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In the moments after she had regained her composure, Marcella heard the hatch to the boat open up, and her sister finally joining her. “Took ya long enough.” She said in the faux voice. “Everything go alright?”

Ursula understood her sister well, so she could plainly see the stress that had been plaguing her during her absence. If they had been truly alone, she would comfort her, as they had always done for each other for so many years now. “Went fine. They'll be scrambling to figure out who did it and what not. Figure we only got about a week before they find us, but we'll be long gone by then.” It hurt to see her beloved sister in such a way, so she decided it would be best to at least try. “Come on, let's look over the maps again to make sure we're going the right way.” Moving up to the deck of the ship, they were safe at least from the prying ears of their prisoner.

At last, out in the open on the waves, they could take off their masks, and speak as their kind truly do, without gender, without emotion, just barely above a whisper. “Are you all right?” They held hands, a gesture of a deep bond between two Cloaked Figures, for in this contact, they shared all of themselves with each other. “This is nothing like our old lives.”

“I know.” Marcella said. “It's been so long, but the memories will always stay with me, crystal clear and as painful as when it first happened.” To violate a Cloaked Figure was a difficult task in itself, but their old master found a way, and tormented them with it whenever he had a chance. “He is the reason why I feel so broken.”

“We are not broken, we are strong, and we are together. So long as we are together, no one will ever harm us like that again.” Leaning into each other, their invisible foreheads touched, further connecting them and relieving their stress from past traumas. “Come, let us show the little girl how merciful we can be.” After donning their masks once more, the twins gathered fishing wire and metal hooks to bring down with them into the bowels of the simple fishing vessel.

When they were finished setting up, the trunk was unlocked. “My associate and I have been talking.” Marcella said in her gruff, brutish voice. “We've decided the trunk is much too harsh for a proper young lady such as yourself. That's why we got something I think you'll really like. Let's call it a fisherman's hammock.” Laughing menacingly, they hauled the young girl out of the trunk, then took her to a spot where many fish hooks dangled from the ceiling, hung on strong wires to support the weight they would receive.

Taking a strip of leather, he fixed it into her mouth. “Bite down on it if it hurts.” It was then that she was lifted into the air by her hips, the potato sack pushed up to reveal her pale back, where the first hook would go through her skin, looping upwards until it broke out the other side. “The more you struggle, the more it hurts, blind girl.” Marcella was quick to keep arms pinned to her sides, leaving her legs to kick uselessly as she screamed into the leather strip in her mouth.

Each hook added to the pain, droplets of blood splattering onto the ground, painting it red in a horrific sideshow of horror. Only when eight of the hooks had been place down her back did they stop, admiring the grizzly work as she hung from the ceiling in absolute pain. “Bet the trunk is looking pretty good now, ain't it ya stupid bitch?” Marcella said with a chortle. “Now you stay there and have a nice long thought about complying to us about your problems, cause we can always make it work. If you need us, just shout.” With that they left her there, off to relax in their own quarters on the ship.

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Merida lay in the trunk, curled up tightly into a ball. Once again she was in suffocating darkness, her suffering seemed never ending, and it's only been less than a day since she was taken away from the maze, from her family, from the rest of her life. She cried softly into her arms, her face nestled into them, hopefully they'd muffle her sobs. The endless rocking of the waves against the boat made her feel sick, she'd never been on a boat before, not even a small one. Every time her Aunt wanted to take her, it was either her mother or Greta that simply refused. 

She heard stories about her father though, from her Aunt. His named was Evander, he was her Aunt's older brother. She remembered one time when she and her Aunt were sitting in the gardens, she was maybe six or seven years old, a few years before she lost her sight. It was gorgeous, the Dali gardens, with massive Willow trees swaying gently in the breeze, soft white petals floating in the wind. Her Aunt sat in front of her, watching her as she twisted stems of flowers together, braiding them, to make a crown, just large enough for her Aunt's head. She had looked at the woman suddenly, and tilted her head. "Aunt Vesper?" She had asked, and the woman smiled down at her. "Why don't I see my Dad?" Vesper didn't know how to tell her niece this, since she was so young, and the memory still pained the Lieutenant, but she distracted her instead with a story. In the middle, she touched one of Merida's crimson curls and said, "He had hair like fire, just like yours." And she poked her gently on the nose, sending her into a fit of giggles. 

