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Story Notes:

Like most of my stories this really stemmed from one particular scene, and in this one it was the scene with Sehanine and the handkerchief.  From that point, I kept finding myself drawn more and more into writing about Marinne and I feel like it turned out  to be something special.  So far I'm really really proud of what I've done here and I hope everyone else appreciates and enjoys it, too.


Fair warning if you're reading this before the story.  There's not a ton of size content, but you'll get to it, don't worry.

Marinne Colsixreel shuddered under the weight of powerful conflicting emotions. If she were asked, she'd never be able to explain herself. She knew she didn't belong here, and what she was doing had to be wrong on so many different levels, but she couldn't stop. The door had been open just the faintest bit, and in that instant the compulsion had overtaken her. All of her day's plans vanished and she slipped inside her sister's room.

She was the older sibling, a quiet and reserved and well-behaved girl for all seventeen of her years. These sorts of invasions might be more expected from Rana, since she was four years younger and had never really grasped the concept of personal boundaries. Still, it wasn't the fact that she'd come unbidden into Ranavalona's room that she feared someone might discover. Sisters do those sorts of things. It was why she was here that caused her stomach to twist and lurch when she imagined her mother standing in the doorway, shaking her head and showing her utter disapproval.

Now that she was here, though, such thoughts melted away. Her fingers lightly gripped the closet door and slid it to the side, revealing her sister's clothing cache. Rana had always favored more colorful and rich fashions, and scores of bright and patterned garments filled the roomy chamber from edge to edge, but Marinne's eyes were angled beneath as she slowly sunk to her knees.

That was where her sister kept her shoes. That was what she was here for, and now that she saw the vast array of lovely boots and court shoes and sandals laid out before her, she couldn't help but quiver and ache.

They were all here. The silver-buckled boots that had kicked her again and again, cracking her ribs and leaving her struggling to breathe for a week. The strappy, straw-colored heels that young Ranavalona had gleefully used to decorate the flesh of her pale, bare back with reddish scrapes and scuffs and holes. The raised, soft-soled sandals that had slowly rubbed and twisted back and forth across her face as a 'reward' for timidly kissing each of the precocious princess's toes.

Marinne didn't know why she couldn't fight back. True, young Ranavalona was something of an arcane prodigy, and even being four years her junior her spellcraft far outstripped Mari's own, but it was more than that.

The abuse had started almost two years ago. At first, it was just simple possessions. Marinne would find one of her favorite toys smashed beyond recognition, or some magical trinket she'd been experimenting with pulverized to dust on her floor.

Before long, though, Ranavalona decided it was more fun for her sister to witness her destruction. It was as if she had come to the conclusion that there was no reason she couldn't walk directly into Marinne's room as if she owned it herself, and while it seemed absolutely natural for her, Marinne could only stare, stunned as the young girl walked up to where she sat.

"What have you got there, Mari?" She idly inquired, gesturing to the porcelain object in her hands.

She remembered how nervous she was as she replied, how dry her mouth was and how she mentally rebuked herself for being so shaken in the presence of a twelve-year old. "It's a figurine Mother gave me, Rana. It's the Emperor's daughter... she's a princess, just like you and me."

She had always been sweet and polite with her younger sister, and with just about everyone she'd ever met. It was insane for her to have anything to fear from Ranavalona. Still, the way she looked at her was just so... cold.

"Give it to me." Four simple, harsh words, but even from the preteen girl they were spoken with such force and conviction they were hard to deny.

"No, Rana," Mari replied softly, her heart hammering in her chest as she struggled to speak. Her voice was soft, nearly a whisper as she continued. "It's mine, and I like it. It's not for you."

Both were silent, and time seemed to crawl. Mari couldn't bring herself to turn away from her little sister's deep, dark eyes as they continued to bore into her. She had to will herself to breathe, and it felt like an hour had passed before Rana spoke again.

"Give it to me, or I'll hurt you."

The words were spoken in that same even, intense voice as before. Not a thing had changed, save for the threat, but never before had Marinne even fathomed that her little sister could even say such a thing. In this instant, though, not only did she hear those words, but she absolutely believed them. It wasn't until later that she really considered the things Rana could do to her, though. Just the heavy weight of that vague threat convinced her to slowly stretch out her hand and give away her precious present.

Ranavalona smirked as she snatched the little figurine from her sister and immediately cast it to the floor, even giggling faintly when one of its arms snapped off at the impact. "You don't deserve nice things, Mari," the young girl declared as a simple matter of fact while raising her polished black shoe over the porcelain princess.

