Teen Services Coordinator
Noor never thought of the past. He never thought of the broken dreams and the dog tag necklace that hung around his neck like a noose just waiting to be hung from a tree. He believed that the past was just that, and that there was no use pondering on what could have been. Every once in awhile the memories of the orphanage seeped themselves towards the front of his brain, but he would push it and push it until it shredded itself up again. He ran away at the age of ten, telling himself he would never return to the abuse and torment of being an orphan.
He gritted his teeth as he thought of his parents as he walked through the kingdom looking for the next victim of his anger. He knew his parents weren’t dead. He knew he wasn’t a poor little orphan. He knew that they were out there somewhere, living perfect lives. Lives that didn’t include a pup.
His right wolf like ear twitched in the direction of a beggar digging through the trash looking for breakfast. His cloak flew in the wind as he stalked carefully through the cobblestone streets. He hissed as the wind ripped through his clothes. His tail stayed down in it’s regular defensive position. He felt something tug his tail and he whipped around to face a small girl with bright blonde hair and grey eyes staring up at him and laughing.
He snarled and bared his teeth at her, causing her to run off in fear. All the shops and vendors had just opened up and the smell of food flooded Noor’s senses. His stomach rumbled, but he wouldn’t allow himself to eat until he got paid for this job. Then he spotted his prey of the day. He rushed forward and grabbed the man’s arm, pulling him towards an empty alleyway.
No one tried to stop the confrontation.
“Heard ya tried to steal from Anticus. Not a smart move.” Noor grinned and pulled a dagger from his belt. The man’s eyes narrowed at Noor’s accent. Noor had an accent that no one had ever heard of. Yet another mysterious thing about his past, present, and future.
“I don’t want any trouble. I got a family to feed!” the man yelled.
“Well I got myself to feed and rent to pay. Your families just gonna have to go hungry.” Noor replied as he took the dagger and plunged it into the man’s heart. He dodged the spurt of blood and let the man fall to the ground after he took out the dagger. He sawed off the man’s greying ears and tail and stuffed them into a brown sack. That’s what his employers always asked him to bring back. He flung the sack over his back and walked out of the alley. He could feel the people’s piercing stares on him.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw some new fairy slaves being brought in from Nidawi. Noor rushed through the bustling streets. Tails hit him and he was pushed between multiple people as he tried to get to Anticus’s house. The old man owned a house near the center of the kingdom. No one would ever suspect him of hiring an assassin.
He owned one of the most popular clothing departments in the kingdom. Noor walked for quite a while before he finally got to Anticus’s home. He walked inside without even knocking even though the shop wasn’t open for the day yet. He saw Anticus slaving over his newest sewing project. He looked up and smiled as he saw the brown sack that Noor had.
Noor pushed Anticus’s work out of the way and placed the sack onto the worktable. Anticus pushed his glasses up as he grabbed the sack. Anticus was a middle aged man with bright blonde hair and piercing light blue eyes. His ears and tail mirrored his hair. His canine teeth were made of gold.
There were rumors of Anticus being a pirate during his younger age, but then they would say that Anticus was much to cheery to be a former pirate. Noor didn’t know what he believed. He just knew Anticus paid him to dispose of thieves and people he didn’t particularly enjoy speaking with.
“Where’s my payment?” Noor questioned, crossing his arms over his chest and lounging down into a creaking wooden chair. Noor’s eyes looked around the room in a bored manner, his eyes barely skimming over the piles of clothes, mannequins, and unfinished projects.
“Alright, don’t get all worked up. I have it here.” Anticus said and threw a sack of gold in Noor’s direction. Noor caught it and opened it up, pouring the contents into his palm. He counted them and grinned to himself as he put them back in the bag.
“Good day, sir.” Noor said and left the shop. He walked back to the inn he rented a room at. He walked through the door and a man grabbed him by the shoulder and tried to drag him through the tavern to the drinks.
“C’mon Noor! You could use a little drink! Maybe it’ll even make ya a bit taller!” the man chuckled. Noor ducked under his arm and growled. He hated all the drunks that were always coming to the tavern that also happened to be the inn he lived at, and he especially hated being called short. While most of the wolves were around seven feet tall, Noor was six feet tall. He was often called a runt, but those people didn’t leave his presence with their heads most of the time. He smelled the smoke from the men’s pipes.
He walked up the creaking stairs to the inn part of the tavern. He slammed the door behind him once he reached his room and dumped his many weapons onto the small wooden table near the door. He locked the door and fell backwards onto his bed. He sat up, bracing himself on his elbows as he looked down at his boots that now had blood on them. He still had blood on his hands.
He took a shaking breath. There was always the slight bit of panic after he killed someone, even though he never hesitated. You chose this, he told himself as he walked to the bathroom. You chose this, you chose this, you chose this, he repeated over and over as he scrubbed the blood off of his hands. He’d been killing for around four years, something almost human stirred inside of his veins.
He looked at himself in the mirror and his eye caught on the large scar that ran all the way up his arm to the top of his shoulder. The orphanage never told him how he got it, but he wasn’t sure if they even knew. His grasp tightened on the edge of the sink. His black hair flowed in front of his face as he remembered his vow to find his parents and kill them for ever leaving him all alone at that gods forsaken orphanage. His eyes misted over, but he shut his eyes. He hadn’t cried since his first time killing somebody, and he wasn’t about to start now.
