The Killing of Wolves

Thief and (suspected) murderer Red Riding Hood joins with poor boy Pip on an unexpected journey to kill the Big Bad Wolf. Along the way, they run into a host of fairytale characters and dangerous challenges that they must overcome so Red can have her revenge on the wolf and Pip can go back to the life he used to live. But they uncover more than they thought they would, scandalous secrets straight from the heart of the Royal Family. All of a sudden, they realise the Wolf is not all it seems. Nothing will ever be the same again. Not once the truth is revealed, once and for all...

It's just a draft, so any tips or critisicm would be appreciated. Also, thanks to the Fuzz for making the amazing cover.


7. The Beast and his Beauty

The first thing Pip saw when he woke was Red’s apologetic expression. He was not best pleased to say the least, given that she’d betrayed him, although he hadn’t the attention span to stay angry at her. It was a surprise to him that she’d come back for him at all, but when Pip saw how disgruntled his companion was, he decided not to ask her about her short time on her own. Then he saw the dried blood on her hands and decided that he did not want to know. Pip had been asleep for quite a while, therefore he found it hard to even stand up, let alone carry his fair share of weapons and move at the pace Red was determined they keep up. When he thought his legs would collapse under him, he turned to the hooded girl and pleaded that they could stop. Just for a little while. A little while so that he could rest his feet, a little while to fully clear his head… Just a little while, he assured Red and she gave in.

   However, less than a little while was all he got, for almost as soon as they got comfortable, Red wanted to carry on moving. He thought it was unfair that he couldn’t put his blistered feet up, but the urgency in Red’s voice said more than her words. She didn’t want to be there. Something was wrong. Pip got up and was about to ask what the problem was, before seeing a pair of small feet lying uncovered by a thorn bush that the rest of its body lay under. Then he saw the blood that leaked slowly from the dwarf’s body and decided not to ask. After all, he did not want to know.

   It took a very long time but they managed to reach the Third Kingdom before nightfall, which was what they’d hoped to achieve. It was twilight and the first signs of dusk settled over the place, casting it in a wan, half-light. The romanticised view of the Kingdom that Pip had was suddenly distorted by the swell of noise that drowned out the chirping of the crickets. Sawing and yelling and booming and crashing filled the whole area and seemed to get louder as Red and Pip moved closer to the Kingdom and what they thought might be the cause of the noise. They were right and as soon as everything came into focus they could see townspeople bustling to and fro, carrying weapons and pitchforks and torches which were alight with shimmering flames.

   The pair shared bewildered looks. What on earth was going on? It had been so quiet in the Second Kingdom and the sudden raise in sound startled them. They decided that it was pointless to stand in the middle of all the hullabaloo and if they were to stay for much longer then they might as well find out why everyone and everything were in such a state. If nothing was going to make sense, then they’d have to make sense of it. It was the only logical way, after all. In the far right corner of the town square, Red saw a beleaguered-looking man vigorously pulling the teeth of a saw back and forth over the stump of a large oak tree which lay on its side, having been chopped down already. She hurried over to where he was working. She wanted to know what was going on here so she thought that this might be the best way of finding out this information.

   “Excuse me, sir, but what are you doing?”

He looked up for a moment but dropped his head and continued to pull the saw back and forth, back and forth. Red was caught up in its rhythm, but snapped out of it when the man began to speak.

“Today’s the day. The day we’ve all been waiting for, for such a very long time.”

A chill ran down Pip’s back. Though he didn’t understand what the man meant yet, he could see the hunger hidden behind his eyes. Whatever today was, they really had been waiting a long time for it and now it was here, they were behaving as if it were their first meal in centuries and that they were going to savour every moment. It worried him in a way he couldn’t explain.

   “What do you mean?” Red interjected. “What’s today?”

The man placed his saw down. “Today’s the day we siege the castle.”

