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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24. Tristan Torath IV

            “Tell the Ra’Ziel girl to wait outside, Four. We have business to discuss.” Anzel Torath’s voice sent a wave of rage through Tris. For an instant, he pictured his father’s death, but the image wasn’t as sweet as he’d hoped. Tris turned to Ali, who smiled ruefully, and obediently ducked back out of the tent.

            “What do you want? You’ve nothing left to threaten me with. You’ve taken it all already.” Tris refused to look at his father as he spoke, or at all, really. He instead focused on the flame of one of the candles.

            “The Ra’Ziel’s are here. Jepsen Ra’Ziel has come, in person, to bargain for his daughter’s release. You, treacherous bastard that you are, should have no problem playing the insolent youth. Do not fail me again.”

            Here already. Tris’ heart sank. He had hoped to have at least one night with Ali, one night together, before he died. For die he would, one way or the other.

            Tris nodded acquiescence in stony silence. He wouldn’t grace his father with a reply. Then he moved to the back of the tent and leaned against a desk.

            A moment later three men were shown into the tent. The leader, older by many years, was clearly King Jepsen, and Tris recognized one of the other two. Danny, Ali’s cousin. Danny seemed as stunned by Tris’ presence as Tris was of his. The last was young, with brown hair and brown eyes and a plain face.

            “King Jepsen, I presume?” Anzel’s voice was almost mocking in its adoration. “And, while I recognize one of your companions, the other is foreign to me. Perhaps you could introduce yourselves?”

            “This is William Brea, a friend of my daughter’s. As you well know, Anzel, we have come to free her. You know you cannot stand against my army, so return my daughter to me, and you shall be free to leave.”

            Anzel signaled a guard outside. Tris’ breath caught as Ali was brought in, a chain around her neck. She was dragged to Anzel, and the chain handed to him. Tris watched her eyes sweep the room. They stopped first on him, lingering like a silent caress, and then moved to the newcomers. And, with a choking gasp, Ali tried to cover herself with her hands.

            “How dare you! You filthy bastards, how dare you lay a hand on her!” That was young William, stepping forward angrily. Ali seemed to wilt further, tears running down her cheeks, as she tried to fold into herself.

            Tris couldn’t stop himself then. Stepping up behind her, he lightly grabbed Ali’s hand – the one trying futilely to cover her exposed chest – and pulled her hand back. “You’re beautiful, Ali. Why do you hide that from the world? Let them see you and know true perfection.” He spoke softly, his words only for her ears, and then released her hand. Ali seemed to relax, at least a little, and dropped her hands. She stood straight and looked William in the eyes.

            Tris sat on the ground, his back to the tent pole. Without a moment’s hesitation, Ali sat in his lap and snuggled her head into his shoulder. Tris looked down at her and raised an eyebrow, but her gaze was determined. He draped an arm over her shoulder, and with the other hand began tracing her ribs.

            “I would be glad to comply, but, as you can see, the girl is not mine to give. She belongs to my son.” And then all eyes turned to Tris. Jepsen’s gaze worried him the most. The man seemed to see through him, into his soul. What he saw there, Tris could only guess.

            “Boy, what do you want? What will it take to get my daughter back?” Jepsen’s eyes were pleading. His voice, however, was commanding.

            “She isn’t some piece of furniture, to be bought and sold. However,” Tris didn’t dare look at Ali now. “I might be convinced. For the right price.”

            “And what is that?”

            Now for the hard part. “Five years. Five years of peace. The war ends, or at least is postponed, for five years.” Anzel was obviously furious, Jepsen was thoughtful. Danny was still stunned, and Will looked so hopeful, it almost hurt. Tris closed his eyes to all of them, and looked at Ali. She was the one that mattered.

            Ali was looking up at him with utter amazement. It was the look of someone who had just had their wildest dreams come true before their eyes. Tris felt peace blooming inside him, when he saw that look. The madness receded a little farther back. This would be his legacy. He had ended the war, at least for a time. Of course, as soon as he died in a few weeks, it would resume, but still, he had to try.

            And yet, the King did not immediately accept the offer. “Remove your mask, boy.” The command was harsh. Tris couldn’t help it. He flinched. And Ali felt it.

            Immediately she was on her feet. “How dare you! He is offering you a chance, father, and all you want is pain. How can you even ask that?”

            But Tris saw the look in Jepsen’s eyes, and he knew he had no choice. He rose stiffly to his feet, ignoring Ali’s protests and anger, and slowly pulled the mask over his head. There was a collective gasp from all three castle-folk. Will looked horrified, disgusted. It was a look Tris was used to.

            But Jepsen, Jepsen’s gaze was so sad, so mournful, Tris knew instantly that the king knew the truth. A pang of fear went through him. Ali didn’t know, of course, how he had gotten the scar, but she was about to find out.

            “Alexandra, step away from that monster right now.”

            “No Father. The only monster I see right now is you.”

            “Daughter, you know nothing of the world. You think this boy loves you, don’t you. I can see it. You would give him anything. But he’s using you. Do you know how he got that scar? It was James’ first battle, and he didn’t know much about fighting. I put poison on his knife, so that he could at least kill something, could at least keep some honor. And the only one he managed to stab was a little boy. Slashed him across the face.

            “The poison, aside from being lethal, causes a madness that cannot be healed. I don’t know how he has survived these five years, but they must have been torturous. And, Alexandra, this boy is using you to punish James. Because killing your brother once wasn’t enough for him.”

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