shoulder while the wolf pup required both arms for her small frame to carry about. Her fingers curled around the entrance to the tent as silent as the reaper as she peeked inside. The same smile from earlier graced her lips, now taking a more sardonic turn as she spotted the boy. Her bare feet tiptoed past his sleeping sisters and younger brothers until she stood, hovering above the sleeping boy. Those same feet then nudged his shoulder. Nothing, she waited a moment before nudging his shoulder once more, though this time it was more of a kick and the boy woke with a start, rubbing his arm and looking up at the girl and the puppy with sleep in his eyes.
“Oh, oh, it’s you.” He whispered and then smiled at her goofily. She could see the flush running up his neck and across his cheek. She attempted to mimic the smile as she looked down upon him.
“Come with me.” The boy flushed again as he grappled hastily for a pair of pants while also trying not to wake those around him. His eyes darted over his family that seemed almost dead in the silence and his pants were pulled on beneath the hides that covered him. He stood, eyes searching around for a shirt.
“Unnecessary.” She spoke as she exited the tent. The boy obediently followed, becoming excited at the possibility of what this adventure might entail. He walked at her heels, both silent until they made it a safe distance from camp.
“Where are we going?” No answer, they kept walking. They remained on the silent pilgrimage for another hour or so; it was hard to tell with the way the moon coursed through the trees and the time stretching silence that consumed them. The girl said nothing and it wasn’t until they began to near the edge of the expansive forest that the boy hesitantly spoke.
“It’s dangerous out here, we should go back.” His hand started to rub nervously up and down the opposite arm, as if he were cold. At this the girl stopped and turned towards him, batting her lashes as she had seen her mother do and giving a smile coated in honey.
“That is why you are here, to protect me. Right?” Another flush from the boy. He eyed the surrounding area and the sleep started to drain from his face. He turned his back to the girl, the recognition was starting to kick in.
“I…” He stuttered. “I know this place. This is the ritual gr…” Then the complete recognition hit him and he looked terrified, but only for a moment, because while his attention was captured she had released the puppy and opted for a large branch. She swung with all the force a tribe leader’s daughter had learned in 12 years and bashed the boy in the head. The sickening crack vibrated through the woods, but they were too far for anyone to hear, even if they had been conscious enough to hear it. Blood immediately came to the head wound as a sick gurgle escaped the boy’s lips. Then he was face down on the ground and she took her rightful place, staring down upon him. The girl lowered herself to her haunches and whispered to the boy with a malicious edge.
When the boy awoke he shifted against a tree, realizing in a panic that his hands were bound, he couldn’t move, his head was throbbing and his vision was a blur. He attempted to speak, and it was only choked muffled noises that escaped. He first assumed he was gagged, but the pain seared throughout his head and he could taste blood, so much blood. The metallic taste choked him, his head starting to grow light again and he realized he couldn’t even move his tongue. Looking down the boy’s eyes grew large, blood soaked his bare chest, and the wolf pup nibbled greedily at a soft pink organ. His eyes darted quickly to the girl, her tiny form crouched before him with her father’s hunting knife. For the first and last time the boy got to experience the faux blonde innocent’s face lit up with joy. And then the boy simpered and fainted.
The next day the boy was missing. It was two days before the body was found and each of them that had seen wore a ghostlike face; when they talked their mouths seemed dry and the words were forced, dazed. They wouldn’t talk about what they had seen, even once their speech returned to them. They only said the body had been taken care of. The men in the party that found that boy would later say an animal had gotten to him. They would whisper among themselves questions they dared not answer. How had his wrists been bruised and broken like that? How did the breast plate get cracked open? Why had the animal eaten so little?
The stars once again found their place within the sky to signify another year had passed. As is customary within her tribe she was to be offered to their god in a cave, where judgment would be placed to decide if she was fit to be returned to the tribe, fit to hold the responsibility of child bearing. Every woman amongst their people had endured this moment, every girl cried and pleaded and prayed to their god that he not take her. She did not cry, she did not beg, and she certainly did not pray, but instead she took the chains upon her wrist in silence. She watched her father and mother as they busied themselves laying out offerings around her in an attempt to draw their god’s attention from their daughter. She was not afraid. In truth, she found this ritual to be silly and had petitioned to take to the hunt with the boys of her age. Why would a god care about some pathetic girl child? The girls who had not made it through the night had been weak, picked off by lions or bears.
After her people had left and she was alone in the darkness of solitude she drifted off to sleep, likely out of boredom and in attempt to pass the time. Much later in the night she awoke. The smell struck her first; sulfur burning her nostrils. Then fear started to creep up her toes, she trembled and desperately searched throughout the cave for someone, anyone. The panic incited a scream to attempt to rupture from her lips, but as they parted she was choked with thick sulfur that coated her mouth, tugged at her tongue and seeped throughout her body. In her head a hiss ripped apart her mind. The words screamed at her nerves and every part of her skin seemed to be burning from the inside out. She squeezed her eyes shut as waves of nails picked apart pieces of her brain.
