As the prophecy foretold
Victoria felt completely and utterly confused.
“Return... the favour?”
Freyja nodded patiently.
“Yes, little princess. You saved my life and now I’ll save yours.”
Victoria slowly got frustrated.
“What are you talking about?”
“You are in a very dangerous place, little princess, although you might not know it yet.“, the woman said glaring at her with a suddenly stern expression. “The people around you will use and manipulate you to serve their selfish causes. The nobles will all try to win you over and one way or another they will make you do their bidding. You’ll be nothing but a thrall to the throne. The paradise you think you serve does not exist.”
The princess could not believe what she was hearing. This woman didn’t seriously think she’d believe a single word she said after breaking into the palace and holding them all hostage. And she wouldn’t let her insult her kingdom either.
“That’s not true!“, she shot back and remembering her lessons with Missy she added: “The nobles are good people. They rule justly and protect the people. Who do you think you are, speaking about them this way? Are you even myth?”
Freyja seemed unfazed by her outburst and pityingly shook her head.
“You’re a child. Of course, you don’t understand. You believe every varnished tale they feed you. But you must realise that your life here has nothing to offer you. Here, your path is already set in stone.”
Victoria hated her patronizing manner but she couldn’t think of anything to retort.
“But... I offer you an alternative. A life, free of all these burdens and misery. If you join me, you will become my apprentice and I promise you, your life will be happy, fulfilling and free of worry.”
Even if it were all true, Victoria thought. Even if Mythos was as flawed as she said, it was all the more reason for Victoria to stay. It was her duty, her purpose.
“Being princess is not a burden!“, she exclaimed. “I was born to care for these people. I was chosen because the Mother thinks I should do it. It’s my responsibility.”
Victoria had said it with sincerity but Freyja dismissed her words with what she deemed an understanding expression, but her smile seemed rather condescending.
“What do you think will happen if you leave this place? That the Mother will strike you down?”
“No. But she chose me to be princess, so that’s what I’ll do! I don’t need your help and I don’t need you to tell me what I’m supposed to think!”
With every word, Victoria slowly regained her bravery until she finally managed to look Freyja in the eyes. Freyja, however, didn’t seem impressed by her boldness.
“So stubborn... Well, I won’t force you to come with me, but just know that you will regret not taking my offer.”
Her smile was just as good-natured as before, but Victoria felt the stinging threat nonetheless. But before she could answer, Freyja got back up on her feet and clapped her hands together.
“Unfortunately I have no time to spare for dead ends and I won’t hazard my acolytes for it either. You surely understand my responsibility for them.”
Victoria dared to draw hope.
“I must. Forgive my uncouth behavior but believe me my intentions were virtuous. I am not the fiend you might be inclined to perceive.”
“I don’t care about that. I just want you and your monsters gone.”
The woman chuckled.
“Patience, little princess. Being cranky does not suit you at all. But before I leave you, I have a bargain to make.”
Victoria’s shoulders slumped.
“A bargain. I never got the answers I came here for, but you have seen my face long enough to elaborately describe me to the military. I, on the other hand, have taken your entire castle hostage.”
The princess felt the panic slowly rising again.
“You wanna blackmail me?”
Freyja smiled wickedly.
“I barely want to trade so, in the end, we both get what we want, little princess.”
“So what’s your trade?”
“I leave you and your people unharmed and in exchange, you never speak of this encounter again, not to your sister, any authorities or friends. Do you condone my offer, little princess?”
Victoria didn’t think that she really had a choice and looking at the intruder’s ominous smile, she felt reinforced in her presentiment.
“So you’ll leave?“, she insisted.
“I’ll never see you again?”
“And you won’t hurt anyone?”
Freyja pulled the cloth back over her nose and mouth and put the hood back on. Then she turned around and gestured to her companion to step away from the door. As they both proceeded to leave Victoria’s room, a sudden thought occurred to the little princess.
“How do I know you kept word and didn’t hurt anyone?“, she called after Freyja.