He heard someone pounding on his door and he jumped to his weapons and grabbed a dagger.
“Who is it?!” he yelled. It could be someone coming to kill him for everything he’s done, someone interested in a job, or just someone who has the wrong door. He knew there were only a few people who who he was, and there were even less people who knew where he lived.
“The Royal Guard!” a man replied from the other side of the door. Noor swore under his breath and walked to the window, weighing his options of jumping down. He knew he might break his leg, but if he could carefully climb down… now that might work. He opened the window and popped out the screen, placing it carefully on his unmade bed. “We just want to talk!” the guard said, pounding on the door once again. Yeah, right.
Noor went legs first through the window and gripped onto one of the bricks holding the building together. He risked a glance down and sighed. He couldn’t drop from even this height without severely hurting himself. He heard the guards trying to bust down his door. He moved his foot down further and placed it on another brick.
He continue shimmying his way down the side of the building when he heard the guards yelling to go outside. They must have seen the open window and screen on his bed. Noor started to move faster, until he felt a hand wrap around his ankle. He tried to kick them off, but the grip was firm and unmoving. He grabbed his only throwing knife he hadn’t put on the table.
He threw it down with all his force and he heard someone scream. He didn’t know who or where he hit, but the grip on his ankle still held. He cursed when he realized he couldn’t get out of this situation. Finally, he let himself drop down, landing on his haunches. Guards grabbed his arms and he looked up and grinned at their leader.
“Good to see you, sir,” Noor said, his words drawn out and lazy. He was amused by this. He wasn’t scared of this. “To what do I owe the honor?” he smiled.
“The Alpha has a job for you.” the leader answered.
“The Alpha you say? And what’s the pretty price I will be paid?” Noor asked.
“Not chopping your head off.” was the answer he got. He narrowed his eyes, his lazy grin turning into a sharp glare as he was dragged off closer to the center of the kingdom. This, he decided, was not going to be fun.
Amora couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the sun or felt the cool breeze on her cheeks. Now dirt was matted in her hair and on her skin, her clothes hanging off of her body. She was fed once a day, just enough to keep her alive and still in selling condition. Her wings were clipped once a year, as if she could fly away if they grew back. The queen had stopped sending guards to her cell years ago after she knew there was no chance of Amora leaving.
A guard walked by her cell and she flinched away from him. She was used to guards coming in here and punching her just because they were angry at the world and gods knew what else, but instead of hitting her, he opened the cell and gave her her food. She gave him a thankful look before digging into the cold roast and vegetables. She wished for the day she would get to eat fish, but she wasn’t sure if that day would ever come again. Roast was the cheapest meat, so that’s what she was given.
Her voice and hands started shaking as she remembered the last time she ate fish. The day before her parents died. Tears filled her eyes and she smacked her hand down onto the dirt in frustration. Stop crying, you’re weak, she’s insane, the things she’d heard people say about her ran through her mind as she covered her face with her hands and sobbed. Her tears were hot against her cheeks and her hands rough and callused from holding the bars of the cell and begging for more food or a bath.
A million thoughts ran through her mind and she started shaking, her whole body feeling cold and panicked. She had at least one panic attack a day. Weak, weak, weak. She didn’t want to be weak, but yet the burned and cut bodies of her parents came into view.
Phoenix, Phoenix, take my soul, bring the fire, bring the flames. Little phoenix, full of light and joy, melt the cold and bring the sun, she chanted in her mind. The lullaby her father would sing to her every night. She was her father’s little phoenix, and she would not be weak or frightened. She remembered being told the legend of The Phoenix.
A bird with magic imbedded into their soul. They were known for their fire, but they could do everything. There hadn’t been a phoenix in thousands of years.
“We might finally be getting rid of that girl. The Alpha of Varg is interested in her!” she heard a guard say to one of his companions as they did a patrol. Amora’s breath caught and her shaking stopped. The Alpha of Varg. The Alpha of Varg killed people for fun and tortured his servants as it fit his interests. She refused to go with him. She would rather stay here for the rest of her life than be owned by a man like The Alpha of Varg.
Noor was lead through the kingdom swiftly and he found himself having a hard time keeping up with the men who had longer legs than he. He narrowed his eyes at a beggar on the streets whose tail and ears curled towards them in fear of the merchant who caught them stealing. He had been a beggar once, but most of the time he got what he wanted because of his size and tear filled eyes. He could see the ginormous stone palace in the distance. He saw the guard towers filled with archers waiting for the perfect moment for Noor to give them a reason to shoot him.
He glanced to the guards on his sides, wondering if there was any possibility that he could escape and run away to The Tenebris Forest. He sighed in frustration as he realized that no man other than skilled hunters made it through Tenebris. Noor was a mere hitman, not a hunter who’s been training since they were old enough to hold a sword.
“Don’t even think about it.” the leader of the guard said. Noor smirked and caught the eye of a young seamstress with a bright blonde head of hair, ears and a tail. He winked at her and she flushed a deep shade of scarlet and turned back to her work. Noor snickered to himself and looked up at the dark set clouds looming above. He frowned and tried to reach up to put his hood on, but was quickly stopped by another young shaking guard. Noor smiled to himself as he realized the guard was shaking out of fear.
