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Chapter 1

It truly is a miracle if you believe in such things. The body and how it works, even when you understand it, is just as baffling as when you started off. Even when the science of its inner workings, the function of each organ, artery and muscle is fully understood it is still such an amazing idea that it even works that calling it anything less than a miracle is sacrilege. It begins with the heart, pumping blood, the life essence of the body through the various roads and rivers that are the arteries and veins. Giving life to the various organs, the lungs which take in the precious air, the stomach that breaks down the food and quells our hunger, the liver which filters the poisons of the world out of your blood. Everything working together to make the human, mer or beast tick. Of course, without one crucial piece of the puzzle it will all come crumbling down. Without the brain, the big man in charge, the boss, the thing that tells all else what to do, our bodies would not function and we would not live. Strange then that such a magnificent creation of nature and the gods is so fragile and prone to breaking. Every part of it is brittle and flimsy and weak and frail, why? The flesh is easily cut, the bones are easily broken, the mind so easily crippled and rent. Why?

I don’t care for the answer or for the bodies, something the poor sod on the ground clenching his throat, gargling and drowning is now realising. He tried to bribe me, they all do, whatever I want, but I want nothing, I do this because I have never known anything else and...I’m good at it. Killing makes me feel powerful which, for me, is rare. To feel; what an odd concept. To me at least, it seems to come so naturally to everyone else…

*12 Years Earlier*

It was early, the sun had not peaked over the horizon and morning birds did not yet sing their songs. The moon still had life and gave it to the slowly waking land below, it’s silver light illuminating but only slightly, a pale light. The wind blew lightly, rustling the trees but carried a chill brought from the mountains, a steely chill, right to your very bones. The city of Jehanna was dark, besides the pale light, with only a few torches standing out in houses over the canvas which was this view. Up the hill however, the light blared from every window; servants readying for their day of service to the pompous lords of this city. Deidre watched this scene, the canvas once a blank darkness with the details being revealed slowly, painted, as the moons light passed over them. She did not hold resentment or anger for the rich and powerful nor pity and sorrow for the poor and sick, she only saw the fairness, or the lack thereof. It was then the flakes of snow began to fall, the small stars of frozen rain reflecting her very soul. Cold, icy and empty. A knock at her bedroom door startled her and echoed through the room. A light could be seen around the edges, between the frame and the door. A soft voice spoke barely audible words, but enough to indicate their presence, Deidre stood for a moment before speaking.

“Enter.” Her voice was soft too, high and young. The voice of a small girl. The door opened slowly and the light from the lantern spread through her room. The room was large, too large for a little girl, but the rich’s want for extravagance was undeniable. The room was blank, for Deidre at least, to others they saw the various doodles of a child, the stories of princes and dragons scattered and the playful toys, with complexities unneeded of such craft. The servant scanned the room quickly before seeing her.

“Lady Deidre, you are already awake.” The servant said in surprise upon seeing Deidre standing at the window. “Did you have a nightmare?” Deidre did not answer. “What are you looking at?” The servant made her way to Deidre and stood behind her. “My, my, that is a wonderful sight.” She said in that soft voice of hers as she put her hand on Deidre’s shoulder.

“It is.” Deidre lied.

The servant’s name was Elara, she had been serving the Cendres family ever since Deidre was small. She proved competent enough in her duties, never earning a stern word or beating from her superiors. She had however grown quite attached to the Cendres’ youngest daughter, Deidre. Elara has once confided that she once had a daughter who would be of a similar age were she still alive. The topic was not easy for her, the story of her loss told through teary eyes and pauses, Deidre at the time did not understand why she was upset and still to this day did not. People die, it’s the way of the world, the circle of life. Deidre had accepted this and was confused why others could not. Elara treated Deidre like the daughter she had and lost in the hopes that one day Deidre herself would look to her as a mother. Deidre, however could not love. Elara would be waiting and would keep waiting, never knowing that her dream will never be reality. A sad realisation, but Deidre did not think so. Just a silly fabrication from a woman who refused to move on. Despite this, Deidre put on a smile and look on at the horizon as the sun rose.

