A scene I’ve had in my mind for a while, finally written out. I do not yet have a world to place it in, so it is currently a stand alone scenario.
During a ball, an intruder arrives to shed some light on the secrets of the royal guard dog.
Song of Inspiration: Animal I Have Become – Three Days Grace
The clinking of glasses and soft murmur of chatter filled the Great Hall of the palace, the gentle music consistently wafting in and out of the attendees’ ears. Every now and then, a roar of a conversation or a shriek of laughter would pierce the night, but very rarely did things get out of control.
After all, there were images to be maintained at this royal event. Had it been a victory in the War, or perhaps the birth of an heir, the uproar would have been far greater. But on an occasion as simple as the Queen’s birthday, the atmosphere was left to be significantly more tranquil.
Despite the overarching need to maintain appearances, however, it did not prevent many from loosening up on a night like this. The bar lined the right wall of the room, opposite of several tables for nobles and guests to dine, adjacent to the lavishly decorated door and dance floor, along with the shimmering rose gold throne that had resided in the hall for centuries. On the throne sat the equally stunning Queen, not immune to the festivities of the night, with a red flush painting her cheeks as she nursed at her fifth glass of Fearisia wine.
As far from his mother and as close to the door as he could possibly be without leaving the safe embrace of the bar sat her son. He was a handsome man, with well kept black hair standing in stark contrast to his pale skin. He stood tall and proud, if a little haughty at times, throwing back drink after drink to match several of his friends that were crowding him.
It was a good night, the lone woman thought as she watched her childhood friend throw away his Princely duties for the night. She looked very similar to said man, with pale skin and flowing black locks, and had she a drop of royal blood in her veins she could have easily been mistaken for a relative of his, especially considering the amount of time she spent within the castle walls. Unfortunately, the girl stood at a rank barely higher than that of a servants’, that rank being one of a Companion. She was meant to defend, to entertain, and to be practically the equivalent of a pet.
It was demeaning, yes, but it put food on her table. And for that she had no complaints.
Besides, she thought to herself, she got along very well with the Prince. Were it not for the class difference, she would even be comfortable referring to them as friends in public.
Maybe that would be the next war to fight, she pondered. Many were quite content with the social systems in place around the kingdom. But happiness does not last long, especially not when it comes to inequality. Be it between class, religion, kingdom or race…someone will always disturb the peace.
It wasn’t too long before the woman realized that she may have been thinking on the matter too hard. Wishful thinking, for that matter.
As the crescendo of the music peaked, the Great Hall’s doors swung open with a bang and a flourish.
The music cut off. She really wished that it hadn’t. It offered her a nice distraction to the flurry of emotions constantly raging within her mind.
The intruders strode forward, the majority of them in a unified march, before they stood as a mass of silver uniforms and black and silver masks that completely obscured their faces. The men and women within the sea of silver were completely unidentifiable, appearing as mere objects, weapons at the hands of the attacker.
The attacker in question was a man who had donned a magnificent black cloak with silver embellishments. His skin was different to the eyes of the nobles, who were now speaking in hushed and worried tones. It was pure white, whiter than the Prince’s himself, with his veins standing out as a stark black against them, forming distinguished patterns that drew in the eye. Where the whites of his eyes should have been were replaced with the same blood red as his iris’, highlighting the pupils as they darted around, taking in the room. The man’s hair was a soft brown, shimmering in an interesting way against the fairy lights that decorated the palace.
He would have been handsome, she thought sadly, had it not been for the toothy, sadistic smile that split his face in two.
“Good evening, one and all!” He cried charismatically, extending his arms out in a mock of warm invitation. His voice was deep, with a strange twang that was difficult to place, warped from many years of living in different lands. “I truly hope I do not put a damper on your fun. I’m simply here to have word with the Queen. She’s been ignoring our messages, you see.”
The Queen raised her chin haughtily, peering down her nose with sharp emerald eyes to observe the man in question. Her voice carried stronger than his as she replied.
