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━━━━━━━━━━ｗ ｏ ｒ ｌ ｄ ｓ━
xxxAll was quiet, and she was alone with the darkness of the halls, lit only just barely by flickering candlelight that drifted through. It was oddly peaceful, in a strange sort of way. Where normally the halls were filled with bustling activity and sunlight and shouted and whispered plans for the day and all manners of other things, they were now empty and solemn, cold and barren of the vibrant liveliness of the day, and she was alone, completely alone, with only dancing candlelight, and the companionship of the distant moon shining what she could of her rays through the old windows to say hello and reach the floor and illuminate the swirling, dancing dust of a castle far older than anyone who lived within. Most, she knew wouldn't like it; they preferred the colors and atmosphere of others and the light of morning and the day, and would not seek or hope to find solace and peace in the lonely darkness, but she, well simply she found it soothing, her own little private reprieve, especially here. Aretuza was a bit more bearable- at least outside of the horrendous values she had come to recently find lay within that made her blood boil, ones that had her determined to never return to that monstrous terrible place unless she was forced-, and she had her own room to find her own little place to be alone in, but this place was no home, not even an echo of one. It wasn't a home to her, and it never would be. This was not Winterfell, or the warmth of her family. It was merely a glorified prison, where she could only call the nights her own and trust she was truly on her own and private. This was the home of Borys, the man who would be her warden, the guard guarding the door to her opulent dungeon cell, and chaining her to it forever. He was to be her husband, but it was something he would never be. He would not love her or care for her, he would keep her, like a pretty tournament prize and jewel on a shelf, and try to suck all that made her who she was out until she was only what he wanted. That was no husband, that was a cruel man with a- debatably- pretty mask, a man who would be her keeper to her dungeon, and nothing else. The only friends she would have here in these walls once her family left were her horse Durwin, and the Lannister princess Tyllei, and the girl, as she had until they cast her away like a punished child for refusing to do what they demanded of her to Ascend, would be spending most of her days in the cold, unfriendly, and unwelcoming walls of Aretuza, for just as she did, Tyllei possessed magic. Elyana still didn't know if having it was a gift, or a curse, and now, after what she knew and what she had seen, it was beginning to feel more like the latter. A gift shouldn't require the sacrifice of others to fully receive it.
xxxSighing, she shook her head, willing those thoughts to leave her troubled mind. She had already spent far too much time feeling the pain and sharp sting they wrought, and she didn't want to anymore, at least not for this moment. She was not here to dwell on one of her many woes, she was here alone in the solace of the empty, solemn halls to get a moment's break from them and cease her worried thinking for a little while. She focused on the way the old stone felt beneath the tips of her fingers as they trailed along its cold surface- both gently rough and long smoothed by touch and time-' and the way it chilled them nearly to their very bones. It was calming, though it probably should have not been given freezing limbs was generally not a comfort. Nevertheless, it reminded her of home, of the winters she knew better than most anything else, and the cold snows she so dearly missed, and the Weirwoods. Oh the Weirwoods, she missed them so. Yana missed their red leaves and their snow-white bark, and the ancient faces that had been carved into them so immeasurably long ago, and the deep red sap that leaked from their carven eyes as if they were crying blood. They could be a bit gruesome, or she supposed sad, but they had never been anything but beautiful and a comfort to her. They made her feel safe, like she was being watched over by some old force she couldn't understand, but knew could only be a friend, a protector who watched and guarded from weeping eyes. There were also tales that said no lies could be told before them, and though she did not know what she believed regarding that, it was a comfort still, especially after so much of her life now felt like a betrayal, and nothing but dark secrets hidden and kept. The trees wouldn't lie, and even if someone did before them, she'd feel much safer with them there, watching? The coldness of the walls by no means was the same, but she would reject no memories of her home that brought a warmth to her heart, which lately had been feeling lonely and cold. Her fingers continued to trail against the wall as she walked, the old stone still welcomingly cold against her light touch. She thought of the stones longing a small pond before the Weirwood in the Wolfswood, and how cold they, and the sparkling water usually were. She had fallen in once, when she was small and spending time with her cousins, and she had promptly pulled Deston in the moment he began to laugh and began to open his mouth to undoubtedly make some smart comment against her. That had been when his brother, Brenn laughed, and he sent her a smile. He had always been good to her, and so very kind, and she missed the warmth of his hugs. He felt like the older brother she never had, but it had been so long since she had last seen him, since he was taken for the path of a witcher at Kaer Morhen. She loved her brother Aidin, but he was only eleven, and his hugs weren't the same as the ones from her cousin, which felt protective and warm, like a wolf, or even a bear. The hall suddenly began to feel so lonely without him here, but she did her best to shake the feeling away. They still exchanged letters, and he promised he would see her soon. He would be at her wedding without a doubt, and though she was not at all looking forward to that miserable affair where she would be forever tied to a man who deserved a place alongside the most evil, it would be a small comfort to have all she cared for there, even if after that day, she would be so unbearably, utterly, alone. Softly, she let out a sigh, and shook her head. Now was still not the time to think of such things; she didn't need to go making herself feel even more alone than she already was when she was looking for a moment to escape. If Brenn was there with her, he would hold her, and tell her to not give up hope, that there was still time, and she was not doomed yet. She wasn't sure at all if she could believe that, but for the moment at least, she tried to, and looked up truly since the first time she had entered this hall to shake herself from the incessantly troubling thoughts that never seemed to want to go to away.
