Myr’jala

 

Story: The Life of Myr’jala (first part of a two part story)

   I don’t have much these days. No family, no business, no power, no life, no heartbeat. It’s funny, the more they take away, the more they leave me with one thing. Revenge.

    There was a noble family once. Their name is not important. It didn’t help them. It didn’t help me. They were a good family, and by that I mean corrupt. They held sway in the court, organised social events that were among the greatest for wheeling and dealing. Making secret deals, selling off daughters like cattle, bribing young men to flatter women past their prime. Among this family’s many assets were a pair of young daughters. Assets I call them because assets they were. Like an asset, they could be saved, sold, spent or, more commonly, lost.

    It was sudden. One night, the court intrigue turned on it’s head. The noble father so sure and confident, took a step too far and was punished for his presumption. In this game you don’t send them to start again, you finish them instead. Reprisal was swift. The father was beheaded in front of the family. The mother given to the guards to be a plaything. The eldest daughter, a smart, wilful woman was made a concubine. A position where her mind and spirit wouldn’t matter only the opening of her legs. The youngest, a beauty by the age of fourteen, who had spent her time in idle play, learning poetry, politics and taunting the servants. There would be no quick end for her. Too young to be properly wed, but too old to forget her parents downfall, she was given a death sentence too. She was sent to the slave mines with little more than the clothes on her back. By the time she’d been force marched through the crowds of jeering peasantry, she had little of those left either.

    The one thing she had left, became her salvation. Her body. First, it was a guard on the sea voyage to the mines. In return for keeping her safe, he kept her in his bed. After that, it was a low grade miner, big and strong to keep her a while until she found the true power. He was large, brave and stupid. Within the sunken hell hole, she soon found her top dog. Now all she had to do was be his bitch. Arranging a fight was easy enough. Enough men down there were desperate for some attention and her coin could be used but never spent. Her protector was killed defending the girl who betrayed him to his fate. A few others died, leaving a space for her to rise into. She learned a lot during this twisted, abused life. From the guards, the pit boss, her master, her pimp. Never one to lie to herself, saving it for everyone else, she knew she was being used. It was survival. Besides, she had a plan.

    Four years later and the bright eyed young girl with the open smile and calculating eyes was gone. Died in the mines away from the light and colours. The eyes were the same. Full of life on command, flooding with tears when needed, but always that cold look that added up the cost of you, and your worth. A few bribes spent in the right places, some incriminating evidence gathered, and she managed her escape. By blackmailing the Guard-Captain into arresting and executing the criminal leader, she sparked a riot of infighting and violence then slipped away at its height.

    Her triumphant return took another year to achieve but return she did. Her first target was a semi wealthy trader. He was lonely, he was reasonably rich and, most importantly, he was old. After the cheapest funeral that could be arranged, she brought her first tavern. Four years spent surviving in hell and she knew all she needed of the wonders of humanity. That first public house lasted a year before the reputation was so lewd and licentious that it became profitable to burn it down. The first step was managed, the next was almost second nature. Slowly, she moved up the social ladder, making friends, burying enemies, commanding loyalties. Her goal was still out of reach. Two things she needed, a name and an opportunity. Once she had one, she could swiftly arrange the other. More than anyone or anything, this need was her companion. The only thing in her life to link her to that child, long dormant but still there, lying in state like a corpse in the back of her mind, was the need to make them pay, make them all pay.

    So, dear reader. You know the beginning of my tale. Do you feel sorry for me? Pity me? Save it. I want neither your pity, nor regard. If I want your help, I will take it. Pity is a commodity like all the others. Spend it on those who I hunt. My name is Myr’jala, and I will make them pay…… all of them.

 

Story: The Death of Myr’jala (second part of a two part story)

    Myr’jala lay on the cobbles, the rough stones hard against her cheek and the smells of rubbish and sewage seeping through her broken nose. The back alley where she lay, feeling her blood flooding around her, seemed somehow appropriate. She was dying and wondering where it had all went wrong. Was it at her birth, the stars against her? Was it her upbringing with distant parents and lax discipline? Was it her horrifying time in the mines where survival was a religion and abuse a daily occurrence? Or was it ten minutes ago when her idiot husband had proven his stupidity? Definitely the idiot ten minutes ago she decided…

