Chapter 3 : Cavernous
Deep inside the thriving forest of darkness lay a sorceress’s cavern so petrifying that most creatures, dead or alive, knew better than to cross paths with.
They feared the darkness that seeped through the rocky walls and the thickly encompassing aura of the beast that currently resided within its hidden depths.
No creature dared to approach.
From the distance, a hooded figure was spotted wearing a cloak as dark as night. She quickly made her approach and was headed northbound.
Upon seeing the dark cloak and glowering green eyes, the woodland creatures were able to identify the figure as the dark sorceress, whose keep currently housed a monster so scary that all the animals fled in mass amounts.
As she walked past, the veil of dark magic, surrounding the sorceress, suffocated those close by like a spreading disease. She ignored the array of curious yet brave woodland creatures inhabiting the forest, and started the descent into the darkness.
With a hint of complacency in the depths of her vibrant green eyes, her cold gaze settled pointedly on the seemingly hidden cavern.
No crevice, nook, or cranny was to be seen by inquisitive gazes, and it pleased her greatly to acknowledge that.
Although Maya tried to mask the immense aura that expelled from the cavern, it was almost impossible to completely veil within the walls of her keep.
It was too prodigious to conceal.
She had tried many wards and spells, but everything seemed to fall flat and fail before it could even begin to mask his substantial amount of power and energy.
When she found that no seal could complete the task, she had quit thereafter due to the lack of patience.
With steady footsteps that echoed behind her, Maya descended the steps into the darkened cavern at a slow and leisurely rate. The heel of her boot clattered lightly in rhythm, and her cloak dragged on the clean floor.
Maya snapped her fingers together, feeling the swirl of dark magic encircle her form and expel outwards into the atmosphere at various intervals. Her magic was like a gust of swirling black dust that immediately warmed the air and lit all the candles inside the cavern in extravagant light.
To the eye, the inside of the cavern was kept fairly clean, with little to no furniture within its depths. Only one table and one chair stood to the side of the large chamber, while a small shelf of books laid to the left.
Looking deeper into the cold and stony chamber, a tall, fearsome male was strapped by thick silver chains against the freezing dank walls, seemingly harmless in sleep.
Chained tightly against the wall, with dark wards plastered all across his bulky form, was no other than Cardinal Alpha Xavier Thaeos. His eyes were shut tight behind long, curled lashes. His handsome face was peaceful, and his lips were slightly parted as if in deep slumber, almost in imitation of sleeping beauty in the children’s storybooks.
Maya snorted at the absurdly laughable jest.
He might seem to be docile and calm, but she knew otherwise.
Under all that beautiful pretense of human skin laid a lurking beast, a monster so terrifying that most would beg for death over being caught in its sinister claws.
It would chase, seize, and kill at the first given chance.
But Maya didn’t plan on giving him the opportunity to take her head off from her shoulders. That would be far too foolish of her.
Before long, his dark lashes fluttered, and she was given the sight of his beautiful citrine-colored eyes. The mesmerizing pools stared straight into her own, while his face remained stony and expressionless.
Just that first glance kept her captivated, and it took her several seconds in order to properly compose herself. Maya found that it was extremely hard to extract her gaze away from his magnetically charged one.
At the strange realization, some sort of alarm seemed to sound in her ears, loud and shrill, but Maya had made the mistake of hitting snooze on it. And she would soon learn that “regret” was only a six-letter word that would mean nothing when all was done and settled.
“Welcome to my lair, Alpha,” she mockingly said, in order to mask the awry discomfort of how he had managed to freeze her with one heated look sent her way.
“What a warm welcome,” he slowly derided, voice deep and husky to her ears.
Maya had to swallow down the urge to shiver as the sound of his voice brushed fleetingly across her senses.
“Well, Alpha Xavier Thaeos, you are currently my esteemed guest. If you follow all of my directions like a good little bi—Alpha, I will let you go in due time. And if you choose not to…there will be consequential punishment,” she coldly warned.