“Come Deidre, your father has guests today and commands you be present when they arrive.” Elara said, promptly and pulled Deidre softly from the window and toward her bath. She was looking to impress today.

“The imperious braggart plays host to his equally egotistical companions, how exciting.” Deidre said plainly only to be stopped by Elara.

Her servant kneeled down to her level and spoke sternly, or as sternly as one can speak with such a gentle voice. “Now Deidre, you are not to speak of you father in such ways. You’ve been taught enough ‘lessons’ by him to know that angering him is not the best course of action.” she paused a moment. “He is a man of great importance and even greater impatience, I know you think less of him but try not to show it so evidently. Am I understood?” Deidre held Elara’s gaze, something that made the servant uncomfortable at the best of times, before she nodded slowly. Elara, though unsure of whether she was heard out sufficiently, continued to ready her mistress.

It took the better half of an hour for Elara to clean Deidre, dress her, brush and style her hair and put on her makeup and jewellery. Even at thirteen years of age Deidre looked two year older and a proper lady of her house. Her dress was a dark grey, her families colour if you can call it that. Her hair long, brown and wavy at the tips. Her father’s wife forbid the women of the house to wear the conventional yellow gold and so she wore white gold with various gemstones encrusted into the metal. The makeup for the most part was to hide how pale she was, to make her complexion darker and more attractive. It was her name day in a months time, the month of Rain’s Hand. Her father had not summoned her for the pleasure of her company, she had been summoned to show off to some pontifical son of a lord and lady who would soon grace their house with their majestic presence. She was of age now, a woman and like to be sold off by her father to some fat lord’s son in the effort of gaining more land and wealth. Bastard, she thought. She did not resent him, regardless of the black bruises left on her body from the various beating dealt out of her insubordination. Regardless of all the times her would demine her, tell her she is worthless and that her only purpose in life was to further the families power. She deserved better she thought, but she did not hate him.

She followed Elara down the ornately carved stairs, the wood a fine breed from Skyrim, the walls decorated with elaborate portraits and landscapes, evidence of excellent craftsmanship and talent, wasted on the walls of this place. Her father was waiting at the base of the steps. He wore his finest robe, a dark grey like her dress, his hair, pure black, combed back and tied in a ponytail. His face showed his age, fifty-three, too old to have children of her age, but had them he did. She had four siblings, three brothers and one sister. Her sister, Ysona, and brother, Edwystir were twins and the eldest. Both were married before Deidre was born, Ysona being almost thirty with two children and third on the way and Edwystir with three children. Her two other brothers, Theodore and Aiden, still lived in the family manor having yet being able to find wives. Deidre’s father, Edwore Cendres was a very stern man a trait his wife Vannara shared. Vannara was not Deidre’s mother, she had died while giving birth to her. Deidre often thought that it might be the reason Edwore was so indifferent to her. That if she did not carry the family name, she could be discarded in as violent a fashion as she was brought into the world. But alas she had the name and so he put up with her.

“You’re late Deidre, you should have been down here ten minutes ago.” Edwore said before she had even reached the last step. Deidre avoided his gaze, not for her own sake but out of courtesy for Elara’s previous lecture.

“Forgive me father, I will try to be more punctual tomorrow.” Deidre replied innocently.

“If we did not have guests in an hour I’d make sure the message properly sinks in, but alas I am denied that today. You need to look your...best, for your suitor.”

“To not condemn her entirely My Lord, I am partly to blame.” Elara said, attempting to defend her mistress.

“No Elara, you arrived at the correct time. You always are. Don’t defend this little shit, it is her error and she will correct It.” that last bit was directed to Deidre.

“Yes My Lord.” Deidre said.

“Good, now go eat. I have other duties to attend to.” Edwore said dismissively and walked off without giving either Deidre or Elara a second look. When he was out of earshot Deidre spoke.

“Thank you Elara” Deidre did not look up at her. But Elara looked down and smiled.

