(An excerpt from a story I will never write.)
A scream rips through the air; a mangled cry of violently churning emotions. The sound echoes in my chest, nearly beating the thunderous thump of my heart, and it takes a moment for me to realise the sound came from my own throat.
“Stop! Stop it!” I cry, thrashing against the unyielding hands of my captors. Ariana tilts her head back at me, a smirk stretching her violet painted lips. Slowly, she withdraws from Malcom, but only just. I freeze, panting, vision blurring as hot tears spill down my cheeks. The ensuing silence only adds to my horror, filled only with my beloved’s wet wheezing breaths.
Flashing pearly fangs, Ariana shifts to the side, extra limbs hanging threateningly at her sides, filling my watery vision with him.
On his knees, a position he should never be in, marred silver armor coated in the cavern’s dust, splattered with crimson from the half-a-dozen guards he’d managed to kill. Strands of his dark grey air hang above his eyes, skewed by the loss of his helmet, the rest plastering against ashen skin. Blood drips steadily from his arm, but that had been caused by the sudden cave-in, before Ariana’s servants had attacked, catching him off guard and weakening us both. As if Ariana or her servants could have laid a hand on Malcom otherwise.
But the worst—the worst is the deep gash that begins at his left shoulder and ends on the right side of his abdomen. Blood—that dark tainted substance tinged the sickening purple he was cursed with— pours from the gaping wound, pooling around his knees, the dull glow of the crystals he’d instructed to be mined only adding to the gruesome scene. Sharp inhuman teeth dig smaller wounds into pale lips, and it’s obvious he’s kept upright only by the hands of Ariana’s men.
A choked whimper falls from my lips, as a hand, large and clawed and so unnaturally cold threatens to crush my heart.
“You don’t disappoint, do you?” Ariana chuckles, reclaiming my attention. Her dark eyes shine, one clawed hand pressed against her mouth. “Such a priceless expression, and only after a single strike!” My eyes narrow, suddenly dried of previous tears. I clench my jaw, just barely swallowing the growl that had begun rising behind my teeth. Of course, Ariana catches the action, her grin widening as she claps her slender hands together. “I didn’t even strike you.” She cheers, head falling to the side. “Course, you do look like something the Dark One spat out.”
I swallow the curses that beg to fall and drop my gaze. I would not give her the satisfaction of my pain. Yes, I had been wounded, the sharp points of pain dotting my limbs and the throbbing in my chest were difficult to ignore, especially the ones still bleeding, but the worst was only a small gash on my dominant arm. What I felt was nothing in comparison to Malcom’s agony. A fact that the startling clarity of his heavy breaths remains sharp in my mind. Blood splatters from his lips every time he coughs, dripping down his chin in rivers.
I can practically feel Ariana’s smirk, her piercing predatory gaze heavy as she turns from Malcom, managing only a few steps in my direction before a voice stops her.
“Leave… her… alone.”
The room freezes. My head whips up, hair falling in front of my eyes as Ariana turns back to her other prisoner, whose crimson eyes flash dangerously before settling on a scorching glare.
“Malcom.” I breathe, catching his eyes, the dark pools briefly washing away my fear and concern, as they always did. Over our soul bond, he tells me everything will be alright. I smile, unable to find the energy to call out his lie.
“Very well then, Lord Malcom.” Ariana sneers, flashing her fangs once more. All at once, she blocks my vision of him again, extra limbs, sharp as blades themselves, rising to point directly at his head. I cry out, a vain attempt to claim Ariana’s attention as I resume my previous thrashing. “I guess you get to die first!”
“No!” I scream, wrenching myself from the guards hold, shoving them back with a strength I didn’t know I had before launching myself at Ariana’s back, knocking us past Malcom and over the edge of the mining platform.
We scream. Ariana’s claws scrapping against my armor as we fall, though its not for long. We hit the bottom level hard, forced apart before tumbling away.
I groan and cough, vision wavering as I force myself to rise, my limbs ache and tremble, but they hold in the end. Ariana screeches, alerting me just in time to raise my arms and keep her from impaling me with a dagger. But that’s all my instincts accomplish as directly after she knees me in the gut, my armor barely managing to keep the edge of her armored boot from stabbing me, failing that, she kicks my legs out from under me. I roll, quickly scrambling to my feet, spinning and falling into a defensive position.
