Maledicti slammed painfully onto the ground and the world around her spun for a moment as her mind reeled from the impact and came full circle. There was a sudden, deep pain in her shoulder blades and back that grew slowly; forebodingly intensifying as dark bruising formed under her fine and fair skin.
Rocking forward to gain momentum, her hand grasped at the cold stone floor and her talons dug into the grooves as she forced herself to her feet, ignoring the soreness she knew would fade soon enough. She took her fighting stance and squared herself against her sparring partner, although she knew the fight was over.
Maledicti's sparring partner stood opposite to her, her stance relaxed and without challenge. Her eyes lowered resignedly as a long breath escaped her lips in that telltale gesture of gathering her patience. The deep sigh felt worse to Maledicti than any scolding could; it was a simple, irritated sign of disappointment, and Maledicti's shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Alright," The older woman nodded determinedly and took her fighting stance again, "We shall try this again. Remember; you must block it, Maledicti, that is your sole objective. Nothing else matters but blocking or deflecting the spell."
"I know, mother, I'm trying." She replied as she mirrored her mother's position.
Her mother and teacher's shoulders squared as a dim, but growing power formed at her fingertips, but before it could be released, a distant call caught their ears, "My Queen!" Her mother's eyes darted to the doorway to see a woman appear. "M'lady, I am sorry to interrupt, but your meals are prepared, if you're ready?"
"Yes." The Queen nodded, letting the power brewing in her palms fizz into nothingness. Her eyes moved to Maledicti, "We'll take a break."
Maledicti nodded and relaxed her posture, allowing her eyes to search for her small collection of things she had discarded before the sparring match. Finding the assortment, she lifted her blue translucent silk shawl from the stone and its lightness made it float on a drift of air while she lifted her soft and thin fishnet stockings from the floor. Draping them on her arm, she took her golden and gem encrusted sword by its finely forged handle, feeling the curves of the gems in her palm, and hooked it on her belt.
As she followed her mother to the door, the Queen instructed her daughter in a gentle, but firm tone, "We must work on that deflection, my dear. You are learning swiftly, but you need practice. It will save your life. I assure you, Basileus will not be so gentle."
Maledicti nodded absentmindedly, her mind glancing back to the stories her mother had told her at the mention of that name. The reason she trained so hard, why she was hidden away from the world in this magically fortified tower, and, most importantly, why she was curse with sharp and frightening horns that stood from her head, and razor sharp claws that were her fingers.
The servants rushed around the room in a purposeful frenzy. Their fair and lovely hair pulled back from their eyes and their slender and delicate hands worked feverously at the task.
Another tidal wave of agonizing pain rolled over the Queen, each becoming more intense and more frequent. She gasped sharply at the pain and breathlessly cried out. Her breaths came quick and shallow as her lungs stretched hesitantly, fearful to add to the pain. Each breath feeling as though it'd be her last.
The servants moved with experienced hands, cooing encouragement to the Queen while whispering instructions to one another.
But the Queen knew something wasn't right. She had seen births before and although they were agonizing, she didn't think it'd be this difficult; or this long for that matter.
As another wave slowly formed inside her, she gasped with fearful anticipation. Everything was coming down to this moment and her hazed, barely coherent and pain numbed mind reached weakly back to the cause of it all.
The Queen's mind grasped around the fleeting image of her once betrothed; Basileus.
A tall, powerful man, but he held a dark continence that always made her uneasy. Him and his jealousy, the darkness that was finally unleashed from him in a fury. In a jealous rage.
She wanted to hate him. Blame him for this all.
She didn't love Basileus. She didn't want to be his wife, but the advisers said she must.
'For the good of the kingdom', they said. They knew she'd do anything for her people, they knew it was a weak spot. But she still didn't want Basileus. She wanted that kinder, brighter soul, who was friendly and treated her as an equal. That man wasn't afraid of her authority, yet he didn't treat her as if she was beneath him. Their magic seemed to connect, hold them together in both body and soul.
But she loved her people and her kingdom.
For the good of the kingdom.
It put a burden on her shoulders and a weight on her heart. So she kept him a secret, the man she loved so. She kept him hidden from the public eye and, more importantly, the eye of Basileus.
But Basileus' powerful form only hinted to the even more powerful force of sorcery that churned inside of him. He was a wise one, a strong one; and his violent magic was only rivaled by his jealously and his rage.
She made a mistake, became too confidant that the man and her wouldn't be discovered.
Basileus found them together, but stayed to the shadows. The betrayal fueling his fury and he took his time plotting a perfect vengeance.
The Queen was beautiful; breathtaking. The people were proud to have her as their representative, as she held all of the Fair Folks most glorious traits. Her intelligence held the same caliber of her advisers and she was a witty one. She held the fair folks' tall and slender form, her skin fair and pale like porcelain, her eyes beautiful and kind, her ears formed into a perfect tip, she held herself with proud posture.
Her beauty was her centerpiece, cherished by all, and Basileus decided that viciously taking it away from her, showing the evil that only he knew was inside and letting the people see what their queen really was, was the perfect revenge.
A wave of pain, more intense then any of the others pierced inside of her and she couldn't bite back an ear shattering scream.
"Maker preserve us." The servants whispered as the Queen was reduced to whimpers.
The day was beautiful; sunny, bright and joyous. The Queen absentmindedly reclined on her throne, her chin rested on her fingers with a content and peaceful air. Her eyes seemed distant and unfocused as her mind drifted to the man. Drifting to the secret meeting they had arranged that evening, and what would become of it.
