Warrior of the Damned

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2

"Beval!" I screamed at the knotted wooded door. No answer. "BE!" I kicked the door over and over as I couldnt knock with my arms full of stinky fur. "Beval please!" I begged this time, tears brimming and threatening to spill over my eyes and down my cheeks. He was my only hope.

The door suddenly swung open, a wild, disheveled man searching the air above my head frantically. Realizing I was much shorter than the normal person who knocked upon his door, he slowly looked down at me confused, "Princess?"

His face softened, noticing my desperation for the first time. His eyes finally leaving mine and landing upon that little bundle clinging to life in my arms. He gently transfered the pup from my arms to his, mumbling, "Close the door behind you," to which I obeyed.

I had never actually been in Beval's cottage, he usually came to the Castle and now I can see why. It was a one room shack, very dark with only two windows on each side. Not nearly enough light was able to penetrate through the panes, giving it a sad, hollow feel. His bed on the left, his dining table on the right, kitchen smack dab in the center wall, straight across from the front door. Cabinet and bookshelves lined whatever space was left, which was not much. I felt a tinge of shame as I realized how spoiled I was in comparison to others in our land, others that complained a lot less than me. I would fix this as well, once I was Queen.

His elbow swiping his half eaten plate of food off the table, onto the floor, he laid the canine down, gently. "I do apologize--" I started, guilty for interrupting his meal, but was cut off mid sentence. "What happened?" he snapped.

"I just... found it by the..." I trailed off, thinking. Was I able to share my secret spot? If I did, would he keep my secret? I wasnt certain, but apparently he didnt need to hear it as he didnt press for more details. I watched silently as he grinded down some secret ingredient, mixing it with another unknown substance.

Beval was something of a medicine man to my family. When we were sick or afflicted with some questionable disease, Beval was there with a nasty mixture of who knows what, claiming to fix our ailments. We never asked for the specifics of his concotions, as he would never tell us anyway. His craft was forbidden and punishable by death under the new land contract, post war, but my father willingly turned a blind eye. This man had probably saved our lives more than a couple times and we were indebted to him, even if the King would never admit it.

I studied him concentrating on his work, his gray shoulder length hair falling in front of him. He was a thin, sickly looking man with feral eyes. Eyes that never missed a detail, always searching, always looking, always knowing. I suspected he was older than any of us actually knew, but I was also seven and sometimes my imagination did not stay under my control.

He returned to the pup, lifting the dog's lip and rubbing the mixture on its gums. He turned its head to complete this magic to the other side, bending down to obtain a better view. But then he did something, something odd.

He stopped. His face unreadable, eyes wide but never meeting my gaze, "Where did you say you found this?" I saw the blood drain from his face, a face I was surprised could lose anymore color than what tiny bit he had to begin with.

"The river," I replied, unsure of why the atmosphere had changed.

His eyes now turned to me, burning through to my soul, "Get rid of it NOW!" I winced at his aggressive tone. Unfortunately, I have been told I have a stubborn side and this was something I wasnt going to back down on. If he wasnt going to save this beautiful creature, I had to know why.

I gave him a quizical look, knowing that was all I needed to do for him to follow my thoughts.

He sighed, stood up straight and pointed an accusing finger at my furry black friend, "This! This thing," I didnt like him calling it a "thing." I frowned but he pretended not to notice and continued on, "it is not a dog. It's danger. It's chaos. It's death... a creature from the northern lands and it will slaughter us all, given the chance. I cannot allow you to bring such destruction upon this Castle. I WILL NOT allow it, Princess."

Excuse me?

I was taken aback by his tone. How dare he speak to me in such a way. I am the future queen and I made this animal a promise. A promise I intended to keep. So, I did something to this day I am not proud of, something I refuse to do ever again in order to get what I want. This lesson I learned from soon after and carried it with me for the rest of my days. But in that moment, at that age, I was desperate and dumb. I pulled the Royalty card.

"You know better than to believe in bedside stories meant to scare children to sleep," I chuckled, then turned quite serious, no room for interpretation, "You will do this for me, or I will take your head."

