Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fools and Heroes- Errant Emilia Brooke of the Grey Order

A Fools and Heroes tale... Contains background stuff and aaaaangst! 

The Fox and the Wolf

The bed was laden with soft furs and velvet, the small child underneath almost drowned by it. She was a small thing, with blonde hair and big blue eyes that were surrounded by redness from crying.

Emilia knelt beside the bed, her arm cradling the small child. She'd only stopped sobbing a few moments before, and now her breath was coming slower, more calmly. It had been hours since Emilia had taken her from her father's home on the edge of the Brooke lands. The man was crazy with anger, so much so that Emilia had scooped the child up and left, carrying her to her own bed in the Manor.

She could understand why her brother was angry. But to lose his temper in front of his child, to speak to her in such a manner, that was out of order, and as such Emilia had simply left him to his dwarven spirits and his anger. He hadn't even really noticed she'd taken his daughter, although she'd told him pointedly that she was going to do so. In his rage, he'd broken his large mirror and a few chairs, and she wasn't going to let Geraldine see him act that way.

But now, Emilia worried for the morning when she'd have to face her brother again. He wasn't the kind to let a slight as big as she'd given him go.

“Aunty Em?” Geraldine said, pushing herself up slightly from the bed. “How come you became a knight?”

“What do you mean?” Emilia asked, combing the girl's hair. “I became a knight because it seemed the best way to get out there and do good things; saving people, stopping the bad guys, that sort of thing.”

“Bad guys like my daddy?”

Emilia paused, biting her lip. “Your daddy isn't a bad guy. He's just got mixed up in some stuff. Hopefully now the guards are involved he'll realise he can't keep doing things that are against the law, and it'll be good for him.”

“Is daddy going to get into lots of trouble then?” She whimpered, her face crumpling with guilt. “Is it going to be my fault? Will he be killed?”

“Oh, no!” Emilia shushed her, kissing her gently on the cheek. “Is that what you're worried about? He'll be here to get you in the morning I'm sure of it. He's had to pay the guards some money, and I guess that 'T' brand isn't going to fade much, but that's all. It's over with.”

“So, when did you decide you were going to be a knight?” Geraldine pressed, toying with Emilia's Sidhean holy symbol.

“When I was about your age, I think.” Emilia said, remembering back to when she was that small, that innocent. Before she'd ever killed or had to deal with the complexities of courtly politics. “It was because of a fox.”

“A fox?” Geraldine laughed, “did it tell you to be a knight?”

“No.” Emilia laughed, folding her arms underneath her head and staring into her niece's eyes. “I was upset about something, and I looked out of the window here.” She pointed up to the small window on the wall above the bed. “And I saw a fox. It was during the time your granddad had a cull of the foxes on our land, because they kept doing naughty things and spreading diseases. I hadn't seen one before, and so I rushed downstairs and opened the big front door, desperate to see it more up-close.”

“I've seen loads of foxes,” Geraldine said sceptically. “They're not that interesting. Why did it make you become a knight?”

“If you let me finish, I'll tell you!” Emilia rolled her eyes. “So there I was, standing just outside the front door in snow that was so thick it came all the way up to my ankles, looking at this little fox. It must have been a runt because it was really thin. Anyway, it looked like it was going to bolt when it saw me, but I fell to my knees, making myself really small. It came closer to me, and eventually it was so close I could pet it.”

“So petting a fox made you-”

“Wait a minute and I'll get to the point!” Emilia grinned, laughing at her niece's impatience whilst she was trying to be deep and meaningful. “So anyway, I petted the fox and it nuzzled into me, until suddenly it bolted.

“I looked up and saw the biggest wolf I'd ever seen in my life. It was taller than me, and I stumbled backwards trying to get back indoors, when I realised that the door was shut and it wouldn't open. The wolf was coming towards me, licking its lips and baring its big pointy teeth. I thought it was going to eat me, and it got really close, so I was backed against the door, trying to get away. Just as I thought it was going to bite me, something hit the wolf side on and it tumbled away, yelping. I had no idea what it was, but in the time it bought me I managed to run away from the door, knowing I could get in via the servants entrance. Just as I ran away though, I saw that little tiny fox fighting with the big wolf. But the wolf was so confused by this little snip of a thing trying to fight it, that it ran away!”