This was right. They had every right to be scared of him. They got closer to the palace and Noor’s feet thumped softly in pain. The rain started pattering onto the shingles of roofs. Noor cringed at the sound of the droplets pounding into an empty metal bucket at a blacksmith’s shop.
A guard roughly pushed Noor forward so he stumbled and quickened his pace. The lead of the guard signaled to an archer in a tower and the archer nodded and pressed a lever. The large metal gate groaned and lifted up. Guards came and walked in front and behind and at Noor’s sides. They patted him down for any weapons before finally letting him walk inside the palace, straight towards the throne room.
“So glad you could join us, Noor.” the Alpha said. His greying black hair was slicked back into a tail behind his neck, tied perfectly with a ribbon of metallic gold. His grey ears were adorned with many gold piercings. Noor looked straight into the man’s black as coal eyes.
“Why am I here? If I remember correctly, I’m pretty sure the thing I do for a living has never affected you personally.” Noor pointed out, hoping the king would be daft enough to let him off with a warning.
“I suppose yes, but you still endanger my people. Besides, that’s not the reason why you’re here. I have a job I need you to do.” the Alpha said.
“Why don’t you get one of your ever loyal guards to do it instead of a untrusted seventeen year old?” Noor questioned, reaching for a knife at his waist to spin around that wasn’t there.
“By those scars you got there, I can tell you’ve survived a lot,” the Alpha started. Noor looked at the scar running from his shoulder to the tip of his right pointer finger. All he remembered from it was a searing pain on his arm, and tears streaming down his face while he cried. He knew it happened when he was younger, but no one ever knew the true story of why the scar existed. “And while my guards are skilled, there’s no way they would survive Tenebris.”
“What in the world do you need to send someone through Tenebris for?” Noor asked, trying to ignore the doubt running through his mind, telling him there was no possible way he could make it through Tenebris with his head.
“In Avem there’s a girl that I’m interested in purchasing to be a slave. Her wings have already been clipped and I’ve been told her mind is broken in two because of being kept in a dungeon for over ten years. Perfect requirements for a slave wouldn’t you say?” the Alpha replied.
“How do you know I won’t run with the money you are paying for her?” Noor smirked.
“Because the price I’m paying is you killing an unloyal guard for the queen, the seller.” the Alpha explained.
“That’s it? Go to Avem, kill someone, get the girl, return her here, and then I’m free?” Noor scoffed. It was too good to be true.
“I suppose, unless you’d like to continue doing odd jobs for me, that is.” the Alpha replied with a shrug. Noor thought about the choice of working for the Alpha. He would probably live in the castle, and be paid a pretty penny. He smiled at the thought of being fed nice meals every day.
“You’ve got a deal.” Noor grinned. The Alpha nodded and Noor was handed a piece of rope to tie up the girl with, but all other traveling supplies was his to get. He tried to argue about them with it, but the deal was already set in stone. Noor trudged himself back to his room at the tavern, ignoring the things the people yelled at him about getting arrested, asking him how he’d escaped, wondering if the Alpha had punished him, and numerous other questions, even going as far as to ask if Noor had met the twin heirs to the throne of Varg. He threw the rope to the far side of the deep red plush carpet that was in front of his bed.
He grabbed the small sack of money Anticus had given him and went down to the tavern. He walked through the drunk customers and sat down at a table in the front of the building. A young waitress with shining blonde hair and crystal blue eyes stepped forward, throwing a menu onto the table. Noor tossed it back to her.
“Plate of venison and steamed carrots.” He said, placing a gold coin on the table in front of the waitress.
“And to drink?” the girl asked, writing down his order in a slow, drawn out pattern.
“Water.” Noor answered. The girl looked up at him, catching his gaze. She took a look at his scars and Noor could have sworn he saw her shudder. Her ears perked up at the sound of a piece of glass crashing at the bar. She whipped around then stalked off right towards the noise, yelling at the obscenely loud drunks. Noor put his hood on, attempting to hide the scar running up his right cheek and in between his eyes.
He remembered getting that one right after leaving the orphanage and attempting to steal a piece of bread from a rich bakery. He flinched as he remembered the slicing pain of the baker’s knife meeting his face. The waitress returned soon after, placing a glass cup of ice cold water in front of him.
“Everything alright?” she asked, having a look of genuine concern in her face, which was something that wasn’t seen often in taverns, especially this one.
“Just fine, darling.” he smirked, keeping his defenses up, not letting himself show any sense of worry or paranoia in his face or voice. He knew he was just fine, so why was he letting himself believe for even a second that he wasn’t? The girl fixed her posture, attempting to not be fazed by Noor’s flirtatious remark, but he could still notice a light blush on her lightly colored cheeks that appeared darker in the off set lighting of the tavern. The girl walked away again, this time her stance a bit more formal and confident, leaving Noor alone with nothing but his thoughts and a cup of water. The sense of panic that often came returned. Noor choked on his breath and looked down at his hands, expecting to find blood stains, but all he found were his own scarred and calloused hands.
He still rubbed at his hands, for they never seemed to be clean enough after a day of killing. He grasped onto the necklace that said his name and tugged on it slightly, hoping he would be able to leash himself in, grasp onto his thoughts and pull and push, push and pull, never letting them win, never letting them see how weak Noor could truly be.
