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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4. Alexandra Maria Ra'Ziel

            The slowest week of Alex’s life finally ended. There had been no news from the war, but that was probably a good thing. Often as not, any news they received was a death tally. A list of the names of all the young men who were never going to come home. Alex had made a similar list in her mind.

            James Ra’Ziel. Killed in battle. Marco Ra’Ziel. Bitten by a cobra. Stephen Ra’Ziel. Fell off his horse and died.  Julian Ra’Ziel. Ambushed. Anthony Ra’Ziel. Betrayed by his own men.

            There were others, but Alex didn’t even think of them. Her brothers were always at the top of the list, but now it was different. Alex could see it, as if the paper was already in front of her. William Brea, killed in battle.

            No, wait. Any news about Will is going to come under Jonathan’s name.

            Alex pushed the thoughts out of her mind and tried to focus on her sewing. Her mother was adamant that she learn the “feminine” arts, but everyone knew she was never going to be any good at them. She couldn’t sew to save her life.

            The warped, twisted roses looked like drops of blood. And suddenly Alex knew what she was going to do. She changed to green thread and started working. Within an hour, the lopsided, uneven stitches came together.

            Alex found herself sucking the blood from her thumb yet again, staring at an embroidered scene. It was the plains, green and growing. Blood rained down from the heavens, spattering onto the grass. She felt a moment of disgust at her own work, and Alex knew that her mother would not be pleased.

            She threw it into the bottom of the sewing basket, then stormed out of the room. Jenine didn’t even look up.

            The heavy trod of boots didn’t arouse any comment within the castle walls. Everyone knew that Alex did not wear dresses, so it was just normal to them. She wished it wasn’t. She wished someone cared enough to stop her. She wished her mother would find the embroidered scene. And she wished she could be there to see the queen’s face when it happened.

            “Alexandra! Alexandra Maria Ra’Ziel!” Speak of the devil… The queen’s voice was angry and tense, echoing from the Great Hall. Alex still wasn’t sure why it was called that. It wasn’t great at all, just a long room with big doors and ugly paintings. With a sigh she headed toward the room.

            After the bright summer sunlight, the comparative gloom of the Hall was almost black. Alex took a minute to adjust her eyes before going to face her mother. She had her excuses all worked out. It didn’t matter what her mother was angry about, Alex had a plan.

            What she didn’t plan on was that her mother wasn’t alone.

            The thin, stern-faced woman sat at the head of a long table. It must have been a nightmare to get it into the room. Nearer the center were three people, a thick man whose rolls of fat seemed to almost encompass the chair arms, an equally obese woman, and a boy who looked about eleven. He was just as repellant as the other two, who were presumably his parents. Alex had to admit that there was a striking resemblance.

            “My Lord, this is my daughter Alexandra. Alexandra, the Duke and Duchess an’Ami, and their son Edward.” Alex was about to respond when her mother shot her a dark look. She shut her mouth, confused.

            “Well, she is as beautiful as the stories say. I think she is quite perfect and, in fact, ready to fulfill the bargain made with King Ra’Ziel. Do you not agree?” Alex blushed at the compliment, but the rest made no sense. What bargain? What was she to do to fulfill it? Why hadn’t her father warned her about it?

            “Aahh, well, Duke, as to that, I thought there was the matter of an issue with your end…”

            “Taken care of. Edward will take Kyle’s place. I hope this is satisfactory?” Edward must be the boy. Yes, he was definitely about eleven, with a fat baby face and a pig nose. Blonde curls fell into watery blue eyes that matched his mother’s perfectly.

            Alex felt strange, watching her own mother discuss her with these strangers. Had she no say in her own life? “What bargain Mother?”

            All eyes turned on her. Then the queen was excusing herself and pulling Alex out of the Hall with her. She stopped in the corridor and spun on Alex.

            “How dare you! You come out, dressed like – like that! You could have ruined everything. We are lucky that the Duke is forgiving.”

            “Mother, what is going on? What’s this about?”

            “Your father should have been the one to tell you, but they arrived later than expected… Alexandra, there is something you need to know.” Alex waited impatiently, but her mother just turned away and leaned tiredly against the far wall. “After James died, we needed to consolidate power. We had to keep the kingdom united, but everyone was backing out. With the heir dead, and Marco’s reputation, no one wanted to be tied to us.

            “So your father and I made a political bargain with the an’Ami Duchy. They gave us their support, and in return we made them a promise. That promise was you.

            “You were to marry Kyle an’Ami. He was twenty this year, and when he returned from war you were to be wed. But, only three days ago, his parents received the news of his death.”

            “So I’m free then.” Alex couldn’t keep the relief out of her voice, but her mother just flushed.

            “No, Alexandra. No, now you are to wed Edward an’Ami instead.”

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