CHAPTER 20 - KILL
What remained of the aconite petals fell like dust from her hands. The gray ashes only left a pinkish tint on her skin. She felt coursing electricity underneath her palm, a lightning bolt drawn to metal.
A luminescent outline, like moonlight, framed the Rogue. Snow could see through him. Her eyes were not drawn to its fur, nor its teeth with dripping crimson, she saw its heart. It beats a rhythmic drum as she walked towards it.
The rogue felt her energy as he lowered his head in submission to her.
“Margaux,” her voice echoed a basal tone. She felt her chest vibrate.
Her sister’s face was flooded with blood, a dark, almost brown shade. She held a hand to her forehead where a laceration separated the bush of her eyebrows. The site made Snow rage in heat.
“Take Clara inside,” Upon her command, Margaux scrambled up her feet.
Torryn escorted Margaux as she found a small patch beneath the tall grass. Her sister dragged the blood drenched Clara, pulling her up against Torryn’s back.
The Rogue saw Clara and immediately huffed the smell of iron. The Rogue had its eyes towards them as he growled.
“It’s me you seek,”
Snow’s voice was like ripples of sunshine piercing the dark of night. She spoke every word, clear and strong like how she’d speak if she was brave enough. The rogue heard her as yellow eyes as bright as the midday sun faced her once more.
Snow’s arms began to yield her power. From her periphery, she saw the alphas, Everett and Magnus prowled beside her. They had their heads lowered down their spine. Their shoulders arched a graceful curve with every step they took. She too saw the outline of their hearts, souls she desired to reap.
If she were to unleash her void, the Rogue would surely perish. But all of the wolves present would follow the same fate.
She licked her lips warm, suppressing the pull of her void for Snow knew it did not choose the souls to reap. She just wanted more, whatever life that breathed through their lungs. She hungered for it, a glutton, a bottomless pit of insatiable hunger. Snow suppressed it as best as she could, the white flames flowed from her hands up, now reaching out to her shoulders as her hunger grew. She clenched her fists, gritting her teeth, as sanity suppressed the beast within her.
But one more look at the Rogue, its beating heart made Snow weak. She could not help but gape her lips. She wanted to devour him, suck his bones dry. She wanted to devour them all.
“Leave, all of you!”
Celeste came running through the doors of the mansion. She was still in her nightgown, the lacy robe revealed so much under the moonlight. But it was her beating heart she saw. A crowd of distraught eyes followed behind her as the wolves woke from their sleep.
The Rogue growled at the sudden spawn of spectators. He circled from where he stood, gasps from the crowd made him furious.
“Go inside!” Celeste screamed.
They did not heed her call. The mumbles of the crowd, interlaced with gasps that followed. Snow only saw their hearts. It fueled her desire as she fell prey to the pull of the beast within her. She could not hold it in much longer. Their beating hearts only fueled her hunger.
She grinned, closed her eyes and the warmth of her hands burned a blazing heat. The void grew like a cloud beneath her feet.
Magnus and Theodore felt it, as each wolf whimpered beside her. Their pace weakened, she felt their hearts beat slow as they stood too close to her. The distance between them was enough for her gravity to suck in their souls. It tempted her even more.
Snow felt her arms burn as the fog of her void grew. The men were near lifeless as one by one shifted back to human form. Their bare nakedness limped, through the dry grass. They crawled, twitched and trembled until each body lay still.
She grinned with the sudden surge of their energy, she could almost taste the flesh that drove their joints to life.
“Take the men!” Her sister’s voice made Snow chuckle. It was too late. By the time they came for them, she would have already devoured them.
But, Snow wanted the Rogue.
She walked towards him, its beating heart a ray of light that called for her. The dark wolf was disturbed. Its yellow eyes bounced through the growing crowd. Their voice distracted the dark beast. Just where Snow wanted him.
The world did not matter, there was only the void and the soul that fueled the Rogue’s body.
Just as she stood close, the Rogue sensed her. Yellow eyes reflected against pitch black. The green of her eyes was now lost to darkness - in fact her whole being was lost to it.
It was too late, as she began to feed on him.
Snow felt a light huff of warm air take over her body as she consumed the wolf’s soul. Fragments of memory flooded waves of visions seeping into her consciousness. It was like seeing life through the Rogue’s eyes. Snow could not help it, the feeling was divine. It was enough to quench her thirst.