His food came shortly after the small breakdown, and the waitress stared at his hand, still gripping onto the dog tag necklace. He quickly tucked it back under his shirt and started eating. He tried to push all his paranoid thoughts away. The job, think about the job, he told himself. He was working for the Alpha.
One thing he said he would probably never do, but if he could finish this job and gain the Alpha’s trust, now that could get him a pretty penny. He knew how much wealth the Alpha had, and Noor knew that he could work the king for everything he had.
He pondered how broken the girl in Avem truly would be. Ten years in the queen’s dungeon? What could a girl have possibly done to deserve such a punishment? He wondered if she had done something worse than the things he does for a living.
He finished his food and headed upstairs to his room. He grabbed one of his biggest bags and filled it with food, money, extra clothes, and any other little things he would need for the journey through Tenebris. He threw multiple bandages into the bag. He changed his clothes and threw himself onto his bed, tugging the covers up to his neck. He reached over and turned off the lamp, settling himself in the huge soft mattress.
Memories shot through his brain, leaving his mind in pins and needles. He saw… doctors…? He couldn’t be sure who the people hovering over him were. His right arm stung in excruciating pain. He smelled a soft, sweet, plastic like chemical coming towards his face, and then he was asleep again.
He woke up, sweat coating through his thin shirt. He took a shuddering breath and stood up out of bed. His eyes darted to his window as he saw the guards setting out to their duties for the day. He grabbed a fist full of his hair and pulled, trying to tie himself back to reality, telling himself that whatever he saw in that nightmare wasn’t real. He took unsteady steps to his bathroom, almost falling down as he reached the doorknob and turned it.
He closed it behind him, hearing the click of the door as he walked towards the tub. He turned the water on and closed his eyes. He listened closely to the water running down into the dry tub. He saw blood, a knife, laughs. His eyes shot open and he shook his head.
“Noor, it’s not real, it’s not real.” He told himself over and over until the words turned heavy in his mouth and his jaw hurt. He peeled off his sweat soaked clothes and lowered himself down into the tub of water.
Amora was lost. Lost in her own thoughts, lost in the deep black reality that the Alpha of Varg was going to have her. Those wolves were ruthless, cunning, killing beasts with no mercy. She shuddered at the thought that they might saw off her wings. Her eyes misted and she tried to push it away, but being stuck in a lonely cell with nothing but the screams of tortured people bursting through her ears, it was hard to think of anything that wouldn’t make her break down.
Twelve years. Twelve years in this place. She knew that even if she did somehow get out, she wouldn’t know where to go, who to talk to who wouldn’t immediately report her. She took her finger and attempted to shakily write her name in the dirt. The only thing she knew how to write or read.
She remembered being excited for school and wanting to get up early. She would still give up anything to go back to the day her parents died and stop it somehow. She could have gone to school, she could have grown up normally, she could have fallen in love, she could have done all the normal things that life holds.
“C’mon.” a guard muttered and unlocked the cell. He grabbed Amora’s arm, dragging her up off of the ground. She hesitated for a second, trying to think of a reason that she would be taken out of the cell other than to have her wings clipped, and that had just been done a week ago.
“W-What’s happening?” she stuttered out. The guard didn’t answer. He lead her through the winding passages of the palace. Amora caught a glimpse of the overcast clouds outside the kingdom. She was taken to the throne room where the queen was waiting on her white throne. Her white wings were tucked behind her. The dress she wore was crystal colored and complimented her dark complexion.
“Ah, little Amora,” the queen whispered as Amora was forced onto her knees in front of her. Amora stayed still and quiet. Like a good little prisoner. “Well. I’m sure you’ve heard that the king of Varg is interested in you. He’s supposed to be sending a guard to get you.” the queen continued. Amora looked down to the ground and tried to keep herself from crying. She hummed The Phoenix lullaby to herself.
“Is there anything that should be done to prepare for the guard’s arrival?” the guard with light blonde hair that stood next to the queen asked. He was the nicest guard Amora had met in the palace. He had been there when she had first come to this place. He had tried to talk the queen out of keeping her here, but nothing worked. He even said he would adopt Amora and raise her. His name was Levi.
He was the only one who showed any sort of sympathy to Amora. She looked up at his eyes and he gave her a light smile. She tried to return it, but she couldn’t muster a smile in a time like this. It was almost like she had forgotten how to smile.
“Take her to the bathing room and have her clean herself off,” the queen paused, standing up and taking a few steps towards Amora. She grabbed Amora’s right wing and stretched it out. Amora flinched, her wings still not fully healed from the clipping. The queen analyzed her wing carefully and strategically. “Freshly clipped. Perfect.” the queen said.
“And her clothes, Your Highness?” Levi asked, his gaze wandering to Amora’s distressed and torn brown dress that hung off her body. The queen looked back to Amora and scowled.
“Her clothes are none of my concern.” the queen said. She turned around, the cape of her dress almost flying over Amora’s head. The queen sat upon her throne again and motioned for the guards to take Amora away. Amora didn’t fight this time. She just stared off in the direction she was being taken. She was excited to get to bathe, but at what cost?
