Scarlet slowly opens her eyes to find herself groggily seated in a dim lit room accompanied by a pounding headache.
As she regains consciousness, she attempts to rub the back of her head but suddenly realizes she is restrained, her wrists tied together behind her seat.
Confused and scared, she struggles with all her might to break free but after an exhausting attempt, she desists feeling weak. Shortly after the blurriness disappears, Scarlet lowers her head to spot her feet tied together with rope and cautiously scans her surroundings with her keen elven sight yet fails to elicit her whereabouts after a careful examination.
“Where am I?”, she weakly utters to herself.
Several minutes later, a torch mounted to an alcove facing her direction uncovering the art and architecture of a temple. Scarlet immediately curses herself for not following up on her studies of religion.
A shadowy figure steps into the light illuminated by the torch revealing a woman with dark hair dressed in an alluring, silky black robe accentuating her bosom and wearing a scaled cloak. Wielding a whip in her right hand, she slowly approaches the duchess vicinity and pulls it back and with full force she lashes it across the duchess face causing Scarlet to yelp in pain.
“Wake up Sleeping beauty!” Deidre orders.
Scarlet quells the sting through prayer and meditation ignoring the blood from her nostrils oozing down her lips and staining her nightgown. Deidre examines Scarlet closely noticing the bruises covered over the Dawnsister’s arms and face from her previous beatings. A long red streak from the whiplash runs from the top of her forehead over one of her bloodshot eye all the way down to her blotchy lips. Scarlet exhibits signs of sleep deprivation by the slouched posture, disheveled hair, and droopy eyes.
Deidre smiles pleased at what she sees and remarks, “Well not so beautiful anymore. Sleeping ugly is more like it.”
Scarlet shakily says, “Deidre, Why… why are you doing this to me? I have done nothing to you but showed you love and compassion.”
All humor escapes Deidre’s face and with sudden unrepentant rage, she strikes her again causing Scarlet to cry in anguish once more and tremble in fear.
Deidre yells, “You devious bitch! ENOUGH with your lies! You will pay for all you’ve done! ”
“I …I… I do not follow. What have I done to pain you?”
Irritated by Scarlet’s response, Deidre circles around her captive and answers through clenched teeth, “Don’t toy with me. YOU know very well what you have done. You took Faisal from me. You sent me away to keep us apart.”
Completing the circle, Deidre shouts while spitting in the duchess face. “HE WAS MINE!!!! And you STOLE him from me. And to add insult to injury, you were never worthy of him! He was devoted to you and dedicated his life to protect you! But did YOU the worthless harlot repaid him with the respect and honor he so much deserved. NO! Did you return his unsparing affections? NO!!! Instead you treat him like a pathetic stray mutt to dash to you at your beck and call. For this, you shall pay!”
Scarlet looks wide-eyed at the lunatic standing before her questioning if she can reason with her.
“No…No” Scarlet shakes her head.
“This is a misunderstanding… I can assure you he does not affections for me. He has confessed to me his feelings for you and I encouraged him to propose to you. Secondly, You are gravely mistaken for I do appreciate and respect him. Unlike the customs in Qadira, I treat him as my equal and expect noth… ”
Deidre cuts her off. “LIES… He told me his heart belongs to someone else.”
Scarlet recalls Faisal mentioning he was devoted to someone else who was unattainable in passing and asks. “Did you ever ask him who is the object of his affections?”
Deidre ignores Scarlet question and says, ”It doesn’t matter anyways. Faisal wouldn’t marry an Uncleansed One and YOU refused to perform the tazkiah on me. You told him I wasn’t fit to become a Dawnsister. You never planned on turning me into one. You USED me just like you used him!”
As Deidre pulls back the whip, Scarlet pleas, “No! Stop. I planned on ordaining you once you have matured, completed your studies and have fulfilled all your duties as an acolyte. But how could I when your jealousy has kept you from unveiling your true calling and your selfishness and disobedience prevent you from focusing on your studies and carrying out the Goddess purpose and Our Mission.”
Deidre flustered responds, “But… But I have! I studied the Karain and learned the Qadiran customs and assisted…”
Scarlet bites her lips suppressing her frustration and mutters under her breath. ”Stubborn like Faisal!”
“That is your problem. I have told you countless times we are not in Qadira. You must follow the Book of Dawn doctrines in order to be ordained and work in Tuskany or anywhere in Brevoy and the River Kingdoms for that matter. How could you become a Dawnsister when you heart is not pure … A Dawnsister must atone for all her misdeeds and dedicate her life to helping others. It is not too late for you. You can start by releasing me.”
Deidre remains silent lost in her thoughts. Shortly after, she shakes head eyeing the Duchess with an expression of contempt.
“NO! I don’t need you or your stupid Dawn Book! The Goddess has already given me great powers. More powers than you will ever possess in your pathetic life!”
Confused, Scarlet shakes her head in denial and ponders, ”No. No. That’s not possible. The Goddess would never grant divine powers to those that are not worthy. ”
But turns her attention to her captor and inquires, “Then what do you want from me? “
Deidre presses her face close to Scarlet’s. “I want you to suffer for how you made me suffer by keeping me apart from my beloved Faisal for so long.”
“But… but my people will come for me. Faisal will come for me and see what you have become. Do you think he will ever forgive you when he sees the harm you inflicted on me?”
Deidre bursts out laughing. “Forgetful are we now. I’ll have showed your duchy what a treacherous pathetic weakling you are and they have already forsaken you. Rest assured for no one will come for you. “
She pauses and continues, ”And as for Faisal… well let just say I had assistance bringing you here…”
A tall, dark, broad-shouldered warrior in full-plate Armour emerges from the shadows. Scarlet immediately recognizes the holy symbol tattooed on his forehead. Faisal stands firmly behind Deidre with a stoic expression and a stony demeanor staring blankly at the Dawnsister.
Scarlet screams as Deidre lashes her in the face with the whip. The motionless Faisal watches unfazed by the torture.
“Faisal! What is the matter with you? Please, please help me!” Scarlet pleas.
“He doesn’t answer to you anymore, shrew! Only to me!” Deidre replies. Deidre continuously whips Scarlet releasing her rage until Scarlet’s entire face is reddened.
Within several minutes, Diedre sighs and drops the whip. “I had enough.” She looks intently in blood-shot eyes of the tortured priestess’ and says with defiance and conviction. “I’ll see to it that you will never have him and will never keep us apart. ”
With that she commands the Dawnwarrior, “Finish her!”
“As you proclaim, my love”, Faisal responds.
Scarlet’s heart skips a beat as he unsheathes his sword and slowly approaches her.
“Stop! I am begging you! Do not do this in the name of the Goddess!”
Ignoring the priestess pleas, Faisal lifts his sword to Scarlet’s throat.
The Dawnsister gulps and shakily says, “Faisal! It is I, Scarlet- your friend and a Dawnsister. If you have a soul, I implore you to stop now!!! ”
“Enough already – Kill her!” Deidre orders, her voice overpowering the duchess.
With a swift swing of his sword, his blade pierces through her throat ending Scarlet’s loud, long shriek.
After a very brief moment of excruciating pain, there was darkness.