Fairytale Hit Squad 3.8 – The Voices, The Voices

Read the previous episodes

fhs

‘For a blind Knight Of The Round Table, you’re a dab hand with the old needle and thread.’

‘My lady Guinevere taught me many things,’ says Lance, repairing the last rip in my shredded hood. ‘Not least how to mend ripped bodices.’ His voice turns bashful. ‘Which is something we experienced rather frequently.’

I decide not to press him for more details: my imagination has already done a good enough job of making me feel like I’ve just swallowed a diseased toad.

‘Shall we press on, my lady?’ He hands me my cloak and hood and the rest of my clothes which were torn to pieces during my transformation into a wolf. His handiwork is impressive: my clothing looks as good as new. ‘We should make the entrance to the labyrinth by nightfall.’

I perform the last of the checks on my vast array of weaponry. I stare down at my hands, finding it hard to believe that my fingers — or rather, my claws — are the deadliest weapons of all. The minced remains of the supposedly indestructible Questing Beast lie in a gory pile nearby. Despite feeling somewhat at odds with my newfound powers of lycanthropy, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride at my handiwork.

‘The Minotaur,’ I say, ignoring Lance’s wince of warning. ‘It will be no match for me now.’

‘You should still exercise caution, my lady. Though I am no expert in your condition, as far as I understand things, you may only turn once per month. When the moon waxes full, and the pale-faced goddess Diana is in the ascends—‘

‘Bullocks to that,’ I say, examining my forearms. Is it just me, or are they slightly hairier than normal? ‘I can tell I’m able to turn it on and off like a tap.’

‘But … the lore …’

‘Is wrong,’ I say. ‘Take it from me.’  I’m not in the mood to discuss it further: my mind is darkening with the thoughts of all the lycans I’ve mercilessly slaughtered in the past.

Lance, to his credit, changes the subject. ‘The beast at the heart of the labyrinth may prove to be a more dire threat than even the Questing Beast.’

‘If it can be killed, I fail to see how.’

‘It can indeed be slain, Scarlett. But the corridors of the labyrinth are littered with the bones of those who have tried.’

‘Then we shall avenge them. I’ll tear out the Minotaur’s throat with my teeth, rip its horns off with my bare hands, shove them up its — ‘

‘My lady.’ Lance holds up his hand. ‘May I ask that you exercise some control over your powers. Lycanthropy is a curse, as you well know. If you allow the condition to rule you, then it will take over: devour the very things which make you human. Turn you into a beast. Forever.’

I know he’s right. I can already feel it: the bestial rage simmering just beneath the surface. The bloodlust, nigh-on impossible to slake. The whispering, tempting me to give in to the power burning within my heart. It would be so quick … so easy … so good

‘Once you retrieve your mother’s crown,’ says Lance, ‘you will be safe. Through it, her purity and love will imbue you with the ability to control even your basest desires.’

That sounds a bit dull to me, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Besides, my heart’s set on the vast amounts of weaponry I’ll be able to purchase with the wealth of the Kingdom when I inherit the throne. ‘Then we should continue on our quest,’ I say, using words I know my sightless companion will appreciate, ‘and restore order to the land at our earliest opportunity.’

The day passes without event. I let Lance recite his knightly poetry, the tortuous rhymes of which distract me from the voices in my head telling me to give into the lupine power and rip out his larynx. We make reasonable progress through the Forest, especially considering Lance’s limp. An hour or so after noon, we can hear it: the roaring of water in the distance, a sound like the constant bellowing of a hundred thousand beasts.

‘The Raging River.’ Lance gazes meaningfully at a nearby tree trunk. ‘The watery grave of many a noble soul.’

‘You’ve obviously crossed it before,’ I say. ‘You went over the Bridge of A Hundred Doubts, I take it?’

‘That I did, my lady. My disguise as a blind beggar was most effective. SB’s militia let me cross without challenge.’

‘I’m sure we could take them.’ The voices in my head are a little louder now. ‘If I let myself turn into a wolf, then I —‘

’No, Scarlett. You mustn’t. Even if you are able to change at will as you claim, transforming twice in such a short space of time will be too much for your humanity to bear.’

‘But doesn’t that mean I won’t be able to face the minotaur either?’

‘Not as a wolf, no.’

The voices retreat somewhere I can’t hear them so clearly. I hoist my triple-barrelled shrapnel grenade launcher. ’Then I’d better make sure everything’s fully loaded.’

‘Another thing, my lady. I’m afraid the labyrinth is protected by powerful magics of the ancients. We will not be able to enter it armed in any way.’

‘What? I have to leave all my babies behind?’ I stroke the handle of my nuclear-powered crossbow lovingly. ‘No way. We’d be better off taking our chances against the militia.’

‘They are too many, even for you and your undeniably impressive arsenal,’ says Lance, shaking his head. ‘Besides, they would be able to alert SB as soon as we attempted to cross. The success of our mission depends upon us keeping an element of surprise.’

There is wisdom in his words. The Kingdom is connected by magically-powered ley lines, allowing those possessing enchanted amulets to contact one another in an instant. I can scarcely imagine anything worse, but then that’s yet another example of how much I dislike SB’s supposedly wondrous Kingdom. Perhaps I’ll abolish the amulets and disconnect the ley lines when I take the throne…

’So be it,’ I say. ‘I shall face the Minotaur unarmed and without the aid of my wolfish powers.’

‘It is an honour and a privilege to serve you, my lady.’ Lancelot kneels before me, his head bowed. ‘You truly have your father’s courage.’

I look down at my pale hands. Whether I have my late father’s bravery or not, I have an unshakeable feeling I may well end up sharing his fate …

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *