It was a humid, muggy evening that frustrated her like thousands of needles digging into her olive skin. Her jaw clenched and left eye twitched as she tried with all her power not to smash the nearby vase into the man’s face.
He was just another angry soldier that reeked of alcohol -- and to Abbelle's misfortune -- had stumbled into her father’s hostelry, demanding to speak with the owner about urgent matters.
Her customers were concerned and confused as he shouted at Abbelle's face, roaring with such urgency.
“I swear to you sir Colfo, my father has left the kingdom nine months ago,” she tried to speak louder than his screaming. “You cannot meet him until he comes back to Mestiepentine.”
If he comes back, that is. Abbelle thought bitterly, glaring at the soldier. Her words had managed to make the man angrier than he was before, face turning red.
Just because she told him what she knew. Abbelle had to hold herself from rolling her eyes at this man’s childlike attitude.
Her father had left her the old family hostelry under her care after he left in search of a change. After all, living fifty years in Mestiepentine could drive a man mad enough to leave his only daughter. Plainly because he wanted to be alone.
Abbelle knew it was going to happen eventually, he had wished for a different life after her mother left them when Abbelle was only two winters old.
The angry soldier slammed his fist down at the wooden table, cutting Abbelle's line of thought short as she gasped in surprise.
“It is an important matter to address, you- you good-for-nothing cur!” He was spitting and shouting curses that all the customers in the vestibule were staring, bewildered as whispers erupted.
How dare he.
Abbelle was remarkably eager to smash that vase in his face. Or perhaps break his bones and cut him up, store him in a jar and place him on her desk. That'll teach some people manners.
“If the matter was so important why would they send a drunken idiot to talk about it?” Abbelle looked down and muttered under her breath. The soldier furrowed his eyebrows and clenched his fist as if threatening to swing her head off her shoulders.
Not if she swung his head off first.
That was when Abbelle realizes that, one, this was just another Mestiepentine day, and it wasn't worth getting executed for killing this vexing man. And two, that she had anger issues. And finally, that she was sweaty and smelly and exhausted because of the humid weather and she was not going to waste her precious time on him.
“Sir, you can tell me about the problem. I am Mr. Vestinkar’s daughter and the temporary owner until he comes back.” She tried not to sneer at his red drunken state. He was so close to her face that his liquor breath was fanning against her face. She was fighting a grimace of disgust as she flashed him a toothy grin.
“The problem is that there have been sightings of the Ordrak around your inn.” His voice became so low like a whisper at saying the name. “The village witch felt its dark and angry aura. Our elder demanded one of our soldiers to come down here and interrogate you on the matter.”
Abbelle blinked, confused at what the man just said. Everyone in these lands knew of the Ordrak. Stories and legends were told throughout the nations, of a beast with many forms. A peculiar tenebrous aura that traveled the lands in search of something, perhaps someone.
Some said it took the form of the evil that lurks the lands, some spoke of a hungry wild animal. Some described a magical force not known to man, while others believed that it’s a winged giant that might’ve left its cave.
Most did not agree on its appearance, yet all know that It moved through the wind, as a dark mist that covered the brightest of cities.
Abbelle's father had spoken of long sharp teeth, beady red eyes, and the rasping, husky voice it lured its victims with. It came and went, and to Abbell's luck, it had ended up near her hostelry.
Abbell swallowed loudly and looked up at the soldier.
“I know nothing of the beast, sir. I shall inform you when I catch sight of it.” She wanted to wipe the fear off her face, stop the hammering of her heart against her ribcage. The soldier narrowed his eyes into a glare at her, his dull gaze inspected her torso to her face.
“We shall see if you will survive the week, mongrel.” He spoke harshly over his shoulder as he walked out of the building.
She wanted to break the table in anger.
Abbell lit up the candles in the dark corridors when she made her way through, her long nightgown grazed the floor under her bare feet.
She already had taken a long bath after the soldier left, to scrub all the nervousness and anger she carried underneath her skin.
Not only had that vexing soldier call her a cur, but he also frightened all the customers away before they had bought a room.
She couldn’t blame them; anyone would have been frightened once they heard the name Ordrak, the source of children’s nightmares.
Abbell finally reached her bedroom door and entered it, lit up one of the candles before blowing out the lantern she was carrying.
She checked if the windows are closed, reviewed twice if the door is locked, even peered into her closet and under her bed before she laid on her mattress.
Mestiepentine isn’t a safe village, and everybody knew that. It is one of the most dangerous villages in the mountainous kingdom of Ortanika, if not the first.
There are too many drunks, hundreds of thieves and murderers that hunt the city. Brothels to brewery’s spread across the small piece of land, where foreigners with dark intentions stop by. The sound of arguing and screaming could be heard from a mile away, to the point Abbell felt lucky that her hostelry is located on the outskirts instead of the heart of Mestiepentine.
She braided her dark hair as quickly as possible, blew out the last candle and muttered a prayer as she pulled her covers up to her chin and closed her eyes.
Little did she know of the ominous figure that lurked outside the inn, voice low and harsh as it whispered to the wind that blew.
“Queen, queen, queen,” A pause. “Dead.”
In her dreams, she had her hair down instead of her two braids. She felt cold and odd all at the same time, rubbed her hands over her bare arms for warmth.
She listened to a honeyed male voice, unclear words flowed out of pale pink lips. A small smile bared large canines as a bright vermillion liquid flowed down his chin, stained the collar of the grey fabric he wore. Her surroundings were dark, nothing but her and the strange male.
His face was blurry, besides the sharp blue eyes that glowed in the black surroundings. She couldn’t tell if his smile was genuine or a way of spreading his lips like a wild animal in an attempt to scare her.
It did scare her, bumps appeared across her skin as she cowered once he moved a muscle. Alarms on in her head, screamed for her to run.
She couldn’t move, frozen in her spot once he lifted his arm, his hand covered by a black leather glove. He was too close, so close that the tips of his fingers caressed her face.
She finally snapped out of her daze and threatened to bite him by the bare of her teeth, attempted to thrash against the invisible chains that held her in place. He didn’t look displeased by her actions, she can faintly make out a small smirk and a raucous laugh that made her pale in fear.
Abbell watched in wide eyes as the blurred man in front of her started to shatter and transform, glowing eyes turned into a murky and toxic red as his lips stretched further back to his cheeks, his canines grew larger as more blood oozed out of his lips.
It wasn’t long until an enormous black mist with a great snarl and big red eyes engulfed her as she screamed, fear pumped through her veins.
She never expected a gentle caress on her cheeks, nor the low honeyed voice that whispered to her softly.
“Fear nothing, I would never harm you, my queen.”
Abbell woke up in a puddle of her sweat, her screams died as she noticed her surroundings. She tried to calm down her racing heart, convinced herself that this is nothing but a nightmare. She found comfort again in her pillow as she laid back.
She swore she heard him singing in her head before she slept.
“Abbell, Abbell, Abbell Vestinkar...do not fear me.”