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Sun Oct 28 2018 21:27:00

The Death of Emillia Thorn - Part Two

Hoewhoew

 

“Bring me Emillia Thorn,” the warden ordered, “and don’t be fooled lads, she really isn’t herself anymore. Don’t let her out of your sights. Take no unnecessary risks.”

Galan and Darek visibly paled upon hearing their new orders and exchanged a nervous glance.

“Emillia Thorn, sir? Are you certain that’s a good idea?” Darek, the senior guard, asked. “Would it not be better to just … let her be? She can’t go anywhere from her cell!”

The warden sighed. He had expected them to refuse his order, or at the very least question him for it. He couldn’t blame them for it either. Emillia Thorn was a special case after all. A royal, a princess, locked up here in the most dangerous prison of Kryta.

“Yes,” he replied, “I am certain. You see, these orders do not come from me. They come directly from the king himself. Her Majesty must die so that he will not have any further opposition during his rule. The people must gather behind him, now more than ever.”

The warden didn’t like to give the men these orders. If it had been up to him, the princess could have remained imprisoned for the remainder of her life.

“Killing your own royals … it just isn’t right,” he thought as he shook his head. “That will be all, Galan, Darek. Just get it done.”

“Yes, sir!” the guards said in unison, saluting their warden and leaving the room.

The two guards continued on through the hallway, their steps echoing through the room. Each step a loud boom in their ears, a rhythmic similar to the beating of a heart.

“Has he gone mad?” Galan asked his fellow guard, “I mean, he .. did just ask us to get Princess Thorn right? It wasn’t something else? Something like “Go and fetch me Vincent’s Horn?” No?”

Darek remained silent and looked straight ahead of him, consumed by his own thoughts.

“Darek? Darek? Are you alright?” Galan asked him.

Slowly the guard turned his head towards Galan, his eyes wide and full of fear. When he parted his lips to answer his partner, only a tiny little squeak escaped.

Galan felt a cold chill spread through his body. This was serious, more so than he had thought. If even Darek was scared, his senior by twenty years, then something was seriously wrong.

Despite their fears and near inability to function, the guards carried on. They were both loyal men. Loyal not only to the crown, but also to their warden. And what would they do? Refuse the order? That would mean insubordination and might just cost them their own heads. No, they carried on, for it had to happen. And neither of them really enjoyed the thought of losing their head. Galan was quite fond of his, actually. Balthazar knows he spends long enough on his hair every morning to want to keep it.

“Darek?” Galan asked again, “What is it exactly that Lady Thorn has done? I mean .. I know some of the rumours but, is she really that evil? Wasn’t she one of the kinder ones?”

Darek sighed.

“Lad,” he said, “the story of Lady Thorn isn’t a light-hearted one. I am not sure you can even call her that anymore.”

“Call her what? Lady Thorn? Well why? She does still hold her titles, doesn’t she?” Galan asked.

“No, not that. Call her a Lady,” Darek replied, “She is … not from this world. Not anymore. You know the rumours, Galan. They call her the ‘Ghoulish Princess’ or the ‘Abhorrent Princess Thorn’. Those names don’t just pop out from nowhere.”

Galan looked troubled after absorbing this new information. He had known about the rumours, of course, but he had always assumed they were just that. Rumours. There to ensure she wouldn’t ascend the throne after they had found her again.

Darek could see the troubled look on Galan’s face. Confusion and troubles would not help them now. With his right arm outstretched he stopped Galan in his tracks.

“Let’s sit down, son,” he said, “I’ll tell you the story of Princess Thorn. It would do you no good going in there unprepared.”

Slowly the guards sat down on a stone bench in the otherwise empty hallway.

“The Princess’ story is a gruesome one, lad. You were right, though, she was one of the kind ones. Actually, she was exceptionally kind. Especially considering she grew up in Castle Thorn.” Darek started.

“She had been surrounded by monsters,” he spat, “that’s what they both were. The Mad King and his son, Edrick. I served under him once. He was not a man you wanted to cross. He had skinned his subjects, burned them, boiled them, skewered, snapped, disembowelled, frozen and catapulted. All for the sake of a good ‘joke’.”

“A joke? He .. he murdered and tortured people for sport?” a horrified Galan asked.

