The footsteps of my captors echoed down the hall, loud against the stone floor. I assumed it was stone, at least. I couldn’t exactly see anything right now, not with the thick black fabric tied around my eyes.
My wrists were tied behind my back with heavy iron chains, much heavier than they needed to be. My arms were aching with the effort of holding them up.
I shifted a little bit, trying to get more comfortable, and the guard holding my left arm squeezed it warningly.
“Don’t try anything,” he said softly. I glared at the direction his voice was coming from, but stopped moving, letting my captors drag me forward.
Suddenly, the sound of their footsteps changed, becoming much more echo-y. We’d entered a large room, I assumed.
My blindfold was whipped off, and I blinked at the sudden light before my eyes fell upon the woman draped across the iron throne in front of me. A gasp escaped me before I could stop it.
She looked exactly like my boss.
“So this is Avanya’s little toy,” the woman mused. “So nice of you to join me.”
“Y-you’re-” I stuttered.
“Deserae Wintermere, yes,” she said carelessly. “You can call me Your Highness.”
“You look just like Avanya,” I breathed.
“That is how identical twins work,” Deserae pointed out. “You’re not the brightest little thing, aren’t you?”
A silence fell as we studied each other, her vivid violet gaze raking over me as I tried to look as if I wasn’t staring.
She was beautiful, there was no denying it. Wide violet eyes that would’ve looked innocent if they weren’t so hard, silver-blonde hair that fell to the floor in soft waves, a heart-shaped face, full lips that were currently quirked up in a cruel smile, and the kind of body you’d see on a magazine cover, accented by the skin-tight black outfit she was wearing.
“Done looking, sweetheart?” she asked finally. I swallowed hard.
“W-what do you want from me?” I asked, trying to sound confident. She sighed softly and adjusted her position, leaning on one arm of her throne and resting her chin on her hand.
“What do you think? Information about what darling Avanya is planning,” she said. “Can’t have her ruining my plans, now can I?”
“I’m not going to tell you anything!”
She laughed. “Aren’t you?”
“Avanya’s told me about you,” I said. “She’s told me all about how you were when you were growing up together. She said-”
“Aww, did she tell you all about her sweet little Dizzy?” Deserae cooed. “The little girl who liked fancy parties and coffee and books, the sweet little thing who fell in love too easily and taught English and magic? Sweet little Dizzy, who went on adventures with Avanya and always got in trouble?”
“Y-yeah,” I said. “That’s… almost exactly what she said.” Her expression grew serious, almost… sad. She got up from her throne and moved to one side of the room, to a table pushed against the wall with a vase of roses on it.
“She still talks about me in such glowing terms?” she asked, the viciousness in her voice gone.
“Yeah, she does,” I said, her reaction giving me a boost of confidence. “She knows there’s still good in you.”
“Still good in me,” Deserae breathed. “She still believes in me…” She reached out and picked one of the roses out of the vase. “Even after all I’ve done.”
“She’d be willing to take you back,” I said. “She wants you to come back to her.”
Deserae was quiet for a moment.
Then she began to laugh.
“Oh Avanya. So naive. So stupid.” She crushed the rose she was holding in one hand, letting the petals fall to the ground, then turned back to me, a cruel grin settling back into place on her face. “Let’s get one thing straight, darling. I am not, and have never been, ‘sweet little Dizzy’. The version of me that Avanya remembers is a lie. A fake. If I ever had any good in me, I killed it a long time ago.” She took a few slow, deliberate steps toward me. “Is that why you came? To try and convince me that I’m still good? You were expecting the version of me that my sister told you about? The good, kind one? How stupid are you?”
“You’re just as naive as dear Vanya.” She closed the distance between us, and I realized for the first time how tall she was. Naturally, she was a good three inches taller than I was, but the six-inch spiked heels made her loom menacingly over me. “Now, you’re going to tell me what my sister is planning, or I’m going to kill you.”
I shook my head rebelliously, and almost immediately felt a sharp pain shooting through my head. “Agh!!”
“Aw, does that hurt?” Deserae said sweetly. Her violet eyes were bright, sparking with magic. She was in my head, digging her mental claws in. “Tell me what I want to know.”
“No,” I gasped. “No, I w- AAAAAAGH!” I stumbled back and nearly fell, but her hand shot out and caught me, shiny black nails digging into my arm.
It was like someone was stabbing me repeatedly in the skull. It felt as though my thoughts were turning into TV static.
“Stop,” I begged, feeling tears start in my eyes. “Please, stop!”
“All you have to do to make it stop is tell me what I want to know,” Deserae whispered, her voice dripping with repulsive sugary sweetness. “Tell me where Avanya’s base is.”
“No! I won’t betray her like that!” I screamed.
“What a shame,” Deserae purred. “You’ve got spunk. Avanya will be sad to lose you.”
The pain in my head intensified until I nearly blacked out.
“I’ll tell you!” I sobbed. “I’ll tell you, just stop!!”
The pain decreased.
My face burned red with shame as I told her what she wanted to know.
After I was done, she dropped my arm and I collapsed to the ground.
“See, that wasn’t too hard,” she said, smirking. “Was it?”
I was too busy gasping for air to reply.
“Guards, take them away,” she said carelessly, returning to her throne. I raised my head to look at her.
“I hope you burn in hell,” I spat.
“Darling, I’ve already been there. They made me queen.”