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February 12, 2001

The higher you climb...

The following was posted to the Heaven's Forge message board, here:

The higher you climb...

The happy couple walked out of the tower, to well-wishes and congratulations. Mirabel turned to hug Rakhir tightly, and then she and Sleath started down the stairs to the door.

Out front, she turned to him and asked where they were headed.

"It's a surprise," he said, as he planted the Felucca stone.

Smiling, Mirabel stepped through. He dropped the book and they recalled to a small cottage Mirabel had never seen before, yet it has the Darkmor banner flying and so she was happy.

"A retreat property," Sleath explained.

They walked inside.. it is rather bare. A chest.. an oven.. two training dummies.

"My lord?" Mirabel asked. This isn't what she had expected.

"Drop the act," Sleath responded.

She blinked in confusion, and stared at him like she'd never seen him before.

"Take a seat, madam. You may need it," Sleath directed her.

She perched on the end of the chest, there being no other seats.

Then her world fell in upon itself as he explained.

He is not Sleath. Sleath is captive. She is married to .. his brother? A brother who wants what Sleath has. Darkmor, everything. She studies his face, finally sees... very very similar.. but no.. not her love. Magicks of some kind, fogging her mind.. fogging everyone's minds... Take me to him! In good time. You may see him. They go to Moonglow. There he is.. she is not allowed near him.. oh.. but he has been beaten.. my poor love.. Do as he says, Sleath cautions her.. He is capable of great evil.. Sobbing, she goes back to Darkmor with the pretender. Sleeping with a dagger in hand. Such bitter arguments. The brother.. and Sleath? are elven.. How.. but why did no one say? A prophecy.. a war.. a battle.. a dead father.. a not-dead mother.. it is all so bewildering.. She falls asleep crying and does not awaken until the next morning.

The pretender mocks her. Forces her to act the bride, using Sleath's life as a bribe. He tells her he will send her gifts, pieces of her love, perhaps his finger so she can place his ring upon it and keep it with her always. She snaps. She locks the door. She will not come out, not for anyone, not for Ursula, Mariah, not even her own sister. She ventures out once.. Agrias is there, Agrias who hates her, hates all humans.. He threatens her, wants the story, wants to know why she is so upset.. just to amuse himself, for no other reason.. she considers telling him.. realizes that would seal Sleath's doom.. She can not do it.

Oh no.. Megra banging on the door.. Solitaire and the Pretender fighting.. She knew the girl was loyal to her but this is not the way.. She runs downstairs, gets between them, it is no use, the angry words fly over her head and around her.. Solitaire has her dagger out, Sl.. the pretender orders the gypsy out.. what will all this mean for Sleath, he is certain to bear the punishment.. oh no now he looks at her..

"Get your things and get out."

She stands frozen.

"You could not cooperate. You have outlived your usefulness. Leave now."

She tries to argue, tries to persuade him to let her go to Sleath, no, I have cooperated, please do not punish him for me...

"What is sad," he laughs, "Is that I would likely have let both of you live. Go now. Take your things and go. You will come to no harm. I cannot say the same for Sleath."

I could kill him here, she thinks.. I could take out this kryss Wraith gave me, the poisoned one, for emergencies.. he is not that strong.. but then what of Sleath? What of his warnings that if he comes to harm then Sleath will pay the penalty? I am a coward. I leave.

Days pass and no word. Then, a box on her doorstep. Opening it.. she retches, removed.. his hand.. the ring she'd chosen so carefully jammed on to the finger that had never known it in life.. holding a note.

"His hand, as promised, madam. I am here, and I watch. Your love is no more, beyond the magics that might have returned him to you. You may retain your title of Baroness but do not think on me as your husband, for I am not. You may resign the title if you choose. I am handing the tavern over to Owen, you may continue to run your vendors from there if you wish.

With contempt, I am,

Sleath, Prince Darkmor."

Posted by Keith at February 12, 2001 12:42 AM

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