Once upon a time, before the world was ravaged by the servant of the Felt, a tiny slip of an heiress roamed the dark gorges where Gl’ybgolyb stirred. The name of this heiress was Bettei Kraken. Innocence had not yet been lost to her.
Bettei loved to tend to the inhabitants of the sea, regardless whether or not they truly needed assistance. Using anything that she could catch with her bare hands, she would perform surgery by dissecting with forks and knives whisked away from the glossy drawers of the imperial hive. The heiress was unskilled and naïve in her childish administrations to the creatures, yet even the most delicate of marine species flourished under her tender, if ignorant, touch, despite lacking heads or gills or eyes, with plumes of blood flowing away like smoke. Several of her more extremely treated patients were skinned from tip to tail in a thorough effort to ‘cure the spreading scale rot’, yet for hours on end, they would continue to squirm and flop so long as she held them, dainty little fingers pinching needle-thin spines with undisguised wonder.
Despite the superior hue of her veins, Bettei was not a particularly noble or elegant troll. With knobby knees and bumpy elbows, and most ugly of all, a myriad collection of discolorations on her legs and arms where it was clear that she impatiently picked at the half-formed scabs of gashes and pocks accumulated from her tireless exploration of the jagged, murky depths of the cold sea.
These marks upon her skin were not nearly dignified or striking enough to be labeled ‘scars’. They were blemishes, her assigned lady-in-waiting would cringingly admit to herself. Permanent little marks of impatience and ugliness stained the heiress’s silk-smooth skin. It had no effect how often or severely the lady-in-waiting chided the silly girl about the defects. Bettie would always stick her tongue out in a grotesque jeer. The exasperated servant bound the recently picked off scabs that welled up in glistening, tyrian purple splotches, using ripped up swatches of luxurious cashmere and delicate organdy intended for finer purposes. Time and time again, Bettie would be reminded that only the cruder ranks beneath her should boast of gashes and battle throes, but she did not give the slightest of care for such standards and formalities. She merely giggled and continued to pick away at scabby patches of skin.
No one could have recognized her as the heiress-apparent save for the tiny fins flared from her face and the symbol emblazoned on her sleeveless shirt. Bettie was a homely, unkempt child who was nevertheless composed of cheery smiles that she wore behind a curtain of thin, soggy braids, long enough to brush the top of her thighs and interspersed with colorful coral beads that served as reminders. Though the heiress apparent hardly possessed a shred of lithe grace to her movement, she practically burst at the seams with exuberant wonder and enthusiasm for the lush underwater realm that was, entirely and utterly, from the vastest chasms of endless void, down to the thinnest tufts of seaweed and smallest granules of sand, irrevocably hers to roam freely.
Not a day went by when Bettie did not burst in past the airlocks and into the palatial hive with spindly arms chock full of the thick, writhing mass of Gl’bgolyb’s tentacles. Her lady-in-waiting would hear her arrival far before seeing her, a split-splat squelching noise made by bare feet running over areas where the ragged skin of severed tentacles dribbled tyrian purple blood over the (previously) immaculate white marble floor.
“Sooo persistent! Who’s my little Gl’bby-gl’bby-kins?” crooned Bettei affectionately, as strands of squirming flesh batted the plastic goggles around her neck and tore off several beaded braids by catching them with imperceptible, serrated teeth. “My little cuties just don’t know when to die.”
Her jade-blooded caretaker remained impassive and silent, but even the stoic mask of a responsible guardian did little to override the lump in her throat as she witnessed her young charge toying with the deadly tentacles that should have been long dead and shriveled in the airlock sealed hive.
It was a skill unknown to her imperial predecessors; A blessing for Bettie and a curse to anything she happened to unknowingly brush her skin across. The least that the lady-in-waiting could do was to not bring it to attention and to hope that it would never be realized as a potential weapon to enslave others. Bettie had the kind temperament of a sweetheart, but the lady-in-waiting vowed to reserve judgment until the time came when the heiress-apparent was summoned to duel with Her Imperious Condescension. Every day, she lavished maternal affections on her charge and hoped for the sweeps to hasten so that she could take up her true duty of tending to the Mother Grub.
