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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15. What Lies Within

The Queen stood in the middle of the room and it seemed as if she was protected by an invisible barrier that separated her from the rest of the world. But in particular, it protected her from the murderous advances of Red Riding Hood, who emanated a quiet fury as she aimed her bow at the Queen’s breast and the black heart that beat beneath it. Pip was surprised by his companion’s sudden change- usually so fiery and unrestrained; she kept her composure in the face of the woman whom he most loathed. Pip didn’t hate much but at that very moment he was willing Red to send the arrow through the Queen’s heart and end her life, a life which had caused so much pain to so many. But she didn’t. That was what surprised him most. The fact that she stood there silently and unblinking created an intense atmosphere, more so than usual.

   Her face was drawn and the iciness of her demeanour sent a shiver coursing down his spine. This wasn’t the Red he knew. In her place was a remorseless killer whose eyes hungered for the sight of blood and death and destruction. It was then that he realised how much he hated the Queen. For harming everyone he loved, for trying to kill him, for the way she disposed of her own daughter without even a second thought… but most of all for what she had done to his friend.

   “Hello, children. Back so soon?” she asked. Pip studied her carefully. She looked so much like her daughter, the daughter which she had killed only minutes before this meeting. But where Adelaide’s face was lovely, her mother’s too could be said to be just as fine, if it were not for the death that surrounded her always. She looked hollow and empty, without life and without substance, was it not for a dark heart that pumped the malevolence through her veins. For a woman who wanted eternal life so badly, she looked so, so… dead.

   Neither Red nor Pip bothered dignifying her question with an answer. If wasn’t even really a question. A hush hung over the scene. It startled Pip to hear Red speak, even if her voice had a harsh edge and was as cool as glacier.

“How could you? How could you kill your own daughter?”

It was a question which had crossed Pip’s mind too as he could see no reason why a mother would kill her own child so mercilessly. Ma would certainly never do anything like that. Ma was nothing like the Queen and Pip thanked his lucky stars that she wasn’t. And he hated this vile woman even more (something which he didn’t think could be possible) because as she thought of poor Adelaide, a smirk crossed her face. It was momentary but it was an action Pip would never forget, as long as he lived.

   “A spear through her chest was hardly difficult to arrange.”

“But she was your daughter. How could you just rob someone of life like that?”

“How is it any different from what you came here to do?”

This made Red stop for a moment and think. She had come here to kill the Queen and she was ready to do so whenever she felt like it. Didn’t that say something about her? That she could just take lives at any moment? The Gingerbread Man, the dwarves, countless animals… she maintained that she didn’t kill Cock Robin but she wasn’t really that sure anymore. What type of sick god complex did she have that meant she was comfortable with taking life but never sustaining it? Red’s sense of justice was slightly twisted, her sense of morality unhinged and her perception of right and wrong often blurred into one another without warning but she always did what she thought was fair. And for this horrible woman to die seemed fairer than any of her other kills.

   “You deserve to die,” she spat, her words dripping with venom. “We know you’re the Wolf.”

The Queen smiled a forced expression which did not reach her eyes. However, she appeared genuinely amused. “Oh, you do, do you? I’m not the Wolf. It would be foolish to think that the Wolf is a creature made of flesh and bone.”

Red paused, bemused. “What do you mean you’re not the Wolf? And how can it not be a creature of flesh and bone?”

   “The Wolf, silly girl, is not a living, breathing thing in the general sense. It is a way of thinking and one which we use to control the people of Grimm, as well as all the other kingdoms. You saw the state in which the other kingdoms were; a revolt against the King in Three, the fire which consumed the Sixth… have you noticed what the cause of both were? Weakness. The King of the Third Kingdom was so preoccupied by how he looked that he did not realise how disliked he was until his subjects rose up, decided to siege his castle and renounce his authority. It was because they knew he was weak. The huntsman I sent to the Sixth Kingdom couldn’t even kill a child. His death would have been far quicker if he’d stayed and burned with the rest of them. There is a pattern. I didn’t realise that someone so calculating as you could have missed it.”

   Red protested that she still didn’t understand. What had this got to do with the Wolf? The Queen continued.

“In the Dark Days, the people fought against authority. They wore masks and looted and burned everything, an insult to those who had looked after them and had given them sanctuary. It could not go on. My men found every last person who was most prominent in the struggle and had them killed in front of everyone as a way of saying that if this was to ever to happen again, there would be dire consequences. If I remember correctly, Red Riding Hood, quite a few of your lot bit the dust that day. To put it frankly, you all lit the fire but you weren’t prepared to watch everything burn. So we did it for you.”