“I seem to recall responding, you see. My answer was no. You’ll find that my answer, still, was no.”
The Companion had already moved to a guard that was in the corner of the room, nodding towards the guests.
“We need to get them out of here.”
The guard nodded in agreement, ushering to several others to make their way to the disturbed citizens without causing too much commotion.
The intruder, meanwhile, let out a throaty laugh.
“No, my lady, you misunderstood the messages. Perhaps there was an error in translation. Either way, our request was hardly a request at all, but rather, a demand.”
“You dare to demand the leader of your ally kingdom?”
The Queen’s voice remained calm and steady, however it was colder than ice, and sharper than the freshest of blades. She was not content, and this would not go well.
The guards had already managed to begin shepherding guests out of one of the secret passageways out of the Hall, preparing to evacuate them to the forest outside of the establishment. The intruder seemed to pay no mind to this, taking casual steps forward as he continued to address the Queen.
“I do. And as a matter of fact, I don’t see that you’re in any place to deny me at this point.”
The Queen bristled ever so slightly, a move that might have been missed by an untrained eye.
“And pray tell why that is?”
The hall was emptying more and more as time went on, and the tension in the room grew higher and higher.
“Because it no longer concerns you. This is a matter between myself, and your son’s trustworthy little pet.”
It was the Prince’s turn to step forward defensively, his hand twitching behind his back. His Companion watched as her friend struggled to keep himself from summoning his weapon.
“What do you want with her?”
The few remaining guests that had yet to be escorted out shifted uncomfortably at the deep growl that emanated from the man.
He was not happy. And the Prince was dangerous when he was not happy.
But nowhere near as dangerous the Companion.
“No, no,” the woman finally spoke up, her soft, calm voice ringing around the Hall. “I think I have a fair idea.”
The intruder’s smile grew exponentially, taking in the petite woman, cloaked in a floor length, monochrome gown that flowed from white down to black. She sighed as she threw her gaze up and down the length of the man, a faint smile crossing her face.
“My little dove, it’s so good to see you again.”
The Companion kept herself from shuddering from the way his voice changed. It was deeper, more demonic when he addressed her. It was familiar in the most unpleasant way she could imagine.
The Prince’s gaze flashed between the pair, standing off against each other, one with an army behind them, and the other with nothing but air.
It seemed as though the guards realized that same fact, as the few that were left began to scramble to stand in position behind her. As they neared however, she held up her hand, turning to the men behind her.
“Go. Ensure the safety of the guests and be with your families.”
Her voice held enough command within it that the men scurried away without another protest. With that, she turned slowly to face the demonic Akillun, who was grinning sadistically between her and the Prince.
“Don’t tell me?” The man chuckled darkly at the Prince. “This woman has done nothing but protect you her whole life…and you have no idea?”
“Akillun…” The Companion warned softly.
“You’ve really hidden who you are so well?”
“Her past does not matter,” The Queen’s voice rang, but he quickly snapped over it.
“It does.” He began to take slow strides towards the woman before her, his voice growing stronger. “With the world on the brink of war, our roots are all we have.”
“We have our loyalty,” the Companion countered, to which he snorted.
“A false concept. At the very least, in your case. Because I’m here for you with a proposition, considering that the Queen wouldn’t quietly hand you over.”
“And what is this proposition?”
He extended a hand in a show of goodwill. “You come home, and you fight with us. Do this, and you live. Refuse, and we kill you along with your…owners. How does that sound, dog?”
The woman snorted. “Try again.”
He cocked his head. “You would refuse your fiancée?”
“Fiancée?” The Prince’s question was ignored.
“Didn’t get the memo? That arrangement fell through, sweetheart.” The Companion’s voice was now fully scathing.
“It doesn’t have to be,” he breathed deeply. “You have one more chance. Remember who you are…what you are.”
The Companion remained silent, standing calmly yet defensively.
A mockingly sad look crossed over the demon man’s face as he sighed. “I’m truly sorry to hear that, dove. I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to watch this.” He turned back to walk towards the doors, parting his army as though he were parting the Red Seas. As he passed, the men closed again, creating a wall between the pair.
