Crimson blood spilled on the stairs was slowly dripping to lower parts of the tower. People around were yelling and demanding justice to be served. Peasants were so upset that they could go berserk any moment now and charge the walls of the castle.
“Chase them away! Make a path!” Lord Arnett was commanding his troops while trying to get through his angry subjects.
Guards drew swords and shields while trying to scare the angry mob away and make a passable road for the horse of their master. Yelling grew stronger, horses were getting nervous, and they snorted anxiously as their riders pushed them forward in the middle of this chaos.
The whole scene looked rather appalling from afar, where a young woman with golden hair, shining like an early sun, was standing in the window, holding tightly a curtain in her delicate hands.
“My lady! You should be in bed! Every moment now you can start delivering Lord’s heir!” chubby maid went pale when she saw her mistress standing barefooted on cold flooring.
Together with two other maids she escorted the lady back to the huge bed with furs and blankets all over it and laid her down. It wasn’t easy to move around with such a big belly. But to be honest, Lady Elra didn’t want to give birth... not today. The air felt thick with a grudge and hatred - it wasn’t good condition to bring a child to this world. Each time she felt her little one wanted to see the outside, she did her best to stop the process.
“Don’t worry my lady, everything will be fine. They will slay this monster and retrieve Lord’s gift for you” The maid’s words sounded confident, and they were supposed to make her ladyship feel better. But rather than feel relief, she felt a cold shiver run down her spine.
“I don’t want this anymore”, she whispered while placing a hand on her belly. If she only had known how her words were taken and that one day it will make someone dear to her suffer... she would be sure to make it clear, that she speaks of the new jewelry, her husband ordered for her.
But she didn’t see the look on the maids’ faces, because she closed her eyes and drifted away into sleep.
Stairs’ treads creaked under his feet, as Lord Arnett climbed them one by one with slow but strong movement. Few of his guard were already at the top of the tower, while others stayed at the entrance, so the angry mob wouldn’t get inside.
“Kill it!” people were shouting. “Burn the monster!”
And may the merciful gods who look after them, Irnala and Bennis, believe him when he says he will destroy this abomination. He thought himself a good man, and was it a being favored by the heavens, he would let the person rot in prison a bit, or cut the hand... but this was something else. A creature sneaked into his town and his wife’s chamber and then stole a precious gift he asked to make for her. His wife deserved the most beautiful jewelry in the entire world, and even then she still shone more brightly than anything else.
“It’s still breathing” the voice of one of his most trusted men, guard Orwell, sounded from the top floor, which he almost reached.
“But not for long”, he said as he finally left the stairs and stood next to his men.
Right at the edge of the tower, leaning on the cold, stone wall, was the most disgusting creature Lord Arnett had ever seen. And he saw many monsters in his life... this was no “dirty being” as they called those races who were still close to the old beasts and lived in the wild. He also saw behemoths and deformed beings. But this one... this one was the worst. Stuck in-between. Not enough to be a wild beast, but also not enough to be a “dirty”. Dracans were the plague of this world and Lord Arnett was very pleased to free this earth from one of those things.
“Bring water, towels, and everything we prepared! Hurry!” the maid was telling other women what to do, whilst her mistress was screaming while holding her belly.
Labor has started. Lady Elra wasn’t able to stop it... and she was so frightened, that tears started to run down her cheeks.
Pair of eyes blue like the bluest sky was watching every move Lord Arnett made. They were the only part of the creature that looked human in his lordship’s opinion.
“You thought you’ll make a fool out of me. But you will meet your end here and today you monster.” Earl’s voice was very confident and sounded pleased.
“Ure da only monster ere”, the voice sounded pained but also full of hatred.
No one took the beasts’ words to heart and everyone snorted with disgust at its broken common. The pool of blood was already huge. The creature was slowly dying, and she was harmless now - or so they thought in their arrogance. Blue eyes closed for a moment when chapped lips tried to catch some air and breath. Crimson hair that spilled around the female body had the same color as her blood. Her claws were earlier broken, same as her reptile legs, so she had laid there motionless.
Lord Arnett drew his sword and held it with a steady hand while looking at the creature without even a shade of pity.
“I am a merciful lord, beast. So I will slay you now to end your miserable life”, he said.
But the pain the woman had felt was nothing compared to the deep hatred she felt while clutching desperately the small pendant in her hand. Her eyes watered when she quickly glanced at it... In human eyes it must have been a beautiful work of art - gold and rubies were the main sources of the jewelry, but what made it shone even greater where little scales which shone like the sun. Dracan scales.
“U think da world belongs to u. N that you own it. But u’ll regret dis day.”