She smashed the model into a dozen pieces with a brutal stomp, and proceeded to thoroughly grind and crush those pieces into a pile of unrecognizable shards and fragments beneath her heel, grinning madly all the time. It was only another moment, but it was a horrific, long moment for Marinne, and by the time Rana was satisfied and departed with a smug little grin, Mari was left clutching her dress and sobbing silently, tears slowly trickling from her shimmering blue eyes.

Sitting here now on her knees in front of her wicked little sister's closet, Marinne took a deep breath as she stared at those same small black shoes. They were too small by now, and hadn't been worn in some time, but she'd never forget them and Rana was never one to casually dispose of clothing or especially footwear. She leaned in and closed her eyes, bending low to the ground and placed a gentle, reverent kiss on the toe of each, breathing deep and shivering as she did so.

As she sat back, her cheek grazed the supple, well-worn leather of what had been Rana's favorite boots for much of that same year. They rose to her knees, and despite their many, many months of wear the three buckles that held them fastened tightly to her legs and feet had never lost a bit of shine. She'd encountered these boots many times, but the first still remained most potent.

Marinne had been making a good bit of progress with her own magical abilities, though they were taking a different form than her sister's and mother's. Where the Queen bargained and contracted with infernal beings to accomplish tasks and gain unquestionable power and Ranavalona could manipulate the latent forces around her with natural ease, Marinne found she could commune with and befriend the forces and spirits of the elements. Earth, fire, water and wind would assist and obey her if she managed to ask correctly, and this day she sat in her room conversing with one such water spirit.

This particular one had taken a shape somewhat reminiscent of a small dog, and the two of them had started to trust one another. A simple game incorporating elements of fetching and hide-and-seek was going on when Rana burst into her bedroom announced only by her heavy approaching footfalls. Marinne had given up locking the door weeks before once her sister had made it clear that she could open any lock she tried with a word and a wave of her hand.

"Mari, I got new boots!" she announced with the enthusiasm only a young girl can muster for fashion. She stood boldly in the doorway, admiring herself in her sister's mirror and striking her best pose, grinning and turning this way and that to show off her shining new shoes.

"Mother said that with the rainy season coming it would be good to have something that would keep my feet dry, and I thought these were just so pretty. Don't you love them?"

For the first time, Rana turned her eyes away from her own image and took stock of her sister. The weird little water creature, even without eyes, seemed to be staring at her along with Marinne's shocked expression.

"I asked you a question, Mari," the girl continued, her voice losing much of the mirth it possessed a moment before. "Don't you love my new boots?"

Marinne was still settling herself from the sudden intrusion, but she knew enough to slowly nod and agree as best she could with any of the little princess's suggestions. "Ah, yes, Rana. They're very pretty," she carefully commented, still wide-eyed with concern for what the girl might have planned.

"What are you doing?" the younger girl asked, tilting her head and squinting a little bit at the strange elemental being on the ground, studying it as it seemed to do the same with her. The spirit turned this way and that, slowly turning in circles like the overanxious pup it resembled, each time returning to face Rana as though it were trying to show off and earn the new visitor's approval.

"We were just playing a game," Mari answered, choosing each word with care. Already she felt as though she were defending her actions, fearful of what her sister might do and how she might be judged. She held out her hand, offering the little ball the two of them had been chasing to the girl across the room. "Do you want to play with us?"

Another tense moment passed, and at the end of that moment, Rana giggled softly and shook her head. For a second, Marinne was completely relieved. Maybe she had no interest in silly little games and they'd be left alone. Then, she noticed Rana uttering something soft and incomprehensible and giving a wave of her hand. She'd done something, but what?

It was then that she noticed her little friend had stopped moving. It wasn't just sitting still, it seemed utterly paralyzed, even the constant flow of pure elemental water that made up its body had ceased, every bit locked into place.

Ranavalona took one step, then two, the thick heels of her boots pounding the polished wooden floor, and Marinne had just enough time to shriek and scream, "Rana, NO!" before the girl brought her shining black boot smashing down through the helpless creature, breaking it apart and splattering the water that made up its body in every direction.

"You have to conjure your friends, Mari. You have to realize how absolutely pathetic that is," Ranavalona declared to her shaking, shattered sister while idly twisting her foot about in the pure, sparkling water, admiring how the afternoon light made her boot truly sparkle.

Marinne knew that her little friend would be fine eventually. Its spirit would be sent back to its native elemental plane, but the friendship and trust they'd built together was damaged irreparably. For the few years the girls remained at their mother's palace, she would contact and befriend many other spirits, but that little canine form never visited her again.

It was all she could do to part her lips and slowly shake her head, and after a minute longer she found her voice. She started to ask her sister, "Why?" but midway through the word she found Rana's finger laid across her lips, hushing her.

"Don't say anything, Mari. I'm sure it's going to be dumb and not worth hearing anyhow. Let's use your mouth for something much more practical, shall we?"

