Battle may never end, for there chaos thrives;
And only in chaos can we live our lives.

After Snow takes the Assassin's curse, she leaves to rebuild the Four Kingdoms. But she finds the Beast impossible to control and will do anything to get rid of it and spare her kingdom carnage. Enter Rumplestiltskin, one of seven equally enigmatic and long-named dwarves. Their requirement for breaking the curse? Snow must live with them for a year. She leaves a serving girl in her place, who must lie to--and fall for--an unwitting Huntsman.

But curses can never be broken. Evil can never be killed. And Snow can never stop fighting.


1. Chapter 1

Battle may never end, for there chaos thrives; 
And only in chaos can we live our lives. 

The Assassin stood over me, face shocked. A hundred thoughts must've been coursing through his mind, not unlike the thousands of voices coursing through my own. 

The princess Belle was on the floor behind him, looking ragged and confused. She was still grasping his hand, blood and dirt covering every surface of the poor girl. 

Also on the floor was the Huntsman, surrounded by water and blood. When Malif died, the icicles suspending him in the air had melted. 

Which only left Malif. The Queen was at my other side, bloody and battered. I'd been able to see her every move before it came. Hear her thoughts, plans and memories. And I had so wanted her blood. 


That voice, the one I remembered the Assassin talking about, was screaming in my head. Enraged that I didn't kill everyone present, confused at the constant switching of hosts. Hungry. 

"He... he isn't going to shut up, is he?" I gave the Assassin a grim smile, feeling suddenly light-headed. 

Then the world went dark, and I joined the bodies on the floor. 

Even in the darkness of unconsciousness they weren't silent. In a way, I was conscious; while I couldn't interact with the world, my mind was a flurry of voices and thoughts. None of it could be made out. During the fight they had painted a perfect image of the world around me. But now they were no more than a muddle of gibberish. 

I came to in a dim room that was warmly lit by two fireplaces, an extravagance even in a castle. The Huntsman was lying beside me, and Belle and the Assassin were across the room in each others arms. 

Part of me wanted to smile. I was a sucker for stories with a happy ending. But the rest of me was far from happy. 

After all. You had to love someone to take their curse. 

"Which," said the bloodiest voice. "Is why you'll be stuck with me for an eternity, won't you?" 

He didn't seem to be upset. I was a strong fighter, nearly on par with his last host. I didn't have Malif's abilities, but I'd managed to defeat her in spite of that. I would nearly be insulted if the beast did complain. 

I stood slowly, stretching and testing every muscle for fatigue or pain. I felt nothing. 

The same would not be said of the Huntsman when he awoke. 

The Huntsman had been tended to well. But there was no doubt a gaping hole in his gut that would take weeks, if not months, to heal. Assuming he woke in the first place. 

"Queen Snow?" 

It was one voice out of thousands, but something about it was a little more grounded to earth. I looked up to see Belle watching me. 

Her emotions weren't on display, but the voices made certain I knew exactly what she was feeling. Belle was worried about the fact that I had taken the curse from the Assassin; it was evident that she knew how curses worked. She was concerned about how I felt, emotionally and physically speaking. She was even intimidated about what a famed warrior queen would think of a girl who'd given up everything - even the throne- for love. 

It was also worth noting that the princess referred to him as "my beast." 

"Belle," I said politely after being informed that she wasn't fond of being called Princess. "I don't seem to have sustained any injuries, so I think it would be best if I left to reclaim my kingdom." 

The Assassin stood up. "Oh no you don't. I know what's going on inside your head. You can't just run off immediately." 

I couldn't help but feel disappointed when his voice didn't stop the voices. If he loved me, it would have. 

"I know how the curse works." 

"You have him under complete control?" asked the Assassin. There was a hint of incredulity in his voice, though he tried to mask it with concern. 

Silly boy, I thought. You should know you can't hide much right now. 

"I think the only person who didn't was you," Belle said. 

There were chuckles among the voices. The Assassin had failed to mention that they were more like personalities. 

