King Lear/The Pillars of the Earth
The life and times of Regan of Cornwall, later Regan Hamleigh.
NOTES: There is probably so much medieval fuckery in this. I am very, very sorry. That this exists. That this is a goddamn mess. That I stan medieval rulers possibly (probably) even harder than the POTE writing room, which does NOTHING to alleviate my shame. That this is TOO LONG FOR ONE POST WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE SHIT. I just apologize for everything and am standing back. Regan, I wash my hands of your fucking nonsense, please leave me alone for the rest of my fic-writing life, I cannot take another day like this.
They are daughters of a king, but the kingdom is not theirs. They are the faces of the land, the abstract figures of a land parceled out back and forth between men. Their dresses whisper against the stone floors, and their voices are silent in their father’s chamber politick: they are the outside, looking in; they are placed on the outside, to be looked at. The soul of the kingdom, divided in triplicate, spirit and intellect and appetite given shape: Cordelia kneels, Goneril governs, and Regan feels the ache in her own gut for something deeper and bigger than food.
The youngest of them is small and fair and smiling and a king kneels at her feet—Regan can see her instantly as princess, as Cordelia smiles and casts down her eyes, not coquettish but merely shy. A princess in a castle; it’s the stuff of fairytales, for God knows the girl is as graceless a politician as any fairy-bred creature plucked from the ashes. The youngest of them is not worth considering at all.
It is Goneril, elder, tall and graceful and sleek in her bones, who Regan might choose to ape, were she inclined toward mimicry. Yet Goneril smiles better, Goneril wears the weight of her title lightly, letting the mantle of Duchess of Albany sit on her shoulders with barely-feigned delicacy. It is when she meets her sister duchess to duchess for the first time that Regan knows them to be truly disparate creatures, different down to the bone, for Regan cannot make herself unaware of her power. It is new and weighty and sits at her back, solid and powerful and far from unwelcome. Goneril shrugs gently, and Regan cannot fathom her casualness. The title anchors her in place—finally. Hers proper, not inherited but won.
“Won on what terms?” Goneril asks with a faint laugh, only slightly condescending, and Regan resists saying my face. They share a face, prettily carved features and deep dark eyes; they do not share the mark on Regan’s cheek, flushed bright with blood.
Unmarried, in the company of men, Regan had watched Goneril step first into the dance of wooing, how she would cant down her chin and how she would blush, smile diplomatically; Regan could track the deliberateness of the blood pooling beneath her cheeks. Their younger sister was a wanton for blushing, a bad bearer of compliments and an unshielded recipient of insults; Goneril’s pink cheeks had been strategic and fetching and part of a game Regan was meant to play. Yet she had not been able to bring herself to emulate it. When she had come of age, she had spoken with the men who came courting, and she had not looked away from them. Her sister’s eyes had been called fine; her own similar ones disconcerting. When the suitor who had come nearest had touched her wrist and pulled her toward him in a hidden stony alcove, she had tipped up her face and let him press his mouth to hers. She had kissed him back until she had nearly drawn blood. He had married her.
“My body,” she says instead, and Goneril smiles sweet and sly, touches Regan on the arm.
“Such a battleground.”
She shakes her head, grinning with teeth. She is lucky enough that the taxes she pays to her husband are those of pleasure; she wields her triumph night after night with his cock in her hand. “A checkmate.”
Goneril’s hand moves to Regan’s wrist, fingers lighting on the skin next to the sleeve, near Regan’s face—Regan’s hand is resting against her marked cheek; she hadn’t noticed. Goneril’s fingers cup her chin.
“Shall I visit you in Cornwall, sister?”
“Please.” Regan drops her hand, curls it around Goneril’s, pressing her thumb into Goneril’s palm. “If I do not see you in Albany first.”
Goneril’s fingers flinch as if she’s been scalded. “Of course,” she says, her voice smooth and steady, her face undisturbed. She turns her eyes, wide and dark and lambent, on Regan’s own. “You will always be welcome.”
As if drawn by the same flame, they both glance toward their father, their sister. They do not have to look at each other to know that they wear twinned smiles, crafted of the same private joke. The welcome does not pass beyond them. They speak in quiet voices; no need, ever, to be louder. They have long learned to make perfect sense of each other’s silences.
The kingdom, seen from afar, is nothing large. The Duchess of Cornwall watches the edges begin to fray, watches her father crumble on the throne.