   “If the people hadn’t been controlled then this world would have burned to ash by their ignorance. I couldn’t let that happen. Like a phoenix from the carnage and destruction, a new era was born and with it the Wolf. If the people were allowed to think that the authority or failing that the people could have caused so much damage, who’s to say that another uprising wouldn’t occur? The Wolf came as a perfect foil for the bloodshed and also a way of making sure that the people would live in fear of the creature and order would be kept. These people are all animals deep inside, no matter how civilized they pretend to be. If they had the option, they would don the masks again and regress to their natural state of being. This is why an option can never be given.”

   “This brings us to you. You’re probably wondering why I sent you to kill the Wolf if it does not, to all purposes, exist. You see, there has come a time when no matter how strict authority is or how much harm is inflicted, a lapse will occur. The people of Grimm, in particular, are resilient. They can adapt to change, which is a valuable quality. A quality which is often useful. But when change comes in the form of radical thought, like the possibility of overthrowing power, it must be stamped out. Immediately. Hope is capable of doing far more harm than one could possibly fathom. So hope had to be eradicated.”

   “We needed someone with influence throughout Grimm and throughout the underbelly of all the other kingdoms too. It seemed an apt enough role for you, Red Riding Hood. But we knew you’d never agree to it willingly, so there had to be a reason. Then again, we realised that you’d never listen to reason either but we knew that you’d answer to a threat. You pretend that you’re not afraid of anything, Red Riding Hood, but everyone has something. You fear death. You don’t want to die in vain as the rest of your family did. Arranging the murder of Cock Robin wasn’t hard and neither was planting the evidence. It helped that everyone believed you did it as well. Belief is as important as hope, and a girl with your reputation can hardly be underestimated. Secondly, we needed someone the complete opposite. Someone unassuming and quiet with a face that everyone knows and with a name that no-one bothered to learn. An innocent poor boy did just fine and it was luck that brought you to my attention, Pip. I had my pair. You represented the people of Grimm and the people in the other six kingdoms. Then all I had to do was dispose of you both.”

   “It had seemed easy enough before, although when I saw how you disposed of the Child-Eating Witch, Red Riding Hood, I had my doubts as to whether it was to be as simple as I’d first thought. Soon after, you betrayed your companion and abandoned him. Things were looking up. But when you came back and together you unwittingly rallied the people of the Third Kingdom to defy their other major influences. You grew stronger, physically and as a team. After returning and confronting me, you got the better of my huntsman and showed compassion in the death of both the King of the Seventh Kingdom and my daughter. Even though you didn’t realise it, word spread throughout the Kingdoms and your actions ignited the spark of rebellion. Look out the window if you don’t believe me.”

   Red and Pip turned to look out of the single window in the tower and were aghast at what they saw. Thousands of flames flickered in the shadows as it seemed every last person in all of the Seven Kingdoms had gotten together and were marching towards the Imperial Palace. They all wore masks and carried weapons and when it was said that they marched, there was no uniformity about them or order for that matter. They didn’t even walk properly- they were crouched and leapt across the place and as Pip caught a glimpse of a single face by the light of a torch, he realised that these people were behaving like animals. The Queen had been right. Deep within each of them was a savage, untamed animal that screamed to be let out and in that split second he was unable to distinguish the animal from the person. And it scared him.

   As they got nearer and nearer, armed guards emerged, swatting them away like flies. However, they fought back and the swarm of angry people swelled, surging forward and lashing out at the guards to get at the Palace. The sound grew with

screams and shrieks that were so primitive and guttural that Pip had to remind himself that these were people. They were in frenzy and began to lash out at each other, beating the nearest person that they could find without remorse. It was sheer carnage, no two ways about it. The Queen turned to Red and Pip.

   “Do you now see what I meant? They are animals.”

“They’re people, not animals, even if they behave like them,” Red persisted.

“That’s simply not true. I had my daughter killed to prevent this from happening through garnering sympathy for me. I didn’t want her to die. Her death was for the greater good and I was foolish enough to think that these people were human enough to mourn her. Instead, they celebrated the death of my darling child. They sang and danced and clapped as the life left her body. And I can prove what monsters they are, too. Observe.”

   The Queen moved like a shot. She wrapped her delicate arms around Pip’s waist and flung him from the tower to the vicious mob below. As soon as he landed on the ground, the tide kicked and beat and clawed at him, before engulfing him and he was gone from sight. Red knew without having to look that he was dead. She howled and screamed his name, hoping somehow that it would bring him back. But, just as the Queen had said, hope had been eradicated.

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