Chapter Five: "Terror Primeval"
Disclaimer: I, Sokai, do not claim ownership to the workings of W.I.T.C.H. -- I leave that honor up to Elisabetta Gnone. However, I can and DO claim to own this story and its inspired ideas FROM said series, as well as the original character, Sitara Vandom.
Note: Well, I guess all of your votes in my profile for which story to update had paid off, because here it is, finally. LoL Sorry for the, well, three-year delay (hard to believe, I know LoL Neat, though, that my last update had been on my kitten, Ollie's birthday . . . well, one year before it actually became his birthday at all, anyways LoL), but this particular story has been beating my ass. LoL That is, because it is SO different and unlike the other stories I've written, I've been wanting to take extra time to make sure everything I craft/feature in here is exactly as I want it to me . . . and wouldn't you know that it'd take ages for me to finally settle upon this one of the millions of other drafts I'd made for chapter five? LoL
Ah, well! At least it's finally back, so now all those who've been/are loyal fans to this can rest easy, and read this chapter that's very . . . well, you'll see. HeHe
WARNING : PLEASE READ THIS STORY AT YOUR OWN RISK, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE EXTREMELY RELIGIOUS. WHILE I AM NOT TRYING TO BE DISRESPECTFUL OR SACRILEGIOUS, I MAY STILL END UP DOING SO FOR SOME OF YOU -- HENCE, THE WARNING, UNDERSTANDING, AND APOLOGY IN ADVANCE.
This chapter was created/written in July 2008, and in February 2009.
"Scatter thou the people that delight in war." -- Psalm 68:30
"They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, 'Who shall see them?''" -- Psalm 64:5
Wilhelmina had been traveling, ever since having forcibly abandoned the underground, unforgiving city of Barinak with Esmé, for what honestly felt like eons. Too fearful to stop for very long, she hadn't been able to accumulate much rest nor sleep.
And with her body so previously ragged and exhausted, it was all the young, freshly revived woman could do to maintain consciousness and not simply collapse within defeat.
It was all still a bit too surreal for Wilhelmina, and far too much to even begin to process. In one instant, she had been preparing herself to begin living her life anew, such as it was, within the former, and now suddenly new, bleak world the Oracle had foreseen arriving and had been so "courteous" as to allow her be a part of.
And then, within the next instant, she was thrust into such an inexplicable battle, with the most ferocious beast she had ever faced, and inheriting a child within the process. . . .
The poor little girl had lost the only family she had left, her father, and there was nothing Wilhelmina could have done to have changed that, even if she had wanted to . . . and oh, how she honestly wished that she could.
As detached as she had become to the overall world, Wilhelmina still found her heart, what was left of it, inexplicably reaching out a tad to the tiny seven-year-old. Her mind, however, was quick to reason that it was simply due to the fact that no one so young and helpless should ever have to endure what Esmé would now have to face for the rest of her life . . . for however long that now may be.
Nothing and no one could have, should have survived the wrath of that . . . that demon that had so effortlessly torn apart and devoured many of the inhabitants who had not been fortunate enough to escape into the deeper levels of Barinak alongside the rest of the villagers.
And yet, by some miracle, or curse, even, Wilhelmina had managed to not only do so, but had also slain the foul, unholy creature with the most profound strength she had ever been known to possess.
Not even her former powers as a Guardian of the Veil had ever granted her such vigor, which originally had taken her quite some time to have gotten used to.
And now, there she was, suddenly imbued with a newfound might that admittedly left her feeling perplexed, although quite formidable indeed.
Is it permanent, though? Because I no longer feel as though I possess the strength of fifty men right now; I can barely continue to carry Esmé, let alone my own self, pondered Wilhelmina, letting out a tremendous huff in crippling fatigue, as she clasped the slumbering child firmly within her arms while continuing on within her weary trek towards the unknown. And, moreover, how had it happened, anyhow? Had that alarming power come from the Heart of Candracar, or from something else? Do I even want to have it?
So many valid questions continued flooding into the redhead's troubled mind, causing greater stress and anxiety upon her overall composition, as each remained unsettlingly unanswered. While it would be something she would have no other choice but to look into further, it would have to be left until a future date, as figuring out where to go next and how to survive while getting there was Wilhelmina's main priority at that very moment.
Where was she meant to go, and how would she honestly manage it?
She did not know the first thing about this chaotic world, its terrain, or precisely how many demons and other pernicious denizens which lurked about existed overall. And what would she do for shelter and food? Because she was older, it would be possible for Wilhelmina to survive without any sort of sustenance for at least a week or so, despite having only recently been revitalized.
Esmé, on the other hand, with her tiny, fragile physique, would not be able to last for very long, perhaps a few days at best. And with her currently within her post-shock, continual coma of sorts, it was almost certain that she would perish far sooner.
"But . . . h-how am I . . . how a-am I supposed to find anything to eat out . . . here? Gabriel had made it seem next to . . . impossible, from the way he'd . . . described when having offered me some of his food," softly remarked Wilhelmina to herself in between tired gasps for air, finding it harder to breathe nor see, as the surrounding atmosphere became more and more stagnant the further she journeyed.
