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Chapter Six

“She didn’t say yes,” cheered the cup.

“She didn’t leap to your defense,” said the beast.

“She cares,” chimed in all the voices in the background. “She cares she cares she cares.”

The Assassin wanted her to care. He needed her to care. Not just about the beast’s effect on her own safety, but about him. The one trapped with it. The one that had become it. The man.

“There is a man left,” said the cup. “She wants to find him. You just have to show her.”

“If you show her the man, you show her me,” growled the beast. “And she will fear you, and I will smell her fear, and we will watch her bleed.”

The Assassin had no escape from the voices. He hadn’t had an escape for centuries. They prattled ever on, waking or sleeping, content or in a fury.

This definitely wasn’t how he had imagined insanity.

It was conflicting opinions. constant ideas, the never-ending orders from the beast. Not so different from the mind of another man, save that these imposing thoughts were voices, whispering and railing and screaming like any real voice.

They were never completely silent. They grew quiet at times. When the beast gained control, for one. It grew tempting at times to slip under his command simply for the silence.

They also grew silent when Adalina spoke. All save that chipped cup. But the cup told him nice things. Hopeful things. Things not controlled by the beast. The Assassin liked that cup.

One night, the Assassin found the princess curled up on a rug in the library, her face buried in a book.

“She’s beautiful,” murmured a voice. The Assassin decided it belonged to a bookshelf.

She is? he mused. he wouldn’t know; he’d lost his taste for women. Even if he looked at her face, which he most certainly didn’t, he wasn’t sure if he would notice her beauty anymore.

“And what story has Beauty found tonight?” asked the Assassin.

"Poetry!" screamed a voice, eager to answer his question. They were always so damn eager. He hated questions. The voices got so loud. More and more chimed in as Adalina jumped, startled at the Assassin’s voice.

“It’s not so much a story as poetry,” she said. Her voice rang out in the stone room, the others dying to a low murmur. Then they grew loud again as the echo of her words died away.

“Read to me,” he commanded, desperate for her voice. For some escape.

“What?” The girl shifted, looking at him with wide, blue eyes. He couldn’t see it, but the voices made certain he knew her every move, her every feature. Who needed eyes with a hundred voices all drilling every bit of information into your skull? The Assassin had no need to show the beast the world around him.

The only advantage of his voices.

“Wrong answer, Beauty,” he said.

“She’s frightened confused beautiful high cheekbones hair following over her shoulder brown curls looks down at the book mouth opens heart poundi-”

The voices stopped as she began.

And the Assassin smiled.

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