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Friendship Blooms

  • Posted on June 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Dirk had been polishing his boots when it happened. The courtyard had been open and wide, and the breeze was nice, so he’d decided to clean his armor and check it over for damage there, instead of in the armory. Perhaps a bit of a foolish thing to do, but how could he say no to the bright sunshine? Sitting outside helped clear his head, as well, so that he could review the lessons that Althalos had beaten into him today.  His ribs still stung from the great wallop he’d received when his attention had swayed towards gods only know what earlier during their bouts together.

The incident that is being referred to turned out to only be the start of something horrible and rather humiliating for all parties involved. However, the best learning experiences, in Dirk’s limited view, tended to be just that. A little horrible, and very humiliating.  The only good thing that came of it, was that he learned a little more about his princess, and a little more about himself as well.

So if the bottom of his stomach dropped out at the sight of Second Princess Eamon storming towards him, it could be blamed on the fact that it wasn’t very often he was confronted with such a fearsome sight. Just last week, he’d watched her take an entire band of fifty some odd men down with only seven knights and a good plan. She’d waded into the battle herself, sword swinging as fast and as hard as any man, and he respected her for it. He was also mildly terrified of her for her ruthlessness when it came to battle itself. Her smile was that of a demon when she engaged an enemy, and worse if she knew she’d win. He wasn’t looking forward to whatever was making her grimace like that at him. “Sir Strausson!” She called, and his bones snapped into ready position before he had time to think about it, a muscle memory instilled through many hard raps to the shins by Althalos and all of his other teachers.

“You are to accompany me into the city today! Dress respectably, and be prepared to engage in wooing!”

Now, that threw him off, simply because he had no idea what she meant. “…Forgive me, your royal highness, but I don’t understand.”

“You’re going to woo me, Sir Strausson.” She declared, and Dirk felt his stomach shrivel into dust. He’d just broken up with Lady Ameliah last week, and he honestly wasn’t interested in going through that particular cycle with Princess Eamon as well. “I expect nothing less than your very best romantic endeavors, and I will not allow you to back down.”

“I-” Realizing that he had no chance of getting out of this was roughly the same as pulling teeth. “Yes, ma’am.”

Finding his way back inside, in a daze, he began getting ready. Wearing the same white shirt, the blue vest that Lady Ameliah had said brought out the blue in his eyes and the dark coal of his skin, he sighed, realizing that this was going to be a thorough, unmitigated disaster. Although… Well, to tell the truth, Eamon was so terrifyingly in control all the time, that most of the knights and lords called her “Lady Ironheart”. None of them would approach her. And since Dirk had apparently scared away every person who had professed interest in him, he thought that perhaps this was what his circumstances lead to. As Lady Ameliah said when she had declared their relationship over, Dirk was just too uptight.

Perhaps he needed someone just as uptight as he was, that way he would be matched. Eamon was a brilliant person, and a lovely woman. If it weren’t for her overbearing need to be the best, perhaps she’d have more suitors. Pulling on his best boots, he laced them thoughtfully . Honestly, he thought that Lady Eamon was just fine as she was. But perhaps she was lonely?

Well, anyone would be lonely, after seeing their twin so happily engaged. Ever since the letter with her ring had come, First Princess Lette had been walking on air. Perhaps Princess Eamon was simply jealous of her sister? Oh, who was he to speculate anyway. He knew next to nothing of the ways of other’s hearts. He was clueless, himself, and if he felt an itch occasionally to have another next to him, the warmth of another person sharing his life, he usually found ways to ignore it. Usually by reading, or studying, or riding. Or sometimes, by speaking with Jorgan in the kitchens. The boy was surprisingly good at clearing Dirk’s head, and it was nice. Although that brought him to the thought of what he should do to please Lady Ironheart during their outing. Was she expecting him to take the lead in this? Most of the other ladies he’d been with had expected as such. Some, however, had always lead him around like he was some small dog on a leash. That had been about as annoying as the expectations, actually. He gave another sigh, heading out.

