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Tekla Holten

The Lord's Dahlia


Her mother paused in the middle of her dance, as the water that had been encircling her body rained to the ground. The door to the training hall was slammed open frightening the young girl that had been imitating her mother. She turned and watched with wide gray eyes as men from the town burst in, frantically clamoring as they fell at her mother's feet.

"Men, the Lord's men, they are invading the town!" one of the townsmen frantically cried.

"Please, you are the only one who can help us! They were already half-way through the town when we left, they'll be here soon enough!"

It was too late. The townsmen faces paled as the splintering of the wood of the front door echoed through the entire complex of their house. Her mother summoned the water on the ground with a graceful swoop of her arm.

"Stay here," she murmured to her daughter and swept out of the hall leading the pack of frightened men.

She listened to the sounds of battle, the clanging of swords and the screams of pain from the men. Underneath, if she strained her ears, the soft rushing sound of water, the sound that reassured her that her mother was still alive. 

The sounds began to die down, and she didn't have to listen so hard to hear the water. But then the sound of the water stopped and she hardly dared to breathe. Water flowed under the training room door, encircling her feet, and she knelt, staring down at her reflection in the unusually still water. Two tears ran down her face and dropped into the water, creating concentric circles that blurred a face so similar to that of her mother.

Her hands formed fists in the water that her mother had once used and it wound its way up her small arms to embrace her torso, reminiscent of the way her mother's arms once had. The door slid open, but her eyes remained firmly planed on the ground as her black hair formed a thick shield around her face.

"Hey, there's a kid left. What should we do with her?" a soldier asked.

"Well, if she's the daughter of the water controller then maybe we should bring her back to the Lord? I mean, he never said not to kill the children, but all the same I'd rather not. And he may have a use for her, if she can control water. After all, its easier to control a child than a grown woman." another soldier answered.

Her mind faintly recognized the thump of knees hitting the floor in front of her crouched body.

"Kid, are you alright? What's your name honey?" the soldier asked. 

When he received no response he gently lifted her chin up, only to flinch back as gray eyes glared at him through a curtain of black hair with as much force as an eleven year old could manage. 

"You killed my mother, you bastard!" she growled through clenched teeth, and with a sharp forward thrust of her palm sent a stream of concentrated water through his heart. The man fell back with a gurgle and she smiled with wicked delight. Delight that soon faded as she realized that she had not only killed a man, but enjoyed it. She threw herself back and sank into darkness.

Ten years later she now danced in a gilded cage festooned with gauzy ribbons that hung from a beam in the Lord's main receiving hall. The Lord called her Dahlia, his exotic and beautiful yet deadly dancing flower. He dressed her in fine silk clothes that fit her body like a second skin and mirrored the water that glided around her body in sinuous lines that caressed her mostly bare skin. Her hair was pulled into a high ponytail and the ends tickled the back of her thighs and often joined in the intricate dance of the water.

Dahlia danced above the guests of the Lord, and while she may have appeared bored and uncaring to them, she was in fact keeping sharp gray eyes on those who warranted suspicion from her birds eye view. Those who may have intended harm to the Lord.

She was slowly swaying her hips with her head tilted back, hair pooling on the floor of the cage, when her slitted eyes landed on a particularly shady man. He was dressed normally, but kept shifting and darting his eyes about nervously at the guards. One of his hands kept clenching around something in his pockets, as he waited in line behind another, fatter man who was blathering on to the Lord.

"As I was saying, it's incredibly important to the empire to employ this certain method in..." as the fatter man continued to talk, she saw the man behind him pull a knife and, without hesitation, sent her water to cover his nose and mouth while another small stream neutralized his weapon. 

"And utilize it to - oh my Gods!" the blathering man screamed as the thrashing of the assassin caught his attention. She finished him off the way she had killed her first man.

With a small gesture of her wrist the water rose up to nuzzle at her face. She ignored the clapping of the Lord and the guards who had failed to see the assassin and concentrated more on the water. It appeared to have taken on a slight reddish-hue, like the diffusion of light shining through a pane of a stained-glass window. She frowned in confusion. The water had seemed almost eager to kill.

She noticed it again the next time she killed for the Lord. The water flew unerringly to its target, no hesitation. It continued to soak in color over the years, gradually turning into a deeper shade of red. The Lord had her outfits changed to better suit this new development.

