Chapter 1 : Crown of Weeds
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Merope tucked a limp strand of hair behind a dirty ear and looked around the hovel she lived in. It was disgusting, dirty, small, and everything she hated in her life. Unfortunately, it was the only thing in her life. She didn’t have magic like her brother or father. She could barely speak in the snake language, and she didn’t have a pretty feature on her body to boot.
All those reasons compiled and made Merope stay exactly where she was when the world had opened up to her. It had been an entire week since her father and brother had been taken and all the young woman had done was sit by the window. She rarely ate and it had resulting in a bit of fat building around her weak bones, her body trying to preserve itself.
The sunlight barely caught on the grime covered pots and pans but it was enough for Merope to look at them. She wasn’t in good health and walked with a stagger to the ‘kitchen’. She picked one of the pans up and tried to remember the last time she had eaten. It had been so long ago that she had failed to notice the growing gnaw in her stomach.
The weight of the pan made her arm wiggle and shiver under the strain, her hand finally giving out and dropping the metal piece onto the dirt floor. It barely made a sound that registered in Merope’s ears and she just left the pan there.
She wasn’t much a human anymore, the only thread she had with the foreign species her father and brother. With them gone she had no one to even acknowledge her existence. She had rarely done so before and in her lousy existence in the empty home it was hard to do so at the present. Merope walked towards the window and leaned her forehead against it, noticing the chill from the outside. It was the start of winter and that meant the food was going to be in even less supply.
Fate seemed to have her life in its grasp and all Merope could do was wait it out. She had no knowledge of the outside world and would not know the first thing about getting food. There wasn’t much left in the house. It was apparent that either Merope was going to have to learn, or she was going to die. The latter seemed more likely.
At the age of seventeen it was easier than expected for Merope to accept the fact that she was going to die soon. It should have made her feel depressed, or at least darkened her disposition, but all it did was make Merope wish the day would come faster. She had nothing to live for and eventually her father and brother would come back. Then it would return to something she hated. It was a circle of horridness that she was forced to live through.
When would it all end.
Merope took a look outside the window and noticed it was a wonderful day, the sun was shining and that was all it took for Merope to make a decision. The first decision she would make in a string of them. It was a turning point in her life because it meant that she was able to guide herself. To run her own life. There was no controlling father or brother anymore.
The door opened in front of her with barely a touch, swinging on its hinges with a loud, miserable creak. Merope recoiled against the cold, her small arms jumping to cover the goosebumps on her bare shoulders. The light wind blew a bit of her hair in her face and she tucked it again behind a dirty ear. There wasn’t much to do outside, Merope soon figured out. So she simply sat on the ground, tucking her knees into her chest and toying with the one patch of grass near the house wall.
The clack of horse hooves came from somewhere near and Merope glanced up, startled. Perhaps whoever was on the horse would want to talk to her. Merope almost laughed. Almost. No one talked to her and the chance of someone breaking the pattern was so low she wasn’t worried. In fact, Merope didn’t even think whoever it was would notice her. After all, the grime on her outfit matched the wall behind her and there was nothing spectacular about her. She wouldn’t be missed.
The clacking got louder until it was directly in front of her. It faltered for a minute but kept on its way, exactly as Merope had expected. What she hadn’t expected was the second set of hooves that followed closely behind, this time stopping completely in front of the hovel.
“Did you see another horse and rider pass by?” A deep, baritone voice asked from above. Merope didn’t look up, her body shutting down and closing herself off to the person. She had been conditioned to expect abuse when someone spoke to her, and this didn’t feel any different.
But the man stayed on his horse and waited, making Merope feel uncomfortable beyond belief. Eventually she held up a shaking arm and pointed in the direction the sound of hooves had disappeared into.
“Thank you,” the voice said, though the horse didn’t start up again. “Didn’t two men live here?” He asked again, making Merope wish she could melt into the wall. Talking was a horrible thing and having someone talk to her in a civilized manner would only make her realize how much of a waste she was later on.
So Merope only nodded.
“Well, where are they?”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“Do you speak?”
She shook her head.
“Are you alone?”
“Well, I can see that you are destitute. My father owns a large Manor through the woods and we are always in need of a wash maid.” It was as simple as that. Merope looked up and nodded, watching as the man repeated her actions with a nod and kicked his heels into the horse. It reared and speed away from her home.
Perhaps there was something in what the man had said, but Merope didn’t pay them any heed immediately. She stood up and walked through the door, taking her spot next to the window and falling into the painless stupor she was accustomed to.
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