Chapter 1 Betrayal
The call rings out from the crow's nest, high atop the main mast of her ship. It rolls over the stern and bow, muting the steady rhythm of the ocean waves. All activity halts, and every person aboard lifts their head toward the cry, like predators catching a scent.
She stride across the gently rocking deck, the creaks of the ropes and riggings loud in the otherwise intense silence. She unfold her spyglass and raise it to her eye, then squint off into the distance. The crystal blue Caribbean Sea is calm today and visibility is clear for miles around. She pivot starboard, and there, directly to the east, she spot her potential prey.
Her mark is an Blackstone merchant vessel, a decent-sized sloop. It's probably carrying sugar today, maybe even tobacco. That's the general currency in these waters, the most profitable form of goods along this particular trade route. From past experience, she know there'll be no more than twenty-five crew members aboard and many of them will not be combatants. It looks like they only have a single gun deck, which means she'll be facing six to eight cannons at the most.
Not a hard target, but not a soft one either. She'll have to take some care when boarding that ship.
She snap the spyglass closed and turn to face her crew. Her people. Among them are former nobles, former slaves, former naval personnel. They were once farmers, merchants, and craftsmen. They are clad in leather and silk, adorned with jewels, and armed with blades and daggers. They are large and small, dark and light, they speak a dozen different languages, and have seen the far and vast corners of the world.
Every one of them joined her crew for their own adventure, their own profit and rewards. Their reasons are as varied and complex as they are, but they all share one very important thing in common.
They are Mercenaries. Every last one.
They look to her now, awaiting her command. As their captain, it is her right, her duty and privilege, to lead them in this conquest. Whatever happens next is entirely up to her.
"Raise the black" she call out merrily. "Pain and blood awaits!"
A lively cheer erupts from the crew and they all spring into action. The sails of his ship are pulled taut as her sailing Master, Tar Asadi, sets the course to intercept.
She make her way toward the bridge for a better vantage point. Three short steps and she above it all, now able to survey her domain from beside the helm. All around her people are preparing for the coming fight—untangling the grappling hooks, loading the cannons, sharpening knives. Pistols are brought up from the hold, first aid supplies are double-checked.
She watch Seth, the ship's carpenter, and James longtime partner, head below deck to oversee any emergency repairs. It's possible that her ship may take fire today in battle, and if that happens, she'll be sunk without him.
She do one more sweeping check over her crew. Everything appears to be in good working order. She nod to Fin, her helmsman, and with a wide grin, he spins the wheel.
The hunt has officially begun.
The sails catch a strong breeze and her ship begins to pick up speed. She turn her face into the wind and taste the ocean brine, sea salt as light and crisp as the bright blue sky. It coats her mouth and fills her nose. It ruffles everything on and around her as it blows over her face.
She grip the railing, the familiar, well-worn wood hard and solid beneath her fingers. She can feel the ship's smooth glide in the soles of her boots, the slight turbulence as it cuts through the ever-shifting waters. Powered by the wind and the skill of her crew, the sea parts before her, bringing her ever closer to her prey.
They are in her sights now. They will not get away. Not from her. Not today.
Her hand curls into a fist. Strength—that's what it's all about. The more I take, the more I have, the more people fear her.
She exhale a long breath, then lift the spyglass once more. It looks like it'll be another twenty minutes before she is within firing range of that sloop. Her crew is working diligently to close the gap and doing a great job of it. Fortune is with her today, it seems. Shalltear can only hope that she remains on her side.
Satisfied, she snap the spyglass closed. She can tell from the tilt of their sails that the merchant sailors mean to run rather than stand and fight. A cowardly move maybe, or perhaps one done in an effort to try and protect the crew. There are many different kinds of captains on the sea and everyone has their own agenda.
Whatever the case, the outcome will be the same. She will have those goods—with or without a fight.
Her ship plows through a particularly turbulent wave and a blast of ocean spray mists her cheeks and coats her eyelashes. It adds a dazzling light effect to everything around you, and through the haze, she catch a glimpse of Ben and Sam, coming together on the deck below.
They reach out toward one another, and their palms touch, their fingers intertwining. For one second, just an instant of time which seems to stretch out for a lifetime, they are immobile, lost in each other's eyes. It lasts, holds, and then they separate, going off in opposite directions to fulfill their designated duties.
