It was raining. Water poured down in buckets, darkening the sky. It was almost as if the sky seemed to know what was taking place within the castle.
Within the castle, in a long, marble hall, the Queen sat on her throne, poised like some majestic bird. She was smiling as she addressed the girl standing before her.
Unlike the Queen, the girl was not smiling. She was cowering, her eyes wide and pleading.
“Please!” the girl begged. “Please. I can find him. Just give me more time. That’s all I need.”
The Queen was unmoved by the girl’s pleas. She shook her head. “I’m afraid not, Samantha. You’ve failed me.”
The girl sobbed plaintively, to no effect. A guard strode forwards. One sword stroke. Blood ran freely, staining the marble floor. The girl’s lifeless body crumpled. The guard dragged it away.
The Queen sighed, as if the blood on the floor was simply an annoyance. She reached up, pulling a golden cord. A bell rung somewhere in the castle.
“Next,” she said simply.
A door opened at the end of the hall. A dark haired girl strode in, coming to kneel in front of the Queen’s throne. She paid little heed to the blood- only pausing to look at it for a moment before continuing.
“My Queen,” she said, bowing her head. “What do you wish of me?”
"Natalia,” the Queen smiled. She seemed to approve of this girl. “My most talented student. I have a task for you. All your predecessors have failed me- I trust you will not do the same?”
The girl’s eyes flashed to the blood, before looking up at the Queen. “I will not.”