We wear the mask that grins and lies
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties

Kaelia burst into the inn, hands clutching her face. The few patrons there stared at her as she walked up to the innkeeper. Her green eyes shone through her fingers.
Her voice was unnaturally rough. “Gihe meh ah mirer.”
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
She grabbed him with one hand and pulled him close. “GIHE MEH AH HUCKING MIRER!!!!”
The innkeeper looked helplessly at the others in the tavern. Luckily for him, the woman had a compact mirror. The innkeeper took it to Kaelia, his hands shaking. Kaelia took the mirror and let her hands drop from her face. There was a collective gasp.
The innkeeper was more eloquent. “My…god…” He backed away.
From just below her eyes to the bottom of her neck was covered in burns. In some places her skin was gone completely, exposing the muscles below.
Kaelia poked and prodded at her face. Her mutilated voice was only a whisper. “Noh. Noh won cun see meh ike dis. Noh won muzt knoh.”
She threw the mirror at the wall, where it shattered.
The people cowered. She turned towards them and screamed, “YU CUN’T ZEE MEH!!!”
The innkeeper spoke up. “Actually, miss, we can see you just fine…” His simpering voice was cut off as Kaelia slit his throat.
The woman fainted. A man spoke up. “Hey, you can’t just–”
Kaelia counted the people in the tavern, “Won. Twuh. Tee. For.”
She grabbed four throwing daggers from her belt, and threw them.
Their moans and pleas were cut off as she went to each of them, daggers drawn. Their beauty was stripped from them.

Why should the world be overwise
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

Once she was finished, she practiced talking. Her vocal cords were damaged. “Noh won cun…noh one…can zee…me.”
She rubbed her throat. It hurt to speak.
“Mazk. Muzt wear…mazk.”
She took a long red scarf from the woman’s corpse. She wrapped it like a bandana around her face and neck.
She bolted the tavern’s door and climbed out a window, disappearing into the streets.
Kaelia ran from the city. No one knows where she is now, but she is watching, waiting.
She wears the mask.

We smile, but, O great Light, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

"We Wear the Mask" - Paul Laurence Dunbar

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