Not Quite Our Footsteps by Orin Drake
An odd thought, to be sure.
They'd been abandoned on the eve of her brother's sixteenth birthday. The servants who had been caring for them--training her and keeping him in check--simply left. Later, Nikkira wouldn't be able to blame them for it... but at the time, she was fourteen. Fourteen and alone in a castle with her brother, expected to keep them both alive.
There was no one left to prepare meals. No one to wash her clothes or dress her wounds, to clean the rooms or spar with or talk to for a very, very long time.
Two days after Nikkira's seventeenth birthday, a messenger rode to the castle and dared to enter. He stayed only long enough to deliver a note into her hand, then turned and walked away without a word. It suited her well enough; especially when she read the note.
The messenger will tell me
if you still live. And of
course if you still live,
so too does your brother.
In such a situation, it
must have been awfully
lonesome for such a long
time. Perhaps you should
indulge in some company.
It will be taken care of.
It was a night when her brother was quiet. So she went to the gardens and crushed the ugly statues representing her bloodline, one by one, starting at their heads and working her way down until they were rubble and dust.
Several days later, a carriage carrying three prisoners from Gelha arrived. She watched from a third story window as three young men were unloaded like cattle and left at the gate.