“We must be nice to him,” Goneril says, smiling speakingly. “Poor old man.”
“Poor old man,” Regan echoes with an unsympathetic heart.
They wait, as their father slices his land to pieces, with open hands.
Cornwall takes her to Boulogne, to the castle of Stephen de Blois—a trade trip that reads nearly like a social occasion. He drinks with the nephew of the British king, laughs at his table. And first:
“My lord de Blois, you’ve not met my lovely wife.” He presses her into a curtsey, not out of her lapsed diligence but rather his own eagerness to touch her waist. “Regan of Cornwall.”
“The princess, if I’m not mistaken.” Stephen’s eyes glint with ill-masked humor. The court is silent, but the ripple of the courtiers’ breaths feels like a titter. Regan’s hackles rise, for she knows what they imagine: king of a little nothing country, in a palace overrun in peacetime by a full mounted army half the size of the whole of the citizenry. Their father has taken to keeping them indoors, to feeding them in the dining room with him. What’s next, Regan had sniffed to her sister, pigs?
Regan straightens her knees. “You are not mistaken, my lord.”
They shall see her as his progeny, daughter of a king already in decay, born with weak and poisoned blood in her veins. The court is courteous, but there is not a single smile she trusts in it. She dances, every night that week, in the hall, and looks each of her partners full in the face. They flinch and she smiles for herself, then, not knowing if it is her eyes or her marked face or something more.
She is a princess, and she dances in the hall of a man who is never meant to be king. She dances into the arms of her husband; later, he presses his mouth to her neck, and mumbles, “I think milord de Bois liked you.”
“You think well of me.”
She leaves her chemise in a puddle on the floor, and her husband tracks his fingers up and down her bared spine. “I think he’s a man to watch, and I was watching. Grandson of William the Conqueror,” he muses idly, as his fingers wear a slow ticklish path over her bones. “He’d be King, if you gave him half a chance, I’d say. Conquest runs high in the Norman line.”
“Who would not?” she says, glancing at him over her shoulder, and he kisses her in a crash of teeth and laughter. There are some that would say no to the offer of a kingdom; the duke and duchess of Cornwall are not listed among their company. She wraps her legs around his waist and buries her face into his shoulder: she will dream of crowns that night; as, she suspects, will he.
War comes to their father’s kingdom, as war always comes when a king sits tenuous on his throne. War comes on the heels of their pretty sister, though, and this is a surprise. Cordelia sits on the throne of France: Regan broods on this image, tries to imagine her sister’s little head bowed by a crown, her little body bolstered by the fleur-de-lis. The fleur, she has aplenty, but the statehood—Regan shakes her head, and Goneril shrugs.
“It’s all so unlikely.” Goneril casts a glance down to her nails, falsely casual. Regan slaps at the back of her hand—she should know better, her pretense-practiced sister, than to pretend with her. Goneril gives her a sharp glare, but she lays her hands to rest against her skirt. “It’ll fall apart. She’s hardly a commander.”
“Of course,” Regan says, and she can’t help gritting her teeth. “I don’t know what she wants from this. She’s got a new country all to herself now.”
“But Cordelia’s always been a homebody,” Goneril says with a sharp, sly smile. “Of course she’s going to fight for the wrong thing.”
Their sister has chosen to make their father’s wasted old heart her battleground; they both know it is a battle long foregone, Cordelia’s swords of truth be damned. When Regan walks by his door at night, she can hear him whimpering in his sleep: Cordelia, always Cordelia. He is not at ease here.
She, in her sister’s castle, in spite of herself, is. Her sister’s husband is quiet enough that he seems to fade into the background, and the castle at Albany feels more than it looks like her own. The bed here is familiar. She sits on the edge of it, and Goneril looks at her, cool and haughty and insufficiently masked. “You are peremptory in the master bedroom,” she says, and Regan smirks.
“Only resting my weary bones, sister. Our father is determined to make us as old as he.”
Goneril shudders. “Perish the thought.” Her hand tilts Regan’s chin up, fingers grazing her cheek. Her fingers printing on pre-marked skin, and Regan hisses silently through her teeth. “You don’t look worn through, not yet.”
“We’ve not yet begun to do battle yet,” she says, cupping her hand over her sister’s and digging her nails into the skin. Deep enough to leave a mark; just deep enough that it will fade by morning.