    Myr’jala walked idly around her study, running her hands over her latest acquisition. A fairytale book, one she remembered from her childhood. Not just any copy though… her copy. Her name still written in the front cover. She caressed the simply cover and leather spine. Traced the woodcut adorning the front with a lacquered finger nail, letting old memories open that had been shut for a lifetime. The Grimmwold.
    “You going to stroke that all night?” a voice complained from outside her personal world.
    No, you big oaf, I’m going to pick up a chair and beat you to death!
    “No, my darling husband,” Myr’jala replied through gritted teeth. “It’s but a memento of my youth. A time that was very different to the life now and I just…”
    “Of course, yeah, I don’t actually care. Can we talk about our business?” Bellic said, moving over to the large desk that dominated the study.
    Our business? My business. If I didn’t need a man for these laws, you’d be dead already.
    “Indeed,” Myr’jala replied. “What particular thing were you talking about? The tavern trade?”
    “No,” Bellic said, running his thick fingers over some idle paperwork. “The tavern’s doing well. Busy most nights actually.”
    “The brothel then? Has the Mistress of the house upset you again?”
    “No, actually. They’ve found a girl who shares my tastes.”
    “How fortunate for you,” Myr’jala actually smiled. Fortunate for me too, another chore off my back.
    “No, it’s not the brothel, nor the gambling den, nor the cock pits. It’s all running well and smoothly. But they don’t listen to me. None of them do.”
    Of course not, Bellic, what would be the point.
    “Really?” Myr’jala raised her eyebrows. “But I give all of my underlings such firm orders in regards to you,” she answered with perfect truth.
    “Yeah and I think that’s the problem really. I mean… it’s my name on most of these holdings since it’s a man’s place to own but I don’t actually know who works for me do I?”
    “Well of course not, dear. You’re too important a man to have to worry about all the scribing and strife. You know how much the taxes and the like annoy you. So much better to leave it to your wife. Running the servants is a wife’s duty after all.” Myr’jala’s reply was smooth and practiced, she hadn’t realised it’d been two months already. Bellic was nothing if not predictable.
    “Yes, but shouldn’t a man also be able to choose his own servants.”
    What….
    That stopped Myr’jala. This was new. New thinking in Bellic’s head was most unwelcome and it had to have come from outside.
    “Who have you been talking too?” she asked, letting some steel into her voice. If Bellic noticed her tone he ignored it.
    “Some of my new friends. Men like me, owners of taverns and the like. They think I should take my rightful place among them on the Trade Council.”
    Myr’jala took a deep breath, then another. Her corseted breasts rising and falling while she mentally counted to ten. Then another ten.
    “You have been meeting with the Trade Council and didn’t think you should mention this little fact?” she asked, venom dripping from every word.
    “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” Bellic said belligerently.
    That sentence isn’t yours Bellic, which one of those rats taught it to you.
    Bellic stood and walked over to the door. He opened it and in walked four men. Two of them dressed in court finery, the other two in dark leather. Myr’jala recognised one of the fops but the two in leathers caught her attention. They were killers and they planned death tonight. And soon.

    Bellic moved to stand across the desk from Myr’jala, two men flanking him on each side.
    “I have decided, my dear Myr’jala, that your people don’t show me the respect due to my station and thus I have arranged for their removal and members of my own choice will be instated. Our entire business shall be re-named to suit my own tastes and formed in a mercantile enterprise…”
The man beside him whispered.
    “Yes, thank you… and I will take the lead to forge a new future taking charge of my own destiny. You may either stay on as my wife or go with these gentlemen to a nunnery where your skills at scribing can be put to the lord’s work.”
    Myr’jala paused long enough for his smug grin to start slipping. Her eyes took in the ready stances of the two assassins and the way the courtiers were smiling. Then she sighed.
    “You’re a fool, Bellic.”
    The room paused a second, then exploded into action. The two assassins pulled throwing daggers and launched them across the table but Myr’jala was already gone. Slipping down and rolling under her desk, she drew the two stilettos scabbarded on it’s underside. I mean really, she thought, what woman of breeding doesn’t keep weapons to hand. The desk was thrown aside as she rolled out amongst their feet. The weapon in her left hand snaked out to slash through the heel tendons of the fop to her left. Her right angled upwards as she continued her roll to stand. It’s thin point ripping into one of the assassins legs just above the knee. The rent widened and red blood gouted onto her hand as she rose, dragging the blade upwards through thigh muscle. Finally the blade reached the artery she was seeking and a thick jet burst across the room. Myr’jala gripped the falling body and pulled it around between her and the others, knowing it would be dead in heartbeats.
    The other assassin had moved towards the door, drawing a long-knife from a back sheath. One of the fops was on the floor clutching his hamstrung foot while the other stood warily, drawing a duelling rapier. Myr’jala saw no reason to let that rapier be drawn. Darting across the room, she stuck the long point of a stiletto into his wrist, pushing the widening blade between the bones. Instead of crying out, the fop lowered his head and butted her in the face. Through the stars in her vision she saw more red and felt a dull crunch as her nose broke. Her hand lost it’s grip on the blade and she heard the assassin come at her again. Still blinded, she dropped low and swept her other weapon in an arc towards the door and was rewarded by her attacker having to jump across her blade and land awkwardly beside her. Before he could begin a downwards stroke, she dived at his knees. Her bones jarred at the impact but he was still off balance and went down beside her. Rolling over, she trapped his longer blade beneath her body, wincing as it’s edge sliced into her hip. He saw his death as she raised her blade. Abandoning his blade, he reached a desperate hand to clutch at hers but he was too slow. The steel sliced through his neck and stuck behind his ear, lodged beneath the skull. More blood added to the night and Myr’jala knew she’d need new carpets.
    Oh, how the mind can think of the most ridiculous things when it’s in danger.
She rolled off the body as it jerked out it’s last few moments. She heard footsteps outside the door and she doubted they were friendly. The surviving attacker had pulled the stiletto from his wrist and drawn his rapier with the other hand! Damn him. She turned, grabbed Bellic by his shirt and rushed to the window. Bellic was a big man and broke the glass nicely to save her. He was also good at breaking the drop to the rank cobbles below. They landed one atop the other, Bellic on his back, Myr’jala pressed to his chest. She recovered first and dragged him up behind her.
    “Come on, Bellic! We have to escape!” she shouted to rouse him.
    “What? But… you’re saving me?” he asked.
    Of course, I need to know just what you’ve done tonight so I can undo it.   
    “Oh, Bellic. I still love you and we can overcome this,” she simpered. Bellic’s stride grew strong and he curled a protective arm over her bruised shoulder.
    “I love you too, I promise I’ll get you out of this, my love,” he said. Myr’jala smiled and pulled him down the alley.
    As soon as you are no longer immediately useful, I will kill you Bellic and I’ll even break my “no torturing or gloating rule”. This I promise!
    They’d managed a dozen paces before something punched into Myr’jala’s right thigh and another in her waist. Momentum carried her leg forward and she felt an awful tearing. Her weight was suddenly too much and she fell hard, striking her chin on the stones. She looked down to see the point of a hunting arrow protruding from her leg, the muscle behind it a torn mass with blood soaking her dress and the ground around her. Bellic carried another yard or so before he realised she had fallen and turned to regard her.
    “Bellic!” Myr’jala cried, pain causing tears in her eyes. She reached out a hand for him. He looked up at whatever pursued them, looked down at the hand and shook his head.
    Anger swelled in Myr’jala’s soul as he turned and fled into the night. A hot fire that took seat in her very bones. She took some breaths to calm herself. She might still get out of this…

