The previous Chapters can be found here
Thump, thump, thump.
The sound echoed throughout the empty cavern, overgrown trees forming a canopy above the huge creature, its tail whacking the ground at certain intervals.
He stood five feet before the fearsome beast, only sadness in his eyes.
You truly believe she will come?, The voice echoed in his head.
Closing his eyes for a moment, he pictured a smiling face.
At his nod, the dragon opened his eyes.
Preparations were in order.
The voice brought her out of her thoughts and into the present. Turning her head to meet purple irises, her shoulders bled out the tension, relaxing in her plush armchair, fingers gripping onto a goblet sliding with red liquid.
Her eyes slid to her right forearm, the integration mark standing proudly, the wolf almost shining in the dark.
She could sense her Consiliur’s worry, could see it in the deep set of her frown, feel it in the slight tremble of her hands as they guided her to her bed.
Her poor Amy, the little darling who’d had nothing but her for years, who had stayed by her side even when she had barely been able to keep herself in check, the grief of loss weighing too much on her fragile mind.
Even now, she felt only tenderness as her closest friend lowered her onto the bed, pulling up the covers to ensure she was safely tucked in.
Such a relative term.
If only her most precious friend were to find out what she’d done. What lengths she’d gone to to protect her wolf.
As her eyes slid shut, she wondered if she could ever guiltlessly look into those beautiful purple irises again.
Meanwhile, up from the tower, Cyan hair swished with the wind, watching a visibly shaken Amy seek out the General. She watched as the Consiliur’s eyes flicked to where the badge should have rested on the general’s chest and imagined her flinch when she found none.
Briefly turning to check on the two souls lost in each other’s minds, she missed the distrustful look thrown at her tower by the former General.
When she looked out again, both girls were gone. She wondered if they knew the torment of their Queen yet.
She wept in her heart for the poor Queen, lamented the decisions that had led the child to this room yesterday.
She glanced at the empty cup that lay on her dresser, and hoped their Queen’s sacrifice would not go unrewarded.
Fires danced along the castle walls, generals shouting for the soldiers to hold their posts.
She watched ice blue eyes look sadly at her, none of the coldness she usually felt. This was how she looked at her brother, her kin. Aurora wondered if this was how she looked when she’d said goodbye.
In the split second that Fate had materialized, the doors of the city had been broken into – the humungous battering ram with menacingly carved iron teeth splintering the door into pieces.
She felt Nick’s body brace with his double edged sword, the cool cyan blades gripped firmly in his hands as he kept his eyes trained onto the doors.
She watched through his eyes, flinching as the trees slowly shriveled. Their life drained from them. She felt the hackles on the back of Nick’s head rise – a foreboding sign and watched as another general nodded his head in the direction of the royal chambers.
It seemed to be all he needed to jump into action. She felt him jump over slain bodies and dead trees but she didn’t need to see which direction he was heading towards – an aide’s primary duty lies with his ruler.
She felt his feet cease to touch the ground and realised he’d conjured the same Cyan platform that he’d used during her training, lending him speed and relaying his urgency to reach the king.
She wished she could look back at the situation at the gates but she knew it would be a gruesome scene.
She felt her body skid to a stop as Nick threw open the doors to the royal chambers.
If she’d thought the situation at the gates was gruesome, it was no match for what she stood before now.
She felt Nick’s hand on his blade loosen in shock and then tighten immediately as his training kicked in – hardening his resolve.
She watched horrified as the King held his wife up by her neck, his eyes maniacal, soul exuding a dark aura. As he turned to her, she felt Nick’s grasp tighten to a vice grip on his blade as his ceremonial bond pulled at the agony of his King.
She had read about him after the first few sessions in his mind. The king of the frontiers, he had a body virtually unbeatable, he had perfected the technique of armouring, his body covered with light to block any sword.
In a split second Aurora realised the way this was about to end. The king had been betrayed by his closest friend – the only one who knew about a chink in his armour, the flaw of the indestructible
She wept for Nick as she watched the cyan blade split into two swords, severing his King’s head, midsection and legs in two clean strokes – the body of the Queen falling to the floor, gasping for breath as her husband lay mutilated by his aide and Consiliur.
The gruesome sight left one huge gap in Nick’s heart, but it was something entirely different that unsettled Aurora.
The severed King’s head had his unblinking eyes staring into nothingness – the world reflected upside down in his eyes even though the head was still vertical.
She recalled with increasing horror as she saw the bushes outside the window shrivelled up.
Above the gasping breaths of the Queen and the blank stare of Nick’s eyes as he felt the Mar, she recalled a line in the Antiquon Scriptures.
When the trees shrivel in fear and the world inverts, hang up the holy oil, a Aswang Witch draws near.
Aswangs are a concept I borrowed from the folklore of the Philippines. Although, I’ve mixed in legends from my own country as well.
As far as I’ve read, and what intrigued me about these creatures were that the Witch Aswangs could be identified by looking into their eyes. If you see the world upside down, then it’s an Aswang.
I mixed this with folklore from the East of my country (West Bengal, India) where one of the markers of a witch is the ability to shrivel a tree by simply staring at it.
There will be more nuances added and we’ll see what happened after the point I left above in the next chapter. Hope you enjoyed this chapter and stay tuned for more!