Her story starts before her birth. Morella’s mother and her father, Achille, were deeply in love, despite her father’s strange fascination and obsession with order. Rumors circulated, however, that Morella’s mother slept with people in order to gain their favor in her husband’s endeavors, but Achille ignored the rumors and simply enjoyed the woman’s company. Morella was born, and any who looked at her saw mother and father– there was no doubt that she was not a bastard– especially after she began to sort her toys by size and color. Many times, Morella did catch her mother with other men, and her mother explained very patiently that there was nothing wrong with embracing a sexual nature, but she must save her virginity for the person she was destined to marry, and that she must not tell her father of such things.
When Morella asked her mother if the woman still loved Achille, she answered “With all my heart, which is why I sometimes embrace people I do not like at all– for his sake. If they see me come to them, they assume both of us must like them, or that they have some advantage, and your father can simply clean up the mess, which he is very good at.”
The young child took her mother’s advice to heart, and often asked her mother many questions about who to trust, who not to trust, how to tell, how to enjoy herself, and more– including how to escape the castle. Her mother told her everything, because she thought it only wise.
Young Morella quickly became a wild child, and despite scoldings, her mother could not resist a smile or giggle, and the effect of harsh words and occasional beatings was lost to the adventuresome girl.
When the girl was seven, her mother died. Rumors flew wildly until Achille crushed them by declaring martial law. Eventually, the death was labeled a suicide fall, which was far from her character. No evidence of foul play was ever discovered, save by small Morella, who was oathbound not to tattle. During the following months, she could not escape the castle.
Finally, martial law was lifted, and she could once more escape. Many times, she simply avoided her clueless father, or stalked the man she thought killed her mother. She became harder to control as her grief consumed her. Finally, she confronted the man in a private alley. “You killed her.” she accused, not sure about what else to do or say. She gripped the front of her dress tightly in her small hands. It felt heavy.
The man looked at her with pity. “No, but I know who did.” He was a young man, only five years her senior. “It was my father, who sought to protect your father, from her secrets.” He spoke quietly. “What your mother did– many people thought she was hateful of your father for it. That’s why it had to be a secret.” His words soothed Morella, and her anger and grief faded slowly.
“What can I do, then? I want… I don’t want Mother’s killer to just get away with it.” She had no idea what would happen if the killer was revealed. She had no idea just how twisted politics were.
“Do nothing. Unless you can reveal him without revealing her, he will evade you.”
The girl began to cry, and the young man carried her back to the castle. He lied about why she was out. “Poor girl must have needed a place to cry in private, that’s all.” He smiled at Achille as he explained. “I hear she was very close with her mother, so it is only natural, isn’t it?”
Achille took his daughter into his arms and held her tightly as she sobbed. “Thank you for bringing her home. I get so worried when she runs away.” His gentle tone, so unlike many other times he spoke around her, revealed more to Morella than her father knew. He revealed himself as a frightened man who wished only the best for those he loved. He was deeply scarred. She hugged him tightly around his neck as the young man left, and continued to cry.
Eventually, Achille began to cry as well, although far more quietly, and carried her to his room for privacy. Together, they cried until they ran out of tears.
After that day, Morella seemed a much more cheerful girl. She often left the castle to adventure in the nearby desert or the sparse forests, to make friends with the peasants, and to buy herself new clothes that were better suited to places that were not the pristinely sterile castle she lived in.
As time does, it moved on, and Morella blossomed into a lovely young woman. During the nights when her father had visitors, she went to their rooms and convinced them that her father was a wonderful man. She rarely spoke, and wore a veil and turban in combination to disguise herself as she enjoyed and shared the pleasures of flesh. Many times, she massaged feet, backs, shoulders, aching legs, and more. None knew of her name, and none were bold enough to ask about the young woman.
Her father was lauded as generous and a host beyond reproach, and he reaped the rewards of his daughter’s actions, confused about why his luck so suddenly turned for the better.
For a time, all was well.
Morella’s thirteenth birthday party was also her engagement party. She felt nervous and frightened. She had never met any men who she thought her father or the king might think worth the might of Driazhek.
She held her breath as she, in her heavy, hot, uncomfortable dress, stood in front of everyone in the duchy and beyond who was deemed worthy through deeds, birth, or friendship to her or her father, of witnessing her birthday and betrothal. The boy she so long ago accused of murder walked in and joined the other celebrants. He smiled reassuringly at her. At his side was a woman who bore his family’s colors, with accents from her own family. He was wed now, just as Morella would be soon.
Finally, a man entered, and approached her directly. Her heart fell, but she forced as genuine a smile as she could as she took his hand and he announced his engagement to her, at the order of the king and sealed her fate to his unless one of them died. She agreed to the engagement, and the mingling and congratulations began.