In the Shadows

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Chapter 29

Iselora awoke to silence. Unsure of how long she had been asleep but something was wrong. She hurriedly gathered herself realizing she was alone. Asmodeus had not returned. Panic began building in her chest as she scrambled to find something to cover herself with. Asmodeus had torn her only shirt. A large wardrobe inhabited the other end of the tent, Iselora found it to be promising.

The clothes that were revealed were breathtakingly beautiful. Iselora could not believe her eyes. Numerous dresses full of lace and jewels were crammed into the large wardrobe so tightly that she was afraid she would not be able to close it again. Iselora stood there simply staring at the magnificent bundle of fabric. Her eyes locked on a few pieces of fabric that seemed to be out of place. Iselora shoved the dresses apart to examine the mysterious piece closer. It was a cloak of dark brown fur with black leather pants, and a black corset. Iselora’s mouth formed the shape of an ‘o’ as she appraised the outfit. They seemed to have been made for her, but she was not sure she was made for it.

A movement at the entrance of the tent caught her attention. A gleaming Svila stood in the entrance, as soon as they made eye contact Svila knelt, bowing her head. “My Queen, His Majesty is requesting your presence. May I be of assistance?’

Iselora’s cheeks heated up as Svila spoke. “Oh, please. I am afraid that I am unsure of what to wear.” Iselora spoke softly as she turned back towards the wardrobe. Her eyes catching on the fur once again. Svila approached and pondered for only a second before reaching for the dark brown fur. “Why not show off how powerful you have become? I believe this would accomplish that more than silk and jewels.” Svila matched Iselora’s gaze before offering a reassuring smile. Iselora’s mouth gaped open at the thought of herself wearing such an outfit. Her face was on fire as she nodded her head. Svila had not steered her wrong thus far and so Iselora trusted her judgment.

Svila made quick work of dressing Iselora. The weather would work well with the fur cloak. The air had developed a severe chill. Iselora attempted to catch a glance of herself in the mirror but Svila forbade it. Once the last piece of hair was perfectly placed, Svila turned Iselora to face the mirror. The outfit was perfect for Iselora. She wondered who had made it to fit her measurements so perfectly. The cloak covered her shoulders but as she moved, the underlayer peaked through. Her hair was longer, almost past her shoulder blades now. The red of her hair brought out the reddish hues hidden in the fur. Her hazel eyes sparkled like never before. Her happiness was evident in her face, but she was still hesitant. The outfit emanated a powerful aura on its own. She hoped that she would be able to live up to its image. Svila stepped back, taking in Iselora’s appearance and felt herself falling into awe. With a smile, Svila bowed before offering her arm.

Iselora gladly took Svila’s arm as they made their way towards the tent’s entrance. Svila suddenly stopped and turned back. “Svila? Are you alright?” Svila turned to face Iselora, a mischievous expression on her face. “I just thought of something to make your outfit complete. Please wait one second.” Svila hurried back in search of something before pulling a sword from the weapons rack by the massive desk. It was the smallest sword of the collection. Svila approached iselora and fastened the scabbard to her waist. The sheath was a deep red that complimented the black underneath. Iselora looked towards Svila in slight confusion. Svila smiled before pulling Iselora along. “You look perfect.” Iselora could not help but smile back.

The walk was fairly short and very quiet. It was not until they reached the southern end of the camp that iselora finally began hearing voices. The camp was gathered in a large crowd, blocking the entrance of the clearing. Asmodeus could barely be seen sitting on his throne. He looked angry and sleep deprived. Dark circles highlighted his deepening pink eyes. Iselora locked her eyes on him, hoping to make eye contact with him. Svila placed herself in front as a murmur rippled through the crowd. Iselora kept her head high, knowing she had to look her part. Slowly, heads turned and a path parted. Allowing Iselora and Svila to make their way to the middle of the clearing. A ring of guards Iselora had not seen before created a barrier between an unknown figure and the camp. Asmodeus and a few advisors were the only ones that inhabited the center. Iselora looked towards the hooded figure, taking in its hunched appearance. It looked familiar but she could not be sure. “Your majesty, Her highness, Queen Iselora Cyrras has arrived.” Iselora felt her chest tighten at the announcement, but held her head high as the guards parted.

Asmodeus’ face widened at the sight of her. She was the essence of power and regality. He watched every movement she made, each sway of her hips. His eyes were attached to her, ignoring the hooded figure he had been previously staring at. Asmodeus stood quickly, smiling with approval at Iselora. She was breathtakingly beautiful. With a peck on her hand, Asmodeus addressed the crowd. “Court is now in session. We shall hear what the prisoner has to say.” Asmodeus’ voice spread across the camp as if it were carried by the wind itself. Asmodeus led Iselora to the throne beside him. It was slightly smaller but she was content with that. Two guards brought the hooded figure forward, throwing her on her knees. With a nod from Asmodeus, they ripped her hood off and a gasp ran through the crowd. Iselora felt herself stand automatically as she stared at the now laughing figure. Gillian flashed her eyes towards Iselora, prompting cold shivers to run through her body. Iselora realized now why Svila had given her a sword.

