Chapter 1

Zillah's blade slid across the girl's throat.

Blood spilling onto her gloved hand, the moon shining off the red blood on her hand as she watched as the light faded from the girl's beautiful blue eyes. She stands, looking down at the lifeless corpse before setting it a light. If there's no body then she can't be caught.

She steps back from the flames, watching with a strange glee, a strange feeling in her belly but she loves that feeling. She must go, she wishes she could stay and watch a little longer but she must leave before someone sees the fire, she can't be caught like this, that would only be stupid.

She turns quickly, leaving under the canopy of the dark forest towards her grandmother's little cottage that sits on the edge between Wintervale and Aldrose, Oakheart and Violetmarsh are back the other way but she doesn't care about then, not yet anyway. All she cares about is Wintervale.

She steps out to the small clearing in the forest, to where her grandmother's cottage is. She notices a flickering light in one of the windows, she's still awake? Zillah sighs as she opens the door quietly, stepping inside with her hand still covered in blood. She brings her hand to her lips, licking the slick red blood from her finger tips.

She walks past a door left ajar, her grandmothers sitting room where the fire is. She was going to keep walking to her bedroom but a voice calls after.

"Zillah." Her grandmother calls to her from her sitting room. She doesn't sound angry but she doesn't sound happy either. She takes a deep breath before turning towards the door, opening it gently and walking in, she stays standing by the door.

Her grandmother's back is to her, as she stares into the fire from her chair.

"Yes, grandmother?" she whispers to her.

"How was your hunt?" she asks her, she called her in here to ask her that?

"It went fine, as it always does." She says quietly, she notices her grandmother nod.

"Good." Her grandmother whispers to her before she stands from her chair. Her white hair shining in the light, her skin old and wrinkled, perhaps even a scar here and there. She turns around to look at her granddaughter, her dark eyes almost as black as the night but her small smile is like the fire, warming. "It's your eighteenth birthday tomorrow, my granddaughter." She says to her.

"It is. But am I ready?" she asks her.

"It is scary when you think about it but your more than ready, I trained you all these years so that you could do this. You are ready." She approaches her slowly. "Tomorrow evening you will strike, but be warned my dearest, do not fail me." Her eyes harden, no longer a look of warmth but off threat and it's not an empty one.

"I won't fail you." She promises her grandmother.

"Tomorrow, we will go and visit the town, look for the best way in for you but once you're in I can't help you until you open the gate." Zillah nods.

"I won't fail you." She repeats again, her grandmother holds her face in her hands, making her look up into her dark eyes.

"We're so close, you've worked your whole life to get here, it's in our grasp Zillah, don't let it slip now. Go and rest, you will need all the sleep you can get for tomorrow and wake up determined to fulfil this dream of ours." She whispers to her, Zillah nods.

"Yes grandmother." Her grandmother pecks her forehead before walking back to her chair again, Zillah leaves her sitting her and walks down the dark hallway to her bedroom. Once her door is closed and she is stuck in the darkness she strips off her armour.

She's been with her grandmother since she was eight years old, she's trained and trained for the day she turns eighteen. And for one reason only, her grandmother wants her to invade Winter's Castle in Wintervale, wants her to become Queen of Wintervale But Zillah doesn't know how she's going to do that without an army, it's just her. She'll have to tread carefully.

Her heart pounds against her chest as she thinks about it though, if she's caught…she shouldn't think about, the more she worries the more likely she's fail and she can't fail. She won't fail, she promised her grandmother. A promise is a promise.

Zillah strips down into nothing, leaving her skin bare as she collapses into bed.

For now, she'll sleep, tomorrow she will fight.

Zillah found it hard to sleep that night, she was awake most of the night with only a couple hours sleep. She left herself sitting up in bed as the sun rose over the tree's. She contemplated all night how she was going to do this, she contemplated running away to a different place when she thought of what will happen to her if she's caught, or what would happen if she returned to her grandmother if she failed.

She's tries to motivate herself all night, she's thinking cowardly, once she has the throne she will have power, glory and an army at her beck and call to do whatever task she set out for them and she already has a task in mind.

Zillah flung the covers off her, getting up to get dressed. She rummaged through her drawers and picks out a random, every day, peasant girl dress, she doesn't want to look suspicious today when in town.

