I leaned over the man bowing and scraping in front of me; he smelled of piss, sweat and fear. My lip curled in disgust as I nudged him with my boot and I crossed my arms impatiently. He whimpered and groveled incoherently. My impatience and anger only grew, I needed an outlet and he was going to serve nicely. He needed to be reminded of who ruled here.
“I’m sorry!” He squeaked pathetically once more. “The male escaped my men and we’ve had no luck in acquiring more information on him or his base of operations!” His excuses pierced my ears as I casually placed and ground my booted foot on his hand into the gravel and his words turned into howls of pain, but he didn’t dare try to pull his hand out from under me.
“Enough with the excuses, Harlen. I gave you a job, and I expect results! Do not fail me again.” I growled vehemently at him. “He’s been terrorizing MY toys! That is a challenge that I do not take lightly. You WILL find him and you WILL bring him to me, do you understand?” I twisted my foot and heard the satisfying crunch of bones breaking beneath my boot; he cried out and nodded his head vigorously. “I don’t hear the words, Harlen.”
“Yes my Queen! I will not fail you! He shall be brought forth for your judgement!” He swore desperately and then cradled his damaged hand to his chest as I took my foot off of it. I smiled with a predatory gleam in my ice blue eyes. I waved my hand dismissively at the sobbing man and he bowed low as he backed away from me. My mind didn’t linger long on Harlen as the Elder of the town I controlled shuffled forward, a cane thumping rhythmically with each couple of steps he made. I snarled with impatience and already grew bored with these ‘audiences’ that I had agreed to in the first place. The old man bowed to me but it wasn’t as low as I would have liked, my guard saw it and readied his whip to deal the proper punishment. I flicked my fingers lazily at the guard and he withheld the punishment that was demanded. This frail male was my eyes and ears, I can’t have him dying to the fifty lashes that served as a fitting rebuke for not showing me the respect I deserve.
“My Queen,” He rasped lightly; a cough cutting off his words. “I have news for you. There was another taken only a few hours before dawn.” He wheezed as he continued giving his report. “This time it was one of your fighters.”
“What?!” My anger itched under my skin and I grew ever more restless. I began to pace the tent that served as an audience chamber, better for those awaiting to hear the screams of those who failed. “Who was taken?” My voice hardened like ice as I spun and pinned the Elder with a glare.
He bowed to a respectful level; his nose nearly touching his knees. “The Black Crow,” was the only name he whispered.
My anger melted as fast as it had risen and a sly smile danced upon my lips. “My crow has taken it upon himself to satisfy his Queen then, eh?” Laughter bubbled from my lips, the sound was harsh and cruel. The Elder chanced a glance at me and my guards watched me warily. My humor was as dangerous as my anger but much more unpredictable. I clapped my hands in delight, which also summoned my Swift Shadow to my side. Everyone averted their eyes from my prized fighter; from my Shadow, for it was the penalty of death should anyone glance upon Shadow’s face.
“Yesss my Mistress?” My Shadow hissed. I held my hand in front of Shadow and Shadow placed a lingering kiss on my knuckles. “How may I please you?”
I smiled, “I need you to find and follow Black Crow’s trail. Report back when you have details of his location.” Shadow kissed my knuckles once more. I blinked once and Shadow vanished as quickly and silently as Shadow had arrived. I left the Elder standing in the audience tent as I strode to the entrance and brushed the flaps to the side. My guard scrambling to place themselves protectively around me as piercing glares tracked me. I smiled with pleasure at the hateful glares and the angry mutterings that followed me wherever I went.
I held all the power and they knew it; this feeling was addictive. I fed off their anger, pain and suffering as if I was injecting Blue Ambrosia; the newest drug that was spreading like wildfire in Kandarae. I craved more and I wasn’t about to let go of this thrilling surge of power I got every time I walked openly down the streets of Kandarae. This city was a cesspool of low-lives that would have no value to their lives if I hadn’t done something about it. I gave them a way of life. I gave them a new purpose. I took their talents and created my kingdom with them. They should be grateful and worship the very ground I walk on. I turned thieves into fighters, guards and some I kept as thieves or trained them into assassins. I turned whores into my personal dancers or gave them to Idmera to create an establishment worthy of the nobility’s services. I only rewarded those that pleased me or succeeded in the missions I handed out. Punishment awaited those that failed me.
White brick square houses lined the streets leading to my palace, the lawns were barren and lines of clothes were waiting patiently to be pulled down and folded. Thatched roofs were badly in need of repair and the unlit street lamps stood crookedly like long skeletal arms reaching from the ground. I wrinkled my nose at the lack of repairs but casually shrugged my shoulders. They didn’t need extravagance, they needed just the bare minimum. Enough to keep them alive and serving me.
“My Queen.” A guard knelt on the ground and placed his nose to the ground; awaiting my acknowledgement. I sighed and crossed my arms as I glanced up at my palace that towered above the surrounding square buildings. It looked like an overdressed noble among peasants and didn’t deny it’s superiority. My lavish bath would have to wait just a little longer. I shifted my glance to the male still kneeling before me, I saw sweat leaving marks down his dusty face and he panted for breath. I frowned.
