Chapter Twenty-Three: Blanca

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Blanca sat quietly as Cerise explained what had happened to the three of them. Judging from the blood that seeped from Verre's shoulder, and the awful stench that rose from the ooze that splattered from her clothing, she had an interesting tale as well.

As Cerise spoke of the dragon, Blanca glowered. She had no recollection of riding the dragon--up until the very end, of course--only of blacking out after she had refused to climb on. Aura hadn't said anything, but Blanca guessed she was the reason of her sudden lapse of memory.

Glancing around, Blanca realized that far too soon they would all be dead.

Because of her.

She wasn't a killer, but maybe she could be. Her father hadn't minded hurting people--he had taken pleasure in it. That cruelty tainted her own blood. If she didn't think about what she would have to do, then maybe she could tap into that anger that lived inside her.

She was doing this for Lyra and Rose, she convinced herself. If she didn't kill them, her family would be killed. One enraged scream could kill them all. In fact, as she glanced around, she realized she could destroy them all at that very moment. The cave closed them in enough for it, but she resisted, knowing that she wouldn't be able to find the slippers on her own. That, and the fact that she wasn't ready to consider killing them.

"So, Aura tried to charm a dragon? That's ridiculously stupid, but apparently it worked." Verre rolled her eyes, as if she was used to these sorts of things. She probably was.

Verre was the most frightening of the group, though Blanca was now wary of Aura. Everyone but her had some sort of skill besides their magical abilities. Verre was a natural fighter, Aura knew how to survive, and Cerise was a mixture of both. All Blanca could do was read, write, and be able to recite Allegora history to perfection. She could also bake amazing crescentberry rolls.

"Yes, it was insane, I will admit, but what happened to you? Get into a fight with Baen?" Chuckles reverberated through the room, the loudest being Baen himself. Verre frowned at the lot of them, their laughter dying instantly. Blanca gulped as Verre's penetrating grey eyes locked on her own. It felt like she was boring deep into her soul and mind, uncovering all of her secrets.

"Some odd creatures attacked us. There were four of them, as if they were a pack."

Blanca noticed Cerise perk up at the mention of pack, and remembered that her mother was a werewolf. Werewolves were frightening beings. Humans by day, wolves by night. They were no ordinary wolves, though, being closer to the size of a grown man, some even as large as a griffin in wolf form.

Cerise was a smaller wolf, still standing at around five feet tall, and nearly twice as long.

"Have you ever heard of the tale of the trigor experiments? Of how the king would force his handmaids to go through the torture of being injected with trigor poison? Well, I think those were the women, or used to be, anyway."

The trigor experiments, Blanca remembered hearing about them. Her father had laughed and stated that the women had no doubt deserved it, before downing another glass of wine.

From Verre's tone, they must have morphed into something horrible. How could the king have done such a thing? Those women had stood no chance, none at all. He was their king, and they could do nothing to stop him.

"Anyway," Verre added quickly, sensing the somber mood, "Baen, you never actually told us the details of how you got here. Perhaps you could tell the tale?"

Blanca was relieved at the change of subject, noticing that they all were as well. Allegora was a mess politically, and no one liked discussing it.

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