When did this little girl become the wicked, sensual power that stood before her now? When did she become so self-assured, so forceful? Marinne seethed at the injustice of it all. She wanted to strike her, she wanted to rush to her mother and bury her face in her lap, telling her everything her evil little sister had done. She wanted to run away from here and never, ever look back.

"Come on, Mari. You said you loved my boots. Get down on the floor and start licking them clean." Rana gently, but firmly placed her hand on top of her sister's head and guided her from her seat down to her knees.

Marinne did none of the things she fantasized about. She bowed down before her young, pretty tyrant of a sister and drew her tongue along the wet black leather of her boot, filling her mouth with the refreshing, almost sweet taste of her little water spirit friend.

Now, she lay on her back. Those boots, slightly scuffed and worn from a year of heavy use didn't shine quite so much, but still Marinne's tongue traced across the dark leather again and again, slowly and worshipfully. For all that they'd done to her, she really did love them in spite of herself. A strange, quivering excitement ran through her core as she slowly turned the boot she delicately held this way and that, letting her tongue work across the buckles, even kissing them as she went. Her eyes drifted shut and she purred softly, just breathing in the boots' faint, pleasant scents.

Something lit the room for a split second, but Mari was only dimly aware of it, eyes closed and lost in her dark little reverie. While the flash didn't distract her, a soft and familiar girlish voice struck her like a thunderbolt, freezing her in utter, dreadful terror.

"Oh, wow. Look at you."

Ranavalona stood at Mari's feet, towering over her where she lay. A gnarled little quartz-tipped rod rested casually in her hands, and she slowly twirled it about between them as she looked her older sister over.

For her part, Marinne could only stare, her eyes jolted wide open by Rana's shocking and sudden arrival. The young teen stood before her in just a simple but very flattering floral sun dress and a pair of tall, strappy wedge sandals, seemingly doing all she could to resist bursting out in mirthless, derisive laughter.

"What... what are you doing here?" Marinne finally croaked. She'd been careful to set things up so that she'd definitely hear her sister's approach if she decided to come home early, yet here she was, looking down on her and catching her in the midst of squirming about on the floor, lapping at her shoes like some sort of poorly-trained puppy.

The girl tossed her long, pale hair over her shoulder with a brief chuckle and started to slowly circle her supine sister, the thuds of her steps reverberating through the wooden floor and flowing through Marinne's slender and trembling form. "Wand of Teleportation," she quipped with a little wave of the stick she still held. "Mother let me play with it for the afternoon, though she doesn't quite know it yet."

"Look at you, though," she mused, stopping by her sister's head and giving her cheek a playful little nudge with the toe of her shoe. "I knew this was who you were, Mari. Crawling in my closet, nuzzling at my shoes like a naughty little pet."

She made the same conclusion. Was it true? Marinne whimpered softly as she stared up into her sister's dark gaze. If anything, Rana had made her this way and she hated her for it. She wasn't supposed to be here and she wasn't supposed to be like this, but she just couldn't stop herself. It was all she thought about, how cruel and unstoppable this young girl could be... how she trampled all over anyone in her way in every literal and figurative sense of the word.

Marinne couldn't speak and she couldn't move. She wanted to argue but she could barely move her mouth. Her hands still clutched her sister's tall black boot and she was even too stricken to put it down. Anger and shame and desire swirled about within her and kept her rooted where she was, flat on the ground at her sister's feet. She needed her. She needed to know what to do and she just waited and prayed that Rana would tell her what that was.

Ranavalona allowed herself some time to drink in the lovely sight of her sister laying totally broken at her feet. It really was so easy. This is what it must be like to be Queen. This was her right, and it was no surprise that it came so naturally to her. She could completely rule others at a whim, and surely that was the mark of a very talented princess.

"If you're going to lick my shoes, they might as well be the ones I'm wearing. Wouldn't you rather kiss my feet than my old boots?"

What kind of question was that? Marinne slowly turned her head to stare directly at her sister's admittedly very lovely feet. Gods, of course she did. That's why she was here in the first place, because she couldn't get such ideas out of her mind. She squirmed forwards a bit, rolling to her side to press a soft, sweet kiss to one of Rana's toes, but before she could reach them there was another brief flash of light, and they were gone.

"I really do need to train you better, Mari." Rana had transported herself across the room and rested comfortably in her favorite plush armchair, her legs daintily crossed and the most devilish of grins playing across her face. "When I ask you a question you have to answer me. Now, tell me how much you want to come over here and lick my shoes, and maybe if you give me your best 'pretty please,' I'll let you crawl over here and get to work."

