You were Mortimer, I was Viveca
Many women of our era were drawn and driven to coat their lips in the red man had newly made. Instead, I coated my entirety in the red man had made since its creation. They coated themselves using stubs and fingers. I merely needed a blade. I was not a woman, I was a beast. I survived, I killed and never created. I sought battles not because I wished a challenge. I did it because I was frightened. I wanted them all dead before they could get me. I wanted to be the strongest, so that none could ever end my life.
My name was Viveca.
You knew all this better than anyone, though I still cannot fathom how when we had yet to even have had our first meeting as yet. You knew more of I than most-likely myself, but that is to be expected when the death of your mother in your youth is the farthest you remember, the traumatic sight blanking all events prior. Even the name Viveca was a fabrication to replace what I lost.
Then the day came you and I crossed our blades, and it was I who fell unto the dirt, the weaker of the two murderers. We all understood our fate was the victors' choice and I was ready then to die, for it was all I knew...but you didn't kill me. You let me go, you let me move on.
I didn't understand. I still don't understand why you spared someone like me, who killed remorseless while you murdered filled with reluctance.
I followed you from that day on. I was driven to do so from the moment I spared you. Days passed by, you'd look into the cherry blossoms above the streets and there I was, lounging on the branches. You scoffed; and glared I might add. But you did nothing else but continue on for me to follow. Then came the day you had had enough.
I stood beside you on the street, for you had asked me a question I could surely answer. You wanted to know why I would follow, to which I responded just as I had thought. Then you told me you were a dangerous woman...to that I said: 'but then again the most beautiful flowers are almost always the most dangerous?'
I always found your long raven locks shimmering in the sun to be quite beautiful, and it was even more so when complimenting the scarlet of your face at that moment. To my final days I am sure I will never truly know whether you were red from embarrassment and flattery, or from pure anger at my impertinence.
I was Mortimer. That enough I knew.
From then on we followed each other, we shared the crimes, the spoils, the fears, and even at times our bodies in heated and impassioned nights and days . We even went so far as to share our nervous habits. You found my need to sheathe and unsheathe my blade in the moonlight as quick as possible particularly intriguing for some strange reason. You even had made it a game to see just how fast I could do it.
Your more medical thought process showed through when you offhandedly wondered of the psychological reasoning, convinced as you were that it represented my addictive habit toward the rush of a attempting a life, whether it succeeded or not. As if the glimmer of the moon was my own weapon.
Very little changed in us. At least not at first. You were still of so few words, and I was still so unreachable, or so I had thought. We escaped capture day by day, as society made us what we are-to live as we do, we rid them of what they were-and took the way they lived. It did not matter what we did, we were alive.
I still remember how far our passions had gone in those days, the most notable being when we hid ourselves in a nobles' stables. That day changed so drastically upon our closing eyes as we became fatigued by our meeting. I awoke first, I remember. I stepped out and saw only red. The structure was ablaze. Quick as a flash she ran into my form, a small young woman whose age was betraying childish ignorance and trust in her eyes. She had surely never seen the world till tonight. You stepped out then, your clothes still haphazard, so much even the girl pieced it together with a blush. She called to us to protect her, and despite ourselves we did.
That girl changed us. Soon we fought for her, not ourselves, and as the days went on and she made sure we payed our prices and stayed in line, her eyes never judging us long though, she came to see us as family. A father and mother to replace the ones lost in the fire, and we began to see her...as a daughter.
I miss those days with her, don't you Mortimer?
I still remember the scare you gave the next morning after our fleeing, after we cut any down who would harm her, the one they failed to kill in the fire. She woke to find you staring down at her, her body still cocooned in a bedroll. She rose so quick you two bumped heads, but only she seemed effected by it. When asked why you were staring you responded to her you were testing the rumor that people of your noble blood were the god's chosen, not to be looked upon by the unworthy, and you intended to test it...and you disproved it. The look on her face then was priceless.
Her presence placed such stray thoughts in us. We cared more of her safety than our own, we stayed up all through the nights till she could finally sleep, we let her lean upon us even in the most public of places, and we truly listened with bated breath as she told of how she would see the laws of the land and nobility change.
We even began to hope and vow ourselves to her when she asked us to help her on that path, to spread what she had learned of the world outside of her manor. And that was just the beginning. She spoke of change, and we were convinced we could help her. Make a world where people like us didn't exist. The girl took great offense to that when we would say that, and I remember the tears running down her youthful cheeks even today, years later.
Those thoughts prompted such strange conversation. Remember when you turned to me on that night? We were in silence, no one else besides us, but still we whispered and still we were very close together. Of course you noticed my peculiar interest in anatomy and medical books. Why wouldn't you? Of course you told me of how your own father was a man of medicine, and how you to this day wear the man's robes, the original owner taken before his time long ago.
