ashes and snow

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“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She swallowed, her gaze fastened on Hedwig. There was a crease that formed between his brows, a way of uncertainty. She didn’t know what he had heard, what Zandro had been able to tell.

And without her magic, she would have to figure it out on her own.

A chuckle left Hedwig’s lips. She breathed in deeply to keep herself from doing anything drastic. She watched as he leaned forward in his seat, his hands on his stomach as he laughed hysterically.

Was he growing mad?

It seemed like he had lost his mind within the stone walls of the cells.

Her head tilted to the side, and she waited until he was calm again. His head tilted back, and their eyes met as he breathed deeply.

He laid his hand on his chest and let himself fall back into the armchair. “Well, now that we’re calm again, let me just say that I don’t believe a single word that has left your lips.”

Eira licked over said lips. “What is your problem, Hedwig?”

One of his brows lifted, and he threw her a grin. He placed his elbows on his knees as he leaned forward. ”You, Eira. You are my problem.”

Her brows furrowed. “How so?” she asked, acting oblivious.

She could imagine things he was talking about, but she wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. Maybe she could fool with him until he wasn’t as sure of himself anymore. Most of the time, humans were easy to deal with in situations like these.

The man seemed to be restless as he sat up straight again. Almost like he was trying to get away from her.

“I saw Zandro. He might be dehydrated and malnourished, but there is no way he would go as crazy as he is now.”

Now she was the one that leaned forward.

She didn’t come as near as he had done, but it was enough to intimidate him. It seemed like he was trying to become one with the armchair. He definitely knew something he shouldn’t. Or his guesses had gone in the wrong direction.

There was definitely a part of him that feared her. It saddened her that she couldn’t smell it.

Hedwig continued on. “You did something to him. I know that. And you can’t convince me otherwise.”

She tilted her head to the side, her shoulders tight. The thing was that she had only used her magic against Zandro before he had been sent down into the cells. In this case, she actually didn’t have to do anything with his madness.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Hedwig,” she repeated, sitting back. “I haven’t done anything.” She kept a hold on his eyes as he watched her.

She needed to be in full control of this conversation.

If he wouldn’t change his mind, she couldn’t let him out of this room. She wouldn’t do so either way. She needed a way to keep him silent no matter what he’d say.

There was also the worry that he had already spoken to someone.

If he wasn’t the only one that had doubts about her, it would get more troublesome to stop this mess.

“You know...” Hedwig started again. His body seemed stiff as a board, his hands clenched in his lap. “The things he said, all the things he kept on screaming... it all makes sense.”

Her brows furrowed. Sadly, because of the absence of her magic, she didn’t know what he was talking about. She would’ve loved to see it all happen. He deserved all of it.

“Has he told you about Inez too?” Hedwig questioned her, an edge to his voice. There was anger hidden in it, a sense of parrying feelings. “He confessed to all of it. And I can’t help but wonder why now? After all these years...”

Eira moved her hand to the side, and Hedwig flinched. She couldn’t smell the fear, but she just knew. She didn’t understand why he had come back into the room. If he was so afraid, why risk getting near her?

Her gaze drifted to the table in front of her, the cup that stood on top of it. The potion that was slowly ruining her. She swallowed.

He had known.

Their eyes met again, and she could feel her magic powering underneath her skin. There was the never-ending fire that had crawled through her veins that had slowly eaten her away. Her skin hurt, and she couldn’t stop the growl that left her feral lips.

Hedwig lifted his head, even as the rest of his body started to shake. She noticed it in his hands, in the way his shoulders stiffened. The man was as afraid as a deer that faced a wolf.

"You are the reason he is talking, the reason that everything is coming apart in this kingdom! You with your dirty magic and lying lips!” he spit at her, his face turning red.

Eira leaned forward, bearing her teeth. She hissed at him and then chuckled darkly. She let all curtains fall. He wouldn’t get out of this alive. “And you think your little potion will stop me?”

She could feel the predator under her skin as hidden as her magic lay. Had he really thought that he was stronger than her? He had filled her up, but it hadn’t been enough. There was still some of her left, and she wouldn’t let that go to waste.

Something in his face changed, and then there was only rage. “You witch!” he bellowed. Everything happened in only a matter of seconds. He rushed up from the armchair and got to her, his fingers curling around her neck as he pressed her back against the chair.

Her hand snapped up to his arm, digging her nails into his skin. A grunt left both of their lips. But he didn’t let go. His grip only tightened.

Eira ripped at his skin, feeling pain in the back of her neck and her throat. Not many had gotten as near to her. She had grown so pathetically weak.

She felt Hedwig turn, and then something cold was pressed against her lips. She panted against the smell of lavender.


She fought her head to the side. Her hand moved in a matter of seconds, forcing the cup out of his hand. It crashed onto the ground, shattering into hundred little pieces. The liquid splashed.

She moved her hand up to her throat, clawing at his hand. She heard him grunt again, and then she let out a scream. If she wasn’t able to help herself...

Her guards would have to take the job for her.

She tried to force him off of her, but he pressed her down with the full weight of his body. His hand moved from her throat to her mouth. She opened it and bit into his fingers until she could taste metal. Hedwig cried out and tugged his hand back.

She screamed again as loud as she could.

And then there was a shout of her name, and Hedwig was ripped off of her.

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