xxxWhen she looked up, she realized she was at the door to the dining hall, and without another thought, she pushed it open and slipped inside, and then leaned back against it, her hands sliding down the hard wood as she pressed it closed again. She had done enough thinking, and now it was time to just move and do, and just go wherever she went. Elyana couldn't help but let her gaze wander the room for a moment as she stepped away from the door and further inside. No matter how many times she had been in here before, this was the first time she had ever been here alone and wandering, without the weight of gloom hanging heavily around her with the promise that this soon was meant to be her home, and a wretched man within it, her husband. The ceiling was high, and the walls were made of a stone colored more cream than gray. Heavy, draping red curtains covered the glass and good windows that stretched high into the ceiling, positioned carefully so they would never catch fire from the flames of the candles that hung in opulent holders between each one, and the table of dark wood was covered in a similar red. Atop the table were ornate golden decorations and candelabras that were there every meal, with the places already set in preparation for the one to next come, and an array of green flora spread across the table to further detail and enhance the look of the room. Around the table were chairs of dark wood and gold and plush red cushions that were even more intricate and detailed than the decorations, and below the floor was a cold, hard, polished stone floor. She could hear her footsteps echoing faintly in the empty room as she began to cross to the other side where an open archway made for another exit, her fingers gently dancing along the tops of the chairs, but another set of echoes soon joined her own, and her heart sank as she learned she was no longer alone, her movements coming to a harsh stop. It was Borys, she knew it could only be him. "Elyana," Borys purred from the archway, stepping inside with a grin. She stiffened, but met his gaze, only able to hide some of her disgust. "Borys." Elyana's voice was hardened and cold, icy like the winters of her home, though he did not seem to notice, or if he did, he did not care. He only stepped forward, closer to her, scowling as she took a step back, though his grin never left his face. "Were you looking for me? Excited for our wedding already? You know you need only knock on my door and ask, I would never say no to a night with a beautiful woman like you." Gods he was vile, she could almost feel the sick rising in her throat at his words. If he were a better man, a different man, the dashing prints of her dreams come to rescue her and sweep her off her feet and save her from this misery and treat her with the love and kindness Borys never could, any other mean, really his presence alone should have been enough to make her swoon and her heart sing with the joy of being near him once again, but he was a horrid man, and the only thing his presence could ever invoke or inspire was disgust, and the desire to always be as far away from him as she possibly could. If he was a man she could hold any semblance of love for, she would have run to him to chase the darkness away, but she had come here to escape him, and he was the darkness that shrouded her, the clouds the hung heavy on her shoulders and shut all the light out. "I am here because I wish to be alone. I ask the you leave me to my thoughts." Elyana kept her tone level, and continued to meet his eye. His wide smile twitched, eyes darkening. She would not back down and submit to him and let him have his perfect way. "You don't need to lie to save face here, Yana," He stepped closer, and her hand tightened around the back of a chair. She gripped it so hard her knuckles white. "We're alone here, just you and I, and soon you will be mine. You could come and slip beneath my sheets and no one would ever need to know. I'd keep your secret, I've been waiting for it for a-" Heaving a heavy sigh, she let go of the chair and stepped from the table, fury now blazing in her eyes. She could listen to this no longer, she did not want to listen to this any longer. She would never want him, she would never want to be with him and his words made her feel ill. He had never been this bold before and she wanted nothing but to get away. Without waiting for him to finish, she began briskly walking, determined to get to the door. "I said I wish to be alone, now if you'll excuse me My Lord, I am going to return to my chambers, alone." She interrupted, giving him a curt nod as she passed him. She was at the end of the table now, only a few more strides and she would be out, but before she could take another step, a warm, rough hand closed itself around her wrist, and she could go no further. Fury rose up within her and she turned to face Borys, who looked angrier than she had ever seen him before. His grip tightened on her wrist when he met her gaze, and she tried not to let him see her wince. His eyes were darker than she had ever seen them, too; they were filled with some deranged lust mixed with fury, and she could feel her anger being replaced with fear. She tried pulling her wrist from his grasp, her heart racing within her chest as the reality dawned on her and the need to run kicked in, but he only grabbed her other wrist just as tightly, and pressed her against the wall before she could even react. A hand moved up to her neck, and he leaned into her, keeping her pinned. "Borys-" "No! You are mine, you do not interrupt me. You do not deny me." Borys growled into her ear, pressing closer until she could feel his breath on her neck, and her jaw as she turned her face away. She tried again to struggle, but he only came even closer, and she had to strain her neck to keep her head looking away. