Path to the Throne (Part III)

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I told you about the seven types of magic. Of them all, death mages are the least popular. They're also called necromancers. Why? Say thanks to the Bright Saint and his followers. They needed an enemy, didn't they? Their parishioners needed to be scared and repulsed. And what's more disgusting than the undead? Or ghouls?

Personally, I always found gaudy courtiers way more disgusting than any cadavers, but that's me. If you show a peasant a living corpse, his pants won't stop stinking until the cows come home.

So the necromancers were exterminated—burned, drowned, beheaded with silver, run through with wooden stakes. Nobody had any mercy for them or their families. Nobody would take mercy on that girl either. Her name was Martha Fael, and like the princess, she was seventeen. Mentally, she was much older, though. Sometimes, life forces you to grow up.

Martha was far from pretty. She was thin as a rake and had black hair, dark eyes, and skin as pale as death itself. Her nose was long, her mouth too wide, and her smile seemed to show twice as many teeth as normal. The most beautiful thing about her face was her eyebrows. Dark, thick, evenly arched, but who'd even notice them, with her looks?

Martha didn't like people. The feeling was mutual. People called her ugly and monstrous. Guys steered clear of her; her sisters laughed at her; her neighbors took pity on her while mocking her behind her back. Even her parents didn't love their daughter.

When everybody hates a necromancer, their gift manifests much earlier. Martha put on her first hex when she was ten. Her victim was the girl next door. Martha was sick of her mocking and wished for her to be covered with acne from head to toe. She didn't say it out loud, at least, but poured on enough anger for the magic to work. That girl can't get rid of her pimples to this day.

How did Martha manage to avoid capture for so long? For seven years? She used her powers very sparingly. And she was scared, too. A thrall of the Bright Saint at the local church told the flock about necromancers and their burning in such graphic terms that Martha did everything possible to control herself.

She might have played a prank or two in the meantime. Somebody couldn't get their dough to rise for seven days straight, someone's daughter was bald for an entire year after her birth before her hair finally started growing...

But one day, everything changed. Martha's little sister was getting married. She was fifteen. They marry them early in the countryside.

Martha was happy for her. She held no grudge. But at the wedding, everybody drank till they were blue. Martha went out, alone. She sat near the barn, and that's where three drunken friends of the groom stumbled upon her.

At first, they just took cheap shots at her, calling her an old maid, a scarecrow, an ugly betty... Then they turned to insults, "You see something like that next to you in bed, you'd get so scared, you'd never wake up." "Nobody would wed you even with a dowry of a hundred gold coins." And, to top it all, "Your husband would never even get it up." Martha wanted to leave, but they wouldn't let her, and she could never handle three guys by herself. Music was playing; nobody would even hear her screams. Everyone was hammered. And it would be so shameful!

Her naiveté and stupidity betrayed her. She should have screamed her guts out, but she didn't say anything. She only realized what was happening when they dragged her into the barn, bragging all the while. "Nobody will marry you, so at least you'll taste some real men." "Now you'll learn what real pleasure is like." "You'll thank us all later."

Rapists are rarely original. But it's hard to understand that when two men are holding your arms while trying to cop a feel, and the third one has pulled off his pants, trying to hike up your skirt.

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