A happier time. A simpler time. But now, she was alone, with no gardens, no Aunt, and no dad. She knew her father was dead, he died at sea, during the war, she knew this. So despite knowing this, she was very confused when she found herself cradled in a man's arm, held against her chest. 

"Hey Kiddo." He said to her, and her eyes snapped open. 

Suddenly, a bright light over took her, and her eyes strained to see. She blinked a few times, but her eyes quickly adjusted. They stood on the water, surrounded by willow trees just like in the Garden's back home. She could see all this, crystal clear. She could see it all. She then remembered the arms around her. The arms around her were safe, and warm, and strong. And the man smelt like salt. She turned her head up to look at the man holding her, he had kind blue eyes, and hair like fire...just like hers. 

"Dad?" Merida asked, her voice cracking as she saw her Aunt's face in his own. They looked so much alike, and yet, that smirk he wore was all his own.  She quickly threw her arms around him, and he was quick to return her embrace. 

"I'm sorry, you deserve better than this." He whispered into her hair, and Merida shoved her face further into his chest, her eyes brimming with tears. She knew what he meant, how could she not? 

"It's not your fault Dad, y-you died... It's not your fault." She said, tears spilling over her freckled cheeks, and she gazed up at him through her thick lashes. He smiled down at her, it was sad, like her felt guilty about everything that had happened to his daughter since his passing. 

 “I’m going to stay with you, kiddo. I won’t leave you alone anymore. I thought Francine would have taken care of you, I thought...”

When he said her mother's name, she felt a pang of sadness sting her heart. She loved her mother, she did, but she didn't feel as her if feelings were returned. All the times she was treated with contempt from the Spidervalley woman, she just didn't feel loved. She squeezed her father tighter, as if he would disappear any second. Blood began to seep into his jacket, Merida noticed this, but she wanted to ignore it, but it sent a wave of panic into her core. But her father distracted her quickly, taking her chin in his hands, tilting her face up to look at him. 

“It doesn’t matter now. Look at how brave you are. You're a Moontraveler." He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and she leaned into his touch. "Moontravelers are warriors. No one can break you." He said gently, his voice full of love for his child. 

He pressed her tightly against him once again as blood seeped into his chest. Merida sniffled, hugging him back as hard as her little arms could manage. 

"I'll be here Merida, I'm sorry. I love you." Her sight began to fade away, and her arms became empty once more as she was left trapped in her little prison, her heart breaking as her father faded away, the scent of the flowers and the clear water lingering in her nostrils, and the warm feeling of a soft kiss on her forehead was all she was left with. Her chest ached as fresh tears stung in her eyes, Her arm reaching out towards the other end of the trunk. 

"Daddy no, c-come back, please.." She whimpered, but he was gone. And she was all alone. 

Fifteen minutes passed, and she heard the lock on the trunk click once again, small shreds of light hit her eyes this time, but not as clearly as it had before when she was with her father. 

“My associate and I have been talking. We've decided the trunk is much too harsh for a proper young lady such as yourself. That's why we got something I think you'll really like. Let's call it a fisherman's hammock.”

A fisherman's hammock? Their laughter meant that she wasn't going to enjoy this at all. She yelped as she was hoisted out of the trunk, and they led her over somewhere, and stopped her, holding her still. Her heart pounded in her chest, what was going on? What were they going to do? What was a fisherman's hamm- 

Her thoughts were disrupted by a thick piece of leather that was wedged between her teeth, and her breath quickened. 

"Bite down on that if it hurts." One of the men said, and suddenly, she was hoisted up by her hips, the burlap sack being lifted to reveal her pale, smooth back. And that's when it started. The piercing of her soft flesh was unbearably painful. She bit down hard on the leather as sharp steel pierced her flesh, going in one side and out the other like her skin was a piece of fabric being prepared for embroidery. She felt blood drip down her back, and as she moved her arms to stop them, they were quickly pinned down by one of the men. She screamed and kicked and sobbed, but after eight times total, she was in a constant state of whimpering and shaking, her body paler than usual as she tried to keep from screaming of struggling, for fear of more blood loss. 