She dresses quickly, brushing through her dark hair before leaving the room. She doesn't need to look in the mirror to know she looks a right mess.

She meets her grandmother in the dining room and she lays out breakfast, a small smile on her face as she hums to herself. But she stops humming when she looks up at Zillah, her smile grows though, almost into a grin.

"Come, sit. Have something to eat before we set out." She says to her. She does as she's told and sits across from her grandmother but she's not hungry, she's nervous, worried and all sorts but she forces herself to eat. If only because it's better to have her grandmother happy than angry.

Breakfast drags on a long time, her mind wondering back and forth from 'of course I'll succeed' to 'I'm going to fail' all the while her grandmother hums happily to herself.

When she does finish her plate, she takes it into the kitchen, ready to be washed. She was going to wash it but her grandmother stopped her.

"Leave the plate, child, where we're going we'll have servants to do it for us. Let's go into town." Her grandmother throws a blanket around her shoulders as she picks up her basket. Zillah stays close to her side as they walk out the door.

From here the forest thins a little, it's only a couple minutes walk to Wintervale from here. Soon the snow comes into sight, their boots crunch down on the white snow as they enter the town. Bustling as normal, bright and early.

The two of them look up at the giant castle covered in snow.

"Now, how do we get in?" her grandmother asks herself. They walk into town, past the shops and to the edge where the front door is in sight but guarded by a giant gate and several hundred guards.

"Grandmother, how will I defeat all the guards?" she whispers to her.

"Leave that to me." She whispers back to her with a sly smile on her face. "I won't kill them but I will put them out of your way."

"Why not kill them?"

"You need an army as a Queen, don't you?" the old woman asks her.

"I never thought about that." she whispers more to herself but her grandmother chuckles a little.

"That's why I'm here, sweet, to look after you when you forget things. Trust dear old granny, I know what I'm doing." Her grandmother looks up to the top of the castle "I bet if you climbed up there and through that window you could kill both the King and Queen, take the crown and kill the rest of the royals." Her grandmother suggests.

"I need a bit of wall that's unguarded so I can climb it tonight."

"Hmm…let's go around the other side." She follows her grandmother down an alley and out the village where there's a small, very small, bare part of the castle. She could possible climb it but there's guards standing there. "I can get rid of those but you'll only have a short while to take the castle my dearest, the spell will only last half an hour." Zillah nods.

"Right okay, so you'll take you those guards and while I'm climbing the castle, you'll take out the rest of them?"

"The ones out here yes, once you have the crown they have to follow you, it's law to follow the Queen. But you must reach that bedroom before the ones out here wake and spot you. Once you're in and the gate is open I will make sure every guard follows your command."

"I see, that's quite the climb to that window…"

"It's either than or go through the whole castle by foot and raise the alarm." Her grandmother says to her.

"You have a point."

"I need some supplies from town to make the spell and it won't be done till tonight."

"How many spells do you need?" Zillah asks her.

"Two, one to put them to sleep and then another in case they decide to attack you as Queen, the second spell is just to make sure they follow your orders but you have to be wearing the crown for it work, they have to recognise someone as Queen." Zillah nods.

"I understand."

"You worry too much, this will be easy. Especially knowing I'm here, all you need to do is kill the royal family but be careful the two sons are skilled in warfare. This is why I trained you, so that you can stand a chance against them and any other enemy that comes your way."

They walk together back into town before they get spotted by the guards. They stop talking, before someone finds out her grandmothers a witch, that's the last thing she needs. She won't be able to break into the castle without her.

They work quickly, getting a couple supplies from a couple different stalls. They stop at one next to a bar, she doesn't listen to what her grandmother orders, instead she looks over to where brawl is happening outside the bar.

Several people are tossed about, into walls and through doors, eventually the crowed separate's as a woman walks out of the centre. Dressed to kill, she's in a skin-tight suit, a fur cloak over her shoulders and several daggers attached to her waist, twin swords on her hips.

Her skin is dark, her hair long and unruly, almost as dark as the night itself. A white scar down one of her eyes. But even with that scar she's beautiful.