Then, in front of gazing eyes, amidst a congregation of wolves, Snow took her first kill. The screams of the people around her reduced to silence.
There was only a man’s voice.
My name is Jack Barett. I grew up in a village beside the sea.
Unlike my three brothers who were raised in the woods, my skin was dry and tan, but the blonde of my hair, the blue of my eyes mirrored theirs.
I was sold as a slave to a Pledged wolf pack.
From a young age of ten, I fed on fish and clams beside the wave-struck rocks, granules of salt formed on my hair if I was out too long. I served a wolf pack that traveled on ships. But, I remained beside the mainland, scrubbing the wooden docks and mopping the platforms.
House Sawyer was cruel to me. I got a beating every night for staring at Pledged wolves too long. I only gazed at one Pledged wolf, though. A beauty my eyes was blessed to see.
I never knew her name.
I only knew that she came from the woods near my brothers’ residing village. I hoped to send them a letter through her when she comes back.
Her hair was black, the strands almost reached her ankles. Her eyes were as dark as the locks above her head.
I was as black in wolf form. I showed her once and she only smiled.
The black haired woman was pregnant. The bulge of her abdomen was not visible. She was too skinny for the hump to be seen. I knew she was with child, even before the rumors broke out. I could smell the growing cub.
We were a breed of tracking wolves, the gift passed on from my father to me and my brothers. It was no surprise to her that I knew. It was like she was letting me in on her secret.
She was beaten when the elders knew. They asked her who the father was and she only answered with a silent shake of her head.
I helped her escaped the pack. I knew I’d get a beating when I came back. But I didn’t mind. I wanted to save her because she, too, saved me.
The woman and I ventured the woods until we could find a home for the child. It was the first family I have ever had. It was too bad that I had to let it go so quickly. The offspring was a peculiar cub, the woman was cold to her, didn’t even give her a name.
The cub was barely a month old when the woman decided to get rid of it. We searched high and low for a family that would take her in. We could not find a rogue village that would take an abandoned child. So the woman sought a pledged wolf pack instead.
She found one. But, she was hesitant. It was only then that the child was on her first full moon did the woman decide to send her off.
The Sallows were too drawn to her, she’d say.
The time came when the woman needed to part from her cub. She left her in a woven basket, atop calm waves of lake Caelum, one of the deepest this world has known. No boat dared to cross it. It made me wonder, if the woman wished the death of her own child.
But nothing I said, could stop her.
I watched her face as she released the basket from her hands. Her pitch black eyes were dead of emotion, a hollowed vessel. Just as soon as the waves took her child. She never looked back and started to walk into the woods.
“Watch over her, if it eases your conscience,” she said.
“And you?” I asked.
There was no answer. My vision searched in between the trunks as the fog began to consume the trees growing beside the water, but she wasn’t there.
That was the last time I ever saw her.
My heart was consumed with contempt, as strong as the ones I felt for the family that sold me.
‘She’ll grow up, a monster.’ The woman would always say. But monsters hurt the ones they love, I could not possibly understand how the child could be as vile as her.
I took one last look at the cub and saw no monster.
She was but a babe, just like what a cub should look. But, she had skin pale as snow. If it weren’t for the pink of her lips, I thought she’d be dead.
‘I’ll protect you,’ I promised her, ’I’ll go anywhere you go.′
I let the soft waves of the water licked the edges of my feet. I did not look back, but only stood to see the child one more time. I’d follow the basket as it brushed against the bank. Occasionally, she’d open her eyes to the sky, as the waves took her.
The child had the most beautiful green eyes.
The cub with green eyes. She thought. It was just like in her dream.
Snow felt the words topple from her lips as the visions diminished. Her thoughts so tempted to root its claws on the child in her dream, but the scent of old blood made her nose sting. She felt the warm fluid on her lips as she licked them.
It was warm and tasted like iron. The thick fluid coated her lips as she swallowed. The savory taste made her crave it more. She pushed back the liquid down her throat, as shame and guilt made her nauseous.
She killed him.
Snow plucked his soul like she was pulling at the roots of a plant firmly embedded in the soil. The resistance was followed with a smooth, almost soft give that made her step back with the force of her kill. Her tug on his soul made her body recoil, strong enough as she fell, her back landing on solid ground.