Going and slaving away at the Alpha of Varg’s palace? She shuddered again at the thought of having to be face to face with him. They reached the bathing house and Amora was pushed inside. There were no other women there at the time, which Amora was greatful for. Her bathing time that came so rarely was really the only time she could truly be alone, with no guards walking by, no screams of other prisoners being tortured and starved, and her normal paranoid and panicked thoughts would always vanish once she entered the bath. She cleaned herself quickly and effectively, but she couldn’t stop herself from floating on her back, closing her eyes, and enjoying the sound of the water lapping onto the edge of the huge bath.
Phoenix, Phoenix, take my soul, bring the fire, bring the flames. Little phoenix, full of light, full of joy, melt the cold and bring my soul to you, she sang. She finally managed to pull herself out of the bath, but not until after her wet, weighed down wings tried to pull her back into the water. She dried herself off using one of the soft towels on a rack in the corner of the room and slipped on her oversized, baggy, dirt crusted brown dress. She saw a pair of shoes right next to her clothes. She slipped on the socks they had left her and put on the shoes, struggling with the laces. Her long light brown hair swooped down to the middle of her back, just below where her wings were attached to her.
She wished she had just a shard of glass to cut off her hair, but the guards would never let her get close to something that she could even remotely hurt herself or others with. She’d pondered trying to strangle herself with her own hair once or twice, but she somehow always denied the idea and pushed it away. She was taken back to her cell, but this time it was Levi walking her back.
“Thank you,” Amora mumbled. Levi looked to her, confused. “For trying to get me out of here.”
“I was you at one point. An orphan, lost, panic filled,” Levi replied. Amora looked up at him, waiting for him to say more. “I suppose, when I saw you, I related to you.” he said. He kept pausing, as if he was trying to find the right words. Amora couldn’t respond. She couldn’t even think at that point, so they walked in silence back to her cell. Levi hesitated before opening the cell door. It screeched open and Amora covered her ears.
She walked inside the cell and looked behind her, tears threatening to fill her eyes. She was about to go straight to the corner where she spent most of her time, but she turned around and went to Levi, throwing her arms around him.
“I hope that one day we’ll meet again.” she managed to choke out.
“C’mon, little one. Don’t make me cry.” Levi said, gently pushing her away. He waved with a small smile on his face before closing the door to her cell. The following week passed by slowly and drawn out. Amora spent her time drawing things in the dirt and humming things to herself in a cracked voice. One day she saw a guard round the corner and she knew today was the day that the guard had arrived.
Noor’s journey through Tenebris had been long and tiring. By the time he saw the queen’s palace his feet were blistered and aching and he wasn’t sure if he had ever been so tired in his life. He had tried to sleep, but he would hear other creatures prowling in the night and he knew that if he closed his eyes then he wouldn’t survive until the morning. He managed to catch a few hours of sleep during the day, but not enough to keep his energy up. He walked forward towards the palace and he noticed how all of the other birds looking in his direction were slowly walking away in fear.
Some children ran into nearby shops, men stood in front of their houses with their arms crossed and wings spread out in a guarded stance, woman glared as they continued their work. Noor was too tired to care about what they thought. He walked to the gate of the palace and guards instantly stopped him, their wings keeping him from going anywhere.
“I’m here on business from the Alpha of Varg. Take it up with your queen if you have a problem with it.” Noor muttered. One of the guards with dark brown hair nodded to the other one and they lifted their wings simultaneously. Noor walked between them towards the palace doors. Guards took a hold of his arms and walked him through the huge wooden doors. They took him straight to the throne room. He walked in and almost slipped on the sleek marble floors.
A large red carpet was placed down in the middle of the room running all the way up to the huge throne where the queen sat, her white wings spread out and her white gown falling down around her. Two guards stood at her side, one with bright blonde hair and wings and the other the exact opposite with his black hair and wings. Both the guards had their wings tucked behind their back. Her eyes narrowed at Noor. He smirked in response and she looked down at his mud encrusted boots.
“Already making a mess I see.” the queen muttered. Noor stepped forward out of the guards grasp.
“I’m here to retrieve the little pet you’ve been keeping in this hellhole for twelve years.” he said.
“You’re the one the king sent? Pitiful.” the queen laughed. A guard with light blonde hair smiled lightly at the queen’s jab at Noor.
“Alright, let’s just get this moving. I’m not going to continue standing her and letting you make a mockery of me.” Noor said, grabbing a knife from his waist. The guard’s smile disappeared and his hand flew to his sword, but he didn’t unsheath it.
“Well, the king told me the price would be worth waiting for, so what does he have in mind?” the queen asks.
“I’ll kill a pesky unloyal guard you got.” Noor replied with a snarky look on his face. The queen dipped her head down and her gaze traveled to the guard at her side. She clenches her fists.
“I’m in no need of a hitman.” she replies.
“I can sense the lie before it rolls of your tongue, Your Majesty.” Noor said, grinning.
“Say I did want you to kill someone… do you know how to make it hurt?” she asked Noor nodded slowly and spun his knife in his hand. She looked back at the guard once more before dipping her head towards him. “Kill him.”
Noor started to move forward and the guard got down on one knee, begging for forgiveness for whatever he did to deserve the Queen of Avem’s distaste.