They laughed at her, they laughed right in her scared pale face as they watched her cry silently, in too much shock to realize how much pain she was actually in.  “Bet the trunk is looking pretty good now, ain't it ya stupid bitch? Now you stay there and have a nice long thought about complying to us about your problems, cause we can always make it work. If you need us, just shout.”

"P-plea-please noo.." Merida whimpered, her voice barely above a whisper as she hugged her arms to her chest, afraid to move any more than that. "L-let me down, p-please...!" 

The hooks tugged on her skin, and it felt unnatural as she was suspended, but her legs dangled below her, her toes clenched tightly as she fought to stay as still as possible. Merida closed her eyes tightly, her burlap sack now saturated with her own blood. She bit her lip tightly, whimpers escaping through her teeth. 

"D-daddy..." She cried softly, her voice hoarse from all the screaming. "Aunt V-Vesper... help me.. please.." 

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Life for Merida did not improve under the cruel hands of the Descartes twins. Their cruelty was excruciating, bringing the young woman into the very brink of her sanity, her will nearly lost altogether when things came to a violent head. In the dark of the night, it was time to execute the end of their plan, after seven long days, they would begin what would soon be known as the end of House Uldwar.

The plan was simple, they would land on the beach, ready the ladder, and prepare the corpses for their placement. When it all went down, no one would be the wiser, but all fingers would point towards Uldwar, and they would be primed to take the blame. All that needed to be prepared was their pawn, Merida, who was oh so ready to crucify the warrior clan, all she needed was one last extra push. During the dead of night, the ship hit land, and Marcella felt it be her right to give the girl the final scare before unleashing her upon their enemy.

“Time to get up, Blind Girl. Looks like your lovely Lord is a no show.” From the tone of the fake voice, one could say that he was delighted at this turn of events. “Maybe he found some other little whore to plough, which begs the question now. What do we do with you?” Laughter, and then the trunk was opened. “Don't worry, you'll still get to be a woman. I'll be right gentle with ya, gentleman's promise.”

Naturally she fought, throwing blind fists and kicks where she could, pleading for her virginity while trying to incapacitate Marcella in vain. After an entire week of near endless torture, the proper young lady of the noble house had turned into a wild animal, desperate to get away from her captors. “That's right, gimme a good fight! I like it when a bitch tries to hit me.” Having kept her half starved and mostly deprived of water had weakened her, compound that with her small frame and the injuries inflicted upon her during that time, made overpowering her an easy task.

Wrestling her to the ground, pinned beneath Marcella, the masked tormentor bent down to whisper in her ear. “You can feel it can't ya? That thing sticking into yer stomach just a bit, yeah, that's it, and it's all ready for ya.” In truth it was a broken broom handle tied to Marcella’s leg, but through the fabric it would feel just as real as a man's personal sword. “What's that? You don't want it? Well, if that's the case, then you better squeal for me, bitch. Squeal like the little sow you are, or your first time is gonna be real bloody.” Could this be what it's like to be a God, Marcella wondered. To have such total control over someone's reality, to do with them as you please, to act along a set plan that they could never even fathom. If it is, then she liked it very much, and will likely do anything she can to repeat this feeling, like an addiction one has to the drink or to drugs. She simply must have it again.

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This had to be the longest week of her entire life. Seven whole days of devious new ways to make her scream. Seven days of ways to make her bleed and squirm, and cry. They'd laugh at her, they poke at her, they'd threaten to cut her head off.  "The Young Lord doesn't care if there's a head on whatever he's fucking." They'd tell her. She believed them, oh did she believe them. 

Six nights in the trunk, one night on the hammock, and she was bruised, bloodied, and exhausted. She was half starved, dehydrated, and exhausted. There was no way she could sleep without being terrified in the trunk. The last few days, she could barely hold her head up. She was so ready for them to just toss her into the ocean, tie a rock to her ankles and toss her in. She didn't want to wait for Luis to make her a woman, she'd die a girl, and her body would join her father's in the depths of the ocean. Then finally she'd get to be with her father. 

But Luis Uldwar never came, days and days went by and he never came, and that just made her dread her death more and more. Everytime they opened that trunk, her body shook with fear. Today was no different. 