The visions were gone, only the night sky remained. saw the studded twilight of the stars against the black. The moon was a slender crescent. No wonder it gave so little light. She stared at the distant white figure of the moon, its craters beneath gray shadows etched on its smooth contour. She counted each shadowy crevice until what’s left of her vision was a gray blur.
All of a sudden her body felt light as air. If this was dying, then she’d gladly welcome death with open arms. But, she knew exactly what had happened. Her heart beat louder, warmth coursed through her bloodstream with every pump her body made. She was invigorated, a body charged with life by two souls, the Rogue and hers.
Though her body reduced to a , her mind was refreshed like she could think a million things at a single time. Her mind was breathing, living on its own until a trail of of thoughts made her dizzy.
The kill was addicting. Snow relished it like a meal dripping with lard and butter. It was sinful. She licked her lips until sleep began to consume her.
Her hands braced on damp, rock solid skin. of , dry earth and spring water flooded her nostrils. Snow felt warm and safe as she pulled herself closer to the smell.
“,” She called out to him. Snow felt her feet part from solid ground as her body floated in thin air. She felt his arms brace her body, cradling her until her skin brushed against his as she trembled.
“Hush, little bird,” Torryn’s voice echoed calmness in her chest. Snow released her grip in reality as she plunged in deep sleep.
Again, she saw the cub with green eyes just like in her dream. This time, however, a question flooded her mind, sadness like daggers came piercing her chest thereafter.
Who was that child?
It was silly of her to ask the question when she already knew the answer.
The cub with green eyes was her.
Her own mother did not die. But Snow mourned anyway, for her own flesh and blood was so determined to get rid of her. She threw her into the waves like some dead offering, a gift to be consumed whole by dark water. Her helpless body would have sunk like solid rock. Snow was useless to her, so worthless she needed to get rid of her fast.
‘She’ll grow up, a monster.’
The words were gripping like sharp talons on . It was so clear and was painfully so. She pushed it back. She did not listen, she refused to.
Then, sleep took her before the tears did.
The carriages were ready. He had one more crate in his hands filled with books and old toys for Clara’s child. was out of breath when morning came. He loaded the crates on the carriages as the Grimlake she wolves bid him goodbye.
Half of the guests were already on their way. What happened that night did not allow ample sleep. The guests took his words. The creature was dead, buried somewhere far. They were all safe, for now.
His men could not burn the Rogue’s remains. The scent will attract others to his land. It was certainly not a good time to announce to the Rogues that one of their men is dead. The first kill done in Burnwood’s territory would send them lurking around the border. Once Spring Solstice starts, the border will be but a patch of land. The Rogues will be around to cross them for one night and who knows what hell they’ll bring?
The body will be burned soon, when the rest of the wolves were back to their homes, where they can be somewhere safe. By that time, he would have already cleaned up this mess, send the bloodthirsty monsters to their graves and it will be the end of another year with the Rogue’s claws on their throats.
What conspired the previous year made Torryn black listed. His face would be posted on all their doors, on every corner of their villages, as a slayer of Rogues. It was an understatement, for Torryn knew what he did was despicable and up until now he did not know what consumed him to do such crime.
But knowing his guests’ departure, comforted him. They’ll be far from here, far from him where it’s safe.
had it all planned out. He needed to put his plan in action before it’s too late. He’s already running out of time. And, he needed to do one more thing.
He walked to the stables and found his horse. Its coat as dark as night where only a patch of white marked her forehead. rubbed its neck and whispered sweet endearments to its ears.
Just as the tears began to cloud his vision, Torryn lead the dark mare from her stables. His foot brushed the soft cut grass, the air in his throat hitched. His heart pounded and ached like he was better dead than alive.
Celeste nudged the rope to him. His hand caught it as he began to hook it on the head collar of his horse. She insisted that there was no need for this, that they had enough horses. pretended that he could not hear her when she shrugged, but he took his horse and tied her to their carriage anyway.
If she needed to come back, his horse knew the way.
“That’s enough,” Torryn heard her. Her voice was cold. If Celeste only knew how much he loved her sister, she would have shown him a bit of empathy. He tightened the knots the third time. Biting against his teeth, he searched for more knots to tighten, just to buy him enough time to stand there, where Snow was close.