Stealing a quick glance down at Esmé, she felt her heart wince slightly at the sight, as the petite, helpless girl appeared to be more so dead than merely unconscious.
At this rate, I don't think either of us will make it past sunset -- Whenever that may be, if at all, the cardinal haired young woman reflected silently, taking note of the sun's blatant absence from the perpetually dark, slightly crimson tinted sky.
Both arms and legs beginning to cramp up and become numb, Wilhelmina gave a quick but gentle, awkward shift of Esmé's slumbering frame within her arms, before looking about her immediate surroundings. Although they both were in need of some nourishment, what was a true necessity at that given moment was rest.
But without any form of shelter, the two would be sitting ducks for any sort of demon that may happen to come upon them.
It's a wonder that hasn't happened already, God forbid, thought Wilhelmina, turning every which way within her spot in her continued search for any place to hide. What am I saying, though? There is no God, not anymore, if He could have allowed such a thing as all of this to have happened. . . .
". . . . But I bet you're getting a kick out of this, aren't you? Watching me, being stranded out here and wallowing within this Hell on Earth," said Wilhelmina with profound bitterness riddled within her voice, as she gazed up towards the fiery opaque sky, feeling her heart beginning to ice over once again as she momentarily reflected upon the betrayal of the Oracle against she and the rest of the fallen Guardians of the Veil. "Is it within your overall plan and design to have this innocent child die, as well?? She's suffered enough as it is, just as I have! Just as you've made me! Why not show her what little compassion you may have within you and help her??"
Although she truly did not expect any sort of direct response, Wilhelmina nonetheless stood still, remaining within her spot expectantly, as well as defiantly, while continuing to peer up into the dismal heavens for any sign of change. All that she was met with was the continued, deathly silence of the earthly void, causing her to gingerly collapse onto the ground within a defeated heap.
Careful not bruise nor injure Esmé in any way, Wilhelmina gently set her down upon the mostly barren earth, before curling up next to her. What felt like an invisible, crushing veil of despair and hopelessness immediately descended upon the young gentlewoman, effortlessly enveloping her, as she continued to simply lay there and awaited what was to be her most assured end this time.
". . . . I-I'm sorry, Gabriel . . . but it looks like I won't be able to protect your daughter, after all," she whispered hoarsely, softly stroking the departed man's only child upon her sandy blonde head, before slowly closing her eyes. "But . . . at least you will all be reunited, as a family, very soon . . . I won't be as lucky, not in that way, at least. . . . I'm sorry, sis. . . ."
A few warm, stray teardrops then gently began to freely careen down Wilhelmina's dirtied, tawny countenance at that moment and she let them, as her heart reached out and ached for the other half of herself, while her mind found momentary peace as she allowed herself to at last succumb to her riddled weariness. . . .
". . . Kill me . . ."
"Will . . . you said that you wanted to 'save me. . . . ' Killing me is the only way -- I realize that now. . . ."
"No! I said that I would save you, as in help you!"
"If you kill me, you will help. . . . I'm dying anyway, sis. . . . I don't know you either, Will, but it's plain to see that you're my better half . . . and I am very honored to be your sister. . . . Your twin sister. . . ."
A pale and haggard, yet beautifully familiar face gazed upon Wilhelmina with a pleading expression within the surrounding darkness, although their eyes, her eyes were ironically peaceful. A cold, but gentle hand warmly caressed her cheek and lightly smiled, and Wilhelmina could hear the one who looked so desperately like her whisper into the darkening atmosphere, as she began to vanish from view:
". . . . Set me free. . . ."
"No!! Don't leave me again!!" cried Wilhelmina with fierce abandon, peering into the dimly lit atmosphere, as she'd abruptly awakened from the habitual dream, or memory, that was all too familiar to her over the years. Her insides ached mercilessly, as her mind immediately began to do its best to block out the pain continually dwelling upon her very last moments with her sister always awarded her each and every time.
It was simply too much to bear.
I can't keep thinking about the past like this, any longer . . . I have to be strong, now, more than ever, and keep going on so that I can find her. . . . I have to, she thought tiredly, building up a small, but renewed resolve not to give into desolation and to instead continue on fighting for her own survival, in addition to little Esmé's. I won't give the Oracle any further satisfaction than he already has had at my expense. . . .
Wilhelmina briefly then began to marvel at how she was even still alive at all, given that she had allowed herself to lose consciousness out within the open, where both she and the young child within her custody could have easily been killed or eaten by any number of coarse beasts.
Maybe this means that my luck is finally changing, she silently surmised, although with no real optimism, as she closed her worn out, brown colored eyes for a moment. Either way, I'm going to try to use it to my advantage.
"Es . . . Esmé . . . we're going to make it . . . I promise," avowed Wilhelmina gently and blindly to her right, where the tiny girl lay, presumably still unconscious. Although she still felt a bit drained of energy, feeling as though her momentary rest had done nothing to rejuvenate her body, the redhead forced herself to sit up and reach out towards Gabriel's daughter.
Or, at least, that had been her every intention, as she strangely found that she could not even feel her body, let alone move it. Panic began to set in just then, the undeniable, overpowering scent of rotting flesh replacing the stale air from earlier and suddenly battering against her nostrils, as the rest of her overall senses at last began to reawaken, themselves.