But the Assassin didn't seem to find it so amusing. his face had gone paler than it already was after spending too many years under a hood. 

If he'd been stronger, I thought. He could have controlled the beast's like Belle and I did. He could have avoided killing so many people. At least, I thought that I had thought it; the voices had begun melding into my own. I couldn't keep them straight. Some moments they were straight-forward and clear, and others they were choppy and unintelligible. 

It must have been an even more terrible burden on the Assassin than he let on. 

Each person in this room had enough burdens. 

I turned from the happy couple to inspect the Huntsman again. 

If any of you know some long-lost art of healing, it would be a wonderful thing to tell me. I really don't need to know what the guards from the third and fourth floors are doing. 

"I am a warrior. A killer. A beast of blood, like you. Leave the healing to the princess," snarled the Beast. 

I pictured myself standing on the creature's throat, heel at it's jugular. Subjugated and under my control. 

"Actually, you're going to heal this man," I replied. It was out loud, but I doubted anyone present would be too concerned. 

"I may not control you yet, but know this. You will never, ever control me." 

My hair stood up on end and icy water trickled down my spine. Pure evil was ringing in my ears. He was completely in control of me. Just for a split second. And if he wasn't truly in that moment, then he would very, very soon. 

"They don't work like that," said the Assassin, a note of bitterness evident. 

"Some voices seem kind," said Belle. "But their ringleader is not." 

I stood, eyes still fixed on the Huntsman, covered in a cold sweat. "I have to go." 

"To take back the kingdom? With the Beast in your head?" 

"No, on a journey of self discovery," I snapped. "Yes to take back the kingdom. All four." 

"You couldn't possibly," the Assassin said. 

"You couldn't possibly," I said, alarm giving way to temper. "But you-" I pointed at the Assassin. "-are a rogue of the night, and you-" I pointed at Belle. "-are a sheltered princess. I am a queen, a soldier, and a martyr. I am armed with as near as a mortal can get to omniscience, and I'm sure as hell going to use it." 

I strode across the room and opened the door to the corridor. 

"Send me a message if he lives. I'll want to speak with him." 

I left the room, their whispered words loud in my ears. 

"Can she truly do it?"

"Yes she can. She can also hear us, if she's as in control as she says. And in any case..." He trailed off for a moment, rubbing his chin. "It's not our concern anymore." 

"Tearian is. Well, it's my concern," Belle said. She didn't want it to be, I knew that much. But I honestly didn't feel like eavesdropping on them. The girl was so innocent, and the Assassin... best left alone. 

I had other affairs to meddle in. 

I strode through the castle, gathering equipment and men as I went. 

"He's honest but afraid a wife and children, he's experienced but disloyal, he's young but stout of mind, she's not actually a man but a good fighter, he's a criminal, he used to serve your father," the voices chattered. 

"You. Come with me. Not you. You. You. You, go stab yourself," I said as I went along. They were confused, but the ones I had ordered to come obliged. 

By the time I was in the courtyard, I had gathered a minuscule force and several spears, as well as bits and pieces of armor. Hardly enough for a conquest, but certainly enough to go home. 

Home. Home was the White Kingdom, or what was left of it. Home was the castle where I grew up, where I had been a child for a few years. But home was also riddled with lies, with scandal, with blood. 

Home was also the battlefield. Straight-forward in it's chaos, honest in its decimation. Deceptive, perhaps, in its glory. But that that is the truth of glory, not battle. Battle is a level playing field. One's worth is determined by their actions, decisions and preparation- nothing else. One is running on pure energy, the frenzy coursing through their veins. 

Yet battle is not just riddled with, but infested with death, with blood. Disease and hatred. What other reason is there for it? What other reason is there for a warrior? 

To lead. Both from a tent and in front of a charge, both in war and form a throne. Actions, decisions- these are what prove my worth. What I had to do right for my sake, and the sake of countless people in the four kingdoms. 

"And you have a debt to pay," I murmured to the Beast. "For every life you've destroyed, two you'll rebuild." 

The Beast snarled. 

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