Dahlia couldn't bring herself to care, preferring not to concentrate on anything in the present, only focusing on the past. The memories of her mother where the only things that comforted her as she was kept in the Lord's household. 

Five Years Later

"Lady Dahlia, the Lord is requesting your presence in the smaller meeting hall. Please go as soon as possible," the head of the guards called up to her home in the rafters.

She sighed in quiet annoyance and quickly pulled a long tunic over her body and stepped off the rafter onto a small disc of water that bore her to the ground. She glided down the halls on silent feet, following the twists and turns of the intricate palace, finally arriving at her destination.

"Lady Dahlia, so glad you could join us, I hope we didn't interrupt anything you were doing." The Lord rose. Even after all these years he was still terrified of the abilities she held. 

She glanced around the small yet ostentatious room. The pillars were gleaming white marble and the floor had streaks of gold vein running through it. The Lord himself was dressed simply for once, a silk robe covered him to his feet, where leather boots peeked out. The advisers were nervous looking men, clutching their packets of papers to their skinny chests. 

"Not at all. What did you need?"

"I've decided that it would be best to get rid of all my enemies at once," the Lord said and gestured imperiously at one of his advisers to continue.

"We've decided to have all his supposed and confirmed enemies invited to a conference with him, in the main receiving hall, of course. We'd like for you to kill all of them, except for one: the main leader. Unless he threatens the Lord. Can you manage this Lady Dahlia?"

"Do you doubt my abilities adviser?"

"N-no of course not!" he squeaked.

She nodded and swept out of the room.

On her way back she was stopped by the Lord who peered down at her over his nose and said, "I know how powerful you are with the ability you hold and it has been brought to my attention by others of you intentions."

"My intentions?"

"Why you stay here. I know you've thought about it, who wouldn't have in your position? So why not just leave. I know you're capable of it.

She smile bitterly, "What would I gain from that? There is nothing for me in the outside world. You, my Lord, destroyed my country, slaughtered everyone that I ever knew or cared about. There is no-one for me out there. Nothing that I could do. I have no practical skills or talents that would help me. If I left, I would either be hunted down and killed or forced into a brothel." She paused. "What would you do?"

Dahlia left him in the hall, speechless.

Three months later the plan had been put into action. Not one of his enemies had turned down the invite, filling the receiving hall to the brim with both men and women milling around, waiting for the appearance of the Lord.

Above them floated Dahlia in her gilded cage, twisting and writhing to the sound of the musicians, amusement for the guests. The Lord stepped from behind a golden curtain with much pomp. He raised a palm to quiet everyone.

"I suppose you would like to know the reason I called you all here. But first, it would be my pleasure to introduce you to Lady Dahlia!"

"He always had a tendency for theatrics," she murmured to herself as she froze in the cage, back arched precariously, the water still weaving around her body. She snapped herself into an upright position, sending little bullets of water at all the intended targets.

The music cut off with a horrible screech of the stringed instruments as the floor was stained red. The Lord laughed in delight as his sole enemy looks around wildly for the cause.

"Ah, Lady Dahlia, that was delightful! Don't you agree my dear sir? This is what happens when you plot against me," he paused and surveyed the man. "Lady Dahlia, now if you wouldn't mind."

As she whipped the water towards the condemned man, she felt a change in the water. It seemed to have a mind of its own, and as it directed itself towards the sole remaining man, she noticed it was now the an alarming shade of red, the color of blood. The man fell to the floor, and the water rushed back to her and coated her in a blood-red sheen. She stopped, seeming frozen, then raised her palms, eyes wide and unseeing.

And she remembered the words of her mother. "Nali, the water is a gift from the gods. You must not misuse it, and never, ever kill anyone with it. Self-defense is fine, as long as you only incapacitate the attacker. The consequences for killing are high. Remember that, please."

The Lord watched with fear at her behavior. Her hands continued to rise up, and at the zenith, two blood-red tears rolled down her face and neck, absorbing into the water on her body. Her hands fell, and one by one the men in the room began to fall, blood streaming from their nose and eyes, beginning with a lowly guard and finally the Lord. Her body wavered, the blood ran off her and she collapsed on the floor of her cage, eyes dulled, body still. The blood-red water rose up to cradle her body one last time, then evaporated into the air.

... ...