The Blood Rose Assassin – Part 9
Disclaimer: The following work of fiction contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some.
Hungry for revenge, Isolde and Marianne stood perched in the trees, hidden by the foliage, overlooking Lord Umber’s castle and its surrounding property. The security stood on guard, inside and just outside the gates, same as the Rydells’ estate when the siege took place. There was nothing intimidating about them, especially since Isolde was no longer a human and accompanied by her maker.
“Lord Umber is the goal, yes?” Marianne whispered. Amongst the sounds of the night—the slight wind, the crickets, the rustling leaves and the small grunts of the tired and bored guards—Isolde heard Marianne’s question clear as day as if she were right next to her rather than on another tree.
“And anyone in our way,” Isolde replied.
“Well, everyone’ll be in our way.”
“I don’t care. It’s what I want. You know as well as I do that he took too much from me. It’s not a time to be merciful.”
Marianne leapt from the branch she was perched on. Isolde followed. They were silent, undetectable, and were able to take out the front guards with an easy twist of their heads to snap their necks. Inside, as they made their way, yells from the guards alerted others, but Isolde and Marianne fought. It was easier to use her sword. Her heart no longer raced. Any anxiety she had from the last fight was gone. She truly had the upper hand this time.
Speed became a friend. She dodged and disappeared from her enemies’ eyes in a flash and came down, slicing their heads in half, without giving them another moment to blink. She smirked, reveling in the fear on the guards’ faces when they realized they were done for.
“V-vampires!” One of them shouted, pointing a sword as Marianne leapt and came down, stepping on the guard’s blade and then slicing his head off his shoulders.
Isolde stopped; the scent of blood spilling everywhere hit her with full force. Her eyes darted around and her fangs elongated.
“Hey!” Marianne shouted as she stabbed two guards within seconds of each other. “Pay attention! Get upstairs! I’ll handle these assholes.”
Isolde looked up at her and nodded. She hurried to the stairs but frowned as guards scurried into a different room, away from Marianne. Were they fleeing from battle? Before Marianne told her to go again, Isolde made her way up the stairs, killing anyone in her path and licking at the blood on her sword during spare moments as if it were a dessert.
Finding Lord Umber’s quarters was easy. She turned down a corridor, and at the far end stood the room’s massive double doors. Several guards stood in front of it, their shields and swords aimed at the ready. Isolde’s eyes narrowed as she contemplated the most entertaining way to kill each and every one of them.
The guards sprinted toward her after Isolde debated her tactics for a moment, and she pouted. “Oh,” she whispered. “I guess that’s how it’s going to be.”
She unsheathed her sword and leapt up to land behind them, where they weren’t protected. Without giving them a second to turn around, she swiped the sword’s blade across the row of men swiftly and instantly, their heads falling from their shoulders and their bodies collapsing.
Isolde turned to the double doors and smiled. Finally, she was here. She could take revenge for all she’d lost. Her thirst for the man’s death had never been stronger. She was so close she could practically taste it.
She took hold of the door handles and tried to open them. Of course, the doors were locked. Isolde sprinted to the far end of the hall again and rushed towards the doors. Using her newfound strength, she lifted her leg and kicked open the doors. A few wooden splinters broke off where her foot kicked between the doors.
Isolde stepped into the room slowly. It was far too quiet and dark, the only light coming from the moonlit sky through the window. She stood in the middle of the room and listened carefully, took in a deep breath, and heard the silent, anxious breathing of a coward sneaking up behind her.
Just as the sword came down, Isolde spun to face him and grabbed the blade with her bare hand. “You fucking craven,” she hissed, yanking the sword from his grip and flipping it in the air to grab it by the hilt and point it right at Lord Umber’s neck.
Lord Umber’s face paled, his eyes wide in horror. “No! No, how? You’re dead!”
“I am dead,” Isolde agreed, and pulled his sword back, only to plunge it into his abdomen. Still gripping the hilt, she walked him backward against the wall and pushed until the tip of the blade went through the other side of Lord Umber and pierced the wall behind him. He collapsed, howling in pain. Isolde grabbed his hands and sliced them off at the wrists.
“Please!” Lord Umber cried, blood dripping from his mouth. “Just kill me.”
