I am

"She was made out of pure spirit and life. A star on earth. Yet a hurricane in space. Cassiopeia Turow was different."
When Cassiopeia leaves her small island of Sars for the continent Irille she's in for more than she bargained for. Between seeking out adventure and making a tenuous friendship with the King, she has a drug that grants superpowers and the elusive Sect organisation to deal with.


31. "Yet she still breathed."



“She was out of her depth, underwater instead of on land.”

“Yet she still breathed.”

One Month ago.

The Palace


The body of Leon Brickell had been taken away. Marianne Brickell had been arrested and was in the Palace’s secured rooms, with five guards posted in the room, on the door and in the corridor.

It took the five guards to pry her out of Cassiopeia’s arms to start with and even then she let out wails so loud that the Lord’s had to cover their ears.

The two brothers and Cassiopeia were in the throne room with Cassiopeia standing looking out of place, Lucian pacing angrily and Hadrian looking tense in his throne. Nox had wanted to come into the room but Cassiopeia had whispered to him about the pages and had given them to him to copy. With the palace in minor chaos it would be easier to sneak into Lucian’s room take the pages and copy them from the nearby printing press.

Lucian stopped for a moment and turned to stare at Cassiopeia, “What is she doing here again brother?”

Cassiopeia wanted to say that she wasn’t a ‘she’ but she knew that wasn’t what the situation called for right now.

“Marianne clearly feels attached to her in some way, probably because she’s the only woman in the palace. We both know that you being in the same room with her would do nothing,” Hadrian muttered raising his head from his hands. Then he turned to Cassiopeia, “Lucian used to like Marianne Brickell, it caused quite a scandal back in the day for our family.”

In the background Lucian threw his hands up, “Do you have to tell my business to common folk?”

“No, I tell my business to my friends Lucian.” Hadrian retorted subtly reminding his brother that since he was King he could do anything he wanted to.

Lucian quietened and continued to pace the length of the room. “I don’t understand why she would do it, she’s not the type of person to…” he was mumbled as he paced.

“It looked like it was accidental, she was most likely shoving him and he cracked his head on the fireplace.” Hadrian uttered stepping down the steps to be closer to his brother. “I know that you loved the girl Luc, but I don’t know how we are going to get her out of this one, no lawyer would want to represent the murderer of a Lord, especially one like Brickell, and she’s a woman…”

“How does that matter?” Cassiopeia said with anger, being a woman should not impact on whether a lawyer represents you or not.

“Women are expected to stick to the house and family, to their jobs as well if they have one. It’s considered a treachery if you kill your spouse but it’s especially so when you kill your husband, you’re taking a well-earned member of Irille out of the equation. Matricide of a government official, like a Lord, is damning as well.” Hadrian sighed.

“So you’re saying that if no one represents her, she’ll be charged to the full account of murder?” Cassiopeia replied, stepping closer to the pair of brothers. Lucian stiffened in response.

“Usually it’s to the death by water, which isn’t really pleasant when you think about it,” Hadrian replied rubbing the back of his neck. Cassiopeia’s eyes widened. Lucian stopped pacing. Drowning wasn't at all pleasant. 

“We have to help her out,” he muttered, “I may not love her anymore but we have to,” he was almost pleading with his brother. Hadrian sighed.


“Tell me the laws, the sentences, tell me everything and I’ll see if I can represent her,” Cassiopeia uttered and the two boys look at her.

“You’re a girl, not a lawyer,” Lucian gasped.

“Well I’m the only one willing so…” she trailed off and glared at the prince. She was trying to help and this is what she got for it.

Hadrian looked at her like she had a second head then proceeded to spend the next couple of hours taking her through Irille’s disjointed law system.

Cassiopeia had to be frank, she was terrified. Here she was, offering to be the lawyer of a woman she had never met. Marianne’s life and her entire future lay in her hands and she had no idea what she needed to do. She had informed Lisa and Bruce on what she was doing and they had hugged her out the front of the palace to show their support. She didn’t need to do this but she felt like she had to. If she wouldn’t no one else would.

She was currently being escorted to the interview room where Marianne was being held and she had to repress her need to shudder. She didn’t want to do this. This was too much, too much pressure to be under.

With each step she got closer and the weight on her body got heavier as she approached. It was daunting, horrible, unnerving. She had to do this.

What was it that Tommen had said to her once? Even when you are pushed from a mountain, you need to fly like a bird. Grow your own wings and fly the fuck out of there. She had never heard Tommen swear before but this was the time when he was telling her how he ended up on the ship and so the swearing was justified.

She had to heed his words, she had to grow her wings.

Marianne was terrified. She hated what she had done, she hated what he had made her do and she hated the headache pounding away as her skull. Withdrawal. That was what it was. But she might not be able to have another fix, not ever. Living was more important than a drug.

