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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3. Tristan Torath IV

            “Tris! Where are we going?” Jasper’s voice shattered the silence. Not that it was silent. Fifty horses trotting across a rocky field can make a lot of noise.

            “What do you mean by that?”

            “Well, the whole reason we were out here ahead of the clan was to catch the gypsy caravan before they crossed the plain. But they burned in the fire, so what do we do now?” Now Tris was well and truly curious. It wasn’t often that anyone questioned his decisions, at least not in a long while.

            “Jasper, let me ask you something. Do I look like the kind of person who thinks ahead to you? I came to find my bride.” Jasper pulled his horse up alongside Tris. Brave man, the boy thought. I may just keep him alive. I need someone willing to question my judgment sometimes.

            “But Magdalena’s dead! You can’t marry her now.” Jasper’s brown eyes met Tris’ green ones.

            Never mind. Maybe it’s just not worth it. One little move, just a flick really, and I could have my dagger in his- No. No, Jasper is useful. I don’t want to kill him. I don’t want to kill him. I don’t… Tris repeated the litany in his head until his blood cooled. Then he spun Dragon to face his men.

            “Jasper says I can’t marry Magdalena because she’s been burned to death. You know, she said once that I made her heart burn. You would think she would be used to flames, especially with one growing out of her head.” A few of the boys laughed. They knew as well as Tris did that he had never seen Magdalena before. The color of her hair was the only thing he knew about her. “Well, I guess that didn’t help against a real fire.

            “So, if I can’t have Magdalena, what are we doing here? You,” and Tris pointed to a random rider. “What do you think we’re going to do now?”

            “Ummmhhhh-”

            “Wrong answer.” And Tris flung the dagger he kept up his sleeve. It stuck right through the idiot’s throat. Aaahhh. Finally. There was nothing like a good cold-blooded murder to fix a headache. “You. What do you think?”

            This one was smarter, if only marginally. “We could start the war early; kill a couple castle-folk.”

            “Better, but no. I don’t want to kill some random fat castle-knights. No, I’m going after the bastards who did the burning. No one burns my bride-to-be to death and gets away with it. And then, after I kill them, I’m going to find their families too, and let the city-dwellers have a taste of the fire.”

            There was a ragged cheer, but it was mostly just a few riders rejoicing that they had survived. Tris liked to keep his men on a short leash. It inspired loyalty, if not intuition. Maybe if he just killed off all the stupid ones… But wait, that would be all of them. Except Jasper. Jasper had promise. And guts.

            They rode for two days without seeing anything. Then an out-rider, Tris thought his name might be Sean, found the trail. Only a few hours cold, about a hundred horses, more men. Tris only had forty-two men left. He gave chase without a second thought.

            It took the rest of the day riding hard to catch them. Tris rode out ahead again, so he would be the first to see their adversary. Then his little band unleashed a hell that only the Torathian nomads could manage.

            He led fifteen horses in a single, mad charge from one side, Jasper led another fifteen from the other side, and they punched almost to the middle. The rest of the riders came in from the back, where the supplies were being pulled. The knights weren’t expecting a raid. They mistakenly believed that their trap had worked.

            Mistake number one: burning Tris’ bride.

            Mistake number two: actually thinking that Tris was dead.

            Mistake number three: letting your guard down on the plains. Even when everything went right, the plains could still make life into living hell. Tris was just helping it along a little.

            Tris made sure they all paid for their mistakes. And then, after a single insane moment of furious action, he was through the hastily erected line of defenders. The commanders were riding in wagons. Noble-borns. Good.

            Tris let the battle move him. It was like a dance, the clash of swords and scream of the wounded and dying like a song. Tris flowed through the dance like water through sand. He let his body react without his mind, let go of everything.

            Then, before him, arrayed in most of a suit of armor, was a real knight. He was clearly a noble, by the crest painted on his shield. The magnitude of the gold and jewels alone made his status clear. The man removed his helm, and Tris hesitated just an instant.

            The man was gorgeous. He reminded Tris of himself, before he was scarred. He was everything Tris should have been. Thin, with a straight nose, blonde curls, and deep blue eyes. The man was young too, not much older than Tris. His face was honest, so trustworthy, Tris felt trapped.

            Without even thinking, he reached up to his mask and pulled it off. Tris didn’t know why he did it, it just happened. Something about this knight made him want to fight without it. He wanted the knight to know who killed him.

            As soon as his face was bare, Tris knew he had made a mistake. The spell was broken when the knight reeled back, almost falling from his horse, his beautiful face a mask of horror and disgust. Tris took the second’s distraction, and plunged his sword right between those deep blue eyes.

            The sound of a curved blade grating through a skull was like soothing balm for Tris’ wounded pride. If the castle-dwellers didn’t like his face, why had they disfigured him in the first place? Why not just kill with a nice, clean stroke? At least Tris didn’t make them linger.

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