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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18. Tristan Torath IV

            Tris tried to relax, but the pain was intense. It felt like his insides were being slowly burned, then the next moment frozen. After Lexie left, it only got worse. By the time Jasper arrived, cursing loudly, Tris didn’t have the strength to fight it anymore. He lay on the ground, his entire body throbbing, waiting to die.

            “Oh shit! Tris, you damned fucking idiot-” Tris’ vision blurred, his hearing faded, and he drifted in the darkness with nothing but the pain.

            A shriek burst the peace. Female, young, pain. Tris analyzed the scream detachedly from his place in oblivion. Something in it seemed familiar. Oh well, it wasn’t like Tris could do anything about it. He was dead. And alone. Unloved.

            A hand was shaking him. It was strange, to have someone shake you when you didn’t have a body. Irritating. Tris knew that everyone hated him, but at least they could leave him alone now that he was dead. “Tristan Torath, you ugly bastard, get up.” Oh, that was rich, coming from Jasper. If I’m a bastard, what does that make him? At least father acknowledged me.

            Light intruded into the dark place. Tris felt the blinding pain as it hit his unprotected soul. Or maybe that was just his eyes, used to the darkness? Tris didn’t know anymore.

            And then something hit him. It was cold as ice, and very wet. Tris sat up. “Come down to hell and talk to me there, you son of a bitch.” Jasper was unusually pale, even for a pale person.

            “Tris, be serious for one minute please.” And Tris was, surprisingly. He looked around curiously. They were in a tent, larger than most. The material under him was cloth, not dirt or grass. Anzel’s tent. And yes, there he was, the chief himself, watching with a bemused smirk.

            “Tristan, you have failed me. They are less than two days out, marching hard. With the women and children, we can’t outrun them. We are all going to die, but first you have a choice to make.” Anzel smiled down at his son, a cruel smile that sent ice into Tris’ heart. And the tent flaps opened.

            Ali’s eyes found Tris immediately. They were wide with fright, the irises shifting from brown to green with every glance. A line of dark red trickled down her throat from the dagger pressed to it. Holding the blade – a blade Tris was intimately familiar with – was Rhigbar. The man’s massive girth made Ali look tiny. A child.

            “No.” It was one word, but it was all Tris could force past his dry throat.

            “Make your choice, either the Ra’Ziel girl or the devil-boy.” Any hope Tris had vanished when he saw Jasper more clearly. He was pale, true, but not from fear. Even with a sword cutting into his neck, Jasper was unafraid. He was pale from blood-loss, the dark red stains on his clothing and the ground attesting to his suffering.

            So he knows, then. Anzel must know, or he wouldn’t have bled Jasper that much. A blood mage, with so much of his own blood gone, Jasper was useless. If he survived, his abilities would be permanently damaged, and it would take him weeks to recover.

            “I don’t understand, Father.” Tris used the word almost as a shield. Anzel would never annihilate his whole line, would he? “What about them? You cannot touch her, not unless I permit it, so what is this?”

            “No, you are right, I cannot harm your precious Ra’Ziel. But, if you were to allow it, no law would be broken. So, which will it be? Either, you can save the girl, and I kill the demon-spawn, or you grant me the right to harm her, and the boy lives. I think, maybe not so long as he would have, but he will live. So make your choice.”

            Tris stood then, and looked around the room hopelessly. Nothing here could help him, nothing gave him an answer. The pain was a fading memory now, but he wished for it, wished her anything to stop this. Even madness would be a blessing. A mercy.

            “Choose, boy.” Rhigbar’s deep voice cut through the desperation.

            “What is your stake in this? What do you get from it?”

            Rhigbar smiled. “I get whichever one you choose to kill, before they die.” So simple, so easily said. Tris felt sick. So many times, he had made his victims choose which child to kill. So many times, he made them suffer, made fathers or brothers rape young girls, so many times he let them hold their children as they died. And never had he felt anything. But now, Tris thought, here he was, on the other end. The irony was astounding.

            Ali didn’t understand. She was still looking at Tris, her gaze anchoring him to his sanity, trapping him in it. But Jasper did. Tris could see his friend weighing the decision. “Tris, don’t do it. Choose me, not her.” Tris looked at Jasper in shock. Then a choking sob burst from his throat. Gods, am I crying? It had been years since Tris cried.

            Anzel shoved the blade deeper into Jasper’s throat, and the boy whimpered slightly as more blood fountained from the cut. He might have tried to cry out, but all that came was an almost silent moan. It was all that he could manage with a cut windpipe. By the amount of blood, Anzel had clipped a vain as well. Tris fell to his knees dully. He bowed his head and turned away.

            Ali fell against him. A hand – his father’s hand, Tris was sure, wet and sticky with Jasper’s life-blood – knotted into Tris’ hair as Jasper was thrown to the ground across from them. No, no, please. Don’t make me watch this. Tris would have been happy if, in that instant, he had gone blind. Or died.

            Jasper’s eyes locked onto his across the narrow gap, shining blood-red for a single instant in the dim light. A small smile played across his lips, a smile that said “I want this. I want you to be happy again.” No hatred, no desperation, no accusation was in Jasper’s eyes. But there was pain, and fear, buried deep, and sorrow. And, beneath it all, determination.

            “I’m sorry, Brother.” Tris whispered, sure that Jasper could hear him even so. And, as Rhigbar knelt down over Jasper, ready to take his pleasures from the dying boy’s pain and humiliation, the flames took them both. Tris watched, with Ali clinging to him and screaming, as his only surviving half-brother burned himself to death.

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