Scarlet

 

Scarlet gazed through the window of her stone prison.  She let the fine tapestry slide smoothly through her fingers to cover the window in false color and turned back to her cell.
Time had dribbled away, in fits and starts, until there was none left for her.  Tonight, her captivity would end; if all went according to plan, she and the land she’d sold her body to protect would finally be free. 
She shook back the flowing hair that had inspired the name her captor called her and focused on calming her mind and spirit.  The beguiling scent from the bubbling pot suspended over low flames and glowing coals called her to the fireplace.  She’d learned her captor’s tastes well, and the soup she’d made was designed to inflame his appetites…all of them.
“Scarlet!  My one consolation in this desolate purgatory!” 
She schooled her expression into calm obedience and turned to face the big man as he slammed the heavy wooden door behind him.  He hadn’t knocked, of course.  Why would he, when he owned both the castle and the woman?
“My Lord,” she affected a deep curtsy, knowing it bared her alabaster neck.

The hand that grasped her arm to pull her inexorably into his embrace no longer caught on the fine material that draped her body.  Debauchery had replaced the rigors of combat; callouses had softened the same way hard muscles had.  Still, there was enough of the battle-hardened soldier left that she dared not try brute force to win her freedom.
When his lips covered hers and his hands slid with surety over her lush curves, she ignored the screams of instinct and forced herself to remain pliant.  That it was becoming so easy to do so was just another grain through the hourglass.
“My Lord, your dinner waits…” she offered, moving away with sinuous grace to fill a waiting trencher. 
“What have you made for me tonight, my siren?” 
She looked down, feigning submission.  “Mushroom soup, my Lord.  A local delicacy I thought you would enjoy.”
His greed and lust spurred him to finish the soup quickly, barely noticing the delicately nutty flavor of the mushrooms she’d carefully cultivated in the darkest part of the castle.  He pulled her into his arms again, but this time she pulled away slowly and stepped back a few paces.
Scarlet watched the telltale flush of the mushrooms rise in his broad cheeks as he stumbled to his feet to follow, signaling their deadly course.
“Come to the balcony my Lord, you seem flushed.”  She backed away, stepping lightly onto the ledge, her silver eyes flashing in the light of the moon as she pulled back the tapestry.
“Yes, some air…” he muttered vaguely, lumbering to the low sill of the waiting window.  The world seemed to hold its breath as he tottered, reaching for her slender arm.
As they fell together into eternity, her scarlet hair and dress flowing around them in a brilliant trail, she wrapped her arms around him to whisper, “My name is Silraen.”

This post is a response to a prompt from Write on Edge to write about “flavor.”  I confess that I did exceed the 400 word limit by a bit, but since this is the first time I’ve ever broken that limit, I throw myself on the good will of my readers.  I wanted a story that was not the typical, fair maiden triumphs over the evil conqueror sort of thing, and I was inspired by the picture above.

As always, please let me know what you think in the comments! 

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11 thoughts on “Scarlet

  1. Two mushroom soup posts! Both of them awesome. This piece reminded me of Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana. There's a character named … I think Dianora (forgive me if it's wrong – I haven't read it in over 15 years) who is imprisoned by the tyrant but falls in love with him against her will. She tries to betray him and fails. I like that Silraen succeeds.

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  2. Wow. This was the second post I've come full of sensory detail. I liked the way you handled the “romance” part of this story, lulling me into thinking that's the genre I was reading and then came THE END. Literally, the end:~)

    If you don't write romance, you really should give it a try. This was good:~)

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  3. It's kind of dark and would work well as a beginning or an ending. You know how a lot of modern novels have those flashback scenes? As for forgiving the word limit crime, how could I not when I'm a repeat offender?! 🙂

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  4. I kinda wish she'd managed to get him to fall over the edge while she stood watching a laughing at his stupidity.

    But still, a great little bit of flash fiction. I love that picture.

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  5. I have to admit that I'm with Carrie and wish she could have watched him fall to his death without her 🙂 Your details are just lovely, the contrasts of color work so well to paint the scene.

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  6. Jesterqueen – I was looking through my inspiration pics on Pinterest and came across a brilliant blue mushroom. That's what got me started on the mushroom thing…apparently I require visual stimulation? I wanted Silraen to be strong, and willing to make the sacrifice.

    Sara – Thanks! I don't really write much traditional romance. Mostly because I was recently informed that in order to be published the main character pretty much has to have sex in the first like 3 or 4 chapters…and I blush terribly when I write about sex.

    Idiosyncraticeye – but your offenses never offend! I like the structure of a word limit, but I just couldn't cut this one.

    Carrie & Angela – I really really thought about Silraen surviving and watching him fall. Maybe whispering her name in his ear as she gave him a little help out the window. But, I realized two things: A) that would have made my story WAY over the word limit, and B) the guy's an evil despot, so I'm thinking there were likely guards outside the door, which means she's dead either way. At least this way it was her choice. Besides, the lady has silver eyes – who's to say she actually died? 😉

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  7. This is so haunting and beautiful. All though I would love to see him fall to his death, as well, she would be blamed for it so I am “glad” she had closure. The photo really brings your piece to life.

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  8. Mmmm… all sorts of flavours here! Desperation, lust, determination… not to mention the 'delicately nutty flavour of the mushrooms that she had cultivated in the darkest part of the castle…' Not to mention a beautiful name. Silraen! Wow 🙂

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