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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17. Alexandra Maria Ra'Ziel

            Tris was gone until late into the night. Alex wrote in her journal more for something to do than for any desire to actually record anything. When she looked down, the page was covered in meaningless symbols. Alex put the paper aside and leaned back against the chest.

            “Exie… Le…Lexie, wake up.” Alex blinked tiredly up at Tris. As always, he was half-smiling, his eyes shining green, his hair messy. She sat up and let the blanket fall. Blanket? It was then that she realized what felt so strange. For the first time in days, she had slept on a bed. Tris’ bed.

            “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to fall asleep here, I thought…” Alex trailed off, unsure whether or not she was still sleeping. She was sure she had fallen asleep on the ground.

            Tris evidently sensed her confusion. “You were asleep when I got back last night. I thought this might be more comfortable.” Wait. If I spent the night in his bed… But Alex didn’t feel any different. If he had raped her, she would surely have felt something. “Now come on, I want to show you something.” Tris seemed strangely excited. It scared Alex.

            Alex let Tris lead her away. Show me something? What does he want me to see? Alex pondered what it could be as they walked out toward the edge of the camp. Tris held her wrist firmly but gently, his fingers completely encircling her hand.

            “Alright, now wait here a sec.” Tris was gone only a minute before reappearing, riding the black horse he had taken Alex back to the nomad camp on. He was leading another horse, a white mare, by a lead. She’s beautiful.

            “And she’s yours. I thought – I thought you might like her.” Alex realized she must have spoken aloud. Tris was smiling down at her obvious shock. “Her name is Nikarae.”

            Alex walked shyly over to the horse. Nikarae nuzzled her hand gently. Tris dismounted and helped her up onto the mare’s back. The strange clothes Alex was wearing were good for riding. Pants, unlike skirts, allowed her the freedom of movement necessary to straddle the horse.

            Alex spurred Nikarae forward as soon as Tris released the bridle. The white mare shot out like an arrow, immediately in a gallop. Alex didn’t have to look back to know that Tris was coming up behind her, riding just as fast. She laughed into the wind. Alex had never felt so free.

            Then she looked sideways and saw Tris, riding his black steed, head bent, mask still covering his face. He smiled at her, and then he was gone. Tris rode faster than she could believe possible. His horse barely seemed to move; one minute he was beside her, the next he was pulling ahead. Nikarae instinctively surged up again, racing the black.

            They rode for miles, until the horses began to tire. Alex was proud of Nikarae. She had given a good account of herself. They pulled up at a small lake. With the sun directly overhead, glinting off the water, it was beautiful. Trees and flowers crowded the shore, rare amongst the dry grass of the plains. Alex dismounted and stared in wonder. This place was paradise.

            “I always come here, whenever the clan passes it.” Tris took Alex’s hand and led her slowly toward a strange lump in the grass. “This is where I was born. I haven’t brought anyone here since…” He trailed off. Alex didn’t want to look at Tris, so she studied the lump again. It wasn’t natural, she saw. It was the burnt-out rubble of a small cottage.

            “What happened here Tris?”

            “The war.” They walked silently through the burned shell of a home. Finally, Tris led her down in the opposite direction, to a small clearing. He motioned for Alex to sit on a stone, which she did, but then sat himself on the ground at her feet. When she met his eyes, they were haunted. Alex wished more than anything that she could comfort him. Could tell him it was alright. But they both knew that would be a lie.

            “I hate the war. Why can’t it just end! How many must die to see it end? Gods, it’s been over ninety years, so who cares anymore!”

            “Ninety years of wrongs. Ninety years of pain, Ali. Every year that goes by just makes the hate deeper. Every year, more people have reasons to hate the other side. Trust me, I know.” Tris’ gaze was introverted. He was talking to himself, not her, even though he said her name. This is the first time he has called me anything but Lexie or some variation thereof. Alex didn’t know why, but she was oddly touched by the fact. “I used to think like you do. I used to be young. But everything changes, and even when it doesn’t, you do.  There is only one way this war is going to end.”

            “Everyone has choices Tris. You chose to save my cousin. You chose to save me. Maybe, someday, someone will choose to end this. Maybe someday someone will right the wrongs.” Alex knew then that it had to be her. Here Tris was, showing her something he hadn’t shown anyone in so long, giving her a piece of himself. And she knew that the only way to repay him was to end the slaughter.

            “Maybe we do. And maybe we don’t.” Tris’ gaze met Alex’s again, and she shivered inside. That thing, that darkness, it was still there, hiding behind the pain. “We’re all bound in this world, bound with chains of our own making. Love, duty, honor, friendship, fear. Anything can be that chain, so long as you let it have a hold.”

            Suddenly Alex was angry. “Well, if you don’t believe in friendship or loyalty, then why? Why save Danny? Why not just kill me and be done with it? Why give me Nikarae? What is the point of any of it?”

            Tris’ reply was quiet, gentle. “Ali, you don’t know me. I’ve seen things, done things you can’t even imagine. I have made everyone who does know me fear and hate me, and I deserve it.” Tris’ eyes closed, and Alex felt a wave of pity for the boy in the mask. He was trembling, his hands shaking as they reached up to push blonde hair from his face. “I guess, that even after all that, I just don’t want to die alone.”

            After that they sat silently. After what felt like an hour, Tris jumped to his feet with a curse. “Not now, Nylia! No, please.” Tris was quivering now, all the muscles spasming painfully. “We have to go. Now, Ali.” They mounted quickly, and Tris’ horse, sensing something wrong, galloped back to camp as if the devil himself pursued them.

            Finally they drew up, and Tris fell from his horse into a heap. Alex dismounted hurriedly, but didn’t know how to help him. She hovered for a minute, then Tris’ thrashing relaxed slightly and he yelled for her to find Jasper. Alex ran to obey him.

            She finally found Jasper, sitting in the shade beside his tent, brushing a rather irritated looking tabby. “Jasper, hurry, there’s something wrong with Tris!” At her words, Jasper went immediately pale, then practically threw Konni. He ducked into the tent silently, and seconds later emerged with a small bundle. Without a word, he sprinted toward Tris.

            Alex moved to follow. She was passing a small clearing when the hand grabbed her.

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