She had stayed up all night since they shoved her body into the trunk. She was freezing, her body struggling to keep warm. This past week alone, she felt like she lost about fifteen pounds from all the starving and crying she's done. The night before, her captors found it hilarious to bathe her beaten body with freezing cold sea water, to get her ready for the "Young Lord". It wasn't so much a cleaning, more like drenching her in cold sea water till she felt like she was drowning. Getting her ready for her final sleep in the ocean she supposed. Her lips, fingers, and toes were blue, her teeth clattering. 

“Time to get up, Blind Girl. Looks like your lovely Lord is a no show. Maybe he found some other little whore to plough, which begs the question now. What do we do with you?” 

Luis didn't show up. He didn't come to take her. Thank Gaia. 

“Don't worry, you'll still get to be a woman. I'll be right gentle with ya, gentleman's promise.”

The trunk lid opened, and he reached in to grab her, and take her out of the trunk. She screamed, her fists flying, hitting anything she could. Her legs kicked out, struggling as hard as she could. "No, g-get off me!" She screamed. Why wouldn't they just kill her? She was ready, she made peace with her death. She just wanted to be with her Father. Hopefully Aunt Vesper would forgive her for dying. Merida didn't want her Aunt to be alone though, so maybe she could visit her in her dreams. 

She was easily overpowered, her back slamming into the hard wooden floor of the ship, but she still struggled as hard as she could, that was until she felt something hard poke her in the stomach. She froze, her eyes wide, her chest heaving. 

“You can feel it can't ya? That thing sticking into yer stomach just a bit, yeah, that's it, and it's all ready for ya.”

"No, no no no no no no please.." She said, she could feel it, she could feel it poking her. She didn't want to become a woman, not like this. She always thought it'd be on her wedding night, with a man she loved, after she ranked Master in the guild. But now.. 

“What's that? You don't want it? Well, if that's the case, then you better squeal for me, bitch. Squeal like the little sow you are, or your first time is gonna be real bloody.”

Merida's blood pounded in her ears and she pounded her fists into the man hanging over her. "G-get off! Get off me!" She screamed. "J-just kill me already! Just kill me, please!" She screamed, her legs kicking as she tried to get away. "I-I know you're going to do it, so just do it!" She let her fists drop, and she erupted into sobs. 

"P-please... just do i-it..." 

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If only they could, Marcella thought, they would gladly do so, but they had to stick with the plan. Perhaps later down the road they would indulge her, but for now, she had to stay alive just a little bit longer. With an evil chuckle Marcella made a show of slowly undoing the belt buckle of her pants, stopping after there came a thump above, her cue to stop and question it.

“What's that?” She said, stopping and standing up slowly, drawing a dagger she would never really use. “Don't move now, blind girl.” Moving forward, she would go up to the top of the ship. “Who the hell are you? What are you doing on our ship?” The sound of a fight could be heard above. Boxes were broken, with multiple hard crashes against the wooden planks above Merida, a near perfect simulation of a fight for survival. At the end there was the sound of steel being driven into flesh, blood filled gurgling, and the sound of a body crumbling to the floor. Next came the ominous sounds of footsteps coming down the stairs.

“I am sorry I could not get to you sooner, child. Please forgive me.” The voice was soft, definitely feminine, with a nurturing, warm tone to it. “There's no time to tell you who I am now, child. The boat has caught fire, so we must leave now before we perish. Please trust me when I tell you that I am someone you can trust. I will take you back to your family, this I swear.” Helping her back to her feet, Ursula supported her as they walked, wrapping her in a warm cloak after helping her down the rope ladder. Marcella meanwhile was busy putting the boat to the torch.

“My sister and I will escort you to the nearest town. We are on Corinth, not far from the Free Marches. There we can send word, and make sure you are safe. It's over now, child, the nightmare is over.” For her at least, the ordeal was over, but if everything went according to plan, then Luis’s nightmare will be only just beginning.

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The shuffling of fabric, the jingling of metal, Merida wasn’t going to get her wish, was she? He was going to defile her, and then kill her, wasn’t he? He kept laughing, that damned laughter that haunted her thoughts each time she was alone in that trunk. Each time she heard it, she wanted to curl up and hide. But she couldn’t hide now. She was too weak to fight, and too scared to run. She wasn’t supposed to worry about this stuff, the most of her worries was supposed to be, what kind of project would she take on today, reviewing invoices for the Vineyard, and what kind of tea would she have with her strawberry tart at lunch time? Not anything like this. Nothing like this. 

