Story cover art is here. I just love making collages for these.
If anyone want to send a message, Tumblr : evinaadlene
Again, this is going to be long. If you're up for the ride, dig in...
Klaus hears the faint sound drag along the paved path towards his direction. In a beat, his hand goes to the sword, ready to strike if necessary. The mass of willow leaves swings lazily in the night breeze, mocking the silence in the darkness. He listens.
The footing grows closer along the hard paved ground. There are two of them - he could tell. His nostrils flare up, but he does not risk moving an inch, knowing that they would sense it if he so much as breathe heavy... the undead filth.
The long willow twigs hangs like a green wall around him, sweeping the ground, covering him from sight. So they won't spot him there, under the shadows in an array of thick weeping willows. Not unless he wanted them to. But one could ever be too sure.
He had been careful so far... for almost a week. Hiding in the day and coming out in the night. It had been a challenge, even with his skills as a ranger and a hunter. If not for the potions in his pouch, he wouldn't have lasted a day in this hell bound city. And it is all over if he is caught. Everything will be lost.
Task at his hand had seemed impossible at first. But after long nights of observing, calculating and planning, somehow there seem to be a way. Though, even with all the preparations, it's all nothing but red rotten risk. But it's a risk he has to take for the sake of his people. A leap of faith. An inexorable task that he needs to survive rather than get done. And today is the only day if he's going to make it. The last day, if he's to complete the mission and escape the capital before the guard is tightened for the festive season. By tomorrow he won't be able to roam around the place at night like he had, since he arrived.
He stares up at the clear sky through the swinging willow branches. The crescent moon seem to cautiously watch him back. It's only three weeks until full moon. The time is running out anyway.
The two soldiers walk past his hiding place, unaware of his presence, proving that Alison's brew is working in masking his body scent for them, yet again. His eyes follow them in the dark. Clad in armour, the silver swords in their belts gleam in as they rub in with plated iron with a soft rattle like bells. They wane off along the path, and the sound with them.
The soldiers patrolled the gardens every two turns of his sand clock, which is barely enough for him to make it to the other end, where he could hide behind the hedges and bushes without being spotted. Then he would have to wait for them to disappear again before making his way up along the vines and stone walls in the shade of the trees. And if anyone doesn't look out from the castle windows far across, he would be able to reach the top without a scene and land on the rampart to the balcony without alerting a soul. Least of all the estranged Alpha prince, who would be out there with his maid by now. It seem to be the prince's habit before bed... He had watched him for days, studying his routines, patterns as much as he could from distance. And this is the only possible chance that he would get to place himself closer to the treacherous little thing.
It was strange seeing him after all these years, the prince - to see him grown, even from a distance. The last time he saw him, the prince had only been something of a ten - a child, a cub at his mother's breast. No matter why or how, it is hard to imagine that same beautiful boy turned out to be this sordid creature who betrayed his own kin.
Looking up at the balcony, he notices the lights - confirming that they are there. He breathes a soundless breath. This is going to work. he is going to make it work. He assures himself
Afar, he watches the two soldiers disappear from the edge finally. In the next moment, his motionless body up until now, jumps to action like a strike of light between clouds. There is less to no sound, astonishing speed and agility in the way he crosses the trees, fountains and monuments to the edge of the garden. Arriving right on calculated time, he hides between a stack of bushes and the high stone walls, completely freezing his body of any movement. And he waits, again.
The two soldiers doesn't take long to come back to his sight, strolling down in the same lazy phase as before. Everything seems still other than them two, unless the occasional sizzle of wind that moves the willows. He prays to his ancestors that it will remain the same until the edge of the day. Let him fulfil this one task so his people can restore their dignity back to what it was since decades. Let him have courage to lead them back to the justice and glory that it once was.
Memory of the late Prime, the queen Annilia haunts his mind with flashes of the child prince, again. He shivers... engulfed by the gravity of next coming hour. His heart aches in habit - bringing his nature to yield to the Alpha Prime. But the nature's draw is weak to defend an un-throned, unproven Prime against another Alpha. And he knew it was his chance to overrule the binding their nature had stored upon him.
Absentmindedly he reaches his belt, checking on the two daggers clasped to it. His gloved fingers ghost over the leather sheath they are in. His forefathers will understand why he has to do this, even if they would never forgive him. For the greater good of his people, he would bear their curse like a crown made of thorns, even wear it proudly. He thinks.