Marinne shook her head in disbelief even as she continued to slowly continue to roll over onto her belly and pull her knees up underneath each other. She sat on her haunches, palms flat on the floor and leaning forward as if her body were just begging to crawl like she'd been told to. Still, some tiny shred of dignity resisted, and she shook her head once, tears stinging her cheeks as she pleaded for her humanity. "Rana, please... don't make me do this."

Rana only scoffed and leaned back in her chair, idly bobbing her foot in the air as she savored the older girl's struggles. "Don't be ridiculous. You want to do this, you silly little bitch. Now," she stretched out an arm and pointed her wand at her sister. "Beg."

Marinne shivered and wilted a little under the direct order and her sister's intense stare. Maybe it was true, but she didn't have time to grapple with that right now. With a shaky breath, she reached up to push her straight black hair behind her ears and choked back a sob before she did as she was told.

"So many of my favorite things, you've crushed and smashed and stomped. You've hurt me over and over again, both my body and my soul have been trampled into the ground beneath the soles of every shoe in that closet, and I still don't know why. Maybe I never will, but as much as I hate that and as much as it sickens me that you... do this to me..."

She whimpered a little and shook her head, finding the strength to look up at Ranavalona through her tear-blurred eyes as she continued, "I can't stop thinking about it. I lay awake at night seeing your boot smashing down on my face. Every time I think about something I care about, I see your toes grinding it into nothing. I hate it but I still think about it all the time and it just makes me... it makes me feel things and I can't stop those feelings."

Her sister listens intently, her bemused little smirk never leaving her face as she continues to idly twirl her wand, nodding occasionally to encourage Marinne to continue her stammering speech.

"I need you, Rana," she whines while sniffling and wiping away tears. "I need what you do to me and I want to be yours."

A few moments passed as Rana continued to watch her sister struggling with this powerful confession, her chin now resting lazily in the heel of her hand. Marinne is visibly shaking and chewing her lower lip, her eyes pleading for something, anything from this magnificent teenage girl that sat in judgment of her entire existence.

"That's pretty deep, Mari," she finally quips with a shrug, then follows with a few little curls of her finger, beckoning the older girl closer. "Come."

Marinne couldn't hold back her smile at the invitation. Her body flushed with a warm wave of relief and a strange sense of pride as she lifted her backside and began her slow, ritualistic and rhythmic feline crawl to her little sister's feet. She was giving herself away and she knew it, but in this moment it was the best thing she'd ever done. Her knees were sore and her back was stiff from laying on the floor for so long, but she put all of her effort into displaying herself proudly for Ranavalona. This was where they both belonged and she wanted her sister to feel as good about this arrangement as she did.

She arrived before her sister in short order and carefully turned her head, brushing her long hair to the opposite side of her neck so that it wouldn't get in the way of her efforts. Still, her eyes turned upwards to her sister's playful countenance as though she was waiting for permission, and to Rana's credit she understood completely.

She gave her new pet the command she was waiting for. "Kiss my feet," she uttered with as much warmth and affection as she'd allowed into her voice in years, and with that Marinne's passion was unleashed.

Her soft lips immediately went to Rana's shoe, gently pressing to the tip of the sole's rounded top, leaving her nose hovering just above the girl's dainty toes and allowing her to breathe deeply of their incredibly stirring scent. She remains wholly gripped by her reverence and devotion, but there's no holding back the low, pleasurable groan that rises from her throat as she continues to give herself to her sister's sandal.

She sinks lower, twisting her body and trying to crawl under Rana's foot. She needs to submit, needs to be beneath her cruel and powerful sister, and as she sinks to her back her tongue never stops lapping at the dusty underside of the girl's shoe, at least until she encounters something faintly wet and sticky and bittersweet. Lost in the rapture of the moment, her eyes had been closed, but now she slowly opened them and she saw two things immediately: Ranavalona's face, complete with laughing eyes and mocking grin, and a familiar azure shade scattered across the clear, sticky wetness on the shoe above.

"Of course I popped into your room as well, Mari," Rana murmured with that same condescending grin. "What kind of girl catches and names butterflies? They're bugs, so I stepped on yours for you."

By now, she shouldn't have been so shocked, but there was something different about Ranavalona killing a living thing in her wicked little games. "Viola," she murmured softly, staring at the wet and messy remnants of her pet. "She was so pretty..."

The younger girl's eyes narrowed for a moment and she shifted forward in her seat, leaning just a bit to loom over her sister as she spoke. "You only get to have one pretty thing in your life, Marinne, and it's going to be me. Now," she took a brief breath and leaned back, letting her shoe slowly descend to rest on her sister's parted lips, letting her taste the mashed remains of her butterfly, "Lick your little pet's mess from my foot. I shouldn't have to go around with dirty shoes on your account."

