"I hate you."
It's the first thing Mara says on reaching Savathûn's crystalline prison. Her words lack heat but echo through the cavernous chamber nonetheless. "I just want to be absolutely clear on this: I hate you, and I wish nothing but pain and suffering for the rest of your miserable existence."
The crystal shimmers, and Savathûn's gentle laughter ripples through Mara's mind. "I know," the Witch Queen murmurs.
"I could have you jettisoned into the sun," Mara says coolly, "but unlike some creatures, I uphold my word when I give it."
"But we're the same creature, are we not?" Savathûn wonders. Although Mara can't see her smile, she has no difficulty imagining what it looks like.
"I am nothing like you."
"No, of course not." Savathûn's voice is easy and languid. Some might mistake her for being sincere; Mara has taken the same tone too many times in her own life not to recognize it for what it is.
"I thought you were a powerful, competent woman plagued by a difficult relationship with her family," Savathûn says. "Someone who weaves complicated, long-spun schemes across the arc of time's bow. My mistake."
Mara stares at the crystal, clenches her jaw, and turns her back to leave. But before she can take even one step toward the door, she feels Savathûn's consciousness brush like silk against hers.
"I thought you were someone who believes herself to be so smart," Savathûn purrs, "that she is easily blinded by her own ambitions and self-appointed genius. Someone who is so certain of her solutions that she fails to see the inherent peril in her plans, and yet too embarrassed to ever admit she may have gone astray."
Tension knots the muscles in Mara's shoulders and back. Over the years, she has trained her face to remain a mask, but she is not always as skilled when it comes to the rest of her body.
Savathûn continues. "I thought you were someone so afraid of being vulnerable, that you'd rather fail than—"
"Enough." Mara rounds on Savathûn's prison with the precision of an angry viper. She does not raise her voice; instead, she lowers it. "That might work on him," she says, the last word like fire on her lips because it still pains her to refer to Crow by any name, "but you'll find my armor has fewer gaps."
Power surges around her hands as she slams them against the crystalline surface. A lattice of radiant energy winds itself around Savathûn's prison, and Mara hopes that the furious drumming of her heart and intermittent flare of her nostrils will be mistaken for exertion—not a different kind of weakness.
When the spell is complete, Mara steps back. Her glowing eyes dim. She wavers with fatigue, listening for the psychic echo of Savathûn's voice inside her skull.
There is only silence.
"Shut up," Mara breathes—a strange marriage of relief and loathing.
Category: Book: Ripples
Category: Queen Mara Sov