“I will not stand for treason in my kingdom, Levi. Even the tiniest bit of questioning my judgement.” the queen said, not even looking the man in the eyes. The guard gripped onto the bottom of her dress until his knuckles turned white.
“You can kill me if you want, but don’t let the girl go with him. Please.” he begged. Noor moved forward once again and kicked the man down onto his back, away from the queen. He twiddled his knife around the guard’s face. The guard stands up and stares at the queen, and Noor wasn’t sure if he’d ever seen a man look at someone with such disgust. Noor laughed and slashed the man’s cheek. He kicked behind his knee, forcing the man down onto the ground again. Noor stabbed the man’s upper thigh and he grunted in pain.
Not good enough. Noor flipped him onto his stomach and grabbed his wings, snapping them almost in half. The man screamed out in pain right before Noor flipped him over onto his back again. He looked up to the queen and her stare dared him to finish the job. He gave her a grin and took his dagger in hand. He took his time slicing the man’s neck, letting him feel every drop of blood fall onto his clothes. Finally, when his breathing stopped, Noor wiped his dagger off on the man’s shirt and sheathed his weapon. He wiped his hands off and stood up from where he was kneeling.
“Your Majesty.” Noor said dramatically, even giving her the luxury of letting her see him bow.
“The girl is yours. I want her out of here within the hour.” she muttered, still looking at the broken body on the ground four feet away from her. Noor nodded, winked, watched the queen’s chocolate colored skin turn slightly scarlet, and then he walked out of the room without looking back at the queen or the body he left behind.
Amora heard the guards coming and she knew it was time. She hoped one of the guards would be Levi at least, but he wasn’t. In Between two of the meanest guards she knew was a tall boy who didn’t look much older than her. The first thing she noticed was his black ears and tail. She backed away slightly at the sight of a scar running between his eyes and up his forehead. He walked into the cell and she hit the wall from backing up. Her eyes darted to the many weapons at his waist and her breathing turned shaky and uneven.
“What’s your name?” the boy asked, his hazel eyes staring at her with such ferocity and animalistic violence that she thought she started shaking. She shook her head lightly, not even comprehending what he had said. He walked forward and grabbed a hold of her chin, forcing her to look him in the eyes. “What’s your name?” he asked once again. She blinked, trying to remember how to breathe as his grip tightened on her chin.
“Amora.” she managed to gasp out. He let go of her and grabbed a rope from his pack. He tied her hands together and she stared at him the entire time in fear. She looked at the guards behind the boy and they seemed so happy to finally be getting rid of her. She swallowed and tried to contain herself and not start screaming and crying and begging for her to stay with the queen. The lump in her throat grew as she was pulled out of the cell.
She was led through the palace and to the throne room. She walked inside and saw the queen commanding people to pick up a body. She stared at the body, trying to figure out who it was, when it hit her. She screamed at the sight of the bright blonde hair. It was Levi’s broken body that was being dragged out of the room. She looked at the queen in shock and saw that she was actually smiling.
The one person who had cared about her. Tears flooded her eyes and she swore she could drown in them as she struggled to keep her feet moving as she sobbed. The boy looked back at her, and she could have sworn she saw his tail droop slightly before moving up again. She choked on her sobs and didn’t dare look back at the body. The boy pulled on the rope, causing her to stumble and almost fall.
They walked through the palace doors and blinding light hit Amora’s eyes. She shut them immediately and turned away from the sun as her eyes stung from not being outside in so many years. She felt every little bit of the nature around her. She felt the cool breeze hit the back of her neck and she opened her eyes again at how nice it felt. Her tears started to get sticky on her cheeks as they dried under the sunshine.
She saw a cat sitting outside of a house, perched up on the railing of the patio.
“When was the last time you came outside?” the boy turned his head and asked her. She jumped as he spoke. She had forgotten that he was even there. She stared at his hazel eyes that were still set on her as they continued walking through the kingdom. “Well?”
“12 years ago,” she murmured, her voice barely heard through the sounds of the merchants at their stands. The boy nodded. Every time Amora would slow a bit, he would pull on the rope and keep her pace quick and efficient. She noticed they were heading towards Tenebris and she shook her head to herself. If he took her through there she would never see the sun again, but there was nothing she could do to stop it. She knew they could go through Nidawi, but she wasn’t even sure if Nidawi existed anymore, so she continued walking quietly.
They reached the entrance of the forest hours later and the guards at the gate opened it without even questioning who the boy was or why he had Amora with him. Amora looked down as they walked into the forest. She was terrified that if she looked up she would see a monster barreling towards her that would kill her in an instant. Her wings instinctively curled around her in an attempt to keep her safe from whatever was in this dark place. The boy pulled her along through the forest, but Amora noticed he was slowing down.
They walked for around an hour before the boy leaned against a tree. He took a deep breath and tied Amora to the tree. She sat down and leaned her back against it.
“If you see something that looks like it wants to kill us, scream. That should get my attention.” The boy said as he slumped against another tree and closed his eyes.
“W-Wait… what if I get cold…” Amora mumbled, curling her knees up to her chest. The boy’s eyes opened and he stared at her. He sighed and took off his black cloak. He walked over to her and threw it over her.
“I suppose I don’t need you freezing on the first day of traveling.” he replied with a small smirk.