Stopping by the kitchen, he gave Jorgan a quick squeeze. The russet haired apprentice grumbled, and shoved him, but smiled a little more, which made Dirk’s day. Packing a basket full of food, just in case, he gave the sleeping cook a small glare, before heading out. Picking a good horse, he started saddling it up.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The princess’s voice called from behind him, and he bit back a groan, and turned around. And had to stare for a few moments, because… She was wearing a DRESS. He’d been under the impression that Eamon HATED dresses. He’d never seen her in one. Not really. It… didn’t really look right on her. She looked out of place, and rather uncomfortable, although he had to admit, the curled ringlets of her hair made her face look quite more ladylike than usual. That was nice. He supposed.

“I’m preparing our outing? I thought perhaps a picnic at the top of the hill leading to the Temple?” He offered, knowing it to be the most beautiful and supposedly romantic place in the entire city. Several of the others whom had asked him to court them had demanded he take them there. He’d recently just started taking everyone there on the first outing. Easier that way.

“No! You’re going to take me to the theater. And then, we are going to the Tree of Bloom.” She declared, one finger in the air, as if ticking off boxes on a list. “After that, you will take me to my rooms, and we will have a kiss.” Her face turned a deep red and he felt his own cheeks heat in response. Kissing was never his favorite thing. Ever. Too wet, and too… well, close. Plus, the smell of another’s breath tended to make him just a little ill. But he couldn’t argue with a Princess.

“As you wish.” And that was how he found himself strolling along the venues of the city, the crowds of people pressing around them. Eamon strode through, her skirts just as sure as her armor for keeping people out of her way. Dirk felt like he was her bodyguard instead of her date, and it was legitimately humbling. The set of her shoulders was the same as when she was waging war, and Dirk respected her for it. So when she stopped in front of a building, and held out her arm in an odd angle, he was puzzled as to what exactly she wanted.

“Well? Go on! Take my arm, and let’s go inside!” Doing exactly that lead him into a room filled with hushed whispers and draping curtains, with people spread out all over, and chairs everywhere. The Princess strode forward and into the best seats in the house. Ignoring the protests of the people who had been moving towards them, she sat, fiddling with her skirts as if they were in the way. He sat down next to her, the chair rough and badly made. Clearly this was not a royal theater in any way. The candles around them flickered with everyone’s movement, and Dirk wondered if this is what it feels like to be smothered in bad taste.

“The show is called ‘Pan in Darkness’.” Eamon explained, and her voice this low made it hard to remember that she commanded armies with that voice. “It’s a love story about a fae child and the local prince’s bride to be. Lette says that it’s a must-see.”

“Ah. She recommended it then?” He asked, a little curious. Since he’d been assigned to guard one or the other of the princesses every once in a while, it was a little odd to see them together. Mostly due to their different obligations. Lette being a Priestess of Vell and Eamon a Knight of the Realm, they didn’t exactly coincide very often. He wondered if it was because they were sisters that they found time to spend together. He wondered, if he’d had any siblings, would he have worked so hard to spend time with them? He felt as if he was forgetting something… But the curtain rose, drawing his attention.

Eamon was right. The play was rather heartfelt. But Dirk really could have done without the awkward make-outs in the middle of the scene that was supposed to be romantic. He wasn’t happy really with it, but then again, who was he to say what was right in this sort of thing. He noticed Eamon looked just as bored as he was, really, rolling her eyes and huffing more sighs than a sleepy dog. Not that he would ever compare his Princess to a dog. That… wouldn’t end well.

On the way out, however, he caught her mumbling to herself, “About time.” He paused, and nodded, and agreed with her, which sent her cheeks red again. She stormed off towards the palace garden, and Dirk followed, a little confused as to what the point of all of this was. Was Princess Eamon really interested in having a relationship with him? He didn’t think so… At least she wasn’t asking him to hold her hand or anything. He didn’t mind holding hands, in fact, it was kind of nice. But he was wary. Holding hands usually meant they wanted him to kiss them, and he really, really just didn’t want to deal with that.

The gardens were verdant and green, and they smelled lovely like fresh rain. He wondered if that was because of rain-spells, or if it had rained while they were in the theater. He found that Lady Eamon slowed down quite a bit, when on the garden paths. She contemplated the flowers slowly as they moved, her skirts brushing the leaves. He had to admit, she was lovely, in a way different from her sister, or even from her mother. The faint silver lines of scars along her arms, the firm muscle of them in the silk sleeves. He knew he’d find callouses similar to his own on her fingers, were he to look.

