The third story in a series I wrote about the seven deadly sins.  Sadly, also the last one I got around to write.  Or perhaps thankfully.

Content warning: terrible nightmares, murder and/or disfigurement by acid.

Vanity was the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom.  She would make sure that she was.

Sitting for hours in front of her mirror, perfecting her application of make-up, experimenting to find the perfect pouting of her full lips, tossing her hair over her shoulders or putting it up trying to find the exact amount of hair to drape at the sides of her face to enhance her beauty.

Vanity loved clothes and shoes and jewelery.  She would choose very carefully to make sure that she chose the right ones for any given occasion; the right dress for dinner, the right dress for wandering down the hallways, the right dress for going to bed; because she went to bed fully clothed, of course, her hair beautifully done.  She tried to sleep laying very still not to ruin it or mess it up, but she was plagued by horrible nightmares every night.  In her dreams she caught some rare and horrible decease that made her beautiful skin blacken and her exquisite limbs rot away as her hair was pulled out by her brushing.  She would wake up kicking and crying and screaming; her beautiful make-up ruined and her hair in a tangled mess.  She would immediately go up to fix it up again, allowing no one – including the servants – to enter until she felt beautiful again.

Vanity knew that she was the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom.  Of course she knew this.

She never left her palace, not even to take a walk in the garden.  The garden was dusty and muddy and grassy, the world outside her palace walls was unclean and would just make her dirty.  But just to make sure that she was still the most beautiful, she would send out spies to try to find those with a beauty matching her own.  If they found someone and brought her in front of Vanity to be judged, they would be rewarded.  And judge them, Vanity did.  Most of the girls brought before her were no competition to her.  Their appearance posed no threat to hers.  She would scratch their faces up to leave some scars, just to make sure, but she would let them go afterwards; send them away with a pretty dress or two that she had already used once, or some gold.

But just sometimes, once or twice a year, her spies would find someone with a beauty that made her feel uncomfortable.  Someone who could rival her if she let them.  She would secure them to a metal chair in the basement and drip acid on them; carefully at first, just a few drops on the arms and legs to watch the acid burn through the clothes and the skin.  Then a gentle drizzle here and there.  Vanity would sit back and enjoy this; watching her rival scream and squirm and tug on her restraints.  She would slowly regain her calm as she poured acid all over her rival again and again to see her beauty melt away with her skin and flesh into nothing but a puddle on the floor and a corroded skeleton.

Afterwards Vanity would feel safe again.  Sometimes she felt safe after the first few turns of acid, and if the girl survived Vanity would allow her to stay in the palace cellars.  None of the girls had ever decided to leave, to show their burnt and scarred bodies to the world outside again.

Vanity remained the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom.

She made very sure of this.

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