“If we’re going to be traveling together… you can at least tell me your name.” Amora said, hoping he wouldn’t get mad at her and take his cloak back and leave her to freeze. The boy narrowed his eyes at her, analyzing, testing. She stared back. He looked away.
“Noor.” he answered before closing his eyes again. She watched his chest rise and fall evenly as he slept. She heard creatures stirring in the distance and she didn’t dare close her eyes. She hummed the quiet melody of the Phoenix Lullaby and eventually started quiety singing it to herself as her eyes grew heavy. Her words slurred together and her head drooped. Then sleep took over.
She saw something in her sleep. Something growing, something fiery and alive and fighting through everything. Something made her want to keep staring at it, but she was ripped away from sleep at the feeling of being untied and pulled up from the ground.
“Move!” Noor yelled. She heard growling behind her as she ran through the forest. Her wings flew behind her, not even attempting to help her fly. She felt a hand push on her back and she kept running as fast as she could. He lungs burned and she could barely breathe by the time she saw a river flowing in between the trees. She reached the river and turned around and saw a huge cat like creature jump towards her.
She jumped to the side. She looked for Noor, but she didn’t see him, so she did what he said. She screamed as loud as she could. She heard running towards her, and then she was pushed off the small ledge into the water. Her right wing hit a rock at the bottom of the river.
She shrieked in pain and water filling her mouth. She didn’t know how to swim. She moved her arms all over and tried to hit the surface. She kicked, but it felt like she was singing. Her wings were weighing her down. She threw her arm up and it broke the surface. Someone grabbed her hand and pulled her up and onto the bank of the river.
“You can’t swim?!” she heard Noor’s voice scream. She coughed up water and started shaking. Her throat hurt from the water going up her nose. She wanted to scream, but she didn’t. She just let the tears fall down her cheeks silently. Noor kneeled down next to her and stared at her once again.
“W-Why… would I… be able to swim.” she choked out. Noor shook his head.
“Because everybody knows how to swim. In my kingdom, pups learn when they’re only around two.” he said.
Amora shook her head. She struggled to stand up. She looked at the marks the rope had left on her wrists. She looked to Noor and noticed he had grabbed his cloak before they started running. He followed her gaze and handed her his cloak. She put it on and nodded her thanks. The fall breeze hit her, blowing the cloak back. The wind cut through her clothes and her wings surrounded her. Noor stared at her wing that had gotten hit.
“Are you wounded?” he asked. She moved around her wing, testing it. It hurt slightly, but nothing that wasn’t bearable. Amora shook her head and they continued walking.
Zelia watched as her sister got fitted for yet another new gown. Arabella was the definition of beauty in their mother’s eyes. Clear olive skin, beautiful blue eyes, the silkiest black hair Zelia had ever seen, and the body that every girl dreamed of. Zelia was never jealous of her sister’s looks. She just wasn’t one to think about such things.
“Zelia, do you suppose mother will have me marry a prince?” Arabella asked. She watched the seamstresses eyes like a hawk. If Arabella so much as felt the pin touch her skin she would throw a fit and say that they were trying to kill her.
“Well, there’s only one eligible prince right now, Xanair of Varg, and he’s barely older than me. I doubt mother will pair you with him.” Zelia answered as she stared out the window to the sea. She saw her kingdom, her people walking throughout the many merchant booths.
“Why do you look?” Arabella asked. Zelia turned around, meeting Arabella’s gaze. She knew they were thinking the same thing. Because father loved those people as though they were family. Arabella nodded and looked back at the mirror. She smoothed down the wrinkles in her gown. Zelia did the same, but she gathered the silken material of the gown and clenched her fists.
She opened the doors to Arabella’s room and walked out onto the balcony. She felt the crisp sea filled air flow through her long black hair. She saw the people running about, mostly into the seamstresses shops. Arabella’s twentieth birthday party was tonight, and Zelia knew everyone was scrambling to get the fanciest clothes they could afford. This was one of the only times that the whole kingdom would be invited to the palace for a celebration.
The last time was… was her father’s funeral. She choked on her breath as the image of it swept forward, masking her senses. She could still feel his cold hand as she held it in the coffin, scared to let go. Father had told her that one day he would die, but he never said it would be when she was only seven and Arabella ten. Zelia knew she grieved, but no one mourned as much as her mother.
Mother locked herself up for days, only coming out for the funeral. When she finally came out and became the queen, it was as if the world was buffering. It would start then stop and then start again. Zelia could barely remember anything from the time her father died to the time she turned ten and she was finally considered a part of the kingdom. She was finally considered a princess. She thought that turning ten would change her life. She would be able to wear purple, the royal color, she would get to go to court meetings, she would do everything she had been dreaming of since she was able to talk.
She quickly learned that court meetings were horridly boring, especially when Zelia knew she would never be a queen, and she wasn’t entirely sure if she could really dare to call herself a princess.
“Arabella?” Zelia asked, turning around to face her sister once again. Arabella nodded. “When you are queen… what do you plan to do?” Zelia asked, looking back out to the kingdom she had grown to love so much. The kingdom she barely saw from the window of the palace.