A thick, dark smirk found way onto her blood-red lips, and she watched his mirthless expressions with a smug glint in her eyes.
You’re my bitch now, Alpha, she mused.
And what an oddly pleasing thought that was.
Her smirk widened.
“I’m curious as to what your punishments portray. Are there any whips…or more chains involved?” he said, with a sharp glance at her pretty features and slight narrowing of his golden eyes.
At his words, the palpitations of her heart seemed to increase in rhythm, stuttering a beat for some strange and elusive reason that she could not grasp onto. It was a cacophony of tempo that increased and then slowly calmed.
Maya steeled her wavering emotions with a hard frown.
“Butter knife, dull box cutter, or rusty scissors. Take your pick.” Her face had lost the slight warmth, remaining moderately cold and stony.
Maya’s pretty eyes narrowed slightly at his uncaring and lazy countenance. His lack of interest made her extremely annoyed, it was to the point of gnashing teeth together. What gave him the right to be so damned smug when he was in her hands now? He had no right.
“You’re not curious as to why I’ve captured you?” she asked, glancing at him from the depths of her shining eyes.
Why was it so easy for him to irk and frustrate her?
“I’m more than curious about you, little sorceress.” He noted her riled expressions, and the corner of his lips curved upwards into a knowing smirk.
The aroma of black pepper laced tightly around her sweet, heady scent and wafted under his nose, teasing and tantalizing his augmented senses until everything else dimmed.
She became the only thing he could see.
And even though she affected him greatly, Xavier Thaeos kept a lazy facade of mock disinterest on his face.
“Odd thing to be curious about in your predicament, Alpha.” A furtive glance was sent his way when she completely turned her back to him, leaving the mesmerizing scent of spring blossoms and pepper in her wake.
It was obvious that he didn’t care in the least about what his imprisonment entailed. As to why, the answer evaded her.
“Everette,” Maya called. Her voice echoed against the surface of the cavern and expelled outward.
After a moment, a snow-white dove approached the lip of the chamber and paused just before it could come in contact with the reclined Alpha. Almost on instinct, the dove’s red eyes swiveled from around the dark sorceress to the monstrous creature behind her. The male, looking to be in his late twenties, expelled such a dark and powerful aura that Everette couldn’t help but shrink back into herself.
The white dove remained at the entrance.
Maya’s brows furrowed.
“Everette,” she called again.
A shimmering of white light completely enveloped the dove. Her small body was gradually elongated until a humanoid form of a girl no older than seventeen appeared. Her short white hair was cropped around flat, pointed ears, and her skin was pale, translucent white like pieces of rice paper. With bright red eyes, she turned her gaze back to Maya and did all that she could to keep herself from looking at the terrifying Alpha just several yards away.
Maya shook her head.
She pulled the ancient scroll from under her cloak and smoothed the thick fabric out, setting it down onto the table. With her pointed gaze settled on Everette’s cowering form, Maya failed to notice the odd glint of recognition, that had sparked and disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared, in Alpha Xavier’s golden eyes.
“Everette, bring the white witch in.” Maya calmly took a seat on the chair and turned to face the resting Alpha; whose heated gaze remained unwavering on her face. She ignored him and, instead, drummed her slim, intricate fingers against the table, as if she was in no hurry—what-so-ever, to move things along.
After Everette left the cavern, almost as if in complete glee at being dismissed, Maya kept herself entertained with the slight tapping noises of her fingernails against the wood.
Before long, the dove shifter dragged in a struggling woman with her mouth taped shut. The woman had her arms tied painfully behind her back by thick ropes enforced with black magic, keeping her from using her powers.
The woman struggled, struggled, and struggled until she finally flopped onto the cold ground in a messy heap of tears, snot, and anger. She glowered at Maya in her hopelessness and humiliation, and her dark brows furrowed together in a fierce glare.