Deidre made her way to the dining area alone, Elara, like her father had other duties to complete before their guests arrived. Theodore and Aiden were already sat in their proper places. The table was, like everything else, unnecessarily extravagant. Various carvings in the side oft took Deidre’s attention. Ships sailing across raging oceans, their crew fighting massive sea monsters and arriving safely at port with their cargo intact. Like many Breton families, the Cendres’ were known famously for trading, something this carving reflected. Her family in particular were known for the distribution on Nordic mead, mutton, and cheese across Tamriel,

“Late as usual dear sister, Father didn’t sound happy.” Theodore was the eldest of these two brothers and the kindest to her. Aiden on the other hand was younger as much more like their father.

“Nor should he, you are a woman now Deidre, time you started acting like one.” He said, continuing his brother’s sentence. Deidre faked a smile at him.

“That is good advice, I’ll be sure to offer it to you when you become a man.” She said as she approached her place at the bottom of the table, furthest from her father’s place at the head. Theodore sniggered at this and Aiden’s face reddened with anger. He made to push his chair out but Theodore interrupted.

“Come now brother, she was only making a jest. Eat up now or it will be you on the other end of father’s backhand.” Theodore said playfully, attempting to calm the room. Aiden, still red, turned back to his food, his appetite lost. A kitchen servant came then, laying out Deidre’s cutlery then leaving as quickly as he came to fetch her morning meal.

“Besides, we don’t need this today. Too much happening, Deidre will find a potential husband and hopefully we will find wives, the gods know it’s been long enough for us.” Theodore continued.

“Too long…” Aiden echoed quietly.

“Oh don’t be so glum Aiden, our time will come.” Theodore said, trying to reassure him. Deidre just faked another smile.

After that the servant returned with an assortment of bread, cheese, and fruit and watered down wine. The three siblings then ate in silence, all partly anxious and partly excited for the remainder of the day. Deidre didn’t eat much, she had an unusual feeling in her stomach, something unfamiliar to her, a fluttering. She could only manage a tear of bread and half an apple with some water to wash it down. Her brothers however, shovelled down what they could grab as they often did. Theodore, strangely managed to eat and eat and eat but never gain weight. Aiden on the other hand was plump and round and red. All Deidre’s siblings had the dark black hair of their father, Deidre being the only one to inherit their mother’s brown pigment. Once they had all eaten their fill, they sat for a moment, still in silence while the servant carried away their dishes. Theodore was about to say something when their father entered the room.

“Our guests are almost here, we are to meet them out the gate. Leave you wine.” He said in his commanding tone. He did not wait for his children to rise from their seats and simply strode to the front door. Deidre and her two brothers stood and followed suit, Theodore first, then Aiden and finally Deidre.

“What if he’s fat…?” Aiden began quietly as to not alert his father. “…and warts all over. Oh the horror.” He continued his jest, chuckling quietly to himself. This annoyed Deidre, not that she was worried, but because he had attempted to make her so. She raised her first and thumped him in the back.

“Ow!” Aiden cried. He turned round, his own fist raised. “You’re gonna get it now you little bitch!” Deidre smiled maliciou

“AIDEN! DEIDRE!” Edwore’s voice boomed. Deidre looked beyond the angry boy in front of her to find both her father and Theodore looking back. His face was red and contorted in anger. “You have already caused me trouble today...” He stepped toward her and smacked her face, hard with the back of his hand. Deidre simply turned her head back, un-phased but her father had turned to Aiden. “…and you will not use such crude language, not today, not when your sole task is to impress!” He was not struck. Aiden was never struck, the favourite son and he was all too smug about it, made Deidre want to slap the smugness from him but knew that it would just earn her the same, if not more, in return for her father.

Deidre continued to follow her father and brothers outside to the main gate. Servants opened the doors for them as they stepped into the cold air. The sun was now up however covered by a thick layer of darkened cloud. The ground was painted white, the snow much heavier now. The servants of the house had shovelled the paths allowing the approaching family to walk to the main gate without trouble.

“Line up now, boys to my sides, Deidre you stand next to Theodore.” Edwore said as they neared the gate. Deidre did as she was told and stood next to her favoured brother. He nudged her slightly.

“Don’t be anxious, you’ll be fine.” She wasn’t, but he definitely was. Behind the chattering of his teeth you could hear the anxiety in his words.

“Quiet!” their father spoke, a dour look on his face. Theodore turned back to the gate, Deidre did the same.

