Beauty Will Only Make Me Weak
Raven closed yet another book and sighed. The hood of her blue cloak was down and her long violet hair hung loosely and beautifully. She often didn't have a need for her hood, for her long hair could easily hide her face away. Over the past few years she'd begun to mature into a young woman and that only meant she was coming close to the end of her life and the end of the world of mortals.
She'd read so many books in her young life; she'd definitely made a dent in the library Azar had given her access to. She had learned about many worlds and places, she knew how to do any equation given to her, she could name historical figures of importance without a thought, and she could read and speak English, German, Latin, Romanian, Ancient Sumerian, and Sanskrit fluently.
And yet, even though she could easily be classified as gifted since she was only fourteen years old, she had yet to read anything that actually made her… feel. She felt as if something was missing, as if she'd skipped some bit writing that would have some sort of significant affect on her.
"Ah, you've finished another book, I see," said a kind voice. She looked up and saw her dear guardian Azar standing above her. She was a beautiful woman with warm eyes and a kind heart. "What was this one about?"
"Sociology," said Raven. "Actually, I've read it before."
"You've read it before?" said Azar. "Why did you read it again? Did you have trouble understanding it?"
"Oh no," said Raven. "It's a simple enough read. I only read it again because I know soon I'll be going to Earth and I just wanted to be prepared."
"Prepared for what, dear?" asked Azar.
"For socializing with the people of Earth," said Raven. "I think I'm prepared now."
"Well, that's good," said Azar with a smile. "What shall you be reading next?"
"Honestly, I don't know," said Raven with a sigh. "Reading all of these books has been very informative, but I feel… I don't know how to put it. As if something's missing. As if there's something else out there I could be reading but I haven't found it yet."
"I see," said Azar, thinking. "Raven, have you ever read a fiction book?"
"A fiction book?" said Raven. "The class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration? No, I think all the books I've ever read would fall under the classification of non-fiction. Why?"
"Come," said Azar. "I have a book that just may fill that which you feel is missing."
Raven quickly rose from her seat and followed her. Azar really was Ravens whole world. She taught her how to control her emotions and how to stay focused no matter what. If not for Azar, Raven knew she wouldn't have been alive. Her birth mother would have done away with her before she was even born.
Azar led Raven out of the library and down the beautiful streets of Azarath. To anyone on the outside, it was a paradise. But to Raven it was home; she knew no difference. As they walked people paid their respects to Azar by greeting her or bowing their head. Of course, as soon as Azar passed, their respectful ways vanished and untrusting glares fell upon Raven. But she ignored them; she was used to such looks by now.
They arrived at Azar's palace and made their way inside. Raven wasn't sure where her guardian was taking her or what she could possess that would fill that which she felt was missing. But she trusted Azar with all her heart and would follow her into Hell if need be.
They soon came to Azar's personal chamber and Raven was led inside. This was a room Raven was used to and she knew it was a privilege. No one else in all of Azarath was allowed to enter Azar's chamber, just Raven. This room where Raven learned her first lessons in meditation. It was where Azar had revealed the truth about her heritage and the story of how her mother came to reside in Azarath. In this room, Raven felt safe, protected. Azar would never let any harm come to her.
"Let me see," said Azar, going to her own personal library. She looked through the hundreds of books and then smile. "Ah, here it is." She slid a book out of its place among its brothers and sisters and walked over to Raven. "I think this will open a whole new area of your mind, Raven."
"What?" said Raven, confused. "New area? Azar, I thought I'd explored all areas of my mind. That's how I'm able to have such control of my emotions and thoughts."
"And that you have," said Azar. "But this will create a whole new way of thinking for you. You'll see what I mean." She held the book out to Raven, who hesitantly took it.
"Well, what does it consist of?" asked Raven, flipping through the pages. "I know what books of fiction are about, of course, but I can't seem to get my mind around what it will actually be."
Azar could only chuckle softly to herself. "You'll see," she said. "Just trust me, my dear."
"Oh, I do!" said Raven, quickly. "I meant no disrespect, Azar."
"I know," said Azar. "Now go and read. If you like it I've got many more for you."
