CHAPTER ONE

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Skin.­­

The feel of skin against skin and bodies dancing to the heavy bass beat of music. Revy watched them all—the kissing lips and the drunken slurs, of men escorting their girls to bedrooms downtown and a brawl about to begin.

Skin.

She took a hot and heavy sip of drink. Revy winced as its fire rushed down her throat, set every part of her to flame. She chuckled weakly and tipped her head back.

Ah, the joy of parties.

Revy sat at a couch, alone tonight, not accompanied by a woman of her choice. She had all the drinks she could want sprawled on the table in front. The music of the bar was chaotic, and Revy frowned at the girls draping themselves over men for a quick coin.

Revy sighed heavily, and then scowled at what her Kingdom has become. Analide had become a land of whores and brothels and liquor while the king liked to bask in it, or turn the other way from the slums.

She didn't.

This world of waking up the next morning wasted, of clothes that were barely there and by the end of the night were torn apart was... depressing. The royals who came to enjoy or waste themselves away passed by here and there. They were distinct because of the way they walked away with the over-importance of a spoiled brat.

Revy took another sip.

"Fuck." Revy rubbed her temples, feeling the beginnings of a heavy hangover.

All of this glamour didn't fool her keen eyes. She saw the man crying at the bar, stood up by the love of his life, saw the girls who drank sombrely and cried in each other's arms, saw the whores who didn't want to be touched get dragged out by men. And when that got too much, she drew her dagger and took care of it.

My father is giving me a shithole for an inheritance.

The statistics were false. The reports were wrong. Education was down the drain. Poverty was high. Her people have become dogs waiting for the scraps, and even that wasn't enough.

Revy took a long sip as she thought about her disgust. Swallowed it, buried it. She was angry at all of this. At the injustice and lies the Court weaved for their favour, while they turned the other way. Dismissed this.

Corrupted. Awful.

There was shouting by the back door. Tipsy enough to feel light, but sober enough to have her wits together, Revy turned to the commotion. She grimaced at the sight of another poor woman's clothes barely covering her, a man dragging her out.

"No, sir!" she begged, and was fighting with all her might. "Sir, no, I have a child! Sir, please, we can barely get by I cannot risk—"

Everyone looked away.

Everyone who saw, who heard, who knew—they turned away.

Revy didn't. Her hands tightened, and she cursed her father's court for the nth time tonight. She cursed the world he and her ancestors created, the bloodshed and the hopelessness and the fear.

So when she threw the hood of her cloak on, Revy drew her daggers underneath it.

Oh, welcome to the mighty Kingdom of Analide—where the poor were ignored and the little money they have was stolen, and their children killed for crimes not fairly trialled. Where it didn't matter if they worked hard—the barrier of privilege was something the marginalized would never be able to climb. Where war has been deemed a priority and conquering other lands was Analide's lover in bed. The might Kingdom of Analide where the rest of the lucky ones lived a life of luxury and comfort, while the unlucky died at the hands of brutality, hunger, old age, and illnesses.

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