The icy wind was biting my skin and whipping my hair into my eyes. Because of this I held up my arm like a shield for my face, as the other struggled to keep my black cloak closed. I squinted searching desperately for a shelter to hide and wait out the storm. In the distance I could barely make out the shape of something, the blurry shape took on the look of a distorted barn. Pushing harder through the snow covered meadow, the barn came into focus as I breached the crumbling stone wall that rolled with feilds.
Upon further inspection, the building appeared to be an abandoned horse stable. There were some holes in the walls and some glass shattered from the windows. Nearing the door I could see the wood at the bottom twisting away from its bound position, and a lopsided handle on the left door knocking in the wind. The wood had aged and rotted in some places, but the shelter it would provide encouraged me to come closer. Pulling hard on the door to the right, my fingers screamed in pain, they were red and numb from the cold. Refusing to give up, I shove the door again forcing it open. The tracks of the massive pocket door shrieked in agony as I continued to forced my way in. Clamping my mouth shut I grunted and pushed hard on the door again. I managed to get it open just enough to slip through the narrow opening.
The smell of decomposing hay burned my nose forcing my breaths to be shallow, the darkness inside the stable was all consuming I could barely see the tip of my nose. The wind continued to howl outside causing trees to scrape against the weathered wood. Shaking off the cold I ventured deeper into the stable. I ran my hand blindly along the wall counting stalls along the way making a mental picture of my surroundings.
One....two....three....four, four decent sized stalls in all.
One of these could make do for a bed, and a good advantage spot in case of danger. Picking the driest and least stinky one on the end to the left, I Stumbled in. Dry clumps of hay and oats were mounded on the ground, and some shredded cloth sat in a heap in the corner. Making my way over I could start to make out what might've been a numnah at one time. Using my hands as a guide, I felt around on the floor for wetness.
Good enough for the night.
Shrugging my shoulders and brushing my palms together, I hiked up the skirts of my gown and melted to the floor. Exhaustion assaulting my mind, muscle aches and numbing of my fingers and toes is making it hard to breathe, or focus or really do anything. I can feel my mind drifting off to sweet nothingness, I switched off my thoughts and welcomed the night to consume my body and mind.
A Dark figure paced furiously around his office desk, large arms bulging from the tension building within. Shrinking into my chair further, I'd hoped it would swallow me whole and hide me away from the terrifying man in front of me. His anger was the wrong side to be on, especially when you're the epicenter of it all. I knew not to trust that bitch of a girl, but she managed to get under my skin and into my mind...
a snake, that's what she was.
My thoughts came to a screeching halt as the man now loomed over me, scrutinizing my face as if he could read my mind.
"You see Hadwyn, I'm not a forgiving man, to betray me is to sign your death certificate. And you let loose that vile woman, That abomination?!" The anger in his voice rattled the walls and shook me to my core.
" S-s-she tricked me sir..." I studdered out as he spun on me, face reddened in frustration.
"SHE TRICKED YOU?! A spineless way of describing your help in her escape!" Disgust dripped from every word, making me bow my head in submission.
"Ivan, sir, allow me to retrieve the wench-"
"No Hadwyn, I have another plan for you." A sinister smirk made it's way onto Ivan's face, his brown eyes darkened. But before I could register his intent, I saw my body drop from the chair and felt the carpet against my cheek.
What a dumb bastard. Did he think I'd actually let him go? Human beings are obnoxious creatures, clouded by emotions and mortality.
Wiping my blade on his shirt, I straightened my suit jacket and reigned in my short tousled hair. Keeping my monster in line is no problem, until people get stupid. If they didn't piss me off and they followed my orders, the beast stays at bay until called upon.
Another one bites the dust. I chortled darkly in my mind, as I made my way through the expansive mansion. More of a fortress than living quarters with reinforced walls and magic-proof glass, courtesy of a wayward witch.
As I made my way into the witches tower, the shift in magical energy caused my beast to lash out. But I just shove him away and push on up the spiraling staircase. At the top of the 200 steps, I could easily see the heavy wooden door pulsing with energy, the metal bindings almost straining to keep it in. A sharp single knock signaled my intention to enter.
The moment the door swings open I'm hit with heavy aromas of herbs, flowers and a hint of death. Stepping into the hollowed room I could see various potions, tinctures, dried ingredients hanging from the rafters and books scattered haphazardly across a wooden desk. I scanned the room to find the wayward witch, the one who pledged a life of servitude to me.
To the right a small fire crackled in the open fireplace, I followed around to my left to find her standing over a big black book, flipping the pages with so much aggression, I was surprised it didn't rip. Blowing out a puff of air I approached her.
"Hello, Sybil." The words rumbling from my chest caused her to spin on her heel to face me. What I didn't expect was to be greeted with obsidian eyes, and a Cheshire smile.
"From the light a rose shall grow,
A powerful magic to bestow...
First a burn and then a sting,
From the ashes rises a king...
Be careful young lord, for here lies your demise...
Come hell or high water she will rise"
The words spoken with haste as Sybil collapsed on the floor. Resisting the urge to kick her awake and shake the answers from her consumed me. The rage of the beast tearing from my chest, forcing me to loose control.
"Whosoever dares to threaten me shall be met with a long torturous death!"
My whole body trashed about the room, destroying anything and everything, leaving it demolished in my wake. Casually I strolled my way through the door, leaving the bitch on the floor to wake up in chaos.
It less than she deserves! And when she wakes, questions will be answered or she will pay the piper!