Isolde looked at him and held her own sword. She was shaking. Killing him wasn’t enough. This momentary pain wasn’t enough. If he died, then what? She wanted the man to suffer.
She felt as if something else was controlling her. The desire to cause an unholy amount of pain drove her to sit beside Lord Umber. She took his right arm, looked at the bleeding handless wrist, and carefully used the tip of her blade to make two small incisions over the skin at the edge of the wrist. He screamed in agony, and Isolde smiled.
Carefully, she slid her thumbnail between one of the incisions, dug it into the side, and lifted the skin from Lord Umber’s body as easily as if she were skinning the skin of a fish.
It was horrible, the flesh revealed after she flayed the ribbon of skin. Yet she smiled, delighted in the screams and cries of Lord Umber.
With her morals and soul nowhere in sight, sadistic revenge dominated her every thought. Isolde dug her fingernail under the outermost skin layer once more and pulled.
When Isolde left the late Lord Umber’s chamber, it was silent. Not even the fighting below could be heard. Was it possible that Marianne had successfully finished everyone off? Was she cleaning up the mess?
“Mari!” Isolde called out as she ran down the corridor and back down the stairs.
At the foot of the stairs, she stood, looking around in confusion. Marianne never called back. The stench of early rigor mortis and blood from all the fallen guards reached her nose. Isolde held her sword out just in case and walked around, looking on the ground to make sure Marianne wasn’t amongst the fallen.
Frowning, Isolde ventured into the room she recalled guards fleeing into. It led into the dining hall, then the kitchens, and she saw nothing. Still, there was a narrow door left that led to a dark stairwell going down. Gulping, Isolde went downstairs quietly and opened the door just a little to peek inside.
She’d entered a dark cellar room with contraptions and weapons Isolde could barely comprehend. Then she saw Marianne on the ground across the room. One of the guards was pouring a clear liquid over her. Marianne screamed as the liquid burned her skin, a lot like the sun had burned Isolde when she’d turned.
“Get the fuck away from her!” Isolde shouted, raising her sword, but an arrow struck her through the chest, catching her off guard.
Someone took her sword and knocked her down onto the ground, facing Marianne. Isolde struggled, but then stared in horror as another guard joined the one pouring the liquid over Marianne.
“Mari! Get up!”
Marianne could barely move. She grunted and her eyes met Isolde’s. How did they get her like this? How could she not overcome them? How was Isolde being held down right now? That fucking arrow! Isolde squirmed and glared, helpless, as the second guard pulled out a wooden stake.
“No, no, no!” Isolde screamed as he plunged the stake into Marianne’s heart through her back. Marianne’s entire body cracked and blackened before collapsing into dust, and Isolde shook with rage, seeing nothing but red through her tears.
It was like white noise as she screamed. Despite the discomfort of the arrow through her body, she wasn’t completely helpless from the holy water torture. She resisted the men that kept her down and ruthlessly, gruesomely destroyed every single one of them. Overkill was an overstatement. Even when they were all dead, she kept harming their bodies in a fury until she remembered to feel.
Isolde pulled out the arrow from her abdomen with a pained groan. She looked at the tip as it glistened with blood and something else that surely poisoned her enough to deter her. She could feel her wound wasn’t healing like it should.
Isolde crawled to Marianne’s ashes. Her clothes lay there, and she took the dress. She felt something in the pocket and pulled out a rose and a crumpled note. Isolde read it and felt as if she were brought down to earth for the first time since she died.
For my Isolde.
She burst into tears, but was barely allowed to mourn as she heard a loud foghorn ring throughout the kingdom from outside. Isolde looked up from the ashes and ran to retrieve her and Marianne’s swords. She bunched up Marianne’s clothes under her arm and walked out of the cellar. The horn rang again, louder and closer than before.
Hissing, Isolde sprinted to the tallest tower of the estate where she found the last living guard. “What’re you doing?” Isolde asked, her voice scratchy from her screaming and sobs.
The guard jumped and turned to face her. “Kill me. I don’t care. At least I got to tell everyone that vampires have returned to the king—”
Isolde didn’t let him finish. It was enough information. It was enough to know that she had to be careful, and she was on her own.
To be continued.
Featured photo taken by Mathilda Khoo from Unsplash. Altered by Valeria Silva in Adobe Spark.