Here you are, raving fans- oh wait, I don't have any fans in this fandom. This is my first Stravaganza fic, and I am quite proud of it. I do believe it is the best oneshot I have ever written, though if anyone dares to compare it to my Bartimaeus Triligy one and my 2 Warriors drabbles they're welcome to. Either way, I expect tons of reviews after all this hard work.

'She was wearing it at the great ball that comes at the end of Carnival, in the Piazza Santa Maddalena, outside the cathedral. Her partner was the young Prince of Remora, Ferrando di Chimichi. Faster and faster he whirled her around the square, all the people watching and cheering. And then, she tripped. Tripped and fell and the mask shattered.'

(Mary Hoffman, pg 108)


I am mutilated

I touch the scars on my cheeks; the deep gashes; the furrows in my skin. The cold red-brown color stands out against the deathly white of my face.

A knock on the door; a servant's voice: "Your fiancé to see you miss."

Panic grips me- I can't let him see me now! Not like this.

I look into the mirror on my bedside. An unfamiliar face glares out at me, a face crisscrossed with jagged unhealed lines and pockmarks oozing blood. With a cry, I snatch the mirror and drop to the floor. It shatters, sending glittering fragments across the glass tiles. A thousand shards of reflective glass; a thousand versions of that ugly face, mocking me.

Walking over to a glass case on the far side of the room, I gaze at a succession of Carnival masks, each one more delicate ad beautiful than the next. On the final slot are a few splinters of opalescent glass, salvaged from the wreckage.


"You look lovely tonight," murmurs my fiancé. He kisses my mask and I descend the grand staircase down the crowd. They cheer, proud the have such a wonderful and lovely Duchessa.

And lovely I did look, in my gown of shimmering green silk. And my mask- that was the true masterpiece! It shone like the setting sun, its curved contours and tiny facets catching every bit of light and reflecting it out again. My face was ablaze with light, and yet my emerald eyes were visible among the inferno of colors. The entire city could tell how beautiful I am.

"May I have the first dance?" asks Ferrando di Chimichi.

I wrinkle my nose, the action hidden by my mask. Ferrando is handsome enough, but I don't trust him.

"If you insist," is all that I say. He takes my arm and we begin a stately waltz.

"You know," he says softly, "About that treaty my father has suggested-"

"You mean the one that would take 15 of Belleza's exports to Remora," I snap, harsher than I had intended to say.

His eyes narrow. "Yes, that one."

"Well then, tell your father that I will have no part in it!"

"As you say." He shrugs, and the dance continues, quickening pace as it reaches the dramatic crescendo at the end.

I smile, the exhilaration of the dance finally penetrating the momentary cloud of doom that had at first shadowed the conversation. I whirl around, letting Ferrando follow my. The song is about to end. The weight of the glass mask on my face presses my forward. I perform a quick triple twirl, oblivious to the applause of the crowd. Slightly dizzy, I lean against Ferrando-

And suddenly, Ferrando is not there. I am falling, the momentum of my turn spinning me so that I am face down. I put out my hands to break my fall, but it is too late. I feel a pain in my face, a trickle of blood, and hear a splintering crack. Then I hear nothing.

:End Flashback:

I reach out to the last full mask. It is a delicate blue, with tiny pastel pearls forming a breezy pattern around the edges. I slip it over my face.

The door creaks open, and Alberto steps it. He holds out a handful of flowers.

"My dear Arabella, I have come to propose to you."

My heart races. Can it be that there is a happy ending to this nightmare after all? Unconsciously, I reach up to my face. No. He will never love me if he sees the scars. A single tear trickles out from under the mask.

"Are- are you all right?" Alberto reaches out to me, but I jerk away. His hand hits the mask and it falls to the floor, revealing my mutilated face in its true ugliness.

There is a shocked silence. Alberto leans away, as if repulsed.

"Well, um," he mutters. "If- if you don't want me here I'll-" Unable to say anymore, he leaps to his feet, grabs his flowers, and races out the door. I feel a twinge of satisfaction as one of the mirror pieces cuts his foot.

I walk to the window and look out upon the canals. He doesn't love me, that's for certain. Maybe he never did. The sunlight sparkling off of the water seems unfair. It was so radiant, so lovely. I had once been like that.

A girl passes below my window just as Alberto comes out. He speaks to her in a low murmur and she giggles. The happy bell-like sound floats up to me. I gnash my teeth.

The girl looks up at my window and makes the Hand of Fortune. What does she mean by it? Have I, who was once praised by all of Belezza, become some sort of a malign wraith in their minds.

I study the girl again. She has ordinary brown hair and her face is only sweet, not lovely as mine was. And yet Alberto leans in and kisses her…

I tear my eyes away and drop one of the splinters of mask into a vial of wine. I put the blue mask back on my face and call a servant in.

"Bring this to the Glass Master and tell him to make another mask, just like the last one. When he is finished, let him drink this." I know that the dirt of the streets into which the splinter had fallen will be enough to poison him, it the sharp edges didn't kill him first.

I look back out the window as the servant leaves. Alberto is still there, talking to the girl from their position in a mandola. What would she look like in a mask? Much the same as me. Alberto would have no reason to favor her. No one would favor her.

I walk into the Senate Chamber. "I would like to make a law," I say.