“So the fox came back and saved you?”

“Yeah. It came back and sat underneath my window for a whole week after that too.”

“Wow.” Geraldine's eyes were wide, till she jumped up and leaned against the window. “So why did that make you become a knight?”

“Because I saw this tiny little fox come back and fight for me, even although it had to fight a huge big dangerous wolf, just because I was kind to it when all the other humans were trying to kill it. A little runt fox managed to take on the big bad wolf and win. I wanted to feel strongly enough about people to fight for them, even when I was fighting things bigger and scarier than I was.”

“I want to be a knight too.”

Emilia smiled, standing up and picking the small girl up in her arms. As she swung her, blowing a raspberry on her cheek until Geraldine giggled in fits, Emilia looked up and saw two men walking up the path to her house in the dark. One of them was Gerard, her brother, Geraldine's father.

So Emilia quickly set her niece down on her bed, and covered her over with the fur quilts. “Come now, it's well past your bed time. Goodnight.” Having kissed Geraldine on the forehead, Emilia closed the curtains over on the window and slipped out of the bedroom.

She hadn't gotten more than a few paces from the door when Gerard came storming up the stairs, followed by his manservant. “You!” He spat, accusingly. “What have you been telling her? Telling her what a bad man her father is, hmm?

“Of course not, brother.” Emilia sighed, trying to walk around him down the stairway, away from where Geraldine could hear. But he wouldn't let her pass. Her brother was a short man, not particularly imposing, but she could smell the ale on his breath. “I'm sorry for what's happened, but-”

“No!” He screamed, and Emilia flinched as he moved forward towards her, his hands balled into fists. He wasn't exactly a match for her with her training, but he had some anger. “You had no right to go to the guards based on rubbish that my bloody daughter imagined up, and then take her away from me and poison her against me...”

“I am honour-bound to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and illegal slavery for your own ends isn't something I'm going to tolerate from within my own family.” She sighed, covering her face with her hand. It hadn't been an easy decision by any means. She glanced up, seeing the ugly “T” marked on her brother's face. Theft, and assault, was what he'd been charged with. It seemed pale when compared to the possibly hundreds of people he'd hurt, kept against their will, and sold. “And as for why I took Geraldine away...” Emilia shook her head, “you should know why. I couldn't be sure you weren't going to turn your anger on her. She didn't know that what she was saying to me was going to get you in trouble.

“And when I knew of it, I couldn't stay quiet. It would have broken more than one oath I made to Sidhe and my Order to do so.”

“What about your duty to your family?” He spat, his face turning red with anger.

“I am fulfilling my duty to our family by stopping you from harming my niece.”

“I would never harm her, you know I wouldn't.” Gerard growled. “She means everything to me.”

“Then why is she so desperate to be like me, to leave this place? Is it maybe because she, like me, just wants to get away from you? The way you act is-”

Gerard lunged, his hand outstretched, and Emilia had a split-second to react. But just as she was about to subdue him, she paused, feeling that to hurt her own brother might make her more like him. It gave him a chance, and he took it, pushing her back against the wall, his fingers wrapped around her neck.

He was close, his fingers tightening, and although Emilia was stronger, she had nowhere to push against him. Her fingers clawed at his, trying to free herself, but she was losing air, and strength.

Then from nowhere, a large vase smashed against Gerald's back. It fell into a million tiny pieces, but caused Emilia's brother to fall off-balance, and in the hesitation, Emilia grabbed his arms and twisted until she had him held with his arms behind his back. He couldn't move, but his anger seemed to seep out, seeing his crying daughter kneeling amongst the broken bits of porcelain.

Emilia let his arms go, and he turned to her, saying nothing. They locked gazes for a few seconds, and then he lowered his eyes, nodding slightly. Emilia knew it was all the apology she was likely to get, and nodded back.

“Come on, Geraldine. I think we should go home.”

As she was about to protest, Gerard held his hand up, silencing her. “It's over, Em, I promise.”

Perhaps stupidly, she believed him, and watched the two adults and her niece walk out of the door. It was the last time Emilia saw her niece.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Subway Ride to Judgement Town

Came to me whilst sitting on a subway judging people...