His lungs basked in her scent one final time. closed his eyes and let the rope slip from his fingers.
The sky was awfully bright when he looked up. There was not a shade of blue, but just a blank blinding white. All the while, he did not imagine that this day would come.
But winter took with it all that he knew, all that he had. The fear of being apart from her will be easy to live through just as long as she’s safe tucked beneath the trees where she survived eighteen years of her life in solitude.
He could not give her the life a married woman ought to have. His past would haunt her too. He will tarnish her reputation, destroy anything she will ever build with him, a future, a family and a happy life.
And that is all he ever wants for her.
The coachman nodded as stepped back. Before the carriage could move, Celeste walked towards him.
“I will ask you, one last time,” She said, “Do you love her?”
“You know the answer to that question,” could not look into her eyes.
“Then, you’re doing what’s right,” Celeste nodded her head. As she bid him farewell.
He could not imagine how she and Snow looked so similar yet worlds apart when they opened their mouths. nodded and from his periphery, she saw her hold out something in her hand. He took it just as she sprinted back inside the carriage.
The vehicle began to move as he walked back into the mansion. He still has work to do, an excuse to keep him busy. But before he entered the door. He opened his palm where remnants of Snow’s scent remained. knew what it was but he needed to see it for himself.
The black diamond looked larger up close, its speckled center shining fragments of sunshine on his skin. He bit his lips as tears began to well up in his eyes.
It was the ring he gave her.
The sheets rubbed hard against her skin. She sat up, but the dark left nothing for her eyes to see. Snow felt her head spin. It throbbed and ached in all places, at different times. It made her nauseous. Warm bitter fluid flooded her mouth as she spat vomit all over her sheets. She shook her head and hoped was not beside her in her sleep. She pushed the damp covers. Despite the dark, her skin sensed something different. The covers were not of soft fur like they used to. They were a dry, harsh canvas like the ones she had back home.
Her eyes shot open against the darkness. She sniffed Torryn’s scent, but could not sense him anywhere. Her nose stung of incense instead.
Before she could stand, warm light replaced the darkness. It came from her door. Just as the rays illuminated the room, wooden tables, stacks of books on the stone floor and linens of white dangling from the ceiling above the bed came to her vision.
She was back in Grimlake.
“What’s happening?” Her voice trembled.
The light landed on her legs, as streaks of blood dripped from where she stood. She was bleeding between her legs. Snow touched her abdomen as it throbbed, she was on her impurity, no wonder she was nauseous. Her skin was blistering hot as she rested her cold palm on her forehead.
“?” She called out.
He did not answer, voices of women came behind the light instead.
“Women of Grimlake,” The flame of the candle flickered, as harsh light made the elder’s face look older. A scar marked her cheek, the depression her skin crossed down to her chin. The woman bowed her head towards Snow before she continued.
“The youngest has bloomed,” the women came entering in her room, the cold night wind crept in from the wooden door of the tower. What she said made the hair on her nape stand.
“Where’s Torryn?” Snow asked. The woman exchanged blank stares and began to giggle.
“My child,” the elder carrying the candle spoke again, “Who is it you search for now?”
The women began to laugh. Snow could not understand if it was sadness or was it anger that consumed her heart. It did not take much energy for her to stand from her bed and run out of her room. Her feet made firm thumps against the stone staircase as the women screamed her name. Drops of blood marked her path.
This wasn’t happening. Tears began to mirror the sadness in her heart. She wasn’t even sure if she had a heart, there was nothing inside of her now, as she felt her body turn hollow.
“Torryn!” She screamed his name, hoping that if he heard her he’d appear from the shadows and carry her back to his side.
No matter how familiar the walls were, her heart would stay restless, knowing she was far from him. was her home. The separation made her whole body ache, his guts turning inside out.
Her legs brought her to the main hall where the wooden door was bolted shut. She pushed against the slabs of wooden logs to release the lock. Clenched fists banged against the carved wood as she pushed harder.
“Torryn!” She screamed again as tears began to fall from her cheeks.
Her voice subdued by the solid wood as she pressed her lips on the varnished bark. She pushed her body against it, hoping that it would open. Her arms pushed harder as she felt the warm blood ooze between her legs. She felt the warm fluid drip to her soles as the heel of her foot slid against the stone floor.