Marinne closed her eyes again. The hatred, the disgust and revulsion and shame were all flooding back, but as much as she would normally break down to sobbing and weeping, the tears just wouldn't come. This was what Ranavalona was, and she was the girl who licked Ranavalona's shoes.

Her tongue slipped forward and tasted what had once been a beautiful blue butterfly, and again and again she slowly lapped at her sister's shoe, letting her tongue scrape bits and pieces of the crushed creature away. Now, she wept freely while she dutifully cleaned Ranavalona's shoe. She wept for her future and the friends she'd never have and she wept for the life and the freedom this wicked girl had stolen from her, but the same tears flowed from the relief she felt and the satisfaction of being where she wanted to be. There was a sense of safety and comfort that accompanied giving in to her cruel sister, and perhaps now she'd escape the long months of timidity and gripping fear.

Of course she didn't notice another one of those flashes of light, being so wrapped up in her passionate worship and catharsis. It took nearly a quarter of an hour for the low hum of conversation and the clanks and clatters and the unfamiliar voices tittering with restraint to bring her eyes open once more.

Ranavalona was still there, seated in her favorite cozy chair, but the floor beneath her was smooth and cold. Marinne's eyes twitched to the side and beheld two young serving girls together, whispering and giggling and pointing at her. The clatter of flatware and sizzles of meat and all manner of delicious scents swirling around them slowly led her to realize what had happened. They were in the kitchen.

The palace’s servants gave them a good berth, but all around the two teenage princesses was a whirl of activity as nearly a dozen men and women toiled to prepare a fine dinner for the residents. Ranavalona paid them no mind, of course, continuing to focus on the way her sister squirmed beneath her foot, eyes gradually widening with the horror and panic of her realization. She couldn’t bear the thought of a single person ever knowing about this, let alone seeing her lapping at her sister’s shoes like a dog. Now, the entire kitchen and serving staff was free to watch her at her lowest point, flushed with shame. She squealed her protest and began to pull herself up from the ground, but instantaneously the young girl above her leaned forward and stepped down, roughly forcing her head back to the hard floor beneath and grinding the saliva-slick sole of her shoe against her lips.

“You get one warning, Mari. If you even think about stopping, you will never, ever have this again.”

It was one cold, harsh sentence, and to anyone else it would have possibly even been mildly endearing, the way Rana’s voice rose to a girlish growl. For her sister, though, every word was an undeniable command. She had come this far, completely possessed and controlled by her unwanted passions, and there was no refusing the mighty Ranavalona now. As that shoe slowly lifted from her face and she was given her choice, there was only one thing she could do.

Her eyes slowly rose to meet her sister’s gaze, and she carefully lifted her head to place a lingering, loving kiss on the bottom of the girl’s shoe.

For nearly an hour young Ranavalona entertained herself with her helpless sister, pushing her head around with her feet, dragging the soles of her shoes across her face, pressing her toes against the girl’s eager lips and giggling softly to herself at how unflaggingly servile her sibling had become. Eventually, though, one of the servants approached and awkwardly stumbled and stuttered through informing the girls that dinner was about to be served, and with that Rana hopped up from her chair and sent it back to her room with a wave of her wand, then sauntered out to the dining room, leaving Marinne to try and piece herself back together, cleaning her face and scurrying out to join the others for their meal.

Dinner passed uneventfully with Marinne staring intently at her food and barely whispering a word while Rana hummed happily to herself and greatly enjoyed her meal. Before long both girls were back in their rooms and Marinne had flung herself onto her bed, squeezing her eyes shut and clinging to her pillow for comfort. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed or if she’d even truly been asleep when a low and resonant chime announced someone at her door.

For a moment she was terrified it would be her sister, but Ranavalona wouldn’t have bothered to announce herself. “Coming,” she called while running her fingers through her dark hair and smoothing out her dress. She slid the door open and was greeted by the imposing sight of her mother’s personal valet, a tall and slender dark-skinned man in tight-fitting silks.

“The Queen requires your immediate presence in her chambers, Princess,” he declared flatly in his heavy and strange accent, and as soon as she had nodded her understanding, he vanished in a burst of dark smoke, leaving the hallway smelling faintly of brimstone and ash.

With tremendous haste Marinne threw off her dress and fetched another, something simple and flowing and white, then snatched up a brush and hurriedly did her best to fix her hair. Even as her eldest daughter, one did not simply show up before the Witch Queen of Daruk without some preparation. When she felt she was as presentable as she could get without leaving her mother waiting, she hustled down the hallway and politely dipped her head in greeting to the guards before she slipped into the palace’s throne room.

