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.

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6. The Fearsome Seven

“Where is true love? What is it?”

“It’s a he, stupid!”

“I’m not stupid! Stupid’s back there! Besides, do we just walk into the village and ask if anyone’s seen Mr True Love and pray that someone has?”

“That’s the plan.”

“S’not a very good plan.”

“Have you got any better ideas? No? Shut up, then!”

   Red began to hear these voices while she was hunting just outside the borders of the Third Kingdom. At first, she thought it was her conscience trying to talk to her, telling her to turn back, to go and find Pip and carry on with their quest. But Red had always been remarkably good at ignoring her conscience and this was to be no exception. Anyway, since when did her conscience concern itself with true love and other things that she did not care for? If she was her conscience, then she would be thinking over her abandonment of Pip, of her brutal murder of the child-eating witch, of her likely murder of Cock Robin, which she remembered nothing about… not of some woman called Snow White.

   It was then that the bushes that surrounded her started rustling and making odd noises. She began to worry that either she was going stark raving mad or that this was some game that would be difficult when hunting. Neither of which she had the time for nor neither of which seemed like it could be impossible. It was when a small, disgruntled man tumbled out from amongst the shrubs that she realised that both were possibilities.

   He hadn’t seemed to have noticed her and instead was sitting on the ground, picking the prickles from his skin and cursing like a sailor while he did so. This went on for a while until he’d finally managed to take out the last little spike from his left arm. He looked up to where Red was standing, watching all of this, curious. He leapt to his feet, his face a violent shade of scarlet and advanced on Red Riding Hood, his small fists ready to strike. Her arrow was loaded into her bow before she knew it and aimed squarely at the dwarf’s head, daring him to move even an inch closer.

   He recoiled, scrabbling backwards on the ground. He began to weep, pulling an old, used handkerchief from his pocket and blew his runny nose loudly.

“Please,” he reasoned, “you wouldn’t hurt a helpless dwarf, would you?”

Red felt like she would have, but she felt sorry for the creature and shook her head. He thanked her for her mercy, before knocking her in the back of her head with a nearby tree branch when she turned to walk away.

 

When Red came round, all she could see was the same dwarf with a triumphant grin on his face, bellowing the words “Hi-ho!” through his tiny, cupped hands. She didn’t know what these words meant, but she had a general idea when some other dwarves came from the mist, warbling the same words in response. Her head hurt, like it was about to split apart with the aching roar that rose in a crescendo as the little people came closer. Red tried to get up, but found that she couldn’t for some reason. When she peered down, she was bound to the ground by a number of vines, knotted and woven together by a few skilful fingers.

   Around her, the dwarves formed a semi-circle, taking it in turns to examine Red.

“This is all very well, but I doubt that she’s True Love.”

The dwarf who had spilt the crocodile tears looked unhappy. “And why not?”

 “For a start, she’s a girl. Secondly, I don’t think she’s the person Snow spoke about. Snow White said that Mr True Love was magical and perfect in every single way- this girl is nothing but a scavenger and a murderer.”

“Murderer?”

   “Yep. Murderer,” the second dwarf confirmed. Then, he hobbled over to a tree and ripped off a sheet of paper that had been attached to it. “Don’t you recognise her?”

He held it up for each of them to see. One by one they gazed upon it and gave a gasp. A dwarf whose bald head was covered by a bright yellow cap stood forward to shout the obvious.

“Why, she’s the one who shot Cock Robin! Look, hold it up to her face.”

They did, and with another round of shocked cries it was decided that Red Riding Hood was the killer in question.

“What should we do with her?”

“Let’s leave her here to the beasts of the forest!”

“Let’s take her back to the cottage with us and make her our slave!”

“Lets…”

But before the next dwarf could offer his idea, the oldest and wisest of the seven of them spoke up.

“Why don’t we take her back to the Fifth Kingdom for the reward? Think about all that money- 5,000 gold sovereigns! We’d never have to work again!” She was already tied up; all they needed to do was to take her to the Kingdom and roll around in the riches.

   Red didn’t care. She knew that if they hurt her along the journey or if they did take her to her Kingdom then they wouldn’t be rewarded. They’d be locked up for getting in the way of the quest and Red would be sent right back to where she was. However, she wasn’t too keen on the idea of being bumped along the way by seven irritable little people. So, she decided to do something about it.

