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Dark As Knight

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SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

All three royal women rode their steeds across the border that separated the Dark Kingdom from the White Kingdom. As they continued to get closer to their destination the more defined the black cloud in the sky became. If they didn't know better they all probably would have thought that they were approaching a severe thunderstorm. To Emma and Regina it was quite a beautiful sight, but Belle on the other hand, could do without the putrid smell of death that was becoming more abundant the closer they got to their destination—she even took to covering her mouth and nose with her riding scarf. Emma smirked, she thought the air smelled nice. Upon approach, the horses slowed down to a walk, and Regina took the lead with Belle on her left and Emma on her right.

The Captain and Lieutenant of the dark army were standing outside of the ruined White Kingdom's gate with a few other knights. It seemed as if they were arguing, but once the Evil Queen and the Dark Knight came into view, they stopped and bowed to their Queen. "Your Majesty."

Emma was off of her horse, Apache, and offered a hand to assist the Dark Queen. They both knew that it was unnecessary for her to do so, but Regina humored Emma's apparent protective side. It was endearing, if not anything else.

"Captain." Regina greeted coolly, looking around; assessing the damage. "Everything looks wonderful. Do you have the heads I requested?" she settled her morbidly excited gaze on his nervous gaze, and she felt the irritation rise from the pit of her stomach. "What?"

Lancelot dropped his gaze, "We could not find the King or the boy. Or...their Champion. They've escaped Your Highness." the other knights and Lieutenant Pocahontas winced when they saw rage fall over the Dark Queen's face.

"What do you mean they've escaped?!" The Evil Queen growled, she was beyond upset. "How could you morons let those idiots escape!?" Regina was so close to Lancelot that he could see the purple flecks swirling in the irises of her intense and angry, chocolate brown eyes, and he was actually worried for his life.

The big man swallowed, restraining himself from shrugging, because he honestly did not know how the Charmings and Mulan got away. "I-I don't know Your Majesty, but we caught the wolf. The one they call Red. We believe she knows...but she refuses to speak."

"For now." Emma commented casually, twirling a single silver dagger between her fingers. She was itching for some fun.

The Dark Queen pushed past the Captain of her army and took in the scene before her. The White Kingdom was still burning and everything was nothing short of chaotic. The blue sky was not visible as the black cloud loomed over the palace's land, fitting the mood perfectly. It was a beautiful sight for a beautiful day. The brunette turned, furious eyes on her champion. "Find out what that wolf knows. Now."

Emma bowed slightly, "Yes my Queen."

Pocahontas signaled for Emma to follow her, and Belle tagged along. She didn't feel safe with anyone but the Champion and the Queen at the moment, but the look in Regina's eyes had Belle opting for the blonde's company.

As they disappeared behind the fallen walls, the Evil Queen addressed the Captain once more. "Are there any more failures you would like to report Captain?"

"No, Your Highness."

Regina eyed him with narrowed eyes, "If we do not find them by tomorrow morning, you will no longer be the Captain of my army. Your wife will, and you will be her Lieutenant. Do you understand?"

Lancelot bowed his head in frustration, "Yes, I understand."

Regina smirked...to some it may not seem as much of a punishment, but sometimes hitting it where it hurts was better than seeing blood.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Emma and Belle followed the unusually quiet Pocahontas through the ruined White Kingdom's ground. There were still fires roaring in the village, and there were dead bodies laid out in the streets, drowning in their own pool of blood. There were piles of headless bodies being burned at every corner, and that explained the pungent odor in the air upon arrival. The snow crunching beneath their boots as they walked through the massacre was no longer white. Stray heads and bodies caused so much blood to be spilled that it was as if the snow simply soaked it up, and red was now it's natural color...at least here it was.

Emma thought to herself as she surveyed the carnage that was once a palatial kingdom, now reduced to nothing but wreckage, "these grounds are no longer 'Snow White', as it were..."Pun intended. She actually laughed at her own incredibly sick joke, at her mother's expense...Too bad it was poor timing and she couldn't share her innermost thoughts with Regina at the moment. The more she pondered things, the more she began to realize how truly connected she and Regina were becoming. Never before had she allowed anyone to know her deepest thoughts and feelings, especially since they tended to be extremely dark at times. Regina was the only one who could understand her and see her true self, without judgment or disgust. Was it wrong that she loved the stench of the death that permeated the air? It was gagging poor Belle. The headless bodies and blood? They didn't even cause her to flinch or bat an eyelash. This wasn't normal. She wasn't normal. But Regina accepted her. Regina also accepted her own darkness. Hell, Regina reveled in her darkness! Why was it so difficult for her? Maybe it was time that she rise up and accept herself as well.

Pocahontas unknowingly interrupted Emma's musings as she stopped inside of a blacksmith's shop and gestured for Emma to walk up the stairs first. "She's in there. We chained her down to the floor and the ceiling pretty good. She's not talking though."

"She will soon." Emma promised with a sly grin that disturbed Belle...but Pocahontas returned it. "Are there any survivors?"

Pocahontas cocked her head to the side, thinking for a moment. "Yes a few, some of the knights thought it would be fun to take them to the Ogre's County tonight."

"Anyone from the Kingdom?"

"Ah, only two maidens that managed to escape the fire, as well as one knight."