Something was horribly, horribly wrong.
As Wilhelmina frantically tried to move her limbs, simultaneously racking her brain for what could have brought on her mysterious paralysis, abrupt shuffling and scraping eerily began to sound from behind her, as hushed, grated voices murmured to one another.
". . . . A . . . wake. . . . A . . . wake!!" grunted the first, unknown party, male sounding at best, as there was a low, gurgling and rumbling-like bass to it, that sent palpitating quivers throughout Wilhelmina's core to listen to through the slight darkness.
It was strange, almost a bit foolish to think, however, that the presumable male individual almost sounded a bit . . . savage-like, as though hailing from a prehistoric era of some sort.
But that's impossible, though, since everyone who may have survived the end of the old world had originated from it . . . I'm assuming, silently reflected the incapacitated redhead, while she continued to attempt to will herself to move again in order to face the newcomers, or perhaps even flee if necessary. Regardless of where they are or were from, I have to make myself move again and fast, so I can get Esmé out of here. . . .
". . . . T-Tell . . . queen. . . ." slurred the other voice, this one sounding a bit more female, although just as barbaric as her companion. Wilhelmina could then hear what sounded like a heavy curtain or flap of some sort being lifted, and excited footsteps scurrying away from the immediate vicinity, causing her to breathe a heavy sigh of relief.
However, the reprieve was short lived, as a sudden light, most likely from torch fire, effortlessly illuminated the area in which Wilhelmina lay, helpless, and made her feel instant regret. For above, next to and all around her were what looked like distinct and various body parts, decaying and put on display as though with pride or like an honorable trophy.
Her breathing becoming much more labored, heart pounding furiously behind her breastplate, Wilhelmina quickly squeezed her eyes shut from the sight. This was nothing as it had been like while traveling within the underground passageways of Barinak with Gabriel, when the two had come upon the carnage that that particular demon had left within its wake.
For, as vile and gut-wrenching as that truly had been to have witnessed, it had also been something Wilhelmina could have at least fled from, if not fought against as she ultimately had.
This instance, however, while only slightly less ghastly by comparison, was far more dangerous, as she still was unable to become mobile again, and thus ultimately unable to defend herself against whatever may come next. . . .
Although greatly terrified by that point, Wilhelmina forced herself to reopen her eyes, as her mind suddenly remembered something very important:
She was nowhere to be seen, making the older woman's blood run cold as a result. Where had they taken her? Had they even taken her when they had so obviously spirited Wilhelmina away to their contemptible dwellings? And, if they had, did they plan on doing to the two of them what they'd apparently done to the various individuals splayed about her surroundings?
She didn't plan on sticking around long enough to find out.
With every ounce of strength of will she held within her, Wilhelmina desperately tried one last time to sit up, thinking only of Esmé's current state and well being as proper motivation. She let out a soft gasp in surprise, as she could then thankfully begin to feel tingles coursing throughout her body, signaling to her that whatever had caused her paralysis was at last starting to wear off.
"I'm . . . coming, Esmé . . . hold on. . . ." groaned the erstwhile Guardian, tilting her head slightly, while beginning to gently rock back and forth in order to roll onto her side. It was then that she realized, much to her immense horror, that she was naked. However, more than that, that she was covered, from head to toe, with a mysterious, mud colored goo. . . .
Feelings of great fury swiftly began to take the place of the trepidation that Wilhelmina had been experiencing up until that very moment, her stomach knotting up inside as thoughts of having possibly been violated by the two archaic and uncivilized beings while she had been unconscious flew into her mind.
If she'd managed to make it out of this alive, she would make certain somehow that they would both pay dearly for it. . . .
As though acting as a driving force for her weakened constitution, the ire careening inside of Wilhelmina seemed to grant her enough strength to succeed in tentatively sitting up, her entire body once again active, although not by much.
Smiling faintly in triumph and wishing not to waste yet another moment, lest her captors both returned, Wilhelmina shakily rose to her feet, no longer feeling as abashed as before to be bare.
There were far more pressing matters to attend to than the feelings of self-consciousness.
Giving a fleeting glance about her immediate surroundings, seeing beyond the continued decay to at last notice she was inside what appeared to be an adobe-like sort of hut, Wilhelmina turned towards the exit while simultaneously looking for a weapon of some sort to safeguard herself.
It was then that she felt a pair of strong, clammy hands seize both of her shoulders quite suddenly, as her molasses hued eyes widened in alarm once they'd come face to face with perhaps the man who had spoken earlier. . . .
Only, he did not resemble any sort of man Wilhelmina had ever come across while in Barinak, nor overall, for that matter. With hair long, dark and matted down with what looked like dirt and soil, his equally dirtied, pale face was partially obscured as a result; however, Wilhelmina could still regrettably lock eyes with the hauntingly hollow, sunken gray eyes that peered wildly back at her . . . almost with a chilling-like hunger.
The sharp, unmistakable odor of feces began to attack the redhead's nostrils, intermingling with the continual putrid aroma of the rotting flesh all around her, as she then realized that that was not soil covering the man's face, hair, and rest of his mostly bare body. . . .
