by Max Barry

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13

Euphrosyne, The Demon-Princess of the Isaurians


Cultural History of Euphrosyne: Through The Ages, A Visual Retrospective
Information of Euphrosyne: Background & General Treatment

Born in the winter of 1212 AD, Euphrosyne has often been accused of witchcraft, fornication with various demons, as well as having been the result of an illicit, forced, union between her mother- who died in childbirth at the age of 15- and a demon. Prior to her birth, her mother had had at least three miscarriages, which had resulted in some in the court of Trokondas jokingly suggesting his "seed" was too strong for the young girl. That her final act in life was giving birth to a feeble, weak-minded girl led many around Trokondas to accuse his late child-wife of having bore the spawn of a demon- this, in turn, led it to be suggested that she be offered as a sacrifice to Dotari, a local saint, so that the human half of her soul might make it to Heaven before her demonic parentage revealed itself. However, in a rare fit of mercy, Trokondas- though blaming the infant for his wife's death- refused such rash action, instead seeing fit to merely chain her to a stone within the room of her birth for a few days, that any demonic features might reveal themselves.

Since then, occasional rumors of her suddenly sprouting demonic wings, or of her head spewing dark flames visible only to the pure-hearted, have resulted in such chainings becoming a somewhat common occurrence. While she publicly blames these harsh punishments as causing her weak disposition, it is generally believed that these are merely the desperate pleadings of a half-demon witch who was nearly caught, rather than those of a scared child to her father. Another result of the widespread suspicion of her supposedly having demonic heritage and witchy inclinations is that none are willing to allow her access to books or education, since any books might teach her some form of hidden necromancy and potential tutors are uniformly afraid of being accused of witchcraft. Thus, she is completely uneducated, illiterate, and utterly deprived of love.

Given this wholly un-nurtured life, it is perhaps unsurprising that her efforts to find love outside her father and his court have been similarly un-nurturing. While born with a gentle and simple personality, decades of abuse have resulted in her self-image aligning with that of her accusers- that she is, by her very nature, an evil being incapable of giving goodness or receiving kindness. Of course, this has led her seeking affection from those she believes to have a similar disposition- that is, evil. This has, however, often resulted in her being taken advantage of as- despite the rumors which have continually populated her life- she is witless, and completely incapable of guile. Therefore, when approaching those of actual cunning, they have inevitably engineered their own advantage at the price of her well-being.


Other Characters' Words About Euphrosyne: Her Loved Ones

"When I first beheld Euphrosyne... when I held her, thinking she was my daughter... I expected to feel some great welling of love, such as we are all told to expect upon parenthood. But, I didn't. When I saw her, the only thing I could feel was... an all-consuming, loathsome... hate, an anger such as I'd never felt before, whether on the field of battle or during the midst of a sacking... I wanted to throw her- this tiny, infant girl, who'd done nothing wrong!- and... I wanted to hurt her, the daughter of my wife, who was not my own... Of course, I didn't even know that at the time, but I hated her regardless... So, when others suggested sacrificing her to St. Dotari, I initially went along with it- we even got so far as lighting the fires, so intense was our unnatural rage... When I was to place her upon the fire- I remember it as if it were yesterday- I looked into her eyes... she was crying, of course, but I didn't... I didn't care. Not until I was struck by a divine vision- I'd recently started taking datura for my pain-, telling me of her demonic heritage, that she'd bring ruin upon our enemies, and that she'd impart a new, Golden Age for Isauria. Now, I won't say I like the girl- she's still part demon, and utterly loathsome besides- but I still believe she'll ultimately be useful for us. At that point, I think, we'll all finally be able to be rid of her."
-Lord Trokondas, I read this as a sorta mixture of heavy loathing and light regret.

"Of course I love her, she's everything to me! Without her, I'd be nothing but the forgotten daughter of a dead warrior, and without her I'd have had none of the opportunities I've gained. But do you know how hard it is to deal with her? With her constant tears, with the continuous blathering about 'Father this', and 'Father that'? I. Do. Not. Care. About. Him. His days are behind him, and the only reason he hasn't been usurped, and we haven't been conquered is because of the reputation I have curated for Euphrosyne! If it weren't for me, they all might've realized the truth, and then what? Of course I want what's best for her, but the good of Isauria is more important- if they all knew she's nothing but a sad, crying princess who can't even leave her room without my or her father's presence, what do you think would happen? Don't accuse me of opportunism- none of you have had to do what I've done! She confides in me, like she does none other- not even the priests or her beloved father. She trusts me with her love, with her soul, with her everything! Don't you dare claim I don't love her- I love her more than you, or even she, will ever know. I grieve everyday for what she suffers, and I-... You may call me cruel, manipulative, or even monstrous, but I assure you, I love her. As Sappho loved Erinna, so I love her."
-Lady Bassaine, Lady-in-Waiting and Secret Lover, I actually read this as her feeling very indignant and perhaps a little guilty?

Euphrosyne: In Her Own Words

"I do not get the chance to speak much... I think it is because Father fears I might embarrass him, but... I don't think I would!- if anyone laughed at me, I think my demon-witch powers would finally show up, and I would zap and destroy everyone who ever wants to hurt Father and I!... Oh, but you probably already assumed that... ha ha... uhm. So, to, uh, to tell you some things about me- I am 26 years old, I am... Father's heir, and I am an evil demon who wants to destroy everything good and Christly. My favorite color is red, and I like to eat spicy foods. I love Father, I love my friends, I love God, I love Bas-... oh! I think I should've said God first, if I were a good person... or maybe I shouldn't have listed Him at all, since I am a demon? I don't know... Oh, uhm, but, things that I hate are, uhm, stones, the cold, and books! Of course, Bassaine- she's my... well, our relationship is an insult to the Lord, for which I pray for her soul- but, she loves books, dearly, and she once tried to- secretly, of course- teach me how to read... She was so patient, and so kind, I-I do believe, at times, that she's the only one who truly cares for me... But, all I ever could learn was how to write my name, Father's name, and her name... She always tells me- oh, and this is normally when I'm feeling kinda down, so maybe she's just being nice?- uhm, about how everyone else thinks I'm really cool, and that one day I should show her my powers, but... well, that is to say... they haven't really shown up yet- I-I'm not lying! I used to think it was because everyone else was just wrong, and that I was actually Father's daughter, but now I'm pretty sure it's just that I'm too weak, and so I've been working really hard to get stronger! Father... even said... uhm, while I was stuck to the stone, that is... he had a vision- I sounded really cool, and I felt so proud!- where I became a three bodied dragon taller than a mountain, and that I burnt all of Anatolia to the ground. I really can't wait to get these demon powers, because then I can show everyone what it means to hurt a demon! Oh, but I think I must've taken too much of your time, so if you want to leave, can you please loosen the chain to the right a little- it's, uhm, kinda tight on my wrist..."
-Princess Euphrosyne, I always read it as her being slightly ashamed of herself.

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