by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Therresa woke, cold, wet and terrified. She didn't know where she was, she just knew where she was not; her sleeping chamber, safely ensconsed within the castle walls. Unsure of how she came to be there, the queen tried to move. Unable to get her body to respond to even the simplest command, she strained to see through the blackness that surrounded her. She wasn't alone. She could hear the faint whisper of breath and feel the briefest hint of air being expelled from the lungs of her captor. Her eyes widened; he was standing over her.
As though her thoughts had been heard, a voice spoke, just inches from her ear. "Oh good, you are awake."
"That voice. I know that voice." The queen trembled, sure that she had woken in hell. It was the only explenation, for the man standing over her was dead. She had watched him die, the image of his body burning, forever engrained in her mind.
A light flashed and began to shine, slowly expanding until she could see her surroundings. The room was enclosed with stone walls, three of which were embedded with chains. Iron couplings hung from the ceiling, as well as the floor. Instruments of torture were placed strategically around the room, which she recognized. It was the dungeon in Satan's Stronghold. The bastion was hidden deep within The Devil's Fortress, it was known only to a select few. Therresa had selected them herself. Most had died within these walls, at her own hands or the hands of her lover. She hadn't been here for some time, afraid of her secret being discovered.
"I see you recognize this place."
The queen's eyes flashed with anger. "Why did you bring me here?"
"I would think that answer would be obvious. I have missed you. I long for your body, my Queen"
Therresa shivered. She watched his eyes move hungrily over her naked body. Bending, he licked her breast, coating his tongue with the blood that she was covered with. It wasn't her own, at least she didn't think so. She didn't feel any pain, despite being stretched out on the rack. When her captor was finished lapping the crimson fluid from her breast, he lifted his head, giving her a wicked smile. Her stomach tightened, sensing what was coming next.
Reaching for the wheel at the base of the rack, he turned it. Therresa sucked in her breath, biting off a scream as the ropes pulled on her body taut and she felt the strain of her muscles tightening. She looked up at the man standing over her and realized she was becoming aroused.
"I did not think you could do it," Therresa moaned, unable to disguise the admiration she felt for him. "When you said you could come back...but your face...it isn't yours."
"A minor inconvenience. I had to take Ulric's. Not the most handsome man I could have chosen, but an improvement on my previous appearance. Three months in the grave can take its toll on a man."
Rowan kissed Therresa then. As he ran his hands down her body, the queen felt a new thrill. She had made love to Rowan many times, but this would be different. He was dead...or un-dead; she wasn't sure what the correct term was.
She stared into his eyes as he moved over her. They were souless, as were her own, if anyone had chosen to notice. She had sold that particular item to the devil years ago, in exchange for wealth and power.
With the sale came a price. Her beauty. Only her mirror knew the truth, revealing her haggard face whenever she looked into it. To everyone else that saw her, she appeared as beautiful as ever. What did it matter what her reflection showed if she banned mirrors from every room of the palace. Except that now, looking into Rowan's eyes, she saw a glimpse of her true appearance.
Copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved.
The photo in this story is the work of the amazing Sue Mydilak. Be sure to check out her other work and sing her praises.