The Mark of the Master - House Bolton
By Guest Author Serafina Snow
'Touch or aid my wife in any way, wench, and I will have all your fingers flayed by Ben Bones himself.' Lord Ramsay's words echo through her head as she stands there crying, not knowing what to do. She looks over towards Arya Jeyne for any sign of life but sees nothing. She isn't moving, isn't crying and doesn't even appear to be breathing. I've got to at least make sure she's still alive. Surely Lord Ramsay would want to know right away if his beloved wife is dead. She starts to panic, not knowing how she can accomplish this without disobeying Lord Ramsay. Frantically looking around, she spies a spoon on the table. She quickly grabs it along with a lit candle and rushes over to Arya Jeyne's side, making sure to abide by her master's words and not touch her in any way. Arya Jeyne is lying in a crumpled heap on the floor on her stomach. Her face is slightly turned to the side however, with her nose and mouth exposed, and that is exactly what she was hoping to see. With the spoon in her hand, she extends out her arm and holds it close to Arya Jeyne's nose and mouth and watches to see if it will fog up from her breath. She waits a few seconds. Nothing. No! No! No! She can't be dead! Her mind is racing and she feels sick to her stomach. She inches a little closer to the lifeless woman and nudges the candle forward to be better able to see. Taking a deep breath, she holds out the spoon once again and tensely waits. Yes! There it is! She's still alive! It is barely visible, but a very small amount of vapor had materialized on the spoon signifying life.
Grabbing the candle and quickly standing up, lest Ramsay should come back and see her so close, she walks across the room and places the spoon back on the table. Overwhelmed with anxiety, she begins to pace back and forth. She wants in the worst way to help Arya Jeyne. She hates seeing her like this. Why must Lord Ramsay dole out such harsh punishments for such minor infractions? Surely answering a few ravens using her own words could not have caused any harm. She replays Ramsay's vicious beating of Arya Jeyne over and over in her head. It's chilling and terrifying to see what he can do to someone he loves. It's even worse to imagine what he could do to someone he hates. He's almost unrecognizable when he flies into these rages. When he's in the midst of his violent attacks, he truly is more beast than man.
Thinking about this makes her wring her hands together with worry, totally forgetting about her recent injury. The sudden sharp pain emanating from her pinkie finger is enough to make her stop pacing immediately. She quickly draws in a sharp breath and closes her eyes, waiting for the flash of pain to pass. When she is able to breathe normally again, she slowly walks over to the fireplace and exhaustedly plops down onto the floor in front of it, a few feet away from Arya Jeyne. She sees the unconscious woman begin to involuntarily shake. The room is rather cold. The fire is very low now and not very effective for providing warmth, but she knows that she had best not put another log on the fire for fear that Lord Ramsay will consider that aiding his wife. She wants to crawl over and curl up next to Arya Jeyne under a blanket and hold her tightly and comfortingly whisper that everything will be all right come morning, but she dares not move from her spot by the fireplace.
Instead, she holds her hand up in front of the glow of the fire and stares at her pinkie finger. It is still swollen and angry red where Lord Ramsay had flayed the skin off of it the week before. At least the sticky colorless liquid has stopped oozing and seeping from it. It still hurts very much though. Her lord taught her a valuable lesson she would not soon forget. Try as she might, there were times when she just couldn't control her insolent behavior. That day was definitely the wrong one for sassing her lord. Ramsay had threatened to flay her many times before, but always let her go. She thought for sure that this was another one of those times. She thought wrong. She starts to tremble as she thinks about the horrifying ordeal. She remembers being slammed against the wall and the feel of the firm grip of Ramsay's hand on her own as he splayed out her pinkie in just the right position to flay it. She remembers the anger in his voice and the flash of his blade and the look in his eyes right before he calmly and methodically began to strip her skin away. His eyes.There was nothing more terrifying than looking into his eyes at that moment. Those icy pale orbs registered no human emotion whatsoever as they looked straight at her and directly through her, causing a small stream of urine to run down the inside of her leg and her knees to buckle. She couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything except stare back. Back into nothingness. Back into pure evil.
A slight stirring from Arya Jeyne causes her to shake her head and snap back to the present. She looks over and sees that her Lady's eyes remain closed, so either she's still unconscious or she's sleeping. Either way, rest is the best thing for her now. As the last dying embers of the meager fire begin to darken, she looks at her flayed finger one last time. It will never look as it once did. It will always stay scarred and ugly. It will remain as a constant reminder of what happened the day she angered Lord Ramsay Bolton. He permanently scarred her. He marked his property. She truly belongs to him now. Not in the same way as Arya Jeyne, but as a possession. Much as a farmer brands his livestock to show ownership, she was comparatively branded by Ramsay. And not with the hot glow of a branding iron, but instead with the deadly kiss of a flaying knife. The mark of her lord and master was upon her for the rest of her days.
Completely spent from the emotional events of the evening and the stress of her memories, she curls up on the floor several feet away from Arya Jeyne. The room is dark now, so she can't see her, but she does manage to hear a small sigh escape from Arya Jeyne's lips. That small sound brings great comfort as she draws her knees up tightly to her chest and wraps her arms around them trying to stay warm as drowsiness descends upon her. She softly whispers, "Good night, my Lady," before completely surrendering to the welcoming arms of sleep.