The doors slide shut, and I raise my eyes only briefly to see the new entrants. A young lad with music blaring sits down next to me, and sighing, I shuffle away, glad when the roaring sounds of the subway echo in my ears again. He’s chewing gum with his mouth open wide, and tapping his foot wildly, making the seat shake to his rhythm. Pulling a bottle from his bag, wrapped in brown paper, he takes a drink. I’m hit with the offensive smell of aniseed, making my cheeks blush red with irritation.

Looking away from him, I notice the woman opposite. She’s just as bad, with her leopard-print leggings and non-existent t-shirt; spewing forth her breasts with absent-minded exhibitionism. I pale, wondering if they’re going to fall out as she leans forward and straightens the buckle on her high-heels. They don’t budge, thankfully.

The only other person in the carriage, the last interesting distraction from the dreary rocking back and forwards and looking out the windows at pitch black walls, is an elderly woman. She looks kindly, with just a little too much make up and a conservative blue cardigan, and a head of curly white hair. I smile at her, and she nods back at me, content.

Sometimes I wonder what the world is coming to, and this is one such time. People, so caught up in their own little worlds, unconcerned with things we used to care about. Modesty, decorum, courtesy… They seem to have become redundant. Back in my day, only the uneducated would act so irresponsibly and only a hooker would dress so inappropriately. Back in the good old days…

Suddenly I’m aware I’m falling. Spinning, rather, and an awful heat sears my face. The carriage has gone dark, and pain shakes as I hit the floor. No, the ceiling. My neck’s twisted, pressed against the wall, and I feel an awful weight on my back, the heat still roaring, licking at my bare skin.

There’s shouting, and I see moving shapes, but my eyes feel tired, aching, and the moving shapes are blurred. I recognise the elderly woman, pushing herself up from the floor across the carriage. Managing to lift my head, I spot the other two. The woman is screaming, she’s on fire and frantically patting herself, and the boy is helping, quick to his feet when he spots her distress. Not that anyone could miss her wails.

It’s only now that I consider myself, the huge mass of metal, twisted and protruding from a tear in the carriage wall, having landed square on my back. Then the pain kicks in. The fire is gaining steam, it’s all around me, paint melting from the walls and sparks flying in from outside. Woozy, blood drips from my mouth onto the ceiling.

“Help…” I croak, my strength fading. The young boy is quickly beside me, his stick-thin arms fighting through the roaring heat to lift the metal away. It doesn’t budge. Blisters quickly burst from his skin as the scantily-clad woman joins him, adding her strength to the effort. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work. They call to the elderly woman, who’s finally risen to her feet.

She turns, looking at me in horror, and I can see she’s bleeding from her head. The flames from above me illuminate her face, and as she turns away, I notice how cruel the lines on her face look. The door to the next carriage slams shut, leaving me with the two people I’d judged so prematurely. I know it’s hopeless, but I’m glad in a way that it’s happened like this. With my one good hand and the last of my strength, I tug on the young man’s shirt, and he bends down quickly, a heavy look in his eyes.

He starts to apologise but I stop him, my mind full of better times, better places, and beckon to the woman. Kneeling down, they both cower beside me as the flames burrow down and start biting into my skin, my clothing burning to dust. “In my day,” I start, my eyes beginning to close, “I could have drunk you under the table.” Looking down at my half-disintegrated jumper, I smile up at the woman, “and I’ve still got better boobs than you.” 

Colour Thief

He shuffles out of the nest, squeezing past the thick clusters of cold flakes. Outside, everything is white. The grass, normally a stunning shade of green is unrecognisable against the backdrop of the snow covered buildings, the sky itself a pale grey. He thinks perhaps the whole world has been muted, as though someone has stolen the colour. Perhaps they have. He looks down and realises that this is not so; the red of his chest is still vibrant, a red smear on a blank canvas.

He begins to sing, but unease and hunger force him to stop. Diving towards the sky, he sees nothing but the all encompassing colourless backdrop. It disorientates him and he turns, flitting downwards again towards the nearest patch of colour. Grass! At last! He lands, his feet clutching at the earth beneath him. The grass here grows only in small patches. It was not like this before. Pecking at the scarce green earth, it is frozen solid. The rest is white.

