6: Hell Hath No Fury

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                                                                                6: Hell Hath No Fury

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   "My name is not My Lord," replied the monster, "but Beast..." (Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont)

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                                                                                            Ruta

        The pain is gone. 

        My body, my mind, my very existence on this wretched planet have all melted away in the depths of the boiling water. I can still hear the echoing laughs of the peasants as they stand over me, watching my body shrivel, crack, wither, and die. But the searing pain, which felt like hot rakes running over my flesh, has finally subsided.

        I am floating away now, floating down a cool river. Everything is dark. I feel like a weightless cloud being carried wherever the wind wishes for me to go.

        Where will I go now that I've died? I don't imagine it will be anywhere pleasant, not with all of the lives that I have ordered to be taken away from their owners.  I suppose I'll be dragged away by surly demons with ravenous claws and sharp fangs to a place of torture. Let them come. I don't regret a single act that I performed while I lived. I savored every life that I took, every spirit that I shattered, every home that I ordered to be burned to the ground.

        Yes, I am ready for whatever comes next, be it horrible or grand. I am ready for whatever awaits me in the afterlife.

        But, then again... there was that knight.

        The knight, with his blood-stained dark armor, who severed the head of my father and his allegiance to our kingdom with a few chops of his bloody sword. Out of all the peasants' faces that watched me as I slowly died, his face alone stood out from the crowd the clearest. The smarmy grin that plastered across his face as he watched me burn alive.... I want to claw it off and feed it to the dogs. He murdered my father, the only person in the world I loved. I can't let him walk away from this feud he ignited entirely unscathed. No, I can't let him get away with what he did. I won't rest until he and I are in the afterlife together and I can spend every waking hour making him regret what he did. He will learn to fear me more than he ever did while we lived.

        The current I am riding begins to pick up speed. The wind is no longer a soft breeze, pushing me along at a gradual pace, but a rushing gust. Something soft brushes against the top of my head and leaves a burning sensation where it touched. The image of a sweet face with curious, blood-colored eyes floods into my mind.

        "Mother?"

        Everything is moving so fast. The darkness is beginning to give way to light. The numbness is fading away and I can feel once again. The current surges forward, never ceasing its rapid tugging.

        With a shocking jolt, my eyelids are suddenly forced to open.

        I am staring up at a black, moonless sky filled to the brink with the burning glow of distant stars. My vision is wavering and blurry, which causes the stars to dance and mesh together at times. The soft chirping of crickets and other insects are the only sounds in the air.

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