The battle arrives on their doorstep in the form of a letter, carried by a handsome young man who laughs when she reads: the King of France’s army, waiting; Gloucester, pleading. Edmund of Gloucester, he introduces himself. His hair is plastered to his forehead, stuck with rain. Outside, lightning shatters trees to splinter and ash, and she feels the castle shake in its wake as it sparks against the ground, feels her bones reverberate with the same force that strikes the stones. The weather is mad and wild as their father.
Tonight is the night the state lights on fire, she thinks.
When she meets Edmund’s eyes over the paper, she shivers.
Edmund’s father, the duke of Gloucester, is blind that night, and the humours (sanguine, vitreous) of the act are marked on her floor, her hands, her husband’s—
Her husband lies on the stone, stabbed by a servant whose blood she wears on her hands now, mingling with Gloucester’s, low mixed with lower. The knife has been pointed at her breast next: she feels her heart beating against the bones around it, pounding its way up against the base of her throat, and swallows. She is unscathed, and the blood washes off her hands with surprising ease.
Edmund catches her—after Cornwall is dead, but before the world knows her to be a widow—washing her fingers in a basin. “Thank you, milady,” he says, and she shakes her head, flicking water off her fingertips. Her heart is still racing; she is not grieving, not yet. Cornwall is dead, no, Cornwall is stabbed, but they sometimes revive, don’t they? He’d gone down with blood high in his cheeks, face suffused furious with colour. The dead are pale, Regan knows, and waxen, untouchable. He had bellowed and his face had been red and he had fallen and she had looked away. The storm outside still rages around them.
“It is I who should be thanking you.”
“You have given me shelter, and you have done me great service tonight.” He walks forward and kneels, takes her hand in his own. When she does not draw away, he presses his forehead to her knuckles. His hair is still faintly wet: such a little time has passed this night. She strokes her fingers gently against the offered contours of his face, the bony slope of his nose, and he looks up. “Will you be all right alone, milady, or would you like me to escort you to your bedchamber?”
“Do you think me the sort to jump at my own shadow, then?” she asks, and he laughs deep in his throat. Her fingers slip to his mouth before he can open his lips. “You may escort me. I will show you the way.”
They hardly speak in the hall. Her hand winds through the crook of his elbow, and she can taste her own heartbeat in the back of her throat. It does not leap for him alone, but she can nearly hear it echoing against the bare walls and wonders if he can feel it through her skin when her hand rests atop his. They reach the landing of her room, and he ducks his head, but he does not move away, and she presses her body to his, tilting up her face toward his. His hipbones press against her own, skeleton and muscle touchable even through the fabrics between them. He takes her face in his hands, thumbs pressing along the symmetrical curve of her jaw, eye to the inevitable mark.
“It’s just blood,” she whispers.
He lowers his mouth to her face and kisses her cheek violently. She can feel his teeth, his tongue, against the surface of her skin, the scrape of his stubbled chin, lining red with red. His mouth tracks down the side of her neck and she pulls him into the room with her, toward the bed. On the swell of her breast as she pulls her gown aside; against the skin beneath her ear when she peels the sweep of fabric away, letting sleeves and skirt puddle on the floor around her ankles; nipping against her nape before she tears her veils away with ragged hands, smothering him with hair that he grabs at with both hands.
It’s when he is inside her that he catches her mouth against his for the first time, inhaling her breath into his mouth.
Lightning crashes, and she sinks her teeth into his lip.
At breakfast, his lower lip is purplish and slightly swollen; he sips from his cup with a ginger mouth. She bites back a smile: it does not do to be grinning in widow’s weeds. She sneaks a foot out from beneath the weight of her black damasked skirt, nudges him at the ankle. The pulse of her blood, outpacing reason, does not slow.
Goneril presses her hand over Regan’s. “I’m sorry, sister,” she says.
“Do not grieve for me,” Regan replies, layering her other hand atop Goneril’s. “You’ve a husband of your own, after all.”
Goneril’s eyes darken. Regan presses her hand, pinning Goneril's fingers as immobile as a butterfly beneath hers. "Take heart."
War comes, and the sisters ride out with it, flanking Edmund, side by side with each other.
Stephen sends armies from Boulougne, Mortain, troops from French towns paid for by an English king. “See,” Regan says to her sister, “Cordelia isn’t the only one with French allies.”