And then he sees where all the colours have gotten to.

In the centre of the square there is a large white-covered pine tree with swathes of rich gold and green coiling around it, entwining with the branches. They look like giant worms, but they move with the bitter wind, and, with closer inspection he notices that they are made of something shiny. Not edible.

The next colour he sees is red, green, yellow and blue. Oh my! They have so many colours. He flits from place to place, inspecting, admiring, but no; there is no grass, no food. The surrounding hedges have a similar colourful corruption, and flashing lights blind him as he passes the windows.

Stopping atop a white-coloured fence, he looks around with a feeling of justified upset. There are many people milling, also seemingly mesmerised by the brilliant lights. They’re bathed in colour, too; dressed in fine clothing of every single shade he can imagine, and some he can’t. It pains him, a little, to see it; he so wishes they would stop stealing all of the colours. His stomach rumbles. Where can he find some grass untouched by their filthy colour-thieving human hands? Some berries?

As if by magic, that’s when he sees her. She’s windswept, the blowing gale stealing her soft tones almost to the point of muting her sound, but he flits closer to hear her. She sings so beautifully that his feet almost lose their hold on the branch, and he returns her song, his own melody far more monotonous and forlorn. She tilts her head, and he is hers.

Her nest is warm, and looking around he notices the colours she has managed to save. There are green leaves, brown twigs, blue berries, red berries, green fruit and her breast is vibrant and beautiful. She shares her colours with him and in thanks his voice throws out as striking a song he has ever sung, their duet continuing colourfully well into the night.

Bittersweet Bathtub - (Smut warning!)

“So,” I purred, lying down on the bed beside him. “Do you like my new underwear?” Running my hands over my red satin bra, I rolled onto my side and kissed him. He smiled and I saw his gaze fall from my face to my breasts, the curve of my waist and my new, red thong.

“That’s beautiful…” He whispered, placing his warm hand on my waist and pulling me closer. The candlelight made his pale skin glow, his long, dark hair tickling my neck as he kissed me. Wrapping my leg around his I pushed him onto his back and sat with my legs either side of his waist. I could feel him respond to my touch, and I leant over, kissing him on the collarbone, nipple, hip, groin. Perched between his legs, I ran my fingers gently over it, hard and smooth, and looked up at his face as I held it in my hand.

He began to snore.

Growling, I stood up at the side of the bed. Throwing a pillow at his head, I stormed out of the bedroom door, slamming it behind me.

The bathroom was warm and there were still candles sitting along the window ledge from the night before. Having turned on the hot water for a bath, I lit them, still muttering angrily, and squirted bubble bath in. Screw him, I figured I could have a nice enough night on my own.

Dipping my big toe into the fluffy bubbles, I finally hit the warm water, and edged myself in. The new underwear I’d bought specifically for our little rendezvous sat draped over the radiator, feeling unfulfilled, and I cursed him again as I popped open the tub of face cream and plastered it over my cheeks. Finally I clicked the play on my CD player and placed two slices of cucumber over my eyes. Lying back, I sighed happily and ran my fingers down over my hips to between my legs.

I pressed down gently on my clit and moaned quietly with the intense feeling, the hot water making my skin tingle more. I heard a noise and felt the water splash, and just as I was about to take the cucumber slices away with curiosity, I felt him reach down and caress the inside of my thigh.

“Finally,” I gasped happily, as he pressed something inside me. A finger, maybe? It began to move quickly in and out, something else tickling my clit with a feeling almost like millions of tiny mouths sucking, licking and nibbling softly at my skin.

Something wet touched my nipple, circling it slowly then squeezing tighter as I began to moan loudly. The combination of feelings made pulses of pleasure flow over me, and I was barely aware that my thrashing was throwing waves of water over the sides of the bath. Eventually, I cried out loudly as the feeling intensified, then shuddered as it ebbed away.

“That was amazing, honey...” I murmured, still feeling the sensations as I smiled happily. Something still sat inside me, tight but warm and every movement sent a shiver up my spine. Sitting up slowly, I muttered, “Thank you…” and placed the cucumber slices down on the side of the bath.

But as I blinked away the cucumber, I noticed there was nobody there. “Honey?” I called, and clicked the CD player off, but I could still hear the snoring from the bedroom. If he wasn’t there, then what was still inside me?