The grand chamber was lit bright as day from a thorough array of eternally burning smokeless torches. The walk to the base of her mother’s raised throne was a long one, and Marinne worked to take it with a slow, practiced grace, her head bowed and hands folded before her as she approached. Only when she’d taken her final step did she allow herself to raise her eyes and behold her mother seated upon her tall and carefully crafted throne.

She was truly a magnificent woman, and Marinne couldn’t help but shiver a bit whenever she was in her mother’s presence like this. Even seated, her stature was impressive, seeming almost unnaturally tall. Her nearly shimmering and similarly unnatural crimson hair was piled high in an elaborate twist, held in place with a gleaming gem-encrusted silver circlet of her own design. Her long, dark robe was form-fitting, clearly crafted by expert hands, and at the end of it her exquisite ebon stilettos caught the room's weirdly shifting light and gleamed as though they were polished daily.

The Queen, though, paid her daughter no mind. Instead, she sat with legs crossed, seeming a bit dejected and giving her focus to a small crystalline dish held in the palm of her hand. Within only a pale silken handkerchief was visible, and Marinne dearly wanted to ask what was so fascinating about it but, as she well knew, one did not speak out of turn in the presence of the Queen.

After another long moment, Ranavalona appeared in a flash of light. She stood a few feet to Marinne's side, idly tapping the tip of her borrowed wand against her nails, and had clearly not taken even the extra few moments of effort Marinne had to make herself a touch more presentable. Her long pale hair was twisted up in a simple ponytail, and she wore only her lacy nightgown and fur-trimmed shearling boots.

Now that both her daughters had arrived, the Queen finally took a deep and steadying breath, shifted in her chair and looked the both of them over. The younger grinned brightly and waggled her fingers in greeting, and she found it impossible to resist favoring her with the slightest of smiles, and by that point Marinne's eyes had already nervously dropped to the floor.

"Girls," she spoke, her melodious voice resonating through the chamber despite the softness of her speech. "I will not ask what occurred between the two of you this afternoon. I do not need to, as the tale has been repeated a dozen times over within the halls of my home already."

Marinne swallowed hard, her chest tightening and her palms itching and her cheeks flushing instantly. How could she not have considered what her mother would think? Of course she would know, no event in the palace escaped her notice, no matter how obscure. Her eyes rose for a moment to glance at her sister, and Ranavalona was already giving her a sidelong stare, grinning wickedly at her intense shame.

"Your actions may be of some concern," the Queen continued, "but my greatest concern is your failure to understand the nature of our position. Do you know what it is to control a nation? Do you know how it is that thousands submit to our rule?"

Marinne remained fascinated with the ground at her feet, but Ranavalona had no trouble replying to the possibly rhetorical inquiry. “We’re powerful and they’re weak. We have magic and they have cows.”

With a brief sigh, the Queen continued to address her daughters. “They submit to our will because of the influence of our mystique. They are not subjects of Ranavalona, or Marinne, or even Sehanine, but subjects of the Witch Queen and her sorcerous daughters. We needn’t raise a hand to keep our kingdom so long as the stories and rumors of our immense power swirl about these lands. Our reputation fights our battles for us, and so long as that is maintained, these are battles we will never lose.”

With that, Sehanine the Witch Queen slowly rose to her full height, standing far above her lovely daughters on the dais of her throne. With one smooth and graceful step after another, she descended the stairs towards the two of them, her slender arm bent at the elbow and her hand still cradling the ornate bowl and handkerchief. By the time she’d reached the floor, she still more than doubled the height of the younger girl with the aid of her towering shoes, but she kept her hand low enough that they both were able to see what she carried.

Within the bowl, among the folds and valleys of the pale pink kerchief were many small figures, none more than an inch tall. Marinne first thought them to be dolls of some sort, but as she watched them wail in terror or scrabble at the smooth walls of the bowl or cower with their knees tucked up against their chest, the incredible and horrifying reality of the situation became clear.

They were people. More than that, they were people she knew. The entirety of the kitchen staff seemed present, along with a few additional servants as well. She didn’t need to ask how they’d gotten there and in this state, her mother’s abilities were unquestionable. It was all she could do to stare in silence, mouth agape as she waited for the Queen to continue.

“What, then, do you imagine would come of these people returning home to their families and sharing the stories of what they’ve seen today? Perhaps the dark and arcane mysteries of our house give way to tales of a palace both perverse and deprave. Anywhere there are beautiful, powerful women such as ourselves those stories already exist, but to give them any sort of credibility could lead to disastrous results.”

With a simple gesture of her free hand, the Queen released the bowl and allowed it to hover before her, gradually sinking towards the ground. Once it reached a spot just inches from the ground, she twirled her fingers once and in response, the bowl turned itself over, dumping its contents to the ground. Another wave of her hand sent the bowl sliding away from them, and all that was left was a slightly rumpled handkerchief, though all were keenly aware of what lay beneath it.