"Wh . . . where am I? What d-do you want with me??" demanded Wilhelmina breathlessly, managing to muster enough courage, more so to continue inhaling, than to face the obviously unhinged man before her. Her eyes widened in apprehension as she watched him begin to sneer, drool trickling down his dirtied lips, while his horrendously stained teeth flashed menacingly towards her.
"Now, is that any way to talk to your savior?"
Abruptly looking over the intimidating male's soiled shoulder, wincing from the increased pressure he suddenly placed upon her arms, Wilhelmina narrowed her eyes as she gazed upon the owner of the new voice, female, walk into the hut.
Immediate surprise rippled throughout the redhead, as the woman, appearing to be perhaps within her early to mid-thirties, did not at all resemble her obvious male companion, nor spoke like him. Pitch black hair pulled back into a tight, clean bun, her ice blue eyes, although unnerving to behold, were not as bleak as that of the brute-like man.
Nor was her body tainted with indescribable coverings, as nothing but various pieces of dark colored, thick cloth adorned her slender appearance to fashion into a makeshift sort of gown. Wilhelmina momentarily allowed her gaze to linger upon the woman's face, ghostly white in nature, which had curious, black tinted markings trailing underneath her eyes.
She wondered what they meant. . . .
"I see you find my . . . 'tattoos,' if you will, so fascinating. I thank you," said the older woman, as though having read Wilhelmina's thoughts, smiling softly at her as she moved closer. "Demon's blood, if you must know. Shows superiority amongst my people -- Among other things -- which is why I am referred to as their queen. . . ."
Lightly shaking her head subconsciously in wary disbelief, the scowl upon Wilhelmina's face deepened.
". . . . What are you saying? That you people have actually been able to kill those things all on your own??" she roughly inquired, as she lightly struggled against the vicious-looking man's hardened grasp, coughing deeply in order to expel the great stench continually circulating throughout the area. She silently wondered how this woman, who appeared so normal by comparison, could apparently associate herself with such a louse, let alone withstand the foul smell emitting off of him. "I've gone up against one of them, myself, head on, and it was no easy task. . . ."
The woman seemed quite pleased by this, as her steady blue eyes briefly flickered with intrigue. She waved a slender hand into the air towards the male before both she and Wilhelmina, evidently signaling for him to release the younger girl, as he'd done precisely that.
". . . . So . . . you, too, have chosen to rise up against the poverty of this new world and fight back against those abominable beasts, then? I'd thought there was something . . . different about you. I am honored to have you visit our humble, although prosperous kingdom of Belial. I am Queen Reina," said the dark haired woman, watching in amusement while Wilhelmina rubbed vigorously at her recently released, now sore arms.
Wilhelmina then slowly began to blush, as her mind once again focused upon the very blatant fact that she was still naked, and immediately draped one arm over her breasts, while the other craftily concealed her nether region.
"If I'm such the 'honored guest,' then why rob me of my clothing, cover me in this . . . congealing mess, and dump me within this God-forsaken place after having apparently paralyzed me temporarily??" hissed the crimson locked female, lightly raising her hand to cover her nose while keeping her arm against her chest. "And where is Esmé?? Where have you put her?? If you've hurt her in any way, I'll --"
"-- Oh, is that the name of the child? She is quite all right, or will be, at least, as she's developed quite the fever," revealed Queen Reina with an air of disinterest, although a growing smile spread across her pale countenance. "You see, I used to be a doctor within the old world, and so am . . . pretty familiar with the human body and proper remedies, medical or natural. I have directed some of my subjects to take the proper measures to break the girl's fever, just as I have instructed a few others to . . . care for you. I am curious, though, as to where you and daughter were headed before Jirair, here, and his other hunting companions had come upon you. Mind sharing?"
Wilhelmina said nothing, merely peering back at the older woman within a daring manner. Something did not feel right about this situation, even without the horrifying scenery to amplify the notion. This woman, this supposed queen, seemed to be hiding something, as though aware of an amusing little anecdote that she, and perhaps her cohort, were the only ones privy to.
Whatever it was, Wilhelmina was determined to find out, however, without riling up Reina nor this Jirair too much before she was able to get to Esmé.
Sensing the girl's growing misgivings, Queen Reina then directed her attention to the sullied male, simply giving him a silent, although dominating look, before he swiftly left the hut. After which, she flashed Wilhelmina an eerie, stiff smile that most likely intended to be kind and relaxing in nature, as she slowly folded her arms across her ample chest.
"Apparently having saved both your lives from most assured demise is not enough to gain your trust. Perhaps working tirelessly to cure your little girl's ailment should do? Or would you prefer I tell my subjects to leave her be?" queried Queen Reina with an icy undertone within her otherwise calm demeanor. She slowly raised a dark eyebrow in curiosity as Wilhelmina suddenly smiled gently, her overall disposition visibly relaxing.
"N-No . . . no, thank you . . . Your Majesty. For rescuing and tending to us. . . . I just . . . I would simply prefer to see her for myself, so that I could know that she really is all right," she said, giving a slight shiver, as she felt a small chill caress her unsheltered back. She concentrated only upon maintaining her composure, and playing into the best interests of this other woman while placating her for show. ". . . . May I see her? And . . . could you tell me why you have . . . um, that is --"
"-- Why is this hut so filled with decomposing corpses? Or why dear Jirair appears the way that he does? Or, perhaps you are intrigued to know of why I am revered as queen to he and every other inhabitant of my fair kingdom? Normally, I do not bother to entertain our past guests or honor them with such information . . . but, for you, I do believe an exception can be made," remarked the queen of Belial, blue eyes suddenly becoming alight.