This is a drama she seen play out many times in the past, a ritual they perform before every hunt. Whether their continued safety is divine intervention or not has long been a topic for debate, but regardless of the reason, it seems to work for them. They both always manage to come back unharmed.
She look down at her own hand, very aware of the empty space beside her. There will be no rituals for her today. There's no one waiting for her in the nearest port, no one worrying about her safe return. She have her crew and her ship—and that's about all.
She lift her head and watch her pirates scurry about. She is surrounded by people, friends both new and old, and yet, there on the bridge.
Two young woman approaches her on the bridge, twins girls of fifteen or so, with long, raven hair and eyes that have seen far too much. Rose and Scarlett is the newest member of her crew, a recent acquisition whom she picked up in Sky forge.
"I can't wait to get aboard that sloop," she says, her left hand straying to the hilt of her sword. They looks up to her, they face bold and defiant. "I'm ready for some action." Scarlett says.
Rose and Scarlett are young and eager and curious about everything. A bit too eager, really. They not Mercenaries. Not yet anyway. Less than six months ago, they was a wharf rat living in the slums of Portland, trying to survive alongside the other lost and forgotten children of the city.
Until Shalltear met them, they eked out a meager living through thievery, doing some low-level pickpocketing along the docks whenever they had the chance. For some ungodly reason they thought they be able to steal from her, but that was a mistake. Shalltear caught them easily. They was a horrible thief, honestly, too brash for their own good.
Shalltear suppose she could've turned them over to the authorities or perhaps meted out some justice of her own, but instead, she took a chance and offered them a spot on her crew. There was just something different about them, something…refreshing, something new.
I was impressed with her honor. Once she was caught, she owned up to her crime and was ready to face the consequences. She thought to herself.
For reasons she still don't know, she accepted her offer. They been on board ever since, making themselves at home with both ship and crew. Up until this point, her duties have been light—training exercises and general maintenance work—but it appears that rose grown bored with the more menial tasks. She seems to think she's ready for a real hunt.
Shalltear look away from her to take another gander at the prize ship. Some merchants give up easily, choosing to peacefully forfeit their cargo in exchange for their lives. But others demand their people fight to the death, forcing them to protect the haul at any cost.
Shalltear have no way of knowing what kind of resistance she'll meet until the first shots are fired. Rose could be hurt, or even worse, die. She knows the risks, however. Shalltear made sure of that. As much as she may want to protect her or feel that she needs more practice, if she's going to be a share-earning member of your crew, then she needs to contribute to the cause. No one gets anything for free in this life, and most especially not in these waters.
The time has come for her to take the next step and it is her duty to guide her.
"Always strike first," she tell her. "Take the offensive. Be careful, but make them fight."
If she's going to survive, she needs to be bold, and always take the initiative. Aggression is what gets the job done. Diplomacy is for the weak.
"Aw, you sound like my grandma," she grumbles upon hearing the command. "'Take heed, Rosie. Pay attention, Rosie.' Who has time for care? I want action! Let me be on the front line."
Shalltear shake your head. She admire her verve, but that's not going to happen. She's far too new to be a part of the vanguard.
"I hear you, sister. Caution is frustrating, but it is necessary."
looking directly into her eyes. She can't say she feel any differently in her place. Nevertheless, if she send her over in the first wave, she will get herself killed. She like her to be able to see her next birthday. "In the end, shalltear have to do what she think is best, but try not to die today, all right? I'd miss you if you were gone."
"Aye, Captain," she says, looking away from her and back over the ocean waves. "It will be as you say."
Shalltear nod once and return to studying her prey. She almost there now, the distance between her and that sloop closing faster than ever. The time of reckoning is about to arrive.
She grip the wooden railing again, willing her ship onward. The sails catch a fresh breeze, and the renewed speed bounces she over and into a rough wave. Everyone aboard veers to the right, caught in the will of the sea.
"Brace up!" Fin calls out. "Another five degrees!"
"Five degrees," comes the acknowledging reply as the crew rushes to fulfill the order.
They are moments away from contact and everyone aboard knows it. An electric crinkle of excitement passes through the crew. Rose flashes her a half-grin, then dashes off to her station to prepare for the coming conflict.
The helmsman eases her ship into the merchant's wake and she make her run at their stern. They almost instantly upon them, her cannons are within firing range in moments.
Shalltear look to her gun crew, her people ready and waiting for her command. The time has come for her to set the tone of the attack and perhaps dictate the final outcome.
"Fire a shot across the bow!" The warning shot won't cause any damage, but it'll make my intentions perfectly clear.
