in order of appearance :: natasha . mercy . madeline . headmaster witte ]
Begger. It was a dirty, dirty word, and only hers because certain dirty, dirty Royals had chosen stupid, stupid gifts. Natasha had tried so hard to make something pretty, something snowy, something that worked, but it all melted and was ruined before judgement could pass. Angry and afraid, her eyes cast to the floor or a book, Natasha had been in hiding and hid still in a special fortress under a special desk in a special corner of the library where she was sure she was least likely to be seen right away.
A spider, of an untormented sort, always crawled on eight legs-- and the creature with more legs was always the top predator, especially in a lonely home for abandoned girls.
It was about three quarters of an inch across with hairy, spindly legs that sounded with an obtuse scratchiness as it clicked its way across the hardwood floor. Its white body lashed with brown stripes seemed to pulse as it moved.
As it moved right into Natasha's fort. Onto her books and onto her hand.
clickclikc clickclick clickclick Unwelcome guests brought unwelcome chills as Natasha suspected right away what had probably just decided to keep her company, but she didn't want to look right away. Looking over the edge of her book would do god-only-knew-what, and she was tired and miserable enough without looking at creepy crawlys. Still, there was no digoring it when she felt the weight on her skirt that made her freeze or worse, the little spindles of spider feet on her hand.
Slowly, never one to scream or wail or cry for help, the little Princess took a deep breath, releasing her book into her free hand to -flick- it off with a hard swat without so much as a peep as she then held tight to her book, brandishing it as a weapon if it dared to attempt a foolish return.
It was a lullaby singsong in a rosewater voice-- curdled with the blood red of a well worn skirt and the click of mary janes on the resin lacquered floor.
"Oh, Madeline, Madeline-- Shouldn't a beggar girl know that it's always best to come when the court first calls you?"
At nine o'clock behind her princess, standing stiff and senseless, the prince craddled a glass bottle sealed to keep the stench from offense. Full of something white and sour, once a secret sacrifice, now an instrument of cold justice.
"Beggars know naught but their own pitiful filth. What are we to expect of such squalor?"
Button boots surpassed the princess's standing in the room, approaching the pauper's humble dwelling.
Burying her face in her book, Natasha cringed sullenly. Oh, of course they would come here. Of course they would sing their stupid song--and who's fault was it that she couldn't provide a snowy gift? Not hers. It was insane.
They were going to keep coming, they were going to get even more vicious if she kept hiding. She knew it, and it was only in knowing this that Natasha slowly crept out from under her fortress to face the bastard royals that had come calling.
"Oh. She comes." The princess turned to her prince with the ghost of a giggle resting swollen on her loveless lips. "Like a good girl."
A quick turn, the flit and flutter of lace tracking the wake in the step of the Blood Rose.
The prince wasn't one to dawdle when her consort's happiness was at stake - four wide steps had her across the room, one swift snap had the bottle's cap off. Like a vise with untrimmed fingernails, Madeline gripped the beggar by the jaw. The prince took no pleasure from her task, nor was she disgusted.
The bottle tipped and jerked, its contents spilling across the poor, unlucky girl's face.
"Look at you."
The floor turned white at Natasha's feet.
Sour. Milk. Rich food was disgusting, some sweets punishing, and milk by itself was a horror to the young princess who could never really enjoy cookies and milk. Sour milk was nearly vomit worthy as the stunned Natasha choked on some that tried to sneak down her slender throat. Letting out a miserable shriek, the begger sprang back, her shiny orphan shoes slipping in the sour milk and dumping her harshly onto her stomach on the floor where she spat out what she could and scraped at her tongue with her poor, spoiled clothes--laying in the puddle of milk.
Ruthless and cruel with those bright eyes of hers, Mercy laced a hand into the clean hand of the Prince, whispering her thoughts to that bare naked ear.
"Does she look vicious or ill? Which sacrifice will it be today, Maddy?"
The reply was that of a serpent tamed by song.
"She looks to be a fool who's made a mess of herself, both sick and slovenly, who deserves both the rod and the spoiling. But perhaps today the rod will do."
Slovenly only because it was dumped on her in poisonous shades of white, Natasha sullenly stared at the floor with a rigid jaw. She said nothing--she was no fool and she wasn't going to play herself into bigger trouble. There was nowhere to run and no one that would help. She already know, in part, what she would present next time to be left in peace. Bruises would fade in time and she could brush her teeth and eat bread that she knew how to lift from the kitchen to settle her roiling stomach. A ghost on the floor, Princess Natasha bored a flaming hole through the wood.
The click of Mercy's innocent shoes circled around Natasha's silent shoulders, a delicate hand reaching down to touch the girl's hair.
"Oh, Natasha," she sighed. "You smell like a rotting pig with its innards all askew."
That gentle hand turned all too treacherous as it knotted into a fist in the older girl's hair, yanking her up off the ground with all the force that darling frame could muster.
"We have to go see the headmaster-- he won't be please with what a naughty, dirty, filthy girl you've been."
The prince observed, her presence paving Mercy's way to the door in glassy stares.
I smell like all these nasty things and look nasty and feel nasty because -you- have nothing better to do than be a bored, selfish hustler. Natasha thought scaldingly, gritting her teeth and balling her pretty pianist hands into angry little fists. She closed her pretty eyes because they weren't pretty right now--they were colder meaner than the snow she had failed to bring them.
The redheaded girl and her dainty reprieve shoved the soiled brunette headlong through the door, sending her crashing through the unlatched barricade and into the opposing wall.
