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Little Marionettes

Chapter 1:
Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do

It was a cold brisk night.  The tall dark haired man shivered a bit before pushing his long black hair out of his face.  It had been a long day out in the fields and he was exhausted, but the money was good.  It kept him out of gangs and out of trouble, what with trying to provide for his family.  His father had died eight years prior leaving his mother to provide for her self and his two sisters.  Of course, he had taken it upon himself to relieve his mother from the stress of providing for him and his younger sister.  Thankfully his eldest sister Emilia had married rich and was now taken care of by her husband.  He hadn't seen her for at least a year.  She was dead to him.  She had abandoned her family for her own greed.  He seethed at this thought, the cool night air biting at his bare skin.  He would have brought a shirt if he knew it was going to be this cold…why was it so cold?  It was the middle of summer in Spain.  He guessed the nobles were hording all the good weather for themselves…he hated them.  If he had the chance he would kill a noble…He felt uneasy, as if someone was watching him.  His blue eyes searched the surrounding area for any sign of life.  He saw movement from the corner of his eye and turned around abruptly to face it.  He let out an annoyed sigh as he realized what it was a cat.  Stupid things. He swore in under his breath.  "Almost home…" he was a little relieved at his observation.  He could see the lighted windows of his home in the distance.   Sighing a little he rubbed his tired eyes.  He was sure he'd sleep well that night.
He opened the door  and looked around the small home.  His mother had fallen asleep by the small fireplace again.  His lips turned upward into the smallest of smiles before draping a woven blanket over her.
"Armando!" A little girl with frizzy black hair ran full-speed at the man, practically tackling his leg with a hug. "You're back!"
Armando picked up the small girl and used a hand to cover her mouth, "Not so loud,  Mama's trying to sleep, silly Lily."
She giggled and squirmed a little, her cheeks a light pink from the happiness bubbling within her. "Mama fell asleep by the fireplace again." She said a bit muffled by his hand.
Their mother didn't wake up by their loud antics only because this happened every night and she was used to it.
He grinned and sat her down on one of the two bed's in the small one room house.  "Shouldn't you be asleep?  It's late."
"I couldn't sleep without my big brother beside me." She said with a big grin.
He gave a long sigh, "Mama got you the bed so you'd sleep in it.  You won't be able to sleep in my bed forever, you're getting to big for that." he laughed, "You're growing as tall as a corn stack."
Lily frowned a little. "That's not true. I'll always be little so I'll always be able to sleep in your bed."
He gave his sister a little pat on the head, "Sure you will…just as soon as pigs fly."
She held up her arms, trying to hug him without falling off the bed. She couldn't quite reach her arms all the way around his body. She was small for her age. Much smaller than the other children. "You're too big!" She huffed.
Armando frowned a little at this.  Yes he was quite muscular but women didn't want muscular men.  Muscular men meant they worked too hard.  No, women wanted fat men because fat meant money.  Emilia had married a fat man.  She had married well.  "Well…I've almost got enough pesetas saved up to continue my studies and after I get a good job I'll move us into a mansion in Madrid and fatten you and Mama up.  By that time I'll be easier to hug."
Lily smiled sweetly, trying to imagine how life would be after that. A big house and food on the table every day felt like a dream. That was when she made a little face. "I don't have to wear fancy dresses will I? I heard girls can't play with the boys and get their clothes dirty."
Armando smiled softly, "But that's a requirement of being rich, didn't you know?"
"I don't want to be rich, then." She crossed her arms and stuck out her lower lip.
He stood up to wash his face in the by bucket of water, "Yes you do.  You just don't know it yet, silly Lily."
She dropped her arms, her blue eyes blank of expression. She wasn't sure what to think about that. Armando said a lot of things that confused her. "But… I like playing…"
"You will still play when we're rich.  But you'll play with real toys.  Toys that are made of gold and diamonds." He glanced over his broad shoulder at her.
"I've never had a toy before. Except for my dolly mama made." She picked up the worn out looking doll with dark hair and hugged it. "What other toys are there?"
He strolled over to the bed and sat down beside her, "There are jack-in-the-boxes and toy horses and porcelain dolls and every kind of trinket imaginable.  The rich have everything and if it doesn't exist yet their money will have it made."
Her eyes widened with excitement. "Really? Those sound like fun! I want a toy horse."
"So you see, money and happiness are one in the same.  If you have one, you have the other as well." He gave her forehead a kiss.
She giggled softly. "Money is happiness and happiness is money? But…" She tilted her head. "I'm happy when you come home, big brother."
Armando shook his head, "True happiness comes with gold."
"Oh." Lily nodded. "You know so much, Armando."
"I have to.  How else would I be able to provide for you?  I must know everything if we are to be large." He began to tickle her.
She shrieked with laughter and wriggled like a worm, her feet kicking the air. "N-No! Stop!"
He put his hand over her mouth once more and continued his playful torture.
She bit at his hand.
He quickly took his hand away, "What are you?  A wild dog?"
She shook her head. "Nope! I'm Armando's bride!"
He laughed and rolled his eyes, "Not this again."
"Yes, this again! Because it's true!" She insisted.
Ever since Lily learned to walk she had followed Armando around like a duckling. It was only natural for her to become attached to him, since she had no other male figure to look up to. Their father had died the day she was born, which made Armando the father figure in the family. Lily eventually confused her feelings of adoring sister to admirer where she continually thought of herself as Armando's future bride. He was happy with her and she was happy with him. It was only fair, she kept telling herself. It wasn't like Armando was going out and playing with other girls, after all.
She wasn't the smartest girl in the village so she didn't consider it wrong or unnatural. The only other boys she played with were the village boys and she had never actually seen them with their families. She was innocent and simple minded. She would have gone through her entire life not knowing she had a father if it weren't for mama and Armando mentioning him once in awhile, or telling her stories about him.
Armando gave her a stern look, "We're both going to marry different people.  Mama has told you this time and time again."
Lily looked down at her dirty feet and hugged her legs, making herself smaller than normal. "You'll leave me… Won't you…? When you find a girl."
"I won't leave.  I'll just…" he sighed not know how to explain this without hurting her feelings, "You'll understand how all that works when you're older."
She sniffled a little and wiped her eyes. "You will leave me, then. I want to stay with you forever."
"Nothing is forever."
She started to cry.
He wrapped his arms around her and gave her a big, strong hug, "Lily…don't cry…"
She snuggled into him, her hands clinging onto his clothes as tiny fists. "I don't want you to go!"
"I'm not going anywhere." He chuckled softly, "Getting worked up over silly things…"
She looked up at him with big, teary blue eyes. She sniffled and crawled into his lap without a second thought.
Armando cradled her like he used to do when she was a baby.  His voice was soft as he began to sing to her in their mother's tongue.
Her sniffles lessened, her eyes heavy. His voice was soothing, the song was one she remembered from a long time ago in a place she couldn't recall very clearly.  She hummed a little along with him before her eyes closed completely and she fell asleep.

