Prompt: What if Queen Levana survived in "Winter"?
Hall of Mirrors
She was promptly imprisoned in the most elaborate cell she had ever seen. Every wall was made of solid metal; it was a silver box that no one could ever hope to see out of. No bars, no windows. She was completely alone with nothing but her own thoughts for company. She supposed that was done on purpose—they figured it would only be a short while before she went completely mad. Then, when she started hurting herself or attacking her guards, they would have an excuse to take her away and commit whatever atrocities they wanted. She had overheard some saying that they wanted to use her body for experiments, while others wanted to torture her until she died.
Why are you surprised?
Levana shuddered. She wasn’t. Ever since she woke up in prison, she knew that they would want to have their vengeance against her. All the citizens whose children she had turned into weapons, and all those whose families had been torn away by her plague and her war. Now, locked up in solitary confinement, she was, at the very least, safe from all of them. They could say and do anything they wanted out in the open. It wasn’t like she would ever hear it.
The wall was very very cold, but she grit her teeth and slumped down against it. Her thin prison slip didn’t do much do keep her warm. She wrapped her arms around her chest and let her knotted hair fall in her face. She had sworn that she would keep her sanity, if anything to not give her captors the satisfaction of having their way with her. It was getting harder and harder every day, though. She never knew what time it was, and not even meals gave her any indication; there were times when they just wouldn’t feed her, and she was sure that it was for days at a time.
For all it was worth, it gave her a new sense of sympathy for the poor miners of the outer sectors. It must have been awful to be so hungry all the time. It wasn’t something she would usually think, but it distracted her from her own starvation, so what was the harm?
Every little once in a while, there was one guard who would come in and escort her to her ‘out time'—it may have been out of the cell, but the place where she was dragged to had to have been a thousand times worse. A big room with mirrors on every surface, and she was to spend hours in it at a time.
The first few visits, she had screamed and attempted to escape, but it was nothing but her reflection, over and over again. She couldn’t find the door if her life depended on it. It didn’t take long for her to realize that crying and bashing her head against the glass wouldn’t shorten her time there, so instead, she would lie down on the hard floor and fall asleep in the deadly silence. Her long naps began to become the highlight of her life.
Clearly not so for her guard, though. She had quickly pieced together that he was the one who watched her on the invisible cameras—and she could tell that he was growing bored of her naps by the excessively rough way he handled her. Levana took a great sense of joy from his annoyance; he didn’t deserve to see her suffering.
None of them deserved to see her suffering. The conditions may have been awful, and she may have been bored out of her skull, but she refused to give them reason to take her away. When Levana wanted to scream, she bit her cheek until she bled and cried silently. If she wanted to hit something, she pinched her arms—leaving her skin riddled with black and blue blotches. She refused to look at her guard in the eye. She didn’t even react when he would insult her or touch her or take her by force when the cameras were deactivated. Let him do what he wanted; there was no one who would care. So why should Levana be concerned either?
As long as she was alive, they hadn’t won. She was still queen in her own mind.
And really, that was all that had ever mattered.
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