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Chapter 81: Walking out with your past

A woman stands over a tomb.

Her steps staggered as if she could barely keep herself upright, let alone keep moving as she did. Still, she approaches the marble and frost covered coffin, still splendid after all these years.

Unlike herself.

Time does not favor the living.

Her beauty had aged and faded, drier than the withered crops that did not survive the latest bout of yearly famine. With her trembling weak frame and washed out features, she was better suited among the dead than with the living. Her hair, once a flowing curtain of rich spun honey, hung limply, loosely, over her thin frame. Her skin pale to the point of translucency resembled that of a corpse.

But it was her eyes that were truly lifeless.

No amount of extravagant dresses or sparkling jewels, the empty memoirs of a better time, could hide this fact.

But she still held this sense of honor, of poise. Even if the wind looks liked it would blow and crumble her, it did not. There was a bold sense of dignity not in what she wore but who she is, must have been, down to her core. After so many years she can finally see herself for who she is.

She is like a character in a fairy tale told long ago. A starring role in an epic, only for the fact that her story was still ongoing. A survivor of a never ending tragedy that reached its climax long ago.

She was not truly elderly despite the wrinkles to her eyes, her hands. Time has not been kind to her. This life has not been kind, not for a very long time now.

Despite what the people say she is no fool, not really.

How could she be? With all that she's been through, all that she's seen. No, it was simply easier to play the fool, easier to bide her time and survive.

What? She asks herself.... what is there to survive for now?

Her beloved darling has been slain, turned over and betrayed by his own men. Not the final blade but they might as well have polished the ax and opened the doors with a bow.

Darling.....oh her darling! His decapitated head was mounted above the walls of what should have been home, the safest place for them to be. But it never did feel like home, not to her. Not in the way that warm white stones and the sea did.

Her children were either dead or worse. Sold in the game of politics.

The precious firstborn was brave and bold, accomplished in everything a man should be. But nothing but food for the vultures on the battlefield. There was not even enough of a body to bury. Her son, oh by the goddess her beloved son!

Her second, a gentle daughter with her blood running through her delicate veins, sentenced to a fate far worse than death for women. How she must resent this useless mother, this cruel fate for how she must survive. If she is still alive. If.

Her youngest, her sweet, killed defending his father, though he was far too young and weak to do so. His mangled corpse decorated and paraded like a wretched roast game to the mad masses.

Her babies! Oh but she doesn't know, not really! She does not know anymore what has become of them. What is true or but hatred fueled rumors? She knows but she never saw, her eyes forever shielded, protected, and forever blind.

What she does know is that there is no saving them, not anymore. There is no atonement for herself.

One by one all her precious people left.

Dead. Dead and gone.

It doesn't matter, they're gone. Gone and she is the only (not) fool who survived. The worst pain goes to not to those who have passed but to the ones left, the ones who remain. And she has been buried alive in her grief for so long for she is the only one left.

She wants to die, wants to join them. It is now she understands why others take to the bottle, to the blade and to beg for death to take them away.

It hurts too much to be the one left behind.

But she can't, they wouldn't let her.

She had to be kept alive. Had to be kept protected, whether as a mercy, as a figure. SO many had begged, had died so that she could live. But no one had asked if she wanted to, if she wanted any of this.

As if she were a toy. A gilded jewel rather than the flesh and beating heart of a human. Wasn't that how it was always? Always, since the beginning, and like a lifeless jewel she was dumb and blind to it. Jewels did not think, did not see nor cry.

And cry she did, sobbed and poured like a bawling child.

For she was flesh and blood, not ice or stone. Her dear friends, her important people, picked off one by one like game pray. Her beloved family slain and ripped from her grasps. Everyone just slipped away, right through her fingers.

When did it stop being an accident, a sad circumstance of fate?

Was it when she became an adult? When? Her corination? Or did it go back, back to when the church claimed her? It must have, though she didn't know it. When, how, could she have known?!

Back when-....well, what does it matter now?

The ones she had trusted with her life, the ones her late parents entrusted to care for her, did not simply betray her. Rather they never were on her side from the beginning, and she is the (not) fool who lived tied by their strings.