Winter came quickly along with the snow.  The mountainous regions of Spain were covered in beautiful while blankets.  Though the scenery was beautiful, it was the worst time of year for Armando.  All the fields were frozen over which meant no work.  Luckily this wasn't the first time it had snowed and he had been expecting the lack of work.  He had stored enough food for the winter months and had managed to buy his mother a somewhat extravagant gift for her birthday.
"Lily!  Come here!" Armando said excitedly, a large box underneath his arm.
"What?" Lily came as commanded, wearing a woven red shawl with flower designs. She smiled up at him, her cheeks rosy from the cold. "What's that?" She pointed to the box.
"What indeed!" His grin grew wide.
He placed the box on one of the beds and looked around, "Where's Mama?"
"She's visiting one of the neighbors." She tilted her head, staring at the box.
"Good." He lifted the top off the box and held up it's contents.
It was a brand new white fur coat, "It's for Mama's birthday.  What do you think?"
"It's pretty!" The little girl bounced a little and clapped her hands together. "She's gonna love it!"
He smiled proudly, "This will he the first of many gifts I am to shower you two with."
There was a creak as the front door opened. "My, it's getting worse out there." Their mother shivered and brushed the snow off her shoulders and head.
"Mama!" Lily rushed out of the room and hugged her mother tightly. "Happy birthday, Mama!"
"Thank you, Lily." The woman smiled brightly and hugged her back. "Is Armando back?"
"Yeah!" The little girl nodded vigorously. "And he got you a present!"
Armando quickly folded the coat, put it back in the box and put the lid on, "I did." He nodded drawing attention to himself, "Would you like to open it now?"
"Oh, Armando, you shouldn't have." She patted her boy on the cheek. "You are too kind."
"You'll like it, Mama!" Lily piped up. "Give it to her now, Armando! Now!"
It seemed Lily was more excited about the present than their mother was.
He smiled and presented the box to his mother, "You gave me life, this is the least I can give to you."
She took the box and went to take a seat at the table before opening up the box. There was a twinkle in her eyes when she saw the white fur. "Armando…! You remembered!" She picked it up and held it close to her. Genuine white rabbit fur. She had seen this coat in one of the many shops in Madrid and had greatly expressed how nice it would be to have it and now she did. "Thank you." She looked up at him with a sweet smile.
He returned her smiled, "You're very welcome.  Well, try it on."
"I believe I will." She stood and pulled the coat on. It was so warm and soft she absolutely didn't want to take it off.
"You look pretty, Mama!" Lily grinned.
"Do I? Like a real rich lady?" She did a little turn.
"You look more beautiful than any rich woman I've seen." Armando nodded with pride.
She laughed softly, quite pleased. This was the best gift she had ever received in her life. She gave both her children a big hug. "I thank you both."
Armando grinned, "But I have one more surprise."
"Oh, no more surprises!" She fanned herself. "I don't think my heart could take so much happiness."
"It will have to." He stood up a bit straighter, "I've been accepted into the University."
"Armando!" The mother hugged her son tightly. "That is wonderful!!"
"Wow, that means you'll be smarter than you are now!" Lily said in awe.
He nodded vigorously, "Yes!  And I'll have the chance to be a Politician's apprentice.  Things are going to be so much better now!  We won't have to struggle or starve or freeze!"
"I'm so happy!" She took Lily's hands and spun her around, the little girl giggling. "Surely, your father will be proud." She held Lily in her arms and patted Armando's cheek with her free hand. "He is smiling from Heaven for your good fortune."
Armando looked down at his feet bashfully, "You think so…?"
"Yes." She nodded and stroked his hair gently, as if he were a little boy once more. "He would be so proud of you as I am."
He smiled.  Things seemed to be looking up for his broken little family.