Looking down, I saw the mass of tentacles retract quickly back through the plug hole.

Bringing me back to myself

An odd piece for a competition on figment.

“You’ve done well so far, Sophia,” he cooed, as I quietly shut the cellar door. I nodded and set down the bag on the floor in front of him. The plastic rustled as I slowly parted the bag and showed him what I’d found.
“Is this alright?” My voice sounded quiet and timid, so afraid of him even although he was tied tightly to the chair. I watched, feeling my heart pounding in my chest as he looked down, admiring my purchases. His eyes kept on the two items longer than seemed natural and I bit my lip and waited.

Eventually he lifted his head to me and nodded. “They’re perfect. I want you to uncoil the rope and remember what I told you about tying a noose.”

“A noose?” I gasped, and his eyes glared at me with an anger that reminded me why I was afraid of him.

“A noose, my love. Get on with it.” His eyes softened and he smiled at me warmly almost instantly. “This is your last lesson before I let you loose on the world.”

“You’re leaving me?” Although the fear of him was terrible and all-consuming, the idea of being on my own, doing his work by myself, was even more worrying. I wasn’t ready; I couldn’t go through with it without his support.

As though he read my mind, he smiled and leant towards me as much as possible through his bindings. “Don’t worry, my sweet. You’ll be fine on your own. If you can get through tonight, you can do anything.”

His words, rather than emboldening me, made me shiver. What did he have planned for this night that would suddenly catapult me from a shy, timid assistant into a blood-thirsty, cruel murderer? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to find out. He was tied up, I could run, but then, I knew I never would. I could have run when he sent me to the shop, I could have run when he taught me to tie him to the chair strongly enough to keep him secure. But I hadn’t. Why was that?

“I love you,” I whispered, as I knelt down in front of him. “I trust you.” I had, ever since he stole me away, and I knew that no matter what he put me through tonight or any other, I always would. He’d saved me, when it mattered the most. And for that, I was bound to him. Heart, soul and body.

“Please untie my now, my sweet. It is almost time that our guest will arrive.” I nodded and quickly set about undoing the ropes around his neck, wrists and ankles, then unwinding the rest of the coils around his body. He’d been proud of me, when I’d tied him, and the fact that he hadn’t managed to escape whilst I’d been out was silent praise for my skills. I grinned to myself, and kissed him on the cheek before I dropped the rope on the floor beside him.

He immediately stood, walked out the cellar door, and left me standing there, confused and worried. The room was growing cold in the evening, and I wrapped my arms around myself as I waited for his return. What would he be bringing to me for my final test?

When the figure walked through the door, I realised immediately that it wasn’t him. It was a taller man, broader than my Master and with long, brown hair, I knew his name to be Christopher. He had a rough growth of hair on his chin, and ripped trousers and a jacket. The smell was quite pungent and it immediately took me back to that place, that time, and I could see how different he’d become. He’d gotten fat, and didn’t look half as attractive. The years without me hadn’t been kind to him.

“What the hell are you doing here?” He spat, and took a threatening step towards me. I stammered, the words that Master had taught me hardly making sense or sounding coherent as they echoed around the room. Looking towards the cellar door I thought of running, forgetting all of my training, forgetting my goal and my Master, and I did, skirting around Christopher and running as fast as I could into the door. I banged on it, when it didn’t open, and screamed, but then I remembered myself. Turning, I stared up at the face of the man who’d made me who I was, and smiled. This is what he’d trained me for.

Suddenly I wasn’t that timid little girl anymore, and bringing my fist up, I jabbed at his ribs; once, twice, three times. Each hit didn’t faze him, but I knew what to do. Moving up, I punched out at him again, fast, hard little blows to his face; around his ear and then one punch that took all of my strength directly on his chin. He’d been laughing, gloating as he’d always done about my weakness, my vulnerability. But when he fell, backwards, the pressures from my punches finally caught up with him and he hit his head on the wooden beam on the low ceiling, where it sloped down to the ground.

Quickly, I set to moving him onto the chair. This was my test, and I was damned sure I wanted to pass. The ropes were still warm from having been tied over Master, and as I worked them around Christopher’s wrists, his neck and his ankles, I found myself smiling. The tables had been turned.