   Less than a mile was how far they travelled, which meant that they were hardly out of the forest before Red loosened and freed herself from her bindings. The dwarves did not know this; they laid her on the ground and went to sleep, keeping guard in turn but knowing that Red could not hurt them whilst she was tied up. Which she couldn’t, but- unfortunately for her captors- Red was no longer tied up. If only Pip were here, she thought. Then none of this mess would be happening. There and then, she vowed to go and wake him up in the Second Kingdom so that they could move on with their quest through Grimm and towards where the Wolf lurked. But, first of all, she needed to get out of this situation.

   Untied was a good position to start in, and to be untied with a hoard of weapons and your kidnappers snoring without any defence was an even better one. It would have been so easy to slit all of their throats there and then, but Red decided against it. To have any more blood on her hands was not something she wanted; she turned back in the direction of the Second Kingdom. Or she would have, if one of the dwarves hadn’t wrapped his tiny hands around her ankle and pulled her backwards.

   With a thud, she crashed into the dirt that covered the hard floor. Her jaw shattered and her mouth slowly began to fill with the taste of the iron in her own blood. Without any thought, she turned on the dwarf while clutching a dagger and slashed him across the throat with it. It looked rather like a jagged smile that seeped with scarlet blood, droplets of which fell on to her pale hands. The whole ‘blood on her hands’ metaphor had become far too literal for her liking. She got up and began to leave once more, blood flowing from her own mouth as well as the fatal gash she’d left on the dwarf, whose twitching corpse now lay strewn amongst the leaves that tumbled downwards from the tree which hung over him.

   She thought she’d gotten away with it, but the dwarf had spoken one last “Hi-ho!” while the breath left his body. The rest of them all woke with a start and saw their dead friend; all grabbed their weapons and made a beeline for Red Riding Hood. This wasn’t what she’d wanted, but if this was how it was meant to be then there was nothing else she could do.

   The dwarf in the yellow cap moved forward suddenly, so Red loaded her bow and sent the arrow flying through the air and plunging into his chest. A dark pool of blood blossomed beneath his grimy shirt and he too fell to the ground. Red thought that, with two of their companions dead, the other dwarves would back away but she underestimated the bravery/idiocy of dwarves. Renowned soldiers and mercenaries, dwarves were brash and rarely thought before acting, which was occasionally a good thing but mostly resulted in trouble. Trouble was in the form of Red this time.

   The next dwarf came. She shot another arrow but he dodged it. She was loath to waste any of her precious arrows, so when he came closer she grabbed a tree branch overhead, lifted herself up, wrapped her legs around his neck and then snapped it. He fell limp. The next one paid no heed to the fate of his friend and before Red Riding Hood knew it she was being attacked by three different dwarves. The first one was easy: she shot him with an arrow but while she was doing this the second one came at her from behind. He hit her in the back because he couldn’t reach any higher with a large rock; she turned around, prised it from his fingers and smashed it down on his head. He crumpled.

   The third one wielded a mace but did not know how to use it.  He ended up bludgeoning himself with it, saving Red the effort. Finally, the last one advanced. It was the one who had said that they should take her to the Queen, the wisest one and Red guessed that she would have some hard work in getting rid of him. He climbed up a tree before she could do anything and then she could no longer see him. He was hidden amongst the branches above her head, leaping around disconcertingly.

   Red allowed herself a moment to breathe and collect her thoughts. This did not last long, for as soon as she turned her back she could feel his warm breath on her neck. Without hesitation, she grabbed her knife and thrust it behind her. A muted gasp came from the dwarf as he clutched his wound. His eyes filled with tears and Red couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. But what could she do? He’d tried to kill her- she just killed him before he could. There was nothing wrong in that. But as his last breath left his body and he dropped like a stone, she knew she’d done wrong. She hadn’t wanted it to end this way- but it had.

   She picked up her weapons, pulled her hood over head and made her way back towards the Second Kingdom to fetch Pip, leaving behind her the lingering, dying moans of the dwarves as their blood congealed with the soil.

 

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