They tell me that they won't hurt me. They promise that they will release me if I would just answer their questions. They say that at night I scream in my sleep, and that they want to help me so I won't do that anymore. Sometimes they stretch their hands towards me like peace offerings rigged with the poison. Their encouraging words are overshadowed by the underlying intentions in their eyes, and the rigid frustration in their postures. They ask me questions and show me drawings, hungrily searching me for answers.

I shut my eyes so I can't see them, and I cover my ears to block out the words.

Their touch is always gentle, and they never hit me no matter how many fits I throw. They only smile in a vacant, apathetic sort of way, as if tending to little more than an inanimate Doll. That is the worst—the emptiness of their smiles when they touch me and tell me to settle. It makes me cry, maybe just to see an emotion cross their faces, but nothing happens. They speak soothingly, and press needlepoints into my arms so that I am exhausted and mute. They put me back in my room for the assault of nightmare after nightmare threaded together by thorny clips of terrible memory.

Most of the time, I am left alone in my lavish cage. I am in a part of the manor no one else is allowed to enter, save for them, and a few guards. It is a truly beautiful stretch of interior design, drenched in finery and decorated with gold. My very bed groans beneath silken finery and decorative pillows, as if softening my personal world to the isolated bubble of my delicate sanity.

Once, from my nest in my bed, I heard the guards speaking, sneering as they gestured to the tastefully hung tapestries and the ornamental swords in my room.

Listening to their words was like hearing a conversation for the first time after being long-submerged in deep water. The guards were candid, perfectly truthful in their distaste, and I understood sanity for a few moments.

"A waste of money!" said the brawny, broad-shouldered guard, kicking at the soft burgundy carpet. The other's likewise response was interrupted by the approach of a third—a very composed man, with a refined sort of elegance.

He nods his head curtly, just low enough to show a polite acknowledgment and both guards step away respectfully. His eyes lock with mine through the bars of my door. Emotions flicker behind dark eyes and I quickly avert my own blue ones. This man, with all of his confidence and presence scares me. I hide beneath the topmost comforter.

He speaks to me from his side of the door in a reasonable but not unnecessarily pitying voice.

"They say you are a murderer." His intonation makes it barely a question. He knows exactly where reality exists, and illusion lurks. Beneath my blanket, I shiver and burrow a little further down.

"But," he continues, in a musing, soft sort of way. "But no such records have been found, and the acknowledgement has yet to fall from your lips." I frown and bite my lip. I gaze up and over my sheets at him, waiting for the next part of his game. He is still staring in a bland fashion, his eyes half fixated on the wallpaper behind my head, but not really.

"So what is the truth Misha?" he says softly, his voice like crushed velvet, rich and predatory. I look up sharply, the thrill of anger cutting through me.

"You know it already, why do you ask?" It is the first time I have spoken in a long time, not since I was locked into this room anyway. There is a prolonged pause. I am just about ready to curl up and go to sleep, to return to my perfect nightmares with their predictable horrors and acute pains, yet he claws me back from sleep.

"But Doll, I want to hear you say it."

"No!" I jerk upwards with a snarl, fixing my glare on his perfect face. He laughs humorlessly and I turn away. I gaze instead at the notch in the wall where the doctor had thrown his clipboard out of frustration, the still-evident bloodstain where I had hit my head, the slim, deadly dagger I had slid beneath the mattress…

"You are so very stubborn little one," he purrs and I can vaguely hear a key turning in the lock of my door.

I laugh softly in my throat as the door swings forward. He is here at last. I am almost to the point of giddy, as the laughter rises in my throat and floods out in violent torrents of hysterical noise. Tears are rising in my eyes and brief stills of nightmare quality imagery threaten my mind.

Shaking, I looked up through my tears, getting a good look at him for the first time. He is tall, a godly vision, handsome, calm, beautiful... There is expectance in his gaze, and an iron determination in the set of his jaw.

"I killed your lover," I whisper, in a mirthful rush of breath.

"Your brother." He replies even softer, allowing a familiar, lithe dagger to peak out from the shadows of his cloak.