He gestured towards the hill at the furthest edge of the Kingdom and towards the looming castle that stood on it. It cast a huge shadow, covering at least half the kingdom but something told Pip that it was not just size which made it so intimidating. Fear seeped from every orifice, every nailed window, every locked door and the sense of suffocation was partly down to the thorns that grew on the outer wall, entwining to create a hand that clawed at the stones and mortar. But Pip wasn’t entirely sure, as he looked closer, if the people were afraid of the castle and its occupants- or if the castle and its occupants were afraid of them.

   “We storm the castle in an hour,” the man said to no-one in particular. Then he walked off with the giant tree stump under his arm as if it weighed nothing at all. Red and Pip both knew each other too well to think that the other would not want to investigate. They raced towards the castle and it was almost as if they could feel the clock ticking away to when the people would siege it. An hour. A lot could be accomplished in an hour, but the question was if an hour would be enough?


They got into the castle in no time. All the doors were locked but they managed to climb up the thorns and break in a window with their now bloodied hands. They tumbled through the window and beams of light splintered the room. It must have been a tower, and over in the corner was a flight of stairs which they quickly hurried down, regardless of how steep they were. It was dark and silvery cobwebs were to be found everywhere. Pip tried to focus on where he was going but it was harder than it first seemed. Each corner revealed another lot of stairs and soon it grew to be almost a never-ending labyrinth. By missing a step, Pip fell down the stairs one by one, bumping and banging into each one painfully. Red called out for him from behind but by then he was hurtling round each corner until, with a massive thud, he found solid ground.

   His head pounded and a bit of blood trickled down the side of his face from a fresh gash. He picked himself up from a pile on the floor, brushed himself off and called to Red to say he was alright. But when he turned round, he had quite a start. Mirrors. Mirrors everywhere. The place was full of them and nothing but. Pip could see dozens of versions of himself, all gawping back at him. He suspected a concussion, but in a flash of scarlet, Red appeared and dozens of doppelgangers of her too were reflected.

“Why so many mirrors?” he asked Red but the best response she could give was a shrug. With unease at first, they slowly began to make their way through the maze of mirrors which surrounded them.

   BANG! Red’s head whipped around. What was that? She was about to pass the noise off as a figment of her imagination, before seeing a figure rush past. It was only a glimpse, really, but she began to run after it with full speed, dodging mirrors everywhere she went. However, running through a hall of mirrors was harder than she thought. Soon, she got lost and could see nothing but herself hundreds of times over. Pip stumbled blindly after her, but she grabbed him and told him to be quiet. She could hear something. Distantly, or so it seemed, someone was moaning in pain. After having spent so much time tracking and hunting in the forest, Red’s hearing was acute. She knew where the sound was coming from.

   Red and Pip reached the centre of the hall of mirrors and stopped abruptly as soon as they saw a figure crouched on the floor, wearing a cloak which might well have been woven out of the night sky. Its shoulders heaved and it gave short, sudden gasps. It was hurt. Pip did not think. He stepped forward and placed a hand on the figure’s arm, trying to console it. It spun round and whacked him in the face and Pip was sent flying into a nearby mirror, shards of which stuck into his body and scattered across the floor. Pip was in agony- all because he was loath to watch someone upset.

   Red did not think either. She grabbed a shard of glass and ran over to the figure from behind, bringing it dangerously close to its throat. She tugged the cloak off his head viciously and was so stunned by what she saw that she dropped the shard of glass and stepped back. It was a bald head, but when it turned a face covered in pock marks, burns and scars was revealed. The man was hideous, with large yellow eyes that wept pus and a face that would make even the most loving mother turn her back on her child. Red had never seen such a repulsive creature in her life.

   She leapt backwards. His face was contorted in anger as he came towards her. Red did not doubt that he could kill her or that he would. She prepared for death. She didn’t want to die. She’d always had a fear of death, one which she’d never admitted but the idea paralysed her. In a sudden movement, she grabbed a shard of glass and held it in front of the face of the monster. It worked. The beast fell back in horror. He tried to scrabble away from it as fast as he could, before realising that it was his reflection. It was the most heartbreaking sight Red had ever laid eyes on, the man’s eyes as he realised that this was the face he had been burdened with. She wanted to cry, but didn’t.

