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A Queen Among Darkness

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Book 4 in the Queen Among series Isolde’s life was full of love and joy. She was set to be High priestess of the makkari, but everything changed in a single night when she lost everything at the hands of someone she thought she could trust. For centuries she has been on the run, helping the supernatural community under the cloak of anonymity while she works to clear her name and save the very people after her, from destruction. Enemies are closing in, but an unexpected complication befalls her when she realises she’s been fated to someone who wants her species exterminated. After all, an evil chance seldom comes alone. Books in the Queen Among Series so far: Book 1 - A Queen Among Alphas (available on paperback) Book 2 - A Queen Among Snakes Book 3 - A Queen Among Blood Book 4 - A Queen Among Darkness Book 5 - A Queen Among Tides Bite-Size Luna - A Queen Among Alphas Prequel Whole Again - A Queen Among Alphas spin-off

Chapter 1: Time Stamp - Isolde

~ Isolde

My eyes snap open and my body jolts to life as I’m awoken by the sound of agonised screams. I slowly sit up, my muscles protesting from fatigue, dehydration, and starvation while I lean my head back against the cement wall. I close my eyes and try to block out the screams that float down the corridor and into my cell, making me wonder when it will be my turn next.

Three days. I’ve spent three days in this cell with my body wasting away as I listen to the sounds of torture. I’d complain, but I don’t see the point. After all, I put myself in this situation. No, that’s not me being self-deprecating, I mean I literally put myself here. Though I wasn’t supposed to be here this long waiting for another prisoner to show up, so we can chalk this one up to poor timing on my part. Visions really should come with time and date stamps. Would make my life much… okay, it wouldn’t make my life easier, but it would allow me to help others just a tad more efficiently.

Four days ago I had a vision of a mutolupus being brought to these cells, only to be tortured and killed. I never know how the visions come to me; I just know if they do it means I’m supposed to help. Perhaps it’s insane of me to put so much faith in intrusive images in my head, but I have very little I can hold onto. My visions remind me that I have a purpose and that maybe there’s a reason for my suffering. There’s a reason I’m still here. So, I see each vision as a step towards a greater goal. I just have no idea what that goal is. At least I’m able to save some lives in the meantime, and that has to count for something… right?

The only problem with visions is they don’t often come with a clear sense of time. They might reference something happening hours, days, or weeks from now, so it’s up to me to decide whether to act now or wait. I’m usually rather good at assessing them and deducing if this is an immediate upcoming event or something in the distant future. This time I was rather close, but sadly off by a couple of days, and sweet Goddess am I kicking myself for that.

I glance down the rows of barred, occupied cells to the single window that casts a small ray of light from the morning sun into this otherwise dark and dank prison. I would give anything to be able to feel its warmth on my skin; if only to replenish my strength, but I’m stuck in this cold hellhole with nothing to provide warmth but the clothes on my back. Which aren’t looking too good, to be honest.

I close my eyes and try to focus on meditating and preserving what little strength I have left when a large object being slammed against the bars of my cell – causing an unpleasant ringing in my ears – gains my attention.

“Aww, did I interrupt the little bruja’s beauty sleep?” I open my eyes to see the face of the latest person to make it onto my sh*t list. “What, cat got your tongue? Your kind love cats, right?” He says mockingly through his very present Mexican accent.

“Estás pero si bien pendejo,” I say in an apathetic tone.

Very quickly his dark brown eyes narrow into slits and his nostrils flare with rage as his hands fist the bars to my cell. “The f*ck did you just say to me, puta?” He seethes.

“Sorry, I was under the impression you spoke Spanish, but I can say it again in English if you prefer?” I say in a bored tone.

“You must have a death wish,” he sneers.

“I don’t really fear death, but I bet you do,” I tell him as the ghost of a smile dances on my lips. His tough exterior falters for just a moment, but the rage returns with greater intensity than before.

He places his hand on the electronic pad on my cell and after a ding sounds, the cell door opens. Slowly, his 5’8 frame steps into my cell with a sadistic smirk on his clean-shaven, olive-toned face as his dark brown eyes stare down at me with dark intent. I don’t flinch or cower as he unzips his jacket exposing his ripped body to my eyes. I don’t know what that does for some people but to each their own. To my utter disgust, he begins rubbing his hand over his crotch, rubbing his d*ck through his jeans as he licks his lips in a way that has bile rising up my throat.

