I woke early one morning and made my way to the dungeon. The guards looked concerned but they didn’t stop me.
I guess no one will ever stop me again. How odd. I walked up to Brayton’s cell. His hair had grown out a little and there were bags under his eyes.
I’m glad he was suffering though it still didn’t feel like quite enough.
“Your highness,” he smirked at me, “what have I done to deserve such an honor?”
“When you spoke to me in my mind the night you were captured,” I said softly. “You said you could teach me.” He smiled.
“My my,” he said, “what would Dear Caleb say?” I looked away. “Why me?”
“You’re chosen,” I said softly. “I don’t have anyone else who is.” He laughed.
“Thomas Martin is,” he said. I frowned. “Or he was, I suppose, Cornan isn’t terribly tolerant of failure. I’ve wondered who he’d choose next. Your Tristan is a worthy candidate, inflexible, powerful.”
“Stop it,” I snapped, “you’ll make me regret this.” He smiled.
“Goddess,” he sighed, and leaned back against the wall, “you sound like your father. I look at your face and see my Marie, but then,” he frowned seeing the fury in my face I suppose.
“If you loved her,” I said, “why did you kill her?” He shook his head.
“You’re so young, Cousin,” he whispered, “you’ve never lost love, never seen it grow or change, or gods forbid curdle.” I thought of Tristan, how he couldn’t meet my eyes anymore, how he spoke through clenched teeth. “Marie’s death was avoidable, she knew it. I asked her to stand with me, she chose otherwise.” I swallowed.
“And Marina?” I asked. He smirked.
“Mm,” he exhaled, “Marina is mine. In ways she doesn’t even know, we’re bound. I nourished her power, saw it honed and trained. I know her, and she me, and this scares you I think.” I swallowed. “Fear isn’t natural to you.”
“No,” I said softly. “But you’re insane, so there’s that.” He laughed.
“Not insane, Your Highness, not that,” he sighed. “I wish sometimes, it might make the part I have to play easier.” I frowned. “That can be our first lesson I think, the gods choose us to play parts. A King, or queen in your case, a priest, a devil, a champion.” I frowned. “A sword. The wheel turns, Annalise, there’s no stopping it.”
“You stopped it,” I said.
“I cut a thread,” he sighed, “so we landed on another. We’re bound to the wheel and to fate.”
“I had a vision that you fell,” I said. He smiled.
“A false vision,” he said, “I didn’t fall. Amina requires me, so I cannot.” I looked at him. “Are these chats going to become regular, Annalise?”
“I don’t know,” I said. He nodded.
“What about Lady Marina?” He asked. I frowned.
“No,” I whispered, “no you won’t see her.” I swept out of the room and back up to the sunlight. Being around him sometimes makes me feel like the sun is gone forever.
“Lisette!” I heard a voice calling my name. I turned at the sound. It wasn’t Aaron or Athena so hearing the name shocked me and then I smiled seeing William walk towards me. “I mean, Your Highness!” He bowed. I laughed and hugged him.
“You came,” I said, “I’m so glad.”
“I told you I would,” he pointed out as we walked towards the palace. “Besides, General Martin sent out recruiters. I’ve been recruited.” I grinned at him.
“Well then,” I said, “you’re going to join the guard? We could find other work for you.” He shook his head.
“I think the guard is best.” He said. Aaron walked up to us from the hallway.
“Then you’ll have to talk to Tristan,” I said. William’s face fell. “Aaron, have you seen William?”
“I knew he was coming,” Aaron nodded, shaking his hand. “How’s home?”
“In deep mourning,” William said, “I’m sorry, Aaron, really.” Aaron nodded. “I have a note for you.” He reached in a pocket. Aaron frowned looking at it. “She insisted, I tried to explain.”
“Of course,” Aaron sighed. “I’ll write her back for all the good it will do. Your highness,” he poked my arm. “Should I be presenting William here to Tristan? I think that’s part of my job as his provenance leader.”
“It is,” I smiled, and kissed William on the cheek. “I’m glad you’re here.”