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Zenadie stood in the forest as she had finished helping the helpless country again. It was getting a bit old now. The brunette was getting annoyed with them calling for her for little stupid things. She walked into her small cabin as she sat down she growled. They didn't even let her live in the country which she wasn't fussed but others would find that disrespectful. Strewing in her annoyance she wondered why she was helping humans out so much. She had nearly been killed servile times and no one bother to talk to her like she was a normal person.

Walking around the man village where the castle was located she was giving glares like she was a freak. She was getting sick of it. "Look it's the witch!" one kid yelled as she turned and her eyes began glowing. Gritting her teeth her brunette hair blew around as the wind began building up around her. Hearing screams she gritted her teeth more and walked around. Her power building up which people could see around her. Shooting it out at different buildings they caught on fire. Taking breaths she headed towards the palace. Maybe she should put the Princesses in danger, she always saved them she got bored of it. "STOP RIGHT THERE!" a female voice yelled out at the top of the hill by the palace. Zenadie glared as she began lifting with her power carrying her. "I WILL NOT TAKE ORDERS ANYMORE!" she screamed shooting bright colored energy as the guards around her fled. She moved closer to the Princess until they were face to face. "What are you doing? Zenadie?" she asked as the sorceress simply looked at her with anger. "Maybe i should take you and get someone to find you. It happened so much. I'm going to end it" she said bluntly as she simply jabbed the Princess in the chest and a bolt shot through her body. With a scream she landed on the floor dead. Smirking she turned and headed into the village again. She loved this power, this anger and the destruction. It brought something new to her which she enjoyed. Hours later of killing the village off she went back to the forest. She decided to move on. Well she needed to now but she seemed happy about it. Taking a breath she began tracking towards the next village. She would bring this ungrateful county into ashes.
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                                                    VALENTÍNA ( LUCE ) ANISE
                                                  ; } ▇ я люблю тебя послушать. раскрывай мне только душу.
                                                         мысли здесь не пригодяться. время снова двадцать двадцать.

                                                                After the birth of her two brothers, the twins, Luce’s father had read to her mother from the Holy Scriptures and congratulated her with a choice quote: Succifient unto women is the art / Of bearing and rearing sons brave as lions. After the twins, Luce’s sister Rose was welcome variety, and beautiful even as a babe in that sexless manner babies are. (Her looks didn’t exactly deteriorate with age.) Luce just happened.

                                                                Perhaps she was an unconventional princess, in many ways, taking up swordfighting and hunting where her sister danced and sewed and learnt of courtly intrigue. Luce did all those things too, but because she had to. Of course, Nanny couldn’t watch her all the time, and Rose was a kind sister, so Luce took to sneaking out, hunting and fighting and playing with her male cousins rather than tagging along after the ladies of the court or the handmaids when they’d go picking flowers for the flower-arranging sessions in the afternoons.

                                                                Rose had been shy. Rose hated going out with the other ladies, but couldn’t leave the castle without an escort. She wasn’t so naïve as to leave alone, but the guards intimidated her, so Luce took to protecting her, or so she fancied. They never met anything more than a few stray wolves –– certainly no kidnappers or bandits –– when they left on their walks and talks and flower-collecting sessions together (one of the easiest ways to get Luce to do boring things like that was to make Rose go too), and even at ten years old, armed with a practise sword cast off by one of the twins, some half-starved mongrels did not constitute a valid threat.

                                                                She would learn the feeling of being truly threatened soon enough.

                                                                Her father groomed the twins well. Both were capable fighters, both were strong and charismatic. The elder was to be King, schooled perfectly for this purpose; the younger became Commander-General of the country’s armies. Rose was beautiful and sweet and kind, everything a princess ought to be, so she was the perfect diplomatic liason –– or a useful chess piece, to be married off when the correct circumstances presented themselves.

                                                                So his scrutiny turned to Luce –– to Valentína –– and found her lacking, not yet a woman with her sword-callouses and stubborn pride. And so Luce became a soldier in the army, fighting the front lines of a war when she was only thirteen. One of the youngest recruits and the only girl, her position wasn’t the product of nepotism; she fought her way up to her position of Field General from lowly soldier using only those selfsame sword-callouses and that stubborn pride she’d found herself wearing about herself like a cloak on most days.