“You know, I’m not into fat chicks, but with t*ts like yours I’d be willing to make an exception,” he says in a low, gruff voice as he steps closer.

On instinct, I roll my eyes at yet another person going for the easy insult of commenting on my weight. Yes, call the fat woman fat, how original. Want to tell me water is wet as well? Moron. A groan leaves my mouth as the son of a b*tch grabs a fistful of my hair and yanks my head back hard. “Did you just roll your f*ck*ng eyes at me?” He spits.

“Congratulations, you can read body language,” I mock.

“Pinche coño,” he seethes as he begins unbuckling the belt of his pants. I try to yank my hair free from his grasp but the mercury bars around my cell have my body too weak to do much of anything, and the lack of food and water isn’t helping my strength either. I would love to use my magic to slam this guy’s head into a wall, but I haven’t been able to feel for my magic since I was tossed in here, which can only indicate the presence of nuummite somewhere. Probably embedded in the very foundations of the rock.

Just as he’s nearly done unzipping his fly, an enraged voice calls out from behind him. “Mateo!” Booms the voice, “What the f*ck do you think you’re doing?” The livid voice asks in disgust.

I glance towards the open cell door to see one of my other captors. An older version of the d*ckh**d who has my hair in a vice. He’s standing at 5’10 in a very expensive all-black suit, with no tie and an open shirt. He has salt and pepper hair, salt and pepper goatee and dark brown eyes. His undoubtedly once olive skin is now more beige in tone, except for the hint of liver spots near his eyes. He looks to be in his fifties, but even with the signs of age, the authority he exudes says he’s not someone to be messed with. I bet he’s even more ripped than his son. Though someone has to tell these men that muscles do not equate to strength.

“Was just about to teach this puta some respect, papá.”

“Do not disgrace yourself or this family with such vile behaviour. Do your job or get the f*ck out of my sight,” the senior orders.

Mateo leans down and whispers in my ear, “You’re going to wish he hadn’t interrupted,” he says as he then proceeds to drag me out of the cell by my hair. I grasp his hands trying to stop him from pulling my hair out at the roots as I struggle to break free of his hold. He’s f*ck*ng strong for a human. I feel the flesh of my feet and legs being grazed as I’m dragged along the harsh cement floor of the dungeon until I’m dragged into a pristine, white exam room. The smell of industrial cleaning chemicals fill my nostrils and have my stomach churning. Sh*t, not this room again. I make one last futile attempt to break free, but I’m just too drained. Junior and senior lift me up and strap me to what I can only describe as a dentist’s chair, in a room that looks like a dentist clinic from hell. White walls and floors cause the white light glaring down on me to only burn brighter and I have to shut my eyes to stop the stinging it causes my retina.

I peek my eyes open and see the tray of instruments beside me and I know exactly what’s coming. The same sh*t that happened on my first day here. Why? Why can’t visions come with f*ck*ng time stamps?!

“Let’s have a little fun, shall we?” My captor gloats as he picks up a small blade from the tray and I hear the sizzle as he slowly runs the blade down the inside of my forearm. I can’t hold back my scream as searing, burning pain spreads through my arm as I feel the blade slice through my skin. F*ck*ng mercury! “What’s the matter? Don’t you like mercury? Oh, that’s right, brujas hate the stuff,” he smirks as he proceeds to run the blade down the inside of my other arm, forcing another scream of pain from me as I instinctively fight against my restraints.

“If you’re going to torture a race, you should at least learn the f*ck*ng name of the race you’re torturing!” I hiss at him, panting and trying to stop the tears that are building in my eyes as the burning pain from the mercury begins to spread through my body. Sick, twisted fucks.

I have a very selective list of people I loathe, but venators are pretty high on the list. Especially now. Venators and venatrixes are just humans with a complex. They think all supernatural beings are abominations that need to be exterminated and that it’s their sacred duty to wipe out each and every one of us. Absolute load of sh*t. If they knew how their organisation began their lives would implode.