The jingling stopped, and there was a loud thud above deck, making her attacker freeze. 

“What’s that?” He asked, and she heard metal being unsheathed, and her eyes shut tightly, her hands shaking as she brought them up to her ears, covering them, to shield herself from more anger and bloodshed. He told her not to move, but she wasn’t going to anyway. She wouldn’t dare move, if might be worse for her if she did, and she didn’t want to find that out. 

Her hands tightened over her ears as she heard the fighting upstairs, her legs brought themselves closer to her chest, faint whimpers escaped her lips as she lay for what felt like eternity. Footsteps. He returned for her. He was going to hurt her, her time was up. Instead of pain, a gentle hand pulled her hands away from her ears, and a soft, warm voice spoke to her, instead of a gruff male one. 

“I am sorry I couldn’t not get to you sooner, Child. Please forgive me.” 

Merida blinked and sat up, her blind eyes staring right at the woman who came down to her aid. “D-do, I know you? Does my family know you? W-who-?” She was gently interrupted. 

“There’s no time to tell you who I am now, child. The boat has caught fire, so we must leave now before we perish. Please trust me when I tell you that I am someone you can trust. I will take you back to your family, this I swear.” She said, her hands carefully taking her own, and getting her onto her feet. The woman placed a thick cloak around her shoulders, and Merida used one hand to keep it closed around her. The fabric basically drowned her, and the hood covered her eyes, not that she needed them anyway. The woman wrapped an arm around her, helping her stand, and helping her walk through the ship, and out on deck. She wanted to stop, her body was in agony, and this was the first time she’s felt sunlight on any part of her body in eight days, but she pressed on, wanting to go home. 

The woman helped her get down the rope ladder, flames crackling behind her as the place that was her Hell burnt down behind her. Her toes touched sand, and she brought the cloak tighter to her body. The heat from the fire was hot on her back, but it felt good. 

“My sister and I will escort you to the nearest town. We are on Corinth, not far from the Free Marches. There we can send word, and make sure you are safe. It’s over now, child, the nightmare is over.” 

Merida sniffled, and she wiped her nose with her wrist, and she looked at the woman. “How did you know I was here?” She asked her, her blind blue eyes staring right up at her. “D-did, did Aunt Vesper send you? Or Evienne? Lady Halisera, o-or Amplos?” She wanted to go home, desperately, she wanted to go back to her family, she wanted to be with them, and finally, these women were going to take her there. She was going home. 

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"Do not worry about such things, just know that you are not the only one the Uldwars have destroyed in their quest for power." It was not difficult to paint themselves as fellow victims, being the masters of reality for this girl was easy enough to accomplish as much. The truth was far different than that, however, with much more drama attached to it. 

Soon they caught sight of a nearby town, just far enough away so that they would not notice the fire burning on the shoreline nearby. Once they were close enough, it was more than likely they could slip past without much notice, all the while making certain that the Dali were well informed of the circumstances. All that was left after that would be to watch the events unfold and enjoy the sight of House Uldwar crumbling before their very eyes. Revenge was most certainly a delectable dish, that they knew quite well.

"Life for you will not get easier after this, but you will grow stronger from it. People may think lesser of you for this, they will think you are even more delicate than before. Prove that they are wrong in this assertion, that you are more than just a victim or even a survivor, for you are who you are, and only you get to define that identity." How much longer will they continue this cycle of breaking others? Of trying to bend the wills of mortals to their bidding, to force them into servitude? Hard to say, as they themselves were also broken as well, and knew nothing else but how to hurt and to manipulate. 

"Cling to your name, to the love others have for you, and you will find your spirit will be stronger than even the greatest of steel. Do this, and the Uldwars will never be able to hurt you again." Why was she saying these things? The objective is to destroy the girls confidence and to see to it she had nothing but rage for Luis and his family, so why was she offering her comfort? Power was what she wanted, and yet...the means of obtaining it have been wearing heavily on her, as she did not have the strength her sister had to carry out what needed to be done. Could that have been because of what their master had done to her, or had she always been like this?

"Hail, strangers! Wait a moment as we open the gates and let you in to our town." The guards were quick, and Ursula was relieved to see them coming in to make certain of what they were seeing. With the easy part over with, the real work was just now beginning.

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