Time seem to lapse painfully slow as he watches the two undead disappearing into the again. His agitation catches up, making his nerves shake, yet he pushes his body to stillness for a second longer - controlling his heartbeat to go down. And then, he gets to work again.
With swift moves, he starts climbing up the high wall quietly as he could. The stone is hard and it hadn't rained in days, giving him lesser chance to slip a step. His hardened limbs carries him skyward as he grips the hinges steadily, surely. He doesn't look up - nor down, only focusing on his race with the time. If anyone random spotted him climbing the high chamber, and alerted the soldiers to shoot an arrow to struck him down - so be it. Because there's nothing he could do if that is how it's willed to end. Although, that does not come to pass by the grace of his prayers.
He reaches to the top and hauls himself up, landing his feet on the rampart as quiet as he could with a breath of relief. Not wasting a second more, he starts to crawl along the stony way to the balcony ducked under the wall. Everything feels eerily still and static, which he should be glad about. He hides behind a line of white stone figurines on the edge, sensing the presence of the two he expected afar. The breeze is calm as same as the ground beneath him, minus the soft string music that comes from the opposite end to him overlapping voices. He stills for half a moment, paying attention to everything around, to be sure if he alerted anyone. But nothing comes, other than the slow conversation.
".... until I'm at fault. I have no defence left, Glintal." Tone weary but deep, low as if intentionally weighted down.
"Patience, love. Let it pass. Lords Horan and Rowland assured. Focus on the tune. Let it calm you."
"Easy for you to say..." the deeper voice complains. "I'll have to put up with it."
Voices go silent and the soft tune continues play soothing the night's air.
He peeks out behind a life size statuette for a glimpse of the prince, and his maid. It doesn't take long for him to see them. The lean, tall figure in loose, white, night clothing is unmistakably the prince himself. He could recognise the Alpha even with his back turned to him... he could sense his presence in his bones. As his head start to raise, he takes cover again - hiding in the dark for a moment before he watches them again.
The prince held something to his breast, lolling around to the soft rhythm floating around as his maid knitted. He tries to make sense of pattern to the prince's footing, yet unlike the weeping willows in the garden, the stone sculptures does not let his sight go through for all of the movement. He needed to get closer for it - he knew.
Reaching for his belt for the second time in the hour, he unclips the sheath with the daggers with zero to no sound. Calming his mind effortfully, he grips at the coolness of the metal hilts. There was no time left for thoughts or hesitations. Despite his body's reluctance, he works his legs; moving forward with the lightest steps he could manage - staying under the covers of the stone statues all the while. He doesn't stop until the melodic string tune gets loud enough in his ear. Finally settling down under a sculpture of a bird like creature with four legs and wings, he takes a peek at the two who seem to be completely unaware of the intrusion.
The prince is playing a harp, his back turned towards him. He was no child anymore for sure. He's grown tall as the likes of his kin yet skinnier for a usual build of an Alpha. His hair is long, passing his shoulders, in contrast to the shorter curly hair as a youngster. Hiding in the dark, he watches him play, his long fingers running through strings effortlessly... emitting the very sound that had been filling the air. He seem good at it. But the last thing the Prince should be doing in this cursed realm is trying his skills at music. He's enjoying the luxury and comforts among the malistic Vampires while the rest of his own kind are being slaughtered, enslaved and forced to damnation by his providers. Anger flares his thoughts like hay on fire. Patience... he reminds himself. His anger will be useful only if pointed at the right direction at the right time, which is not further away.
Blinking away the agitation, he waits.
The maid, who is sat on the stony seat and knitting with eyes on the prince, is clearly a beta, he could tell by the scent. And clearly no threat or a match for him... although he doesn't doubt her devotion to the prince. Checking the surroundings, he could see no one else. No soldiers or guards protecting him, doubting no threats. The rampart he came through is empty to the far end. If someone is to enter to the balcony immediately, it would be through the doors of prince's chambers - and the doors are shut.
Carefully he drags the daggers out of the sheath with gloved hand. The blades are wrapped with damp cloths, hiding their poisoned blades. The smell on them hits him... the most hated smell for any Lycan, Alpha, Omega or Beta. He takes a short breath before unwrapping the material - revealing the spiked silver blades.
There is even less time to spare now... because looking up, he sees the prince turning towards his direction already, still playing the instrument at hand. It is just a matter of time that the only other Alpha around would catch the unmissable scent. The prince - the Alpha prime - surely could smell wolfbane this close. And he knew that it won't take long until he's spotted.