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she could to escape. She could not run, she could not think, and now it was getting hard to breathe. What was she going to do? What was he doing? What was this side of him she had never seen before? She was scared, she was so scared, and it took everything in her not to show it, not to give him that sick, twisted satisfaction. She had expected this of him on the night of their wedding, but not before. The hand on her neck moved up to sharply grip her jaw, and turn her head to face him. His eyes were terrifying, a storm of clouds like she had never seen them, and his gaze bored into her in a way she didn't think was possible. She tried again desperately to slip from his grip, but he only held her tighter, and this time she could not hide her wince, and he grinned widely at the sight. "Wide do you deny me at every turn?" His breath was hot against her skin, and she squirmed, leaning away from him as much as she could, only to her horror as his face lit up in delight. She wanted to scream, she wanted to shout, but nothing came from her throat, and she suddenly felt frozen. No words came out when she tried to scream, there was no sound she could muster. "You are mine, and you can't get away from me now, can you?" He leaned closer to her, turning her face away so his lips were only millimeters from her ear. He was taller than her, and stronger, she could not push him away even if she didn't feel as if she had locked entirely into place. She could feel tears begin to prick at her eyes, and she could hear the blood roaring in her ears as her heart continued to race. Why couldn't she scream? Why couldn't she run? Why couldn't she push him away? Why could she only breathe harder and feel more fear seep into her eyes? Why was there nothing she could do? She was shaking now, she knew she was even though she felt frozen, and she winced as he began to whisper in her ear, coming even closer still, and pressing harder against her.
xxx"Tell me Yana, do you like it gentle, or rough?" Her eyes widened at his words and within the horror that spread instantly through her, she found her strength and pushed against him with all she could. She wouldn't let him to that to her, she wouldn't. She pushed harder, and his featured warped into a mask of rage as she managed to move him just a little, and the nails of her free hand trapped between their chests dug into him, forcing him back. Yana tried to use that moment to get away, but again he was quicker, and he grabbed her again, spinning them both around and slamming her back into the table, causing a clamor as plates and candelabras fell to the floor. She struggled against him, her instincts to survive and get away from him finally kicking in through the paralyzing shock and panic and fear that had overwhelmed her, making it hard for him to get a good grip, but he was still stronger than she was, and able to keep her lower body trapped with his weight while he tried to grab for her hands. His features were contorted horribly in fury and range, and as he managed to grab one of her wrists, she let out a hiss of pain at the force in which he grabbed it, tight enough to undoubtedly leave a nasty, purpling bruise. Her other hand brushed against something sharp, cutting her skin as she fought against him, trying to keep her last free hand away from his grasp, and her gaze flew to her hand, instantly searching for what had drawn blood from her skin. It was a knife, a long, sharp, serrated knife. Yana quickly scrambled for purchase on the handle, her hand receiving another slice as she did, and as soon as she found a grip upon it, she raised it, aiming for his neck until her hand began to burn and it fell from her grasp and clattered to the floor. Her hand had burst into flame, filling her with more terror than she already had as her eyes widened and Borys froze and she found herself unable to scream as her features filled with horror. Her hand was ablaze and a searing pain coursed through her veins as the fear had before, and she could only stare in utter terror, until she found her ability to move again a split moment later, and with a movement of her hand to try and dispel the fire, she flung Borys back with a spell she did not mean to call upon, causing him to crash against the wall, and the fire to find the curtain above him. She was too stunning and horrified to move from the table where she lay half propped up, her form shaking harder and her heart beating faster than they ever had before. She was frozen and horrified, her breathing ragged and sharp and her panic quickly setting back in as she mind whirred and struggled to process all that had just happened and a single thought at all. What had she done? What had she done? The flames engulfed the curtain, and quickly spread to the next. Her hands felt as if they were burning in searing, roaring flames that should have melted the flesh form her very bones, and within that brief, terrible moment, it felt like something utterly terrifying had awoken within her and ripped itself through all her veins and her very being like a roaring blaze, like it had shattered and burned some hidden part of her heart she only now knew was there due to the petrified ache it held that swiftly swept throughout her form as she realized what she had just done, and what had just come from her, and her hands that still tingled like a lingering burn. What had just happened? What had she done? How had she done that at all? She had called upon no magic, given nothing to feed it's power, and yet it had sprung forth from her all on it's own and saved her, yet set everything ablaze. It had spread to more curtains now, and smoke had begun to fill the room, and she let out a cough as some found it's way to her lungs. Was that fire magic? How had she just done something so dangerous, and so forbidden? Finally, shaking, she was able too scramble from the table and run a bleeding hand through her hair, brushing the messy locks from her face as she breathed in a sharp, shaky breath. Gods, what had she done? She turned, and she was met with another horror before her, as she stood there struggling to catch her breath and figure other how to move again. There was Tyllei in the archway, looking as wide eyed and terrified as she did, if not more so, and without thinking, Yana raced to take her hand, and ran, taking her from the flames, and the castle, because she knew then that there, they could never be safe, and she had to protect her.