The woman, assassin by the looks of it, picks up a glass of whisky and takes a long drink.

"Who's that?" she asks her grandmother as she packs away her ingredients for the potions. Her grandmother looks up at the strange woman.

"Auryon, a dangerous and powerful huntress. Beautiful, isn't she?" Zillah nods.

"I've never seen her before." She whispers.

"She only ever comes out at night, hidden under a veil of shadows, she hides in plain sight, seen but unseen. She's travelled many places in her youth, fought many foes and has numerous stories of adventure. I've heard a couple in my time but I myself never heard them from her. Occasionally she'll come to the bar and cause trouble, tell some of her many stories that circulate.

"She has a lot of enemies, a lot of people after her and yet no one can find her and those that do are often too drunk to win a fight with her. But I can tell you something, she knows everyone and where they live, if you ever want to know something about someone she'll know it. I don't know how much of this is true but that's what I've heard.

"I've never bothered with her myself, not that anyone can pin her down though, she moves like a snake and I'm sure she's just as poisonous as one. Stay away from her for now, she has too much power among the criminals, too much of a high status for you to get near her. But soon you will be above everyone but god himself. When you wear the crown, you can then hunt her all her like but for now, let's go. We have much to do." Zillah nods as she walks away with her grandmother.

Her heart has skipped a beat when she looked into the Huntress, she assumed it was fear but why would she be afraid of her? When she is Queen she will kill her, and every other beautiful woman in this country. She's been hunting them down one by one for years but when she's Queen it will be much easier.

Her grandmother always says she was the most beautiful girl in the land, but as she grew she found a jealously in her own heart for the other woman, those who were also beautiful. Her jealously got the better of her, she tried to tell herself she will always be better than this but she couldn't help herself. She killed the first woman she could get her hands on and she loved the feeling.

She loves watching the red blood spill, she loves the taste of it.

Zillah has been killing since she was little, she's thought nothing of it. But she is determined to be only woman with beauty in this country, and a dangerous and powerful huntress won't stop her.

Back in the cottage Zillah had stripped her dress off and instead her grandmother made her try on a dress she had specially made for her. A dress for her to wear when she becomes Queen, a long black dress, low cut with a high split in the leg part, a fur shouldered cloak made of wolf's fur.

It's made of silk in some places, the dress, the bodice jewelled and made of swede. Long sleeves but with a split in them.

"Beautiful." Her grandmother says, holding onto her arms. "All you need is a crown and some jewellery and you'll be stunning." Zillah only nods, not replying to her grandmother as she admires her in the mirror.

"How did you afford to pay for this?" she asks her grandmother, it looks expensive.

"Who said I paid for it." She says as she turns around to leave. "Now get your armour on, Zillah, it's almost time. I will meet you at the palace but you better be wearing the crown." She leaves her bedroom, leaving her to stare at her won reflection.

She takes a deep breath.

Zillah carefully takes the dress off, laying it down on her bed. Her grandmother came back in to fold the dress up and put it in her bag before she left the house but she never said anything to her as she laced up her boots and tightened the straps of her armour.

She sheathes a sword in one of her grandmother's expensive scabbard that she didn't bother to pay for, she picks up a couple of daggers that sit on her bedside table before throwing her hair back in a tight braid. When she looks back in the mirror she's a different person on the surface.

She wonders how she'll change when she's Queen, perhaps she will begin to enjoy life a lot more as Queen. Perhaps once that crown is upon her head she should just let go all fear, but she'll decide that if she succeeds.

She leaves her bedroom, not wanting to keep her grandmother waiting too long, she quickly heads into Wintervale, she notices her grandmother by the gates.

"I have cast the spell, you have half an hour, go!" she says to her, Zillah nods as she heads down the alley, shrouded in darkness. She quickly walks to the castle wall, stepping over the sleeping soldiers. She grips the stone of the castle and begins to climb, the moon behind the castle and all candles have been snuffed out. There's no light, no way to tell if she's on the castle but she won't take the risk anyway.

She climbs as fast as she can to the top of the castle, to where the tower is, beads of sweat pouring down her forehead as she hoists herself up onto the window ledge of the King and Queen's bedroom.