The gun crew does as directed and a tense second follows as she await the merchant's response. Will they fire back? Will they surrender? The answer is never the same, and they are prepared for all the possible outcomes.
If they strike their colors and raise the white flag, there will be no fighting today. If they try to run, she will overtake them. If they fire on her, she will fire back. She have them outmanned and outgunned. They know this. Their next decision will help dictate how bloody this day will be.
There's a moment's pause, then the scent of sulfur fills the air. They fire back. Hard.
Shot rocks her ship. Splinters rain down on hervand her crew as they scramble to retaliate. She tighten her belt and grip her pistol. It seems they are not taking her as seriously as they should. Her gun crews return fire, tearing through their hull, the masts, and sails.
At she signal, the vanguard tosses their grappling hooks over the side, latching them onto the merchant vessel. Her pirates groan as they heave and labor to pull the ships closer together. Soon, the gap will close, and she will be able to jump across to storm the sloop in force.
The ships touch, a creaking crash of wood. Everyone tenses, awaiting her orders.
"I mean to have every scrap of cargo on that ship," I declare with a cocky grin. "By any means necessary."
She is first over the side, leading the charge, and her pirates follow close behind her. Swords clash, people scream war cries and shrieks of pain. Bullets fly and gunpowder scorches her nostrils as she parry an attack. The copper tang of blood is in the air, the salt and sweat of battle. Allies and adversaries fall, steel clangs, and the conflict rages and wanes.
She know from past experience that the quickest way to victory is to engage their captain. In general, merchant sailors are there for their pay and not out of any real loyalty to their employer. Once their leader is taken, the crew will lay down their arms. They'd have no more reason to fight. The pittance they earn is not worth dying for.
She glance around the deck, trying to locate her target. He's not by the mast or the helm. He isn't standing on the bridge. He isn't embroiled in a fight. It seems that she going to have to search for him. This could take some time.
Shalltear battle her way across the deck, weaving through the tangle of combatants and gunfire. The sounds of struggle are deafening, a cacophony of people fighting and swearing and dying. She need to get control of this situation. She must bring this conflict to an end.
A muscled sailor locks on to her across the way, a man with a snarl on his lips. He raises his sword and charges. Using her super strength she punch the man off the ship.
Resuming her search for the ship's captain. Her crew keeps an eye on her back, putting down any skirmishes that rise in her wake. They know as well the sooner she find whoever is in command, the sooner this battle will be done.
Her hunt leads her to the foremast and there she find the Captain cowering beside it. He shouts orders to his closest sailors, but he does no battle himself. Finally, a bit of luck. This is going to be too easy.
She step into his line of sight and stand boldly before him. Startled by the intrusion, he looks up at her. Shalltear point at her sword in his face and hold it there, making sure she have his full and total attention.
"You have two choices, friend," she tell him cheerfully. "Surrender or die. What's it to be, then?"
He looks up at Shalltear, his eyes wide and anxious. "Y-yes," he stammers. "Of course." He holds his hands out to you in surrender and you can see them tremble before your eyes. "Crew!" he calls out. "Lay down your arms! Please! The fight is done."
The battle ends and she pirates corral the captives into the main hatch in order to keep a close eye on them all. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes a person gets it into their head that they're going to be a hero and tries to do something foolish. It's her crew's job to prevent that from occurring.
She look down at the man crouching at her feet. He avoids her gaze and looks up behind hervinstead, his eyes fixed on the black flag flying proudly from her ship's highest mast. It is her sigil, her calling card. It is the image which announces her arrival, and at times, it is the last image a person may ever see. Blackbeard has his horned skeleton. Calico Jack has a skull and two crossed swords.
Her flag is unique and hers all alone.
have a skeleton holding two daggers high over its head.
The wind snaps the black in the opposite direction, hiding the image from sight. With nothing else to look at, the Captain turns his gaze back toward her. He examines her from head to foot, taking his time to mark all the details about her—the woman towering over him.
As well he should. quite impressive.
I'm adorned in steel—blades and guns and knives. I'm not a woman to be trifled with. Not under any circumstances.
He's halfway there. He clears his throat, obviously reluctant to continue. It takes him a moment, but he musters up the courage to go on. "Captain Shalltear…"
"She is," Rose pipes up.
Shalltear look to her and find that she stands back among the other crew members, somewhat lost in the crowd. It's unfortunate that she didn't have the wherewithal to take her advice. She going to have to work on that.