    And so, she lay on the cobbles. Nose swelling, leg’s damaged and her hip likely broken, a stiletto still clutched out of sight in a fold of clothing. She still had her reason and she could talk her way to survival. She prepared her opening statements as the hunters approached her. Rough hands gripped her shoulder and spun her over.
    “Well done but I ca….” something cracked into the side of her head, snapping it over to thud heavily into the cobbles. Her vision blackened and tunnelled and she struggled to stay conscious. She weakly reached a hand up to her face and found shattered bone and split flesh. Her jaw was a memory and her ear was red ruin. The rage built, burning in her heart. How dare they, they would pay. All of them! Her vision was growing dark at the edges, a bad sign but she still turned her head to regard the man who now stood over her holding a silver topped cane. A cane now stained with her blood.
    “Oh, so you are still awake, young Myr’jala?” the man said with a smirk. “Not so pretty now are we? Of course, I thought the mine would kill you, instead I seem to have created you. Well, it was a mistake. One I now rectify. Any creator can kill his creation.”
    The was no pain anymore, all of her body was consumed by anger and hatred. Standing above her was the man. Him. The one thought in her mind, to kill him, she had to kill him. She pulled the stiletto from it’s place and jabbed it at him, the motion far too languid for her liking and he merely laughed and kicked it aside. Red filled her vision and she couldn’t tell if it was her blood or her rage since both were the same.
    “No, I shall kill you now, little girl. As I should have done years ago. But, I also have something special for you, something to take with you to Hell.” He waved a hand and something was held in front of her face.
    A mirror. She could see her shattered face staring back at her, her rage and anger reflected onto herself. Blood marred her face and the skin was pale, too pale, her lips blue. She barely felt the sword rip through her clothes, her skin, her flesh and rend her heart. Sensation had already left. She saw herself die. Her features went slack and her eyes half-closed but still she could see! What horror was this? She was dead, she knew it, she felt it but still she could think and could see. Could she survive death? She concentrated hard on the knot of fire in her soul. Drawing it to her like a wounded animal holding it’s cub to protect it. This hatred would linger on. The mirror was moved and dull sounds entered her head that she could no longer decipher.
    “Bury the parts as far and wide as can be managed.” Mere sounds to her, no meaning, what was meaning? She saw people cluster around her, some holding large wood axes. The wan light glinted off the blades as they rose and fell, her limbs jerked but she couldn’t feel them. The scene faded, she faded, the core of her withdrawing until it was just her rage, her hatred… then that too faded into darkness… a darkness that welcomed her.
    I am Myr’jala… my rage demands an answer… I will make them pay… all of them…