Eventually I made the finishing knot, securing him to the chair and the chair to the wooden column behind it. I didn’t want him escaping, not now. He gurgled a few moments after, and I finally began to get into the mindset as Master had told me I would. He was so wise.

I slapped Christopher hard and he woke, finally, coughing and looking wildly around the room. “What’re you doing?” His words weren’t as firm and cocky as I was used to. It made me smiled again.

“I’m getting my life back,” was all I could think to say to him. For a moment I wondered what to do, and then I saw the new rope lying, uncoiled at my feet, still in the plastic bag. A noose.

It had been a month since Master had taught me how to tie a noose; it had been one of the first things he had shown me. But still I found myself standing on the other chair, reaching up and looping the rope over the beam where I’d made space, remembering perfectly each step to follow. The whole noose didn’t take too long to finish, and when I was done, I saw that Christopher’s eyes were wide with fear and he was shaking. The very fact that I’d made him feel so helpless caused me to swell with pride, and I vowed that I wouldn’t let this feeling go. Before he, Christopher, had ruined me, I’d been that girl. I’d been powerful, proud, gorgeous, and sure of myself, but he’d taken it all from me. He’d made me fearful and timid. He’d made me broken and anxious, and now, finally, I was about to break his hold over me.

“Are you going to kill me?” He asked, tears forming in the corners of his eyes, and I baulked. Could I really do that to him? He’d hurt me, sure, but he’d also loved me for a time. I’d managed to kill for Master, but they’d always meant nothing to me. They’d been junkies and homeless folk that nobody would miss, but Christopher, people knew him. He was popular and everyone knew what he’d done to me. I’d be suspected. But I could see Master’s face in my mind, urging me on. He’d promised me that tonight would be the end of my training, the end of my need to rely on other people to be safe and happy.

“Yes,” I replied, finally replacing my cold, blank expression. I was ready.

He looked down at me, standing on the chair he’d been tied to, his neck tightly bound by the noose. His hands had been expertly tied behind his back, just the way Master had taught me, and the look on his face was more empowering than anything I could ever do to him.

“I want you to admit what you did to me, and I want you to apologise.” He shook his head, and finally let his tears flow over his cheeks.

“No, please, I don’t want to.”

His words angered me and lifting the hammer, I aimed at one of his exposed toes, and hit out at it with the metal hammer head. He screamed, and I felt the bones in his smallest toe shatter. Blood spurted out across the chair and dripped onto the floor. I looked up at him and raised my eyebrow.

When he’d finally calmed enough to speak, he nodded. “Okay, okay. What do you want me to say.”

“Tell me what you did, and tell me you’re sorry.”

“I…” He sobbed, and lost focus, saying nothing more for a few seconds through his gutteral wails.

I growled, and brought up my hammer again and broke another of his toes, the other smallest. He screamed, again, and then finally got the idea.

“I raped you, Sophia. I beat you. I humiliated you. I’m sorry.”

Although it was what I asked for, my face grew hot with fear, embarrassment and most importantly, anger. I swung at his feet, catching his other toes, shattering them, and pounding with the hammer I made bloody pulp of his feet. Eventually, I let the hammer fall from my grip, and it made a loud, clanging sound on the concrete floor, which brought me back to my senses.

Taking a deep breath, I wondered if the whole situation was really as simple and easy as he'd made it sound. It hadn't been a lot worse as I remembered it. But what now? He’d done as I asked, should I let him go? If I let him go, I’d never really be myself again. He’d always be out there, I’d always have the fear of seeing him again, the fear of being at his mercy again. But if I killed him, I’d be free.

Looking up once more, I kicked the chair away from under his feet, surprised that he'd actually managed to keep standing with the mess of his feet. Then I watched as he tried to scream, dangling by his neck. It took a few minutes for him to go still, and a few more before he stopped twitching.

Finally, I had passed.

The door behind me unlocked and I couldn’t even bring myself to turn to him, I was so captivated by the swinging body in front of me.

“Well done, Sophia,” his voice was calm and quiet.

“Thank you, Master.”

“I have a job for you.”

“All on my own?”

“Yes. You are ready.” And I was.