If he were honest, he really admired her. She trained as hard as he ever had, and she had become someone irreplaceable to the people of Theon, and to Kuryle itself. But Dirk would prefer to have her as a friend, as a fellow knight, than to lose her, like he inevitably did whenever he courted someone. He should put a stop to this… Ah. Wait, she’d stopped.

The Tree of Bloom rose over their heads, limbs heavy with leaves that stayed green all year round. The wood pulsed with beautiful light, rainbowed and dizzying up the trunk. He couldn’t stop gazing at it. The Tree was very famous. Couples from all over the country pilgrimage to this place, to stand before the tree. Only four times has the blossoms ever opened, the blooms always tightly shut. It is said that when they do open, they shine a beautiful light, different each time. The most famous of times this happened is said to be whenever Priest-Queen Lishtaire and her Knight Templar Althalos visit the garden together. As such, it has become the norm to say that the tree identifies and shines in the presence of soul mates. Ones who were meant to be together forever are blessed by the tree.

It wasn’t as if it was the end all be all, of course. Just a romantic rumor. And as Eamon stood, staring up at the branches, he wondered if he was supposed to do or say something.

“It’s beautiful.” He offered, an olive branch of conversation.

“Yes.” She sighed, “More so when it blooms.” Ah, he’d forgotten. She would have seen that, wouldn’t she? After all, it was her mother and father the tree bloomed for. He smiled, and took a step forward, to her side.

“I don’t think… that this is a good idea.” He started, trying to make this less awkward. He didn’t get the chance to finish, however, because she reached up, and with hands as strong as his own, fisted his shirt, and yanked. Her lips met his, and it was a kiss. Just as wet and foul and thick as he was used to, a pressing of lips to lips, and that was it. It meant nothing, and he barely had time to get the disgust off his face before she pulled back.

“…” She sighed, and let him go, which was a relief to him. “…I thought perhaps that, since father likes you, and you’re a very kind man, we could make it work.” Her tongue licks her lips, “But that kiss was just…”

“Sort of horrible?” He prompted, his lips quirking into a bit of amusement. “That’s how my kisses usually go. If you’d asked any of my previous paramours, you’d know. Lady Ameliah grew angry enough to break out courting simply because I can’t kiss well.” Well, it was more complicated than that, but that was the basic point of it, he thought.

“…I think it has more to do with your being male.” She explained. “I had no problems kissing Lady Nonna last week. I…I think I enjoy the company of ladies more.”

He wondered if this was true, or if she was just saying it to try and make him feel better. Honestly, he didn’t really care. He was just relieved he wouldn’t have to deal with the cycle of abject disappointment again, only this time with someone he respected. He smiled, and set his hand on her shoulder.

“If that’s the case, then I would still like to offer my friendship. I see no reason why we can’t get along.” He offered. And when she smiled up at him, he could see her mother in her. It warmed his heart, and he found yet another person he would do just about anything for.

Rumpelstiltskin

  • Posted on April 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I’ve developped this idea for Rumpelstiltskin, that I intend to make a full-length novel out of, and possibly a series. So here’s a snippet of that, since I wanted to write something from it anyway. To explain, since one of the main characters doesn’t HAVE a gender, and is as such genderqueer, That character uses pronouns Xie/Xir In place of His/Hers or He/She. The book will also have this sort of preface, to avoid those whom might find confusion in such a thing.

As the Stillskin, Xie had always been obedient. The Stillskin had never been allowed to move without the Summer Lady’s absolute permission. But this new Lady, this Sweet Rumpel, she was never giving orders. She would ask. She asked if the Stillskin would be alright left home alone, and when the Stillskin had shook xir head, she had listened. She brought the Stillskin things to do, cloth to sew, new books to read, patient teaching to impart upon the faerie-lost one.

The Stillskin knew that Rumpel need not do these things, not after the trouble that Stillskin had caused. For some reason, Rumpel cared. She brushed the Stillskin’s hair, and helped xir bathe, and all of it as gentle as can be. None of the trickery. Xie still hadn’t gained xir words back, and Stillskin still wasn’t able to hide behind a glamour, like the pretty faeries who sometimes stole kisses from the maids in the market. Xie wished xie could.

Stillskin loved her. In a way the Summer Lady had occupied the Stillskin’s heart, now Rumpel did. If she asked, xie would give xir life for her. Like the Dullahan, Stillskin would serve Rumpel until the end of days. Perhaps this was enticed when Rumpel gave xir a spinning wheel, and enough hay to begin again. Xie always felt safer, happier, when spinning the straw. Spinning it to gold, like the Summer Lady had asked xir to. But now, xie spun for Rumpel.