His partner gave him a surprised look. “You mean you didn’t know?” Darek exclaimed in surprise. “Where have you been all these years, lad?”

Galan blushed in embarrassment but didn’t reply.

 “Yes,” Darek continued, “a joke. The Mad King was known to be cruel. He would ‘help’ his subjects but would see it all as one big joke. The Prince hadn’t been much better. Most dare say he was even worse. Prince Edrick has killed his own stepmother, you know? He had nailed her hands to a drake during a game of ‘pin the tail on the drake’. How the Krytan people tolerated them, I have no idea.”

“They had feared them, oh yes. But they had been hopeful for a better future. A brighter future. Once, I had the same hopes. What a fool I have been. We had hoped for a future under Princess Thorn. Ah, she had been brave then. Kind, despite the torture her father brought upon her. She had been cut, raped and stuffed to death and yet she hadn’t given in to the madness.

The senior guard leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes as if thinking back about the past.

“She had been nice, you know. She once even took care of a cut on my arm, when she was but a little girl. She had always protected us from the Mad King, taking the blame for herself.

King Oswald had seen through her ruses, but he had played along. At least for a while. He had seen it all as a game. Rather than punishing the servants responsible, he punished his own daughter too. When a servant would break a vase, they would lose their fingers. Emillia, well, she would be fed a stew to cheer her up. I’ll let you figure out where the finger went.”

Darek heard retching noises from beside him. His fellow guard nearly throwing up from the thought alone.

“That’s far from the worst she has suffered, boy,” he said, “but she had always defended her people. She had always held her head high. She had been our hope, Kryta’s hope.”

“Turns out fate had a different future in mind, “he said, “for then the Mad King sent her away. The next time anyone saw her, she had changed”

 

*****

“Elisa! Don’t scare me like that!” Peter angrily shouted at his sister. “Why would you do that? Why would you jump out of a tree like that and scare me to death?!”

The girl giggled and said “Oh Peter. You are such a wuss. What are you afraid of? There is nothing here!”

Peter’s heart was still racing in his chest. Silently he cursed Elisa. Why would she do something like this? She knew mum and dad didn’t like them to be out after dark. And yet she had gone anyway.

“Why did you leave, El?” he asked, “I thought you had been taken or something!”

“Taken? Why would you think that? Nothing ever happens around her, Pete, nothing! It’s just so boring all the time. I really just wanted to have a bit of fun!” Elisa said.

“Fun? You think this is funny? Just .. leaving like that, making me worry! And scaring me on top of that!” her brother nearly shouted, clearly upset.

“Pete …, “his sister whispered, touching his arm, “I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to frighten you like that. But, you have to admit, it WAS funny right?!”

Peter shook his head in frustration. She just doesn’t get it, does she? He sighed and looked his sister in the eye.

“It’s okay, El. Really, I just .. I was worried. And yes, it IS fun to be outside after dark! Maybe it really isn’t so dangerous after all. Now that I think of it, nothing actually does happen around here.”

“What did I tell you?” his sister replied, “the night is ours, little brother. What do you say, care to play  hide and seek?”

Peter snorted at that. “Little brother?! You are only two minutes older than me, we are twins El!”

“And those two minutes make you younger than me, little one.” Elisa teased. “Now off you go, hide, I’ll find you.”

As Elisa started counting, Peter ran away to hide.

He knew the area by heart, of course. His parents were farmers, and they owned this land. Peter and Elisa helped them out during the day. Still, the full moon helped him navigate the landscape. He passed the barn where the cows were resting, crossed the field of wheat and came up to his favourite spot: the big oak tree.

Peter loved this place. It was far enough away from the house to ignore his parents’ shouts when they called him. That meant he could always linger outside just a little bit longer, pretending he didn’t hear. When he needed to think or calm down, Peter always came back to the tree.

As he neared the tree, however, he could see a dark silhouette leaning against it. Peter froze. He had never seen anyone around here, especially not at night. Standing still he concentrated, trying to distinguish any sounds.

A million thoughts were running through his head, his heart racing once more. “Could it be a centaur? Or perhaps an ettin?” he thought, “it was a rather small creature for either though.”

“SIXTY! I’ll come and find you!” Elisa shouted, making Peter jump.

