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Guilty

The bitter January wind bites at my cheeks, stinging like lashes from a whip. I shiver violently but keep looking at my feet, making sure they don’t stop moving. Remy tightens his grip on my waist, drawing me closer in an attempt to keep me warm. He tucks my white-blonde hair behind my ear and gently presses his lips to my icy cheek; his kiss burns like fire, a welcome reprieve from the cold and an action that makes my stomach flutter.

“The tavern is just ahead, Aya,” his tenor voice murmurs persuasively into my ear. “Do you want to go inside for a few minutes and warm up?”

I look up, and as Remy says, there is McCarthy’s Tavern. I don’t really want to go inside; the tavern, as on most nights, is bound to be filled to bursting with drunken brutes that shout obscenities and smell of decay. But it provides shelter from the freezing wind with its warm hearth and earthen walls, and Remy must be just as cold as I am. My lips too frozen to speak, I nod tiredly. I rest my head on his shoulder for the remaining distance to the tavern.

As soon as we enter the establishment, welcome warmth begins to permeate through my entire body. Such a wave of relief rushes through me that I become immediately exhausted. I sway on my feet, but Remy catches me before I stumble.

“Are you well?” he insists, concern sharpening his beautiful brown eyes.

I manage another nod, my eyelids drooping. “I’m so tired, Remy…can we go home yet?”

“Not yet, love. I have business to do here. How about this? I’ll find you a chair to rest in while I speak to the innkeeper, all right?”

“Okay,” I mumble. My lips seem to reject any kind of speech; still somewhat numb, they collide clumsily, unwilling to form words. I let Remy guide me to an unoccupied armchair, sinking into it gratefully. The chair’s woolen fabric embraces my body, luring me toward the dark world of sleep. I go without a fight, dozing off before Remy has even left my side.




I’m jarred awake by the sound of Remy’s screams.

I immediately wrench my eyelids open, my heart racing frantically. Where am I? Where is Remy? I leap to my feet. I remember now; I fell asleep in a chair in McCarthy’s, and I am inside the tavern still. Remy’s continued shouts are definitely from inside the tavern, but the earthen walls muffle the sound and make it quite difficult to locate. Still, his tortured voice chills me to my core. The languishing embers of the once-roaring fire are of no help.

I leave the main room in a hurry, my teeth chattering not from my cold winter surroundings but from the icy panic twisting my insides into loops and uncomfortable twists. I run along the corridors, opening every chamber door I come across, irritating quite a few slumbering commoners as I cry Remy’s name into each room. One dozing man throws a boot through the still-wide-open door at me, swearing. I’m beginning to lose hope as I reach the last corridor, my calls for him growing fainter. Is he injured, or perhaps afraid? Could he be dying?

Finally, just before I fall into despair, I open the second-to-last door on my left. “Remy?” I call weakly. There is a shuffling inside the dim and – so I think – empty chamber. I step inside.

The faint candlelight illuminates a frightening scene that makes me want to retch, scream, or faint.

The dead body of a man lies motionless on the dirt floor. A knife protrudes from his chest, shining red blood flowing from the sickening gash. I bleat in fear, sinking halfway to the floor, supported only by the earthen door frame. I can’t see or feel anything as my mind tries to shut out what I’m witnessing.

“Aya?”

My wide-with-terror eyes come into focus when I hear Remy say my name. I look around the room, carefully keeping my eyes away from the dead man, and see my love standing across the room by the small bed that occupies the chamber. He’s breathing heavily, and his eyes are wide, as if he’s in shock. In a few quick strides, he closes the gap between us, and I force myself to stand, staggering into his embrace.

“Remy,” I whisper brokenly. “I heard you screaming, and I – I thought-” My voice breaks, and I’m unable to continue. Gripping his shirt so tightly that my fingers protest in pain, a few silent tears slip down my cheeks.

“Shh, shh. It’s all right, princess. I’m here now.” He rubs my back soothingly, pressing soft kisses into my hair until I’ve calmed down.

When my composure is reliable enough for speech, I clear my throat. “What happened to this man?”

Remy sighs. “He killed himself, right in front of me,” he informs me sorrowfully. Oddly enough, the sorrow seems forced.

“But why? What happened?”

“Aya, don’t be ignorant,” he chides. “I just told you that he committed suicide.”

“You said you had business to do. What…” My eyes widen in horror as a possibility dawns on me. “Remy? Did you…did you kill him?”

“No! Why would I? I have no quarrel with this man,” Remy scoffs, as if I were a child.

I look up, intending to search his eyes to see if he’s telling the truth, but oddly enough, he won’t meet my gaze. My trepidation intensifies tenfold.

“Remy, I want you to tell me exactly what happened.”

He stiffens. “And why should I, princess?” he hisses, his voice tinged with malice. “Just because you want something doesn’t mean I have to give it to you.”

He’s right, of course, but the remark still stings. I pull away. “Fine. Don’t tell me, then. I’ll just have to turn you in for murder. I already know you killed him, Remy,” I say, seeing his suddenly surprised expression. “If I know why, perhaps I won’t need to turn you in.”

He laughs once, a bitter, humorless sound. “Yes, I’m absolutely convinced that you won’t rat me out after being told the whole story. Your father will want to hear all the details, I’m sure.”

My blush burns my face. “Don’t say a word against my father, Remy!”

“Well, if you’re so eager to hear it, I suppose I should tell you the whole story,” Remy sneers. He clears his throat dramatically, then strides over to the oak door and shuts it, entombing us both.

“I trust you already know that my mother owns an egg stand in the peasant’s marketplace. This morning, a knight was passing through and requested the price of the eggs. Since we have no other way to make money, Mother has to charge a high price for her eggs. The knight, whose name was Sir Dominic, commanded her to sell him eggs at a discounted price. Sales had been terrible that day, so she had to refuse. He angrily stalked off, vowing revenge.
“I suppose he must have asked someone where we lived, because when we came home, everything in our house was ravaged, and all the chickens in our coop outside were gone! Our lives are ruined!” Remy’s voice is now a shout. “And so now, it is my quest to end the lives of all the nobles and royalty in the kingdom of Scarr! Sir Dominic has already paid for his terrible mistake. And now, princess…” Remy ambles over to Sir Marshall’s corpse and pulls out the knife, wiping the blood on his own tunic.

Almost involuntarily, I scream, “Remy, no!” I run past him and almost make it outside the room, but he catches me by the wrist and yanks me to his side.

“I love you, Aya. Don’t forget that.” The candlelight makes the blade of the knife flash blindingly.

My scream pierces my eardrums as the knife meets flesh.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Laurel C. said...
Nov. 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm
You rock and are an awsome writter
 
IfOnlyHeWouldSee14 replied...
Nov. 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm
Weirdo. :P Thanks Lala! And for the record. *awesome xD
 
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