A faint smile ghosted over her lips as she indulged in her daydream, but she was jolted from her reverie as the doors to the hall swung open noisily. Her eyes darted to the tall and strapping form of Basileus as he moved briskly down through the hall to her, his black cloak floating behind him with his fast pace.
She stood from her throne and gazed to him, puzzled. "Basileus? Whatever are you-"
"Do not utter my name!" The word fell from his lips as though it were putrid. He spoke through clenched teeth, "You hold no right any longer!"
"I-" The Queen's eyebrows furrowed in utter confusion, "What are you talking ab-"
"You have betrayed me!" He bellowed in a sudden outburst, "My honor! My name! You have betrayed our people, our traditions - that which have been held sacred for centuries; you have defiled them!" His eyes flared dangerously, as though revealing the fire that burned within him. "You are a whore!"
"Basileus!" The Queen hissed back, "You are mistaken. Silence yourself before you are made a fool."
"A fool! You dare…!" He shrieked near manically, "Do not lie! I have seen you with your lover! That nameless swine you allowed to dishonor you." Basileus shook his head disbelievingly, lowering his voice murderously, "You cannot bewitch me any longer. You cannot be allowed to bewitch our people any longer! They must see you for your true form. A minion of darkness. A demon!"
Basileus' eyes darkened to an obsidian as the powerful sorcery inside of him finally reached its edge and could not be bound any longer. It had brewed long enough and was bubbling up inside him as raw rage. He lashed out viciously, lunging forward and forcing the energy churning in his core to unleash. A black and sparking force ran across his skin as it traveled through his arms and shot from his fingertips with an audible crack.
The Queen's breath caught in her throat as the black magic flew at her, and her own sorcery moved from within, forming in a blue energy around her arms and expanding into a shield. Her arms instinctively rose in front of her and the black magic collided bone-crackingly hard against her.
Happening too quickly to be seen, the black magic slammed into the blue shield and sent recoils into the Queen as the shield struggled to absorb the curse and the power. But the shield's power was eroded away by the dark energy and the shield shattered.
The force knocked the Queen from her feet and she landed painfully onto the hard marble floor. Her ears rang and barely registered the distant sound of her guards shouting commands and unleashing a full attack on Basileus.
Her wits returned to her suddenly and she gasped at the sudden, deep pain in her abdomen.
A servant tugged at her arm urgently, "M'lady! M'lady! Come quickly, you must flee from here!" Another servant appeared and pulled at the Queen's other arm, helping her to her feet.
As they fled from the room, the Queen glanced over her shoulder to see Basileus start to slaughter each and every one of her guards. Sparing no mercy on her defenders.
"Easy, my Queen. Breathe." A servant stroked her forehead softly, whispering encouragement.
But the Queen's hazed and pain numbed mind was spinning, drifting between an agonizing reality and a dazed incoherency.
The Queen's legs trembled from exhaustion and her breath was labored. The heavy wooden board fell noisily into place as one of her handmaids bared the door behind them; despite the fact they were far from the palace and far from Basileus, tucked safely inside of a tower, secluded from the rest of the world.
The Queen rose her hands in front of her and her eyes scanned over them meticulously, looking for any flaw or change. Something that could tell her the curse had worked. But she found nothing under her inspection.
A servant touched her arm, breaking her from her thoughts and the Queen glanced to the petite woman beside her. "Your Grace, I assure you there is nothing wrong with you."
The Queen returned her gaze to her hands and turned them carefully. "A mirror, please."
The elfin servant nodded, "Yes, M'lady." And she moved to the task, returning a moment later with a small, silver mirror.
The Queen took it and lifted it to her face, glancing over her face with equal scrutiny. Her fingers ghosted over her skin, but found none of the flaws she expected. Then a sudden pain jolted through her abdomen, and her hand shot to her stomach as she gasped.
"My Queen!" The servants rushed to her side with a confused urgency, "What is it?"
Tears rose in the Queen's eyes as her face became ashen, "Maker help me." She whispered desperately.
"Get the healer!" The servant girl called out.
The birth was so close.
The healer came, and discovered something that none had expected. The Queen was pregnant. And certainly not with Basileus' child.
Hushed prayers, barked orders, agonizing screams, breathless pleas… then a gentle cry.
The child was so beautiful to her mother's eyes; perfection to the tired Queen. But cursed. The gentle start of blonde hair was too faint to hide the buds of dark grey bone, where her horns were forming. Her small and angel soft fingers still showed strange and alien with the start of vicious claws.
But her eyes still showed a beautiful and exotic mix of purple and blue, her soft blonde hair and fair skin still held the image of her race, and the petite tips of her curves ears still showed customary.
The curse had taken affect, although not as intensely, or on its original target. This gentle and kind creature laid blissfully in its mother's arms was a cursed one.
Maledicti, her very name meaning, 'the cursed one'.
Over the course of twenty-one years, the small and fragile creature had transformed into a strong and powerful woman, but was still cursed to be what some would call a monster. An abomination. But her beauty rivaled her mother's, all except the frightening horns that stood razor sharp from her skull, framed by her fine and angelic blonde hair that caressed her shoulders, and the long and grisly talons that showed like claws from her fair and delicate fingers.
Her life would be harsh because of these traits. Her life would not be like that of her mother. So she trained. Twenty-one years of practicing, training, learning that forged this fair monster into a brilliant combatant.
Her lineage proved an asset and her talents in magic rivaled most, even the Queen; especially her unique skill of telekinesis and her ability to manipulate magical energies. She wielded a sword like it was an extension of herself and her skills in martial arts were drilled into her until they became second nature.
She was strong, experienced and determined. Her sole purpose in life is set on one goal;
To slay the man who cursed her existence.