We stayed up to the night, you and I. What we spoke of was intimate, but peaceful. Stocked with remembrance and story. Dreams long forgotten pushed to the forefront of our minds as we challenged another to never forget the possibilities. I remember I laid my ebony lock coated head toward your shoulders, not enough to touch, certainly not even seen as anything by a passerby. But to us, two who had long ignored the pull to be close to others it spoke volumes.
She changed us so much, right under our noses...and we didn't even seem to mind. We felt whole. We felt happy. It went by so quickly, how fast this cruel world we live in took her.
You truly loved her, didn't you Viveca? The way you charged into those men, those soldiers, cutting them apart in their own land, our land, her land, the girl these men did not save as they claimed they would for all citizens, screaming atop your lungs: 'why did she have to die?'. I wish even now I could have given an answer that would have helped you. I could see the pain in your eyes, and mine surely reflected it. We lost something dear to us, and they did nothing to stop it. Perhaps it was selfish but we never wanted someone close to us to die.
This wasn't as those times long ago, where the girl, naivety of a child within a body of a budding adult would be taken from under our noses for ransom, for sick fantasy, or merely of sheer self-indulgence or reasonless act. We couldn't just follow to your location, we couldn't punish that which took you from us, and we couldn't burn the walls between us as before so many times. Once again that thought: 'we never wanted someone close to us to die.'
It would not be long now before a stray thought like that would enter your mind too. I still remember the look of self-loathing you had from that day forth.
We were shackled down like animals quickly enough. We both knew we wouldn't succeed. That didn't stop you from yelling profanities per second, however. Then the strangest thing happened. Their leader stood before us, his sword drawn. But, just like I to you my darling Viveca, he did not kill us. 'Potential' he called it.
We would be allowed to live...but only at the vow we would serve him. He told me those very words, and accented it with a sword to your throat. Yes or no? The answer was obvious.
So we remained together on this new path, as dogs barking the way for the sun, awaiting the day it would set. But by the time it did you mourned its leaving, and I would not be there to console you. Many years would pass with our new roles as the world changed around us. We two, most needing punishment, were now judges of the masses.
You told me one day, many years later-long after the wars had settled and you had lived enough peace to quell yourself, to be crushed under guilt and actions you never thought on prior. I remember one day you looked at me and smiled, one not malicious but weary and weighted. We had grown somewhat distant I remember, as I had changed, but you found you were incapable of it. So instead you decided it was best you use your strengths to assure those deserving to die were the only ones to fall, and that would be your life from then on.
I was unhappy about that notion, but I couldn't form the words. So I watched you cry out in anger to the public as you wept and loathed yourself in the shadows. You wore that plastered smile and devolved day after day until you couldn't even look yourself in the mirror without first brazenly smashing your head against it, watching your lifeblood flow from a now open wound upon your forehead.
From then on you tried to be the monster people called you, as you wore the name they all gave you. You wore a smile Viveca, but it surely wasn't the same one you gave me and our lost little one. I tried. I really did. But I couldn't be happy for the choice you made. And from what I had seen; neither could you.
Remember that time you scoffed at the studies of medics? Said there was no use for such things with soldiers going to war? We both know the truth. It wasn't that you refused to learn such things. It was that you refused to find you deserve to learn to save lives, instead of end them.
You always were great at seeing through me Mortimer, and I can only blame the decades we had together.
When the wars ended and the dust settled I was left to my thoughts. It hurt Mortimer, seeing you as you were, and I was incapable of following. You stood beside me still no matter how filthy I remained. I wouldn't let you drag yourself with me again. I would hold back my night-fears and sorrow.
But of course you would know.
I'd find myself awakened by my latest memory, hindering the screams in the night that wanted to come out, teeth gnawing into my fingers, and there you were, in the middle of making me some tea to calm my nerves. I worked so hard to ensure I hadn't cried out, I know I hadn't...yet there you were. You still could feel my unease and terror so far away to your own residence and barracks, couldn't you Mortimer?
One of us had to understand me after all. We both knew I didn't. I held back the truth from myself and pushed it away to the bitter end. Didn't I Mortimer? I wept day in and day out, and only you saw that side of me. I eventually was talked into trying to move myself to the medical field. I didn't care if I went from a great leader to a fumbling novice, I wanted to change. But when I gave it to the sun, he assumed I was joking, and I was far too stubborn and self-conscious to deny his assumption. I thought I could stay happy as I was.
Then one day...you died. You survived so many foes, so many wars. Why did you have to die in a damn spar of all things?! I remember it still so vividly, the way my blade pierced you. Our leader the sun always did say we had a habit of taking it too far, of going back to those days when we got too into it all.