Freyja turned around.
“If you’re really that suspicious, you can accompany me downstairs right away, little princess.“, she meant amusedly.
Victoria followed the two intruders and together, they descended the long flight of stairs down the tower. The creature that had listened quietly to their exchange now walked behind Victoria and Freyja and the little princess tried her best not to turn her head constantly to stare at it.
“Are you from Aldebra?“, she asked to distract herself from their horrifying escort.
“Of course you would ask.“, she gestured towards her companion. “My friend Puppet here is a demon. But two of my apprentices are also Myth.”
“And what about you?“, Victoria asked.
“Don’t pry.“, Freyja said.
They continued to walk in silence. The closer they got to the entrance halls, the more nervous Victoria became. Not a single soul crossed their path and the palace was dead silent. Above all, Victoria was worried about Helen and Madison. She barely ever talked to them and they weren’t particularly nice, but they were the closest thing she had to a family besides Horizon. She feared for her too. But at least the prophecy ensured that she wouldn’t be harmed tonight. When they walked around a corner, she saw the palace staff and soldiers first. They were all stretched out on the marble floor, leaning against the wall, motionless with shut eyes. Victoria gasped in terror but Freyja grabbed her shoulder before she could panic.
“They’re alright, little princess. They’re merely asleep. A little trick by one of my apprentice’s but they’re unharmed and will wake up soon.“, she meant calmly.
Victoria ran up to them and let out a sigh of relief after she realized they were still breathing. She looked around and counted four masked intruders. As if they alone had defeated over a dozen people? Madison, Helen and her sister were nowhere to be found. She turned back to Freyja who too seemed slightly concerned judging by her frown.
“Where are the monarchs?“, Freyja demanded to know.
“Entice has locked the little queen in her room, ma’am. The old ones are in there-”
The young man who had spoken gestured towards one of the rooms in the entrance hall. “Apparently there’s trouble. Also I double-checked and there is virtually no security besides those guards. Someone sent a call to the local authorities but all communication systems are jammed, like you ordered.” He held up a small device to show Freyja and she nodded.
Victoria darted towards the room where her predecessors were being held. Trouble? Were they harmed? Why weren’t they out here with the rest of the palace’s inhabitants? Freyja didn’t stop her and instead casually followed. Inside the small room were countless coathangers, cupboards and empty shelves, all precious stone or marble and amidst the furniture, tied up and gagged like criminals, were the queen and princess of Mythos. At first, Victoria wanted to call out to them but the words got stuck in her throat when she saw Madison’s arm. Only, that it didn’t really resemble an arm. It looked like it had shriveled up and dried like a leaf and hung down her side completely useless. The pain in her eyes gave Victoria a sting. She spun around to face Freyja.
“You promised-“, she shouted, but Freyja cut her off with a dismissive gesture, instead looking at her disciple standing beside the monarchs.
“What happened?“, she demanded to know, still calm and collected but her voice was menacingly cold.
“They saw my face.“, explained the woman, pointing at the monarchs.
Freyja sighed wearily and Victoria looked back and forth between them, panicking.
Freyja slowly walked up to Madison and knelt down before her. The princess was writhing in her chains but it was useless, her angry groans stifled by the gag. Freyja grabbed her chin so she’d hold still for a moment.
“Pity.“, she whispered although she didn’t seem pitiful in the least.
Victoria forced herself to emerge from her frightened numbness. She had to do something. She had to protect them.
“Wait!“, she managed to say.
Freyja turned around and Madison stopped resisting and instead stared at her in surprise and shock.
“I know I promised.“, said Freyja sternly. “But I won’t endanger my companions.”
“Please, I’ll come with you!“, Victoria pleaded.
Freyja froze in her movements and considered it for a while. Then she stood back up and nodded decidedly.
“Alright. We’re leaving then.”
