Full novel

I

Arthur was at a run-down, humble watering hole. The red lauan plank floor was creaky. Its walls were peeling off. The upright piano had seen better days. Its player was uninspiring. Same old tunes, no matter the crowd. It made next to no difference, though. Beer mugs were clinking. Money was being lost at poker games. Waitresses were flirting for that extra tip. The alcohol never seemed to stop pouring out of the beer kegs. Business as usual, in other words. Though well past its prime and rickety, the bar was popular.

All this ruckus played against Arthur. It was hard for him to offer his bounty hunting services. The roar of boisterous laughter drowned out any conversation or music. It was difficult to pay attention to chatter.

What is bounty hunting, you ask? A fancy way to say that he’s a worker for hire. He knew the risks of his profession. Yet every contract has been menial so far. No dashing thievery of a precious artefact. He never took part in a plot of intrigue and deceit.

Yet, it was better than his former life. A farmhand as a youth. The work was arduous, yet the pay was next to nothing. Not to mention the utter boredom. One day, he got sick of the isolation and left. To the city, of course. The place where everyone can make something for himself. Or so the dream goes. He wanted to leave his previous life behind, so he let his ambition guide him.

His demeanour didn’t do him any favours. Furtive glances at the hosts. Mumbling to himself. Fidgeting in his seat. He gave off an aura of discomfort. It was obvious that he was out of his element.

His appearance sabotaged him further. A ragged, worn tunic. A faded muffler, riddled with holes. Well-worn and stained trousers. It seemed as if his boots’ soles were going to peel off at any second. Topping it off with an old, patch-worked overcoat. He exuded a vibe resembling a thief or a thug. His roguish looks complicated matters.

Yet he couldn’t leave. Not until he made a contract. It has been too long since he had a job offer. He could not afford to waste another day. He was out of money. He relied on his friend’s charity to survive. Everyone has their limits, though. And their pride. He wanted to wean off his parasitic ways. Thus, he waited. He perked his ears. He heard no juicy gossip. No interesting exchanges. No profitable rumours floated around. Only carousing and merrymaking. Still, he had a hunch. He had to wait. He must wait. And wouldn’t you know? It was worth waiting.

A short, stocky man made an exuberant entrance. The distinguished guest was prim and proper. His clothes immaculate. You could realise at a glance that he was part of the upper crust. His entry left quite the impression on everyone. The festive ambience ceased at once. A deafening silence permeated the bar. It is rare for people like him to be in a place like this. He had a veritable reason to be where he was. He unwrapped a sheet of paper. Everyone’s eyes fixated on him. Was he going to read a royal proclamation? Let’s hear him out.

“As you may be well aware, the health of our esteemed liege, Queen Circe, is in decline. A widower with no heir. As such, she devised a plan. A way to adopt a successor. She is going to organise a celebration on the front courtyard of the castle. She will explain the procedure to every guest present. Those interested are welcome to assist. There are no prerequisites whatsoever.”

After he finished delivering the proclamation, he left the premises with utmost speed. And for a good reason.

Everyone’s mood shifted in a blink of an eye. Euphoric, excited shouting filled the pub. The prospect of becoming the inheritor of the crown proved to be too much for, well, everyone. Sanity flew right out of the window.

Arthur took the hint and headed towards the exit. It was no easy task, by any means. People were already improvising coronation speeches in front of their fellow drunkards. This caused a blockade towards his escape route. A crowd of overexcited barflies pushed each other, and him too. He wasn’t pick-pocketed along the way, despite the many chances of it happening. He couldn’t take advantage of the general ruckus, either. No easy pocket money for him today. Finally, he reached the door. The sheer force of the crowd blasted him outside.

He decided to assist the Queen’s event. There’d be important, wealthy people, after all. That means better job prospects, at least in his mind.

“At least I won’t go hungry today”, murmured to himself.

II

It was business as usual for Alanea. Spindling an intricate web. Lurking in the shadows, waiting for prey. Leaping into a frenzy once a victim fell prey to her schemes. Then the fun began. It was a gruesome spectacle. Her fangs ripping right into the poor sucker. Her unparalleled venom made short work of her meal. It dissolved any sort of struggle her snack displayed. Soon, a liquefied, lifeless corpse was all that remained. Then she ate. Devoured, rather. She slurped her well-earned sustenance. Finally, she discarded the desiccated husk as if it were an old, boring toy she no longer wanted. It went as well as usual.