Perhaps she’s gloating a bit. Goneril has always led her own court adeptly, but she has never strived to govern more than that. Regan watches her lips turn down at the edges, souring the cast of her pretty mouth. “Yes,” she says, sounding unimpressed, “the armies of the Low Countries are at your back. I’m sure that will do much.”
Regan tosses her head. “More than you’ve got. How are the armies of Albany organized?” she asks, and Goneril’s mouth flattens into a thin line.
“Bite your tongue, younger sister. They’re not my armies, just as the lord de Blois’s aren’t yours. We are fighting on the same side.”
It is a warning more than a comfort.
“So long as your husband is,” Regan replies, and Goneril hisses, turns her face forward toward the field. She does not miss the way Goneril’s eyes slant toward Edmund whenever he’s within sight, as if magnetized to him. In her palm, Regan clenches her fist around the reins. He is not hers.
He looks over his shoulder, not at either of them but to the armies. That sharp, pleased smile slices through his mouth, and Regan spurs her horse on ahead. He will smile for her like that tonight, she thinks: for her and her alone, until she bites that smile back into her mouth.
He comes to her bed that night, but not the next. The one after that, but not the next. And after that—
“Where do you go if not here?” she demands, and he sits up. She braces her hands against his shoulders: he will go no further. She curls in around him, presses her breasts to his bare back, sinks her teeth gently into the nape of his neck and her fingernails into his skin, against the unyielding wrap of muscle in his stomach, the slanting bone of his hip. “Answer me.”
“I’m leading a British ragtag against a bloody French scourge, and she wonders where I go,” he says irritably. “Where should I be? In your sister’s bed?”
“She would have you so.”
“Don’t be silly,” he says.
“I’m not. Do you think me blind to my own sister’s desires?”
“I think you acutely attuned to them. Perhaps she’d rather you in her bed.”
“Such baseness,” she murmurs, amused, and he goes rigid in her arms.
“Shall I wear that brand from you, Regan? Murderess?”
The word slips out of his mouth, low and taunting; she feels his voice between her legs and shudders, pressing closer against him. “Say that again.”
“Murderess,” he says. “Tyrant.”
He turns to her, looks her in the eye, slips a finger into the depths of her, then two. She jerks. “Queen of tyrants,” he says, and she gasps, bites her teeth into her lip.
“Bastard,” she says. “Sister-fucker.”
“Sister-fucker,” he hisses back at her, and with his hand still curled between her legs he kisses her until she can’t breathe, until she tastes tomorrow’s blood in tonight’s mouth.
“Come back to me tomorrow,” she says at the end.
“Go to your sister,” he mocks, and she curls her hand into a fist in his hair, pulling until he winces.
“I have a bed of my own,” he reminds her with a veiled grin, pressing a kiss to her forehead, beard scraping her brow, and she wraps her arms around him.
“This bed could be yours.”
He raises his head, still with that inscrutable smile. “Indeed? Is that a proposal, milady?”
“Your lady wife, if you like.”
He tracks an idle hand across the exposed flesh of her stomach, musing. “Marriages require fortune at their backs,” he says. “Let us wait until the battle’s won.”
The battle, she knows, is won indeed. She smiles, and he stops her mouth with his fingers, thumb lighting on her lower lip.
“Keep a civil tongue in your head around Albany’s troops, won’t you?”
“I won’t disturb the peace,” she teases, and he laughs.
Ours, she thinks, hard-won, forged like iron and baptized in blood and new. Outside, the first snow of the season flakes onto the ground; here, though, their bed feels like a blacksmith’s furnace, heated by the joint crux of their bodies, and she forgets to feel anything else.
The field is theirs.
The ground is squelchy with mud and blood beneath her feet, waterlogged with frost that melted in the battle, and she feels it seep, chilly and wet, through the hems of her skirts, but she throws herself into Edmund’s arms undeterred—he only takes a moment to wrap his arms around her waist. “Husband,” she calls him. “King Edmund that shall be,” and the troops cheer, and Goneril’s face goes pale as milk, pale as her deer-hearted husband’s.
“Is this your plan, sister?”
“Come,” Regan says, taking her hand, “kiss me and wish me well.”
She lifts her marked cheek toward Goneril’s mouth. Goneril only hesitates a second before pressing her lips there. It feels like a seal, a promise that Regan supposes will be broken, but she wraps her arms around her sister’s waist and lingers there for a moment. There is honour among thieves and murderers; there is honour between them because they cannot wear lies.