xxxThere was not a single day where that terrible night did not cross her mind and consume the entirety of her thoughts until she felt tears pricking at her eyes, nor a time where it did not plague her dreams and threaten to wake her up alone in the dark shaking and with a silent scream. That was the last day she had ever been able to truly do magic, and it haunted her still, terrified her still. When the flames had left her hand, something within her had changed. Some part of her had closed itself off and she could no longer control any magic, or any spell she tried to cast. She knew how to, all of her knowledge and memory was still there, but something in her just stopped and she couldn't, and every pebble she had tried to raise backfired and shattered into pieces until she had given up trying, in fear she would hurt Tyllei, or someone else. If she could not control her magic, then she would not use it. Borys was a monster of the very worst kind and she wouldn't ever want to regret the harm she caused him that night, and he deserved every pain that came his way, but that night had shown her what magic was truly capable of, what she was truly capable of, and it terrified her. If she had not called upon the flames herself, what else could her magic do? What others could she hurt? She had known magic so well, and excelled so easily, but the second the flames rose from her hands everything changed and she could do it no longer, she was too afraid. She was afraid of herself, of her hands, of the harm she could do. She was beyond afraid of that, beyond terrified; there was not a word to measure the fear that she knew for it. She had tried to practice at first in the night when Tyllei slept as she kept watch to make sure they were safe when they ran, but each attempt only grew worse, and she grew more terrified of hurting the girl, her only friend who had become a sister to her in such short a time, and she wouldn't risk it. When each try only resulted in more shrapnel and more damage gone wrong, she knew she couldn't practice any longer and hurt Tyllei. She wouldn't ever let her magic go wrong and bring harm to her, on that she would always refuse. She didn't want to hurt everyone ever again, and each and every time she closed her eyes and saw the flames and felt the fear in her veins she remembered exactly why. Yana had never wanted to hurt anyone ever; she had always wanted to be the kind of ruler to out everyone before herself, and she had always cared so deeply for people she had never even met, and now she knew she was capable of destroying them all, and she couldn't let herself do that, she couldn't risk it, and Tyllei and her face as she saw the flames and the flames themselves were all she would ever need to remember why. She just couldn't hurt anyone else, not ever again.
xxxBecause she could not protect Tyllei with her magic as she could have before that awful night, to keep them both safe, she had stolen a sword from her family when they first ran six years ago- one of the only clear thoughts she had that night-, and learned how to use it best she could as time went on and they traveled. She was no swordsman, and certainly no master or even at the level of a common bandit or noble boy, but it would do, and it gave her comfort to know that she could do something to keep herself when magic was out of the question in case it backfired as it always did and hurt the girl who had become her sister that she had promised to protect the moment she took her hand and ran from Borys and the burning room. The lack of her being able to use magic with any sort of success did pose one problem though; teaching the magic to Tyllei so she could learn what she needed to to not let the magic turn her mad. Elyana still remembered all she had been taught, and exactly how to do all she had learned, but when she could not do it properly herself, it was harder and much more difficult to help Tyllei and teach her when she needed it to be shown. She could only talk her through it, and remember the burning of her hands and feel her fear all over again. That was her only regret in not being able to properly do the magic and choosing Tyllei's safety over trying more, but at least she had been able to teach her some things, and they would find someway to manage, as they had been since they left the castle in a flurry with only two saddlebag's worth of clothing and other things, and two horses, and Tyllei's gray fluffy oft cranky cat, Lady Crone.
