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Chapter Two

“Blood feast fear thrash old woman walking through Narrow’d Path run kill her.”

“Hush,” I scolded.

The beast quivered in rage at being so blatantly defied.

I took a certain amount of pride in it. There was something about refusing to obey the beast that left me smug. But it was costly. I found the searing headache to be more painful than even the deluge of voices. Those could almost be stubbornly ignored. But to defy the beast?

It required never looking at people, lest the sheer blood-lust take over. It required forced solitude. It required a peaceful mind that was so hard to achieve when I had nothing but questions and doubts.

I dropped my forehead to my knees, which were barely covered by the tattered yellow gown I’d worn to find the Assassin at Queen Snow’s palace. My hair was a tangled nest of locks and I was filthy with mud and blood. Not that of a human. I was adamant against taking human lives.

When I had... turned, all I knew to do was run. The beast was furious. He wanted to tear everyone from limb to limb. He wanted to kill.

And that did not sit well with me.

“Kill,” the beast snapped.

“No. You can sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done,” I said.

“Kill,” the beast muttered indignantly.

I let him stew, turning my focus to the creatures around me. Birds disrupted the leaves of nearby trees, the only sign of life in the forest. The beast snapped to attention.

“Kill?” It was almost hopeful, but with a razor-sharp edge.

“Kill,” I said resignedly.

The voices suddenly grew louder. An ocean of voices, weaving in and out, cutting one another off and breaking up. The entire world was in my head, not a single existence or movement escaping my nearly omniscient conscious.

My hand snatched a pebble off the ground, nearly moving of its own accord. With a fluidity unattainable by any normal person, I flung it through the air. It soared, falling just short of its mark. It landed closer to the Narrow’d Path than my prey was sitting.

“We are not killing the old lady,” I scolded the Beast. “Either we kill the bird or we kill nothing.”

“Kill,” he growled with a resentful reluctance. The second stone hit a bird in the head. The soft body fell through the branches, landing in the grass with a gentle flunk.

“Blood,” the beast purred eagerly.

“Blood,” I echoed.

Always blood.

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