“Let me drink to you,” Goneril whispers low and gently; when Regan releases her, she calls to Edmund, “My lord, let me toast to your fortune.”
“There’s wine in my tent,” he replies, and she shakes her head.
“I’ve something finer, I’m sure.”
“Ever a woman of grace, Lady Albany.” Goneril starts; points of high color form on her cheeks. “You’ve a fine wife, milord,” Edmund says to Albany, and she turns on her heel and leaves. Regan watches her go.
My sister, she thinks, and catches Edmund’s eye. He does not move, and she returns to his side, presses her hand against his waist just above his sword.
“Is our fortune won?” she asks, and he catches her hand in his.
“We may rechristen the field with it.”
He looks up and she follows his gaze: her sister is returning, a few soldiers at her back. One holds a bottle. Goneril stops in front of them, dips barely in and out of a curtsey: she does not lower her head. “To the victors of the day,” she says and flicks a finger; her man pours—Tokay, Regan sees, the weak afternoon sunlight catching as it pours gold from the freshly unsealed bottle—into four stemmed cups. “To every one of us.”
“To us most of all,” Regan cannot help teasing, her hand still in Edmund’s (he casts her a warning look; she pretends not to see), and Goneril smiles, slow, maddeningly true.
“To you most of all, my sister,” Goneril says, giving Regan the most prettily engraved cup of all.
Goneril has always been skilled at courtesies. Regan has long admired it. She dips her lashes and presses her lips to the rim of the cup. It’s bitter, as if it has been soiled on the journey; the wine splashes and does not reach her tongue. She pauses and looks at Goneril over the rim of the cup: Goneril is smiling, lashes cast down, white teeth bare between bitten red lips. Such courtesy.
What would I do, were I her, Regan thinks, not smile, and then Goneril’s eyes flick up, widening innocently at Regan’s still hand, and she knows.
There is poison in her blood already, tracking thick and slow through her veins. So has it always been, she thinks distantly; this is the legacy, shared.
She coughs and drops the cup, tasting the bitterness still on her lips. It mightn’t be enough. It mightn’t be—
She sinks to her knees and she faints.
She wakes in her tent. Cold air blows in through the flap, but she finds she lacks the strength to shiver. “Good,” the physician at her feet says, “we weren’t sure if you’d wake or no. They were ready to take you to the pit with your sister.”
“My sister?” she asks hoarsely.
“She stabbed herself, you know. Like a right Roman. Think she put a bit of deadly into your drink, you know.”
“I know,” she says, blinking sweat out of her eyes; the room is blurry, shadowed, shifting in and out of focus. Stabbed, stabbed, she once believed that they didn't always die of that; hands shake, after all, certainly hers are, now. She lifts them, looks at them. Pale, clammy, tremulous palms, unfit to hold a dagger. But it wasn't her. “My sister?”
“Well, she’s dead now, e’nt she, and thrown into the pit with the rest of the bodies. Her and the other one and Lord Edmund, too—”
Her breath freezes in her lungs.
“My husband,” she says through a constricting throat, “what of him?”
The physician casts her a pitying look. “Lady, your husband is long dead—”
“Lord Edmund, you fool,” she snaps and grabs him by the throat. Her knuckles cuff him and he squeaks, but her hand drops, kitten-weak. “What happened?”
“Dueled with our new King Edgar, God save,” the physician said, ducking his head. “Your sister, the one out of France, she’s dead and your da’s dead—”
“My father’s long been dead,” she says harshly, “and my sister too.” Exhaling raggedly, she sits back against the cot. “Is there no one left alive?” she asks, and the physician shakes his head.
Her head is weak, spinning; her joints hurt, the crooks of her elbows and the soles of her feet, when she moves, yelp with tenderness from fresh-healing bloodletting cuts; there is a dull weight at the base of her stomach, heavy and nauseating; there is no one left alive and she cannot hear her own heartbeat. Death would not hurt this much, she thinks, feeling the effortful push of her sluggish blood in her veins, old blood, royal blood, tainted blood. Royal blood. King Edgar. “Edgar of Gloucester?” she asks, and the physician nods.
O, God, she mouths, not managing to shape the sound.
“Take me to my troops.”