He could see the small creature stirred and moved closer into the light. Just close enough for him to see it. Or rather, her. She was a young girl with what seemed to be dark hair and dark clothes, or at least something that resembled clothes, holding a teddy bear in her hand.

She hadn’t noticed him yet, however, and Peter remained frozen in place. And then he heard a voice. The voice of a little girl, her whispers carried on the wind of the chilly night.

“Don’t be sad, Emillia.” Peter heard, a chill going through his back, “Why do you cry? Your friends are here, don’t you see? You are not alone. You are never alone”.

Peter suddenly jumped again as a hand touched his arm, another covering his mouth. Terrified he looked around, thinking someone was assaulting him, and found his sister holding him. Elisa held a finger in front of her lips, urging him to remain silent.

The girl started humming and singing to herself, still seemingly oblivious to Peter and Elisa being nearby.

“He’s a rotten man to the core,

Throwing feasts while starving the poor

‘twas a terror in life, to subjects and wives

Beware of the Mad King Thorn

Be afraid of the Mad King Thorn”

Peter and Elisa exchanged a worried look, not quite sure what to do now.

“Who .. who are you talking and singing to?” Peter quietly asked.

The girl immediately stopped singing and slowly turned her head to face the two siblings. Her head tilted just a little and she smiled.

“Can’t you see my friends?” she asked, “Can’t you hear their lovely voices?”

The twins glanced at each other again, clearly confused.

“Dinner? Oh yes! Yes, yes, it has been a while, hasn’t it? The girl whispered to herself, “Tasty? I don’t know.” She said as she observed Peter and Elisa, licking her lips.

“Maybe we can just get a little taste? Yes? I agree. That one!” she said while pointing her finger towards Peter.

Neither of the twins quite understood what was going on, still holding their ground in fear. For that is what they were, afraid. Still, they thought the girl was perhaps lost. And surely a little girl wouldn’t be dangerous?

Elisa opened her mouth to say something, as how they could help. Before she could even get a sound out, however, Emillia had been on her. And all Peter could do was watch. Watch as Emillia was eating his sister, filling herself until full.

“Well then,” Emillia said when done, “what are you waiting for? Oh yes! A game! I like games! Let’s play a game!”. The little girl jumped up and down in excitement, blood dripping from her mouth and down her chin. Elisa’s blood. His sister’s blood.

Somehow Peter broke through of the fear and had run away. Crying. Screaming. Shouting.

Emillia had watched him run away into the night, saddened. A tear rolling down her cheek as she whispered “Oh, but I thought you were my friend.”

 

*****

“The next time Emillia had seen anyone, it had been a dozen city guards who had come to arrest her.” Darek concluded his story.

“That’s .. that’s just .. I have no words for this.” Galan said, pale and trembling after hearing the history of Princess Thorn.

“Yes,” Darek replied, “and now it’s time for it to end. Come on son, let’s go and get her. But keep your distance! She is known to bite.”

The rest of their passage had gone rather quickly. They made it to the dungeons and unlocked Emillia’s holding cell, dragging her outside and up onto the stage. During the entire trip she had been quiet, coming along willingly and without resistance.

Emillia smiled then, standing on the stage in front of the gathered crowd. She smiled and laughed, and with excitement in her voice shouted for all to hear, her final words.

“Ooh, burning? You are going to BURN me?! How delightful! I must say, I do love fire! Oh the warmth, the crackling, the flames …. And the screams!” she exclaimed in delight, her eyes twinkling.

“You really shouldn’t have. You are too kind, too sweet. NO, NOT YOU! SHUT UP!” she shouted.

The guards and crowded looked at her in terror. Her bursts were known to come with extreme violence.

“No, no. Please, continue.” Emillia ordered the guards who were setting up the stake, “We have an audience waiting and the show must go on! I can’t believe I’ll finally be the star!”

“No no no, we won’t take revenge. Why would you suggest that?” she said.

The guards looked confused. Neither of them had said anything.

“Not you!” the Princess said, seeing the confusion written on their faces, “Who I’m talking to? Well the voices, of course! They are always so sweet, so thoughtful. SHUT UP! They are quite the happy bunch, hahaha. Oh, stop it you!”

Everyone gathered was watching her as if she were insane which, admittedly, she was.

“What are you all looking at?” Emillia shouted, “Let the burning commence!”.