Madison and Helen erupted in muffled protests but Freyja paid no attention to them. Madison tried to get Victoria’s attention and the little princess hesitantly approached her and removed the gag while Freyja wasn’t looking. Although Madison was evidently in pain, her eyes gleamed furiously.
“We’d rather die than give in to your demands, vermin.“, she hissed.
The woman that had guarded them and Puppet immediately reacted but a simple gesture from Freyja put them at ease.
She walked back to Victoria and put a hand on her shoulder.
“We should go.“, she said and Victoria felt all hope slowly dwindling away.
But she didn’t have a choice. She swallowed to get rid of the lump in her throat and opened her mouth to say goodbye, when Madison suddenly jumped up. She had apparently secretly freed herself of her restraints and shoved Victoria aside while darting towards Freyja. The little princess fell hard on the marble floor but what she heard next distracted her from the painful fall. It was a horrifying sound, sharp and quick followed by repulsive gargling that made her stomach twist. She turned around. The cloth covering Freyja’s face slipped down and fell to the floor drenched with blood as she turned away. As if the scene weren’t appalling enough, Victoria saw with disgust that the blood was indistinguishable from the darkness of her disguise. Jet-black blood trickled on the shining marble as Freyja pressed one hand to her slit throat. The weapon Madison had summoned was stained with it too. Although Victoria was terrified, Madison recoiled with complete and utter horror.
“Monster!“, she gasped as her sword sunk to her side.
Freyja slowly turned back around, the long white hair sullied with dark blood, her throat, however, was as good as new. The monarchs all looked at her in frozen terror. The solemn composure had faded from Freyja’s face. Indeed, with the blood besmirching her beauty and the sudden baneful expression, promising violent reciprocation, she seemed truly daunting. The huge creature immediately tackled Madison and shackled her. The princess, however, seemed too shocked to resist.
Freyja slowly rubbed over her freshly healed wound. Not even a faint scar was left on her dark skin. The monarchs, however, were still staring at her face. Their foolish decision had just doomed them. She looked at Victoria, trembling, terrified crouched down on the floor and staring at her with nothing but fear.
“I’m afraid the deal is off, little princess.“, she said, her voice still raspy from the injury.
Before Victoria could resist, Freyja nodded towards her companion and the woman lifted up the little princess and carried her out of the room, back to her chambers. Victoria was unable to snap out of her abstraction, until the woman set her down on her bed back in the tower. She held on to the woman’s sleeve.
“Please don’t kill Maddie and Helen! I’ll do anything! I’ll come with you, I promise!“, she begged desperately.
The woman barely scoffed.
“Those imbeciles dug their own graves.“, she said.
She left Victoria on the bed and walked towards the door. The little princess ran after her but the door slammed shut and was locked from the outside. She was alone.
Freyja slowly stepped in front of the princess, who was on her knees again, tied up and gagged. Madison had to tip her head back to look up at her and seemed rather furious about it.
“How tasteless.“, said Freyja very quietly. “To shed blood in front of an innocent child.”
Madison tried to free herself from her restraints again. To no avail. Freyja looked down at her and for a moment something wicked gleamed dangerously in those cold eyes and Madison froze in her movements.
“Pathetic.” Freyja whispered, her eyes squinted in repulsion. “I actually intended to spare both your lives.“, she admitted and her expression now changed to lethal amusement.
Helen was fidgeting in her chains, but the large symbol drawn on her forehead prevented her from performing any magic. Madison groaned angrily, her voice stifled by the cloth in her mouth.
“Well, I suppose you should have expected it.“, Freyja continued, glancing from one to the other, now smiling again.
“Your deaths are after all long overdue.” She chuckled derisively and snapped her fingers. An apprentice came running to her.
“Kill them.“, Freyja ordered and the young man nodded obediently.
The monarchs were now struggling desperately against their restraints, but their situation was hopeless. Freyja walked towards the door.
“Farewell.“, she said, waving, without looking back at her prisoners.
“Give the Mother my best regards.”
Are you enjoying my ongoing story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, ZuckerrosaWrite a Review