No more, no more living.

Her blessing, her magic was meant to heal, meant to foresee. It was meant to be a shining light for the future, the burning light to follow to the shore when one was lost at sea. That's what she always thought because how could it be for anything else?

She has not had a dream, a vision in so very long now.

Isn't it obvious? Isn't a sign that her greatest wish will come to be? For there to be no more of a future to see.

The church, the light in this world, to whom she is their supposed savior is now bathed in their own blood. Choked on their own deceit, they lay buried in ruins of their own making. Her powers were meant to heal, and only heal. Never before had she destroyed. Never did anyone, even her, think it was possible.

To think, her greatest enemies has been right beside her the whole time. Her entire life.

And she is done.

Who said revenge would taste sweet? It doesn't. It doesn't taste of anything at all.

After the burning rage, the drainage of every last drop of blood, everything felt cold. Every scream, every tear, and the utterly despicable begging, after all that there is nothing but cold. Bitter bitter cold.

She always hated the cold.

She is done, she has killed the branches and the very root. She the kindest one, the softest one, has brutally committed the greatest sin with her own two hands. Is it really a sin though? Did not her forefathers reach glory upon the back of death? All those needs to be killed.

But she cannot save herself, she does not want too. Not if she's the only one left.

With a weakly glowing light in her palm she leans, almost falls against the exquisitely carved tomb.

Someone's been here before, for they left behind flowers she doesn't recognize. But there were many things, wonderful and damned, that her blind eyes had never seen before. Never will. Such little luxuries, flowers in war? A luxury in time she long could not have afforded.

The sight of such simple little beauty in this unexpected place draws a weak whimper, another sob. It makes her weak in the knees. She rips off the thick, still new drapery, underneath. Rich red she notes, how fitting.

The top of the tomb is frozen to the touch, even covered, but how could this compare to the cold pain, the numbness that was inside her heart?

A withered hand wipes at the now exposed glass, rubbing and crackling the ice off to clear it. The glass top to a coffin.

Breathtaking.

Not the finely carved marble base nor the delicately engraved details that decorate the tomb. Though no expense was spared in its design nor construction that's not the most beautiful part. She did not come for the stone artwork.

No, it was the sleeping beauty inside.

Ethereal, the young maiden inside must be divine. She was as beautiful as a masterfully crafted doll, eyes painted eternally closed.

The doll's flush full features and perfectly flowing hair were that of a fairytale she once so loved. The flow of her soft curls, faded like an aged wine, pinned in all the right places. Delicate heart face, button nose, full lips somehow still flushed with color. Such a proud beauty should never belong to any one man, and it never did.

Her dress, her burial shroud was an otherworldly white that softly draped her in the manner of a goddess. With rosy cheeks and butterfly eyelashes so full and fine, as if they would flutter open at any moment, she must just be asleep.

That's what she was doing yes, merely sleeping.

Frozen in a very long, very peaceful sleep for all these years. How could such a lively beauty be a corpse, let alone a corpse for decades upon decades? Pale yes, skin almost translucent, but far too lovely to be one of the dead. Of course she was merely sleeping, she always loved sleeping.

The glass shatters.

The (not) foolish (not) old woman falls in with a relieved cry.

The glass had exploded, its bits and pieces had the living woman bleeding in various places. How funny that she still had so much warm blood when she always felt so cold? Now and then, it was always just so cold here.

"You were right, you were always right."

But the sleeping beauty does not respond, for she must be sleeping so deeply.

There's no scoff, no scolding, no roll of the eyes or sleepily mumbled 'I told you so'. No tugging of blankets or grumpy grunts that still tucked her in like when they were children.

But that's okay, she must know. She always did.

In the cold, bleeding out and dying, the woman embraces the sleeping beauty tight, not unlike a scared child to a beloved doll. To a beloved one.

In her arms, she finally feels at peace. The seeping blood made roses, redder than any other, bloom all over the crystal white shroud.