"Pity-- not only is she filthy but she's clumsy too."
Kindly, the prince followed and took a fistful of the curdled hair and tugged the wreckage away from the princess and dragged the beggar along like so much rubbish.
"I love our headmaster so - he never fails to straighten out girls like her." Madeline was blissfully sincere in both her adoration and her principles. A mad grin came across her face like a childish splatterpaint playbox gone awry.
You would only be so graceful if I put your face through the window. Stained glass--just so you feel at home with things prettier than you. All unspoken, all boiling below the surface, all swallowed back again and again as Natasha hissed in unvoiced pain, her own fingers clinging desperately to her hair as she folowed with angry steps.
They descended the steps to the first floor, to the Headmaster's office-- to the right of the foyer and ten feet down the hall.
The monster's lair.
The little redhead knocked delicately as Madeline apprehended their captive.
"Headmaster Witte! Sir! Someone's made a dreadful mess!" The prince cried for the creature to help her, help her please, with the wretched, wicked girl she held now by the collar.
Yes, thats right--the lactosintolerant girl had decided it would be a fabulous idea to bath in milk in the library. Natasha felt her heart sink, felt a chill settled as she finally looked edgily to the feet of the girls that had dragged her here. A touch of panic, a touch of the desire to be -anywhere else-, Natasha bit her lip and trembled. "I hate milk." Was all she whispered so very, very quietly--enough so that she lipped it more than anything else.
"Enter," the beast rumbled-- the door to his lair was slightly ajar and as Mercy opened the door, the creature was already getting to his feet, the cane he always held with its silver latch and glistening handle trembling as he moved himself to standing. He circumvented the desk stained red with a lacquer made from the blood of disobedient girls and stepped, tall and forboding, closer to the trio.
"Oh, Natasha. You smell filthy-- what did you get into, you wicked girl?"
As soon as the devil was close enough to eat the offending girl alive, Madeline released her, pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and began hysterically wiping the dredges of milk from her fingers.
She neared the monster, fearless and tearful, wanting nothing more than his affection, approval, his mauling sort of benevolence to fall upon the dirty princess.
"It was as though she was trying to make us all sick, Sir... It frightened me so..."
"I...I don't know." The most Elusive of Princess' whispered fearfully. Getting here and -being- here wasn't the same, being ratted out for something she hadn't done. It hurt and she fought not to cry, though her lips trembled and she wound her fingers together as the very smell that was being described turned her own stomach with her nerves. "I fell down....in the library...." What was the point of trying to lie for them? Edging back, Natasha dared to look desperately to the traitor before she looked away, not wanting to see the cane or the beast that held it. Normally a prince should have been breaking in the door just now, but Natasha didn't have a Prince anymore and would never have one again.
"Oh, sir, it was just terrible-- I feel faint just remembering." Mercy leaned against Madeline for mocked up support. "The smell of sour milk just sticks to the inside of your nose. I don't think there's anything I can do to get rid of it..."
The creature moved back to his desk and retrieved two sweets, coming back to the girls and placing one chocolate in each of their hands. "Of course-- go outside to play in the fresh air. It will help get the smell out of your memory." The monster's palm patted Madeline on the head as he turned back to Natasha. "But you, girl. Natasha, you dirty, filthy girl..." The headmaster took a few steps towards the girl before he slammed his cane down, two inches away from her sour-milk foot.
"What do you have to say for yourself?"
Blind, allknowing admiration radiated from the impressionable prince, the chocolate gripped in one hand, Mercy's sleeve in the other. She peered at the princess as though triumphant to have escaped the ordeal whole. As if in need.
"Thank you, Headmaster Witte."
The sleeve and those buttoned boots lead Mercy from the room, without a backwards glance.
A yelp, a twitch, a trained stiffening of her shoulders as that cane hit the ground and she was abandoned. No...just left alone. Abandonment suggested that there had been allies at the start. "I'm sorry...." She squeaked in terror of what was to come. I'm sorry I couldn't make something nicer.
The hellbeast took a step to the side and swiped his cane at the back of her knees, sending her to the ground. "Look at yourself, you dirty girl! You're disgusting-- covered in spoiled milk. Keeping on like this, you'll never be a proper lady." The cane's latch was undone and the headmaster pulling a switch from inside it, lashing the poor, unlucky girl across the shoulders, across the spine. "Is this the same care that you put into your schoolwork? Into your chores?"
On her knees, braced by her hands on the floor, the Elusive little girl shook her head in passionate denial. "No Headmaster Witte!" A lash stung and burned across her skin. "I work very hard." And it was the truth, but it wouldn't mean anything here.
"Let's see how you do, then!" Three more lashes and headmaster was lifting the little girl by the collar, dragging her from the room and heading to the stairs. "You said the library, did you not?" The demon shoved the girl up the stairs. "Fetch the mop from the maid's closet upstairs and clean up your mess." Another thrash from the switch, to get the girl moving. "And when you're done, you're spending the night in the Hall of Tears-- without supper-- in those soiled clothes of yours." He snapped the switch against the banister. "If you love to be so disgusting, you filthy girl, you'll sleep in what you reap!"
One leap and two, agile and quick and all too prepared to get out of the way as fast as possible. It was a relief just to get away so quickly, to just clean up a mess and sleep away from the rest of the scary girls. The smell was terrible, but if Natasha got to clean the horrid mess, she could at least clean the stomach-wrenching filth from her mouth before she got locked away.
The monster reclused to his lair once more, deciding then that tonight, Natasha would reside in The Room of Sorrows.