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Sunday, October 17, 2010


The finely lacquered doors swung open simultaneously, each one pushed by a guard in rose-colored armor. The guards held the doors back and stood at attention on either side as a young woman entered. Her crimson eyes were downcast, her thin, dark hair greasy from going unwashed for months hanging lankly down her back. Yet her narrow face was still exquisitely lovely, with high cheekbones and careful features that set her apart from most other Dunmer maidens that sported the common arched brows and pursed lips.
The man sitting on the raised dais before her was a mirror image. His own hair was just as dark, hanging almost shaggily around his handsome, fine-boned face, tucked into a gold circlet inlaid with rubies and tied back at the nape of his neck. His pale blue cheeks were smooth until they reached his carefully trimmed beard, then smoother still around his narrow lips. He gazed down on the maiden with his dark eyes full of contempt, the hands portruding from the embroidered sleeves of his robes clenching the arms of his throne tightly.
The guards stopped before the dais, the young woman between them. Slowly, she raised her head, and the second she caught sight of the elderly woman seated beside the man she let out a choked gasp.
“Grandmother!” she cried at once, dashing to the dais as the guards tensed. The woman she was referring to was withered with age, but still beautiful, deep laughter lines etched into the skin around her eyes and snowy white hair topped with a crystal tiara framing her face. The woman stood from her throne, smaller than the one belonging to the man beside her, but still grand, and opened her arms, closing her granddaughter in an embrace. The maiden breathed in the rich scent of roses and books, the smell of her grandmother. She began to sob against the woman’s shoulder.
“Don’t let him do this, Grandmother,” she gasped between shuddering cries. “Don’t let him send me away.”
“Enough!” the man shouted, standing in a sudden flurry of rich purple and scarlet fabric. The hall fell silent save for the sobs of the young maiden, still enveloped in her grandmother’s arms. “Guards!”
“Stay where you are!” the old woman shouted, clutching the girl to her breast, and the guards who had begun to move paused glancing at one another, then at the man, who was called Helseth. The old woman stepped off the dais and knelt down before her granddaughter, grasping her arms tightly. “You must be strong,” she whispered, shaking the girl only slightly. “You know my control over Mournhold is limited even now, perhaps even more so in the coming weeks. You must be strong, Fen. Keep your head raised and always know in your heart that you are the princess of the City of Light.” The old woman clutched the sobbing girl again in a brief embrace, then stood back as one of the guards roughly grabbed the maiden’s arm and pulled her away again.
“Father,” she tried, looking up imploringly at Helseth. “Father, please –
“How dare you address me!” Helseth shouted, and one of the guards shoved Fen roughly to the ground, so she knelt before the two thrones. “You have committed such crimes against this family that you should be ashamed to call yourself by our sacred name!” He paused, composing himself slightly and sitting back down on his throne. “You are hereby stripped of your title and of the name of our family. You are no longer Fenara Almalexia Helseth, Princess of Mournhold. You are merely Fenara, and you are an individual of no consequence. You are now banished from the City of Light. May you never curse our hallowed halls again.” The princess was silent now, her head down. “Get this vile creature out of my sight,” he spat to the guards, and they wordlessly pulled Fenara to her feet and led her back through the lacquered doors.

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