The room was every shade of grey, from washed out concrete to almost steel-blue. Every line was straight, every corner sharp, and the chairs were as comfortable as a train station bench. Every bit of the room was designed to make her feel uncomfortable. It had worked as well. Marianne tried to wipe her palms on her dress to keep them dry. That wasn’t working. The table she sat at was bare, and the Guard’s stares burned into her back. She refused to look up, her eyes were fixed on the grainy pattern of the table.

She hadn’t meant to kill her husband. That had never been the plan. The plan was to divorce him, not kill him. What had she done? Why had she done that? She had gotten so angry, it seemed like she couldn’t remember what had happened and the one who had killed Leon was a stranger, not Marianne.

A woman entered then, the same woman who Marianne had saw in that room. She looked turbulent, her dark skin different and daunting. The blue dress she wore contrasted with the white floral one Marianne herself was wearing, who was this woman?

“Hello Marianne, my name is Cassiopeia and I will be the one standing by you in your trial, I’m not a lawyer exactly but I’m willing to hear your side of the story.”

At first the words refused to bubble up her throat, she had done all that shouting to Leon just a couple of hours before and now she couldn’t speak a word.

“Marianne, I’m not going to judge you,” Cassiopeia whispered as she neared her, leaning close to Marianne’s ear, “I know that what you did was unintentional, I understand and I am willing to do anything I can to get you through this. Through hell or high tide,” that phrase was one coined from Avery himself who could be heard often singing the jig when storms got rough.

“Through hell or high tide?” Marianne questioned and looked up which prompted a smile from Cassiopeia.

“I knew I could get you to speak eventually,” Cassiopeia said with no malice lacing her words. “Now let’s get to work, what was your relationship with your husband like?”

There were many instances with Leon that now she thought about them, her brain told her that they were unjust.

"You act as if I've never seen you naked before." Leon muttered with mocking amusement, referring to one of their first meetings, a chance encounter where Leon had surprised her coming out her bathroom. This was their first night as a married couple and their engagement had been short but satisfying. Leon always tried to make their meetings fun and joyful. She simply turned her gaze to him, trying to cover herself with the sheets, “Because you haven’t,” because in that surprised moment it hadn’t been real or proper.

“That doesn’t make a difference, I’ve still seen all of this,” he gestured to all of her and that smirk on his face was playful and smug.

That’s where it started, the fascination with her body instead of her soul.

“You love me don’t you?” Leon asked as he held the camera ready to take a photo of her body barely swaddled by sheets and nothing else. Marianne smiled, a grin at one corner of her mouth.

“Of course, that’s why I married you.” Of course the money to her father probably had an effect of her decision but she could have broken the engagement off, it would have been a dishonour on her family, an ill-advised decision but she could have done it.

“Is it alright if I take a photo of you to capture how beautiful you are?” His grin was amazing, his dimples making him adorable.

She was uneasy, he could show anyone that photo and it would be so easy, “You won’t show anyone?” she asked.

“People should see how magnificent you are but if you don’t want me to than no I won’t,” and that was all she needed and the camera made the shutter sound and the deal was sealed.

“What would you do for me?” Leon asked placing the camera back onto the bedside table.

“Anything,” Marianne said and she knew that that was the right answer to say.

“Would you die for me?” Leon enquired as he leaned back on the bed, covering himself with the sheet, “This is just a random question by the way,” he chuckled as he saw the shift in her expression.

Marianne was hesitant to answer it and it showed on her face. She was always one to wear her heart on her sleeve.

“If you love me you would, keep me safe because that’s what you want, you will live on in my memory and I would be grateful for your sacrifice. Obviously your death would be avoided at all costs if it could but you would do anything for me so if you loved me you would.”

“Then I would,” Marianne replied and drew him into a kiss just to shut him up.

That’s where it all started, using the excuse of loving him to get her to do whatever he wanted her to do, cook him lunch even when he could, allow his friends and family over even if it interrupted their plans or celebrations. It even meant not celebrating an anniversary because if she loved him she wouldn’t do what he hated and he hated parties.

She told Cassiopeia this and the Guards who stood witness, and she barely noticed the tears rolling down her cheeks once more.

Cassiopeia felt sorry for her as she listened to the story of Leon turning to drink and staying out later and later, of cheating on Marianne just a night before, of abandoning her when she needed the comfort, reducing the affection they shared.

This was an abused woman and now it was Cassiopeia’s job to get the judge to see that.

Cassiopeia was sitting on the palace steps in the surprisingly refreshing night air. It was cold but not too cold, just enough for you to place your hands in your pockets, but not enough to shake. Even so she was shaking. She felt exhausted, she’d been at the palace all day and she had no reprieve to ease her mind. She wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyway, the sheets would have been in a knot if she had. Cassiopeia was sure that Hadrian and Lucian would be doing the same and the judge who had kindly agreed to a night time trial. The trial was only a couple of hours away, commencing at midnight and Cassiopeia couldn’t wait for it to be over. Her brain was offline, like a phone out of range, there was no signal no nothing. Her hands were clammy despite the cold and she just wanted to go home.

How did a regular lawyer deal with this?

