April 19, 2017

In Which Riona Is Mercy

December 24, 1203

"I'm sure my absence at the party will be noted, of course. It always is. Our peers really do have no understanding to spare for an ill woman."

"I don't know if you really understand our peers," Riona muttered, more to the hearth in front of her than to her sister. The hearth was likely the better listener anyway. Danthia was almost never ill, and a clever attention seeker would switch methods once no one without some degree of obligation bothered to investigate any feigned illness she suffered.

That, and none of their peers understood Danthia. Riona herself didn't. In another time, another place, there might have been hope for her, or at least enough of an idea of what exactly made her what she was to think that hope could exist. A bad childhood couldn't have been all of it. Even if no one truly overcame a bad childhood, they still... felt. Acknowledged others, at least as more than a means to an end. Often went out of their way, in some cases, to prevent someone else from going through what they had.

Danthia didn't. She lacked even the self-awareness to know she didn't. It must have been a lonely life, thinking no one else mattered.

Hello, my name is Mercy.

Searle and Ren were hosting this year's Christmas party. It was perfect. Searle knew everything. Searle would make sure no one else knew anything. And for once... Danthia's illness would have been real. She would have the attention she always wanted, the regret she always wanted, the validation she always wanted. Or whatever the hell else she wanted. For one shining moment, she would be a queen, queen of a thought in the minds of those who learned of her death, a queen who lay dying while no one believed her.

The real Queen of Naroni, meanwhile, would be safe from any more misguided plots, no matter how foolish and unlikely to succeed.

"I just can't believe how rude everyone is. Even my own children couldn't be bothered to kiss me good night before leaving. The girl was always a lost cause, I suppose, but Roderick? Surely I raised him better than that!"

"I'm sure you hired a nanny who did." To Danthia's credit, many of their class couldn't have claimed much better. Riona herself wasn't the most nurturing of people, and for her children's own sakes she'd brought in someone whose strengths aligned with her weaknesses. But she did believe in giving credit where credit was due.

And not one of her children had ever been a 'lost cause'. Laralita wasn't either. Nor would be, she hoped, a Danthia born a thousand years in the future.

"Your daughter is a lovely girl."

"What good is 'lovely'? An alliance? I'm not interested in compromise."

"No one is--but it's how we get by. Even animals have figured that out."

"And maybe the lack of an individual who won't compromise is why they're still animals."

"Who's to say we're not still animals, sister?" Animals may have had concepts, after all. Fear, desire. Justice. Mercy.

Hello, my name is Mercy.

"Would you care for a cup of tea before I leave? I was going to go down to kitchens anyway; after the detour, my horse deserves a nice carrot."

"Hmm. Not sure why you'd bother, but I suppose if you're going down there anyway. You'll have to get my maid to brew it, though; Farilon insisted on giving the cook the night off."

"I can brew a cup of tea myself. I'm sure you could too, if you tried."

"Why should I? That's the cook's job."

"Of course it. And you need to focus on... whatever it is you do. I won't be long."

Badly planning assassinations, pretending to be ill, manipulating in spite of the lack of ability to do so.

What a tragic existence.

Sister, my name is Mercy.

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