Spinning was perfection, the hay passing xir fingers, calming and cool, and turning to gold. It was one of the only things that xie could still do. Xie thanked whatever powers let xir keep that gift. It was the only way xie could be useful to Rumpel now.

Darling Mother Dearest

  • Posted on April 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

We know the type. The Mother, The Magdelene, She Who Nurtures, and she is the singular woman who defines who we are, who we become, and what we’re going to do with the world around us. Developmental theory often refers to her as the Female Rolemodel. In Fairytales, her title might be Step-Mother, or Queen, or any number of other things. But in the end, she is that one discerning force that brings us out into the world.

Now, this is where we draw the line. There are many types of Mothers.  Good ones, bad ones, evil ones, abusive ones, caring ones, obtuse ones, demanding ones, mothers run the whole spectrum, because they are, in fact, people. And no matter what your experience with them, or lack thereof, they still define parts of you to this day. Often, it isn’t until we grow up and get our own jobs and move on, that we realise our mothers, good bad or missing, are part of what motivates us in the world.

Three very good examples of mothers include Mother Gothel from Tangled, Eudora, Tiana’s mother from Princess and the Frog, and finally, one we all know very, very well, Wendy from Peter Pan. Now, you may be wondering where Wendy comes into this. Just hold on, and let me get to my point.  All of these fine ladies exemplify motherhood one way or another. Each different kinds, each with their own flaws, each with their own strengths. But beneath it all, they’re all women, down to the bones of it. Beneath the veil of “Mother” lies a woman, and it is that woman who determines how her children will turn out.

To start with, we’ll give you a good example. Eudora, the mother from Princess and the Frog, is a good woman. Married to her husband of many years, she works hard in New Orleans in the 20s. Which, for a woman of color, could NOT have been a good time for her. But she made the best of what she had, and because of that, she raised a resourceful, kind, and determined daughter. Because beneath the Mother, there was a resourceful, kind, and determined woman.

Now, Mother Gothel, as you well know, if you watched the movie for even half of its length, was abusive. Emotionally, and at the end, physically. She constantly belittled Rapunzel under the guise of motherly help. She put her down, and if you watch her most minute actions, all of her affection was aimed towards her daughter’s HAIR. The magic, not the girl. No wonder Rapunzel wanted out so desperately! But, if there was anything she did do right, is that she provided for her daughter. Rapunzel never wanted for anything, not food, not a roof, other than entertainment of course. And she encouraged her hobbies, baking and reading and painting. Even the worst mother can have a FEW redeeming qualities, I suppose.

Wendy, however, is a very special case. She actually wasn’t really a Mother. Not to begin with anyway. But the boys adopted her, and unwilling, she ended up a mother. This is the important part. She didn’t WANT to be a mother to those boys. Peter forced it on her, much the way single mothers are forced to take up both parental roles. However, unlike either of the mothers above, Wendy falls under the pressure. She caves. And in the end, she leaves. This too, has an impact upon her ‘children’. The boys once again only have Peter for guidance, and instead of growing up, they languish in Neverland, playing games forever with their child king.

So you see, no matter who she is, absent, missing, there, loving, nurturing, evil, selfish, cold, the mother has a big influence on her children. And before you get into it, fathers do too, but this is about mothers, so hush.  Mothers are what teach us how to emotionally handle the world. They prepare us, one way or another, for what we’ll find when we leave the nest. Some are good at this duty. Some are terrible. But no matter what, even if you loathe your mother and her actions, there is always something that will bring your mind back to them, something that makes you remember her, absent or not. And that, my friends, is why women become Mothers. That is our immortality.

Beauty and her Beast

  • Posted on April 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Beauty and the Beast Vs. Taming of the Shrew

Both iconic tales, although for very different reasons. Long, well-known, articulate, and fascinating, both tales are considered love stories, usually of the romantic variety, with sweet connotations, underneath everything else. The humor in Taming of the Shrew is considered a finer point of William Shakespeare’s works. The “song as old as time” of Beauty and the Beast is famous for it’s sweet romance, persisting through the ages as a love story to be emulated.

