“Good morning, Father,” Madeleine trilled, taking a seat opposite the king. “Did you sleep well last night?”
“Ah, good morning my dear,” her father answered, looking up from his breakfast. “I slept fine, how about you?”
“Well enough,” she said, sneaking a look at Mina, who stood looking out the large windows along one wall. Her ever-present guard, and the only other one who knew the truth. “Although I had the strangest dream at some point. Why, I dreamt an assassin had infiltrated the castle, and made it all the way to my chambers in an attempt on my life, even past the dutiful Mina!” She caught her guard’s eye, but was unable to read the look she was given.
“An assassin, you say!” her father cried, dropping his utensils. “And you’re sure this was nothing but a dream?”
“As sure as I am sitting here now,” Madeleine lied, “for you see, the assassin wasn’t even human! …Why do you ask?”
“Well, it’s just that one of the castle guards was found dead this morning,” her father said, sounding almost relieved. Madeleine and Mina shared a look, already knowing the perpetrator. And her location. “Down by the docks. Some rather gruesome wounds to the neck, I’m told.”
“I’m… very sorry to hear that,” the princess said. She was careful to keep her emotions guarded in her father’s presence, but she and Mina would have to talk about their prisoner later. “Perhaps we should increase patrols and whatnot anyway, just to be certain then.”
I didn’t get the luxury of sleep when the sun started to rise the following morning, I needed to make sure the sun wouldn’t disintegrate me at some point during the day. So far no direct sunlight has come into my cell, but there are a few hours left yet before sunset.
But at least I was able to use the time to brainstorm escape plans.
Which is why when I hear the door to the dungeon screech open, I shift back to a bat and flutter up to the ceiling. My feet latch into porous stones in a corner by the door and my tiny furry body hangs upside down, watching intently as heels click ever-closer, accompanied by the clink of plate-mail.
“... but what’s the point of doubling guards and increasing patrols when you and I already know who’s responsible?” a voice carries over to me, although it sounds different now that it’s no longer muffled by a helmet.
“It’s not about catching who did it, Mina, it’s about improving the guards’ morale onduty,” the princess explains, “a pair of guards is much less likely to be attacked than a single guard, and even then we don’t know… Mina, where is she?” The princess hurries over to my cell and peers through the bars, scanning for a human girl.
Not a bat.
“I don’t understand! How could she escape?? The cell’s fucking enchanted!” she cries, fishing a key from the folds of her dress. Thaaat’s it, princess. Open the door, break the seal. Let. Me. OUT. I can barely contain my glee when she eventually wrests the door open, but she doesn’t step inside like I’d hoped she might. Oh well, I can still escape, come back to kill her before my deadline.
I’m quiet as I slowly crawl toward the new opening, doing my best not to draw attention to myself. The princess hasn’t moved from the door when I drop down, and her gaze is too low to notice my wings flapping. I’m totally out of her sight. She doesn’t see me.
But her damn knight does.
Faster than I can react, at least in this form, she’s pulling the princess out of the way and slamming the cell door, just in time for my face to smash into it and bouncing me back. Goddess, I’m never going to get out of this fucking cell. My body shifts back to human when I hit the floor, but I don’t bother getting back up. That was the only actionable plan I had to get past the enchantments and out of here. And now I’m stuck in here, at least for the foreseeable future.
“Wh– what just happened?” the princess asks. Her voice quivers with fear and I can feel her eyes on me, but I just lie there motionless. I’m too tired for this shit.
“It would appear, your Highness,” her knight begins, “that she has the ability to transform herself into a bat.”
“She can?” the princess says, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say there was awe, or even excitement in her voice. “That’s… fascinating.” Okay, maybe I don’t know better! Fuck me! Gritting my teeth, I raise my head and point at the knight.
“Is it? Is it really?” I ask. “Because she–” gesturing to the knight “–called me a… what was it? A ‘Stupid, disgusting, flying fucking rat’?”
“Your Highness, I believe I also know how the creature was able to gain access to your chambers last night,” Mina turns and says to the princess, as if I didn’t just make an accusation against her. I throw my head back in frustration but instantly regret it when it smashes into the stone floor.
“Fascinating,” the princess says again under her breath and I roll my eyes. It’s like I’m the first vampire she’s ever seen. Maybe I am. “I’ll have to make a note of that when we return to my chambers.”
“Let me out of here and I can make sure you remember it for the rest of your life,” I joke, pulling myself to a sitting position and scooting over to put my back against the far wall. “It’s really quite something to witness up-close.”
“Princess, I advise you hurry and ask your question, so that we needn’t listen to this creature anymore,” her knight suggests, and I feel a flare of anger rise up.
“I’m not some creature,” I shout indignantly, “I’m a fucking person!”
“Yes, yes you’ve made that quite clear,” the princess responds, putting a hand out to calm her bodyguard, “but she’s right, I have other matters to deal with today. So I must ask, did you kill a guardsman on your way into the castle last night? Perhaps by the docks?”
“I don’t know,” I answer simply. “Maybe. After all, I’m such a monster, I kill so many people, it’s hard to remember just one.” My voice is laced with sarcasm, and I know she recognizes it by the sigh she releases when she shifts her weight. “But yes, I do think I had to get past a guard last night. Suck my fucking cock, what’s a measly guard to your spoiled princess ass?”
“It’s a young wife, barely older than myself, who I now have to inform that she herself is a widow,” she retorts. “Mina, come, we’re going. And as for you…” she points at me and I’m mildly taken aback, “I’ll be back with more questions tonight.” With a huff, she turns and stalks off, Mina following shortly after.
“Yeah, well that guard of yours wasn’t such a saint as you make him out to be!” I call after them, but when I hear the dungeon door slam shut, I know I’m alone. “Fucking hell,” I groan, pulling my knees up and wrapping my arms around them. Maybe I should be used to being in a cell by now. Less than a month of freedom and I’m already back in another one. I’m supposed to be a ‘ruler of the night’, but I don’t really feel like a ruler; I feel like a scared little girl, first imprisoned as an example, and now for “information”.
I wonder what sort of information the princess wants out of me, and how she plans to get it. Will she torture me? Or rather, will she have me tortured? She’s a princess, I doubt she’ll be willing to get her hands dirty, but then again I did try to kill her. I’m not exactly innocent, and she knows it. I can’t take any torture, I’d cave instantly. I’m not a soldier, I have no training. Fuck, a little bit of silver in the right places and I’ll be on my knees begging, giving them anything, just to make the pain stop.
But maybe the princess isn’t like that.
It’s stupid to get your hopes up, I tell myself, there’s no way out of this that doesn’t end badly for you. But I’m here, aren’t I? She hasn’t tried to kill me yet, which is more than she can say about me. And she said she didn’t want to hurt me. The only silver burn I’ve received since entering this damn castle was self-inflicted, too.
But perhaps she just doesn’t know how to kill me.
She said as much last night, she just doesn’t know how to kill vampires, and that’s probably the only reason I’m still “alive” now. She wants me dead as much as, if not more than, I want her so, she just doesn’t know how to make that happen. Once she has that information, I’m a dead girl walking. More than I already am, at least.
“Fuuuuck,” I groan, throwing my head back. That’s what she wants from me. The princess wants me to sign my own death warrant.
By the Goddess, how many royals want my head on a fucking pike?