Again everyone laughed openly at the hissed words. But the creature didn’t care. It closed its eyes while the sword was getting closer.
“Katro, father of all. See waz happening to ur children. Gimme ur hand.”
“You dare mention this forbidden being in his lordship presence?!” One guard yelled at this blasphemy and wanted to draw his sword, but Lord Arnett stopped him with a calm gesture of his hand.
“It’s ok. All that’s rotten always crawls back to the darkness at its last hour.”
The beast didn’t even get a chance to respond when a cold blade of the lord’s sword pierced its heart with one solid blow and met the flooring under the body with a loud sound. Then all noise ceased - it became quiet. It wasn’t a long moment - just enough to take a breath, and after that, all guards started to praise their master and cheer, happy that they were all freed from the monster.
The Lord happy with himself waved his hand to his people and smiled. After that, he leaned to the corpse to gather the pendant from the beast’s hand. He didn’t see it coming when the said hand grabbed his own. Guards drew their swords, but all grew quiet once more when a hissing sound came from the lifeless body. Woman’s head looked up at them with glowing eyes.
“Today is da last day u’ll laff.”
“Your lordship!” One of the closest guards leaped forward to cut off the hand that dared to touch the master of these lands, but with a strange and unseen power, he was kicked back, and with a loud thump, his back clashed with a wall.
“It uses some dark magic!” Someone whispered with a shocked voice.
“Let go of me you monster and I will swiftly end you once and for all...”
“I will be da one to end ur lives. U took my unhatched child n waited for it to see da world jus to take its lyf, n thn rob it frm its scales, so u cud make jewelry for ur wife n satisfy ur vain need of owning.”
Lord Arnett tried to move but then he felt something very heavy rest on his shoulders. He looked up at the monster again and saw its eyes glow white. It felt like there was something more here...
The sky went dark, the sun hidden behind the clouds. Strong wind hit the windows of the castle where Lady Elra started to give birth. She felt terrified and couldn’t stop crying - not from pain but the strange feeling that something was wrong.
“Hold on my lady, the child is in a bad position, we need to help it!” The maid was shouting, but the young woman couldn’t hear her. She was too terrified for herself and her baby.
Once angry, now the mob had scattered trying to get away from the tower which seemed to have the darkest clouds above it.
“You took mother’s firstborn to make some petty adornment...” the woman’s voice sounded now weirded... deep and growling like a thunder. Her common was perfect now.
Drops of sweat showed on Lord Arnett’s forehead when he felt the chill run down his spine.
“I shall too, rob you from your firstborn... you and all of your people. Carsten of the House Arnett, I place a curse upon yourself and your shire. You killed an innocent child to use its shell to make jewelry, so from now on every firstborn will be nothing but an empty vessel, a piece of rock, shining nicely in a sun, but with no life at all.”
The thunder sounded on a rainless sky, and a bolt of lightning had struck the tower. Guards dropped their swords scared but they couldn’t run... none of them could make their feet move. Same was with his lordship who was now deadly terrified by the scene.
“We shall see if you’ll be as insensible as now when mothers all over your lands will be devastated after giving birth to a shell. Will people still follow you?” It was getting colder, and the air Arnett exhaled turned into steam.
“No... wait... don’t” he uttered few words so lightly that only the being in front of him could hear him.
“Begging and tears didn’t stop you. So why would they stop me?” There was a moment of silence, a short one... but it felt like an eternity, as the creature looked at the scared lord.
“I am a merciful one, so I won’t turn a deaf ear on pleas.” The voice mocked Arnett’s words from earlier.
“There will be a way to break this curse. Only a child kissed by the sun, who has not yet given its first cry when the curse was being cast although it’s been brought to this world already, and who’s mother left this world before hearing her little one’s whines... Only this child will break the curse... that is if the real monster’s scion will let it.”
The clutch on the lord’s hand tightened.
“Now... I fulfilled my duties as a father. What about you?”
Glowing in the Dracan woman’s eyes disappeared, and she flabbed lifeless on the cold stone. The heavy feeling of other presence left them all in a strange stupor. And in the same moment, Lord Arnett realized what the last words of the dying one meant...
“Elra” he whispered getting up and running down the tower.
Once tidy and warm looking bed, now reminded of a butchery. Blood was already cooling down when Lord Arnett busted in. The first thing he saw was the gathering of maids and doctors standing near the bed... and his son who started crying the same moment, what seemed to make everyone breathe with relief. Then he saw his wife lying still with a blank look on her face, as it seems life had left her not too long ago. The last thing he has noticed was the blood... such irony that the monster on top of the tower had bled the same way as the love of his life.