A commotion turned the bar upside down as soon as she finished having her fourth lunch.

There was a cork-like chump stumbling about something. She crept towards him and the gathering crowd with suspicion. Something the little pompous man said piqued her interest. One could become a successor to the crown by attending an event.

Was it that easy? More cautious women would’ve pondered if there was a catch. Alanea wasn’t wired that way. After the diminutive cretin finished babbling, she hopped and hid inside his hat.

She started daydreaming of the possibility of becoming the Queen. Cobwebs scattered throughout the castle with reckless abandon. Entrapped morsel no matter where your eyes lead you. She’d turn the castle into a veritable arachnid paradise. She had to learn how to become the heir before any of that happens, though. Still, she enjoyed fantasising over her, well, soon to be hers, gargantuan lair.

She dozed off inside the plump noble’s hat and waited. She had a hunch he’d lead her to the castle. Her spider senses never fail. She was right at the front doors by the time she woke from her slumber.

III

Soaring across town, there two siblings arguing with each other. Their names were Phoebe and Demian. It didn’t matter the subject; it was how they got along. Mere trifles sparked the most inane arguments. Yet, they couldn’t imagine their relationship in any other way. One day, it was about who deserves the biggest piece of carrion. Next day, who would perch on the most majestic branch in a tree, and so on. There was no compromise. No negotiating. Quarrelling was an essential factor of their bond.

Phoebe was carefree and happy-go-lucky, up to a fault. No matter how dire the situation, she kept a positive attitude. A sanguine viewpoint through and through. She didn’t bother to worry about the future. She also didn’t care about learning anything from the past. As such, she lived for the present. She loved her little bubble of ignorant bliss.

Demian was pure gloom and brood. Positive thoughts left his brain long time ago. He saw a problem in everything, everyone and every situation. Today’s food? Spoiled, too chewy, too bland, you name it. Every branch was inadequate. Too short. Too thick. Too sinewy. He also spent most of the time brooding about the fate of her sister. How stupid she was for being happy all the time. He was always concerned about any and all aspects of living. Pessimism shaped his very being.

Demian took pity on Phoebe. Her stupidity would lead to her death were he not at her side. He fancied himself her protector. Her voice of reason. Her conscience. Her eyes, for she was blind, in his mind. Blind to the harshness of reality. As much as they argue, he couldn’t abandon her. He had to be there, for her sake.

With her forced, high pitch, cute chirp-like crow caw, Phoebe tried to calm Demian down. They were trying to decide where to perch themselves. A commotion was going on and they didn’t want to miss a thing. Yet they couldn’t agree where to land. They could land close and peek inside the bar. The alternative was to stay outside and hope for scraps from the sloppy patrons.

And so the argument began.

Phoebe made her case. “I’m curious, brother”, she cawed. “Humans are always up to such interesting things!”, she blurted out without care. “Let’s shorten the distance and overhear them!”, which seemed reasonable until Demian retorted.

“Are you out of your mind?”, screeched Demian, in that ever familiar tone Phoebe knew and withstood. “Humans are nothing but trouble, their only worth is the food they leave behind”, he declared. “Keeping our distance is for the best, lest we embrace their ways”, and started flying off.

A huge crowd, hollering and shouting about becoming royalty interrupted their argument. From children to the elderly, everyone had something to say. They’re shouting, gossiping, and rambling about tonight’s event at the castle courtyard. Everyone wanted to look, feel and, one would hope, smell their best for the occasion. You had to pay scant attention to get every detail from the royal proclamation. It was the talk of the town.

All this fuss about the crown and heirship made Phoebe euphoric. The fame. The popularity. The mightiest, most imposing trees anywhere in the land. A vast cage shaped as a castle. The possibilities were endless. In her mind, being heiress would mean she’d no longer have to put any effort in living. “Life served on a silver platter,” she thought.

Demian didn’t understand why everyone wanted to punish themselves by becoming the successor. Endless responsibilities. Countless conflicts to resolve. A myriad of nincompoops to lead. The consequences of your action affecting so many lives. “Being a leader is the worst punishment imaginable”, he concluded.