Staying as quiet as possible she carefully climbs into the dark bedroom, un sheathing a dagger. Let's make this quick, she doesn't have time to sight see in the palace.

She swiftly drags the blade over the Kings throat and then the Queens, the only sound coming from them is a gargle as they struggle to breath. Soon they lay flat on the bed, she sheaths the dagger once more.

Her eyes flicker to the Queen's crown, sitting on top a pillow next to the bed.

Zillah places the golden crown upon her head.

'She is Queen of Winter's Castle, she is Queen of Wintervale'. She repeats these words to herself, 'She has succeeded' she says in her mind, over and over again as she leaves the bedroom, heading down the spiral staircase. Driving two daggers into the spines of the Guards at the bottom, they didn't even hear her walk down the stairs, she's like a deadly shadow in this castle.

She looks down a dark hallway, guards posted everywhere, so there must be where the two sons sleep.

One of the guard's yawn, falling on the floor. The guards follow one by one, perhaps her grandmother sent some of the potion into this hallway, she must have known this was where they slept.

After hearing the clash and bangs of armour, the two sons come out of their room, only dressed in trousers but they do have swords at the ready. She unsheathes her sword and walks out from the darkness to duel them, she doesn't bother to make note of their appearance, they'll be dead soon.

One of them went to swing at her but stopped and stared wide eyed into her eyes. She drove her sword through him, quickly spinning around to cut down the other brother. He met with her blade though, looking down into her blackened eyes.

"What are you doing…?" he begins to ask her but she knocks him off his feet, aiming the sword downwards she cuts right into his heart. She watches him bleed to death, watches the light fade from his eyes as the two brothers go limp. The guards will wake soon, she must open the gate for her grandmother.

She leaves the four bodies in this wing to bleed as she quickly runs through the castle and to the front door, there are no guards, some of them she found sleeping but the others aren't here.

When she exits the castle however, she gets an answer to the question she didn't want to ask, most of the guards stand outside, looking confused. They turn to her, one of the many guards approach her with a sword raised, she glances at the gate where her grandmother stands, she nods to Zillah.

"Open the gate." She demands, the guard that came after her stopped, lowered his sword as his pupils in his eyes dilated so much they disappeared.

"Yes, my Queen." He says as he turns around, heading to where the mechanism is to open the gate. The other guards gasp. Her grandmother strolls in, past the guards who part in fear to let her through, she stands behind her granddaughter, facing the guards again.

"This is your Queen, Queen Zillah, obey her every word or so help me you'll end up like him." She warns, pointing to the zombie like soldier closing the gate again.

"Will that wear off at some point?" she asks her grandmother.

"It will, when he decides to accept the fact that you're Queen now." She answers her. "I will get rid of the bodies, Zillah." Her grandmother says as she disappears into the castle.

"Spread the news, the King and Queen are dead along with their sons. I am Queen now." She says to the guards. Some of them obey, leaving quickly to tell everyone but some of them stay. "Now!" she shouts at them, watching their pupils dilate. They will return to normal soon and they will beg her for mercy.

She turns on her heel, heading into the castle to change out of this armour and maybe get some sleep.

Zillah meet with her grandmother in the throne room, in her fancy dress her grandmother gave her, stolen jewellery and a stolen crown. Her grandmother had the bodies of the royals burned and then chucked outside the castle, not even bothering burying them, she let the muck pit outside swallow them up.

Her grandmother grinned with glee when she takes in Zillah, dressed like a Queen.

"My dearest granddaughter, you have done it! You are Queen now, just like I knew you would. But you must be careful, I will be here for to look out for you but you must tread carefully now. Many other kingdoms would see you as a weakness but you are in fact a deadly shadow and remember that."

"I will, grandmother." She turns to where her throne sits next to the kings. Guards return back from the village, the entire castle surrounded. "Take the kings throne away." She commands the guards.

"Are you sure, my Queen…?"

"I'm not getting married so take it away. Put move mine over a little to the middle while you're at it." She commands them, they do as she asked without complaint, when hers is centred on the small she walks up the three steps to her throne, sitting down. Her grandmother stands next to her, on her right-hand side.

"You should rest, Zillah." Her grandmother says to her.

"No, I have so much to do still." She whispers.