"Thank you, Azar," said Raven and with that she exited her guardian's chamber and went off to read, as she was told. She had a horrible urge to flip through the book, but decided to wait until she could sit and read it properly.
She walked out a far distance until she reached the gardens. She often went to the gardens to read when she wanted to be absolutely alone. Only Azar knew she went there. She walked to her usual reading spot and took a seat on the soft grass and moss. She finally opened the book and began to read.
Hours upon hours passed and Raven never lifted her gaze from the book. She felt a part of her that had been suppressed and hidden all her life bloom and consume her. Images she'd never considered, feelings she'd never felt, thoughts that had seemed impossible before; it was all so overwhelming. The whole while she was reading her heart raced with excitement. She'd truly never felt this way before.
But what captured her interest the most was the interaction between the hero and heroin of the story. She, of course, knew of courting and love, in the technical sense. But these words that expressed what love could truly feel like, what passion really was, they were what truly made her experience new feelings. And, for the first time in her life, she felt her imagination break through her hard mind of facts and absorb her completely. She was lost within this story, her mind, and time as she knew it.
Azar finished her evening meditation in her chamber and was surprised when she saw Raven silently standing before her, the book held lovingly in her arms. On her face was a look of confusion, realization, and want. Truly, Azar had never seen such a look before and to have it be birthed by Raven was very peculiar.
"Good evening, Raven," said Azar. "Are you alright?"
"Azar," Raven began. "I… I want… more."
"More?" said Azar. "More what?"
"More… of these fictional books," she said. "Please."
Azar smiled and said, "Ah, I see. So, I take it you enjoyed it?"
"I'm not sure," said Raven. "I mean, it's made me feel and see things I've never felt or seen before. And they feel… good. Please, may I have another fiction book, please?"
"My dear, you may have all the fictional books you want," said Azar with a smile, motioning to her library.
"Thank you," said Raven and she quickly ran over to it and began looking through each of the books. "There're so many. I'm not sure which to choose. Where do I begin? Are they all different? May I truly read them all?"
"If it makes you happy, of course," said Azar. Raven gave a small smile, it really was the largest she would ever allow herself to give, and went back to looking through the library.
One by one, Raven read each and every fiction book in Azar's library. Her imagination grew with each passing story and took her places she could never even dream of. And now she could. She began to dream dreams that had nothing to do with her horrible fate. For the first time in her life she chose to read rather than meditate.
…she turned around and there he stood. This confused her immensely since she knew he was to be married the next day in a village that was a good three days walk away. His eyes met hers and he went to her. As he took her into his arms she felt her heart race and her cheeks blushed deeply. They now resembled the same rosy color as her lips, which she bit nervously. He gently cupped her warm, blushing cheek in his strong hand and helped her to face him. Their eyes met and she could not help but become lost in the night sky that was the color of his eyes.
He did not look at her lustfully, as so many of the other young men had. He only looked at her with his undying love. And in his eyes she could see him silently promising his heart to her and her alone. Seeing him make this promise to her within his eyes she felt her knees go weak and she felt tears wanting to fall from her eyes. She felt her heart racing even quicker now as he brought her ever closer to him. She could even feel his own heart beating exceedingly fast beneath his shirt. He gently took her hand and placed it over his heart. Again, it was a silent promise. This heart which beat beneath her very hand now belonged to her…
Raven closed her eyes and imagined the scene she'd read. She sighed contently and felt warm all over. She loved to read stories of romance and true love. They touched something within her that made her actually feel happy. The thought of a man pledging his undying love to her made her blush, something she was sure she was incapable of doing.
She would lie in the garden looking above at the beautiful sky of Azarath. She let her mind wander and many fantasy played out within her imagination. She wondered if there was a young man out there who was destined to be her one true love and she his. She created many stories within her own mind of how they would meet and how they would fall in love. This concept of love was the only thing that truly made her heart flutter.
It was clear to all who were in close contact with Raven that something about her had changed. She was now often caught either reading or daydreaming. It worried many, but no one was as concerned as Ravens mother, Arella. She was in no way close to her daughter; they only spoke once every few months. But she could see that something was different about her and she didn't like it. And so, she decided to put a stop to this before it got out of hand.