                                                                And maybe it was just a cruel twist of fate, but this was what caused Rose to drop her eyes when she looked at Luce, rather than meet her gaze like she used to –– now it was Father, His Majesty, the King, who looked upon her with harsh pride, unrelenting. Looking up at him (because it was up, always up, one was never above the King) was just as harsh, burning her eyes like staring directly at the sun during summer at the frozen plains up north, all fire and ice and whiteness. Like looking into the eyes of God.

                                                                But it was Rose’s approval she craved.

                                                                Rose Anastázia Anise was Eleanor's sister. She was everything her sister never was; soft and sweet, all vanilla skin and light hair, kind eyes the exact shade of nutmeg, carrying with her the lasting impression of pure femininity and the scent of sugared cinnamon. She danced with all the grace in the world, could carry conversations with almost anyone, accepted absolutely everyone. She had the memories of their deceased mother, which she kept guarded carefully underneath the soft fabrics of her dresses and the softer-still flesh of her heart, carrying those fleeting impressions of the Queen with her at all times, holding them like a glass of water, close to her chest, fearful of letting it spill. She was nothing but a collection of memories and good intentions and sweetness, not to others, but to Luce she was more. Not enough, but more –– but ‘surrogate mother’ had such a dirty sound to it, didn’t?

                                                                But when she, stationed at the northern front –– (quiet, had been quiet for a good while, they were moving out in two days’ time, heading –– home, wasn’t it? Where Rose was) –– read that letter, her life came crashing down. Or what she’d thought was her life, her life outside the battlefield.

                                                                She should be honoured. Father had taken the time to dictate this letter personally to one of the scribes.

                                                                She felt sick.

                                                                It was bad form to leave her troops alone. She couldn’t do it. In all her years, she had never left her men, not like this. But they were moving out in two days; surely nothing bad could happen in those days. Had not Rose fixed a treaty last week? That was what they had been told, but had it been invalidated by the murder of the princess? Unlikely. Most probably, because the culprit was known (that damnable witch they’d been daft enough to trust, that Rose had seen as some sort of [saviour, because the armies were occupied fighting a war and couldn’t settle domestic disputes), all this would do was serve as some sort of national marker. Maybe there’d be an influx of oppression aimed at mages, but even that would die out, because magic was so practical, so in the end, what had happened? Luce lost her sister. The only family she’d truly loved (blood family; she was raised in the troops, proper raised; these men would die for her and she would do the same because any decent family would that, surely), lost. For no good reason. There would be no note in the history books. (Not unless Luce did something in the name of her sister –– genocide, perhaps, but that could be going a bit too far.)

                                                                Luce was nothing if not a strategic thinker, however, so before she left, she consulted her maps and the letter again. Their town had been razed, but, more importantly, Rose was dead, father and brothers still alive but Rose was dead. The letter said the witch had been heading towards the nearest village, by Edgecombe Forest, which was very frequently travelled and easily surpassable. From there on, through the forest, the witch would have gone either south or west. If west, she’d be getting closer to Luce with every moment, but if south, Luce would have to travel quickly to intercept. She would take one of the scouts’ horses; lithe, tireless creatures with long legs and thin chests, built for speed and endurance rather than the raw power of warhorses, then she’d head south. South-east. Yes, that seemed like the best course of action.

                                                                Perparations were swift and made in silence. She travelled lightly, taking her swords and precious little else, saddlebags nearly empty and weighed down only by the bare essentials. She tooks some jerky and gnarly apples, light food for the journey, but she didn’t feel hungry. She didn’t feel anything, really.

                                                                Luce picked out one of the younger horses, a dark stallion with only about three or four years under his belt, still spry and coltish. It would turn out he startled easily, not at all like the heavy warhorses who wouldn’t shy at blood or disembodied limbs and swords flying about, much less flickering torchlight, but Luce was an excellent rider and took no issue with this. She left notice of her leave in the barracks, a brief explaination (The Princess Rose is dead. Capitol in ruins. Witch attacking King & country. Proceed as planned.), and took a short farewell with the soldiers posted guard at the encampment limits. Then Luce was off, navigating the frozen roads and frost-crunchy trees and grass of the Black Woods, riding south for a full day.