The hallway leading from the tower was a straight shot to the main building and my rooms. But making a detour along the way would help me sleep tonight. It was time to pay a visit to the dungeon and get rid of this pent up energy. Punching my number into the key pad I immediately threw the door open. My movement quick and determined as I made my way to the lone prisoner. A man who seems to escape death at every encounter and refuses to break.
I'll be making use of that today. I thought as his cell came into view. Lit poorly by a single bulb on the far wall, his face shadowed by hair that had grown too long. His wrists and ankles chained to the wall gave little for the movements he made as I slid the barred door open.
"Well well well...looks like Ivan came for a healthy dose of failure today." He said, a small smirk causing wrinkles at the corners of his eyes.
The blow to his jaw sent him recoiling into the cement wall. The sound of his skull cracking on impact sending me waves of enjoyment. I followed up with a barrage of kicks and punches until his body hung limp in the bindings. Delivering a final blow to his side that sent him to the ground with a thud, bones cracking from the powerful kick. I smiled in satisfaction at the near lifeless body.
"Deplorable. Pitiful. Weak." I ground out, venom lining every word.
"Someday, I will figure out how to kill you!" I shouted over my shoulder striding out of the cell. Feeling satisfaction from the silence I left the dungeon and proceeded to the main house. And made my way to my office on the second floor.
A few glasses of whiskey, and reading multiple reports of sightings of that runaway bitch, would occupy my mind for hours. But a constant itch from the words spoken by Sybil had me distracted, the threat was clear the riddle was not. I needed answers, but she had yet to come find me. No doubt she'd be furious about the state of her lab, and would come find me to chew me out.
It was almost dawn now and my patience was wearing thin, I continued pacing the floor by the picturesque window, Clenching my jaw so hard I could feel the muscle budge on my forehead. The sun was peaking out from behind the mountains, painting the sky a vivid shade of pink.
What the hell is taking that wom-
"IIIIVAAAAN!!" Sybil's voice boomed through the halls the tap of her heels growing near.
A shiver of excitement crawled up my body, waiting for the whips of her anger. She burst through the door with fire in her eyes and hands balled into fists. My anger and stride matching hers causing us to meet in the middle. The tension around us so thick you could cut it with a knife.
"How DARE you!" She spat at me with disgust, Her cheeks puffed and red.
I clenched my jaw in an attempt to control my beast. " how dare I?! How dare YOU threaten me with that bullshit earlier!" I could feel the vain between my brows pulse " the audacity you possess, to come down on me about what I do in my domain, would be punishable by death, if I didn't need answers."
She seemed to recoil from my words, as if it stung her. Her features swirled between confusion and Murderous. She wants to be irate with me, but my statement forced her to recall the episode from last night. And then I saw it, that flicker of understanding, followed by her green eyes going wide as saucers and realization of what she said.
"I cannot explain that of which you speak. Such is the way of prophecy." She stated matter of factly, crossing her arms and turning to leave. I reached out and yanked her back to facing me.
"You WILL answer ME!" I was seething. She just glared at me crossing her arms at her chest.
" Maybe, if SOMEONE hadn't destroyed every book and potion I had, I could've referenced a book of prophecy and omens- but you just couldn't help yourself, could you?" She admonished me throwing her hands up, then promptly turned and stormed out the way she came.
"We are far from finished!" I called after her, rage still bubbling below the surface. I realized then that my temper had, once again, made me take 3 steps back. But a newfound determination shook me awake. I could not, and would not, let that abomination destroy everything. All the hardwork I'd put in, all the fighting and rebuilding of this kingdom.
I will capture you, you little monstrosity. And you will be met with a swift death, mark my words woman. I am coming for you!
Dawn broke through the thick of darkness, a shame that the comfort of night had to end. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and stretched out my tired muscles. The fire burning in my thighs was proof of my success.
I made it. I escaped...alive! I couldn't contain the joy coursing through me as I took in the, now illuminated, stable. Although I was nearly blind last night, I felt confident in my abilities. It looked as I had pictured it in my minds eye. Save for a few details, like the oil lamp I could see hanging from a beam near the front door. I shook my head and let a light giggle escape.
Oh, how foolish of me to not even check. Standing up I shook out and straightened my skirts. The dark green canvas like material had creased and the corset top dug into the soft flesh of my ribs. The black cloak I'd used for a makeshift blanket was now fastened around my shoulders. Freeing my chest length hair from under the cloak, I brought it to one shoulder. Absentmindedly I finger-combed my curly mahogany hair, while lazily strolling to the back door. I peeked through a multi-paned window as I fashioned my hair into a fishtail braid, resting it on one shoulder.
Taking in the snowy woods, I searched for movement. Not a single snowflake was disturbed. I watched for a few minutes and noticed my face lightly reflected in the grungy glass. Pale skin with smudges of dirt covering up the scattered freckles on my nose and cheekbones, my lips dry and cracked from lack of water and the blistering wind. My dark blue eyes shadowed by the black bags that had formed from over 5 years of compromised sleep. A set look of determination came over me as I played out my next moves.
I had gone through the stable, checking every shelf and cubby hole. I managed to find half a book of matches, a walking stick with a split top, and the numnah I had used as a bed. I turned that ragged blanket material into a rough sack placing the matches inside and a small container of oil I'd found with the lamp. The break in the walking stick fit the handle of the lamp, and It dangled there as I slung the bag over my shoulder and covered my face with the hood of my cloak. The back door opened with ease and I slinked out into the cold.
My boots crunched in the snow, and I kept checking my surroundings every few steps. Determined to get out of these woods alone and alive, I knew my destination clearly. I would go home, back to him and our small farm. To the village of Ember Grove.