It was only a matter of time before they got a larger house in the city. Rosalind, mother of Armando and Lily Montez, walked down the streets of town, eager to pick up groceries and get home to make dinner. They had plenty of money, enough to get a few more things on the market. It was snowing heavily, cold to the bone. She wrapped her fur coat further around her chilled body. Nothing could bring her down. Her family wasn't starving and her son was attending the university to become a better man. Now to get her daughter married to a wealthy man…
She looked over her shoulder, noticing a few stares in her direction. She was being followed. She frowned, not expecting this coat to bring her trouble. She was well known in the town. Yes, there were miscreants, but they usually left her alone.
She picked up her pace, looking over her shoulder now and then. She wasn't losing them. In fact, they seemed quite intent on following her all day.
It was only when they gathered a few more people that she broke into a run. She was not going to be intimidated and submit. She had been through too much and had too much to look forward to.
The snow was practically blinding her. She had no idea where she was going, the wind brittle on her face. Just as she was sure they'd catch up to her she ran into something rather solid. She fell back, but didn't hit the pavement, a strong arm around her. She looked up. "Armando…!"
"Mama…?" He looked up and saw the men that had been chasing her.  He gave them a dangerous glare, "If you know what's good for you, you'd turn around and head home, you hooligans."
Rosalind held onto her son's arm. It was a miracle that she had ran into him. Literally.
The men paused, wondering for a few moments if they could take him. Deciding it wasn't worth it, they slowly slunk away back into the shadows.
Armando straightened out his coat and glanced down at his mother, "Are you aright?"
She rewrapped her coat around herself, as it had flown open during the chase. She smiled, her face slightly flushed. "Yes, now that you're here."
He sighed and dusted her off, "This part of town is bad.  Don't wander around here without any company."
"I wasn't here originally." Rosalind sighed softly, trying to calm her heart. "I was in the marketplace and they started following me."
He nodded and looked up as the church bells rang the new hour.  "It appears I'm late for my studies.  Be careful, Mama.  I have to go."  He gave her a hug and a kiss before making his way quickly towards the center of the city.
She watched him go, pride welling within her. He was doing so well… She turned and headed back to the market. She still had to get some groceries. She only prayed she wasn't followed again.