“Which squad were you attached to? Why did you leave your post?” I demanded. No one left their post. Not without my notice or acknowledgement, punishment was a week of lashings and starvation for failing to stay at your assigned post.
“I... I am sorry your Majestic Holiness! H-however you told us to inform you of any developing situations regarding... Uhm... Perhaps your Holiness would prefer to hear this news... elsewhere?” He vainly tried to get me to move us behind closed doors so that his punishment wasn’t public, I smiled cruelly.
“Here is fine. Now tell me before it gets worse for you.” It was my only warning before I placed my black boot on the back of head; pressing his face into the dirt. His breath cause puffs of dust to waft up as he tried not to inhale very much.
“Yes... My Queen.” His voice was faint so I leaned further on the boot I had on his head to hear him, and a squeal escaped him. “He was spotted! East of the pale river! It was barely a glimpse but the silver hair was unmistakable! Please your Holiness! It’s all I know!” He begged and choked on the dust his panic was rising; as he tried to keep his nose unbroken. I removed my foot reluctantly; unsatisfied that I was unable to break his nose.
“Very well. You have become my messenger for the day. Send for the Night and Silver squads.” I began to stride away before I turned back and pointed at the guard. “Oh and please send for Kyra. I do miss her so.” A wicked smile spread across my face as I saw the fear drain all the color from his.
“K-Kyra... Your Holiness? Are you so sure she is needed?” He bravely, yet stupidly questioned me.
There was no warning as I ripped a whip from one of my guards belt loops and uncoiled the braided leather. The rings on the end jingled merrily as I lashed out at the stupid guard. “Do not question me AGAIN” I roared between each lash. The guard was curled in a ball at my feet as each whistling crack of the whip ripped a steady stream of screams from his bloodied lips. His back was split and bleeding heavily from how hard the rings struck him as bruises already began forming on his arms and right side of his face. I breathed in a sigh of relief as my anger melted away and I handed the guard the now dripping whip. I turned on another of my guard. “Go, do as I ordered that useless piece of waste to do and take him out of my sight. A week of deserting punishment. No treatment on his wounds. If he so much as questions why the sky is blue; give him another twenty lashes. Try to make sure not to kill him but if he does die then find a replacement quickly.” The guard saluted smartly before snapping out orders to two more guards; leaving me with three guards of my personal battalion. The remaining guards took up positions to my left, right and rear while they shifted uneasily making their chain mail jingle and leather creak. They glanced around while palming their weapons, slipping into a stalking stance and nearly ready to jump at anything that moves. I ignored my toys, turned my nose up in disgust and stomped down the pristine white stone path towards my palace.
The palace itself was enormous and looked as though it was made up entirely of gems and crystals. The white brick gleamed immaculately, each doorway was gilded with gold and encrusted with large sapphires at the top. The windows were stained portraits of myself in different fighting poses, silver frames and large rubies with smaller emeralds decorating each pose differently. The rooms were large and spacious with furniture sparsely placed within each room. I detested parties so I never hosted them within these walls. I lovingly glided my hand across the wall as I walked down the empty halls while my guards still followed me. I snapped my fingers and two barely clad women gracefully, but stealthily; appeared before me bowing low.
“Next time don’t make me snap my fingers for your presence. I need a bath and have dinner ready for my darling Kyra.” I dismissed them with a wave of my fingers, without missing a step as I continued down the halls. One of the women disappeared and the other slipped quietly ahead and held open a door for me while keeping her head low to avoid eye contact. I eyed the room casually, noting the faint lavender and rose smell as well as the displaced towels hanging off the back of the chair. My nose wrinkled in distaste before I schooled my face to show nothing and turned towards my guards.
“Get out.” I snapped before turning on the girl. “You, get over here and undress me now.”
The girl paled slightly before closing the door and silently glided over to me while I stretched my arms out for her to remove my clothes. Her fingers trembled as she reached for the silver buttons on my long black overcoat but she nimbly undid them, slipping the coat off my shoulders. I sighed and waved my hand at her, dismissing her. She squeaked and bowed low as she backed out of the room.
′Last time I had someone undress me; I nearly had killed them for their slowness. If I killed this one, I would have been sorely disappointed because she is one of my best females. There are some disadvantages to my power, it seems.′ I pulled my loose cotton shirt over my head; feeling my long wavy hair brush against my bare skin. The gold and ruby inlaid bangles on my wrists jingled merrily as I moved, sliding my slim black leggings off my toned legs. I glanced at the full length mirror and smiled at my reflection. I had lightly bronzed skin with long black locks that accentuated my almond-shaped icy blue eyes. I was slim by nature and most people thought I had been weak but I showed them. My brother made sure I had the knowledge to secure my way in this world and I used it to its full potential. Now, not even he can stop me; no one can. I am Queen.