There was something addictive in the darkness of night. Be it a shining moonlit one or just glittery darkness; it was always captivating. It was the beholder of many secrets, many agony, many tears, and many wonders. Maybe that was the reason why most people found the night so enticing. Because it gave lonely people a sense of peace which they both craved and despised.
And, tonight was no different. Moon graced my way as I was sitting on the back of Lotus, my pegasus that resembled the purity of the moon. Her silver mane was shining in the moonlit as it flew past the vast range of mountains belittling rivers, canals, and forests on the way. The air around us moved with swiftness as Lotus stretched her wings wide after crossing the last hill.
Her pace was perfect. She knew how I liked the ride and that made the journey quite enjoyable. The air swished past my face making my already wild curls go wilder. My black gown that was cloaking the length of her body moved with the rhythm. Such a pleasurable feeling of liberty! I never wanted it to go away.
Lotus curved her body to land on the ground. As soon as we reached the rough surface of the earth, his scream tore through the silence of the night. Such a despicable, pathetic being he was.
Soon, his voice was deadened with a loud thud. And, then I could hear other noises, or more specifically, growls, their low, hungry growls.
I was supposed to smirk, showing him the sinister way of the control I had over him. But I didn’t. My muscles were too lazy to let me do any unnecessary actions. So, I settled for a face blank face. I didn’t mind it, though. The sooner this job was done the better.
I dismounted Lotus and turned around to grace that sorry son a bitch with my presence. Well, there he was, the infamous merchant Gunderson on the ground, lying on his stomach. I saw a wolf ready to pounce on him but upon noticing my arrival, he retreated back. His friends were not so far away from him.
Without wasting any time, I walked toward the loser and grabbed his collar before dragging him toward the cliff. The cliff of the Death River was equally as dangerous as the river. Sharp, pointy edge, unstable ground, always shaking as each wave passed a century-old rock beneath the cliff. That rock was the base of the cliff. The surface was rough and looked like any day it could collapse taking the legendary cliff with it. But that never happened, fortunately. I wouldn’t have been here to enjoy the cries of my prey then.
Speaking of prey, my attention snapped back to Gunderson who was whimpering and asking for mercy as he did in the morning. How stupid could one be? He could have asked the reason I brought him here like this instead of bowling his eyes.
I took a close look at him. His ash color eyes looked so terrified. He seemed tensed and worried. Was it only because of the reason I brought him to the cliff or some other things should have been brought to my notice?
Hmm... I must check it.
He shivered at my voice but didn’t move. With each passing second, he was inviting his death himself. I pressed my lips in a thin line. I wouldn’t repeat myself through words anymore. He needed a practical lesson.
I looked behind me to see the crowd of the beasts. One silver furred wolf grabbed my attention. By his, large size and strong posture, I could tell he was the beta of the pack. He noticed my gaze and came forward with graceful steps.
I nodded at him. He bowed in return and started to shift. My eyes turned back to the loser to see him shuddering at the bone snapping noise. I smirked before giving the wolf his much-needed privacy to cover himself. Though, privacy was a foreign word in their race when it came to shifting. I didn’t mind as long as they did the job.
“Your Majesty,” His smooth velvety voice rang in the air.
I took a deep breath, enjoying the hot wind of the river. Yes, it was hot, very, very hot.
“Tie him up, Deris, and throw him off the cliff.”
Gunderson screamed and begged. But his pleading went into deaf ears. I looked back at the auburn hair, brown eyed handsome with a knowing glint. He smirked in response and went back into the darkness of the forest. He came back soon with a thick, dark red rope wrapped around his hand. As he approached Gunderson he stood up and started to run toward the cliff like a madman. His steps soon came to a halt as he eyed the bottom of it.
His eyes turned wide before realization hit him like a hard brick. If he was suspicious before, now he certainly knew where we brought him to suffer tonight; Ravendale’s very personal hell.
His momentary shock gave Beta Deris enough time to grab his arms and throw him back to the ground. Gunderson threw his hands and legs in the air in a desperate attempt to get rid of the situation but one loud smack in the face was enough to shut him up. Gunderson’s tear-streaked eyes met mine. Unadulterated sea of rage was there, I could see. Finally, he showed his true color. His ultimate hatred for me. But, alas! This was not enough to faze me.
