Chapter Thirteen: Winter's Stone

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I dreamed of haunted, crystallized blue eyes, and in them I saw the reflection of hell. I was then sucked into this hell, where among me lay thousands of dead bodies, and upon the heap of men stood a man laughing in victory as flames engulfed the nearby homes. He was far enough away that I couldn't make out his face. I looks next to me and found the one with the blue eyes staring down at me.

"We have to stop it," his blue eyes pleaded.
The stench of a thousand deaths surrounded me and everything was becoming too heavy to bare. It felt as if I was sinking into the bodies below my feet. "Stop what?"


He pointed to the man laughing in victory who now bore his eyes into mine. My heart rate increased as I felt the coldness of his stare.

"Who is he? How can I stop him?" I asked, but when I looked up, I was alone.

I jolted awake and found a pair of bright eyes staring down at me. I quickly sat up in bed, draping the cover over my body in case there had been any form of indecency. I looked around to see if Mandy was around, but she was nowhere in sight.

"How was your nap, my lady?" The King asked, and inwardly I shivered.

Why is he here? I asked myself. What does he want?

"I slept well, your grace."

"I'd say you have. You've managed to sleep right through supper, so I've been told. No need to worry, I've brought you something to eat and thought I'd check up on you." The King sat at the edge of my bed, a place past my comfort zone.

"I appreciate your kindness, your grace."

"How are you feeling?" he asked me. "I know you've dealt with a lot in a matter of days."

"I'm holding up better than I could've expected."

"Is my son still giving you trouble?" The King leaned towards me. "I can give him a scare for you."

"Thank you for your kindness, your grace, but that is not needed. He has begun a new approach with us. A much better one."

"Hm." The King leaned back in thought.

"If that is all, your grace, I'd like to have my supper now." I quickly stood from the bed, not wanting to be sitting anywhere near him. I was so thankful that I was dressed in the gown Mandy had changed me in to after my late morning bath.

I could see the King in the reflection of the mirror I was standing in front of. I watched as he stood up and took several steps in my direction. I froze in place, squeezing the fork in my hand, imagining all of the things I could do to hurt him if he touched me, but I knew it was useless. He was the King, and he'd already told me what he wanted with me.

"I admire your strength, my lady," the King began, and his voice was raspy with lust. "Strong, like a queen. It's unfortunate that my son hasn't taken a special liking to you. Or perhaps he has, but he knows that he can't have you."

"And why is that?" I asked. Trying for small talk, anything to keep him from thinking about putting his hands on me.

"Because I would never allow it," the King said. "You are not of royal blood, and even if you were, we couldn't prove it. No...the closest you'll get to the throne is on your back as his mistress. But I wouldn't allow that, either. Would you like to know why?"

"Why, your grace?"

His hands met with my hips, causing me to gasp. "Because you'll be mine."

I spun around, which had only made it worse. I was now facing him and his sick grin. He pushed me against the table and closed the distance.

"Please, your grace," I begged, but it was no use. His hands traveled up my sides and to my breast. I pushed his hands alway.

He slapped me.

I leaned over in pain, and felt him grabbing at my shoulders to steady me. I knew the consequences of fighting back and knew I should've stopped...and yet I couldn't. I'd rather die than allow him to have his way with me.

"Come here, girl," he grunted, and pulled at the front of my dress, ripping it open. His hand then grazed past my skin and brushed against the stone at my chest. "Ah!"

The King backed away as his hand began to freeze. His eyes grew wide as he stared at the necklace in agony. "Winter Stone," he spat. His eyes met mine with suspicion. "Where did you get that?"

I tucked the necklace into my ripped dress and straightened. "I think you should leave, your grace."

"I asked you a question!" he yelled, causing me to jump. "Answer me."

"I found it," I replied. "I found it when I was a child. It was near a creek."

"Does anyone else know about it?"

"N-no, your grace."

"Is that so?" he asked, looking down at his frozen hand. His breathing had quickened and he'd been sweating as his body tried to fight off the cold. "Do you even know what it is?"

"No, your gra-"

"Give it to me!" the King demanded. "Give it to me now!"

He lunged forward, grabbing onto the wire and ripping the stone from my neck. He carefully placed the necklace inside of his coat and turned away. Once he got to the door, he spun around and eyed me.

"I'll forget today ever happened, and you would be wise to do the same."

When the King slammed the door closed, I broke down. Every single event that had happened to me since arriving at the castle came crashing into my conscience, drowning me in misery.

I'd killed a man...I'd drained myself of my energy and almost died...I'd been harassed by the King...I'd given him the necklace that I was in charge of protecting. It was too much to handle in such a short span of time.

I cried and cried until I could no longer stand it, and then I sat on the floor accompanied by dry tears and sadness and stared at nothing in particular.

Somewhere in the middle of the night, I remembered one thing. The King had named the stone. I may not have had the stone, but I had its name, which was better than nothing. I stood and walked toward my bed, sinking into the soft mattress as my agony began to replace itself with determination.

I would get that stone back. I didn't know how, but I would.

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