xxxDeft and careful hands worked to undo the saddle from Durwin's back, and she pulled up with all her strength on the girth straps until the buckles popped out of place and she carefully let go, and then pulled the girth fully free from the saddle. She could undo the other side later, right now she just wanted to get it off of his back. They had been riding for so many days and hours with scarce breaks to get to this tavern, and she just wanted her beloved gelding to rest. He had already waited long enough in that time, and in the time it took her to free Tyllei's steed from the confines of saddles and reigns. Yana had already slid the saddle bags down his back and hoisted them onto the wood that stood between the two horses and their stalls as a divider, right next to Tyllei's saddlebags and her horse's tack. The tavern was clearly incredibly busy and all spaces in the stable area but five were filled, so Tyllei had gone inside to make sure they would have a room while Yana took their horses to some water. She had come back out a moment later to announce they had gotten the last room, and was now waiting for her inside, but admittedly, Yana was in no great hurry to join her. She wanted a moment to slow down and spend with Durwin before heading into the loud and noisy tavern, and just get a break from all the weight she felt heavily on her shoulders. Without waiting another moment, she effortlessly pulled the saddle from his back and placed it on the divider with the rest, and then turned back to Durwin to stroke his sturdy neck, and give his snout a pet when he leaned against her touch and turned his head nudge her affectionately. It's weight used to be nigh unbearable after a long and draining ride, but now that she had lifted the saddle so many times and endured it's challenge and burdens, it was nearly nothing, and she had grown used to it, even when her limbs were heavy with exhaustion and she could barely keep her eyes from closing and leading her to a sudden, unfortunate sleep. Her gentle hands moved to his bridle next, and she removed it with ease, sliding it gently from behind his ears and down his nose and setting it with the rest. Finally, he was free of it all, and she was done, and she wasted no time in moving in front of him, and running her hand lightly down his nose. The tiredness in her bones and her heart began to creep in, and her face took on a frown as her heart began to ache. Who was she trying to fool? She didn't like this life, the constant need to look over her shoulder and behind her back, the constant running and traveling to get away. It wore on her, and she missed her family, she missed her home, and for just a little while, she wanted to stop running, to feel safe, to truly rest. "Oh Durwin, what are we going to do? Will we ever be able to stop running?" Elyana asked softly, her heart yearning for an answer, her fingers bushing his soft, dappled gray fur, and her voice tired with the heavy widget of burdens and exhaustion. "It's been so long. For so long now we've been running with no place to call home, and hardly anywhere to stay." Durwin nudged her then with hopes to cheer her up as he always did, and she couldn't help but smile and give a small laugh. He nudged her again, nosing the riding coat that covered the shirt and trousers she wore beneath, along with her sword and it's sheath, right into her side where he knew she kept the treats she had for them, and she couldn't help but smile and laugh again, her worries quickly fleeing from her mind and thoughts turning to her beloved hooved friend, at least for the moment. "Durwin!" Yana scolded, teasing, her smile growing ever wider as he gave a snort and withdrew his head. "You naughty boy. Here I was about to give you one." Elyana stepped back, folding her arms, and Durwin stamped his hoof, looking offended. "Oh, so you do deserve one then? Well, who am I do deny my handsome man his hard earned reward." She pulled a couple broken carrot pieces from her pocket, and held them out to him on an outstretched, open, flat hand, to which he eagerly leaned his head down and accepted, his whiskers tickling her palm as he grabbed them. She could only smile at the sight and feel glad to have him, that she wasn't alone. She had Tyllei and Lasy Crone, and she had her Durwin, and she had no intentions to ever lose them. They were her family now, and she was so very grateful and happy to have them, and to be able to hold them close. As soon as Durwin finished crunching down his carrots, he nudged her again, pushing his head into her in the way he asked for hugs, and she gently placed her hands on other side of his head and drew it up to her own, placing her forehead against his and feeling his soft fur on her skin. "Oh Durwin my darling, thank you. I love you, and I am so glad that you are still here by my side, my sweet friend." Elyana murmured, one hand moving to stroke his neck and the other to his cheek. He had been hers since he was born, and she had raised him whenever she had been able, and in turn, he had always taken care if her to and found ways to make her smile when she needed it most. He meant everything to her as Tyllei and the things that made her smile did, and she was so glad she did not have to bear these burdens alone, and that someone was looking out for her too, even if there were no words he could speak and he could only express his love and playfulness through inhuman actions. She never needed to say a thing for him to know now she felt, and he was always there to lend her some strength when she was losing her own. She smiled against his forehead, and then moved to wrap her arms around him and give him a hug, and smile again when he craned his neck around her as much as he could to hug her back.