For three days I’ve been under the capture and torture of the Cabrera family. A family of venators who run the Mexican branch of the Extinguo Concillium. An organisation of humans who dedicate their lives to killing supernaturals. What began as one man’s crusade of vengeance thousands of years ago, became a global organisation operated by a bunch of racists. Let’s just call a spade a spade. It’s not as though they’re hunting down supernaturals who hurt people or commit crimes, that’s something the Delegation does. No, these sick bastards are just people who love to kill people because they’re different. They don’t care if you’re good or bad. Not being human automatically makes you evil in their eyes. I’m already used to people thinking I’m evil, so this is hardly a new concept for me.

Hours of unending torture pass by; my body reduced to one burning exposed nerve as Mateo Cabrera stands over me, covered in my blood with a look of satisfaction on his face. My eyes flutter tiredly as my body begs to shut down in an attempt to block out the pain. My brain’s every impulse trying its hardest to save me from this hell.

“Ah, ah, ah,” Mateo sings, pinching my face in his hands making me wince, “No passing out or I’ll have to use more adrenaline on you. You don’t want to have a heart attack do you?” He tsks. My heart is still pounding furiously since the last injection of adrenaline he gave me, just to keep me awake so I can suffer more. Saving humankind my *ss. Who is saved by torturing people?

“Va te faire foutre,” I manage to say as exhaustion coats my words.

“I don’t speak French,” he says in annoyance, but his shape begins to come in and out of focus.

I must have thankfully blacked out because when I’m coming to it’s as I’m being dumped back on the cold concrete floor of my cell; the many cuts and burns on my body screaming at me. I can feel the way my own blood is drying on my skin, resulting in a tight and itchy sensation, but it pales in comparison to the pain. I just have to hang in there a little longer and hope I’m not killed before I get to complete my mission. I just have to stay alive long enough for him to arrive. Hopefully, I don’t have to wait too much longer, because I’m not sure how much more my body can take.

Exhaustion finally does its job, and with my body lying in a heap on the cold, dirty ground, I find myself slipping into unconsciousness, but it doesn’t bring the reprieve I hoped it would. The moment my eyes close my mind is filled with images of a raging fire burning out of control and echoes of my own screams as the flames burn my world to the ground. Three centuries later and the events of that night continue to haunt me. The night my world was forever changed, and my life plunged into endless darkness. The night I lost everything.

Once upon a time, I was a happy person who had everything a person could hope for; a bright future and a loving family to be there to celebrate my accomplishments and guide me through my days. Life was perfect, and then one night it was all taken from me. These sick bastards can torture me to death if it pleases them, nothing they do to me will ever compare to the hell I’ve been living. They can never make me suffer more than I’ve already suffered. They’re welcome to try, but they’ll find my tolerance level beyond what they can comprehend.

Some days I ask myself why do I bother? Why do I keep pushing forward and fighting at all? Why not just give up and call it a day? I think about it all the time; just giving up, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Giving up isn’t who I am, and if I did, then it means all the people who turned on me, and the person who betrayed me would get away with it. If I gave up, then those I loved would never have any justice. The ones I loved would have died in vain. I may not have been able to save them, but I won’t let their deaths mean nothing. I live and I fight because they can’t. I keep my voice so I can speak for those who don’t have one. One day everyone will know the truth. If I have to endure a little extra suffering as I await that day then so be it. My time will come, and when it does, I will show those who have wronged me no mercy.

Chapter 2: Coming Home - Valeria

~ Valeria

“Señorita Cabrera, we’re home,” announces my driver, pulling me from my daydream. As I open my eyes I feel the exhaustion from my long journey dissipate as the gates of Casa Montero come into view. I smile and glance out the tinted windows of my town car at the beachfront villa I have called home my whole life.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve been home, and I’ve missed it terribly. I watch as the gates open, and the car pulls into the entrance, stopping in front of the doors of the villa. I’m quick to exit the car and breathe in the salty sea breeze that lets me know I’m home. As my driver gets out and grabs my bags from the trunk, I let myself into the villa, and instantly see my mother hurrying down the stairs with her arms spread open to greet me.

“¿Cómo estás, mija?!” she cries as she reaches the bottom of the stairs and races over pulling me into her arms. I wrap my arms tight around her and inhale her familiar perfume, relishing how good it feels to

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