"You're kneeling before Captain Shalltear Nazar Princess of Vengeance," she squeaks. "And everything you've heard is true!"
He nods slowly, not at all surprised. "I've heard that you're without mercy," he says. "That you're one of the most feared woman captains in the seas." He swallows hard, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "Is that true?"
Shalltear smile enigmatically. She have no reason to contradict she own legend. Instead of answering him, she glance around the ship, taking a closer look at her prize.
"What are you transporting?" She ask. "That is my purpose here. Nothing more".
"Sugar," he tells you quickly, nearly breathless with the need to relay the information. "For trade in Hawkins."
That seems reasonable enough, but perhaps not quite as profitable of a haul as such a well-manned ship should have. She look at him again, and he shifts his gaze away. There's definitely something off here.
She hunker down beside him. "Come now, friend," she says, giving him her best smile. "You're carrying more than just sugar."
"It's in your best interest to tell me what else you're hauling." Her gaze hardens. "Otherwise, I might get angry."
"You've eight cannons aboard, but far too many barrels of powder. You're carrying more than sugar," she says, looking at him expectantly.
He hesitates, but ultimately shakes his head. "There's nothing, I swear it. Sugar's all we've got."
Shalltear not sure she believe him, but time is short, and she have already been on this deck too long.
She clap her hands and her crews gets down to work, efficiently plundering the sloop. They know their jobs and exactly what needs to be done. Some haul the goods onto her ship, others drag it down into the cargo hull. Several sentries remain on the merchant ship to guard the prisoners while still others watch the water, keeping an eye out for patrols.
Her people are a well-oiled machine. They need to be. They situated on a popular trade route. An Hawkins or even Timu warship may happen by at any time. Her ship is sturdy and well-armed, but it could not withstand a full-on attack from a forty-gun man-o'-war. If one should appear on the horizon, they need to be gone before they are anywhere near their sights.
Piracy is a crime punishable by death in some realms, and the good citizens love to see a pirate hang. Her and her crew are hostis humani generi—enemies of all humanity. Every sovereign nation on the planet has vowed to put an end to her trade—an end to her as well. The danger is very real.
The merchant crew looks to her as they sit in sullen silence under the watchful eye of her guards. Many of them are probably afraid, others may be angry. They all know their fate rests in her hands.
"You have nothing to fear from us," she tell the captives. "No further harm will come to you today."
"Sit still and be calm," she tell the captives. "It'll all be over soon." Quite permanently, she add silently to herself.
At first, no one moves.
Then, one of the sailors relaxes, her shoulders slumping in resignation. A few others around her also begin to relax. It seems they've chosen to trust her, or at the very least, not fight back. These are hardened people, world-weary, and jaded. They know their lives rest in her hands. It is wise of them not to annoy her.
Her ship's new quartermaster, Tigo Barton, darts past her, manifest in hand. He squints at the ledger, inventorying the cargo, making sure everything is accounted for. He is a fussy man, often timid, but meticulous in his work. He was elected a few weeks ago, and she wonder just how long he will hold the position.
She take a final check around to ensure everything is in order. The captured sailors are subdued, the cargo is being transported, there are no enemies in sight. The situation seems well in hand. Her work here on deck is done.
She finds Fin with the extraction crew, overseeing their progress. This ship may hold other treasures, perhaps things even more precious than physical cargo. Information trades well too, and usually at a higher price. If there's anything more to be gained here, it would be in the captain's quarters.
"Captain?" he asks and folds his hands behind his back. He stands at attention, waiting for orders.
"Keep an eye on things here," she tell him. "I'll be in the captain's cabin."
"I'm going to search the captain's cabin," she tell him, then point to the cargo. "Make sure this gets done right."
"Aye," he replies, and she leave him behind to head down below deck.
The captain's quarters are at the stern of the vessel, at the very back end of the ship. She push open the heavy wooden door to the cabin with one hand and cross the threshold. At first glance, there's nothing special here. It's a typical cabin with a desk, a chair, a bed, a chest of drawers. There are a few bookshelves, some charts and maps. It is a spare room for the most part, almost spartan, and the furniture is drab and utilitarian.
Unlike her own quarters, there isn't much of the man reflected in this chamber. That is not unusual for a merchant ship where the captain may change with every voyage. It's a workplace, not a home.