He studied the somberness of my face, never blinking. Unwavering, I matched his stare. After what seemed like an eternity, he handed me the magic elixor and motioned toward the canine. "Go then. Place the medicine on his gums twice a day until he is strong enough to lift his head," and then he turned his back to me. I smiled as I knew I had won.

Scooping up the pup, I walked toward the door, "But Adaleen," he called after me, in a tone that sounded much more like a warning than a threat. I turned to acknowledge him, this defeated and beat down looking man, his eyes met mine and he was resolute, "if that creature makes one wrong step, I will end him." I turned back to the door and walked out, speaking nothing back. This sad, sick little thing would never hurt anyone. I saw it in its eyes at the river. I shook my head, Beval just wasnt as intune with things as he used to be.

*************

I was able to sneak my new friend past the guards and ladies in waiting, right into my room. I laid it on my bed and went back to lock the door, taking a sigh of relief that I wasnt caught. I had never brought an animal home but I was sure my mother and father would disapprove. I couldnt risk that, it needed me. I would have to keep it a secret until it was stronger and could be release back into the woods.

I massaged more of the black goo onto its gums. It. It didnt need to still be called "It." I gently lifted the little thing's leg to determine what I could eventually refer to it as. Fur, just fur everywhere. I was afraid to touch it too much. I was pretty sure it was still unconscious but I didnt want to disturb its healing by waking it.

I lightly blew on its stomach, hoping to move the hair just enough--a boy! "It" is officially a boy.

"Addy!" I heard my name being called from behind the door, suddenly thankful I locked it. "Coming!" I replied from the other side. It was time to join my parents for supper. I so looked forward to another dinner being invisible and not worth talking to.

*************

I returned to my room, shortly after departing. My parents were arguing over the state of the kingdom, again. Knowing they would not notice my absense, I snuck away with my plate. Roast beef and potatoes. My favorite. I could eat and still keep an eye on the pup. I didnt want to leave the little guy incase he took a turn for the worst.

As soon as I locked my door, I turned to hear a low and viscious growl, coming face to face with my sweet black tuff of fur. He was maybe five or six feet from me. Eyes still blue like I imagined the Oceans I only read about would be. His lip curled at one side, showing bright white teeth, salivia dripping out his mouth. I made very sure to move as slow as humanly possible, crouching down, back against the door, "Hello. You remember me, dont you?" I whispered. The growl came to a stop, but his ears were still flat against his head, eyes locked on mine.

He appraoched cautiously, step by step, inching closer to me, lip still curled up, nose sniffing the air. I regretted not listening to Beval. I would most certainly be torn to pieces by that mouth. Those white fangs dripping with my blood. My Queen would scream and most likely faint. My King would unseath his sword and slay down my once thought of friend and I would never live to see Queendom. This was how it was going to end for me.

Inches from me now, I turned my head to the door, not willing to meet the product of my death face to face. I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable, preparing to feel the certain agony of my nose being ripped from my face.

And I waited.

And waited.

What was he taking him so long? Finish me already!

I forced myself to take a quick peek. My eyes slowly opening, just a bit, looking side ways at him. But all my fears suddenly vanished.

He was sitting infront of me, straight and proper. Ears up at attention, his blue eyes focused on me intently, head cocked to one side curiously. He whined at me.

I saw his gaze turn down to the plate in front of my body, my only shield between us. He looked back up at me and I to him, "Are you hungry?" I whispered. His mouth opened, tongue hanging out the side in the funniest way possible, panting. His tail started wagging, thumping the floor behind him. I could feel the rhythmic vibration through the wooden planks I was crouched on.

I sat the plate in front of him and he devoured it. I watched him rip into the beef, paws holding it in place, gnawing at it from one side of his mouth. I prayed that this would be enough to sustain his appetite and he might possibly forget about having my face for dessert.

He finished and licked his lips, blue eyes once again finding mine. He slowly moved closer to me now. I squeezed my eyes tightly closed, upset the beef wasnt filling enough for him. Adaleen, you're so stupid. Why would he prefer dead beef over warm blood? I cried, waiting for the end to just happen. My life had just begun, and now it was going to end just as quickly. Stupid girl.

A tongue lapped its warm puppy breath on my cheek. Again. And again. I opened my eyes to find an excited canine knocking me over joyfully. "You do remember!" I laughed as he pushed my small frame to the floor.

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