A Tale of Revenge Ch. 07


"I don't believe you!" the woman cried. And she didn't, Anna could tell.

"I don't lie. He has brought you gifts he's taken from these women and enjoyed fucking you with their trinkets strung around your neck." She had seen it. The woman looked at her with angry eyes and still did not believe her. Anna raised her hands and placed them on the woman's cheeks, showing her image after image of her husband's crimes. She saw all the faces of the women he had taken. She saw the necklaces and shawls and other trophies he had brought home to her, ripped from their bodies. Anna didn't hold back, she gave her every last one of them, letting her see, in no uncertain terms, the truth behind her husband's loving ways. This woman would be fooled no longer. He wouldn't be able to lie and manipulate her anymore.

The woman's face lost her anger and instead she gaped in horror as she realized the depths of her husband's depravity. Anna dropped her hands and released the spell keeping the sounds of his voice from them.

"Darling look at me, don't listen to her. Leena! Don't listen to her! It's a trick, a spell. Leena, look at me!"

The woman collapsed on the floor and Dev released her body now that she had clearly given up the fight. The woman looked up at her husband, disgust and heartbreak in every line of her body.

"You gave me their clothing, their baubles. You had me wear them." Her voice was shaking. She gathered the front of her dress together, hiding herself from him and she turned away.

The man's face turned white and then flaming red. For a moment he was silent, as though the fury had stolen his ability to speak. He sputtered angry sounds and turned his furious eyes to Anna. "He'll take care of you, cunt!" he screamed. "He'll make you pay for what you did to me!"

"Too whom are you referring now, my good man?" Anna said, calm and cool in the face of his anger, driving him even higher.

"You don't mess with him. You'll get what's coming to you."

"And who, pray tell, is going to give it to me?" she said sweetly.

The man almost smiled at her as he opened his mouth to tell her before he stopped, as though surprised at his own actions and snapped his mouth closed.

"Tell me." She said dangerously.

He simply kept his mouth shut and refused to answer.

"Tell me." Anna shouted at him. Nothing.

She advanced on him, watching his stony glare shift to his wife kneeling on the floor. Anna leaned over so she could look directly into his eyes. "Tell me or you won't like what happens to her." It was an empty threat, but one she wasn't above making.

The man sneered at Anna, surprising her. "What do I care what happens to her? You ruined her for me. She's useless now."

Anna stared openly at the man. Cold fury trickled into her mind, clouding her senses. This man was beneath contempt. He was so quick to throw her aside, a woman he had every intention of protecting not moments ago. But he hadn't been protecting her from Anna, had he? No, only protecting himself by keeping the truth from her, so he could keep her under his thumb, convinced of his love. And now she knew, and couldn't be fooled. Was there no genuine affection for her at all? Apparently not. He was done with her as soon as she was no longer of use, as if she were nothing more than his favorite horse that had broken a leg. The deep hurt that Anna had been shoving away all day opened like a crack in her chest. The fury poured in, filling her body with an uncontrollable rage.

The man's eyes widened as he watched the change come over the girl in front of him. She grabbed his shoulders and threw herself on top of him. The ropes and the chair disappeared as his body met the floor with a thud. He brought his newly freed limbs up to fight her off but it didn't matter. Her blows were like hammers on his flesh. They struck with a speed that he couldn't hope to counter. He tried to shield his face with his hands but her fists simply broke his fingers against his own cheeks. And all the time her punishing hands struck him she screamed, the inhuman sound of her rage filling his ears.

Dev was in shock. Anna had thrown herself at the man and sat over his prone body, bringing her fists down on his body so fast they blurred in movement. It was only when he saw blood fly in long strings off from where the man's face had once been that he leapt forward. Anna was going to kill him and Dev couldn't let her do it.

He grabbed Anna around her waist and heaved with all his might, pulling her from the man's still form as her arms still swung towards him. The two of them landed with a crash on the floor and he quickly scrambled up, snatching her wrists and holding them up between them. The wild look in her eyes frightened him but he had to hold on.