However, both stories have deeply troubling issues within them that few enjoy looking at. Truthfully, I don’t enjoy looking at it. Like any little girl, I absolutely adored Beauty and the Beast, wanting nothing more than to find that kind of adventure and love so easily. And my teenage self really enjoyed Ten Things I Hate About You, which is roughly based off of Taming of the Shrew. Both were funny, quirky, beautiful stories that made me think that maybe, just maybe, love was out there for everyone.

Now, break it down, by role. Let’s start with the women of each example.

Beauty, whose name literally describes her both inside and out, is a sweet, dutiful girl, who is obedient, intelligent, and (in the original tale) respectful. The disney version added a firey backbone, which was quite nice, actually. Her role in the story was to meet and be enslaved/captured by the beast, and then, despite being cruelly abused, verbally, and physically (he occasionally throws her around even in the disney movie) is supposed to fall in love with the Beast, once he exposes his true, good heart.

Katherina, the infamous Shrew, is an obstinant, firey woman with a temper. She is determined to have her way, and will not be told what to do. She chooses not to marry. During the course of her play, she is psychologically tortured by her soon-to-be-husband, through various methods such as removing her clothing and food, by saying it isn’t good enough for her, and deliberately misinterpreting what she says. She, in the end, also falls in love with a rude, obstinant man, whom has proven to be a rather cruel fellow.

Both women seem to be intelligent, well-thought out women, for all that they’re a little… one dimensional. Beauty is beautiful in all that she is, and Kate is well… a shrew.  But both women are forced, quite against their will, to be in the company of a man who is downright brutish.

The Beast is just that, a monstrous beast both outside and in, with claws that have rended the entire castle. Belle must have lived in fear, for I know I would, were I surrounded by stone gauged by such talons. Not only that, but he treats her as though she were a servant, a slave. He yells, demeans her, and as illustrated before, throws her a few times. He is brutish, boorish, angry, frightening, and supposedly, deep down, has a heart of gold. Belle just has to endure until it begins to show itself. Meanwhile, Beast is just waiting for the right woman to come along and teach him proper manners. How demeaning is that, as an allegory for the male gender? Hear that guys? You have no choice but to be an ass until the right woman comes along and *FIXES* you.

Petruchio, meanwhile, had the benefit of being raised in Italy. Meaning he’s an ass too. Also, he’s psychologically manipulative, and uncaring of Katherina in a personal sense. All he wants, as is stated in the play, is to marry a bride. He too is cruel, wooing a woman who obviously doesn’t want marriage, and basically talking her into marriage with the most backwards sweettalk in existance. He knowingly enters the relationship set to break down Katherina’s spirit and make her docile, accepting, and obedient.

Both men are the worst sort of examples of mankind one can think of. I personally am embarrassed to even call them men, for I’ve MET good men, and they do not act this way.

Now, you ask, at what point do these two stories even coincide with each other? Well, think about it. Beauty and the beast is a story about a woman taming a man. Taming of the shrew is about a man taming a woman. They’re the same story, only with the genders reversed.

What’s worse is, instead of the man showing the woman kindness, as Beauty showed Beast, and finally revealing the heart of gold inside, in Taming of the Shrew, Katherina is instead browbeaten, psychologically tortured, and in general treated as a problem, something to be beaten down and changed.

Both stories have problematic elements, Beauty with her stockholm syndrome and Perchutio with his cruelty, however, when looked at, it is clear what the commonality is. In both stories, women are clearly a means-to-an-end. Nothing more. Katherina is refused her personality, changed by the man in order for him to gain a bride and her sister to be eligible for marriage. Beauty exists for her father to trade off, for the Beast to gain back his humanity. Nothing more.

THIS is the problem with these two stories. When you are writing, consider the women in your story. Consider what they do, who they are, WHY they are in the story. If they are nothing more than a means-to-an-end, then you are doing them, and yourself, a disservice. After all, Misogyny is often internalized, and it’s time that women became women, and not just a catalyst.

Thinking About His Companions – A deleted scene from The Sorcerer and the Swordsman

  • Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

((This scene was deleted due to it’s repetitive nature when combined with other scenes in the book. However, it was a unique perspective and look at the characters from Yumil, the Sorcerer’s, point of view. Have a look!))