“You know what to do,” the demon called nonchalantly, and within seconds the men began to converge upon both the Prince and the Companion.
“Ravyn?” The Prince questioned the Companion, his stance defensive, fists clenched in preparation. “What is this?”
“Stand down, James,” she called softly. “This is for me to worry about, not you. You should leave.”
“Not until I know what the hell is going on,” he responded firmly.
In that moment, four of the faceless men chose to lung for the Prince. He mentally hit himself, somehow assuming that they would wait for him to make the first move. As such, by the time he let his silver and white scythe materialize within his grasp, he should have been impaled onto a standard, military issued rapier.
Instead, he found himself looking at what appeared to be a puddle of black ink where the four men had previously stood. The young man grinned slightly, having seen this before; it was practically the Companion’s signature when she went into battle with him. He never questioned the ability, merely assuming that she was the daughter of an unnamed witch within the kingdom.
His gaze shot up to Ravyn, who was standing as calmly as before, with her left arm outstretched in his direction. Her eyes were an onyx colour, whites and iris’ alike. The prince’s grin grew wider. He wasn’t sure why he had doubted his childhood friend. Clearly she had this covered. Clearly she was the same woman as before.
His suspicions eased, he allowed his scythe to dematerialize, relaxing his stance. This action alone caused several of the nobles in the room to become confused, if they weren’t already shocked by the Companion’s abilities. What shocked them more, however, was when the Prince casually walked back to the bar, grabbing two fresh glasses and pouring a sizeable amount of Fochmoar rum into each. He grabbed one and sat on a stool, looking out at his longtime friend with amusement clear in his eyes.
“Care to give me the order?” The woman questioned, her voice thick with both amusement and hostility.
He tilted his head, swirling the dark liquid in it’s crystal glass, before smirking up at Ravyn.
“Have your way with them.”
A grin split across her face, finally marring it from its typically calm, unchanged state.
The Companion took a step forward, her arms held ever so slightly away from her sides as pools of the black substance she controlled began to form at her feet.
The men, who were standing in a mixture of confusion and fear, were unsure of whether they should attack or not.
Ravyn chuckled, before raising her voice as though to address the entire Hall. “You know, Akillun, next time you try to use a neighbouring army to get to me, you may want to try avoiding the humans. They tend to get a little thrown off by magic. Just a tip.”
The soldiers bristled at that, and as though on cue the front line of them jumped forward, a mixture of swords, rapiers, guns, and axe’s at the ready.
It was as pathetic of a match as a herd of ants against one determined human.
Out of a line of roughly twenty men, the outside five on each side had spears of the black substance impaled throughout their chests. As soon as the substance began to liquify and seep back to the floor, the corpses converted and merged with them. Ravyn, with simple arm motions, summoned the substance back to her before sending it to wrap around the outside 4 on each side, suffocating each slowly. One of the men, traumatized, began to back away slowly, to which she responded with wrapping a tendril of the darkness around his foot, tripping him.
The remaining man, in a valid attempt, managed to spear her directly through the chest, an action of which brought a gasp through the lips of the nobles, witnessing what they thought was the final blow to their protector.
But Ravyn only grinned darkly, taking a step forward and impaling herself further upon the blade, much to the soldier’s horror.
“It’s a shame you’re wearing a helmet,” she spoke lightly, conversationally, as though discussing her preference for dinner that night. “I do enjoy watching the fear in people’s eyes when they watch this. The confusion as they try to determine how to kill me. The fear when they realize that they’re fighting someone who cannot die.” She pouted slightly, her eyes flickering back and forth between where the soldier’s eyes should have been, covered by the mask.
She quickly shrugged, reaching forward to hold the man’s head between her heads, and giving it a sharp snap to the left.
As he collapsed, he dissolved like the rest, and very slowly Ravyn pulled the blade from her chest. When it dramatically clattered to the floor, the gaping hole in her chest was completely healed over, leaving a tattered dress in its place.
