Belle

Maybe the place you feel safest is the place you should feel most afraid...

    Prologue

    A heavy creak escaped the giant doors as they opened for him as he strode fearlessly into the candle lit chamber, through the shadows and into the centre of the room. He stopped to face his master, his head held high. A triumphant smile gradually made its way across his lips.

    The boy was the only one who could get away with entering in such a way. Any other man would be punished for his arrogance in the presence of such a master. But the boy wasn’t just another... he was a loyal friend. He had a good reason to appear slightly cocky.

  “What have you brought me?” The Elder lifted his chin, mirroring the boy’s confident expression, knowing full well what had been achieved. His white beard shimmered in the candle light.

  “A girl, my lord.” The boy bowed his head a little and watched as the old man’s smile widened into a disturbing grin. He tipped his head back and moaned, “Yes... You have done well, yet again, Anessen.” He gestured to a guard stood at the “at-ease” position just behind the boy at the side of door. “Take her to the tower.”

    The order was cliche, but there was cause for men to fear it. The guard replied, “Yes, my lord,” and swiftly made his way through the doors and around the corner to collect the girl. As the doors opened, Anessen turned to see, still smiling, proud. But it faded...Only her hand was in view; stretched out and open, in need of someone to hold it.

     The hunter felt a knot tie in the pit of his stomach. Was it guilt? He dismissed the idea immediately. He could not afford to feel such an emotion in his profession – he would be killed, himself. He turned back to The Elder as he began to speak, and the doors closed behind him.

    “I appreciate everything you have done for me. You are the only member of the Court that I can fully trust in these circumstances. And that is why I am giving you the task of doing it.”

     “I’m sorry, my lord. Do what?” Anessen frowned, a little worried at the choice of the man’s words; “Task of doing it.”

     “My dear boy, you have forgotten what the final aim of all this is?” The Elder chuckled at the idea and straightened in his wooden throne. “You will hunt The Court Princess. The Final Faerie. Address her how you like.” His expression was grave and serious, now. The order sent shivers down the boy’s spine. His eyes widened.

     “My lord, you can’t possibly think I could carry out such a task successfully, surely. I-I am not capab-”

     “Nonsense.” The Elder’s gaze did not shift from the eyes of the hunter. His jaw uncomfortably shifted in his skin. “You are to do it.”

     “I won't!” The boy’s outburst echoed through the room and there was silence. He gulped, afraid of his master’s reaction, but spoke. “I have done what you have asked; I have brought you the girl that's stood in your way for years. Is that not enough? I am tired, my lord. You assured me this would be my last kill. You must understand." His master’s hands tensed and gripped the chair arms, nails digging into the wood...

    He arose at such a speed, Anessen barely had time to breathe. As his shirt was pulled forward, he did; just one breath... and he held it. His master whispered bitterly into his face. “How dare you speak to me in such a way! I am not a buffoon, Anessen. You will do it, damn you! I’ve trusted you... and you will not fail me now. Understood?”

     The boy blinked. “Yes, my lord...” With that, he was thrown backward violently. He hit the doors hard. His master faced away and wiped his brow. "Get out.” He said quietly. “Just get it done.”

     Anessen closed his eyes. He did not wish to kill again, but f he did not carry out this task, it would be the end of him. It should've been an honour, but there were other things involved...He struggled to let the words, “Yes, my lord. Farewell,” escape his mouth.

    He fled from the chamber without another word.

The End

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