When she saw no objection of any kind coming from the redhead before her, she softly cleared her throat before continuing on. "As already stated, I used to be a doctor within the former world. I do not truthfully recall every last detail to my old life, it having been ages ago, it feels like . . . but I do remember that I had never been completely happy during that time, either.
Never been married, no children of my own, and member to a very dysfunctional family I had willingly estranged myself from, I only had the long hours required of my occupation to look forward to. . . . And then, suddenly, I was thrust into this world within the blink of an eye, and stranded within the middle of nowhere after having managed to survive. . . .
II suppose you are wondering how I could freely associate myself with such . . . Neanderthal-like individuals as Jirair. The answer is quite simple, in fact: They needed order and guidance, and I needed shelter and protection from those damned demons. I had been stumbling around out there without anyone, so when I had happened upon Jirair and the others, I'd immediately set upon incorporating myself into the little establishment they had going."
Queen Reina paused for a moment, evidently wishing for all that she had revealed thus far to be properly digested by Wilhelmina, before she would continue. Whether she had or not, however, did not deter the raven haired woman to press on.
". . . . They were not always as you see, of course. I may not still know, nor understand much about the world in which we are now forced to live; however, it seems as though that not everyone -- Those who have survived, that is -- is as mentally . . . fortified, if you will, to handle it," she remarked, turning her back to the redhead, as she took a step towards the hut's dual entrance and exit. "Granted, this is merely pure hypothesis, of course. At any rate, over time, the despair of their collected, pitiful fate and desire to survive by any means necessary had overwhelmed any trace of civilized humanity within them, resulting within a primitive-like regression . . . to what you see now.
Anything that they might have recalled before of their old lives -- Family, friends, and, of course, basic functions and proper speech of cultured humans -- is now gone. And, as for myself, what can I say? I suppose my core will had been the strongest of them all, as I, clearly, am not like the rest . . . which is why it had been all too easy to become their leader, their queen. . . ."
"So then . . . why all of . . . this, if all you are doing is simply looking after your people?" Wilhelmina chanced to inquire, heart increasing in pace, as she suddenly felt a distinct shift within the atmosphere, causing her to feel great unease once more.
Queen Reina turned back around at this, her icy blue eyes seeming to eerily darken, as another, chilling simper appeared against her fair visage.
"Which would you prefer: to live in perpetual terror, constantly running for your life, while simultaneously losing it due to the ever-present low food supply; or, rise above it all by learning to adapt . . . to fight back?" she posed a rhetorical question to a now silent Wilhelmina, who watched with caution as Queen Reina took a step closer toward her. "As I'd said, my people needed guidance and initiative, especially once their former rational minds had ceased to be. And having been so used to granting order and direction to a hospital and staff that could sometimes become chaotic, what better person than I? I'd convinced them not to be afraid and so helpless . . . that while fierce, numerous and intimidating by nature, these demons were still beneath us within the evolutionary chain, despite their apparent inheritance of this now useless planet. . . ."
Queen Reina's formerly calm demeanor suddenly changed into one of tautness, her facial expression contorted into one of psychotic delusion that made Wilhelmina promptly wish once more that she were anywhere else but there at that very moment.
"Under my rule, we have built these homes, out within the open and refusing to hide, using our bare hands and resourcefulness. . . . I have taught them to fashion weapons, initially, out of splinted rocks to create spears, tomahawks, and other useful tools to help with our hunting of demons -- The smaller ones, mostly, as anything larger may result within a casualty of two . . . although, we have ways of handling such occurrences," the onyx locked woman hauntingly whispered with a wicked grin, raising a hand to calmly run across her head, smoothing down her pulled back hair. "Over time, we have found that less and less demons frequent our vicinity, which meant less food and weapons to harvest -- That's what we do with the beasts we hunt and kill, by the way, did I mention? We eat their flesh as our meat, drink their blood for our liquid nourishment, and then use their bones to graft onto the tools we already possess, or to create daggers from. . . . It's an acquired taste, however, but, as I'd said . . . we're very resourceful, and we do what we must to survive . . . ."
". . . . S-So . . . that's what all of these remains are, then? Just . . . demon bones and flesh?" Wilhelmina ventured to guess, intently watching the queen's every move, as she then turned back around and away from her. Although her mind desperately hoped it to be true, her heart knew otherwise.
These remains adorning the entire hut could not have been anything else but human . . . which meant. . . .