Deidre’s mind was calm. She watched as the snow fell, her breath misting in the cold, fighting the urge to shiver. They weren’t waiting long, the sound of a cart and horses soon sounded from down the hill. It was slow moving, taking several minutes to trudge through the snow and arrive at the main gate. The horses, were royal and white as the snow. Clearly being used to impress her father, he however did not look impressed. Only impatient. The cart itself was a dark redwood with gilded decorative carvings of horses spread along the sides and edges. However for all it’s improvidence, it was no better at traversing the steep hill and snow than a common vegetable cart. The gates were opened a little too early making for an awkward approach. The driver was clearly struggling to lead the horses over the snow. After a longer than necessary wait, the cart finally stopped inside the grounds, the servants started shutting the gate at this. Immediately after stopping the driver rushed to the door or the cart and swung it open. It took a moment, but eventually the first figure emerged. He was horrendously fat, the cart itself seemed to lift several inches after his departure from it. A boy and two girls followed him. The girls, twins, were dressed in identical dark red dresses with gilded stitching, their golden blonde hair flowing beautifully in the wind. The boy was a full head taller than his sisters, his hair was of a similar colour to hers, a dark brown. He also wore a beard along his chin and joining his moustache at the mouth. He also wore a dark red doublet with golden stitching. He also, like his father, carried a sword at his hip, the scabbard a dark brown with golden tip and the hilt ornately etched and molded. He, unlike his father, carried it with a lot more grace.

“Edwore my old friend.” the fat man began striding, or waddling, toward Deidre’s father. “Joyful as always I see.” he nodded toward the dark colouring of his dress. His chins seemed to have a mind of their own as he spoke, jiggling uncontrollably. Deidre fought the urge to snigger, stopping herself barely.

“Too long indeed, it is good to see you again.” Edwore replied and embraced the man, unable to get his arms all around and having to bend slightly. “These are my sons, you have met already I believe.”

“Briefly, but yes, two years prior. You two were much smaller back then…” he chuckled, coughing before he continued. “...Aiden and Theodore if I recall.” They both nodded and offered their greetings, Aiden stumbling slightly.

“This is my-” Edwore began but was cut off.

“Your daughter, yes you have told me of her. Deidre is it not? I am Lord Daric Verguld, It is an honour to meet you” he said with as much a bow as he could manage.

“Please, the honour is all mine, my father has told me much about you. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance Lord Verguld.” she lied with a smile, her father had never spoken of this ‘old friend’. Her father looked at her, impressed slightly at her improvisation. She didn’t see.

“Oh, courteous indeed. Let me introduce my children, this is Anya and Arielle, my two lovely daughters.” The two young girls, no more that three years Deidre’s elder, stepped forward.

“It is and honour to meet you all.” they both said almost entirely in sync. If it were not for their mesmerising beauty, the golden hair, the long necks, the pearl white smile, Deidre’s brothers may have found that slightly unnerving. Her brothers bowed in return. Theodore taking Anya’s hand and kissing it gently. Arielle seemed disappointed that Aiden made no effort to do the same.

“...and my son.”

The boy strode gracefully and full of flair straight to Deidre. Kneeling, paying to mind to the wet ground, took Deidre’s hand and kissed it as Theodore did with Anya, however did so with more elegance and confidence. He stood, still looking at Deidre, holding her gaze, his green eyes meeting her blue. Her turned then. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you all.” he said addressing the entire family. “An honour My Lady.” he said to Deidre before moving away.

“Right, now that all that meeting and greeting is over with, why don’t we move out of the cold. I’m afraid I may freeze over.” Daric exclaimed. Deidre couldn’t help chuckling to herself as they walked back to the manor, like he could ever freeze will all that fat, she thought.

The rest of the day was more or less uneventful. Daric and Edwore spent most of it mulling over politics and business as they sipped from their cups. Theodore and Anya had gotten along well, Deidre could hear them, talking, laughing, staring at each other passionately. Must have been love at first sight for them, Aiden on the other hand was having a harder time. From the moment they had entered the house, he had made an effort to avoid contact with Arielle. To be fair, the poor girl was equally as shy, unlike her sister who socialised with her now apparent future husband without effort, she could not. She did however make an effort to kick up conversation with Aiden, who quietly replied and offered nothing in return only for her to stroll off and talk with one of the servants or join in with her sister and Theodore. Daric’s son on the other hand, despite his open introduction kept to himself. He wandered the house, spoke with some of the servants including Elara. It wasn’t until the evening when he approached her, albeit slightly stumbling with little grace.