Maya was assured that if looks could kill, she would be six feet under. But, sadly, it couldn’t.
With a sly curve of her plump lips, she swept a lock of vibrant red hair out of her face and returned her cold gaze back to the scroll that laid sprawled on the table.
After retrieving the Cardinal Alpha, Maya had spent several hours drafting every plan of action down to perfection. But she soon realized that she needed a specimen, several of them, to test the ritual’s cogency. She wasn’t stupid enough to test the scroll’s validity herself. For all she knew, it could be a trap that was enriched in empty promises of supreme power and strength, which could easily kill her in the end. So, of course, she had to find some test specimens, willing or not.
Most of them happened to be white witches, those who had provoked or attacked her recently when she was in search of ingredients for her potions and charms.
This woman, in particular, had thrown a caustic potion at Maya who, at the time, had her back turned to fight another white witch. Although she was at a disadvantage, the potion was easily deflected with a wave of her hands as soon as it was sent toppling her way.
If that poisonous substance had connected to her skin or clothes, Maya would have turned into a walking skeleton within the span of minutes. And so, to use this woman as a specimen seemed like a rather fitting punishment, since she was another white witch who claimed to be all “good.”
Maya clicked her tongue again, circling the abated witch. The white witch was crying as if she was going to be thrown into the barrier with the Cardinal Alpha, who was going to eat her upon contact. Oddly, that didn’t sound like a bad idea. But Maya was assured that this particular Alpha didn’t seem like the type to eat such deviating white witches, it would surely give him a stomach ache.
Her red lips curled into a dark smirk at the thought.
Since all of her specimens were here now, it was only time to begin. Maya waved Everette off toward the Cardinal Alpha to start the experiment. She was excited at the prospect of finally taking his powers.
It wasn’t going to hurt him any, and she had nothing to lose in the process.
A win-win situation for both.
Well, mainly her anyways.
Everette took a small step forward, trembling like a leaf in the wind, her limbs almost like jelly when she shuffled closer to what seemed like her death.
The white-haired shifter turned her head to give Maya this rather desperate and pleading look. Her red eyes were wide with unshed tears, and her lower lip was trembling in extreme terror. It was obvious that the dove did not like the idea of being in close proximity to the Alpha. It made her skin crawl.
All her hackles rose until she was urged by her animal instincts to run as far as she could, before he killed her with just the might of his aura. And every nerve fiber in her body bowed down to the call of her instincts. Everette stopped in her steps after one glance at the lazily reclined predator.
Although she tried to force her stiff muscles forward, she found herself frozen in her tracks when his golden eyes suddenly glanced sideways at her trembling form and flitted away just as quick, as if she was unworthy of a smidgen of his time. She could tell that he was daring her to come closer, daring her to put her neck right in the palms of his hands and—snap.
Everette gave a chirping squeak of surprise that sounded like a strangled gurgle. Before she could process the situation, her humanoid form had shattered in a poof of smoke. And she ended up standing with trembling bird claws on the cold ground, her feathers standing on end around her little neck.
Maya’s eyes narrowed as she stood. She dropped the scroll onto the table and placidly stepped past Everette’s shaking form.
The little dove immediately floundered like lost prey and ducked behind the table leg, trying to find a spot to hide from the scary beast.
“How are you going to do anything if you can’t even complete this task?” Maya asked, clicking her tongue at her little companion, who was sweating bullets and shaking like willow in the wind.
Maya wasn’t surprised that he managed to revert Everette back into her animal form with just a slight glance, but this sole action made the feeling of unease grow inside of her. And another warning gnawed at the back of her mind, yet she chose to dismiss it without a thought.
Maya steadily stepped towards the barrier. Her delicate footsteps resounded in the oddly silent cavern, fingers curling into a fist as a pointed dagger magically appeared in the palms of her dainty hands.
The silver hilt glinted maliciously in the light.
A/N : Poor Everette. I would be scared to get close to Alpha Xavier too!
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