With a few of the soldiers’ help—her manservant is dead—her sister is dead her husband is dead, everyone that she might miss and everyone that might give her aid—she packs herself onto a horse and leaves with the Norman troops. Theobald of Blois is leading them—Stephen’s elder brother; he makes a gentle escort. Gentler than normally she would need or like, but she is still sick and dizzy and he rides close and takes care to catch her by the elbow when she sways on her horse. When she is well enough to speak, she speaks to him and him alone.
“How did you come to fight? I did not suppose Stephen himself would come—”
“It was to be a little war.” Theobald shrugs. “The French were making pests of themselves, and the court of Blois has a vested interest in maintaining the boundaries as they are. He did not suppose there would be many dead, and”—he inclines his head—“he wished to convey his respect to your ladyship’s request. Wanted to send a civil face at the head.”
“Very civil.” She snorts out a half-laugh; she can see her breath. There is snow on the ground; the horses had thawed it with their breaths and hooves on the battlefield; the corpses had melted it with the spill of their hot blood. It is strange to see it pure on the ground like this, white and stark around them. It melts at the touch; spring is coming soon, then. She had lost track of the months during the war. “But you are a French court, my lords—would it not have borne you benefit to let Cordelia and the King reap their conquest?”
“No.” Theobald shakes his head. “We are not French; we are Normans. William’s grandsons. That’s the blood that leads. Blois is merely a title, a place to reside. Are you Cornwall, milady, or are you of the house of Lear?”
“Neither,” she says bitterly, “now.”
“You are a princess, I think.”
“With no land.”
“Yet Stephen holds you in sympathy.”
“You have my sympathy as a man, milday,” Theobald says, looking down, “and as a Christian. I am sorry for your losses.”
She looks sidelong at him. “You are the elder,” she says; “if one of you was to travel, why not Stephen?”
He is still not looking at her. “I am no soldier, Lady Cornwall,” he says, “not by nature, but nor do I bear my brother’s passion for governance. The seat of Blois is not the most powerful one, but I would not ask him to leave it for any little cause.”
“You do not wish for conquest, milord.”
“I do not wish for much.” He looks on ahead. The light is waning. “Let us break for camp for the night.”
In her tent, she touches the base of her belly. She does not eat much of the soldiers’ food, and she keeps even less of it down, but her stomach feels leaden all the same.
When they arrive at Blois, she is granted a private audience and promised a room after. She kneels at Stephen’s feet. The stone beneath her knees is cold and foreign: she did not kneel before, she has never knelt before; she is a princess, but a princess without a country.
“You are granted asylum as long as you need, widow of Cornwall,” Stephen says. “Cornwall was our friend and ally in Britain.”
“Milord has many allies in Britain,” she says with bowed head. “I would assure milord of this. I would be one such, if milord would give me means.”
“I do not wish to see you a pauper, Lady Regan.”
I was a princess, she thinks, but bites her lip. The royal blood will not win her friends here—the mad, erratic race of royal blood.
“I will find surer answers for you before the month is out. In the meantime, make yourself comfortable in our court. You may stay here for as long as you wish.”
She nods, waits for his gesture before she rises, biting back impatience and torrents of words and everything, everything that is in her. She waits.
“When you have made yourself comfortable, you may make your confession in the chapel.”
Her head jolts up. “My confession?”
Stephen looks at her with sympathetic eyes, touches the cross around his neck. “It is only when the Holy Father pardons you that you may leave behind your unfortunate past and become clean in God’s eyes.”
She swallows. “Thank you, milord.”
“He will pardon you, Lady Regan.” Stephen smiles with some presumption of understanding. “Fear not.”
It is not fear that tracks her out of the room—she blinks, and the longed-for ghosts of Edmund and Goneril are printed on the backs of her eyelids. She waits for the pageboy to show her to her chamber and shuts the door; then, finally, she sinks down onto her bed, pressing the heels of her hands to her eyes. They are dry and aching; there are no tears to be discovered there. She sits, silent, swallowing. Just one sob escapes her mouth—one enough to wrench her to her knees on the floor. Her hands scramble for the chamber pot. Retching her empty stomach forth, she expects to see her insides raw in the bowl when she opens her eyes: heart and stomach alike. There is nothing there, just spit and bile from her parched mouth, but she feels empty all the same.
Standing, she wipes her mouth and smooths her skirt, blinking her red eyes until her vision has cleared once more.
“Boy,” she says opening the door, “show me to the chapel.”