“My Lady.” He said upon approaching.

“My Lord.” She replied.

“I don’t remember ever telling you my name. I am Andre Verguld, an honour to meet you…” He trailed off at the end, indicating that he did not infact remember her name.

“Deidre, Deidre Cendres.” She corrected him.

“Yes, that was it. You have met my father no doubt.”

“It was an honour.” He let out a bark of laughter at this.

“He said you were courteous, very much so. But let’s be honest, between you and me, the honour was all his. My father is a lowly lord, he breeds horses. Not very good ones. He hopes that by marrying us and you brothers with my sisters he will elevate in court. Fool.” Andre said clumsily.

“What of those stallions that brought you here, they were very impressive.” Deidre asked, pretending to interested.

“Bought. They were bought from the Bridiwr’s. He could never breed such magnificent creatures.” He spoke accusingly, spilling his wine. They both stood for a moment in silence. That kind of awkward silence when you are unsure on who should say the next word. In the end it was Andre who spoke.

“Will you join me for a stroll in the gardens.” He asked as courteously as he could. She did not want to but knew she had to.

“I would be honoured.” She said against her own will. She took his hand and followed him through the house and out into the gardens. Like the paths, the gardens were mostly clear of snow and now that the snow had stopped falling but the air was still icy cold. Their breaths forming white clouds.

“A lovely night, wouldn’t you say.” Andre said while looking up at the stars. Deidre looked up, but did not answer. She could not agree.

“Deidre…” Andre said quietly. Deidre turned her head toward him upon hearing her name only for him to plant his lips on hers. She was frozen like ice of the air and held her in place. The finally found herself and pushed him away.

“What are you doing?” She asked, not appalled but confused.

“Come now Deidre my dear, there is nothing to fear.” He said, pulling her closer. holding her hips tightly. She pushed against him, trying to escape but he held her too tightly. She could not. In a blur, she found herself on the ground, her hands held firmly above her head and his knee on her legs to stop her from moving. She did not call for help, the confusion of the moment, such little understanding of what was happening held her tongue. Andre kissed her neck, her face, her dress. He placed his free hand on her leg and traced it upward. A sudden realisation made Deidre kick, hitting Andre in the chest. He fell back, winded and she crawled away. She did not get far, he grabbed her legs and pulled her back, laughing all the way but not before she had a chance to grab a rock from the ground.

“What’s the matter Deidre? Don’t you li-” he was cut off as Deidre turned and swung her arm, rock in hand. It struck with a loud CRACK, blood sprayed from Andre’s head and splashed her face. She did not feel it, the cold having numbed her skin. Andre fell to the ground and Deidre clambered to her feet, the bloodstained rock still held firm in her hand. She stared, wide eyed at Andre’s body, twitching, twitching, then still. The blood seeping into the snow round him. Then the strangest thing happened, a smile crept to her mouth. A real smile, she felt...powerful, strong. She felt everything at once for one short lived moment, for less time than a beat of her heart. Short lived, but savoured till the end.

“Deidre?” Her named was called. What are you doing out in the col-” The last word was caught as Elara stepped closer and saw the body and Deidre’s feet. The bloodied stone in her hand. “What have you done?

“He forced himself on me. I did what I need to do.” Deidre said plainly. She felt arms enclose around her.

“Oh my sweet, thank the gods he didn’t hurt you.” Elara said, half muffled as she buried her head into Deidre’s shoulder. Elara then looked at the body. “Did anyone see you two come out of the house?”

“No.”

“Go in through the back, wash your face then return to your family. I will get rid of the body, just go. Quickly!” And Deidre did.

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I will be writing a profile for Deidre soon. I plan to have at least four parts to this characters story. Any feed back would be wonderful. I would also like to apologise in case the ending was questionable, I thought it was necessary but will remove it if need be.