It was night and a new layer of snow was settling around the Spanish city.  Armando was sitting at his expensive carved wooden desk with a stack of papers.  He had fallen a bit behind on his school work due to all the banquets and dinners his master had invited him to as of late.  He glanced over at the velvet couch where Lily was sleeping and sighed.  His mother was not home from the market yet.  That was odd seeing as she had been at the market all day.  She should have been home by now.  His heart hurt with some unknown worry.  Armando rubbed his forehead, he really was a pessimist.  Maybe she had just gone to visit one of their neighbors, that seemed plausible.
Lily stirred and turned over on the couch, the velvet soft on her skin. She gave a little stretch and rubbed her eye before settling down once more.
Armando stood and draped a blanket over her like he'd do with his mother.  His mother…
He put on his coat and trudged out into the snow.  The city was quiet, asleep.  He looked around not sensing any life.
There was a shuffle of footsteps. Two men walked out of a nearby alley carrying a white fur coat with a trickle of blood on the edges.
"You got blood on it!" One of the men grumbled. "Now it'll be harder to sell."
"It's not my fault she put up a fight. If she knew what was good for her she would've just let it go." The larger man frowned.
They both hushed up when they saw Armando on the empty street. He had heard about their misdeed, had seen their faces. They both turned and fled as fast as they could before he could completely memorize them and report it to the police. Oh, if only they were so lucky.
He knew that coat.  He saw the blood.  He heard the way the two men spoke about the woman.  His eyes drifted to a nearby Alley way where a woman lay still in the snow.  Her dark hair matted with blood…she was almost home…just a few more steps…
His eyes narrowed, his heart becoming cold.  He sped off in the direction the two men had gone.  He saw them just up ahead.  He knew what he would do.  He had already formulated a plan.  He stopped and hid in the shadows as the men spoke of the small fortune they would acquire from the sale of her coat.
"We'd get more if it weren't for the blood." The smaller man mumbled. "Any idea how to get it out?"
"We can always cut it out." Offered the larger man, who was obviously the muscle.
"That'd ruin it, you dummy!" The smaller man hit his partner in the gut. "Hey… you think that guy followed us?"
"No. We were too fast." The big guy smiled toothily. "He was probably too involved in his own business to care about a woman. That's all she was. A woman. No one cares about what happens to them anyway."
Armando stepped from the shadows, his blue eyes glistening with some unknown emotion, "Normally you would be right, gentlemen."
The men jumped, immediately regretting not running all the way home. They just had to stop when they thought the coast was clear and talk. It was a habit that would be their downfall. It was amazing they weren't caught before now. "It's him…"  The smaller man said softly. "Take care of him."
The large man nodded and stepped forward.
"I bought that coat.  It was a gift for my mother."  he said in an unusually calm voice as he fingered the ostrich quill in his pocket.
Both men knew they were in trouble when he said "mother". That woman was more important than they had thought.
"Your pallor has gone cadaverous my friends." Armando extracted the quill from his pocket.  He would not make this quick and painless.
The smaller man laughed nervously, but it was obvious he was trying to be brave at this point. That man scared him. "What the Hell are you talking about? You challenging us to a fight?"
The large man pulled out a knife with fresh blood staining the steel.
In one quick movement Armando had stabbed the quill in the larger man's left eye.
The brute screamed and stepped back. "My eye! I can't see! I can't see!!"
The small man wasn't sure how to react. He was shocked, unable to move. Armando had used a quill, of all things, to cause pain.
Yes he had planned this out.  His mind raced with ideas.  He took the knife out of the large mans hand and approach the smaller one.  Before the smaller man could even think about running, Armando had broken both of his legs and his arms, "I'm sure men like you have watched many people die."
The skinny man screamed and fell down on the ground, his legs useless to hold him up. All he could do now was watch and wait. "Don't do this! I don't want to die!"
Armando knelt down beside the broken man, "I want you watch your partner die, but I have a dilemma.  You see, I'm afraid you'll shut your eyes."
He gave a little whimper, his eyes flickering over to his partner who was holding his face. "W-What are you gonna do?"
"Well, first thing's first." he brought the knife close to the man's eyes before slicing his lids off, "I do hope the blood doesn't impair your vision.  I'd hate for you to miss the show, señor."