In the same way they did as children, the woman holds on wearily, her eyes fluttering as her heartbeat finally slows. It's fine, she would always crawl into her bed back then and would be met with nothing but a few mumbled complaints and a lazy snuggle. This was safe, her arms were always safe.

This felt like home, even if it was terribly unnaturally cold. Her sister's bed was never cold, she hated the cold even worse than she did.

"Good night Rosa, I'll see you in the morning.....I love you."

But Rosalia doesn't respond, she's sleeping too deeply.

That's okay though because Lilyanne can finally fall asleep now, and she does. After all these long dreamless years, she closes her eyes and lets sleep tuck her in. Despite her last words, there is no chance for a morning.

Good night, once and for all.

------

---

-

Crying.

I wake up to a childish screaming, crying. The wail and tantrum of a toddler with a nightmare. In a flash, there is a rush of the usual night duty maids bursting into the nursery, where my sister and I spend our nights.

They scramble to the little bed in the center of the room, where the source of all the awful noise is.

It's a very obvious scene to identify the culprit I'm sure.

In the middle of the pillow fluffed bed should be two small figures. One curled up in blankets, right and cushioned. The other wailing and crying with all the subtlety that an upset toddler wouldn't even bother with. It somehow takes all three of them, fussing and half arguing, to remove the sobbing infant. By then the poor little thing is red and sticky with her own tears and fluids.

If they were reasonable smart maids, they would find it unnatural for another child to still be sleeping through that. They should find my stillness wrong and check up on me.

But I am right, as always, in my previous judgment. My assigned bedroom maids A, B and C are not very bright girls nor do I care enough to do anything about it.

The dense ones are easier to trick and escape from. Also more fun to prank, I never feel any guilt from messing with them.

The foolish young women bump around that in no way would not have woken anyone in the room up, child or adult. What useless maids. What was with it and lower noble houses sending their daughters to be maids as a formal sort of training? How troublesome, it would be far more effective to hire actually qualified people.

Seeing that they can do nothing to calm down the bawling toddler, they finally decide to wrap her up and take her out of the nursery. Most likely to the personal quarters of a more experienced and qualified caretaker, most likely Ms. Gerda. The crying seems to get even worse though, from the echoes I can still hear when the maids finally scramble their way out.

Half the mansion will be awake soon from the sound alone. Lilyanne is just as loud as I am after all.

Then I am left alone again, as it should be. Alone with my own thoughts.

That....was quite the dream. Or was it scary enough to be called a nightmare?

I can't say. I don't feel much of anything. Eh, I as always a weird child, now more than ever with the reincarnation thing. Or is it transmigration? I don't know? What does grampa call it?

A bit of confusion yes but that's more from the overwhelming amount of information to be inferred than that of any true fear. It's a lot to digest. If I was piecing together a story isn't this a shitload of spoilers?

A kingdom gone to ruins. That blasted institution obliterated and destroyed in its own blood. Continous famine, poverty, suffering to the point of such a violent and desolate rebellion. It tastes like the kind of tragedy told only in old tales.

I'm always trying to work towards avoiding the red flags of this life because I'm scared of dying. Yet this odd dream, where my very dead body is featured, doesn't scare me at all.

I assume it's me, that doll named Rosa, stuffed in the ice box.

I assume it's Lilyanne, grown up and old, visiting my grave. How nice, I get such a pretty coffin. Not at all creeped out how my dream corpse stayed fresh and lovely all those supposed years it took for Lilyanne to grow that old. It's just a dream.

Not!

My blessed twin sister has always had a plethora of wonderful abilities that appeared over time as we grew up. One of them being the unheard-of ability to foresee pieces and parts of the future. That's how she could warn of a plague that ravaged the lands when we were 9. Or how she knew to contact and 'save' certain members of her future fanboy harem. The problem was that she could never control her visions. When they would happen, what she would see, who they involved. They didn't disrupt much of her life, being rare but they still made her all the more valuable.

Lilyanne is growing at a much better rate than she used to be, a lifetime ago. She's a healthy and average toddler with the occasional sick spell. No different than any other little girl her age. This must have been one of them, her visions. She's so young now but even then she doesn't recall when these visions started. It could very well have started now or in a few years. At this age it's not like she can recall any of it.

