"People of Darkhaven" Lady Cillicia, ruler of Darkhaven, announced " I bring before you the girl that has commited the crime of murdering two of our most beloved students, Nulik Riol and, my younger brother, Taehr. The council of elders has reached a discision as to the punishment of the girl, and I warn you now that the punishment is non-negotiable."

Tall and radiant, she stood on a platform in front of a large mob of the city's inhabitants, people of every race, shape, size and color. She herself was a sea-elf of about seventy (Elves age differently, so she looked to be thirty-ish). Her gold-tinged aquamarine skin gleamed in the sunlight, exquisite sea green curls tumbling about her shoulders. She was both beautiful and powerful, ruling the entire realm of Darkhaven with a strong, capable fist.

Cillicia tugged sharply on the chain she was holding, causing her prisoner to lurch forward.

The girl was far younger than her, bound in manacles and a metal collar attached to the chain Cillicia was holding. Scruffy and rather unkempt, she glared up at her captor with a look full of venom.

"Her punishment" Cillicia decreed "Will be exile."

Cries of rage arose from the crowd. She quelled them with an angry bellow of "ENOUGH!"

Everyone went silent and listened.

"I am as pleased at this decision as you are! But the council has passed its judgment, and that is that."

The mob shuffled out of the square, disappointed and agitated.

Cillicia then turned her full attention to her captive, who was giving her a cold glare. "Happy, Syth? The elders have decided to let you keep your head."

The girl, Syth, scowled at Cillicia. "Execution would have been kinder."

Cillicia laughed. "My, aren't we morbid today?"

"This is the only place where I've ever felt at home and you know it! I'd rather die than lose that!" Syth growled.

The older woman shook her head. "You are such a fool. Whether by my command or not, remaining here would be a guaranteed death sentence. Your home was taken away from you the minute you drew your knife!"

Syth scorled at the ground, refusing to meet Cillicia's eyes. This only made the woman laugh. "Always the defiant one, aren't you?"

"Oh, shut up and just kill me!" Syth spat "It's what the people want- it's what you want! I can see it in your eyes, in the very way you hold yourself."

Cillicia narrowed her eyes at Syth in wrath. "Oh, you would love that, wouldn't you? But you'll live longer, much longer, if only to pay for your crimes with your pain and guilt."

Tears welled up in Syth's eyes. "They deserved everything I did and more! My pain is the payment, but the crime was theirs!"

"Pain?" Cillicia retorted " They were the ones getting cut up! You came out unscathed, you stupid wretch!"

Syth shook her head, sobbing "You all say how much they meant to you, but you can't begin to understand what they meant to me! They were my life, dammit! They meant more to me than you'll ever know. And every moment I live, I despair for them."

Cillicia kicked her in the ribs, making Syth double over on the ground. "SHUT UP! You ignorant whore, you DARE to think that my brother meant more to you than he did to me?! And Nulik, she had a family that loved her, too! Tell that to their bones! The elders were too kind in their punishment, for it doesn't pay the full price!"

Expression filed with pain and hate, Syth glared up at Cillicia. "You fool, don't you understand? I killed myself with that knife, in that room, that morning. I bled my life onto the ground, where it mingled with the blood of my beloved victims."

Another kick to the ribs. Syth felt bones snap, clutching her sides.

"Oh, you will wish you had! You will wish you were dead, after I'm done with you! For I swear, Syth El'Tyr, that you will die by my bidding in ways too horrible for your imagination to conceive of. My assassins will rape you over and over and kill you slowly, so that you can rot in your beloved agony as you fade into darkness."

There was nothing human, elfish, or of any other known race in Syth's eyes as she glowered at Cillicia. Her rage was cold, devoid of anything but pure hatred. "And I swear , by the blood in my veins, that I will die by my own hands."