By Lauren Rabalais
Web Content Contributor
The content of this chapter contains violence.
Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end. Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.— William Shakespeare
Before he or Ashtad could do anything, a loud bang resounded throughout the room, followed by a feminine shriek. His mind was fuzzy as he looked around. He heard a gun go off, someone had to have been shot. He heard Violet scream, but he couldn’t make out what she was saying; it was so hard to breathe. It was then when he noticed a tingling pressure flare up in his chest.
Oh. He’d been shot.
More screaming flooded the room— several voices, now. He lowered his hand to the center of his chest, gasping when he saw blood ooze through the cracks between his fingers. He tried to scream, but his voice came out in a violent, bloody cough that sent him tumbling to the floor. His head bashed against the wooden floor, and the room started spinning.
He looked up, expecting Violet and the others to be dead, but, instead, Ashtad loomed over his body, staring down at him with an unreadable expression. Even in this state, Alphonse couldn’t help his anger. He pulled himself up onto his knees, cursing when the pool of blood made him slip and crash back onto the floor. No, he wasn’t going to be defeated, not like this. He grunted as he pushed himself up again on wobbly arms, ignoring how strands of his blood-soaked hair stuck to his face and how painful it was to breathe.
“What in the bloody hell are you doing, you vile beast?! I told you already: KILL THE—”
The prince was dead.
The second shot tore right through his head.
Ashtad looked down at the still-bleeding corpse below him, wincing when blood seeped onto his shoe. This wasn’t how he expected his plan to go, but he supposed this was okay— at least the prince could die with his pride still somewhat intact. He had to admit, he was a bit disappointed that it had to come to this. The prince’s resolve was inspiring and refreshing at first, but Ashtad grew sick of watching the kid’s desire for vengeance turn into maniacal selfishness. The child was deranged, and a corrupted soul like that tasted as foul as the sins it committed.
A gunshot pierced his abdomen, but Ashtad didn’t flinch. “You humans are all so eager to slaughter each other,” he said as he reached into the small hole the gun made in his stomach and plucked out the bullet, rolling it between his fingers.
“The prince killed those he believed were evil, and you,” he motioned towards the guard who shot Alphonse. “You followed suit. You are no better than him.” The guards, along with Violet and the other people that he didn’t bother to learn the names of, all watched his fingers with horror.
He removed his top hat and threw it, along with his coat, onto the floor. He watched his onlookers’ faces go pale as he morphed into his true form. He stalked towards the group, his long tongue flicking every which way as his scaly tail sent a flower vase crashing onto the floor.
“P-please, you do not have to do this!” Violet cried out. “Alphonse is dead, you are no longer bound by his word!”
Ashtad let out a dark chuckle. “You’re right, Your Highness,” he said with biting sarcasm. “But if it’s carnage you humans always seek after, then I shall oblige.”
No one in the room stood a fighting chance as Alphonse launched himself forward and tore Alphonse’s killer apart with his claws. Violet shrieked while the older lady next to her covered her eyes and the other soldiers fruitlessly shot at him. Violet’s lip trembled as she pointed at him with wide eyes.
“B-but all our previous victims h-had holes in their jugulars! You crushed their necks with their teeth!”
Ashtad gave her a side-eyed glance. “I have other ways to take lives, my dear,” he said through his large fangs as he tore another soldier apart. “Your brother was too stupid to realize that. He made it so easy for me to set him up, it was almost disappointing.”
The other three guards ran for the door, but, before any of them could escape, he appeared in front of them with deadly speed, killing them all with a gleeful cackle. He turned back towards Violet and the others. If he could smile in this form, he would.
“It really is quite a pity; all of you had to die because a foolish child made a deal with the devil,” Ashtad said, mirth laced in his now inhuman voice. “Well,” he added with a chuckle. “Figuratively speaking.” He wasted no more time and clawed the two older humans to death before turning on Violet, who had fallen to the ground with shaky legs and a quivering lower lip.
“I hope Heaven finds you well, Your Highness. May you reign there in peace.” He bit into her neck, crushing her windpipe. Ashtad was quite satisfied with the two tell-tale holes left in her neck; he found them wonderfully poetic.
Taking in what he’d done, he changed back to his humanoid form. He retrieved his belongings and put them on before waving a hand in front of himself, summoning a black, shadowy portal.
He tipped his hat towards the bodies scattered across the floor before strolling through the gate he’d created, eager to return back to Hell. The prince’s soul was waiting for him.