Dolorosa: Be free.
It is a day of some significance. For today is the day that your concerns and thoughts are to be revealed as truths. As you stir in the small piles of blankets you have been provided you prepare yourself mentally. You tried to keep your hopes down, but you have failed. Liar and cheat though Mindfang is, a part of you hopes desperately that she would release you if you could last the sweep without displaying any flushed feelings openly. Why she even neglected to mind control you this whole sweep so your hopes grew ever the more though you know they will amount to nothing. You'll still be her slave and that is that.
The horrid woman bursts into your small room which, if you were honest, you would call a walk in closet. She steps forward with all her normal bravado and she's foregone the wearing of her typical garish hat. That surprises you some as she loves that hat more dearly than she loves being terrible; you despise it for being hideous. You stand and bow obediently, a tinge of fear entering you. You never know what is felt or done of your own volition anymore. She's smiling away and with no sign that she is grabbing hold on your mind at the moment. Not that that is a reliable method to tell when she is reading your thoughts. Either way Mindfang violates any and all rights to privacy you should have. Should being the key word here since you hadn't even retained the right to not be starved.
Mindfang doesn't take to cruelly pulling you along by the chains she keeps ever on your wrists; for aesthetics she says. Nor does she loudly demand that you attend to her, nor yet does she sink herself into your limbs willing them to move to her. Instead the captain stands at the door and in a softer tone than is her norm says, “Today has turned out to be a most auspicious date indeed. For this day, as I had promised you a whole sweep prior, is the day that you're to be released from your bondage; free to once more walk Alternia as you see fit. Not accepting the chance of you being mauled of course.”
Your heart jumps and you can but stare in surprised confusion. Though apparently free to act, your limbs are numb, heavy. Mindfang, your apparent master in former, leans against the door hang. That grin hasn't left her face and so you assume she is lying. Still you make no attempt to run or reveal that you know of her lies. Even when she growls in frustration while pushing herself up. Even when she walks to you and looses those useless bindings.
She stands in front of you, waiting more than likely for your attempt to escape, only to force your knees to buckle and laugh as you fall on your face. You don't move, keeping your ground, even when she takes your hand and wraps your fingers around a knife. The same she offered you those many nights ago.
“Also as per the conditions of our bet, you're hereby presented this knife and the chance to take my life should you feel that your rights are in sufficient danger,” she begins while placing a hand on her hip, “I'm a woman of my word. However other people often, wrongly I may add, declare me of not holding bets sacred. You may know that they're the sole thing I hold as holy in all this world and so, if you feel the inclination to do so, you may strike me down.” Mindfang's eyes slide shut and you notice a slight tensing in her shoulders.
The desire to hug this woman runs through you, to kiss her and proclaim your profound pity for her. So too does a desire to stab at her for all the hell she has put you through. Vacillating wildly between flushed affection and platonic loathing you drop the knife to the floor. It lands with a solid thud and Mindfang opens her eyes at the sound. She looks confused, something you weren't aware she was capable of being. You feel so certain now and impulsively recite your Son's words, “Strike not those about you, not even should they raise hand against you; nor even should they raise word against you; nor even should they be your kismesis. For once the world was not as now; for again the world shall be as it ought.”
Once finished you feel calmer, more grounded. Though a small twinge of longing rolls through you. You must be strong for Him though and so even as she cackles at you for the words He spoke you keep your heart checked. Mindfang calms herself, picks up the knife, and holds it out, “Well then. Consider it a gift regardless.” You take it more out of compliance and habit than free will as she continues, “So it appears I'm fated to survive this encounter. Of course I was always aware of this, so often as I am. Still we must take such things as blessings even if they are merely inevitabilities.” Now she digs from her coat pocket a small bag of coins, this also she holds out.
You nod your head and state, “I have lived on my own sweat and good fortune in the past, your money is not a luxury I require.”
She grabs your hand and forces your fingers around the satchel. “Learn to be more grateful of my generosity or I'll gut you.”
The weight of the bag feels so wrong. Worse yet the coins are likely Alternian Standard. You sigh and receive them regardless with a statement of, “I am quite sorry for my lapse in politeness. Do please accept this apology. I thank you for this gift as I do for your upholding the verbal contract of our bet.”
“Pah! I wouldn't be even a rust blooded whore if I didn't. Bets are sacred! The only oaths worth taking on this wretched rock.”
“I see. That is well. Now is the moment I am permitted to take my leave, correct?”
She giggles in a girlish fashion that you can't help but consider cute as she nods. You're waved off by her and as you leave your “room” you expect to feel a stab in your back. It doesn't come. Not even as you leave the room she has rented. As you walk out of the inn and into the streets you expect to be shot. This, too, doesn't occur. You walk away scot free.
The first day you enjoy a walk away from town. You lived your life in the wilderness; at least the life you feel means anything. The ground is yours to travel once more and travel it you do, heart singing as you take in the trees and sky. The wilderness tries to take you as a sawtoothed purrbeast attacks you. You kill him with the knife you were given and now you have dinner. You take what little you can carry and find a safe area to rest. The meat is consumed raw and you sleep on the cold floor of a cave, tormented by soporless rest. This is the most wonderful day you've ever had.
On the morn of the next day you are attacked by two rustblood bandits. They manage to draw blood and upon seeing the deep jade proceed to beat you soundly, kicking at your ribs and face. They eventually leave you after one last sharp kick to the chest. You stand and hobble away in great pain, taking to hiding in a tree. Here you rest though the sleep comes hard. You ache all over and you fear others coming to finish you.