   “Who are you?” she asked. No response.

Then, “I am the King of the Third Kingdom.”

From behind them, Pip had woken up and was rubbing his sore head. When he saw the King, he yelled in terror, which sent the King back into another lapse of woe.

“I wasn’t always like this, you know” The King began. “I used to be the most handsome man all throughout the Seven Kingdoms. But I grew vain. Nobody adored my looks more than I did. I neglected my Kingdom and my subjects and even the girl I was to marry. I left her and she was so distraught that she threw herself from the tower. My darling, darling, Isabelle… I did not deserve her. But I soon got what I deserved. Her mother was a witch. She cursed me to this face and surrounded me with mirrors so everyday I’d be reminded of how hideous I am. She always did have a very twisted sense of humour. Watch this…”

   He turned to the mirror, which stood right in front of him, and began to speak.


Mirror, Mirror, my question’s the same

 When there are bumps in the night, who do they blame?”     


It took a moment for the mirror to process the question but, sure enough, it replied:


T’is you my King and nothing’s more smouldering

Than the scorching flames of your subjects’ sheer loathing


Without an heir, without a Queen

This beast ought never to be seen


For this monster, this creature, with a heart of stone

Will live in the shadows and die alone


Red was disgusted by what the mirror had said. How could it say such beastly things? The King had been wrong, of course he had, but no-one deserved the punishment he’d been sentenced to. Hell hath no fury for a mother scorned, it seemed. From behind them came a massive thud against the locked door and Pip realised that it had long since been an hour. The people had come for the King they hated once and for all. Screams and shouts and yells came from outside as they all did their best possible to break the barrier which separated them from the King they wanted dead. Somehow Pip knew that they would not stop until it had been broken. Red was aghast, he saw. Her face had completely changed from the cold mask he knew so well to a softer expression. She might pretend that she was as tough as nails to the rest of the world, but Pip knew.

   Red was sort of like the King in a way. She had had no way of preventing what happened to her, no way of stopping the Wolf from murdering her family in cold blood. She was still sucking on her thumb when her family was torn limb from limb. Pip knew that she sympathised with the King of the Third Kingdom. She wanted to save him from his fate, even though she knew she couldn’t. Once the people made their way into the castle, there would be nothing anyone could do for the King anymore.

   Pip could hear the King muttering to himself now. He turned to find him on his knees, his hands clasped together and his eyes shut. He was praying. However, instead of the expected “Dear God” or whatever deity it was that the King worshipped, he said another’s name. “Forgive me, my love,” he repeated. “My darling, sweet Belle.” Pip wracked his mind for anyone with that name, remembering the girl who leapt to her death out of love for the man. Pip knew he was sorry. Pip knew he was a good man, really. Pip knew that the way he looked only harboured the beauty that was within. But it didn’t matter what Pip knew. He had no way of communicating what he knew to the baying mob outside. They were the ones in need of convincing.

   “Do you too remember how to get back out the way you came in?” the King asked. They nodded. Pip knew his next words before they came out of his mouth.

“You go back up there and get as far away as possible from this place. I’ll count to one hundred and let them in.”

“You can’t. They’ll kill you!”  Pip argued. But he knew there was no point. They made for the stairs but turned back one last time. The King did not look afraid. Instead, he seemed calm, as if this was what he’d wanted all along. He gave a slight smile to them one last time and then gestured for them to leave. Quickly. They ran up the stairs as fast as they could. As soon as they reached the tower, Pip could hear the doors opening and the mob entering the castle. There was no scream from the King, no sign of distress. Just a sigh, and then… nothing but the yells of triumph from the people. Red and Pip scaled down the side of the castle. Pip examined the shard of glass he’d picked up from the hall. Now he thought about it, the King wasn’t really that hideous at all. He placed the fragment back in his pocket and carried on walking.


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