Malignus

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He, the King

Tension filled the air, along with a healthy dose of foreboding dread, one I supposed was rippling off of Helene’s shaking frame.

I kept hold of her hand. It was all I could manage to calm her. To be quite honest, I was afraid. Her secrecy indicated we would be in immediate danger if someone found us.

Whoever the King was, I hoped we never met.

Terrible images passed in and out of my mind. I could not discard my worry like a beaten rag. It was far too realistic to be anything but survival instinct, which I learned to trust with my life.

I rose to wobbly legs and began to pace the room. There were no walls to stop me. I would go back and forth, across the vast space, and did not stop until I could pace no further. I sat again.

Looking to where Helene sat, I met air, a solemn replacement for the disappearing woman. I searched the room for her, but she was gone.

“Cowardice is an ugly thing.”

Chilling. My spine felt it all the way down to my tailbone, his voice did that.

Slowly, I turned around, face straight as an arrow. I refused to let him know my fear.

Orynicus looked the picture of evil. His eyes swallowed by the blackened night, his wings a tainted glass, and his heart no warmer than the tundra.

He held out his hand. It was gentle, but I knew it demanded my compliance, so I placed my hand within his.

Orynicus pulled me into his grasp. I squirmed to have some semblance of separation. As my head turned away I saw something behind him, something truly terrifying, and the closer I looked, the further I slipped away.

Helene. The girl looked just like her, but Helene was not a mere child, so I thought I had gone mad. Yet there she was.

She moved like a dancer, feet never really touching the ground as she floated about the room. The next thing I knew I was thrust into the wall. I couldn’t breathe. Someone was strangling me.

Orynicus. That was what I thought. I was sure he had finally become what I knew he was, but I opened my eyes to see a deteriorating man with glassy eyes.

He screamed at me, “Your mother is a whore. You’ll both rot for your crimes.”

I gasped for air, but only came up empty.

“Father, Helene is only a child.”

The man loosened his grip momentarily. A loud smack rang in my ears as I took a desperate breath.

“If you value your claim to the throne, you will shut your mouth, Orynicus.”

A scream ripped from my throat as the unforgiving man returned his attention to me. I wasted precious air in my terror, and I would die for it.

Hacking and coughing, I once again felt the weight of my lungs taking in dollops of sweet, sweet air.

I surveyed my surroundings. Orynicus still held me, though much more delicately than before, and we had not moved from the spot.

“Cadia..” I heard Orynicus trail, “what are you?”

Words were lost on me. Frankly, I was not sure if I was crazy or traumatized. Maybe it was both.

“Get me out of here, please,” is all I said. Dry. That was how my throat felt. It was screaming from the pressure of a deranged person’s grip.

Orynicus was there. He knew of what happened to Helene. Neither Berrón, Rynic or the King wanted me to know.

Oh stars.

Thoughts dissecting what I witnessed kept my mind absent. While connecting the dots I came to a frightening revelation.

Orynicus was Helene’s older brother, and the son of a King.

I was ill, and not because of my ailments, but because of the terrible, terrible things I saw. A monster. The King would forever haunt my dreams, as his shadow walked with me, watching, waiting to carry out his Father’s sick will.

All I mulled over as we scaled the infernal staircase was an escape. It was as if I were floating above my body as my thoughts passed through.

Escape. Temporary. Run, forever. That was what they said. I could not argue.

Every time I ran, he came for me, even now within the pocket of his city. Maybe the solution was to make him run. Make him despise me. Give him reason to cast me away. One thing came to mind.

The child.

It was the one thing that seemed to worry him more than my whereabouts. My heart ached. It was wrong to consider hurting something that could not defend itself. The Friar would never forgive me, the Lord would never forgive me.

Jealousy.

An invasive thought solidified in my mind, making my ears ring. Only when I listened to my head did it quiet.

I could very well make him hate me by lying with another. It would not make him run. Yet, it was my only plan.

The real question being, who would dare defy the Crown?

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