Despite their conflicting views on the matter, they made a truce. They decided to attend the event and know what is it all about. In the worst case scenario, Phoebe would mingle with high society. For Demian, food worth eating is enough of a reward. Either way, they both began their journey towards the castle courtyard.

Soaring across town, there two siblings arguing with each other. Their names were Phoebe and Demian. It didn’t matter the subject; it was how they got along. Mere trifles sparked the most inane arguments. Yet, they couldn’t imagine their relationship in any other way. One day, it was about who deserves the biggest piece of carrion. Next day, who would perch on the most majestic branch in a tree, and so on. There was no compromise. No negotiating. Quarrelling was an essential factor of their bond.

Phoebe was carefree and happy-go-lucky, up to a fault. No matter how dire the situation, she kept a positive attitude. A sanguine viewpoint through and through. She didn’t bother to worry about the future. She also didn’t care about learning anything from the past. As such, she lived for the present. She loved her little bubble of ignorant bliss.

Demian was pure gloom and brood. Positive thoughts left his brain long time ago. He saw a problem in everything, everyone and every situation. Today’s food? Spoiled, too chewy, too bland, you name it. Every branch was inadequate. Too short. Too thick. Too sinewy. He also spent most of the time brooding about the fate of her sister. How stupid she was for being happy all the time. He was always concerned about any and all aspects of living. Pessimism shaped his very being.

Demian took pity on Phoebe. Her stupidity would lead to her death were he not at her side. He fancied himself her protector. Her voice of reason. Her conscience. Her eyes, for she was blind, in his mind. Blind to the harshness of reality. As much as they argue, he couldn’t abandon her. He had to be there, for her sake.

With her forced, high pitch, cute chirp-like crow caw, Phoebe tried to calm Demian down. They were trying to decide where to perch themselves. A commotion was going on and they didn’t want to miss a thing. Yet they couldn’t agree where to land. They could land close and peek inside the bar. The alternative was to stay outside and hope for scraps from the sloppy patrons.

And so the argument began.

Phoebe made her case. “I’m curious, brother”, she cawed. “Humans are always up to such interesting things!”, she blurted out without care. “Let’s shorten the distance and overhear them!”, which seemed reasonable until Demian retorted.

“Are you out of your mind?”, screeched Demian, in that ever familiar tone Phoebe knew and withstood. “Humans are nothing but trouble, their only worth is the food they leave behind”, he declared. “Keeping our distance is for the best, lest we embrace their ways”, and started flying off.

A huge crowd, hollering and shouting about becoming royalty interrupted their argument. From children to the elderly, everyone had something to say. They’re shouting, gossiping, and rambling about tonight’s event at the castle courtyard. Everyone wanted to look, feel and, one would hope, smell their best for the occasion. You had to pay scant attention to get every detail from the royal proclamation. It was the talk of the town.

All this fuss about the crown and heirship made Phoebe euphoric. The fame. The popularity. The mightiest, most imposing trees anywhere in the land. A vast cage shaped as a castle. The possibilities were endless. In her mind, being heiress would mean she’d no longer have to put any effort in living. “Life served on a silver platter,” she thought.

Demian didn’t understand why everyone wanted to punish themselves by becoming the successor. Endless responsibilities. Countless conflicts to resolve. A myriad of nincompoops to lead. The consequences of your action affecting so many lives. “Being a leader is the worst punishment imaginable”, he concluded.

Despite their conflicting views on the matter, they made a truce. They decided to attend the event and know what is it all about. In the worst case scenario, Phoebe would mingle with high society. For Demian, food worth eating is enough of a reward. Either way, they both began their journey towards the castle courtyard.

