Notice and Disclaimer: The original story did not originate from me. This is a fanfiction for A Dance with Rogues (ADWR), a community-made module for Neverwinter Nights that won Module of the Year for 2006.
Context of the Story: The story starts during the wedding at the end of the game in Greenfork Castle. I took some liberties and pitched in the name I gave my character in the game (from "Lyanna" to "Sarla Lyanna" or just "Sarla"). I tried to follow as faithfully as I could the original details, but there may be some that I have forgotten or deliberately omitted or flexed in order to add hue to the story.
Character Background: Sarla is a sorceress/rogue multi-classer who gradually shed off her pretensions of being a Princess. She's acquired a certain hardiness that comes with waking up and suddenly realizing that she's not the center of the universe. Her arrogance turned into a fierce determination to get up from whatever stumbling block she's come across and ensure that she'll be triumphant in the end. Hence, she's the type that cries and agrees to go with Vico after he raped her, seduces him later at the Dwarf Inn and then kills him to complete her revenge at the gladiator contest in the Underdark. I'd say her alignment is Neutral Evil.
She ended up with no romantic interest at the end and was married off to Arto Benthur. As a reviewer had pointed out, it gives me far more flexibility with the plot. But my main reason behind this decision is that I don't think the romantic options in the game were appropriate enough for her character. (Vico was too violent, Anden was too reserved, Rizzen was too different, Pia was… not really my thing, and as of the writing of this story, Bran was nonexistent, and even then he was too sweet).
The Princess, the Rogue, the Marionette
The sound of tolling bells echoed across the cobbled courtyard and the surrounding lush forest. Soldiers clad in red chainmail and heavy steel wraps stood at attention guarding the entrance to the chapel, their heavy halberds held high.
There was a solemn disposition hanging heavily in the air as a ceremony started between two people who could not have cared less for each other.
"We are gathered together here in the sight of the Gods, and in the face of this company to join together Arto Benthur and Sarla Lyanna Stormborn in holy matrimony…" The voice of the priest spread to the unhearing ears of the audience. His tone was deep, joyless, and seemed to naturally merge with the rough gray church walls.
The bride's head was bent forward. Her dark auburn hair flowed down her head, looking dull as its reddish golden color was overpowered by the bloody sheen of her bridal gown. It covered every inch of her body, save for her face.
She stood very still, a large red blot before the altar. Her head was bowed in deference to the armor-clad man beside her and to the priest in white robes before her. She could almost be mistaken for a ritual sacrifice to the gods.
And perhaps, that was exactly what she was.
She barely heard the bells ring continuously overhead and deafened everyone to the point of apathy. She also paid little if no attention at all to the words of the priest before her.
"This rite of marriage in which you come now to be joined is the first and oldest rite in the world… And what it was then, it now is; marriage has never fallen. It is that of Heavens which continues still today…"
The bride could only hear her own thoughts.
"Marriage can be to you, your personal Heaven, your private Eden; and it will be just that, if you build your relationship upon the precepts of the words of the Gods, which I commend that you do in His Name."
Slowly, she lifted one of her fingers with apparent difficulty, as if she has not moved them for a long time. Her wrist gave a little jerk and she began rubbing the fabric of her glove against the fabric of her gown to stimulate her senses. She could feel only a little from this, only a muted warmth at the area of friction.
Her thoughts focused instead on the color that clung vigorously to almost every inch of her body. She frowned, as if amazed by the revelation. My wedding gown is as red as the color of blood. If I were to be wounded, my blood to course along the woven fabric, would the color still show itself through?
"Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other keep yourself only unto her so long as you both shall live? "
Why do the Dhorn like this color? Is it the reason why they indulge in so much carnage? Because they want to paint everything red?
Sarla lifted her amber eyes and cast a glance at the man beside her. He was looking forward, focused on whatever it was that the priest was saying. He casually opened his mouth and mouthed the words "I do", like it was the easiest thing in the world.
What was it that the Mending Sisters who were taking care of me said? Lord Benthur was so dreamy, it takes a royal birthright to marry him. As if I could ever believe that.
Then he looked at her from the corner of his eyes. The connecting glance was enough to pierce through the thin veil of deafness that surrounded her, and she heard the priest's voice for the first time since they entered the chapel.
"Sarla Lyanna, do you take this man, Arto, to be your wedded husband, to live together according to God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony?"
When I look at him, I can only feel hate. Hate for everything he stands for. The uniform he wears, the empire he is from, his rigid and composed posture, his blond hair, his lips, his blue eyes, everything! I want to see him bleed while wearing that uniform! Her fists clenched, and she felt the warm blood gather and tingle as her chaffed skin reclaimed its sensation.
"Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health…"
Her frown deepened. You ask the impossible, priest, for there could never be anything between us but this hate. She could almost feel as if the Dhorn soldiers were surrounding her all over again. In her mind, they were marching calmly, coming in from all directions, closing in. There was no escape.
The priest looked up from what he was reading and caught her eyes, "…and forsaking all others keep yourself only unto him so long as you both shall live?"
Sarla's breath was caught in her throat. It was either this or death.
She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, she tried hard to focus her sight for the first time. Very well. Let's start this. For everyone who perished, for my slaughtered family, for those who are living still, in my war-torn kingdom… And for the life I could have led... "I…" Sarla started, but found herself unable to continue.
I must have gone insane to want to go through with this! I can't say it! Her thoughts raced. She felt panic rise up her throat. She looked down at the fabric of her red wedding gown and remembered their blood-red color. She thought to herself. Do you want to see Arto bleed?
She glanced at the priest again with set determination in her eyes. "I do," it came out clearly and calmly, like all vows should. But this was not the vow to love and comfort, to honor and keep her husband; this was vow of revenge and death. I do vow that you will die by my hand, Arto Benthur. Soon.
With this thought, she relaxed and realized that she had been clenching her fists for quite a while. She released her hold on herself and immediately felt relief as the blood rushed through her flesh again. It had a welcome numbing effect on her body and she easily passed into a state where she could not hear, feel or see anything.
Not even when Arto turned to her, pressing his cold lips against hers in a brisk and unfeeling kiss.
Special Thanks to Iridaesin and Tawni for beta reading the chapters!