"It is almost ironic, when I think of it, how this new world, as isolated and deplorable as it truly is overall, has awarded me with more freedom, pleasure and happiness than I had ever received within the former," murmured Queen Reina darkly, a small chuckle escaping past her lips, while Wilhelmina, meanwhile, began to back away from her as she split her attention between focusing upon the queen, and renewing her search for a weapon of some sort to shield her against the blatant insanity of this woman and her subjects. "I would have never been able to get away with half of the things I have done . . . what I have instructed my people to do. Tell me something, girl: If there are no longer many demons to have crossed our path, what, then, shall we be left to feast upon? I'll tell you. . . . There have been others, much like yourself and your child, to become stranded or lost out there within the endless abyss. And most of whom have found their way here, where I openly greet them, alone, so as not to raise suspicion -- Well, how else could I get their guard down long enough, if I had someone like Jirair or the other members of my kingdom do so, instead, looking the way that they now do?
No, no. It always has to be me -- That is, if they're even conscious after they've stumbled into our midst. . . . If they are, I play the welcoming, relieved role to have come across another human soul, pleading with them to stay, and help me rebuild society. And of course, they are each always all too happy to oblige, simply thanking their lucky stars that they will no longer have to be alone and wander defenselessly.
Ha! It still never ceases to amaze me how they've each never stopped to question and wonder how I, myself, could have managed to survive all out within the open like this! Ours is not to wonder why, I suppose. . . . After which, the rest is quite simple: I lure them into this very hut, where they at last begin to realize something is terribly, terribly askew -- Of course, by then, it is far too late to do anything about it . . . just as it far too late for you to do anything about it, as well, my pet. . . . Jirair!"
Before Wilhelmina even had any time to react, she was effortlessly ambushed once again by the one referred to as Jirair, in addition to four other individuals, both male and female and resembling their companion in appearance, who had reentered the hut alongside him. She let out a terrified, frustrated scream as she struggled with all of her might against the large savage, brown eyes widened to their limit within the deepest fright she had ever previously known.
This couldn't be happening. This was not at all real.
Of all the new horrors Wilhelmina expected to face within this world's rebirth, the evidently brutal fact that every last one of these people were . . . were cannibals was the farthest from her mind. She had always sensed that something was greatly amiss with the denizens of Belial, of course; however, she had merely proposed that perhaps they had either possessed a few enemies, or had a policy against unwanted trespassers, which resulted within the swift demise of those littered about the immediate area.
At least, it was what her mind had constantly forced itself to rationalize, in order to keep her greatly scattered wits about her. Now, however, faced with the undeniable truth and with apparent death looking her straight within the eye yet again, Wilhelmina wondered, with extreme terror, how she would ever make it out of this, or, if she even could.
"Y-You're cannibals?? Y-You people are insane!! Everything that you've apparently done is pure insanity!! How could --!" began Wilhelmina with a frazzled cry, before being abruptly cut off by the sharp, stinging slap of Queen Reina's hand to her face, as she instantly whirled around within her place to stare the younger woman down.
"Do not presume to understand the ways of my people, girl! This is the restart of the world, where only the strong shall survive!! 'Survival of the fittest,' or do you not remember your science classes back in school??" bellowed the queen within a taunting air, leaning forward to cup Wilhelmina's reddening visage and vigorously brush strands of her flaming red locks away from it.
Her blue eyes reflected nothing else but pure evil, hatred, and psychosis, making Wilhelmina shiver uncontrollably as a result, as they instantly reminded her of her twin sister's on the night of her death. . . .
This woman, much like her sibling had been, was most definitely not a force to be reckoned with.
"It is nothing personal, you should know and be able to take with you into the afterlife -- If it even exists -- once all of this is over. You and the little girl were simply within the wrong place, at the right time, when my subjects had found you . . . our next meal," said Queen Reina with a snicker, affectionately stroking the cheek of Wilhelmina's which she had struck. "Of course, you've only made it harder on yourself now, having woken up and overcome the induced paralysis I'd placed upon you -- Venom from a type of demon which used to roam these parts and we've managed to stock up upon. Temporary, yet highly effective in ensuring that your victim, your prey, will not be able to run nor struggle while we . . . 'season' them.
Which is what, I will let you in on, you happen to be covered in, by the bye. We've found that it gives the flesh a much softer, tantalizing texture and flavor. . . . Who knew that as a former doctor, I would ever get to know the human body in such a more . . . intimate capacity, hmm?"
Pulling away from her mortified captive, Queen Reina suddenly snapped her fingers and made a gesture for the hut's exit, and Jirair and his primitive comrades immediately began dragging an endlessly resisting Wilhelmina outside.
"N-No!! You can't do this!! Please!! Just let me and Esmé go free, and we'll never bother you nor your people again!!" the redhead tried desperately to bargain amidst her struggling, feeling both time and her remaining options quickly running out.
Queen Reina cackled boisterously at this, as she continued to find great relish within the younger woman's ample fear and desire to survive.
"Oh, ho! You are not the first to try something like that on me, and I'm pretty certain you won't be the last! Still, you should take comfort! Because you are about to be reunited with your daughter at this very moment. . . . At least you shall be awake, after all, to witness her last moments on this pained earth, as we roast her first as our appetizer. . . ." she declared within a girlish-like exuberance, high above Wilhelmina's continued screams for freedom.
Queen Reina watched within immense delight and growing hunger, as her loyal subjects carded the bare, young gentlewoman outside, back into the stale, but otherwise much more refreshing air, where other, multiple huts erected themselves within a tight, protective circle.