A lunar month passes in the wild. You wander outdoors with what supplies you can pick up and carry with you. It takes a week to grow accustomed to this life once more and soon your actions are no longer sloppy. The life is hard, but by and large you adore it. It's a lonely life, however. Your Son is long dead and neither the Psiionic or the Disciple is with you. You worry about them and wish them the best. To your annoyance though the sharpest pain does not come from the loss of your family. You've accepted their lack. No, instead the greatest desire you have now is to see the Marquise again. You long to see that horrid smirk and watch her glide about the ship, full of her boundless confidence. It must be ignored, however, and so you throw yourself as wholly into your tasks as you can. When you walk, you only walk. When you eat, you only eat. The longing assaults at night though and you toss fitfully wishing her here with you now.
A week later you run across a follower of your Son. He is a blue blood of short stature named Fernando. From him you learn that the words of your Son are stronger than before. He shows you the symbol of your faith as well; the irons that held Him as He died. This marks has been cut into Fernando's chest. “I hide it in towns unfortunately,” he says while pulling his shirt down once more, “I'm going to meet up with others soon though. We're gonna go through Knife Edge together, all of us. Showing them this. That we ain't beat.”
You smile sadly as you hear that. He will die. Most of them will, made examples of for the Empress. And yet those deaths will only further strengthen your Son's work. “I wish you luck in this endeavor, Fernando.
He laughs heartily and says, “I'll be fine. Not scared at all. Hell I want to die if it helps people see, really see. I didn't use to see. Wanna help others to. You know?”
“I do, indeed” is all you can say in response. You hope that Fernando wont know fear, true fear. The sort you felt with Mindfang.
The pair of you take to resting after your conversation. You pull him to you, protectively holding him to your breast as you did your Son and all those who needed it. Thoughts and sounds come to you. Mindfang's voice and the tender ways she touches you on certain nights. You force these thoughts from you mind and focus on Fernando's deep breaths. Success comes to you, but you dream of the Marquise.
Night comes and you wake. Fernando's up before you and hearing you stir he turns to look at you with a look of questioning. You nod in approval and he asks, “Are you the Mother? It's silly to ask ain't it...? You probably aren't...” He gazes at the floor in shame.
“That I am,” you intone while wearing a remorseful smile.
Fernando looks up in awe. He is speechless for a moment and finally asks, “May I have a blessing?”
You nod and walk towards him. His head bows in respectful deference and you're not certain what to do at first. You settle making a small cross with your hand as you had been taught in the Brooding Caverns to keep the Mother Grub distracted as you placed food for her. “The world shall be as it ought. Together may we tread through field of glass to that shining world of infinite light, the world as it ought.”
Fernando thanks you and the two of you part. When you next meet he is dead; a rotting corpse hanging from irons in Knife Edge. You wish to take him down yet refrain. It would be an offense to his purpose.
Instead you walk slowly towards the place you came to see. You stand in front of the inn, uncertain, and then waltz in. The inn keeper confirms that she is still here in that room and so your feet carry you to the door. Then after a moment of doubt you know. Your heart falls and you know that you are doomed now. Mindfang opens the door and looks annoyed. Until she spies your face that is. Her eyes wide she asks, “And what do I owe the pleasure of meeting you once more?”
“I desire to speak with you for a moment,” you say making effort to look at her. You hate yourself at this moment, but you need this stupid, reckless woman. She quirks a brow, but leads you in regardless. Turning to look at her you find that you're not quite certain how to proceed. You make an effort though, “I have come to speak on the matter of our bet.”
“So you came to gloat? You do realize being free doesn't at all place enough worth on your hide to damn me for your murder, don't you?” Mindfang asks with a grin as she fingers the hilt of her dagger.
“Not in the slightest.”
“Then what in Alternia for? Surely not to have tea and crumpets!” She cackles shrilly and the thought that you can still escape enters your mind.
You ignore it and struggle to explain, “Well you see I arrived to...I intend...” What do you intend? You know, but you can't voice it. There is a lump in your throat. She sighs in exasperation and grumbles. No words come to you, instead tears do. Why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you, so sick to your stomach from shame, step forward and kiss her? It's not her manipulation. The look of shock on her face is too genuine. It doesn't last long though as she soon wraps her arms about your waist and holds you tightly. And you feel so happy and so complete even as you sell yourself to a demon.
The kiss ends and you pull yourself away. She's looking at you with curiosity. You can't bear to look at her and instead stare at your feet. You hold out your hands and she stares at you a moment before waving you off. “You won the bet, fool. Mock me further and I assure you you won't live to see another night.”
“I did win in word, but not in spirit.”
“You're serious about this aren't you?” she says before laughing loudly. At you. It takes her some time to calm herself and next she walks off to gather her irons. Your irons. “You have one last chance to walk away, girl.”
No words come. You only nod and slide your eyes shut. The cuffs close about your wrists, the familiar weight comforting to you. Mindfang yanks you along harshly, giggling as you stumble. Soon you stop in front of her recupperacoon and she says, sharply, “Undress me as I desire to retire for the day.” You take to this immediately and soon your deft hands have rendered her naked. Face flushed and full of so much hate for yourself you can but love her as she pulls you forward. “I also wish for company. Consider it a reward for your loyalty.”
Mindfang steps into the cocoon and you follow after her obediently. Her arms wrap around you as the soothing slime engulfs the both of you. You rest your head in the crook of her shoulder, accepting the death of your freedom. And you are happy.