"Anna!" he shouted, trying to get her to focus on him. "Anna stop! You are going to kill him." Anna pulled her wrists from his grip, still wild and intent on the man who hadn't moved. Dev put himself between her and the man. "Anna, stop, focus." He placed his hands on her shoulders, just barely restraining her from moving forward. She was so strong, he felt like she would push him aside at any moment and he would go flying across the room. "Anna!" He shouted, and still she continued forward, completely unfazed and unimpeded by his attempts. In a desperate moment Dev pulled his hand back and brought it down on her cheek.

Anna's head snapped to the side and she whipped back towards him, furious and focused on him. Dev felt a sudden grip of power around him, her rage pouring out as magic. It was hard to breathe as the air pressed in, but he held his ground. He hoped he hadn't overestimated her affection for him, because in this moment he wasn't sure whatever friendship they had was enough to keep her from killing him, as her power crackled around them. For a moment she seethed, denying his body air with her fury and then her eyes focused on his and the anger receded. He could see her reason return, and the grip of her magic faded. He breathed again.

Her jaw twitched as she drew in a breath. She looked at him apologetically. "Thank you." She said quietly. Dev nodded, his heart hammering in his chest, feeling a bit like he had dodged an arrow. They both turned towards the bloody mess of a man Anna had left on the floor. They could hear gurgling sounds from where his broken mouth was.

Anna stalked over the body and looked down into the shattered face. "You will not die of these wounds." As she spoke some nominal healing began, she drew a rune over his body to help the spell along. Nothing went back to where it was initially but she fixed enough to keep him from choking on his own blood. "You will never find comfort again. You will suffer every day for the rest of your long, long life. The ugliness of your soul will be obvious to anyone who sees you. All will forsake you. And you will wake every morning with hope that today, someone might take pity and end your miserable existence, and every day your hope will be dashed to pieces. You will suffer the same indignities you wrought on others and your nightmares will be your reality. I curse you for my sister June, and for all those before her."

She straightened, feeling decidedly wobbly. The woman, Leena, was still crumpled on the floor, sobbing quietly. Anna swallowed a lump of something that felt a lot like guilt and hastened out of the cabin and into the blinding sunlight.

Dev caught up with her at the horses. Her hands were shaking so much she couldn't seem to untether their leads. The skin over her knuckles was still red with the man's blood. Her hair hung forward and masked her face but Dev could hear her unsteady breath. He decided to gamble again and reached for her hands, pulling them from the knot and holding them between his own larger hands. She let herself be turned to face him as he brought their hands up to his chest.

"Anna, what happened?" His voice was kind and steady and she couldn't hear any fear though she was sure he was still afraid. She just shook her head, trying to fight back the tears that threatened her eyes. "Please talk to me. I can help. I want to help you." He was sincere. She knew it even without her magic. She didn't need her sight to tell her that he cared for her despite his questions about her and his fear of her magic. But she used it anyway. She needed to know, to be sure.

She looked up at his face, taking in his worried brow and his small reassuring smile. Her sight reached into their shared past, seeing it from his point of view. She saw his initial fear, his wariness at her revelations. She saw his affection for her grow over their weeks together, despite the fact that she sometimes appeared to be not altogether human. She felt his concern and shock at discovering the marks of her beatings. She saw his confusion and fear when she had seemed to turn into something else, something beyond control. And even having seen that, he still cared for her. Anna looked down. She felt like she violated his privacy but deep down she knew she couldn't take the uncertainty with Dev as she had to with Leonid. She couldn't take that kind of betrayal again.

For the first time since her family had been killed, Anna dropped her guard. A cry of pure anguish wrenched itself from her and she sank into Dev's shoulder, tears streaming unrestrained from her eyes. He dropped her wrist as she moved into him and wrapped his arms around her, holding her in a tight embrace as sobs wracked her body. It occurred to her that she had done this countless times in her dreams with Leonid but it had never felt this comforting. The dreams could never replace reality—with all the mess of his tear soaked shirt sticky against her face and his small stumble as she put more weight on him. For the first time, the touch of another felt truly comforting.

