He sat at the ready, bow string drawn tight, pressing against the weight of his fingers. He had them in his sights, all three of them, still he couldn’t bring himself to release the arrows.
They had fled, left the country, abandoned their kingdom in guises worse than poppers. They had transformed themselves into scavengers.
It was the worst of shame.
There was still the evidence of pride among them. The queen wore her antlers as high as she wore her crown, regal, majestic, invoking awe. It seemed she had not changed much even though she had shifted her form.
Merris watched them from his hiding place, his fingers growing numb, even as dread crept up the walls of his belly. He only had one mission, one task. Hunt the vile Queen, remove her from the land of the living and send her children with her.
But they were innocent. They had not done the wicked deeds their mother had done. They did not deserve her fate. Merris remembered her daughter’s pleas, the way the eldest especially begged her mother before the court of peers for mercy for a man and his family.
The Queen had struck the young woman, drawing blood that stained her honey skin. Her heart was not like her mother’s, nor was her sister’s. They were her prisoners in the palace even as they were now her prisoners in flight.
And how little the woman thought of them, even now, even though Merris knew they had been the ones to save her life. And how had she repaid them for their treason? She’d turned them into wild pigs. She hadn’t even given them the dignity to be her caves.
One of the boar heads turned his direction, stopping in her tracks. Her obsidian eyes landed upon him even in the lengthening darkness. Merris lowered his bow.
Because of his gift, he could see the sorrow in her gaze. Misery and hell lay ahead of her and her sister, its current form that of a reindeer. There was no telling what it would become once they found a hole to hide in. The Queen’s wrath would truly take on many forms and the retribution owed it would be paid in her daughter’s tears.
Without another thought his bow regained its position, his fingers loosed a single arrow. The reindeer Queen let out a shriek that was the sound of a woman before bucking into a short-lived run.
The boar did not move.
Merris work was done. His arrow had surely ruined her heart. He’d find the Queen’s body near the stream she’d ran toward. He’d take her crown from upon her then.
Loosening his purse, doing so loudly enough that he knew the sisters could hear, he hung it just in reach of their snouts. The charm their mother had put upon them would fade by dawn. They would be young women again. They would need money. What he was leaving them would hold them over for at least three months if they spent the purse shrewdly.
Three months would be enough for him to make things right in the kingdom, take his place upon his uncle’s throne.
Then, and only then, would he find the young women. Three months would bless him with the wisdom to know what to do with them once he did.
~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!