“Here, have it,” I said as I gave her a bowl of soup.
Her eyes widened in fear.
“Oh, no, your Highness! Please, someone will-”
“No one! Now, be quick. I don’t have much time.” I looked at the closed door.
I knew this was risky. If my mother knew she’d have my head. But I was helpless. This woman before me was pregnant and was starved because she broke a few plates. How inconsiderate Mother could be? She was the queen for goodness sake! She should have been at least considerate about her current situation.
I looked back at the frail woman who didn’t even start yet and stared at me with this unreadable expression in her eyes. I glared at her.
“Alva!” I warned her in a low tone. But she didn’t seem to be bothered at all.
I was getting irritated. “Alva, if you don’t start right now-”
“One day," She cut me. "You’ll make a good queen, your Highness.”
“What made you break the vow, Aravena?” My grandfather took a spoonful of caramel pudding.
I didn’t reply. I didn’t want to.
“It certainly isn't my demand now, is it?"
I scowled at him as he smirked.
"Perhaps, me being in this bed like this.”
I looked away. But he touched my cheek with those trembling fingers that he knew was enough to make me look back. And, there he was smiling. Knowledge and wisdom flashed in his eyes as he looked at me. I couldn’t help the look this former king was giving me. It was as if he knew he had not much time to look at me and smile like this, to make jokes with me, infuriate me with his words. This was the moment when I wished I could have avoided that night.
“Don’t worry, my dear.” I looked back at him.
His calm face calmed me.
But for how long? How much time left?
“Be grateful, Lord, that I cooked. I was in no mood to comply with such baseless wishes of yours.” I huffed. “Now, do me a favor and continue to eat!”
I looked away from him. Sudden irritation filled my mind. The odd look he was giving me was so infuriating right now. Why was he even looking at me instead of eating?
Perhaps, I should have never cooked this food. I wasn’t even supposed to do this, to begin with. After all, I had vowed to never even enter the kitchen and touch cookwares. But then...
I sighed. I wished he had been here. This felt so irritating, so suffocating.
“You still think Arnold would have made a great king.”
I looked back at him. He smiled softly.
“Arnold was supposed to be in this position, not me. After all, people loved him. He was great at everything. All of these things are rightfully his.”
“And, what about you, my dearest?"
I didn't reply. I didn't have anything to reply to him.
"Aravena, all this is yours as well as it was his. It’s true, with Lady Elene he would have made a better king. But, I don’t think he would have ruled like you.”
“Who are you fooling here? They wanted a king, Grandfather. They still do. And, that’s why they can’t fathom the fact that I am here, a woman is here to rule over them all. And, before you speak, let me tell you that marriage is the farthest thing from my mind, at the moment.” A bitter taste left in my mouth as I said those words.
He shook his head and sighed before brushing my hair with his fingers. “There are three kinds of leader, Aravena. The great, the greatest, and the successful.”
I looked at him with furrowed brows. Where was he going with that?
“The one who has his people fear him is the great leader. There are many great leaders around the world, even the greatest ones too who have their people both fear and respect them. But they are not always successful.”
“And, who’s successful?” I was curious as he smiled that taunting smile of his when he knew he got me.
“The successful leader is he who has his people fear, respect and love him.”
I was in my bedroom when Ara and Vena were helping me to change into this dark, black gown. My mind went back to the words Grandfather said. I knew what they meant. But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t turn myself from cold to cool kind of leader. People already didn’t take me seriously. They hated me. I knew they did. And, people like Gunderson were there to make sure I step down the throne as soon as possible.
“And, that’s why you are going to show him who’s in control here!” Vena pursed her lips as she smoothed the dress.
“Wow! Seriously, Vena?” Ara smirked as she brushed my hair.
“What?” Vena snapped.
Ara just kept smirking. She knew how Vena detested the idea when someone piqued her interest by saying something and then keeping quiet. But, we all knew what Ara’s silence meant. She was mocking Vena for the seriousness she rarely expressed in front of us. After all, an all-time funny and sarcastic one going serious looked amusing enough.
“Not funny, Ara. I’m trying to-”
“Don’t bother, Darling. We all know how much of a fai-”
“Don’t you dare, Ara. Don’t!” Vena pointed a finger at Ara.
Ara winked and soon, received a loud smack on the shoulder. She hissed and glared at a smirking Vena.
“Alright! All done.” Ara turned me to the mirror after getting done with her job.
I smirked as the woman inside the mirror smirked back in satisfaction of the view she was witnessing. It was all black, the color of mystery and fear. Matching it with my smoky eyes and red lips I felt ready to make my prey suffer tonight.
"You look ready to kill, Queen," Vena smirked.
She was right. This was me, the great queen of Ravendale. And, tonight, Gunderson would feel the meaning of my existence to the very core of his heart. I’d make sure of that.
I snapped my fingers as Ara and Vena disappeared. I stood up and walked into the center of my room. I summoned a knife and the cold metal graced my left hand. Without wasting any moment, I ran the knife through my palm. I smiled as dark blue blood dribbled down my hand and dropped on the floor.
One drop, two, three... and then many other of the blue liquid covered the pristine white floor. I stepped back to give the blood some space on the floor. I looked at the knife and it disappeared as well as my wound, leaving a perfect skin.
The air turned cold. The wind blew from the balcony and whirled around me. I could feel the pressure. And, I knew the very familiar pine and rosewood scent. I smiled as a dark shadow loomed over the blood out of thin air. The shadow formed a shape, a human shape.
Next, I could see a strong built, tall and muscular. Colors added to the shadow and created the image of a man I wanted to see.
A tanned and finely toned man with silver eyes and beautiful blonde hair. A half-moon was stretched across his bare chest, increasing his beauty tenfold. A taunting smirk adorned his lips as he looked at me. He was always like this, loved to show off his muscularity. He was a man who never once covered his upper part, but decent enough to wear dark shades of pants. And, tonight he was matching my color.
He bowed. “You summoned, my Queen?” His deep baritone voice resonated throughout the room.
“Prepare your wolves near the southern forest for tonight,” I spoke with the needed tone of authority. “At least, ten should be guarding the cliff of the Death River for the next five days, understood?”
He bowed again. “As you wish, your Majesty. But may I know the reason?”
"The usual," I smirked.
He returned the gesture with a knowing glint in his eyes. Fervon bowed.
And, just like that, he vanished in the air.
I, on the other hand, smirked just at the thought of his twisted face.
Oh, Gunderson! After tonight, you’ll love me even more.