Within the very center was a firepit, with a makeshift rotisserie perched over it . . . and, lying on the ground next to it, slumbering and just as naked as Wilhelmina, was Esmé. . . .
"Esmé!! No! Don't do this, you bastards!!" screeched the redhead, while writhing within her attackers' arms, the dread she'd previously felt beginning to subside, as the former anger she had experienced earlier began to take its place. She silently thanked goodness that Esmé was at least still unconscious during yet another traumatizing event, or else she would most assuredly never recover from the ordeal . . . if they'd managed to somehow make it out of it alive.
Wilhelmina had to do something, anything, and fast, or else she would be forced to watch the miniscule, helpless girl be burned alive, all for the sake of the so called kingdom of Belial's perverse, idealistic views. While being mercilessly carried over to the firepit, she immediately began to pool all of her energy and concentration upon how she had felt during her frightful confrontation with the spike-tailed demon back within Barinak.
Perhaps if Wilhelmina willed it hard enough, she might somehow be able to trigger the same sort of fortification she had experienced at the time, provided it was not truly a onetime phenomenon.
All I remember was feeling supremely terrified, and desperately wishing for the Heart of Candracar to come forth to grant me strength . . . and then. . . . thought the disadvantaged Keeper within a frenzied nature, squeezing her eyes shut. It was then that she suddenly, as well as miraculously began to feel the very same, sweltering sensation of the Heart of Candracar pulsating wildly throughout her entire being, her body invigorating itself with the mirrored vitality from before. . . .
"What is the meaning of this?? What's happening??" Wilhelmina could hear Queen Reina abruptly cry out from behind her, voice riddled with distinct panic for the very first time. Quickly opening her eyes, Wilhelmina saw that Jirair and his companions, although still holding onto her, had stopped moving, as everyone began to gaze upon her curiously illuminating body.
"D-Demon! Demon!! Look how her form grows black with its sinister aura!! Destroy her!!" screeched Queen Reina fanatically and eyes widened beyond its limit, waving her finger indiscriminately towards the redhead.
Wilhelmina, her head slightly bowed, concealed a soft smile, as she knew what was about to come.
. . . . I'll show you who the true 'demon' really is, you bitch, she thought fleetingly, before she suddenly felt her body being overwhelmed by the numerous weight of Queen Reina's subjects, who had then begun to pile on top of her, in attempts to further restrain her.
Without much thought nor effort, Wilhelmina merely gave a small grunt, before stretching out all of her limbs in every which direction, causing every last aggressor to go flying into the air and off of her. Giving a quick glance towards Esmé, who remained perfectly still where she laid, Wilhelmina then braced herself for the furious onslaught heading her way.
Taking a defensive stance, Wilhelmina immediately swung her right arm, with full force, towards the first Neanderthal-like man to come rushing towards her, punching a startling, sickening hole straight through his face, instantly killing him.
Although it was quite the devastating sight to behold, on did Wilhelmina continue to fight back, not wishing to give a moment's rest until both she and Esmé were once again safe.
The collective paused for a moment after witnessing such immeasurable strength and befalling of one of their own, unsure of whether or not to continue. Seeing this, Queen Reina, who slyly began to back away, cried out to her minions, doling out further orders.
"Don't just stand there, you fools!! Kill her!! Kill her until there is nothing left for her daughter to mourn!!" she screamed with maniacal trepidation, frantically pulling at her raven colored hair and causing it to become as disheveled as her miniscule sanity.
With an automatic, unanimous roar, Queen Reina's unsuspecting sheep resumed their charge, head on, to the awaiting slaughter. Sensing someone approaching from behind, Wilhelmina gave a swift, blind kick backwards, straight into the abdomen of one of the boorish-like women, and succeeded in knocking both the air as well as life out of her.
Two individuals then flew at the redhead simultaneously, in an effort to better subdue her, to which Wilhelmina merely seized each of their arms, before roughly colliding their bodies into one another and causing a fatal blow to both of their heads.
Suddenly, Wilhelmina felt one of cavemen-like persons jump onto her bare back, latching onto her for dear life with attempts to suffocate her. However, with a heavy grunt, she sharply struck his face with the back of her head, before gripping onto his shoulder and hurling him off of and in front of her.
The man gave a frightened, painful shriek, before having his neck severely snapped by a stoic Wilhelmina, who momentarily crouched behind him, before rising to stand face to face with the sole individual left alive.
Standing head to head, the vicious man let out a menacing, embittered snarl as he tightly clenched his fists, while watching as the slayer of his people lightly gave a quick flick of her fingers to shake away some of her victims' blood.
With a swift lunge, Jirair dove towards Wilhelmina, managing to topple her over as he then straddled her, wasting no time in delivering several hard blows to her face. Her own blood trickling from out of her lip and upper brow, Wilhelmina moaned in pain as she promptly reached up to try to gauge out the assailant's eyes. However, she instantly regretted it as he, perhaps the most ferocious of his Belial brethren, managed to evade her attack before fiercely sinking his jagged teeth into her arm and began attempting to devour her alive.
With an ear piercing screech, both in excruciating pain as well as aggravation, the fortified redhead summoned every ounce of strength still left within her, as she ruthlessly plunged her good arm straight through Jirair's chest and heart, killing him.
