Beautiful Hell (Draft 1)

For almost one hundred years, a brutal and bloody struggle for dominance between the kingdom of Ra'Ziel and the plains of Torath has torn the world asunder, raining death and destruction upon the earth. But this war is coming to an end. With only a few descendants of both royal lines living, will there finally be peace? Alexandra Ra'Ziel wants nothing more than to end the feud that took her older brothers from her, but Tristan Torath has different plans. He wants - he needs - retribution for the wrongs he has suffered. And so their story begins. Because anyone can find vengeance, but only a rare few achieve true justice.

Ok yeah, so here's the thing. I'm rewriting this story, so anybody who wants to read the new chapters (as I edit and revise them) can find them on my page. The Movella is titled Beautiful Hell (Re-imagined). And yeah, it's way way way better than this one, but also way more graphic too.

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2. Alexandra Maria Ra'Ziel

           Alex woke to the sound of a woman screaming. It was a desperate sound, as if some part of her soul was being torn out. Like the sound the demons make when you burn them. But she knew this sound. This sound was as familiar to her as her own heartbeat. This was the sound every mother always made when Alex’s father had to take her son with him when he left.

            Father said, every time, that they had no choice. He had to lead the armies, he had to defend his family. He had to keep them safe. That was exactly what he said the day he took her oldest brother James with him. That was what he told Alex, the day he came back alone. She had lost five brothers to the war now, and learned only one thing. It has to end, and she, Alexandra Maria Ra’Ziel, was going to be the one to do it.

            What can a fifteen year old girl do to end a war that has lasted for generations? Well, she didn’t really know, but Alex had to find a way. No matter what it took. She wouldn’t let her husband take her sons off to die in a pointless feud. Hell, she wasn’t just going to sit around and wait to lose of her little brother either.

            Alex was the eldest daughter – and in fact eldest surviving child – of the Ra’Ziel family. As such, she knew she had to be there when the army left. It was always the worst moment of the year. Fifteen times she had watched her father leave those gates with his army, never knowing if he would ever return. Fifteen summers, waiting by the windows, watching the grassy sea, waiting for a sign.

            She rose with a sigh. Alex wished she could cry, but she had run out of tears after James. He had been her favorite. No, now, with only Lillian, Jenine, and little David, Alex had to be strong.

            As was her custom, Alex went first for her stash of breeches and tunics, then drew up short. This was the first day of summer. Her mother would expect her to wear a ceremonial gown. Shit. She hated skirts.

            It took a long time to put on the scarlet dress. That was the only good thing about it, Alex mused. It was just about the color of blood. With her wavy black hair and pale skin, she could almost fancy herself a vampire.

            Finally, Alex descended from her bedroom near the top of the East Tower. Her family was gathered in the central courtyard, along with the army. Alex resignedly went out to meet them and say farewell.

            But wait – it couldn’t be! Alex knew that curling brown hair. Why was Will here? He was only seventeen, too young to join the muster.

            “Will! What are you doing?” Alex couldn’t keep the hint of dread out of her voice. She knew he could hear it.

            “Jonathan left two weeks ago, but he fought last year, so the king knows we have someone to send. My mother sent me to take his place.” Will’s voice was frightened and nervous. He was so pale, he looked like a ghost. But his hand was steady when he grabbed her arm. Alex didn’t even realize she was turning until she felt it. “Please don’t! Your father won’t have a choice; he has to hunt down deserters. But if he doesn’t know that Jonathan-”

            “I’m not going to just sit here and let you die!” Alex tore her arm free, but she didn’t move.

            “Sparrow,” Uh-oh, Will using the nickname meant he was desperate. “Time to face the facts. I’m going to die anyways, so what difference does a year make? At least this way I can save someone I love.”

            “But what about me? And Maddie, have you even thought about her?”

            To Alex’s surprise, Will hugged her. His lips brushed her hair as he bent to whisper in her ear. “You’re all I ever think about. Lex, if things were different, then maybe… But they aren’t, and they never will be. And do you think it would be easier for Maddie to watch Jonathan executed as a traitor?”

            Alex learned something about herself at that moment. She had lied. She wasn’t out of tears. Standing there, surrounded by soldiers and squires and castle servants, Alex cried into Will’s shoulder. “I don’t want you to die Will. I don’t want to lose you too.”

            “I’m yours, forever. No matter what, I promise you this. I will come back for you, and then I’m never going to leave you again.”

            Will pulled away after that. He murmured something about checking on a horse, then hesitated. Alex saw the doubt in his eyes as his hand came up to brush a tear off her cheek. She had never been kissed, but she thought that was how it was supposed to start.

            And then Will was spinning off, ducking into the ambiguity of the crowded square. Alex turned away from the sight of him leaving and went to say goodbye to her father.

            He wore the same armor as always, Black plate male over red leather armor. His hair was cut short, unlike in the winter, making him look years younger. Glory waited by the gate, with little David holding his bridle. Lillian was clutching at the queen’s skirt, while Jenine stood to the side, ramrod straight and pale as a sheet. It was obvious she was trying not to cry.

            “Alexandra, listen to me. I need you to-”

            “I know, I know. ‘Take care of your sisters.’ You tell me every year, I don’t need a reminder.” Her anger made the words sharper than they needed to be. Suddenly Alex felt bad when she saw her mother’s wince, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.” But her father just laughed.

            “Hah, if you had said anything else, I might have been worried. But I know you can handle it, Alex.” He hugged her then. It was so unlike Will’s hug, which had been so gentle and sweet. This was like hugging a grizzly bear. On steroids.

            And then it was over. Time always seemed to move strangely for Alex. Sometimes, things would seem to stretch out hours, then be only minutes, or she would lose time. But, as always when they left, as soon as her father’s hug was over, Alex found herself up on the wall, watching the army ride onto the plains.

            Three months. Only three months, Alex reminded herself. Then they’ll be home, and safe. Oh God, please let him come home.

            But Alex wasn’t sure if she was praying for her father or for Will. She had a feeling that it didn’t matter. If God existed, he would have spared James. After all, James had loved to pray, and look at what that got him.

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