prejackpot t1_iwgpgn4 wrote

“Lady Enid, wait!” Captain Strong called after her. Enid kept walking along the garden path. The rain plastered her chestnut curls against her face. She didn’t turn even at the sound of muddy footsteps behind her, until Strong overtook her and stood in her path, an umbrella in his hand.

“If you insist on making me chase you, let us at least stay dry,” he said as he tilted the umbrella toward her.

“I insist on nothing,” she snapped back. “I departed, and hoped you would do likewise.”

“Lady Enid, please,” he gestured again. “You’re too sensible for these dramatics.”

Enid considered, and finally stepped forward under the umbrella. She was aware of their uncomfortable closeness. “Sensible?” she said. “I believe that’s the only compliment you’ve paid me. One generally compliments a lady for the first time before proposing to her.”

“Merely an observation, not a compliment,” Strong replied. “Much as describing you as plain-faced and wasp-tongued are observations, not insults.”

“Then allow me to observe, Captain, that you are arrogant and ill-mannered, and have suffered sadly few consequences for it only because of your father’s position.”

Strong nodded ruefully. “Keenly observed.”

Enid looked him up and down, an uncomfortable proposition from such close proximity. “And you are too muscular,” she said. “I could never find such a man appealing.”

“I could not find a woman such as yourself appealing at all,” Strong replied quickly.

“Very well,” Enid said. “We have observed each other most closely. Let us observe together that a marriage between us would be most unfortunate. So unless your proposal was simply meant as a mockery-”

“You have not observed closely enough, Lady Enid,” Strong said, gently resting his hand on hers. “We do not appeal to each other. We cannot appeal to each other. But that is what makes our marriage a most appealing proposition.”

Enid pulled her hand away. “Explain yourself.”

“I could not find any woman appealing,” Strong said slowly. “But I believe you find them very appealing indeed.”

Enid’s blood ran cold.

“We have always spoken plainly to each other, Lady Enid,” Strong continued. “Let us not stop now. Our feelings are incompatible with those of society. But perhaps they are not incompatible with one another.”

Enid lifted a hand. The rain had stopped. She stepped away from under the umbrella, but rested a hand on Strong’s arm. “Very well, Captain,” she said. “Let us discuss further.”


prejackpot t1_iwd8hcz wrote

In my mind, she's the one who wants him to be a killer, and their bond is so strong it makes her ultimately responsible for the deaths, even if he pulled the trigger. It was more about vibes than a detailed magical system though.


prejackpot t1_iwcib17 wrote

“Is it hard?” I was just drunk enough to ask. “To kill a man?”

Ed took a long drink from his beer and looked away toward the horizon. The bottle looked small in his hand. It was easy to imagine that hand on a rifle, or a knife, or wrapped around an enemy’s neck. Easy, except for the zero floating above his head that only I could see.

“It’s hard for some people,” Ed said at last. Amber reached over and put her small hand over his. It was hard to imagine that hand killing anyone.

“Was it hard for you?” I couldn’t help myself. I had to understand the numbers.

“Here’s the thing,” Ed said, still looking into the distance. “It depends on your reason. Some guys, they do it for the country. Now, that gets abstract real quick. I don’t even like most people in the country, do you? But if you’ve got a good reason,” he trailed off.

“Every shot I took,” he continued at last. “I took for my wife. Not to keep her safe, none of that nonsense. I did it to make her proud.”

He looked at Amber now, and she looked back at him, and the intensity was enough to make me feel like I was invading their privacy.

“And it worked,” Amber said to me, her eyes still on Ed’s face. Then she turned, and reached for the zipper on the back of her dress. At first I thought she was going to climb on top of him right there, but then I saw what she was showing me. Her back was covered in ink: tattooed tally-marks, and I knew without counting there’d be about two hundred of them.

“I am so, so proud of each of his kills.”