So it's another one of her visions, no big deal. She'll get used to them...right? I'm not scared but I should be. I know I should be scared, worried, something along the lines. This is quite the sob story about to happen. A lot of innocent blood spilled in between I'm sure. But hey what do I care, I was long gone by then.

I am surprised though.

Not the whole running a kingdom to ruin thing. Yes that's awful and all but I am really not surprised. My Lilyanne is an angel but as a practical ruler, I can't even imagine it. Even worse, I can't even imagine her husband. As the head of a kingdom...she definitely married the stupid prince. A stupid prince who may or may not have lost his head if this dream is to believed. How nice.

Sorry Lilyanne, just calling it like it is.

I am also a little mad because I clearly told that stupid rock prince to protect her. But hey that's a lot to ask of anyone. Can't say I'm surprised. They lived a long enough life right? Got busy and all. A lot longer than me at least.

Nor am I surprised about the church's involvement. Rosalia was always wary, suspicious of them, not just because of how they ruined her reputation. She just never had good enough evidence to do anything about them.

I'm surprised because: why did I see it too?

That dream, I'm sure she woke up screaming because of the dream. The only problem was that I saw it too. It played out like a short movie, fully immersive and with great graphics. I wasn't involved of course but I saw it all. That's...never happened before? Why? Is it because she's growing stronger? Is it because of the close contact?

We sleep together every night when in the last lifetime she could only sneak into my bed when she was scared and old enough to do so. Never before have I seen such a vision. How interesting, so that's how it goes.

I should be scared but more than anything I just feel an odd mixture of tired and excited. Tired because this little life of mine is already complicated enough. The visions mean trouble, a lot more trouble. Yet I'm excited because what helpful spoilers these are!

I wasn't here for the full show called life you know. I died at 17 then.

My my my Lilyanne were your visions all this useful? It's like a dangerous cheat sheet! I would think not if she never utilized them fully, though I suppose if they were more this level she would be a lot more traumatized. If she had ever recalled any visions of death and tragedy, certainly she would break out crying like her current baby self is doing now. Surely she would go crying to grampa with these scandalous clues, and I certainly would have heard her wails for days on end. I heard more than enough to know all of my little sister's fears and worries.

My sister isn't the malicious or cunning type, nor is she a very good liar. That's my job. There's no way she could hide this.

But now my cute Lilyanne has shown me such an interesting sight. I wonder if she'll remember this particular dream as she grows up. Maybe she saw it last time too but brushed it off as a childish nightmare. After all who remembers their bad dreams from when they were 2? 3?

Ah yes, there was one regular time of year she would have a vision, no matter the contents.

That moment between midnight and dawn of the new year, like clockwork.

Happy Birthday to us.

I am now officially three years old.

What to do now? Shall I write it all down? I don't have any paper nor parchment in this nursery though. Slate? Then go straight to grampa, wherever he is? Gable? That would be the smart thing to do yes.

But it's cold out and I'm still very much tired from my disturbed sleep. I'm a toddler! This is a problem for the morning. Good luck future Rosalia, back to bed I go.

-----


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
CCmei CCmei

Finally a Lilyanne POV! Aren't you all glad I delivered?

Jk don't kill me. It's plot yo- don't you all want more plot? Months ago I wrote that first half and thought 'ah I'll use that when I start a new volume' but I have no idea how volumes work so UT is just going on as it is. A mess of who knows how many chapters. It's getting longer as I flesh out my side characters

Seriously though whose bonus POV is your guys' fav so far. And who would you most want to read, new or returning?

Anyways Happy Birthday to the Ventrella twins, finally.

------

Fun fact: One of the most well-preserved mummies in the world is that of a baby girl in the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo in Sicily. She was almost 2 years old before she passed and her embalming is so well done that she is often nicknamed 'sleeping beauty'.

And her first name issssssss......you all guessed it! "Rosalia".

This author is kinda morbid yes, sorry.

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