“You are not just simple children with the freedom to do as you will. Everything you do reflects on this house and on me. You are princesses, and with that you must understand that the responsibility of your station. The actions and the mistakes of princesses have consequences.”

The folds of the Queen’s robe crease slightly with the shifting of her leg, and by the time Marinne’s noticed that one of her immense black shoes is raised above the ground, it’s already on its descent. By the time realization strikes her and rips a chilling shriek from her throat, the unforgiving platform sole is already compressing the silken fabric. Maybe it was imagined, or perhaps it’s even clear enough to notice, but she would forever be certain that she heard every terrible crunch and squelch of humanity being erased from existence beneath her mother’s regal shoe.

Nothing more needed to be said. Sehanine the Witch Queen turned her eyes on each of her daughters, giving Ranavalona and then Marinne a long and pointed glare before finishing with a brief twist of her foot, further smashing the helpless servants beneath, and turning to ascend the stairs and settle back once more upon her throne.

For a while, nobody spoke. Nobody moved. Marinne stared at the spot of the massacre, her chest heaving and eyes wide as she watched the deep red wetness slowly seep through the rich silken fabric. So many lives reduced to a bloody stain in a matter of seconds, and for what? They were completely innocent people who faithfully labored for the comfort of their Queen and her daughters, and for their efforts they received nothing an empty death beneath their beloved Queen's shoe.

Sehanine allowed herself a thin smile as she watched Marinne turn her head and begin to retch. It would be frustratingly inconvenient to replace so many good men and women, but she took comfort in knowing she'd sacrificed them for a good cause. Her girls must be educated for the day when one of them would take her place, and certainly this particular lesson would be eternally unforgettable.

Her smile swiftly faded, though, when she turned and noticed young Ranavalona cautiously approaching the bloodsoaked handkerchief on the ground. The girl's grin was intensely inappropriate, and instead of horror she seemed to exude a playful curiosity.

The young princess bent at the knees, crouching down and pinching the corner of the kerchief between her fingers... slowly peeling it back to uncover the grisly scene. It was obvious where the Queen's massive shoe had crushed to the floor, as the somewhat triangular outline of its sole left nothing but a smooth, flattened redness on the ground. Some pulverized bits of person were embedded in the underside of the silk, sticking to it as it was pulled away, but most intriguing to the younger princess were the still twitching and squirming figures at the fringes.

It seemed to her that when her mother had cast the lot of servants to the ground and firmly stepped on them, the pile of tiny people had compressed for a bit beneath her foot and some of the little victims had been forced outwards. There were several survivors, at least for the moment, but it was plain to see that none of them had come through intact. Ranavalona let the kerchief fall to the side and carefully plucked up the closest living servant to her, taking a moment to examine the howling woman.

It took a bit to recognize her face, contorted as it was with her incredible anguish and agony, but it was clearly Corta, the woman who had watched and nursed the girls in their younger years and in times more recent had moved to the respected position of supervising the palace's serving girls.

Now, though, she was less than an inch tall and her legs had been reduced to useless strips of flesh. All she could do was scream and shudder in unimaginable pain. Ranavalona let her lay across the tips of her index and middle finger, tilting her head as she considered the suffering woman for a moment longer, then narrowed her eyes and slowly settled her thumb against her fragile twitching torso.

It was incredible how easily she squished with just a little more pressure. The young princess exhaled softly as she squeezed the crumpling woman between her fingers and rolled her collapsing body back and forth, letting the warm juices of her bursting body slowly wet and smear across her fingertips.

"You missed some, Mother," she sweetly declares, then rises to her full height, grinning weirdly as she surveys the several other half-dead forms on the ground at her feet. "Don't worry, I'll take care of them."

The others looked on as Ranavalona casually wiped her messy fingers on her night gown. Marinne nervously clutched her dress, chewed her lower lip and stared through tear-filled eyes as her sister picked out a shattered and shuddering serving girl on the ground, covering her with the toe of her boot and slowly pressing down, ending her with the faintest squelch. Sehanine's contentment evaporated completely when the girl nudged an armless chef with the side of her foot to roll him onto his back, letting her look into his desperate eyes before dropping her boot on him as well, smearing him across the tile with a little twist of her ankle.

She continued to wipe out the damaged servants with disturbing glee, crushing one after another beneath her large and cozy boots. A pair of boys who had been tasked with washing dishes huddled together for protection, and she dispatched them with a little wave of her fingers and a firm step, then even giggled slightly when dragging her foot backwards produced a clearly visible streak of crimson gore.

