4 - Broken
( Set 5 years before the Fall of Quel’thalas. )
Mentions: Domestic Abuse.
The words that accompanied the sharp slap hurt more than the physical pain.
“You’re a frosty cunt.”
No, Ilaena decided – the sting to her pride hurt worst of all. Even as she fell to the floor, her hand cradling the red and swelling mark of a palm against her jaw. Even as Leonian reared back his foot, striking her in the ribs, the pride of it hurt most keenly.
They had been at a ball some hours before – her favorite place to be, most days. Surrounded by other beautiful people, able to leave her drunkard of a husband to his gambling and drinking friends, Ilaena could escape into the merriment. Flirt just enough with men she didn’t particularly care for in order to get them to dance with her; flirt more so with elegant and beautiful women, who often were just as eager to be rid of their husbands as she was. A fete in the coat closet, or in a guest bedroom, with her favorite Lady of the evening – nothing too serious, though she had become adept at sliding her hands between petticoats and underthings – and back to more dancing, drinking, and do it all again. She would stay for hours, or until Leonian pulled her away from her friends and into their awaiting carriage.
Then it was home, to far less pleasant things.
Ilaena hated the idea of romancing men. Disgusting, smelly creatures: born of stink and vice, pride and anger, every year she spent shackled to Leonian Dawnblade was a year she wished she had been born as a simple farmer’s daughter. The match was well-made: House Brightweaver and House Dawnblade could not have been prouder of their two eldest children, and the match between them secured lines of trade across the nation. How long had it been now, since she had been forced to marry this ball of paste? Ilaena could scarcely recall; some hundreds of years, she thought.
Of course, they both had mistresses. Side interests. Flings. It wasn’t at all uncommon for people of their rank to have those they went to for actual fun. But the matter of producing an heir was another thing entirely; and as House Dawnblade was a patriarchal house, it stood completely without heir some three hundred years running.
knew it was her duty to provide an heir. And it wasn’t for lack of
trying: Ilaena had at least been dutiful in that regard, letting Leonian
invite her to his bed any night he pleased. Mostly, that seemed to be
when both of them were wildly drunk, like tonight. She tried her best to
be endearing, despite her dislike of men. They already had one
beautiful daughter; the fact that several of the next attempts resulted
in miscarriages was common, or so she was told. She was always hopeful
that the next would turn out differently.
So she didn’t know what had suddenly spurred him to anger this night. Perhaps it was the fact that he had come straight from his mistress into her arms. Or perhaps it was the fact that he, drunk as ever, failed again to get his libido up enough to even put it inside of her. Or perhaps…
Yes, it was likely her fault. She didn’t need to say what she had said; perhaps she shouldn’t have drunkenly taunted him.
I’m beginning to think that you’re about as useless as your cock.
Yes, that had probably been it. She took the hit from his foot, rolling over to try and push herself to her feet.
It was becoming more common, really. The last year or so, his alcoholism had become absolutely intolerable. He had become more violent, more irritable; their time together became increasingly frosty as a result.
“You’re a frosty cunt.” He repeated the words. “You’ve never appreciated what I gave you. I gave you a happy home. No one else wanted you, with your bullshit– your wild woman, frolicking in the woods. And all you can say to me is two words a day and then you flounce off to your whores.”
As she pushed herself to her knees, he kicked her again, the lithe woman sprawling to the ground with a grunt.
“Is that really– necessary? The second hit–”
“You can’t even be angry about being kicked!” He seethed. “An ice queen, Ilaena, that’s all you are. No wonder none of your children are still alive– you’re too much of a steel-hearted bitch to give them the love they need to live!”
Her slap reverberated through his bedchamber, significantly harder than his own. Ilaena stared at him, her own agility surprising her, rage-fueled and passionate as she leapt to her feet purely to knock the shit out of him with her manicured hand.
“Don’t you ever speak that way about Mavia. Ever. Or I will kill you.”
Her wild blue eyes met his own. It was the first time she watched his genuine terror – at what he said, at the threat, she couldn’t be sure. But she knew that their relationship could not come back from what was said tonight.
Perhaps it had been broken for a long time.
Leonian stared at her for a long moment before he spoke, a large swallow predating his words. “Lady Dawnblade, I think it’s time we retire to our rooms for the evening.”
Ilaena took several steps back, adjusting her nightgown. Arranging her hair to hide the lingering bruise. Gathering her dignity.
“Lord Dawnblade. Have a nice evening.”
The servants let her out of his chambers, politely looking the other way.