That night, Yumil did not join the large group for dinner, sitting apart instead, and eating a summoned apple. The silver haired princess clearly disliked his separating himself, as she stormed over to him pretty quickly. Looking up, he realized she had a bowl of food in her hand. Raising an eyebrow, he muttered a quick spell, freezing the food solid. She made an indescribable sound, glowered at him, and huffed her way back to the group.

Good riddance. Yumil didn’t exactly want to deal with her anyway. The smell of the sausage and hastily cooked rice was making his stomach queasy. He wasn’t sure if it was hunger or sickness, and he wasn’t taking a chance. His summoned food was more than enough for him.

Watches were established, and luckily, they had enough people for three per watch, two if Dirk excluded Jorgan, Lette and Yumil. Nights were dangerous on the plains, if one was unaware. Usually, dangerous beasts avoided fires and the sounds people made. But at night, when the fire is banked, and no one is moving about too much, some get curious at the smell of food, and come closer.

They never did have that problem. Yumil knew it was because of the creatures sleeping inside him. No self respecting animal would attack something more dangerous than itself unless it had to. And in this case, everything under the sun could tell that he was far more powerful than he appeared.

For his part, Yumil was attempting to avoid as many of the group as possible. Large groups made his skin crawl, almost as much as being alone with someone. He much preferred solitude, and this was not the place to get it. Luckily, few of the warriors they’d brought wanted to speak to him, his atrocities too near in their memories. That didn’t stop the child from staring at him, during the long trudging walk the horses took them on. Yumil raised a raven eyebrow at the male, and the child ducked his head. He couldn’t be more than twelve. Perhaps younger, even. His eyes though…. Something about them was familiar.

Taking another deep breath, Yumil turned away from the green eyed child, and towards his book. He had taken up reading again. During his apprenticeship, his master had instilled in him a love of books and all things to be read. Yumil had always had a natural sort of curiosity, something that made his horrid existence worse and better at the same time. Knowledge truly was power.

He couldn’t help but notice the princesses looking at him as well. The priestess obviously shared her mother’s view on his personality, since she kept sending him pitiful looks, and attempting to feed him of all things. Princess Lette was beginning to become a sore in his side, and he was attempting to think up ways to make her life hell without actually harming her. A bit of honey on her skin was good for her, and it would also attract ants like nothing else. Perhaps a few layers applied to her skin while she slept. Yes, that would work.

Princess Eamon was a whole different story. She was dangerous. Warrior through and through, Eamon would not hesitate to kill him. The only reason she had not killed him yet was because he was useful. God how he hated that word. But for now, it was his armor, his shield. They would not kill him, and that would give him time to break this damnable binding. He would foil that God one way or another, and have his revenge.

The voices in his blood spoke whispers of tearing him from his throne and rending his godly limbs into dust. Another hissed that he should do the same with these pitiful mortals. A third reminded him that he was immortal, infallible. He would be doing them justice.

He quieted the voices, the demons he’d taken into his heart, and settled them with whispered promises for the end of the world, the destruction of all those wicked souls they craved so much. He remembered his master whispering so to the darkness that was darker than his skin, the shadow shapes that swirled across his thin limbs like wraiths. Yumil was too vain for that, so he kept them in his heart, his blood, instead of his skin. Master hadn’t liked that. But he was dead, so what did his opinion matter?

Catching Dirk looking at him however, that was unsettling. The large man held his fate in his hands, and honestly, Yumil wasn’t sure whether he should cozy up to the man, or if he should make him more of an enemy. One way, he could end up worse even than he was as a child. The other, he might end up losing every ounce of freedom he currently claimed. Either option was enough to send chills down his spine and make him retreat into books rather than think on it any more.

The only point in Dirk’s favor was that he was clearly still the innocent that Yumil remembered. He sighed, letting the breath out with a long sigh. He didn’t care that the man had grown up. He didn’t care that Dirk might have had bad experiences because of what he’d done. The male was an innocent, the same as the children that Yumil had spared. Yumil would never regret sparing him. Although for a moment, on the battlefield, he’d felt a sting of betrayal that Dirk would turn against him so.

He remembered the look of abject hatred that had lived in Dirk’s eyes, and realized that perhaps that wasn’t the case any longer. How could he feel betrayed when it was clear that Yumil hadn’t wanted to save HIM, but rather, had simply wanted something or someone to champion. He felt that realization become a heavy weight on his heart, and pushed it away as firmly as he pushed away memories and thoughts of anything but his future revenge.

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