IV

A vast castle loomed over a sheer cliff. Its towering presence impressed every visitor. Impenetrable stone walls stood stalwart against any intruders. Its location aided on its defence. All in all, a veritable fortress.
A tower stood at its centre. Windows were abundant, to say the least. It was the heart of the castle. It shimmered by daylight and cast an enigmatic ambience under the moonlight. It boasted of more refined materials than those of the castle’s exterior.
The tower felt alien. It felt like they built the castle in its perimeter. Its exotic nature was evident. A mismatching architecture. Different, exceptional materials used in its construction. Peerless window panes that defied time were everywhere. The tower had its own story despite the castle’s existence.
Nobody knows how it remains in good condition. No servants live in the castle. No grunts are present to keep its walls. Only the princess’ nanny, and even then, she seldom showed up. Yet, it remained in such exceptional condition. One would think someone rebuilds the castle every day.
The castle boasts of majestic decorations and a pristine condition. Masterwork portraits of every king, queen, prince and princess covered its walls. The rugs were of the finest quality and vermilion dyed. It was impossible to discern a speck of dust in the entirety of the castle. Lacquered, unscathed furniture decorated the rooms. Nothing seemed improper and everything was awe-inspiring.
The royal crest was the face of a human. Half it vulpine, the other unchanged. It was present in banners and other paraphernalia. Many people speculated over its significance. No one agreed upon what its imagery conveyed.
Agatha’ room was as breath-taking as the rest of fortress. Delicate, frilly, coral curtains adorned the area. Colossal stuffed animals of every colour and species cluttered the room. Extraordinary pieces of art peppered the surface of the walls. Jewel-engraved mirrors enriched the princess’ room.
Every stuffed animal suffered from injuries of some kind. Eyes gouged. Fluffy innards spilling from brutal cuts. Dismembered toys. Sawed off arms. Ripped off paws. An unsettling atmosphere set in if you noticed these eerie details.
Judging by her looks, Agatha was petite, graceful and charismatic. Well-bred, her manners were impeccable. Her smile would illuminate the bleakest heart. Lithe, frail and innocent, she commanded the respect and admiration of many.
Agatha’s personality does not match her looks at all. Petulance, pettiness, indolence and above all, unprecedented hubris defined her. Spoiled rotten, she would refuse to take “no” for an answer. Fulfilment of her demands was imperative. Opposing her wish resulted in a tantrum of monstrous proportions. Her screeching, soul-crushing cries would upset everyone. The shriek of a mandragora would be preferable to endure than her wailing.
Agatha liked to abuse everyone. Toys, guests, her own mother. No one was safe from her outbursts and insolence. While many laughed it off, she had a way with words. She knew how to wound someone’s pride. As such, she instilled an impression upon everyone who had the misfortune of meeting her.
Such rotten personality would cause many clashes among Agatha and her mother. Queen Circe had to act as her conscience. “Apate, mind your tongue!”;”Apate, don’t make such gestures to our guests!” she’d remind her daughter on a constant basis. “Apate, why would you break your toys?”, she scolded the little one. And, above all, the most irritating berating of them all: “Apate, treat others with respect. How do you expect them to respect you, otherwise?”.
Nothing enraged Agatha beyond reason than the nickname her mother made up for her, “Apate”. It seemed so lame to her. It was the combination of her two names: Agatha Patrice. She felt it was so clumsy and uninspired that she resented her mother for it.
Queen Circe loved her little princess but she was oblivious to why she was so mercurial. Agatha’s education was top-notch. She had the best tutors. In her opinion, she had the best role model available always: her own mother. Yet her wickedness seemed to grow rather than recede on every passing day.
Agatha ran all over the castle, crying. She was unable to contain her anger over the constant reprimands from her mother. She ran everywhere without a care in the world, weeping and sobbing non-stop. Soon, she found herself lost in the greatness of the castle. That served to enrage her to the boiling point. “Why would they make such a huge castle? Idiots!” managed to screech amid sobs and tears.
After what it seemed an eternity, Agatha found herself in a familiar place. It was the hallway next to the anteroom, where they meet guests.
She heard people chatting. She peeped in their conversation. After all, every matter in the castle concerns her. Two stuffy, well-fed rather than well-bred nobles were conversing. Their animated exchange piqued her curiosity. The gentlemen were making plans for tonight’s event at the castle’s courtyard. They wouldn’t miss a chance to become successors to the crown. In particular with such lax requirements: anyone could assist and be a candidate!
Agatha became worried by this revelation. “A new heir? What’s wrong with me?” protested, trying to remain quiet. “My own mother hates me! She wants to replace me!” said in disbelief.
With grim determination, Agatha decided to dispose of Queen Circe. She had to act quick. Her mother would cast her aside otherwise. She would, at last, put her education at work. But first, she had to concoct a plan. A fool proof strategy. A stratagem that would leave her clean of any suspicions. Determined, she rushed into her room and began plotting against her treacherous “mother”.

patreon-logo

One thought on “Full novel

  1. Pingback: Chapter III uploaded – Writer's Block Repository

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s