She search his desk first and find the usual sailor's clutter within the drawers—a compass, some plotters and rulers, an old quill pen. Nothing of any value. She push a few tacks aside and uncover a silver locket, a fine piece on a long, herringbone chain. Curious, she pick it up. This is definitely something special. She flip the latch with her thumbnail and find a sketch of a woman inside.
She bring the locket close to her face, studying the image within. Who was this woman? Could she be important? She's important to the Captain, that much is certain. The necklace is the only thing of personal value in the entire place.
"Who could she be? His lover? Friend? Wife?"
"Actually, I don't care. I've got better things to do here."
She look it over one last time, then toss it back into the drawer with a flick of her wrist. The necklace is worthless. It wouldn't even buy a single shot of rot-gut rum in Towa.
Captain!" Mr. Barton calls out, interrupting her conversation.
Fin gives her one last look before withdrawing with a bow, off to ready her ship for departure.
"That's the last of it," Barton says, holding out the log for her to see. "It's all accounted for and properly stowed."
She take the book and flip through the pages, checking numbers here and there. Everything seems to be in order.
"By your leave, Captain," he says.
Shalltear glance over at the captured crew. The time has come for her to decide their fate.
"Kill them all and burn the ship." It's better not to leave any witnesses.
Once they are all onboard, she give the order.
Cannons fire at the ship she hear the screams on the crew dieing and sailing away watching as the ship sunk in fire.
The night is finally calm, her crew tired from a day's laboring along the mighty back of the Mediterranean Sea. Circe lights an oil lamp and passes it to Shalltear, then lights another and places it on the mast above her head. It casts shadows across her crew's faces as they gather around her: Vincent with his golden lyre, Polyxena with her royal scowl, Ajax with his harsh and prideful jaw, Fury with the clear, bright eyes that put the Achaean sky to shame.
The water laps quietly at the sides of the ship, the large sail above barely inflated, propelling them forward, towards home.
hunger that cannot possibly be satisfied by the stale life of court or the safety of a familiar hearth.
Shalltear lean back until her spine rests against the mast, the rough wood chafing her skin under her salt-eaten garment. She watch the stars, the countless lamps lighting the world beyond. She spot Argo, the mythical ship, in the sky, sailing along the river of the gods.
Vincent plucks one of the strings of his lyre, his long, thin fingers a ghostly white in the pale light of the lamps. The note, lonely and sweet, hangs in the air. "Remember the battle of the westernmost gate of Ilium?" he asks.
"Yes. What about it?"
All this never-ending yammering about the war is tiresome after a while.
Vincent plays another note. He's building up to another one of his songs, recounting it all. "Arrows rained down on us from the high wall so thick they blotted out the sun."
Ajax nods and addresses her: "I covered you with my shield as you let out a cry so loud it still sends shivers up my spine."
"And then I used my sword to scale the wall."
Shalltear sword. She still have it. of course. Sometimes she run hee hand across the sharpness of its length, trace its leaf-shaped iron, grip the hilt that was carved out of ivory to fit your hand perfectly.
"And all the Achaeans followed behind you with a terrifying roar," Vincent continues. "Telamon took an arrow to the neck and fell to the ground behind."
"I took an arrow to the shoulder, but I kept climbing," Ajax says.
"And Fury carried the torch with which he set fire to the high tower that stood next to the gate."
Fury turns to you, his eyes shiny, as if that fire is still burning inside them. "You collapsed the tower with your bare hands, not caring about the embers scorching your skin." He pauses. "We killed many Trojan swine that day."
Fury glances toward Circe, obviously proud of his joke at her expense, and she exclaims: "It was a misunderstanding! How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?"
Ajax pokes Fury in the ribs, even though he's clearly amused. "Come on, man," he says. "We don't talk about that."
Shalltear ignore her crew's bickering and glance at Polyxena instead. She lowers her eyes. It was her people she killed that day, her relatives' deaths her crew recounts with such delight.
"We killed so many the soil turned into red mud," Fury continues. "With the gods' help."
"We did," I say. "But death is nothing to rejoice in."
Polyxena catches her eyes and nods at her, thankful.
"The cruelty of the gods has taught us that much," I add.
Silence falls among the crew and all they can hear for a while is the low hum of the wind against the sail.
They remember that flaming tower well. The smell of burning flesh still in their nostrils.
Shalltear cut through the enemy like an angry fist–part human, part more than. She didn't even feel the flames on her skin. And her soldiers, they followed her unquestioningly, as always…trusting in her skill with her sword.