Lily had woken up to an empty house. She sat on the couch, wondering if Armando had gone out looking for their mother, or maybe they had gone out together. Still, it seemed wrong to think that way. They would never leave her out. She crossed her arms and legs, the blanket wrapped around her shoulders. In the pit of her stomach she could feel something was wrong.
The sound of the door opening was heard from down the stairs.
She looked up, footsteps slowly trudging up the stairs. She didn't know who it was, but she could tell they were tired just from the heaviness of their steps. She slipped off the couch. "Mama? Armando?" She called to the person, making her way towards them.
There was no answer, just the sound of approaching footsteps.
She stopped, frowning. An intruder? She stepped back into the room, hiding behind the wall. If it was an intruder, then she would be as quiet as a mouse and not get in the way. Armando had told her to not call attention to herself if the person appeared dangerous.
A man entered the room.  He had dark hair and sad blue eyes.  He was covered in blood.
She peeked out of her hiding place, surprised that it was Armando and he hadn't answered her calls. There was something wrong. Why was he covered in blood? Was he hurt? She scampered along after him. "Armando?"
He did not answer as he shut the door proceeding over to his desk.
She opened the door, seeing as he closed it on her, and approached him slowly. "You okay?" She reached over and touched his hand.
He flinched and pulled it away quickly, "What are you doing awake?  Go to bed." he said coolly.
She frowned, already on the verge of tears. He was pushing her away. Did she do something wrong? Why was he being so cold? She sniffled a little.
There was a knock on the parlor door.  Armando turned to glare at the door.  He knew it wasn't his mother…He grabbed a knife out of his desk drawer and went to the door.  He opened it slowly to see a beautiful woman.  Her eyes were a lovely sky blue and her hair was the color of summer grain.  She looked like an angel yet the words that she spoke were anything but angelic, "Tal ira usted tiene, mi querido. ¿Quisiera usted más?"

Wrath shot up in his bed.  Beads of sweat trickled down his neck onto his chest as his breath came in unsteady heaves. Glancing over at his clock he noted it was still night.  Slowly he laid back down on his bed, his ebony hair sprawled across his pillow.  That nightmare had haunted him for too long and try as he might to let go…he couldn't.  The painful images were burned into his memory. And the nightmare would always end with her…that beautiful girl he had clung to for so long.  His first and last love, Corruption. He drew a hand to his chest feeling his rapid heart beat pulse beneath his tan skin.  How many times had he wished for that lovely rhythm to stop? Too many times to count in his five hundred years of life, he wagered.
His hand crept up his chest and into his long dark locks as he tried to envision more pleasant things…a pretty girl…red wine…satin sheets…that pretty girls lips upon his bare sweating skin. Ah, yes…truly pleasant.
He chuckled softly and shut his unnaturally citrine eyes.  Not even the thought of a woman's touch could distract him from thoughts of his dark past.  There truly was no reprieve for men like him…he had his revenge and he still was not at peace.  He guessed that the saying was true.  There really was no rest for the wicked.
I'm sure this will be familiar to some of our seasoned fans. With an addition of a new scene and some corrections, this is the beginning of the third book "Little Marionettes".

Can you guess what fairytale theme this book will follow?

The first one to guess correctly gets a llama badge and a random character with their name. Oh, and this doesn't count for the people we've told on Skype.

[Next] [link]

[Book 1: Glass Slippers] [link]

[Book 2: Poisoned Apples] [link]
ScorpioRosen Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, that was an awesome insight into Wrath's past. Quite the smart young lad, and brave as well. I feel really bad for what happened to him. I'm mentally trying to translate the Spanish Corruption spoke to him, but it's not working... A hint, por favor? ;)
ArtemisXIV Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011
[link] There's your hint =)
ScorpioRosen Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, a lovely glimpse into Wrath's past. Poor Wrath. I actually REALLY feel bad for him now. Very insteresting! (I'm trying to mentally translate the Spanish Corruption spoke, but my brain epic fails this morning. A hint, por favor?
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