“You know, I think I understand why Malcom was so interested. Your just as weak and pathetic as him. A perfect match really.” She calls, voice echoing in the dark as I swivel my head, unable to locate her. My fists curl, my blood boils. How dare she! She who deserved worse than Hell!
KILL HER. Whispers a voice. The ghost of large clawed hands curl around my shoulders, the sudden foreign presence swirling in my head like smoke, heavy with something ancient and dark. A smirk spreads unbidden across my lips as laughter, dark and sickeningly sweet bubbles in my throat.
My sight flickers, mouth filling with the heady taste of ash and blood. I see a vision of Ariana; dead and broken at my feet, and I want it.
Again, Ariana cackles, racing from the side, swinging her claws just as my hand shoots up, wrapping around and squeezing her wrist. A noise of disbelief and surprise falls from her lips as eyes widen behind her visor, and then, I lash out with unnatural speed, severing one of her extra limbs. Her scream doesn’t make it past her throat as I shove her to the ground, falling with her, holding her down as she writhes.
“Aw. I thought you enjoyed torture!” I hiss, piercing two more of her limbs with her own daggers, drawing out more cries. Agony and terror paint her expression as I force her head to still, savoring the look in her wide eyes. “Well, hopefully you’ll enjoy what happens next. After all, you’ve done it to so many before.”
A click rings as I raise my favored blade, glowing with arcane energy as it hums against my forearm. I sever two more twitching limbs, my laughter rising and falling with her screams.
Suddenly, I rise, grabbing her and chucking her at a nearby wall, nearly tearing off the limbs I’d pinned. The crash echoes in the cavern, metal scrapping against stone as she collapses into a heap, head swaying, limbs scraping at the bloody earth as I advance.
I lunge, blood splashing, coating our armor as I punch and claw at her. Her screams fade, the breath required to voice them lost. Scoffing, I raise my foot, planting it against the shredded remains of the armor and cloth that covered her chest and abdomen, then, with ease I couldn’t have imagined, I rip off her arm.
One last scream, voice cracking from her hoarse throat fills the air, continuing on, echoing deeper into the caverns. Blood pours from the wound, spraying us, some managing to splatter on my cheek. Smiling, I keep her pinned against the wall like an insect, her remaining arm clawing savagely at my drenched boot. Removing my foot, I move swiftly, wrapping a hand around her neck before bashing her head against the stone. She chokes, crimson spilling past her teeth as she claws weakly at my arm.
I laugh again, focused entirely on the wretched woman who had caused me and my loved ones so much trouble. Who had harmed my love…
I lean close, enjoying the way she flinches back. A whimper followed by more blood sounds and I smile, soft and warm like the ones I reserved for friends as I reach down and tear off one of her legs. Blood pours again from her mouth.
“I hope you enjoyed this experience as much as I did.” I whisper. Then, I twist her head, neck giving a sickening snap before I cut it from her body. Stepping back, I let the corpse drop, admiring my dripping prize.
“…Chel.” Calls a voice. I turn, finding Malcom standing only a few feet away, an arm pressed against his sluggishly bleeding chest, the other white-knuckled around the hilt of his sword, the only thing that seemed to be keeping him standing. His eyes, dull with exhaustion, spark in horror as he takes in the scene, returning to mine with an unreadable look I’d never seen before.
I laugh, long and loud and hysterical, barely able to catch my breath as Malcom limps towards me. Ariana’s head falls from my grasp with a terrible squelch. Then, slowly, the laughter turns to sobs, deep horrible shuddering sobs that could drown me if I let them, and I was almost tempted to.
Vision blurring, I fall to my knees, the rotten fire that that kept me going suddenly gone, stealing my own warmth with it. Malcom crashes to his knees, pressing me to his uninjured side as his communicator crackled to life. His voice booms, though I hear none of the words. This time, when the darkness comes crawling, I let it swallow me. Praying this was a nightmare I could wake from.