Drenisov didn’t like being distracted from his duty. The king had granted him a high honour in appointing him as witch finder and he enjoyed the power his new position gave him. The soon to be queen requested his presence and he was disgruntled at being pulled away from his sacred duty.
“The Lady Francesca calls you urgently,” Vasinov had pulled him aside.
Drenisov rolled his eyes.
“I have no time for this,” he complained. “I have already had three suspected witches brought this morning and if I don’t act now their coven may have the chance to flee.”
Vasinov gripped Drenisov’s arm and tugged him back. “Don’t be so stupid as to refuse your queen,” he spat.
Drenisov pursed his lips. “She’s not my queen yet,” he said.
“But she will be and if her reputation is true she cares little for fools who don’t bow to her will.”
Drenisov bowed, stretching his arms wide.
“Then I guess I am at the lady’s command.”
Vasinov sniffed. “Change first,” he ordered. “I can smell burning flesh on you.”
Drenisov grinned. “It’s the smell of progress, My Lord,” he said. “I have heard the lady’s reputation too. Perhaps she would enjoy the smell of burning flesh on a man.”
Lord Vasinov shook his head at the young man’s insolence.
“Go now,” he commanded.
“Fine,” Drenisov said with a final roll of his eyes. He turned to the guard he assembled.
“It seems I am called to the castle,” he announced to them. The guard returned with silence eager for their orders. “No one moves until I get back,” he stated.
The guards gave a cry of, “Yes general!” in receipt of their instructions.
Drenisov was led to chambers in the East Tower of Castle Kroestov. Francesca had taken up residence there until her marriage to Roman. It was a small room with bare, green walls. It contained a mahogany table and a bottle green sofa. Francesca had brought nothing with her from her home but refused Roman’s offer to make her surroundings more lavish and comfortable. She had everything she would need.
Drenisov found her lain on the sofa with her hands folded across her chest, staring at the ceiling as though she were in a coffin.
“You wished to see my, My Lady,” Drenisov enquired politely.
Francesca sat up. She smiled at him, a wide, beaming smile that caused her magnificent blue eyes to spark.
“I hear we owe you thanks for keeping the kingdom free of witches, general,” she said.
“I have been granted a great honour by His Majesty,” Drenisov replied. He refused to meet Francesca’s eye.
“It is a dangerous task though,” she said. She stood and walked towards him. “Witches could hide anywhere. One could even be hiding in this very room.”
Drenisov felt a hand on his shoulder. The touch was like a bolt of lightening firing though his body. He turned and was face to face with Annabelle. He hadn’t seen her when he arrived. He hadn’t heard her enter the room. He turned back to Francesca. She reached her hands out and clasped each side of his face with her long, thin fingers. Immediately he felt his body weaken from the knees. He managed to stay upright.
“You know those people you burned are innocent, don’t you?” asked the soon to be queen.
Drenisov nodded dumbly in agreement.
“You wouldn’t know a real witch if they were close enough to bite off your tongue,” Francesca continued.
Annabelle stood behind the general in silence. Drenisov continued nodding.
“Just be done with it,” Annabelle urged.
“Here is what I need from you,” Francesca explained to the general. “You will continue your little witch hunt as you see fit. I do like a man with initiative. But know this. If your ambitious glare ever falls in my direction I will make you suffer in such torture those you have burned will seem to have been blessed. Do you understand me?”
Again Drenisov nodded. His thick lips twitched as though he were trying to form words but none came.
She removed her hands from his face. His nose began to bleed.
“You wished to see me, My Lady?” he enquired again as though he had just entered the room.
“I got everything I need,” Francesca explained. “You may go.”
Drenisov bowed to both women individually. He gave Annabelle a second glance trying to remember if she had been there the whole time.
When they were alone Francesca fell back onto the sofa. Her nose began to bleed.
“He may stumble onto the path of ‘Them’”Annabelle said.
Francesca replied, “’They’ are all gone.”
“He wouldn’t stand a chance. No dweller would.”
‘Dweller’ was a person with no magic ability.
“I told you I left none alive. Nothing is going to stop my life here with Roman.”
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