His sunken eyes now widened in great surprise and affliction, they remained upon Wilhelmina, as his jaw slowly became slack and released its firm hold upon her appendage. A fair amount of Jirair's blood spilled out onto the young woman's naked chest, nearly matching the same shade of her hair as it then began intermingling with it.
The overall battle, which had been monumentally one-sided, had only lasted no more than a few minutes in retrospect, however the damage was palpable, as Wilhelmina had nonetheless managed to decimate every last resident of Belial . . . all except for one.
Heaving a heavy sigh within a mixture of physical suffering, as well as relief that it was all over, Wilhelmina roughly pushed Jirair's deceased body off of her, before gingerly rising to her feet. Her reddish brown eyes rested upon the momentarily forgotten, slumbering Esmé, and suddenly she felt as though she were coming from out of a daze, as the strength that had swelled inside of her abruptly dissipated and the darkened aura surrounding her subsided.
. . . . I guess I can only tap into that sort of power when it's really dicey, hypothesized Wilhelmina silently for a moment, before carefully picking up the tiny child, and cradled her bare form against her own in spite of the continually pulsating pain to her bitten arm.
". . . . Let's g-get you out of here," she murmured to the sleeping girl breathlessly, wearily turning her head to gaze at the carnage she had wrought. She let out a small, although nonetheless shocked gasp, as she looked upon the mangled, severed corpses littered about her feet.
Even though she had known that their deaths had to come in order for both hers and Esmé's lives to continue, she hadn't honestly expected to wreak such havoc upon those who, essentially, were only following the unsighted commands of a completely disturbed woman. . . .
For a fleeting moment, Wilhelmina honestly felt remorseful.
Is this how you felt after you'd realized your mistakes for having . . . killed our family and friends? she silently reflected upon her lost sibling once more, feeling her heart give a great jolt of amalgamated guilt and anguish. . . . . What is happening to me?
Holding onto Esmé as tightly as she could without further aggravating her injury, Wilhelmina turned and began to despairingly walk out of Belial once and for all, where its queen would be purposefully left to contend with the aftermath of her now fallen kingdom, alone once again.
Suddenly, Wilhelmina felt a sharp, overwhelmingly searing pain within her lower back, careening throughout the rest of her body, as it then caused her to abruptly fall harshly down onto her knees and drop Esmé as a result. She let out a bloodcurdling scream as the affliction continued on, lightly rolling over onto her side to see what looked like a makeshift, bone-like dagger mercilessly protruding from her body.
As her cries continued, the immensely afflicted redhead could then hear them being intermingled with another's, causing her to weakly look up to see Queen Reina simultaneously guffawing, as well as shrieking in the distance.
Her dark hair completely free of her formerly organized bun, and the demon's blood underneath her eyes now smeared from her previously fallen tears, she stood, a bit lopsidedly, before the long forgotten firepit and next to Jirair's fallen corpse.
"You! You've ruined everything!! You've murdered the only family I've ever truly cared for!! Did you really think that I would simply let you get away that easily??" inquired Queen Reina with blatant lunacy laced throughout her now, high pitched voice, eyes flashing with immense heartache as she peered down at her apparent right-hand man. "Now, I'm going to take great pleasure in doing the very same to you!!"
Then suddenly, Queen Reina's facial expression turned dark with unbridled rage, as she slowly began to stalk over to the greatly wounded, now helpless Wilhelmina, whose vision began to get blurry from the overwhelming pain and loss of blood.
The last thing that she could see, before slipping away into the darkness of her subconscious, was Queen Reina's incensed form, coming closer towards her in order to finish what her dagger had started . . . and then also a mysterious, unknown and sizeable figure swiftly approaching from behind her. . . .
-- End of Chapter Five
(A.N. SWEET merciful Heavens, I have done it!! Kaloo, kalay!! :Dances: Goodbye, blasted chapter!! Don't have to worry about you anymore!! HeHe Of course, now, I've to worry about the following chapter…. It never ends. LoL Still! I truly, truly hope you've all enjoyed this crazy chapter of mine, and didn't get TOO grossed out or "scared" during the whole cannibal hut scene and such. What can I say, when it comes to this story, at least, I have a pretty gross and messed up mind. LoL But it certainly adds to the drama and habitual terrors/danger that awaits Will at every turn within this new world. Don't you love the bible verse at the beginning? I know I do; it fits this chapter perfectly. HeHe Then again, so do all of the other verses I've used for each chapter thus far, which is the whole point, but yeah. LoL
I know what some of you might be thinking, too: "MAN, Esmé has it easy! She gets to sleep the entire time, ANY time the two of them are in a scuff." Pretty much, yeah. LoL What! The girl went into shock, then developed a fever, which Dr. Crazy and her crew were treating, primarily so that they wouldn't eat "tainted meat" LoL No, worries, though; I'll have her wake up very soon again!
What else…oh, yeah. If anyone is or ever might be interested within the certain names for people or villages/"kingdoms" I've chosen thus far and their meanings, just lemme know and I'll fill ya in. Till then, I hope you'll all be kind to me and review this fourteen-pager! See? A lot longer than my previous chapter, too! See how nice I am with my return of this story? HeHe)