That night, when the battle quieted down, her sacrificed a ram to the gods, fell to her knees, washed herself clean of the sin as best she could.
But the boy's eyes? She still remember those, gazing lifelessly at her.
There's no washing herself clean from that.
Vincent interrupts her reminiscing with a skillful chord. "I think I have perfected the opening of my song to you," he tells her. "Humans will forever remember your glory." His eyes shine every time he looks at her. She truly are a hero to him. He might be a minor poet, but he's still devoted to making her a major hero, the most glorious and memorialized of them all.
All the glory in the world matters little when you're dead. She whisper.
Vincent keeps calling her "hero." Have you done enough to earn it? Can anyone ever do enough?
Shalltear remember the day she first met Vincent. It was ten years ago, at the start of the war. He was a child, back then, barely any peach fuzz on his top lip. He was skilled with the lyre but not with the sword; he almost got himself impaled on a Trojan spear during the very first skirmish. She shielded him with her own body and saved his life.
She still have the scar to remember that day by. She catch him looking at it now, the raised tissue near the top of her left shoulder.
"All right," you say. "Let's hear that song of yours."
Vincent clears his throat and starts playing, his eyes filled with adoration. "This is about you. It's all about you".
Sing in me, Muse, of the praised…
Sing in me, Muse, of the praised woman,
the hero, the demigod named…
Sing in me, Muse, of Shalltear,
the praised woman, the hero, true daughter of…
…Thanatos, god of death, who bestowed his begotten with health and vigor unmatched among the human race…
Sing in me, Muse, of Shalltear,
the praised woman, the hero,
true daughter of Thanatos,
the most morbid among gods,
who loves the murderous and abhors light…
"By the gods, your mother had weird taste in men, Shalltear," Ajax interrupts.
Vincent ignores him and continues:
…who came to the woman Anticlea, she who has no fame,
and promised her eternal life through his seed's great deeds.
And so Shalltear was born…
but rose to the throne of Blackstone as she murder the the betrayal family!"
as Shalltear was proven unmatched in handling the sword, and smarter than any opponent, beast or human.
Shalltear frown in faze then sigh.
She heads to her Private room as she laid on her bed with her Sword in her hand as she fades into her dream her crew at the table eating.
"Hey what with the captain she been getting more bloodlust lately" one the crew mates ask. "Yes I never seen a woman so cover in so much blood". "What you think wrong with her?" He ask. "Betrayal" The Quartermaster appears. "Shalltear was betrayed by her own family nearly killed and left for dead"
"Draw your sword warrior. Or are you too worried I'll bruise that pretty face of yours?"
Her best friend and dear sister, Kiran Tamira, smirks as he raises her practice sword.
"Oh? So my face is pretty now?"
"Pay attention, stay focus sister"
"Why should I I haven't gotten the better of you in six Summers".
She raised her sword.
"If you focus you might have that chance"
Shalltear began to strike, but Kiran blocks it, holding her ground.
"I'll admit you getting a little stronger but not strong enough".
Shalltear lunges forward and ends up pressed against her, pinning her down.
Realizing that she gonna lose again she started trying to taunt her.
This will wipe that smile off her face.
"Not bad for a virgin"
Hearing that stroke a nerve of shalltear.
With that opportunity she knock the sword out of her hand.
"Please don't act like you will never get the chance".
"It's not that my duties is to our kingdom and it's people".
Kiran go in for the strike, but Shalltear grab her wrist.
"Good try but you still one step behind sister".
"It's not over yet" she says.
She twist out of her hold and leap forward, tackling her to the ground. But Shalltear manage to escape and lower her sword to her throat.
"Not bad little sister".
Turning they both see their bodyguard and dearest friend.
"Carlos it's been awhile" shalltear said.
"Yes it has" he smiles, looking at Kiran "My Lady, Nobles from the other side kingdoms will arrive shortly, The King and Queen expects you to greet them.
Shhalltear and Carlos walk back to the castle in Stony silence.
"You can't keep doing" Carlos says. "That girl is the princess soon to be set Queen of Blackstone, she not fit to be a warrior nor to be on the battlefield".
"I am only teaching her how to defend herself there might be a time when she doesn't have knights at her back".
He looks down understanding.
"I know, but my duty is to you both and to this kingdom, if anything would to happen on my watch I would never forgive myself".
They both enter the throne room and find her mother dressed in her finest gown, talking to Kiza, the Captain of the High Royal Guard.
"You've increased security as I requested?"
"Yes, of course, your majesty. A dozen guards at each entrance, and a company of archers on every wall".
"Her mother turns her and smiles". It's nice to see you indoors for once, my little butterfly, safe and sound."
"I am capable of taking care of myself mother".
"Well. I'll trust you'll be on your best behavior tonight. You just might meet your future husband".
"Shalltear, married? That's something I would love to see" Kiza says.
"Sure if he's Worthy enough and not a coward with words" her father approach".
"Now, Shalltear, it's time for you to get dressed! I had something special made for you".
"I don't suppose it's armor like Kiza wearing".
Better. I had one of the finest Dressmakers in the Seven work weeks on a Gold and black gown unmatched in beauty..."I can't wait to see you in it."
A few minutes later
She walks out the dressing room into the Throne room.
Oh my is this my daughter? You've grown into such an elegant woman. I couldn't be more proud of you, both of you.
" I must say sister you look better now then that rust armor" Kira said
"G Thanks" she signed.
And I'm sure the young men visiting today will be starstruck by the very sight of both you.
"Your majesty" one of the servants approached "your majesty, the nobles from the other Seven kingdoms have arrived".
"Already?" Kira says.
"Come now my Angels. We shouldn't keep them waiting".
The servants throw open the grand doors to the throne room.
The Kings and Queens of the six neighborhood kingdoms enter, each with a group of courtiers. Their mother takes their hands.
Before going through the doors their mother tells them.
"Remember children today the alliance formed here may stand for a thousand years, even against our common enemy, The God of War Aries. She says.
"Congratulations mother, this alliance will be your greatest legacy. Kira says.
"Nonsense you two are my greatest Legacy" she responded.
The first of the royals approaches them. Tom clears his throat to announce them...
"May I present king Gondola Fold of Alderaan... and his son and heir, prince Talion Fold".
King Gondola bows and kisses her mother hand and bows to their father as Talion bows Kira.
"Princess". He says. "You're a vision of loveliness. That dress will surely haunt my dreams for weeks to come".
"You make me sound like a nightmare" Kira says.
"Trust me, I be looking forward to those dreams.
"Truly, your lovelier than the Thousand Statues of Alderaan.
"Prince Talion, I've had many suitors, but none so charming.
"You honor me princess"
"Hardly. It's the truth" she says.
"I hope I'll get to speak more with you later during the feast, if the other guests don't take up all your time".
"I promise I'll find a minute or two for you".
Prince Talion and his father step aside.
"May I present king Savan Naboon, Ruler of Hawkins"...
"Greetings Queen Tali and King Zen"
"And his son, prince Marcus".
"Bow when you announce me boy!"
"Prince Marcus strikes Tom knocking him on the ground"
Shalltear rise in anger and backhand prince Marcus".
We will honor the rules of this castles, and snievling princes like you are not above them". She says.
"My apologies your majesty" as he grunts his teeth.
"I'm sorry I don't know what gotten into my daughter. Shalltear apologize!".
"I will not".
"No need, no need at all I like to see a girl who will fight for her people.
King Zen addresses the assemble crowd.
"For too long, we have fought amongst each other, squabbling over land while our shared enemy abroad grows stronger.
"Today, we change that. Today, the seven kingdoms becomes one, a clenched fist that will stand strong against all threats".
"To seal the alliance, raise a glass with me to a brighter future... For us all"
The assembled royalty cheers! Everyone raises their golden gablets and drinks... Everyone but King Savan and his son, Prince Marcus.
"Before my wife died, burned alive by the God of War Ares, he told me one thing..."
"Our lands will never be safe from them until we are all one. One kingdom. One king"
"There will be no alliance. There will be only be my kingdom."
As Savan speaks, Shalltear hears the clank of armor coming down the hall... Then the screams of servants.
"What is this the gates are sealed and the bridge is drawn.
"The secret passenge!" Kiza says
"How! The only people who knows about is me, you, Tali and..."
"Your sister Xena" Savan says.
Beautiful woma, but far too trusting. She didn't know my man was a spy".
"You bastard!" King Zen cried.
The doors fly open. Men in armor charge, leveling crossbows at all assembled guests.
"Shalltear look out" her mother warns.
She roll to the side, just in time the bolt slammed into the wall right where she stood.
"Too close" Kira said.
"Take cover" Kiza yelled.