Raven sat cross legged on the ground, holding her book in her lap. She flipped to the right page and began to read. It was a beautiful day and she'd chosen to read outside rather than in the library where she usually read.
"Raven," said a voice. She looked up and saw Arella standing before her in a white robe, her hood up.
"Arella?" said Raven, a bit confused.
"I must speak to you," said Arella, taking a seat in front of her daughter.
"About what?" asked Raven.
"About all of this reading you've been doing lately," said Arella. "It isn't good for you."
"You don't know what's good for me," said Raven, coldly. "If reading wasn't good for me then Azar would tell me."
"It's what you're reading that isn't good," said Arella. "Since you began reading these stories you've changed and it concerns me. You're not nearly as focused anymore."
"How would you know?" said Raven. "You're never around to see if I'm focused or not. Like I said, Azar would tell me if something was wrong."
"Azar is a bright and holy woman," said Arella. "And, right now, allowing you to read these stories seems harmless enough. But they'll put ideas in your head that will ultimately hurt you."
"They're just books," said Raven. "Books can't hurt you." And with that she stood up, her book tightly in her arms, and began to walk away from her mother.
"You will never fall in love, Raven," Arella said, her words piercing the air and causing Raven to halt in mid step.
"What are you talking about?" asked Raven, not daring to turn back around and face her mother.
"You are to die soon after your sixteenth birthday," Arella continued. "Dreaming of love or a prince charming will do nothing but hurt your heart even more when you finally come to terms with your mortality."
Raven clenched her fists and said, "I'm not going to die. I won't let him use me."
"Raven, there is no choice in this," said Arella. "There's nothing you can do. I just don't want you to waste the remainder of your life dreaming dreams that have no chance of coming true. I'm not telling you this to hurt you, I just want you to realize what a mistake daydreaming of love is. Because, no matter what, love is something you simply aren't destined to experience."
Raven felt the warmth and joy of her heart fade and turn into despair and sharp pain. She felt tears come to her eyes, but she willed them away the best she could. She gripped her book even tighter and quickly continued walking away from her mother. Her walking turned into running and soon she was racing through the streets of Azarath. She ran as fast as she could, ignoring the people who dove out of her way and the buzz she was creating. She just ran and ran until she finally made it to her room.
Once there she felt herself shaking all over. She slid down her door and sat on the floor for a while. She hugged the book closely and continued to deny the tears filling her eyes.
"She's wrong," she said, shaking her head. "I won't let Trigon use me. I refuse!"
The unwanted tears of her pain finally dripped down her cheeks and it was then she finally realized how much she really had changed. She'd allowed herself to feel; something she had promised to never do. How could she have let herself get so out of control?
She wiped the tears from her eyes and picked herself up off the floor. She placed her book upon her burrow and looked at herself in her looking glass. What she saw shocked her. She saw emotions within her face. She had changed. She wasn't supposed to experience emotions. The more she felt the more energy could be released and the more destruction she could create. This had to stop. Arella was right.
"I know that the chances of my outliving my destiny are slim to none, so I have to do what's right," she said to herself. "Arella's right. I'm a demon. I'll never fall in love. And even if I did, I can't allow anyone to ever fall in love with me. If such a thing could happen, the emotions I'd feel would certainly bring about the apocalypse. I can't ever let that happen."
She looked into the looking glass and tried to think of what she could do to make sure no man ever fell in love with her. She knew she wasn't nearly as beautiful as Azar or even her mother, but there had to be something else she could do to prevent men from approaching her. And then she realized what she had to do. She remembered a talk her mother had given her a few months back.
"We must talk," Arella had said, taking a seat in front of her daughter in the library.
"About what?" asked Raven. "Does it have to do with the prophecy?"
"Ultimately, everything is about the prophecy," said Arella sadly. "Raven, soon you'll be leaving for Earth and-."
"No," said Raven, firmly. "I won't. If I go to Earth then the prophecy will come true."
"Raven, you must," said Arella. "If you stay here then Trigon will take Azarath. But that's not why I wanted to speak to you."