                                                                It was in that small village by the Marches that everything changed.
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Standing on the edge of Edgecombe Forest, the brunette sorceress looked around her her surrounding. It was getting colder but that may be because the built up power was expelling out her body. She wasn't used to this adrenaline and the feeling of not just wreaking a village but killing a Princess but not only was she a Princess but the only person that believed she was a normal person and she had any right just like any other normal human. The facts hurt her as she dropped to the ground and covered her face with her hands. The orange material around her body blew in the soft wind as she tried to get over the fact she will no long have a life in this land and maybe the world. Zenadie removed her hands as she whipped the only tear she shared but she can't carry on could she? Well she had a lot of anger and well she wouldn't fit in so why not? It did feel good.

With a smirk the brunette stood up and straightened the material that hung from her body. She looked her body over and then at feet. She needed shoes and a cloak. She simply nodded to herself and headed towards the near by village. It was soon night fall and she needed to move. She knew people would be looking for her, she wasn't stupid. Just ran over to a house and grabbed some material off a washing line and wrapped it around her. Her eyes darted around until someone started following her as she headed though he village silently. She knew someone was following her and it was annoying her. She trend a few times and spotted a man following her. Gritting her teeth she soon got to the end of the village and then her arm was grabbed. He had pulled her to the side and most likely thought he would get his way with the stranger. Smirking she placed her hand on his mouth and neck. Within seconds he began to set on fire and began burning alive. With a smirk she soon gathered a crowd and ran off.

She couldn't have done that who ever was looking for her would know she had been there now. She ran and continued as she needed to find someone to rest, food and somewhere no one would find her.
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                                                    VALENTÍNA ( LUCE ) ANISE
                                                  ; } ▇ я люблю тебя послушать. раскрывай мне только душу.
                                                         мысли здесь не пригодяться. время снова двадцать двадцать.

                                                                It ws lightening again when she reached the tiny village. It straddled the three-way intersection of the mountains, the Marshes and the road that lead to Edgecombe and associated villages. It wasn’t an inviting place, least of all in the grey pre-morning light. Three, four bells at night, at best. The village had a tall lumber wall surrounding three-fourths of it, open only towards the Marshes –– because the Marshes were safe; the Wicker Marsh was peaceful, Crystal Marsh only travelled by soldiers and the men under her command and they were peaceful because Luce was a stern but fair commander and would never let her men harm innocents (something that had helped establishing the treaty along the norther territories; she’d always been fair to prisoners and captives and had never denied a soldier his asked-for fate of an honourable death rather than the torture he might have to endure should he be brought to the capitol unless she explicitly couldn’t), and the Red Swamp was too dangerous for anyone to travel without the aid of powerful magic. (And a wall wouldn’t stop anyone with that sort of magic.)

                                                                "Who goes there?" a voice called out. Male, young. A guardsman, then.

                                                                "Field General Luce," she called back, her voice neutral, her tone the calm tone of command. "I have come with warning and with request for information."

                                                                "Has the northern front fallen? Sho–should I get help? Si–– erm, ma’am."

                                                                "No such thing," Luce said hastily. "But I have information you will all need."

                                                                There was silence. Then: "Guard Captain Sancho will be fetched. If you will wait––"

                                                                "Aye," she said, drawing up closer. "But make it quick. I must be off as soon as possible." She didn’t say it was a matter of life and death, because it wasn’t. It was only a matter of death, and of when.

                                                                She patted the sweaty-necked stallion with fondness, tangling her fingers in the coarse mane. She’d have to keep this one, tireless beast he was. Not a thing of beauty, malproportioned with legs too long, a ribcage too narrow, but strong and tireless and loyal. Well-bred. They weren’t in the habit of naming their horses, since they could easilly succumb to a blow or to tiredness (the life of a scout’s horse was short, because scouts often wore out their horses, rode them beyond the brink of exhastion until the poor thing just collapsed at the end; the life of a warhorse was slightly longer, if only because the stout beasts were so large and powerful that they could survive the heat of a battle thrice over), but Luce ought to give this one a name. Air, now that was a name, fitting for a fleet-footed thing like this. But that didn’t feel right, did it?

