I really like your version, Mlou, but I'm thinking I need to try it...
Laughter rang through the drafty hall, drifting to the dark corner where she stood, heavy crystal glass in hand.
Of course they were laughing...they had laughed her out of the room. Her eyes burned with unshed tears as she fingered the thick velvet of her new gown -- the one she'd been waiting for and dreaming of for months. The one they had mocked and decried and pointed out every flaw...
She took a shuddering breath and turned to the little window that was cut into the alcove, clutching the crystal so hard in both hands that it was cutting into her skin.
All she'd ever wanted was to be part of her brother's court. She knew that she'd never be accepted as a courtesan, but if she could just mingle and get to know how they acted and perhaps becomes friends...
But no. The only time her brother finally invited her and hired a dresser for her, and it ended a dismal failure. How could she have known that such material was out of fashion? The dressmaker hadn't breathed a word, just went on and on about how glorious it would look on madame, and didn't it enhance her russet colored hair...
Her hair. That had been another object that they'd marked upon. Such a color couldn't be natural, could it? Surely she applied some kind of potion to it that enticed all males to be fascinated, wouldn't she share it with them all?
No one had been sincere. No one had made any kind remarks. Not even her brother had come down from his throne and admonished them. He'd simply sat with his wife at his side, chatting with her and ignoring the layered insult after insult leveled at his youngest sister.
How dare they? Her anger and humiliation burned a hole in her heart so large she was sure that it was visible.
She had been contemplating before this 'opportunity' that it was time for things to change. She was tired of living in her brother's shadow, being forbidden to do anything of substance, and ignored by everyone else. She hadn't made any friends since coming to this frigid country, and she wished her brother would have let her stay at home. What had her parents been thinking?
Well fine. Tonight had shown her that her dearest wishes were not going to come true. There was nothing much left for her than to follow her plan.
She looked down at the goblet, mentally rehearsing the ingredients the old witch had given her.
"You are from the special line," the woman had ground out. "This is the finest potion in the world, it will give you powers equal to none."
She hadn't believed her. In fact, she fully expected to get a sick stomach and simply make a further fool out of herself...but the idea wouldn't leave her alone, and she found herself making up the drink and keeping it at her side always. Tonight she had hidden it here, just in case -- or that's what she'd told herself.
Well, it was time.
She drank the poison slowly, with one eye shut -- almost as if she was expecting someone to burst in on her. The drought went down smoothly, if not with a bit of fire, and she set the goblet down with a sigh.
Even that had been a lie.
Then she blinked and gripped her middle, feeling as if something strange was happening. The room seemed to spin and her insides felt as if she were on a ship in a storm. She flung out her hand to catch hold of the window sill, and sparks flew from her fingers.
She groaned as the potion worked it's way through her body, wondering what had happened. Had the witch been right?
The air seemed tinged with smoke and she smelled fire. When she finally was able to stand straight without pain, she opened her eyes in dismay to see the castle had been destroyed around her. Only a few walls remained, smoking and black. She had grown a couple of inches, her dress now smoke stained and tattered that she'd loved and admired only an hour before.
"What, what happened?" she gasped, putting shaking hands to her face.
"I told you that your line was powerful," the witch seemed to appear from the darkness outside the ruins, stepping carefully over the blackened stones.
"But what has happened to everyone?" she cried, fear in her heart -- what had happened to her brother?
"They're all dead." Came the harsh answer. "You killed them -- all of them. Awakening to one's power isn't a pretty thing."
She threw back her head and screamed a cry of pain and mourning into the clear night sky.
I don't know...kind of lame, I guess. But such is life...