SIFRP: Broken Thorns


She could not lift her arms. The rack had done its work, and she wished now that she had risked the elements rather than remain hidden with baseless hope. The Captain who oversaw her torture had been keen, and she focused on her throbbing black eye from where he had struck her, hoping to push out the pain of the rest–her healing back, dislocated arm, broken rib . . . and only the Seven knew what else.

The Seven . . . The unconscious Maester still hung against the wall beside her, and she could hear the screams of the woman whom she had falsely revealed to have been Danica. Where were the Seven? Well, besides the Stranger. He was the darkness that filled her blood-veiled eyes, and the bitterness that sprouted within the pain deep in her chest. She had cracked. Granted, it was either lies or information they already knew, but how long did she have? A day? Two days before they strung her up again and either slit her throat or cut out her tongue?

A wet, ragged sigh garbled up her throat as she leaned her damp, blood-matted head against the cold wall. Her red-stained fingers weakly traced wreaths of thorns against the stone on either side of her. She had embroidered, sewn and painted the pattern so many times she could have drawn it in the dark. A painful chuckle gripped her. She was drawing it in the dark.

Licking her parched lips with her dry tongue, she began to pray. Not out loud; not by any means. A single defiant glare had nearly been the end of her, but she prayed none the less.

To the Father: rain judgement upon their heads.

To the Mother: be with my sons, a-and bless the two who had tried to help me before.

To the Maiden: be with Sable . . . my love . . . whether he sees my false signature in time or not . . .

To the Crone: give my words wisdom so that no matter my fate these bastards will pay. Let the truth be known — not for my sake, but for Sable’s and the slain Paramount.

To the Warrior: grant me strength . . . nay, I should have been dead once already. Give Sable strength; give my sons strength. Please . . . PLEASE let Danica be alive and safe.

To the Smith: I — I am unsure what I could ask of you . . . but if you craft anything, forge Berstag a death worthy of his crimes.

To the Stranger: You may be tired of my company already, but as much as you have dealt to me, give back to these men ten-fold.

To the Old Gods: give me the grace to see this through. But . . . but if not, let my broken thorns make them bleed.

“Fear no fate,” she whispered, her heavy lids closing without protest. “Fear no fate.”


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