Arrows zip through the air, striking the assemble royals. Their shouts echoes in the throne room.
The princesses see a bolt strike their father in the chest as he ache in pain.
Both scream "father"
"Tali, get the girls out of here now!.
They take their mother hand and run. As Shalltear looks back one last time, she sees her fight bravely to hold off the enemy.
As they flee into the corridor, they went into a secret dungeon "in here" their mother says.
As they get down there they get Cough in trap, knockout gas as Shalltear Fall unconscious.
The next day shalltear awaken next to a waterfall.
"Where am I she says"
"Well your in Death Valley" King Savan appears.
"You monster!, where is mother and sister!. She roar. " What have you done with them".
"Nothing" King Savan smiles. "They simply right here".
She turned to her mother and sister.
"Hello sister" Kira appear.
"Kira are you alright is father with you!".
"Of course child" her mother appear. "You said you would not leave no witness and people already escape"
"Wait , what" shalltear confused.
"It no serious matter we will find them eventually" Savan smiles.
"I don't understand, what is the meaning of this!" She scream. "Why are you with him" she ask.
Tali walks up to her and back slap her.
"You are the reason you bastard child!" She yelled.
Shalltear looks her in shock as she don't who her mother is.
"I don't understand mother ples....."
"I'm not you're mother" she frowns "and your not my child, you are a abomination that should have been left on the streets long ago".
"Should you explain to her" Savan suggested".
"You see Shalltear your mother was a farmer of our kingdom, your father didn't really vget alot alot of times and he would always got out to the Forest and would come home late. She continues in anger.
"Then I started to get suspicious when he will never tell where he was going so I sent out spies to track him and what did I find out. That he sleeping with that whore.
"So at night I sent assassin's to murder your mother so that whore wouldn't interfere in my Royalness but then you were born. Brought to my door step with your stench and filthiness".
"I could have killed you then but I took pitty in you, you were just a child years went by you wanted to be a warrior, it was wonderful which means my daughter Kira didn't have to worry about you getting in the way".
"But you're cheating father and the damn council deem Kira unfited that she was unworthy to be queen, that you were a better candidate".
"So I plan all this to kill you all"
"You psychotic bitch!" Shalltear to reach her but get knock down by the guards.
"Look at you always trying to be better, always to be number one". Kira walks up.
Shalltear raised her head up.
"Kira we are sisters". She says.
"No I'm the future queen and your the bastard".
"Where is father" shalltear asked.
"Bring him out" Savan order.
King Zen is drag out covered in blood and bruises barely walkable.
"Father" Shalltear cries.
He looks up to her and smiles.
"Have no fear my daughter the sun will sun upon us once again". He smiles.
"Not ever" Queen Tali slits his throat.
"Noooo!" Shalltear rise and rush towards her in anger but get stab in the stomach by Kira.
She looks at her in her dying eyes.
"I win this time"
And with Shalltear last words "Death will come for you all" as she falls at the bottom of the waterfall.
"Well you both got what you wanted let's get to more important matters come on men!".
Deep at the bottom of the water her body is pulled to land.
"It is exactly how you say it would happen" Ares with Shalltear in his arms appears.
"I know when death is about to come". Thanatos walks out of the shadows.
"Now what to do" he ask.
"Put her down" Ares lays her down.
"Awaken Shalltear Nazar son of Zen the victim of betrayal awaken".
He channel his spell and aim at Shalltear, soon she awaken breathlessly.
"Where am i!, Who are you!, How did I survive!".
"Clam child I am Thanatos the God of Death and this is Ares the God of War, Ares nods in greetings.
"Ares I heard about you from my mother" she stop herself grinding her teeth I mean the bitch mother.
"I can feel the hatred from in you little one you crave vengeance". Shalltear looks down in pain of betrayal.
"Shalltear do you want Vengeance?" Thanatos asked. Shalltear pause for a minute then answers.
"Yes" then let us make a deal.
Back at the ship
"What was the deal" one of the crew ask.
"Bring him 100.000 him souls" Kiza appears.
Back in the Flashback
"100.000 souls" Shalltear ask.
"Yes, what do you say"
She stares at his hand and shakes it "Deal".
"Good take this" he place a seal on her wrist. As he do she she is overwhelmed with immeasurable power and transformation.
"You are no longer known as Shalltear Princess of Blackstone but".
"Shalltear Daughter of Thanatos and....
The Princess of Vengeance