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Written on June 20, 2019 (♊)

Author's Notes: I really do like A) human misery and B) evocative descriptions of the sky. A serpopard is a combination snake/leopard, by the way, and I don't know if Fovoham actually has any. The title is, of course, taken from Hamlet.

Violent Imagery/Sexual Content: Mentions of in-game levels of stabbing and vague allusions to one's wedding night.


His eyes widened as he reeled back from his own wound, giving him the shocked appearance of an animal. In that instant King Delita seemed a cringing hound, a limed bird, an injured doe: every beast that a man might tame or hunt, every creature by which a man might blazon the embowered ladies of verse. She lay in the sunlit grass, blood and scattered blooms all around her.

None of the poetry in that was lost on Ovelia now, and she smiled bitterly in remembrance of her wedding night and each cringing repetition that followed. His timorous subservience, his gentle "by your leaves"--every worshipful and completely feigned surrender. Had she determined to live out her days a maiden queen--to ornament the kingdom like a sterile flower, he would have permitted it. Had she asked him not to gaze on her until he'd slain the fabled Serpopard of Fovoham and played her chansons on a lyre strung with its guts, he would have done so. Had she demanded to choke the breath from his lips, he had convinced her that he would have offered it up as a sacrament. On the one occasion her hands encircled his throat, he had pulled them close until the bite of her nails had left his skin white and red.

Every promise, every gift, every sacrifice--it had all been his means of mastery. This moment, though, this moment when he knelt stupid and shocked by a wound he could not anticipate or offer; this was hers. He was an idiot boy again watching a woman die, and she had the satisfaction of leaving him with an injury that no healer's art could mend.

She smiled through the purpling foam that bubbled from her lips, and looked to a dimming sky that still burned too brightly to be twilight.


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