She's also illiterate. ;) A nickname for Sistine: Tina. I love it. #Potterhead
Cue "He's Listening to You, Tina" from Fantastic Beasts
I looked up from my playing when I heard a tortured scream. My heart began racing and I stood, placing my wooden horse on the table. I slipped my feet into my boots and opened the door. What I saw made me feel something I could never describe.
My brother, Hagen, lay on the gravel road outside the house, curled into a ball. Three men barely older than he stood around him kicking him, whipping him, spitting on him, doing anything they could to inflict pain.
"Where is he?!" the largest man yelled. He lay a harsh blow on my brother's back, ripping his shirt open. Blood dripped from every inch of his skin and stained the road.
"I told you I don't know!" Hagen pleaded.
"Stupid boy!" another man said, kicking him thrice in the stomach. Hagen screamed and wrapped his arms around his midriff, trying to ease the pain. The third man kicked him hard in the back and a resounding crack filled my ears. Hagen's cries were intolerable.
"Get him up," the first growled. The other two scrambled to grab Hagen's arms and held him up, his legs limp, so his bloodied back faced the first. The man began whipping him, never even pausing to breath. My brother sobbed and begged him to stop, but he was merciless. It was then I realized I was screaming too. I ran to the man and grabbed his arm, but he threw me backward and kicked me harshly in the stomach. There I lay, regaining my breath as I could only watch my brother being tortured.
With every blow, his cries grew weaker until his head drooped and he was silent. But still, he jerked whenever the whip made contact with his shredded skin.
"Drop him," the first said, breathing heavily.
They obeyed and my brother crumpled to the ground. The first ran a hand over the whip as if to wring it out and blood poured onto the ground. He pocketed the cursed weapon and motioned for his men to follow him. They mounted their horses and rode off.
On shaking legs, I stood and ran to my brother's side.
"Hagen," I pleaded, putting his head in my lap. His hair was plastered to his scalp with blood and sweat. "Hagen, stay with me. I need you!"
"Sistine." His words were hardly audible. They came out as a croaky whisper, his lips barely moving. "Run. Go." He took something out of his pocket and placed it in my hand, closing my fingers around it. "Run, please."
I shook my head, tears streaming down my face and blurring my vision. "No, Hagen. I can't leave you. You can't leave me!"
He gave a pained smile. "It's better this way." He lifted a quivering hand and touched my face. "I love you, Tina."
"I love you too, Hagen," I whimpered.
His eyebrows suddenly creased and he gave a groan. "I'm so sorry," he said. And then he was gone. His last breath was shaky. It spoke all the things he never could have said. It spoke of the pain, the beauty, the darkness, the light that he had seen in his life. It wasn't a good way to die, but he did it well.
I stood, not knowing where to go. I looked down at my hands, my clothes, the silver locket he had placed in my hand, all covered in blood. Hagen's blood. My brother's precious blood which was never meant to be spilled. Then I remembered his order. But I was too stubborn. I didn't want to run. So I curled up next to him. And I cried.
My eyes flickered open. The morning was young, the sun was visible on the horizon. I thought of my dream and brushed it off. I wouldn't let that ruin my day. This day was going to be absolutely perfect. I smiled as I thought of the delicious breakfast I would have; a fresh loaf of bread with a handful of strawberries and some cow's milk. I stretched and petted Valley's head. The large she-wolf opened her eyes and looked at me.
"See you soon," I said, rubbing her behind her ears. She butted her head into my knee. "Of course, I'll come back," I replied. "I'm just going out to get breakfast. I won't be long." Then I straightened up and began heading out, singing contentedly.
Once upon a time and long ago
I heard someone singing soft and low
Now when day is done and night is near
I recall this song I used to hear
My child, my very own
Don't be afraid, you're not alone
Sleep until the dawn, for all is well
Long ago this song was sung to me
Now it's just a distant melody
Somewhere from the past I used to know
Once upon a time and-
I stopped, freezing like a deer. Only a few meters ahead of me was a sleeping figure, laying on the ground. They were wrapped in a thick cloak, their belongings right next to them. A fire pit held a few coals, still red and hot. I approached them and saw that they were a man. He had long red hair and his skin was deeply tanned. I caught a glimpse of a knife in his right hand. He was handsome, and for a second, I contemplated stealing from him. I ended up going with stealing.
Cue "The Thief" from Hugo
Keeping my eyes on him, I opened his bag slowly and began taking his belongings out. I opened a sack of food and breathed deeply. My stomach growled loudly and the man shifted. I froze until I was sure he was asleep, and then dumped out the food. All of it I could get easily except for cheese. Cheese was hard to come by in these parts because the man who sold it had the eyes and temper of a hawk. I pocketed the cheese in my cloak and proceeded to open another burlap sack and found it full of coins. I took five, placing the bag back in carefully so I wouldn't rattle the contents. Then I spotted a thick wool blanket. It was nearing fall and I knew I would need extra warmth, so I took that too. Everything else was useless: books I couldn't read, weapons, clothes that were far too big for me, a map. I studied the map for a second, running my fingers over the beautiful paint. The islands were completed with mountains, forests, valleys. The sprawling words were gorgeous, though I couldn't read them. I felt an urge to take it, but as I looked back at the man, I changed my mind and placed it back in the bag.
