When all was said and done, Mindfang had known he’d kill her.
It hadn’t even been one of those gambles she so loved to take, although she treated it like such when he was there with her, in her arms, and she was lost in the love radiating from his mind. Surely there’d been some mistake, she’d tell herself. Her time with him was nothing like her time with the slave had been, for one thing. She’d had to manipulate and mold the slave girl into loving her, while this…this mere boy in comparison to her gave it freely and without strings.
Besides, she’d always been good at manipulating the odds. If she wasn’t, she’d have died at the hands of the Neophyte, prophecy or no. She’d been arrogant in her youth, utterly convinced that her death was centuries off and she was practically immortal. It hadn’t been until she’d lost her arm and eye that she really, truly understood. All a prophesy was was another kind of probability, a roll of the dice of fates. She couldn’t just sit back and reap what had seem to be the benefits of that particular prophesy, she had to earn it.
She did everything in her power to claw herself out of that damp, dark well she’d let herself fall into, and when the rope tightened and the breath was cut short, it was Redglare choking, Redglare falling into the arms of death. As the mob ripped the brilliant young legislacerator into unrecognizable chunks, Mindfang merely laughed. She finally understood.
The next 6 centuries had been good. Oh, there’d been a few close calls. She’d have liked it no other way, really, but when you cut to the heart of the matter, none of them had been…quite as close as the legislacerator. It’s not that she’d been scared. No, she were merely being prudent. She shoved the prophecy into a locked box in her mind and did her best to forget it, because prophecies, like regret, weren’t the kind of thing that’d keep her alive night by night.
The first time she saw him, she’d been on the deck. Day was approaching, but she couldn’t sleep. The centuries pressed down on her like a physical weight, and no matter what the mirror told her, she’d been unable to break the impression that she was getting old and weary. It was a good thing, she told him later, a laugh in her words, that he’d come along to break it for her
One minute, she’d been leaning on the railing, and the next, she was flying through the air, the world a blur of color and sound. When he’d swooped over the deck of her ship on a whim, he hadn’t counted on her jacket getting snagged on his horn. The extra weight sent him careening into the water, and it’d taken a helpful pod of dolphins to get them back on the ship.
She remembered, and she’d known he’d kill her, but she couldn’t help being drawn to him. He was bursting with confidence and fire and the coppery tang of well hidden bloodlust, and she knew that he’d understand her. The risk - (certainty) - of her death only made her more interested. Here was a dangerous creature, someone to be handled with care, and she could have crushed his mind and saved herself, or molded him to be hers…but it struck her as far more daring to tame him.
The date of her death marched steadily closer, and sometimes in the day she lay awake, trapped in her anxiety, but more often she shoved it in that locked box and ignored it. She could do it. She could break fate, she could have him and her life, too. And as for the rebellion? Any prophecy that said he’d lose must be wrong, because she was on his side, and she was going to make sure he succeeded. She loved him.
She lays there, numb and helpless, as the unmistakable shape looms over her and blocks out the moonlight. It is her lover, and he is here to kill her. All the love they’ve shared amounts to nothing against that shadow, and the tears streaming down her face slow the lance only for a second before it rips through her, shutting off the lights in her eye forever. The shadow kneels down, and a gentle hand reaches over to close her eye forever.
He doesn’t know why he does this, except that it feels right. If this was the kind of story that the Empress would allow to spread, people would say she looked as if she were asleep, the green moon painting her face with false sopor.
He knows she’s not sleeping. Even sleeping people have legs, and if there’s any kind of mercy in this scene, it’s in the tears clouding his eyes so thickly he doesn’t have to look at her. He can’t bear to look at her like this, not when she should be full of life and laughing, making light of the fact that he’d been so worried about this encounter when, in some other universe, the plan had gone off without a hitch.
The Empress’ next strike takes off his head, and the rebellion dies.