"Then why do you want to talk to me?" asked Raven.
"Because you're on your way to becoming a woman," said Arella. "Or, as close to being a woman as you will be upon your sixteenth birthday. The point is; you're not a child anymore."
"A child?" said Raven. "Of course not. Children have no self control. I do. I'm not a child. I don't think I ever have been."
"You have self control?" said Arella.
"Of course I do," said Raven. "I make sure to feel as little as possible."
"Raven, you mustn't feel at all!" said Arella. "You know how your powers work. The more you feel the more energy you release."
"I know, mother," said Raven, coldly. "But I'm trying."
"And of that, I'm very proud of you," said Arella. "But you must learn complete control, especially by the time you go to Earth."
"Why?" said Raven.
"Raven, you aren't around many your own age here, but on Earth you will be," said Arella. "You're maturing into a young woman and people will look upon you and see how pretty you are."
"Pretty?" said Raven, shocked. No one had ever commented on her appearance before.
"And, more importantly, boys will see how pretty you are," said Arella sadly. "They will see you and try to make you feel strong emotions. Raven, you must not let them do this."
"I mustn't?" said Raven.
"No," said Arella. "For those emotions are the most powerful."
"Oh," said Raven, thinking and trying to understand. "Well, what should I do? Not talk to any men?"
"No just make sure you don't get caught up in Earth's absurd obsession with vanity," said Arella.
"Okay, that shouldn't be too hard," said Raven. "I'm not exactly weak minded, Arella. I don't care how I look now and I'm sure I won't when I go to Earth."
"You think that now," said Arella with a sad chuckle. "But one day you'll find yourself attracted to a young man and you'll want him to see you. You'll want him to notice you above all others. And that's when you'll try to make yourself stand out by showing off your beauty. That's my greatest fear for you, Raven. Beauty will only make you weak."
"There's nothing for you to fear, mother," said Raven. "I'll never do something as pointless as have feelings for anyone."
Arella sighed and shook her head. "You'll see," she said. "You haven't been exposed to any young men yet."
"If you're so frightened of this happening to me then I'll just avoid boys as much as I can. I'll never look at any for more than a few seconds, that way I can never remember their faces. I promise, I can handle this. Now, is there anything else? I'd really like to read."
"Actually, there is one more thing," said Arella. "It's the reason I came to talk to you in the first place. Raven it's about your… hair."
"My hair?" asked Raven, fingering her long violet locks.
"Yes," said Arella. "It's very beautiful and I know it will draw attention from others, especially boys. And long hair always makes a woman look more feminine."
"So what should I do?" asked Raven.
"You must cut it off," said Arella.
Ravens eyes went wide. "Cut it off?" she said. "All of it?"
"No, not all of it," said Arella. "Just very short. Trust me, if your hair is short you won't draw as much attention to yourself. It'll help you look, well, a little more masculine. This will help keep boys away from you. Do you understand?"
"I guess so," said Raven, trying to process all of this. "Long hair means I'll look beautiful and short hair means I'll look… ugly."
She opened her draw and took out a pair of scissors. She tied her long violet locks into a tight ponytail and took the scissors into her hand. She took in a big breath and in one swift movement cut above the ribbon that held her hair. She moved and manipulated the scissors, forcing them to cut every hair until finally reaching the other side. She felt her ponytail drop and short uneven locks fall into her face. She looked down and saw the long strands of her hair, still bound together by the ribbon.
She looked to the looking glass and saw just what she had done. Her hair was very short now, barely falling below her chin. It was horribly uneven; longest in the front and shortest in the back. She fought back her tears and placed the scissors back into their place in her draw. She picked her ponytail up off the floor and held it for a moment, thinking of what to do with it.
Arella walked slowly through the palace, as she often did. Night had fallen and she knew it was time she went to bed. She made her way to her chamber and was surprised to see a package resting in front of her door. She picked it up and entered her room. She sat on her bed and opened the package. To her shock, she saw a long ponytail of beautiful violet hair. Inside laid a note.
"You were right, mother. Beauty will only make me weak."
AND NO FLAMES OR CRITIQUES PLEASE