Snow her arms on solid wood, again and again, only to stop when she heard Celeste.
“What in heaven’s name?” She said as she ran after her. Her arms embraced Snow. They were strong and steady as Celeste pulled her sister in her arms.
“Celeste,” Snow held her arms and looked at her sister with eyes the sought answers, “Where is ? Why am I here?”
“Snow, you’ve been dreaming again."
“No, no,” Snow shook her head. She was blinded by the tears that did not stop dripping from her eyes, “No, I’m not dreaming.”
Celeste caressed her face as she cupped it in her hands, “Shh, Snow? Listen to me. I can walk you back up to your room. We can talk about this.”
“Why did he leave me?” Snow cried, “Did Torryn send me away?”
“Snow, please?” Her sister’s grip was strong on her shoulders as she shook her, “Who is this Torryn you speak of?”
“The Torryn I married,” Snow’s voice was brittle, in it brimmed heaps of desperation.
A dream. This could not be happening. What she felt for him was nothing but pure truth, what happened could not just be a dream. Snow felt him with every drop of blood that trailed down her limbs. She knew he lived. was real, the only real thing she clung to.
“Snow,” Celeste’s eyes became furious, “You never left Grimlake, it’s only now that you have bloomed. Look at the blood on your feet. It is impossible that you are married.”
“I am married. He gave me a ring after the Reaping.” Snow could not speak as she sobbed. She mustered a breath as she held a calm hand on her chest, she rubbed it easing the pain that grew in her heart. Her skin brushed her burning neck. Then, she remembered.
“He has marked me,” Her hands pushed against the night gown as the button ripped from the soft cotton. Her hands were pale and cold. The numbness on the tip of her fingers did not help her feel the scar.
“What mark?” Celeste asked, “Snow, please go back to bed.”
“I need a mirror, my fingers are too cold,” Snow said.
The elders finally caught up to her as they calmly tread down the stairs. Each one had a candle in their hands. It shined a luminous yellow against the darkness of the main hall.
The elder with the scar on her face pointed towards the golden plates that lined the walls. The surface was smooth. The light could almost bounce on its surface.
Snow hurriedly approached it. She pulled on her nightgown, exposing her neck and began searching for Torryn’s mark. The reflection became even clearer as the elder shed light beside her. Snow made her skin flush as she rubbed the her for the marks.
“Where is it?” The elder asked, “where is the mark your husband left?”
Snow could not believe her eyes. Her skin was pale and smooth just where Torryn had marked her. But as she leaned towards the light, she could not find his mark.
Did she go into a deep slumber and just dreamed of it all?
“Impossible,” She said.
The elder’s hand landed on her shoulder. The old woman caressed it as she whispered in her ear.
“Yes, it is impossible, how can you be married? Who would marry you?”
A pang of anger replaced the creeping sadness on Snow’s chest. She yielded her energy and touched the woman with a hand that possessed her void.
“Torryn would,” Snow answered.
The woman landed on her knees as her soul coursed through Snow’s skin. It was like ink bleeding through . The flow was natural, it was all too easy to kill her there while the others watched.
“Stop it!” Celeste’s voice spoke from the distance, but Snow only smiled, as she began to consume her. Before she could pluck her soul, like what she did to Jack Barrett, something sharp landed on her thigh.
Snow pulled the arrow that firmly stood against her skin. Nigh lock arrow. Just as she recognized the smell of the moonlight poppy, her hand released her prey. Snow’s knees wobbled, they shook until all energy was lost from her limbs. Her body was calm and light, as she was left paralyzed. Her cheek hit the cold floor just before she closed her eyes.
“Take her to the dungeon,” Celeste said.
Tears pushed against her eyelids as Snow felt her body drag against solid rock.
And in that moment, she did not know the difference between truth and make believe. If her life was but a series of dreams she made up in her head, or was it a life built on a series of lies made by every single person she ever loved. But all of it did not matter as much, because she was back to where she started.
And in the dungeon, she wept.
~END OF ACT I~
P.s. Don't hate me. ❤
Congratulations, dear reader. You have reached the end of the first act. It’s either you hate me now, or love Snow even more. The story has just begun - again. 😅 so stay tuned.
I’ll be posting scheduled updates:
-1 chapter a week is all I can fit in my schedule.
Thank you for your comments and votes.
ACT II. Soon.