I took one last quick look and began to creep away slowly. Then there was a crack underfoot that seemed to last for eternity.
Please don't wake up, I thought desperately, freezing in place.
There was a rustling and then a shout. "Who goes there?"
That did it. I took off like a wild rabbit.
"Halt!" I heard him yell from behind me. That didn't stop me. Until I tripped over a rock and landed flat on my stomach, knocking the air out of me. The stolen coins scattered across the ground and I lost my grasp on the blanket. I sat up on my elbows, struggling to breathe as I heard footsteps behind me. A strong hand grasped the back of my tunic and lifted me up, shoving my back against a tree. The man held a knife to my neck, glaring fiercely.
"Who are you?" he ordered.
"And why should I tell you?" I retorted in a hoarse croak. He pushed the knife harder.
"Because if you don't, you can spend the rest of your life in the dungeons."
"Well, that doesn't sound very pleasant."
"Then answer me!"
"Just because I'm not fond of rats, I'll tell you. My name is Tove Jorunn."
"You are a terrible liar," he said, shaking his head. "I'll give you one more chance before I slit your throat."
I raised an eyebrow, a lopsided smile on my face. "I thought you said you were going to put me in a dungeon." He gave me a dirty look. I groaned. I had nowhere to run. "The name's Sistine Machiavelli. Now can I go home?"
"Give me everything you stole."
Rolling my eyes, I took the cheese out of my pocket and put it on top of his head. "One wedge of cheese and over there is five coins and a blanket." I pointed.
He took the cheese off his head, irritated, and pocketed it. Then he pulled out a length of rope and tied my wrists behind the trunk of the tree. As he went to pick up his other belongings, I undid the rope and scaled the tree, hiding among the leaves. He turned around. When he saw me missing, he swore loudly, cursing me.
I hung from a branch with my legs and looked at him. "Looking for someone? That's cute, were you worried?"
He glared as I jumped down from the tree and approached him, the length of rope in my hand. "So what's your name?" I asked.
"Now why should I tell you?"
"Funny, I recognize those words."
He gave a loud sigh as he bound my wrists in front of me, using a different, more intricate knot. "Captain Alton," he said, leading me forward.
"Your name is Captain Alton? As in, your first name is Captain, your surname is Alton?"
"What? No. My name is- Wait. Why am I even speaking to you?"
I shrugged. "You started it. So where are you heading off to?"
"You do realize I don't trust you."
"Of course I do. No one does. Well, except Valley and her pups, but that's about it."
I grinned broadly. "You do realize I don't trust you."
"Please stop talking."
"I mean it!"
There was a short silence where we walked back to his camp.
"So I'm confused," I said, breaking the silence.
"About what?" Alton asked, annoyed.
"You said you would arrest me if I didn't tell you my name, right? Why am I still being arrested?"
"For thievery. Now would you please just shut up?"
"Then I'll have to it for you."
I shook my head. "I don't think that will be necessary."
"Oh, I'm sure it will." He pulled out a thick strip of cloth from his bag, but before he could get back to me, I ran. I didn't look behind me, despite his yells. I just kept running until I reached where Valley lay. She looked at my face first, then my bound wrists. Unless my eyes were playing tricks on me, she gave me an exasperated look. I held out my hands and she bit the rope off. I rubbed her head.
"I'm going on a little trip, all right? I'll be safe, I promise. I've got a guard captain to take care of me." I strapped my knife onto my belt and looked into the wolf's worried eyes. "It'll be okay, Valley. Don't worry." I gave her a kiss on her head and hugged her around her neck. "I love you."
Then I stood and went on my way. When I reached Alton's camp, I saw that he was gone.
"Typical," I muttered. No one wanted to travel with a dirty little orphan, no matter what I had done. I took a deep breath through my nose and caught his scent going left, through the streets. Cue "End Titles" from Fantastic Beasts. The sun was now above the trees and I heard merchants preparing for the day. I took off running, knowing I needed to hurry. If he was like some guard captains I'd met, he was fast and strong. As I ran through the street, I heard yells and shouts telling me to go back to where I came from, and directing me to the prison, the farms, and other awful places. Despite their attention on me, I managed to steal an apple and a few carrots without them noticing. I spotted a red-haired man up ahead and knew it was him. With a fierce roar, I jumped onto his shoulders.
He threw me to the ground, but I rolled backward and immediately stood again, grabbing onto his bag, which he held in his right fist.
"Get out of here, you stupid girl!" he shouted. It was then I realized it wasn't Alton. It was a far older man with grey eyes and a long beard.
A hand grabbed my wrist and pulled be backward, allowing the man to leave, muttering under his breath. I turned to see Alton, fire in his eyes.
"What do you think you're doing?!" he snapped. "Are you mad?"
"A little bit," I replied.
He shook his head. "Get as far away from here as possible." He let go and began walking away. I followed behind him like a puppy. He heard me and turned around. "I told you to get away!"
"But I want to go with you!"
He grabbed my arm, staring at me savagely. "You are not coming with me. Not now, not ever, not in a million years. You're nothing by a filthy, thieving, disloyal orphan with no place in this world except with the pigs. Get out of my sight and go back to where you came from." He flung me aside like a wet rag and hurried off.
My blood boiled and I continued behind, following his scent carefully, making sure he didn't notice me.
THAT WAS SO FUN.