Oraca

Katherine Ravencry is the changeling child of a sixteenth century king and a beautiful queen of a powerful immortal race. Despite the powerful blood that runs through her veins, Katherine is not important. Until her father is murdered and the civil war breaks out. Katherine discovers that she does, in fact, have a purpose in life that is more than being betrothed to a powerful nobleman. She must fulfill her destiny. Else everyone that she loves will be in danger.

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4. An Unexpected Visitor

 

Passing under the porch with the oriel window and turning left, I reached the imposing ornate carved panelled doors that denied my entry to the Great Hall. Two guards stood either side of the door, one of them wore a close helmet that concealed his possibly familiar eyes, his identity. The other, however, sported a burgonet helmet and I sincerely wished that he hadn't. I did not shudder, nor did I scream. I was in far too much shock to even move my eyes.

Although I tried, I could not place the name that matched the glassy eyes and the lips that had settled into a grim line. He could not have been much older than I was; I reckoned that he was twenty at most. He was most probably a recent addition to my father's army and that was why I had not had the chance to learn his name before his life was cruelly snatched from him. A dagger had been lodged into his unprotected neck and had sunk into the stone wall behind him.

I averted my eyes to the other knight, but I could not even begin to guess who he was. His body slumped against the wall, a medieval war hammer piercing his breast plate and puncturing his heart. I found it strange that such an old fashioned weapon was being used in sixteenth century cold blooded murder, but then a cool chill washed over me. Only one person could have done this.

Before I could talk myself out of it, I extended an arm towards the mutilated corpses and pushed the door open. I entered the Great Hall and, slowly, I met my mother's eyes. She was stood on the raised dais, looking down at the slumped figure at the high table. The dagger in her hand glistened with fresh blood. Despite everything, I was overwhelmed by her beauty. It was hard for anyone to ignore. Her dark auburn hair fell to her waist in effortless waves and her golden eyes, that were framed with long black lashes, shone against her radiant, flawless skin. Her deep purple velvet dress clung to her enviable body and was absent of her latest victims' blood.

She tossed her hair over her shoulder and smirked. “Ah, don't they grow up so fast?”

“Why are you here?” I said, my voice levelled and my face expressionless.

My mother laughed and glided down from the dais. She did not take a step further, and I held my stance.

“I asked you a question.”

“Oh, I am quite aware of that,” she said, no longer laughing but still wearing the smirk. “I am here because I have missed you, Darling. We need to catch up on some much needed mother-daughter time.”

“I will re-word my question,” I said, my voice darkening. “Why did you murder those knights?”

She raised her eyebrows. “What knights?”

“Don't act so stupid,” I laughed, incredulously. “The two knights that were guarding the Great Hall door. Their mutilated bodies have been pinned to the wall.”

“Oh,” she smirked. “Them.”

I shook my head. “You're disgusting.”

“But Darling,” my mother covered the seven yard distance between us in less than a second. She was now so close that I could feel her breath on my face. “You're just like me.”

I took a step away from her. “I'm not like you at all!”

She looked down at me, shaking her head sympathetically. “You are a Changeling,” she took my wrist and traced one long finger down a vein. “Faerie blood runs through you, although it is tainted with that of a mortal.”

I tried to snatch my wrist away from her, but her dainty white hand was deceivingly strong. Her grasp on me tightened.

“But even with mortal blood, you are still destined to be stronger than the majority of my people,” she smiled. “Aren't you lucky to have the Queen as your mother?”

“You are no mother of mine.”

Her golden eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. Her flowing auburn locks danced about her as if there was a breeze. No sooner had the storm arrived, it disappeared. My mother dropped my hand and glided away from me. She stopped and looked over her shoulder.

“Well?” Her smile was different now, it may have been to do with how her eyes sparkled with excitement.

“Well what?”

“Don't you want to say your farewells to your father before you incinerate him?”

My eyes locked down on the slumped man at the high table. I ran past my laughing mother and dropped down to my knees beside him. Frantic, I shook him and screamed for him to wake up. I held two fingers to his wrist and then, with defeat, I let his hand go. I pressed my forehead against his shoulder and waited for the tears to come. When they didn't, I stood up and swung round to face my mother.

“I hate you!”

“Ah, but you were never close to your father, were you? He never paid you any attention and you grew up in your brother's shadow.”

“That's not true!”

“Isn't it?”

I did not have a chance to retort for several knights chose that very moment to barge into the Great Hall, their swords already drawn. My mother shook her hair over her shoulders and smiled sweetly at the masked faces. She tapped her chin as if she was deep in thought.

“Move away from the princess else we will kill you!” One of the knights yelled, leading the others towards us.

My mother smiled as if something struck her as amusing. “I am just having a little talk with my daughter, nothing more.”

“Move away!”

“No,” her smile grew so menacing that a couple of the knights actually shuddered. “I think that you should move.”

With a flick of her wrist, the knights fell to their knees. Screams tore through the room. The knights made the move to remove their helmets, but their fingers sprung away as if the metal had burned them. Then I knew without a doubt that the metal had burned them. They were trapped inside their armour. My mother was boiling them alive.

“Stop this! Stop this now!” I screamed.

“Incinerate your father,” she said, her voice emotionless.

“No! He deserves a burial!”

“Very well,” she said. “These men will suffer long and painful deaths.”

“Please! Please stop!”

“Not until your father is nothing but ashes.”

My body trembled as I lifted the large bowl from the centre of the table. I emptied the pure alcohol over the body that had once belonged to my father. I held my palms before me and ordered them, without actually saying anything, to set alight. Through the never-ending stream of salty tears, I could see the familiar flickers of red and orange and yellow. Closing my eyes and attempting to calm my ragged breathing, I angered the flames.

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