Part

Part. 11 All That Matters

Crymzon clenched her hazel eyes closed tightly. The throwing knife whirred through the air, aimed in her direction. Beads of sweat slid rapidly down her forehead. Her breath became heavier and quicker, like a car that had just started again after sputtering to a halt. An impulse to drag her fingers through her hair drove anxiously down her arms.

In all those movies Crymzon had seen, the dramatic scenes were slowed down for effect, but in this reality it all ran at twice the pace. Images of her former life passed before her sealed eyelids. Discussions that had taken hours, long kisses with her boyfriend, all the days she spent terrified on her first day of high school all condensed into milliseconds, seeming strangely insignificant next to the simple weapon that was destined for impact in an instant. A tear slid down Crymzon's already slippery cheek.

The knife hit.

The deafening sound of the collision made her eyes shoot open. It was an odd sensation, realizing that she was still alive when she was certain of her own inevitable death.

Crymzon rolled her eyes to the left. The knife was lodged an impressive 2 inches into the grey marble wall. A horrific image of that knife embedded in her own forehead passed through her mind. She pushed the gruesome thought away, but not before her stomach did a nervous summersault. Suddenly, a burst of air flew out of in between her lips. She was abruptly aware that she had been holding it in.

Salem smirked cockily. "Impressive?"

Crymzon felt the eyes of the others in the room staring at her. She told herself not to answer; there was no dignity in answering; if she answered, she'd only be giving Salem pleasure. Unfortunately, her tongue had no sense of right and wrong, so it uttered for her, "Y-Yeah."

Salem's eyes oozed with the very essence of ego. "I've had loads of training with these weapons," she dangled a knife from her fingertips, "Not to mention others. There have been countless lessons with crossbows, battle-axes, and, of course, spears."

"What about guns?"

Crymzon rolled her eyes to the right to see a curious Butch. Francis was giving him a quizzical look as if to say, 'You're strapped to a wall with a deranged dictator standing in front of you, and you aren't terrified enough to even attempt to keep your mouth shut?'

Butch shot back a look that Crymzon could only read as 'Yes.'

Salem shook her head. "No, never guns. I don't like guns. They're just too… easy. There's no pride in shooting someone with a gun."

"You're exceptional in martial arts, too, right?" Butch inquired.

"Yes, very skilled."

Crymzon only began to block out the back-and-forth interview when Butch began asking about Salem's old instructors and such. She had no honest need to listen to Salem's head inflate with arrogance. This was a skill she had learned while she was young, just as most siblings do, because Salem was always a showboat. Maybe back then it had been about silly things, like grades or awards, instead of different weapons she used to murder people, but all the same Crymzon didn't want to hear it.

The sound of silence became overwhelming, blinking Crymzon back into reality. Ana awkward quiet filled the room like deadly toxins as Butch ran out of questions to ask. Suddenly, Crymzon understood. He had been stalling. Of course, it was a good idea, engulfing Salem into her own self as to keep her busy. If she wasn't busy, she'd have no reason to keep them around.

Salem ran her hand through her black and white hair. "Well, I-"

"What did you do to mother?"

There was another silence while the room turned towards Crymzon. She herself couldn't even believe she asked such a personal question.

There was an angry glint in Salem's eyes that sent shivers down Crymzon's spine. People had said over and over that they had the same eyes, but somehow Salem's had changed along the way. Crymzon hadn't noticed that her own sister's eyes had grown a gleam of hatred until the anger had brought it out.

"That happens to be none of your business."

Crymzon felt her face flush under Salem's glare. The room was quiet for another long moment, Salem staring bullet holes into Crymzon's face the whole time, before Salem began speaking again. "Anyways, I-"

The door burst open, and Salem whipped around. A short soldier with a chubby face had appeared in the doorway.

"Ma'am!" He had a high-pitched, slightly nasally voice that gave Crymzon flashbacks of watching The Wizard of Oz with her mother when she was smaller. She could almost see the little man dancing and singing 'Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead", and she would have laughed if the situation was not as it was.

"What is it?"

"There's a situation at the front gates. A commander seems to be committing treason."

"Can't the other commanders take care of it?"

"You told them that you enjoy taking care of traitors personally."

Salem let out an exasperated sigh. "Okay, fine," She glanced anxiously at Crymzon, "Put these in the dungeon. I'll take care of them when I get back."

He saluted, and she trudged out of the room. The munchkin man took a black walkie-talkie from his side pocket, mumbled something into it, and returned it to its place. Relief washed over Crymzon, and by the essence of the room, it seemed to do the same to all the others. Somehow they managed to live through a confrontation with The Queen. Sure, it was just dumb luck, but that didn't matter. The throwing knife next to her hadn't pierced her face, and the ones around her were still living, and that was all that mattered. And even as more powerful men came, roughly snatched them from the walls, and pushed them into an iron-barred cell, that was all that mattered.