“I plan to follow mother’s work.” was the only answer Zelia got. She nodded and headed towards the door, Her conversations with her sister and mother were always broken. There was something keeping them from being a family. Zelia knew it was because her family knew what the future held. Zelia would either rot away in the palace for the rest of her life, or get married, never have children, and try to live a normal life. Arabella would become queen, get married, have a… a daughter, and if she did have a son he would just grow as a guard, never knowing he is truly royalty.
Just the thought of it left a bad taste in Zelia’s mouth. A taste full of metallic hate. She walked past the throne room and she heard mother talking about something with another guard.
“If I tell you to do something, you do it. Now, if the poison isn’t here by midnight, I’ll consider it an act of treason.” Zelia heard her mother say. She stopped walking, leaning towards the door. Poison? Why in all the god’s names would she need poison? Poison was something that had to be especially made. Eronada was a kingdom of peace and kindness… at least, that’s what Zelia had been told for her whole life.
Noor never thought traveling could be so annoying until he traveled with the girl. She had no strength or stamina, her wings were just a target for mountain lions and other creatures, and she couldn’t swim. Noor bet that she couldn’t read or write either. The king was right. She was perfect material for a slave. He watched her walk beside him. He noticed how she was dragging her feet, the soles of her shoes already becoming weak even though they had only been on the move for five days.
“Try to pick up your feet more when you walk.” he suggested. She gave a swift nod, but didn’t say a word. She’d only murmured little things as they traveled, mostly meek ‘thank you’s’ when he would give her something to eat. Her wings were a light brown color, but when the light shone through the trees they almost turned a burnt orange. She stayed slightly hunched as she walked, her wings like her bodyguard. He noticed the way she would jump at the slightest of sounds in the forest, and he had heard her crying when she thought he was asleep.
He had wanted to ask her what was wrong, or what her story was, but he never did. She was a job and he didn’t particularly care about her story or where she came from. On their sixth night of traveling, he finally asked what she had done to be locked up in that dungeon for so long.
“Nothing.” she answered. He raised an eyebrow and laughed a little.
“Well, you had to have done something. The queen of Avem may be cruel, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t lock people up for no reason.” he replied. She looked at him from across the way, the cold breeze blowing through her shoulder length light brown hair, trying to rip his cloak away from her. Her eyes narrowed slightly.
“Then you don’t know the queen of Avem.” she answered and turned away from him, curling on her side so she could sleep. Her wings outstretched, almost reaching Noor’s foot. He sighed and leaned against the tree behind him and let sleep hold him captive. In his sleep he heard the screech of an animal, though he couldn’t tell which one. He heard wings flapping and he felt that same stinging pain run up his right arm and ripple through his spine, grabbing his breath and pulling it out of his body, choking him, leaving him defenseless. He woke with a start and gripped onto the scar on his arm.
He took a couple deep breaths and tried to steady himself back to reality.
WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED IN REVIEW This book is probably one of my all-time favorites. It’s very rare that I read a book done in 3+ points of view without it getting confusing. Moreover, the brief comic strip-like chapters used to represent Mik’s point of view were a refreshing change of pace that were clearly illustrated […]
Read full review
WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED IN REVIEW I started this trilogy because the premise for the books seemed unique and interesting to me. It’s not every day that you see a book quite like this, with a convent of teenage girls trained in the art of righteous assassination. The concept, righteous assassination, almost seems oxymoronic in and […]
Read full review
WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED IN THIS REVIEW Going into this book, I was expecting nothing less than an entertaining story about navigating the complexities and obstacles that come with having an overwhelming amount of power in a Caster-filled city, like New York. The Beautiful Creatures series that comes before this spin-off series did an excellent job […]
Read full review
After reading the first few pages of Love & Gelato, I worried I would not enjoy it because I felt as though the writing did not flow well and is bombarded with trite similes and some awkward attempts at humor. Thankfully this feeling did not last for long, as I was quickly able to […]
Read full review
Red Queen is a dystopian, fantasy novel I didn’t merely like or enjoy; rather, I loved it. Although this book did not contain the most original characters or ideas, Aveyard executed them phenomenally in order to create a story that was absolutely electric and never had a dull moment. It was so engaging that I […]
Read full review
All teen guides.
Central Library, 3rd Floor
600 Soledad • San Antonio, TX 78205
Take our Customer Satisfaction Survey
The City of San Antonio uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine
translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore,
the City of San Antonio does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything
other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation,
you contact the proper City of San Antonio department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or
services may not work as expected when translated. If you need assistance, please call 3-1-1 or 210-207.6000.
La ciudad de San Antonio utilizació Una Herramienta independiente para proporcionar Traducción del lenguaje Automatizado. Como
con any translation automática, la conversión no es sensato al contexto y no se traducirá el texto en su SIGNIFICADO. Por lo
Tanto, La Ciudad de San Antonio sin Garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Le recomendamos Que Si Tiene ALGÚN Problema o
duda de la exactitud de la Traducción, pongase en contacto con el departamento de la ciudad de San Antonio relacionado con
LA INFORMACIÓN Que busca. Tenga en Cuenta Que ALGUNAS Aplicaciones o Servicios no funcionen SE de Como Esperaba CUANDO Traducida
hijo. Si NECESITA Asistencia en Español, por favor Llame al 3-1-1 o 210 a 207,6000.