“She didn’t make a sound today. Not even a little bit!” continued Bettie, pausing to hawk and spit a gob of purplish blood onto the floor, much to her lady-in-waiting’s immense distaste. Spittle drooled from the corner of her mouth, but she gave it no attention, or failed to realize it entirely. As uncouth as it was, the lady-in-waiting found it very nearly endearing in a wriggler-like sort of way, before she realized the implication of her uninjured young charge having a mouth full of royally hued blood. She daubed Bettei’s mouth with a pristine silk handkerchief, efficiently and none too gently after her maternal feelings had evaporated.
“Perhaps you should not taunt the lusus that could effectively eliminate the entire population of our species,” said the lady-in-waiting curtly.
“Whale, it’s not like she’s going to do anything to me about it. I mean, as long as she’s not hungry, G’lbgolyb’s just fin and dandy,” objected Bettie, with the same bored, slightly condescending tone of one having to deal with an exchange repeated far more often than she felt was necessary.
“Is she now?”
“She’s mine. I can do whatever I pike with her, so don’t give me that look!”
Before the servant could dole out any more words of reproach, Bettie promptly dropped the armfuls of white tentacles with a petulant huff, knowing that she abhorred mess of any kind. The discarded tentacles flopped into a wet heap on the floor, grasping desperately at the air while curling and uncurling with their invisible, sinuous force. The lady-in-waiting was on the verge of fetching a compacted weapon to slice into the writhing pile of horrorterror flesh, but before she could even reach for her makeup case, they withered away into desiccated, tubular husks and crumbled into dust.
Bettie started, surprised at the sudden change in Gl’bgolyb’s tentacles. She typically was told to take them back to the gorge and toss them away, but this was the first time that she had actually released them in a place without water. Noticing the stony face of her lady-in-waiting, she hastily dashed away in a wet snap, leaving dainty footprints of blood in her wake.
Much of her life went by in this manner. As the servant who attended to her every need matured into a matronly figure, Bettie remained perpetually six sweeps in mind and body, though her true age would have rendered many rustbloods long dead from the course of nature. Soon enough, her surrogate guardian was required to depart to attend to the duties of continuing the species, leaving the heiress truly solitary for the first time in her life.
With no surrogate guardian to sabotage her letters and keep her utterly isolated from the influence of others desperately wishing to curb the favor of the candidate for the throne, courtiers began to flock in armor-clad droves, often vying fiercely for her quadrants. Her peaceful, otherworldly sea realm became tainted with the spilled blood of the challengers that tried to establish kismessitude, as well as the persistent courtiers attempting to gain her as a matesprit regardless of the means. Sunken ships littered the area around her hive, but she could not keep them at bay forever simply by brute force alone.
The young heiress became cunning and cruel, tempering childish spite into feral domination. The same teeth that had severed the tentacles of the horrorterror in the gorge were now used to claim fingers, fins, and eyes just as well as her trident did, with twice the subtleness and less effort used to drive off unwanted suitors.
Who were they to barge into her beautiful marine world and wreck the land with their corpses? Her stomach twisted with bitter hatred to think that they wanted her for nothing more than political alliances. Bettie was well aware that there was nothing desirable about her but the status of her blood. The first to come and die had imparted less than kindly words: Her appearance was crude, she lacked physical prowess and power, and she held no desire for her role as the potential empress of Alternia, making her more worthless than a rustblood.
If they wanted refinement, so be it.
If they wanted deadliness, so be it.
If they wanted a new empress, she would tear them all apart and pave a way to the throne with their bloated, skewered corpses.
When the time arose to usurp the Imperial Condescension from her throne, Bettie Kraken was more than capable. It was her slender fingers that pried the masterwork tiaratop from the decapitated head of her predecessor. It brought a smile to her cruel lips to think that she had once done something like this to a far more worthy creature. Instead of spitting out the tyrian blood, she swallowed, relishing the taste of a rival vanquished.
For the time being, none could best Bettie Kraken, longest reigning Imperial Condesce of Alternia.