No fires burned in the house that night or during the day when the black sky changed to the grey. Everything had gone cold, but she hadn�t bothered to leave her bed. Wounds from the night before ached so deeply that they kept her uselessly in place even after all of her tears had gone dry.

The wounds were not visible, but the way it felt, Victor should have run her through to make quicker work of the situation. Hours had passed, dragging on to make the agony of self-doubt and depreciation grow and radiate from her core.

She would never be enough for him. He wanted more, and he wanted others; but with the promise that she would be the only one kept in his heart, of course. Perhaps it was the way she was raised among stuffy nobles with traditions that were ingrained so deeply that one could not adapt to the way he wanted their relationship to be. Perhaps she had even ruined things with her tie to the coven and her promise to keep its inner workings a secret.

The tears emerged again, but she buried them in her pillow among the streaks of diluted black eyeliner.

A weight settled at the edge of her bed, but no scent of the sea was carried with it. Victor would not seek her out, she knew it, until he had figured away to have her and his affairs at once. He had, after all, pleaded for a third option after her rejection of the notion. As much as it pained her to think of it, he said it would make him happy and even if he remained with her, he would wonder.

The cold hand of the estate�s ghost settled on her shoulder and she forced herself to look to his vague appearance. Some impression of comfort was given to her, but it had not been enough to ease her suffering.

Soft whispers floated in the air, echoing in an otherworldly way before the world became a strange haze. Her eyelids grew heavy and eventually sleep won out, whether it had been magically induced or not.

Esreiella�s eyes snapped open again and turned on the clock. Only a few hours had gone by, but it had been enough to bring her some rest. It had not been entirely restful, but she found it much easier to sit up in bed. Unfortunately the sight of herself had been more terrifying than anything she had faced in recent memory.

Her immaculate hair was skewed, curls flattened, and locks bent in odd directions. Black streaks ran down her cheeks and blotches of rouge were smeared and patchy.

Look at you, she thought as pain became replaced by disgust. All this power and strength, and so easily defeated by one man.

Esreiella threw back her blankets and stood. Her fine clothes had been wrinkled from a long night spent lying curled up in her misery. She reached across the bed for the pillow that had been stained with tears and cosmetics and ripped the pillowcase off.

Never again. Her teeth clenched as she balled up the cloth in her hands and a flash of green fire turned it to simple ashes on the floor.

It had not been the first time that affection and feelings turned to pain and rage. It had happened plenty of times before, and each left her more devastated than the last. Every face that had promised the world and beyond came to mind, simple pages in the story that was her life rather than full chapters. This would be no different, and she could not let the dialogue reflect weakness no matter how deep he had cut.

The slow burn of whiskey had its own soothing effects, much like the hot water that washed away the night before. No one could know how she crumbled to such trivial matters. Plenty were having loved ones die in battle, captured, or worse. Victor only wanted to return to his roots. While she would not permit his request, not so long as she had a say, she would not break nor would she bend. She most certainly would not let this be the greatest adversity in a world always on the brink of destruction. He�s just a boy who wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Her hair was pinned and curled once more, not a strand was out of place. Her lips and eyes were painted to perfection and only her best diamonds adorned her manicured hands. Glittering gems and silver draped from her neck and ears to cap off the red silks that wrapped her form.

This will not be my downfall. Esreiella thought as she gripped her cruel staff. Fel magic in violent greens sprang to life from the enchanted weapon, spreading a sinister glow over her reflection, but one she found empowering. Let him ponder on what he wants in this life. I have work to do.

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Author Esreiella
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