Deris was successful in his task of tying him. I was pleased with his words, even though, I didn’t show it. I just motioned for him to continue. He complied with my wish with a bow.
Gunderson’s eyes turned from angry to pleading again like the chameleon he was. I shook my head inwardly in his cowardice.
And, he will throw me off the throne with that!
“Please, Queen leave me. Forgive me, please. I have a family to feed. I-I need to return back to them. I swear I’ll never harm anyone. I-I will leave this kingdom. Please, please, have mercy...” And, he went on.
Of course, until his loud scream echoed in the air and slowly dissolved into a low tone as gravity pulled him to it. But before I could hear the expected splash sound, Deris pulled the rope tight and held it with one hand. His scream stopped altogether.
This was my cue to return to Lotus, my soul animal. I patted her nose before mounting on it. As I settled on her back, she neighed before running at full speed toward the cliff. Soon, her feet left off the ground and her white wings stretched wide as she cut through the air. Her wings flapped as she twirled in the moonlit night for a couple of times before taking a sharp turn to the bottom.
Her wings stretched to the farthest corners as we descended toward Gunderson who was hanging in the air. His body was upside down with his head close to the smoke of the boiling water. He was already sweating and trembling as he swayed like a pendulum there.
“Hmm... Looks like you’ve settled well here.” I smiled as Gunderson opened his eyes to glare at me.
Back to hate me again, huh?
“Why, Queen?” He spat the title.
This audacity was amusing. Here he was hanging by a single rope, swaying like a feather with super hot water waiting for him just a few feet down and he would dare ask why! Well, he could finally use his brain after this long time I see.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe I was a little bored with you and thought this would be a little entertaining. What do you say? You like hanging in there!”
His gaze was boring holes in me as I laughed.
“You are as miserable as everyone says, Queen.” I nodded while smiling, feeling interested to hear how much hatred he had in store for me.
“You don’t care about others. Your selfish self should rot in hell for causing trouble in our lives. Your pathetic ass doesn’t even deserve the title of Queen. No wonder, your family didn’t want to you to rule over. You are a curse to us, all of us. You did shitty things because you wanted the throne that was rightfully your brother’s. You took our future king away from us like the sick witch you are! Blue blood, huh, blue blood? Your blood is as cold as it looks. You blue-blooded, shitty excuse of a blood-sucking witch! You even killed your own fam-”
“Deris!” I roared to the top of my lung.
Gunderson screamed as the rope went down. I saw him quickly descending down to the water. When his head was just about to touch the surface of the boiling water, I stretched my hand to release a flow of my blood to freeze the rope, signaling Deris to stop.
I looked down from my position wearing the blank mask as always. But I could feel my heart beating a thousand miles per hour. I closed my eyes to stop the tears that threatened to spill.
No! I would never give him the privilege to see how his words affected me; I would rather die.
I had to compose myself. So, I took a few necessary deep breaths to calm my nerves at least to the point I could speak normally.
I opened my eyes to look at Gunderson. I made sure my emotions were at bay before I spoke.
“You wanted to know why you are brought here, right? Well, to answer that, I’d like to remind you that you were found guilty of disregarding the royal family in public. You insulted your Queen, the ruler of the kingdom you live. You should’ve been beheaded right the moment guards brought you to me. But, like the cunning witch I am, I granted you a chance to survive.”
I stopped to take a breath before continuing.
“I told you to bring the best warrior of the kingdom and not even half of the day passes by and you come back with a candidate. Isn’t that suspicious? You just go and drag someone inside the palace claiming he’s the best. But, on what basis?” I quirked my brows.
Gunderson paled at my words. I smirked.
Good! Get back on the line.
“So, that’s why you are here. You have to prove your worth as well as his. The recruitment ceremony is in five days. You and your candidate have five days to breathe. If he failed even a single round of the competition... Guess, what I will do to you and that guy. Think of how I brutally will punish you for his mistake. Think and enjoy these five days as much as you can. Goodnight, Gunderson."