“This is the first time you have felt fear, this will also be the last.”
Just before dawn the tribe leader awoke to a sudden pressure on his chest. His eyes flew open to be met only by the minimal light of pre-dawn but he instinctively reached for his broadsword that he kept by the bed, only to tug heavily at a restrained arm. Upon his chest sat a girl, one almost unrecognizable in the dress of a death dealer; dirty, blood smeared from her crazed eyes to her smirk laced mouth. To his credit he didn’t scream. He stared into the eyes of his daughter as she stared down into his.
“Your offering was accepted Father.” She hissed down at him, and he could see her there for a moment, his beautiful baby girl, filled with promise, but then he blinked and all he saw was a monster. It was then that he began to struggle. His eyes darted to his wife in an attempt to wake her. It was then that he screamed, a scream that was immediately cut off as the sharp point of his hunting dagger pierced his jugular. The steam left from his attempted scream exhaled more blood onto the little thing that was his daughter. His last memory would be of his wife. Her mouth forced open with a choke pear wound so tight that her jaw had ruptured open and sent shards of bone into her brain.
That night the screams and the smell of burning flesh from her village drifted for miles. Some of them came to see, and they would never be the same again. The abandoned village was laid out like a nightmare. Children burned next to their mothers that remained helpless, limbless, until they had bled out. Men castrated and staked into homoerotic poses. One girl was found 2 miles from her legs, the only thing leading to her a trail of blood that she had drug with her in an attempt to escape. No one was alive.
A war party from Rhorland came across the girl as they headed towards home. She must have been quite the sight, barely clothed, stumbling through the forest and covered in dirt and blood. One of the men took pity on the small girl, assuming his people had been responsible for her almost catatonic pacing outside of such a horrific slaughter. He took the girl into his home with the best of intentions, planning to offer her some sort of life inside of Rhorland and under his protection.
4 years later
The Judge sat in front of the court that bustled with what started as hushed tones, and now it seemed that he could not even hear the guard to his left. He rubbed his temples with large fingers. This case was exhausting…not because there was any doubt as to the guilt of the defendant, but rather the peculiar nature of the case and what to do with her. The guard nudged him again and he looked to the doors, just in time to see the 17 year old being led forward down the rows. Her presence quieted the room before he could do so himself, they had heard the stories that pooled about the girl and they all knew why she was here today.
As she walked her eyes remained downcast, staring at what seemed to be overly heavy chains tugging hands and spiderlike digits, barely moving as she walked. The guard behind her, unwilling to touch the thing as if insanity was contagious, pushed her forward with the edge of his sword. She took two more steps, head slowly turning towards the man with the knife, only so that a small snarl could be sent his direction, her teeth were almost too sharp to be human, but it was quick, and then she was looking through the judge. For the next 3 hours as her crimes were discussed she stared through the judge, occasionally a far away smile showed that she was listening, as though he were recounting cherished memories. Finally they got to her masterpiece and those dark chestnut eyes began to focus.
The Judge was obviously flustered, did the little thing blink? He flipped the page on his transcript and continued reading the charges.
“Lastly, Miss Scarpia, you were found not 2 months ago in your adopted family’s home. It says here that you were found sitting at the kitchen table, covered in blood, with multiple murder weapons still lying about. You made no attempt to hide the bodies, as your adoptive mother and her 4 year old daughter were gutted and displayed near the hearth. Your adoptive father’s body was found hanging from the rafters, for the people present I will spare the gory details. After about an hour’s search, in which time the arresting officials say you said nothing, your adoptive brother was found in the shed outback, similarly mutilated in the fashion of your father.” The Judge seemed to sigh, pleased to be finished with the macabre novel in front of him, but he was obligated to ask the next question and he was apprehensive about her answer. He forced himself to lock eyes with the girl who seemed to almost be trembling with delight after this traipse down memory lane.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” She shook her head, more of a minor twitch from side to side. And then was lead out why they debated her fate.
2 years later
The man had 4 guards around him. Oh, no one came to visit anymore. No one ever came to visit. He must be important. Nice cloak, he wasn’t supposed to be her. Wealthy, but trying to hide it.
She leaned against the dungeon wall, crouched on her haunches in the darkest corner of the most solitary hell hole they could find for her. The man leaned closer to the bars, though the guard with him was experienced enough to hold him just far enough away. Her form seemed to twitch, almost inhuman, her head cocking much too far to the right and then in a second her form was pressed right before him against the bars.
“You need me.” It wasn’t a question, and the man didn’t try to argue. A devious smile crept over her lips, and if it all possible, that smile made her seem even more wicked. “Otherwise why would you be here? Wouldn’t want to get your hands dirty, now would we, Sir.” For a second his eyes got caught in hers and he had to remind himself of her past to reconcile this petite girl with their new found purpose for her.
“What do I get?” And no one knows what his answer was, nor anything else that happened to the girl. That was over 5 years ago that the girl disappeared into the folds of the King’s secret stash. The promise that was made must have been lucrative though, for the girl has become as obedient a rabid dog as you have ever seen.