He held her for what seemed like a long time. Anna cried till she had nothing left. She cried for her family, for her friends, for herself and the things she had done. She finally let go. Dev overcame his initial surprise at her reaction. He had seen glimpses of the girl beneath the power but he had never suspected she was in so much pain. He felt at once relieved and guilty for not having realized it.

When Anna finally stilled and she pulled away, her eyes puffy and cheeks tear streaked. She couldn't quite meet his gaze. They were quiet for a moment.

"Feeling better?" Dev asked with a smile. "You look like you've been dragged behind a wagon this morning."

Anna nodded and looked at him, returning his smile with a small one of her own. It felt easier now than before. As if some weight had been lifted from her.

"You should see the other guy," she said softly.

Dev's eyes went wide and suddenly he was laughing, deep chest laughs. He wiped the tears from his eyes, and Anna grinned, glad to have been the source of a joke for once, macabre though it may be.

"We best be on our way," he said, the laugh still in his voice.

Anna nodded and turned back to the horses' reigns. They had a long way to go.


Sunset found her on a gentle slope above the capital. Anna stood in the deepening light, gazing out on the expansive city below her while Dev finished setting up their camp back in the cover of the woods. She could feel the soldiers there. But she also felt something else, something her sight was unable to help her see. She found herself pushing the magic as far as she felt she could with only the vaguest idea that the men were housed in the barracks near the castle. From the healer's book she surmised this meant a witch or sorcerer was in residence near them and had placed wards on the place, or at least nearby. Either way it would not deter her. The magic had already shown her these men's faces. All she had to do was get in and she could target those responsible.

The thought of responsibility troubled her somewhat. She still had no satisfactory answer for why these men were sent to her village in what appeared to be something more specific than your average raid and pillage. They had no sooner decimated her town than they turned back to the capital. She had tried reaching into their shared past, looking for motives, but the spell required a delicate hand and she did not possess one. She'd nearly burned down the campsite and the surrounding forest when she'd shoved her energy into it.

Anna sighed and rubbed her head. Expending her magic like that had not been wise, especially considering how close they were to their target. She would have to sleep well tonight; in fact sleep already pulled at her. The day had been draining in more ways than one.

She pushed the loose strands of hair from her face, annoyed at herself as her thoughts turned once more to the night before. She had half hoped that she had cried that particular episode out that morning. She kept turning the feeling over and over in her head, hoping to find some way to move past it. Instead, her thoughts lead her right back to where she had been last night. He had convinced her to trust him, making her even more vulnerable to him, and then he had let her be mauled and shoved her bleeding, naked body onto the ground as if she was no more than dust on his trousers.

Anna bit her bottom lip, holding back the angry tears that threatened her eyes. She would not cry for him. She would not acknowledge the truth of the deep hurt inside her; she could not face her foolishness at letting herself feel anything so favorable as to warrant the sorrow now. Shaking her head at her own folly, she turned to head back to her bedroll, praying no dreams would interrupt her tonight. She made her way back toward the tree line.

A flash of color caught her eye as she passed an imposing tree and she turned her head quickly towards the unexpected presence. Leonid stood there leaning against the tree and smiling as if nothing had ever happened. Anna caught her breath and bowed her head to keep from making eye contact. She wasn't ready to face him. Her heart beat hard in her chest and her entire body tensed and prickled as he approached. She desperately hoped he wasn't inside her head now. She was not willing to admit how much he had hurt her because she couldn't bear how much he had mattered to her in the first place.

Leonid pushed off the tree and came to stand before her. She fixed her eyes on his chest, looking intently at the woven cloth of his shirt in all its unearthly beauty. As was his way, he didn't start speaking immediately, as if giving the silence its due, but this time Anna was not willing to wait for him to break it.

"Is there something you needed from me?" She said, trying to keep her voice neutral and failing miserably. How did she manage to sound angry, sad and nervous all at once?

"Eye contact would be nice." His voice was teasing and open as it had grown over their time together. Anna couldn't do it. She didn't trust herself. Instead she raised her gaze and settled it somewhere beyond his ear. Given their closeness she could still see his face close off, taking on his impassive godly self.

