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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8. Oraca

 

Gradually, the light dispersed and I was surprised to find myself in the middle of town rather than in the forest. I clambered to my feet and stared, my mouth agape, at what was left of the market. Not long ago had I seen, amidst the flaming naphtha lights, various stalls that lined the road, selling hatchets, crockery, meats, greens and furniture. But there wasn't any evidence that people once gathered here to join in with the lively bartering with salesmen.

Stalls had been overturned, many stripped of most of their wood. Rotting fruit and meat soaked into the cobbled road and crockery lay in shatters. There weren't any hatchets.

The smell of rancid meat was overpowering, so I called for fire to come to me. My palms began to flicker. I set alight to a piece of wood and kept it close to ward off the stench.

"Witch!"

My breath caught in my throat. The Queen must have followed me through the Veil! I turned a full circle, but I could not see any faeries. Only a couple of feral looking mortal men, armed with make-shift weapons of sharp metal spikes on planks of wood.

I started to walk towards them, but they flinched. My mother must be in view. I turned my back to the men to look around once more.

"Get her!"

I turned my attention to the men, just in time to avoid being impaled with their weapons. I ran from them, only barely aware that they were shouting for others to come and catch me. Too many incredulous thoughts ran through my mind. My mother hadn't followed me through the Veil. They thought that was a witch! The Princess of Oraca! Not that my notable title did me any good right at that moment.

I darted through the destroyed town, not heading to anywhere in particular. I took a left and went down an alley way, hoping that the witch hunters would carry on going forward.

But I was wrong. 

"Gotcha!" A man, whose face was mostly concealed under his long, greasy hair and scraggly beard, took both of my hands in one of his. "'Av got the wretched witch!"

 

*

 

My fall was cushioned by a bed of straw. Tiny bodies scurried up my legs and arms and with a small, embarrassing scream, I quickly got to my feet. As I kicked my legs out and shook my arms, I heard the bars slam shut and a key being turned in the lock.

“No!” I shrieked. “You can't leave me here!”

I threw myself at the iron bars and reached through to grab the guard's trouser leg. He kicked at me and I fell away from the bars.

“I am Katherine Ravencry!” I yelled. “If my father could see how you were treating his daughter, he would have you hung from the gallows!”

“A necromancer!” The guard cried. “Don't you dare threaten me!”

With that, the guard half ran away from me and went down the dark, damp corridors. Each step echoed. I sighed and leant my head against the cold stone wall. I would be in complete darkness had there not been a building-stone sized gap that acted as ventilation. And a way to decipher morning from night.

I closed my eyes and waited for sleep to get hold of me.

“Katherine,” the voice was so quiet yet it slapped me across the face like a blistery, winter wind.

I turned to face in the direction of where the voice came from. Rusting iron bars separated each cell from another. It took me a few moments to get my eyes to adjust to the darkness, so therefore it took me a few moments to make out that a man was in the adjacent cell, both of his hands grasping the bars.

“Katherine,” the man repeated.

I turned away from him and moved to the furthest wall away from the bars. I was lucky to be in an end cell.

“Don't move any further; I'm not going to hurt you,” the man now sounded exasperated and this time I picked up on his tone of voice. I found myself surprised that he was so well spoken.

I frowned, although I wasn't too sure if he could see my face.

“What do you want?”

“I happen to have heard something... something that I think might be of interest to you,” the man said.

“What could you know that would be of interest to me?” I laughed but it wasn't one of joy. “You're a monster – you've done something bad. You're insane. That's why you're here.”

“So are you – why else would you be here?” His tone darkened.

I felt tears welling in my eyes and a few escaped and snaked down my cheeks. I wiped them away quickly, but I was still mortified.

“I am not a monster,” I whispered. And then that was when reality hit me. I was a monster. I could do things that no full-mortal could. But I had never hurt anyone, well except from during sword practice. I was not a heinous witch.

The man laughed. “Sure you're not. But it doesn't really matter, does it? We are all going to suffer harrowing deaths. We have your father to thank for this.”

“My father is dead,” I hissed.

“Yes, I know,” the man said, as if I had just said the most obvious thing ever. “Of course he is dead because he wasn't, then we would not be in the middle of a civil war.”

“Civil war?”

“Where have you been?” He said, sounding rather irritable. “In another world? Away with the fairies?”

He would never know just how accurate he was.

“Since Prince Caspian was arrested for the murder of the King -”

“My brother was arrested?” I exclaimed. “Is he okay? Is he still here? Or is he...”

“He is not dead,” the man said, and I felt my heart beat slow down. “But he would be better off dead.”

“Don't you dare say tha-”

“I meant that in a nice way. He is not exactly in the best shape, you know,” the man sighed. “He has been kept in solitary confinement, but we have too often heard his screams. It is almost as if we are the ones being tortured.”

“Oh God,” I sobbed and this time I did not care when the tears came.

“But listen, Princess,” the man said. “There is a way in which you can save your brother as well as yourself. Maybe some of the other inmates too.”

I wiped my tears away. “How?”

You are Oraca now.”

“What?”

“You are no longer Princess Katherine Ravencry. You are Oraca. You are our only hope to restore Oraca back to its former ways. It may be too late for Caspian, I am afraid, but you will stand for Oraca and settle the fight between magic and non-magic. It is your destiny to bring peace to our realm.”

“But... how could you possibly know this?”

The man moved away from the bars and sunk deeper into the darkness. “I have my ways.”

“Wait! Come back!”

I dived towards the bars that separated our cells. I called fire to illuminate the dungeon.

And found the cell empty.

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