It’s a sickening feeling, loss. It feels like it’s a dream, and then it feels like it’s a nightmare that is impossible to awaken from. In times of peace, humanity was a race among us. They weren’t equal in terms of power, but they had rights. They could live among us. They could even become noble. We had specific advisors for the human race that would stand at the side of the King.
Out of greed and anger, they began a war they had no chance of winning. And they’ve dragged it out longer than I care to give thought to. They’ve become a disease. And it’s time to eradicate it.
I silently fasten my armor, making sure everything is in place. I can sense her behind me. She’s still asleep.
Usually, I can hear her heartbeat alone. But now I can hear two heartbeats. I never intended for her to be pregnant. I’m not even supposed to be fucking a human let alone impregnating one. I could always sense when she was within her window for pregnancy. And usually, I’m good about avoiding it. But in the weeks before she left, my obsession with her grew. As did my lust.
In hindsight, I should have prevented it. But I guess I should thank my foolishness. If she weren’t pregnant now, I fear my hatred for humanity might have fallen on her. And I would have killed her.
I turn to look at her sleeping form in the bed. She looks at peace. Her long lashes brush her cheeks, her lips are slightly parted as she breathes lazily. She’s beautiful. From the day I met her, I knew that. It called out to me. What started as curiosity morphed into possession.
I reach out brushing her hair away from her face. Her skin is warm, her cheeks soft. She stirs slightly, a soft moan leaving her lips as she leans into my touch. I enjoy her like this.
There’s no restraint, no fear, her body gives in to what it wants without fear being the drive.
I let out a deep breath pulling my hand away from her face. The connection between us was doomed from the beginning. I turn away from her grabbing my weapon from where it hangs.
I pull open the tent, taking in the image of my army. Beasts ready to end this war as much as I am. As eager to avenge their former king, and loved ones captured and used by the hunters. I don’t fight the smile that develops on my lips.
The time has finally come to end this.
“Cyrus. If the mountainside continues to grow this steep we need to wait them out at the bottom. They’ll have the advantage of the high ground.” I hear Felix’s words. I even try my best to think about the logic behind them. But I can’t.
“Advantage?” I scoff.
“They killed the only advantage they had.”
The words are like bitter metal coming out of my mouth. Accepting my father’s death has been a slow spiral to hell. I am the King. I shouldn’t dwell. I shouldn’t mourn. Casualties are a part of war. But the more I think about the kind of King he was, and the people that turned on him, I can’t help but feel a rage like no other. He didn’t deserve this. Out of the entire beast kingdom, my father did not deserve such a meaningless, brutal death.
I think back to Annalise’s tears as she told me the truth. The hurt I saw in her eyes at the death of my father still haunts me. She met him. She interacted with him. And even in the short time she knew him, he made an impact on her. Such an impact, that she was upset about his death.
In the fog of hatred, I know that Annalise is not responsible. But I also know that Annalise is human. I hate humans. All of them. Even her. Even at this very moment, I don’t know why I’ve tolerated her to this point. I don’t know why I enjoy her presence. I don’t know why I want her near me. I just know that I do. And yet, the sight of her sickens me to my core. Each time I look into her eyes, the temptation to kill her claws at my flesh like a plague.
I feel nothing for her, yet everything.
I pull at the reigns of my horse looking around the familiar area. This is where Anna and I reunited. I look across the clearing where the river separates the land. The trees still stand that she emerged from, determination in her eyes as she trudged into the water with hunters on her tail.
She’s the most cunning human I’ve ever encountered. Even when she’s being obedient, I know her mind is running a mile a minute trying to figure out what the smartest course of action would be.
I turn to Felix.
“The King’s stronghold is a few miles beyond the river. Tell the men to stay on high alert from here on in. The hunters are conniving and cowardly,” I say. Felix nods his head turning away from me to spread the message among the men. I climb off my horse moving to the water's edge. My mind keeps wandering to Annalise.
Her reaction to my plan was alarming. She’s smart. Too smart for her own good. She knows when to speak and when to stay silent. And she’s never imposed on plans involving this war. But when I announced to take the stronghold, she seemed almost desperate to conceal something from me.
I know she saw a lot in her time among the hunters. The halfbreed gave us plenty of information upon his return that Annalise uncovered. I never asked her for any recent developments. Even in my grief, I didn’t ask her the details of my father’s death. She may be keeping something from me. Something important and crucial to this war. But there’s nothing I can do now. I can only stay on high alert.