Iselora kept her gaze locked on Gillian. Gillian was wearing a torn black dress. Her hands and feet were shackled together. Her face was distorted from cuts and bruises. It was then that Iselora noticed how raw Asmodeus’ hands looked. Iselora was still standing as Asmodeus began the proceedings. “Minder Gillian. You have been charged with several severe charges. Kidnapping and torture of a noble. Misuse of dark magic. Blasphemy against the realm’s king. The sell and trade of concealed information. Intended murder of a noble line. Planning and enacting rebellions against the realm.” The crowd was silent as Asmodeus listed the numerous charges against the woman. “Do you have anything to claim on your side?” Gillian smiled darkly at Iselora, ignoring Asmodeus. When she spoke, she spoke towards Iselora. “Those claims cannot be proven in this court. In addition, by your meaning, you have also committed a crime. Extortion. You stole from me. Falsified a contract. I do have a copy of the contract signed by your hand. Would you care to refresh your memory?” Gillian maintained her gaze with Iselora, before frowning. “It also seems that you have tampered with the merchandise Asmodeus. Merchandise that you had yet to pay for. I knew she was a whore, but even I thought I would have been paid before you had your way with her. I am surprised she is still alive. “ Asmodeus stood at this, causing Iselora to break her eye contact. He was visibly trembling from anger. “So you admit you intended to sell her to her death?”

“After I was paid. But our contract is now null and void. You have failed in upholding your end.” Gillian was now looking towards Asmodeus with murderous intent. Iselora stepped forward, placing a hand on Asmodeus as she whispered. “What is she talking about? What contract?” Asmodeus did not look her way, just continued staring at the old witch. “I see. You have not explained the situation to the concubine. Well, allow me.” Iselora forced her eyes away from Asmodeus as she began to listen to the witch’s words. “We made a deal shortly before you escaped. Your magic was becoming weaker and we needed to find a replacement. So we were going to discard you. This demon apparently saved you by offering us a sweet compromise. If we allowed him to have his way with you. He would provide us with your child. But, he has backed out of it. So I have returned to reclaim our merchandise. As luck would have it, by the law of the realm, I am well within my right as per the contract.”

Iselora’s face fell slightly at hearing this. She looked back towards Asmodeus. His anger was on the verge of spilling over. Iselora backed away from him attempting to recollect herself. Svila approached from behind, placing a hand on her shoulder. Iselora turned from her grasp. Gillian had begun maniacally cackling. The sound vibrating in Iselora’s ears caused something in her body to snap. Something violent.

All eyes moved towards the magnificently powerful being that moved towards the witch. A dark red aura cascading off of her skin. Gillian’s laughter had only increased upon her approach. Iselora withdrew her sword, bringing it to Gillian’s neck. A bloody grin spread on her face as she began a silent cantation. “Enough.” Iselora’s command was laced with enough authority to silence anyone. Gillian had stopped her cantation as a flash of fear crept into her eyes. “How? What is this power I feel from you?”

“I found my companion.” Gillian’s eyes widened further. “Dragons are supposed to be extinct.” Iselora simply smiled as she raised her blade. The witch flinched but nothing happened. Iselora turned to see her sword had been stopped. Asmodeus held the blade in his bare hand. “Iselora?” Svila was standing beside her, concern spilling forward as she stared at the bloody blade. Iselora turned to face Asmodeus. A mixture of emotions crossing his face as he released the blade, blood dripping from his hand. Iselora brought her blade to point towards him. “Explain.” Asmodeus felt his words catch in his throat. “ASMODEUS!” Iselora roared.

With a sigh and a flick of his hand, the clearing emptied, leaving just the advisors and the royal couple. Iselora refused to lower her blade, her red aura spilling forth more than before, darkening in color. Asmodeus let out another deep sigh as he took in the situation. With slow movements Asmodeus attempted to pull the sword from her. Iselora’s aura darkened at the movement. “I did not allow you to interfere. Now answer me. Explain what the witch was talking about.” Asmodeus flicked his eyes between Svila and Iselora, not quite understanding the shift that had occurred. By the looks of it, neither did Svila. Her eyes never left Iselora. Asmodeus focused his gaze back on Iselora. “I offered our first born child for their needs if they allowed me to have you. I was never going to do that of course.” Iselora’s eyes hardened at the information as she did not fully trust his words. “Iselora? Lower the sword. Please. Do not let the witch’s words infect you.”

“You stopped me from killing her. Why? She deserves it more than anyone.”

“I know.” Asmodeus’ voice was quiet. “I agree she deserves to die. But, we need to give her a fair trial. If you do not then you will become feared, not loved.”

“What do you know of love? Why would I care about such a useless thing? You only know of possession and entrapment. You offered my child to this... thing. You do not know what cruelty they would inflict on an infant. I intend on finishing this execution, now step aside.” Iselora’s voice was low and dark as she spoke. Her true self emerging through her anger and pain. Normally she would feel afraid of it, but her only desire was to see the Minder die. Asmodeus hardened his face at her words. With a sharp, hard pull the sword was wrenched from iselora’s hands. “You will not give me commands Iselora. You are just a self proclaimed Queen. You do not hold such power. Now stay in line. GUARDS!” The group were quickly surrounded by heavily armored men. “Escort Iselora back to her tent. I will conduct the trial alone.” Three men came to stand by Iselora, unsure of how to approach the angry woman. “Iselora, go peacefully or they will carry you.” Asmodeus stepped towards Iselora forcing her to look up to meet his eyes.

“I want her head.” Were the last words Iselora spoke before storming out of the clearing, a trail of blood red aura flowing behind her.

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