Attention clearly fiddled, the melody misses strings as the prince takes slow steps towards the statue-ed corner where he was - and for the first time he sees him up close.
Sculptured features, poised noise and bronze curled locks that framed his face like a mane - the beautiful child he had known long back had grown to be a handsome youth as he had ought to. Reflexion of the late queen in his features are unmistakable. But among all of it, it is his eyes that competes with everything else. The green eyes inherited by his kind- but there is something daunting about them. Something dark and strange.
And now they looked curious, focused and perhaps alarmed.
"Master Harold, what are you doing?" the beta maid nags from behind as the prince strolls towards the corner.
There is no time to hesitate, or think - a momentary miss would blow everything at hand. His heart was beating and his natural instincts all fighting to pledge his loyalty, fealty to the one true Alpha Prime. The lost prince. Yet he knew it is nothing but hollow instinct he needed to overcome for the sake of his kind. He needed to act - now.
"Master Harold.." the maid calls again.
Pulling a one last string that echoes in the air, the prince takes a step forward towards the dark. A one more step, and he'll spot him. This is the last call. Last chance... for his people. To change everything that his people is going through while the prince wines and dines in luxury with the enemy's riches. It is what he deserves for selling his people's fate to calamity. Ignorant apostate who paved the downfall of his own kind.
Without space for any other thoughts, he pushes himself up, already taking aim, clutching the dagger tight while ignoring the sudden, desperate pang in his own heart. He watches the instant as the prince's green eyes widen in shock … astonishment, even perhaps a recognition, as he gains force. Then the next moment, he throws one of the daggers in a one straight move with the speed of light straight ahead.
The dagger hits the prince right in the gut, and his whole body staggers back.
The green eyes look down at his red oozing self in a haze, and then at the one in front of him with a shock of disbelief. They were pain soaked and dark. The maid's scream erupts in the air like a howl of pain, but he steadies himself again - taking aim. The prince's face is frozen in front of him. But he doesn't hesitate this time. With a speed matching the previous throw, he sends the second dagger towards the wounded Alpha prince in a merciless determination.
It hits the prince a little left to the first, knocking him down to his knees, still clutching the harp in his hand with a white knuckled grip.
He could have sworn that there was something other than the shock and pain in the green eyes at that moment - a hint of a relief almost - but it is only for an instance, because the pain seem to consume his fine features. Wolfbane, poison is already working. His own heart and head feels like a wreckage. The Alpha Prime falls face first to the ground, the harp dropped beside him.
He should have left then - leaving the estrange prince laying on the floor bleeding to death, while his maid howled at his feet. But there is one other thing he needed.
Dragging out a long dagger from his back, he steps towards the blood oozing body. Before he reaches the Prince though, the maid springs herself at him screaming out of her lungs.
"No! What have you done!! What have you done you lunatic??!!"
Her cry rings in an uttermost distress, desperate to still protect her Prince. But a Beta is a no match to an Alpha's strength. It just takes a kick from him to get rid of her madness and blind loyalty to the fallen Prince. He must have broken her ribs, because she fails to get up to fight him - continuing to scream with scraping anguish. It was everything to do with the nature of his kind, nothing else, he knew as reached back to get what he needed, amid the screams.
The white cotton shirt the Prince had on is already soaked in thick red, and his skin already seem to pale. He was still alive, fidgeting in pain.
Not waiting for second thoughts he bends down, taking locks of a fist full of hair from the fallen Prince's head with shaking hands. Prince recoils at the contact, yet no fight comes. He easily cuts the fistful off in a haste, letting the head thud back to the ground. His heart hammers inside as his vision comes blurry and moist.
He takes one last look at the rightful Alpha Prime who betrayed them all, laying on the floor about to spend his last breath. Sadness erupts from his heart, and an agitation rakes like knives on skin. Instead of pledging fealty, he had sent the prince to his death. He would have no peace, no forgiveness from his ancestors. He will be forever cursed and damned by betrayal.
Heart heavy with the sound of the Prince's dragging last breaths, he turns away then, with every intention to head to the rampart and crawl down to disappear into nothing. His mission accomplished.
Yet, in the distraction of own emotions, what he does not notice is the tall figure that steps into the balcony from prince's chambers - a soldier clad in black and an armour in silver with the crest of a hilted dagger. It is only as he reaches the wall to get himself off the tower he hears it - the knives speeding towards him like a hawk at its prey.
But by then, it is a moment too late.