You have no idea how much it hurt to know I was the reason you were dying…or to know you refused to blame me. Even as blood flowed out you smiled, assured me it was all okay, and congratulated me on the match and a good life as you passed. The tears that flowed then was before many, and seemingly without end. Neither of these facts I cared of. It was only then I realized. It was only then I accepted the bittersweet truth.
All this time you had long since stopped being a thing of lust. What I had felt for you for years since...was love.
I was just too late to accept that.
"Your letter was very well written captain, but I very much would have preferred you had told me in person." The woman said to the lone tombstone overlooking the sea as she smiled. Her eyes were moments away from pouring, and so noting this, she began to rub her eyes vigorously. "They…they gave me your position by the way."
The girl began to choke back her tears then, and attempts to halt her trembling lips and form. "It's terrible how some people's brains work. They find out their beloved healing mother's past and suddenly everything you had done for them is forgotten. Many are leaving us now. They would rather assume the face you gave us was a cruel mask than believe such a criminal as you once were could have changed so much."
At this point the tears fall, and she doesn't stop them. Instead she chooses to overpower them as she yells to regain her voice and continues to speak to the late captain's grave. "It sickens me how their minds work. But if I can take solace in anything, 'mother', it is that you're with Mortimer again finally. That was his name right? I didn't mean to pry, your journal was just sitting right there. You know the one, the one you said you confiscated from a rougher patient and never gave back?"
The woman paused, as if waiting an answer; even knowing none will come. "Don't worry by the way, I'm sure the tears you wouldn't stop shedding to the surprise of those attending his funeral were more than enough to convince whatever higher power is up there just how much you need each other." The girl finishes with a great and bright smile as she lifts herself up to ready her departure.
Turning back one last time, the girl decides it best she get it out of her system, lest she dwell on it for years to come. "I wouldn't have cared, you know. You could have told me. I was always there for you, you always relied on me, but you could never bring yourself to tell me...did you really think yourself so undeserving of love miss Viveca?"
I had attended the funeral, much to the spite and chagrin of a mass of them. They had expected me to smile that fake smile they assumed was always there, but many were deeply surprised, and some even deeply cut to hear me weep at that coffin. That which truly announced your death, nothing to argue around it.
Our lead scientist of that age saw fit to laugh at me at my passing the streets, or at our meetings. He commented to me how ironic it was, that if I had merely learned the healing trade that was being taught for so long which I brushed off day after day I may have been able to stop the bleeding. I could have saved you.
From that day forward I had a master of the crafts teach me. This time when I came to our leading sun, my hopes set on this new path, he did not see it a joke. He understood. He gave me a wry smile of consent, and assured me I could take as much my time toward this goal as I desired.
I was rough, I was quick to anger, but I went into the studies. I never stopped. No matter what others said, or how others looked at me when I would come to their aid, I kept on my work. My master told me that my drive was strong, but blind and reason-less. He tried to reason with me, just as you used to Mortimer. He said I shouldn't be so driven by guilt and loathing as I was.
But I didn't listen, and still don't. Every time I did something right though, every time the image of who I had been began to fade from the minds of others, I still remembered.
I remember most vividly the day I first truly healed someone who needed it, and not someone part of a test. A small child, on the ground from hunger, convulsing with all only looking and none helping. As I came into the circle they all backed away from me in fear. I did not pay it any mind, for they had every right to do so.
I healed the girl. When she finally looked up to me she began to have tears in her eyes, and I admit it cut to be feared even after what I did for her…but then she surprised me. She leaped upon me in the strongest hug she could muster, thanking me till the sun began to set. I…had never been one that people have thanked, or even one people were grateful to have come. Not until that day.
And that is how it all went from there Mortimer. Every day I healed more and more people, and every time a smile would begin to grace my face. I ignored my soldiers even, but they knew how much it meant to me. But every time, in the moments before my eyes shut in rest, I would remember what I had done in the past, and feel such guilt for living such a peaceful and happy life on that day. For years I attempted to follow you, to bring my own end. Each and every time I was stopped. In the end I lived on for years more to come.
Oh, and Isabelle? Isabelle, I know you're reading this. I want you too to know just how deeply I cared...for all of you. You were what gave me the strength to keep striving to become the woman I should have always been. The woman who I was far, far too late in becoming. The day our lord recommended I be the one charged to care for those who lost families and been orphaned in the past wars was the happiest in my life.
I thought him a fool, argued I was wrong for the role. But he only laughed at that. Those years you all vowed to be a great healer like me; I was so proud. I still am. I'll keep living, as long as I can, until I've saved enough lives to counter the amount I took. I told myself this many years now ago. But, I believe my trial will finally soon be ended.
I'm coming Mortimer. This time, I won't rest until I've made it all up to you. Every time I wasn't the person I could have been. Every time I drove us into danger. Every time I refused to accept that I cared. I'll make up for all of it, and no one will convince me otherwise.
Not even…No. Especially not you.