A broken sword lay waiting at a sun-dappled crossroads.
The shards called out to a young woman passing by, dressed in tattered rags that had been made of fine materials once.
She looked down at the elegant cut of the remains and saw her own reflection.
One by one, she laid out the pieces until the image of the sword was complete once more. “This is as good as we’ll get, you and I,” she said and turned to leave.
The specks of sunlight merged into a single beam running up the sword’s length and mending the gaps until the weapon shone as new.
The young woman clenched her jaw and then her fist and then bent down to pick it up. “Let this be it then. I, the former Lady Scinna, claim this weapon for my own. And I will right the wrongs –“
The sword glinted in her hand. “Be under no illusion,” it said. “What you saw is still as good as we get, you and I.”
The first to go was her uncle. The sound of his bones splintering was satisfying in its own way, but not enough.
Next was her aunt. Onlookers were just as guilty. As blood soaked the usual pompous up-do on her severed head, serenity hung over the room for a moment, but just a moment.
Some palace staff had to go due to circumstance. The sword made guards easy to deal with. Others were easy anyway.
She’d never liked that one servant.
The new wet nurse, who’d schemed against her, and with some hesitation, the new heir.
Her late father’s and then her uncle’s minister of war pleaded for his life and made a strong point, but was altogether too suspicious.
Ellia, her best friend, who’d simply continued living there as if nothing had happened. Some friend.
Advisors fell or fell in line.
Opposition fell silent.
All the while, the restored Lady Scinna sat on her throne, watching, her restored sword laid across her lap, ringing in her head: “Don’t forget what we are.”
She had liked the ambassador.
But he had asked for too much. Now his head stained her throne room.
Don’t forget what we are.
The palace was empty.
The few spoken words echoed in the hollow halls.
No one to fell.
No one to stain anything.
The occasional cleaning lady. A mute cook.
Until his lamb dish made her queasy. You never knew.
The restored Lady Scinna got up, took her restored sword, and walked out to the crossroads she had found it at.
She laid it down under a cloudy sky and picked up a sturdy rock instead.
“I’ve remembered what you are,” she said as she smashed the rock down into the blade.