I mount my horse, continuing the journey to the stronghold. The sound of the river slowly dies as the small hut Annalise seemed to be staying in comes into view. I keep my eyes trained on it as we pass.
“Thinking about the human again, your majesty?” Felix comes next to me as we grow closer to the stronghold. He seems amused. But he always seems amused.
I let out a deep breath. Looking up the mountainside.
“My Father always told me, in times of war, the best course of action is not to make haste... I can’t help but wonder if I am making the right decision right now,” I say. Felix takes a deep breath following my gaze up the mountain.
“I’m sorry about your Father, Cyrus. I’m sorry we couldn’t save him...” I suck in a bitter breath.
“He knew this would happen. He knew that unless humanity changed its ways, he could no longer rule. He knew that it was time for my rein. To lead us into a new era...”
I think back to the days before my father and I went into battle together. He was strangely open-minded about my ideas for the future. He always made sure to include the possibility of humanity not coming to terms with living the way we used to be. He always knew he wasn’t the right leader for the change in the attitude of those he ruled over. I can’t help but wonder what was on his mind in his last days. If he ever lost hope in them.
“And what is your plan for this new era, Cyrus?”
I take a deep breath.
“Annalise carries my plan for this new era,” I say looking at him.
“I plan on expanding my empire. And that includes adding halfbreeds to it. There are so many of them out there. So many that the hunters have bred and tortured over the years. So many eager to belong and eradicate those that have wronged them, including yours.”
“Whatever Anna gives birth to, it shall take over my empire someday and rule over two people. A more diverse race.”
Felix smiles softly, a question forming in his head.
“...And the humans?” he asks. I scoff.
“If there are any left, I will leave it to the people to decide their fate. As far as I’m concerned, humanity is an endangered species.”
Felix is silent for a moment.
“And, the human? What do you plan on doing with her once she gives birth?”
I chuckle bitterly as a village comes into view. There are humans and they are completely unexpecting of our arrival. I can’t help but laugh at the sight. The king of the humans is more than a coward. He’s lower to leave so many unprotected by the walls he himself built for protection.
We enter the village and the sounds of life slowly stop as they take us in. The last thing they will ever see in this life. I can feel Felix’s gaze on me as he awaits my command. I look among all of them and I feel nothing. No compassion, no sense of mercy, nothing.
I don’t bother looking in Felix’s direction.
“Kill them all.”
Felix pulls his blade from its sheath, holding it high in the air. The silence that once filled the air is now permeated with blood and screams. I revel in the sound. The sound of more humans dying at my discretion. Had they let my father live, they might’ve had a chance.
I continue the path on my horse, making my way with ease to the stronghold, my army following closely behind. My commander at my side. The stronghold slowly comes into view.
It’s magnificent and perfect to protect from invaders. The walls are high with gates and balconies for the inner army to attack.
As we approach, the individual hunters standing in front of the stronghold and atop it come into view. I can already sense the large number of hunters that hold the power of powerful beasts. I can sense the power of Calista, a captain that once fought among my men. I can sense the power of several generals, and combat specialists, and above it all, I can sense the power of my father.
I can already feel the slight prickle of my flesh as anticipation for this battle begins. My teeth are throbbing, my nails lengthening. I can already feel myself shifting. At the center of the hunters, sitting atop his horse to receive me is the King of the humans. His crown sits atop his head, his eyes holding little emotion.
This is the bastard that killed my father. The bastard that forced Annalise’s existence into the world.
“Welcome to my Kingdom, Cyrus! Son of Magnus!” I clench my jaw in anger. He has no right to speak my father’s name.
“I am glad you came to me so that we did not have to hunt you down to kill you like we did your father!” he laughs. I slowly pull my blade from its sheath, having little interest in hearing him speak.
I look back up to where he stands, ready to attack when the gate to the stronghold opens. A hunter emerges and what I see causes the emotions I’ve had bottled up to rip to the surface.
My father’s head sits atop a spike, branded and bludgeoned. The human King laughs at my expression, holding his hand out.
“Come, King of the Beasts! Avenge your father!”
The hunters gather close to their king, their trinkets lighting up with our power as they take it in, becoming ready to battle. I feel my grip on my blade loosening as I look over my father’s head resting atop the spike that leads the hunter army.
My legs suddenly feel too weak to stand, my mind falling blank of any emotion. I hear Felix next to me saying something, but I can’t decipher what it is. All I feel is rage. I feel my body beginning its shift without my command, my monstrous side emerging. It’s the last conscious thing I feel before the world blackens, and I am no longer in control.