"Anything else?" she said, dropping her eyes again. It would be easier if he closed off to her as well. It reminded her that he was not her lover or caretaker but her godly owner and nothing more.

"Yes, I'm here to tell you to turn back now. I think it's time for this mission of yours to end." His voice was dull and cavernous again.

Anna's eyes flew to his in earnest this time. "What?" she managed to gasp through her fury.

"It's time for this to end. Travel to the capital is ill advised." His tone brokered no argument.

If Anna had been less angry she would have schooled herself to remember that he owned her and she should likely act accordingly. But as it was she barely managed to keep from shouting at him. "Why? This is my mission; this was our deal. I am not going to turn around when I am this close."

"It is a great deal too complex for me to explain. Suffice it to say that my advice to you is to turn back."

"Advice or order?" she snapped back.

"Advice, for now." His tone held a warning.

"Well at least attempt to explain it. Don't just expect me to trust you." She almost choked on the word.

"I am not putting up with a tantrum, Anna," Leonid said.

"I made a deal with you that I could seek justice for my family. I have not transgressed on my side of the deal for weeks and I have done my best to carry this out as you laid it before me. I will not just turn back because you gave me some cryptic counsel to simply give up."

"This is Imonesh's realm and she guards it jealously. If she learns you are tied to me it will make last night seem like a friendly handshake compared to what she could do to you. Try to listen this time." His voice was a bit louder now, and angry. But Anna was too far-gone for sense.

"So we are to capitulate to your handsy friend? Am I to turn tail and run every time we come across a god you're afraid of?"

Suddenly Anna found herself pressed against the great tree that only a moment before had been several paces away. Her hands were clasped over her head in Leonid's impossibly strong grip while his other hand held her hip tightly against the bark. His hard body pressed her into the tree and his furious face was terribly close.

She felt tears spark in her over-wide eyes. She looked into his chest again, breathing hard in fear. She had been so wrapped up in feeling betrayed she had forgotten what it truly meant that he didn't care for her—he could do anything he wanted to her for eternity. She tried to slow her thudding heart. She was such an idiot, feeling heartbroken when she should have been terrified. He owned her death, her body, her soul. How had she managed to confuse his ownership of her with any kind of regard?

"I don't have to abide by the deal if you have already broken it." Leonid spoke through her turbulent thoughts. "I could take you now for any of the deaths that came before and never have to answer for any of it. If anything I have been too lenient with you." His hand traveled up her side possessively. She whimpered as his hand skimmed the side of her breast and kept upwards, grasping her neck and tilting her head back so that she had no choice but to look up at him in all his fury. "You are mine. And I am tired of you treating my words as a passing thought. You should heed me more carefully." His voice was cold with anger. She had never heard him like this before.

Anna was having trouble thinking with him so close. Never had he held her like this, restrained her with his own body. It was so intimate and petrifying. She could feel his flesh move against hers, she felt her heart hammering off of his chest. He lowered his face until their lips were no more than a hair's breadth from each other. "Or have you forgotten that this body is mine?"

He kissed her neck then; his lips, tongue and teeth teasing and threatening to Anna's panicked mind. She let out a soft groan as he bit down right where her shoulder met her neck. "I don't think you have," he said, kissing the spot that still stung from his teeth. His hand fell from her hip and rudely grasped between her legs. "I don't need a bargain to tell me that." He was right of course; despite her fear, Anna was dripping wet. The press of his body and his overpowering presence seemed to set her off despite her mind denying it.

Yesterday she wanted to be his, she wanted him to have her. Today felt like a violation all over again. She sobbed as his hand worked its way into her breeches, his fingers finding her wet slit and immediately manipulating her sensitive flesh. "Please," she managed to whisper.

"What do you want, Anna? Tell me." Leonid's voice sounded tight, though no longer with anger.

"Stop," she said more forcefully. "Please, stop."

"Why should I stop?" His fingers slipped into her slick heat, drawing a groan from deep within her. It felt so good.

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