                                                                Rose, then, she decided. Maybe the name would bring the black stallion more luck than it ever did her sister.

                                                                Maybe for the first time, it felt like her mother’s nonpresence was a palpable thing. Real. There. No Rose, no mother; both torn away from her too early. She lost her mother twenty years ago. She lost Rose –– what, a day, two, three ago? Luce had lost track, but she didn’t know at all. They were a small country; from capitol to northern borders took only two-three days for the swift messenger horses; it was one of her men who’d delivered the message, so make that a day of travel. Non-stop travel, skirting around the edges of the mountains, cutting through the Crystal Marsh like she’d done. The sorceress might be on foot, so not nearly as swift as Luce, so likely still around the forest then.

                                                                The guard she’d had the quick exchange with trotted through the double gates, followed by a grim-looking older gentleman with a full head of hear and a handlebar mustache, formerly black but now speckled with white and grey. In the flickering torchlight, she could see the guardsman was hardly more than a boy, probably not yet twenty, obviously inexperienced.

                                                                How odd. When she was –– what, fifteen? Sixteen? –– she’d already killed more men than she could count. Carnage was her husband, the older men would joke, none of them ashamed of being under the command of a fifteen-year-old girl Captain young enough to have been their daughter, as bloodshed and war were their wives. She’d been filled with a curious warmth at their simple acceptance of who she was, of how she fit the twin blades she used with practised ease. She’d learnt not be ashamed of her perceived masculinity among those men, though she never did visit the brothels with them. (Too much.) (And she’d gone for male whores.) (So really, still a woman in many ways. She thought.)

                                                                "What is it you want, girl?" The man snapped. He had a voice like he’d made a habit of gurgling gravel daily. She liked voices like that. Very manly. She cared little for that tone, however.

                                                                "I am Field General Luce," she said, letting the title sink in. She wasn’t normally one to pull rank, but she was in command of the entire kingdom’s armies, second only to her brother, the Commander General –– but he had never seen combat, so her word carried more weight with the troops. She had fought alongside them, after all, shared their losses and gains and fallen heroes. "Princess Rose Anastázia Anise has been murdered. The witch who killed her is razing the country as we speak; she has decimated the capitol and is likely proceeding through Edgecombe woods. Have you any information on her?"

                                                                She heard the youngest guard’s breath hitch. His captain looked thoughtful. "It is a great sadness to hear that the princess is dead. May her eternal soul be at peace. We have had no word of this, I fear, but we will be armed and ready when the witch comes. Her Highness was a kind woman and will not be forgotten, Field General. You have our word. If you have need of men, there are enough guards to spare…"

                                                                "No," Luce said. "I have no need of an army. Vengeance is a solitary thing, or it is not vengeance at all."

                                                                The guard captain nodded in understanding. "Forgive me, Field General, but were you close? It is not unheard of, after all, an officer and a beautiful young lady, a hero and a princess––"

                                                                "There was no such thing," Luce interrupted quickly. She’d never used her princess title when she was in the army, so it wasn’t common knowledge that she was royal herself. But that would be preferable to people thinking she’d been carrying on some illicit tryst with her own sister. "The princess and I were… close, yes. Sisters, I would say. Thank you for your time, Guard Captain."

                                                                "Be careful out there."

                                                                She turned her horse –– her Rose and spurred him into a canter, heading towards the forest. With any luck, she would intercept the witch soon enough.

                                                                And that would put an end to that sorceress for good.
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She kept running for hours and soon enough she was in the middle of the forest. She was getting tiered by now and needed to rest. Sitting down wrapped in the material she stole. It was coming to winter and she was freezing. Her breath turned to mist as it hit the cold atmosphere. Looking around her she was trying to find items for shelter and items to help capture food. She was starving and freezing. Standing she went out to collect items for her shelter.

While collecting items she felt a hand on her arm grip. She growled turning she saw a guard. ”I’ve got her!” he yelled to another as he looked back at her she kicked him off and began running dropping the leaves and sticks she had picked. Running through the trees she heard galloping hoping the horses couldn’t get through her trail. She heard yelling and jumped into a tree staying silent. She wasn’t sure what to do now but climb.

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