Hadrian came to sit next to her, his brother moving past them to pace at the bottom. Lucian was always pacing and being stressed. He was always tense and Cassiopeia didn’t know how he lived like that. “You alright?” Hadrian asked her, stuffing his hands in his own pockets. He had a coat on, one which had the royal insignia on the back and complemented his grey suit nicely.

“No, but I will be, once this is all over with.”

That was the tone for the rest of the hours. Lucian just wanted Marianne to be alright, to be able to hug her one more time and drink her in, he didn’t want her to die even though she had done a horrendous, unforgivable act.

He just wanted his world to keep spinning and not grind to a halt. If his first love died he didn’t know what to do.

All three of their stomachs shifted uneasily and they struggled to tie all their pieces together. Marianne’s life had a time limit and Cassiopeia was the only one who could possibly expand it.

The trial was held in the same room Marianne had been kept in. The judge was an aging man with weathered skin and a growing beard just past stubble. Cassiopeia sweated and hoped that her nervousness didn’t show. She had to do this.

She couldn’t be terrified. Not now.

Marianne was terrified enough for the both of them.

Banishment. That was the sentence Marianne got.

Not death. This was better than death.

Marianne was a statue, frozen in disbelief. Cassiopeia was relieved, she had done her best and luck must have been on her side that night. She had flown like a bird and she had not fallen down. The judge had shown sympathy although rather reluctantly but Cassiopeia had not backed down, she had emphasised the abuse, the accidental nature of the death, the photos that had been gathered from the Brickell home with Leon’s goading about Marianne’s nakedness. Leon had only died from a broken neck off of the fireplace, if the fireplace hadn’t been there he would not have died.

Marianne had to leave that night but she would live.

Marianne was like a window being opened after a long hot day, the air rushing in and instantly cooling the room. She was relieved, unbelievably so. She had lived. She had been fortunate.

Marianne hugged Cassiopeia before she was allowed to leave and the girl had hugged back. This was the woman who had sealed her fate and allowed her to live. She owed the girl a sky full of stars.

Lucian had to escort her home and give her an hour to pack up some of her belongings. She would then be escorted to the border and if she returned she would be executed without trial. The pair said nothing as Marianne collected some clothes and belongings, picking a flower from the garden and pressing it in her journal. This was it, her whole live squashed into a suitcase and this was all she would have as she started a new life in a new place. She didn’t know where to go, she could go anywhere but Irille and Irille was the only place she had wanted to stay.

“What will you say to my family?” Marianne questioned.

“They’ll be informed of what you have done, assured that it was all accidental and they will be able to see you in the next country over tomorrow if they want, all travel expenses paid for. They deserve to see you if they please.” Lucian was extremely stiff as he said this, like a robot who had only been permitted to say those words.

“Lucian say something please,” Marianne whispered and looked around her home. This home would be sold, probably to the botanist and Lord Nathaniel Xavier since he was of the same blood. At least the plants would be looked after.

But Lucian said nothing.

They got into the car and they were driven to the border of Irille. It was dark and Marianne wanted to sleep but she knew that she couldn’t. Irille was a huge country, reminiscent of old world Russia geographically. The capital, where they lived, dominated the country, and was called Queens as a dedication to the first ruler of Irille.

What an irony it was that the first ruler was female but females were now the second class.

It was only when the pair arrived at the border to Irene that Lucian opened his mouth.

“Before Leon staked his claim on you, I was already writing the vows for our wedding,” he chuckled bitterly, “I crafted them in defiance of my father, I crafted them over and over again until I got it right. Then I got the news that you were to be engaged to Brickell by morning and it was all over. I don’t know why I kept them but I did. Maybe my heart was never ready to let go of you,” he sighed and handed over a folded piece of paper.

She could tell that it had spent a great amount of time being refolded and pushed into pockets.

I love you like you're the last of my kind. It is as if you speak the same language as I, yet no other is able. To be around you is like finally not being alone - as if all my life I've been isolated, in a windowless room, in a doorless room... and then suddenly you walk in as if strolling over a summer meadow. How is it possible that you are so much more than sunshine? How is it you breathe life when no other can? Why is it you are my medicine? Who could love me more than you? So, my love, know this - while I breathe I am yours in mind, body and soul.

Tears sprung into her eyes rapidly. She had done a great amount of crying that day.

Marianne didn’t know what to say.

Lucian didn’t either. His heart was on that page. His love and hope was standing in front of him.

The pair kissed and hugged and cried together. They pressed their disappointment and their lost chances and their sadness into each other’s lips and time slowed for them.

Fate allowed them their time to grieve because they were grieving the loss of their bond, their love. The love that had never been allowed to fly.

When the time came for Marianne to cross the border, their eyes fixed on each other until morning came and Lucian was forced to retreat.

They both had work to do.

But now they were planets which could never be in the same orbit as one another.

Now they had to orbit alone in an endlessly struggling universe.

What a lonely night it had been but the sun promised a new day, a fresher day, a renewal. At least that was something. 


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