By the time Ranavalona's heel smashed to the ground and splattered the last helpless woman, spraying what was left of her outwards in a fine mist, Marinne had sunk to her knees in distress but still couldn't begin to wrench her eyes away from the chilling scene. Their mother leaned forward on her throne, mouth covered by her fist as she pondered her youngest's unexpected reaction. Her lesson about responsibility and propriety seemed to have impacted each of her daughters quite differently.

“Mother, can we go now? I’m done,” Ranavalona sighed while dragging the toe of her boot through the pile of carnage, making a few lazy red swirls on the floor. Even if she sounded somewhat bored, there was no disguising the crazed, delighted grin she continued to wear while playing in the mess at her feet.

Sehanine gave a simple and small nod, and with a flick of her wand, the young princess vanished. Her sister, though, remained on her knees and continued to stare at the mass of mangled flesh and gore. Only hours ago she’d been on the floor with every one of those people surrounding her, walking by her, chuckling at her predicament and preparing the food she’d eaten for dinner. Now, they’d been reduced to nothing, crushed like insects beneath her sister and mother’s shoes.

Here eyes rose to her mother, seated high on her throne and seemingly lost in thought. She looked her over while trying to make sense of how her mother could shrink all of those people so easily, then step on them so casually. It was shocking, really, but it seemed so easy for her. Surely she’d been forced to kill people in the past, which wasn’t unheard of for a monarch. She was just so calm, and cold, and…

Marinne’s gaze fell on her mother’s imposing and fashionable platform shoe, its sole still glistening with traces of blood that had seeped through her scarf as it bobs idly through the air. Powerful. She was so incredibly powerful.

Marinne shuddered once more, trying to shake off that familiar, twisted quivering excitement she’d encountered over and over again throughout the day. She was disgusted by what she’d seen, and horrified. She was sure of that. She had to be, fifteen people had died right before her eyes in as senseless and cruel a manner as she could ever have imagined. Why couldn’t she stop staring at her mother's shoe? Why couldn't she shake the image of her sister's playful grin as she stamped out another innocent life?

"You can go, too, Marinne," the Queen murmured eventually, still too deep in thought to glance at her remaining daughter. For once, Marinne was glad to be beneath her mother's notice, and without a word she drew herself up, dipped into a low and proper curtsey, and ran all the way to her room, slamming the door behind her.

Within the hour, both of the Queen's daughters lay in their separate beds, exhausted from a tremendously long day and deep in their dreams. As truly different as the two girls were, they surely would be surprised if they knew how similar their dreams actually were.

Everyone the girls had known was gathered together in a darkened chamber, crowded atop one another and buzzing with uncertainty and fear. Marinne turned this way and that, gasping for breath, nearly in a panic before the chamber that held her and all the others shifted and lurched, the ceiling cracking open and sending everyone contained within spilling out onto a surface both unforgiving and cold.

Before them, a pair of nearly incomprehensible fur-trimmed boots rose far, far above, and from them a colossal and cruel teenager clad simply in her lacy nightgown.

"Hello, everyone," the almighty giantess Ranavalona purred. "Are you ready to die?"

Ready or not, in the next instant her tremendous boot was a blur, moving with more speed than anything of such massive size possibly should. The thick leather sole crashed into the midst of the crowd, obliterating a dozen little lives and sending bits of them spurting through the rest. Marinne screeched horribly and clawed her way towards the fringes of the group while her colossal sister’s foot rose and smashed downwards again, and then again.

They died. Oh, how they died. Ranavalona’s resounding laughter rose and overwhelmed the screams of the slaughtered as she crushed them with delight. They were so small, so fragile and so utterly helpless at her feet, and her body surged with the most exquisite power with each brutal, murderous stomp. “Nothings,” she giggled while twisting a few beneath her heel. “You’re all such nothings!” while smashing four more beneath her toes.

She killed them all, swiftly and thoroughly and decisively, and only her sister remained. The two stared at each other, Ranavalona towering over the tiny sibling before her, her chest heaving with the exertion and excitement of ending a hundred little lives while Marinne sat on the floor, catching her breath.

She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t horrified or disgusted either, despite the incredible carnage she’d been witness to. All she saw was her sister, towering over her like a goddess, and the overwhelming yearning within her left her only one course of action.

She crawled, crawled through the gore and the blood and the smashed remains of a hundred helpless people just like her. She crawled to her sister’s feet, her eyes never leaving those massive boots, splattered with streaks and spots of her friends and neighbors, and pressed her lips to the soft and supple fabric, moaning softly as she kissed again and again.

She worshiped the boot that crushed humans like bugs. She worshiped the feet that had trampled her resolve.

She worshiped her sister Ranavalona, and she always would.

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