She tutted. “I quite liked this outfit.”
The men should have realized they stood no chance, and yet in an act of defiance, or perhaps stupidity, the second line of men jumped forward.
Ravyn began to stop wasting time, dissolving each and every man that stepped before her without even the pretence of killing them in a different way.
It wasn’t until the gunmen stepped forward that she was forced to step things up a bit.
The Prince was unsure if she reacted poorly due to the pain she felt from the bullets, or in attempt to save the remains of her dress, but regardless, from the moment the bullets began to fire, she wrapped herself in a sort of cocoon of the black substance. The cocoon acted as a shield, absorbing each shot that was fired so as to not let them ricochet on the guests.
Despite the barrier, however, her resigned voice carried just as strong as before.
“You deserve an explanation, James.”
The Prince jumped slightly. What was this about?
“Akillun…he wasn’t lying. I was set to be his wife, most likely before I was even born.”
James tensed up at that. “That’s not possible. He’s a demon. Demon kind don’t marry outside of their own species.”
Ravyn gave a sad laugh. “You’re not wrong.”
The cocoon seemed to pull back, and James, along with the rest of the room, could only stare.
“He never intended to kill me, or you, or anyone here. He just needed me to expose myself, to start a spark of distrust. Why, I don’t know. But I intend to find out.” Ravyn was silent for a moment, before addressing the opposing soldiers. “I apologize for your final fight being in vain.”
No one dared to say a word.
Standing where Ravyn once was was a humanoid...creature. She had similar skin to the demon before – pale white with dark veins that stood out like a sore thumb. Her eyes were still completely black, accompanied with shining dark horns that had sprouted from her head, curling inwards, and shining, reptilian black wings that were so thin that they appeared almost skeletal.
In shock, one of the gunmen began firing once more. The demon only deflected them with her right wing, before shooting the men a glance. With a raise of her hand, the darkness shot out of her again, forming tiny diamonds that floated directly before the eyes of each and every man, hanging there threateningly.
Several of them gulped. None of them dared to move.
With a sigh, Ravyn walked forward to the bar. Many of the remaining nobles scurried away, but the Prince stood his ground, staring fearfully at his once-friend.
She reached forward for the drink that he had poured at the beginning, and with a start James realized that her fingers were now strange claws that clinked loudly against the crystal.
The Companion scoffed at the Prince’s long lasting silence and gaping mouth, hiding the hurt that she felt at the pure fear and distrust that remained in his eyes. And with a sad smile, she returned to her previous form, shaking her head, and downing her drink.
“Over twenty years of companionship…erased because of what I am?” She gave a bitter laugh. “Maybe Akillun was right.”
As the last word left her lips, she flicked her wrist, and the shards of shimmering darkness impaled themselves into the skulls of the remaining soldiers.
They all fell, conforming into the strange black goo, before it slithered on the floor like a snake returning to its Master. The darkness seeped into Ravyn’s skin and she breathed, appreciating the return of her full power.
Without another word, she turned around, her heels clicking painfully loud against the unscathed floors of the Hall.
No one in the room dared to speak.
No one dared to move.
There was a monster in their presence.
With another short, bitter laugh, Ravyn turned around to face the remaining, traumatized nobles, the terrified Prince, and the sad, remorseful Queen.
“Carry on,” she addressed the nobles nonchalantly. “Don’t tell me a simple spat is going to stop you. There’s still plenty of fun to be had tonight.”
Once I’m gone, she added in her head.
And with her final words, she disappeared into the night, unsure if she would ever see her friend again. Unsure of what to do. Unsure of where to go.
She snorted to herself. She really was the Royal Guard Dog, wasn’t she? Useless without a command.
The Ex-Companion shook her head, and with a final glance back at the castle, she allowed her wings to reform and carry her home, regardless of who may see her.
It wasn’t like it mattered anymore, anyway.
Her secret was out, and there was no going back.
Only moving forward.