Chapter Fifteen: Blanca

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Not being able to speak should have bothered Blanca more. From a young age she had learned that it was often best to keep your opinions to yourself. No one got angry if you kept quiet. Now, instead of getting hurt for talking, she could hurt others.

If only her father was here. She could say whatever she wanted. She could scream whatever she wanted, and he wouldn't be able to hurt her. He couldn't leave any scars. In fact, she could hurt him.

The thought was sadly comforting.

Wandering through another courtyard, this one thankfully lacking Madame Rose, Blanca realized that this place was beautiful, in its own way, and that it might have actually been relaxing if it weren't for the fact that she was being held against her will to carry out an impossible task at the threat of her family being murdered.

She had always loved unique and foreign places. The unusual fascinated her. So while Denthlire frightened some, she found it more intriguing than terrifying, once she had accepted her fate.

It was a new world to discover. And she was nearly invincible when she spoke, for there was hardly any living thing that didn't breath air. It was strange, knowing she had a way to protect herself. She wasn't used to this.

An image of a young infant caught her eye and she winced, putting a hand out to steady herself.

It had been an icy fall day, the wind swept dryly through the land, freezing all whose flesh it touched. The low cries of a woman could be heard down the hall of the manor, even from the outer parlor where Blanca huddled, drawing her blanket as close as possible. She had never imagined that giving birth could be so painful.

Flames flickered in the hearth, casting dancing shadows upon the gleaming wooden walls. Blanca tried to block out Lyra's moans of pain, but then she heard a sound that sent a dagger of fear shooting through her heart. It was laughter. Harsh, raucous laughter that reverberated through the first floor. It was her father. He never laughed, except when he drank.

Of course, he would be drinking while Lyra gave birth. He hated children, ever since the king had poisoned his mind with power and magic. He hated Blanca, reminding her often that she was the reason her mother was dead. He had once told her that she had been a mistake, that her mother wasn't supposed to have gotten pregnant.

When he had found out that Lyra was pregnant, he had thrown a fit, ranting about how they could not afford to feed another mouth, though the excuse was an absurd one, especially since he was one of the wealthiest lords in Allegora.

Blanca could still hear the shattering glass, the angry shouts that made her want to flee from it all, to escape to the calm and peaceful woods. If he was drinking now, she feared that he might try to harm Lyra or the baby. He was not a sane man when he drank, and Blanca would argue that even sober he wasn't.

Crawling out from underneath the comfort of the heavy wool blanket, she hurried up the staircase, afraid for Lyra's wellbeing. It was easy to follow the sounds of labored breathing and hoarse cries. Blanca wove through the halls, finding Lyra in one of the guest bedrooms.

Lyra glanced up, her eyes wide in surprise, her face flushed with sweat and exertion. "Blanca? You shouldn't be here. Your father-" She arched her back, her jaw clenched tightly as she battled the contraction. Lyra was always so strong and brilliant; it was frightening to see her in so much pain and to be helpless to do anything. Loud steps were heard on the staircase and slurred mumbling followed. Lyra paled even further, her face set with determination.

"Blanca, I need you to bolt the door. Hala, please pick up the knife to your right. If Rikor tries to enter, we need to make sure this child survives, understood?" Blanca nodded, knowing she should be terrified. But the thought of Lyra or the baby being hurt set aflame the fire within her. If she didn't help, who knew what her father might do. Hala picked up the knife as Blanca shakily bolted the door.

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