"Bring them to me." Pocahontas nodded and went to retrieve the three sole survivors.

The blonde turned to Belle, pushing down her hood. "It might get a little nasty in there, would you prefer to wait out here?"

Belle nodded, relieved that she didn't need to be inside of the room when Emma started questioning the wolf. "Yes, I will be fine out here with the lieutenant. I trust that you can handle that on your own."

Emma smirked, and walked up the stairs, making sure her heavy footsteps were known. She pushed the door and left it open as she walked into the rather impressive blacksmith's shop. It didn't hold a candle to Rulf's, but it had everything she would need to get the wolf to talk. Red was propped up against the wall opposite of the door. Her hands were bound together with a silver chain that looked to be slowly burning into her flesh and raised high above her head by a hook that was bolted into the ceiling. She also had the same kind of chain looped around her waist and it was also connected to a hook that was bolted to the floor. The slightly older brunette's clothes were tattered and dirty; Emma could see the bloodied skin where the woman had been struck and there were many scars littering her body. Red's face was covered in dried blood, as well as pieces of her long, brown locks matted to her bruised face.

Emma pushed down her hood, humming softly. This was going to be fun, she just knew it. Red growled at her but it was weak and tired. "I hope you're happy Princess."

This time, Emma didn't take the bait. She simply stared at Red, though that didn't last long, because Pocahontas came through the door herding the two sobbing maidens and a beaten knight, shoving them harshly at Emma's feet. Their arms were bound behind their backs and their state of dress was just as tattered as Red's. Emma saw recognition on the brunette's face when she laid eyes on the knight sitting directly behind Emma's leather clad legs.

"What next?"

The blonde gestured to the knight, "Stand him up...and leave us, Belle shouldn't be left alone."

Pocahontas lifted the lanky fellow to his feet, he was nearly dead weight due to his exhaustion, but he was wide awake and he was afraid. Emma turned back to Red once Pocahontas left them alone, speaking over the maiden's quiet sobbing. "Look where your precious King and Queen got you. Captured. And where are they? On the run. Left you behind too, it seems."

"I chose to stay behind and help!" Red spat a disgusting wad of mucous and blood at Emma's feet, but the Dark Assassin really did not mind, the boots were already dirty. Actually, she decided that she wanted to get a rise out of the wolf woman and also to teach her some manners.

"Desist now you insolent mongrel! When, or shall I say...if, you ever are in the Queen's presence, you shall refrain from such abhorrent behavior! It is really quite simple. You shall give Her Majesty your utmost respect and, in turn, she may allow you to live...if I even decide to let you get that far. Yet, I digress, let us get back on topic. Oh yes, my father..."

Emma's taunt continued, "You stayed here out of nobility? How very courageous...and stupid. It is obvious that you have let the idiocy of the Charmings rub off on you after being in their presence for so long. I was under the impression that your kind, were intelligent animals... But I suppose that staying makes you a better person than Dear Ole' Daddy." Emma sniffed casually as she began pacing the space between Red and the prisoners. "Speaking of...where is he?"

"You'll have to kill me first."

"Why do you protect the ones who keep you down?" seeing the wolf's confused expression Emma rolled her eyes, sighing.

"They have done what is best for this kingdom which is more than anyone could say for you!" Red pulled against the chains, but stopped when they dug deeper into her flesh.

Emma scoffed, and pulled out her curved dagger with a black edge that's been sharpened by diamonds. The sight of the dagger had its desired effect, and it only made her heart leap with joy. She could feel her shadow magic licking at the surface beneath her skin, eating up the fear she could smell in the air. "Snow White has done what is best for Snow White. It's amazing how blind you all are...the raised taxes, the scarce food, hardly an army...the list goes on and on, and yet when you see the White royals, what do you see? Fur coats, big smiles and fat bellies. Guess what? You see that all the time at the Dark Kingdom. Royals and villagers. The Dark Queen's Realm is much more prosperous. Wouldn't you rather live in a place in which you are cared for?"

"You're a traitor. It's your fault this kingdom has fallen apart!" the knight shouted at Emma's back, and he was not going to live to regret it. Emma turned on him and the skinny knight nearly tripped over himself as he tried to take a step back, forgetting that his ankles were shackled. Emma suddenly appeared behind him and she cut his throat before anyone could even blink. One of the girls passed out and the other was sobbing, saying a silent prayer. Emma brought her hand around the front of her throat and grasped it as if she were choking him, but she was merely prolonging his death.

The knight's warm blood seeped between Emma's pale fingers, and he was caught between the light and the darkness. "You don't have to do this Emma! I don't know where they went!"

"I don't have to do this, but if you keep lying to me I'll keep doing it until you tell me how they got away." she released the man, and let him drop to the floor with a solid thud. Emma put the blade on a table and stalked over to Red and shoved her blood-soaked hand under the wolf's nose, watching with joy when her pupils dilated as her senses were assaulted with the warm, sweet smell of fresh blood. "Smells good doesn't it? Makes you hungry, doesn't it Red?"

Red moaned, "Please...stop."

Emma chuckled darkly, as she couldn't help but get a little turned on when she sensed the darkness pouring out of the brunette as her wolf began waking up. The blonde grabbed the woman's face, keeping her hand under her nose and pressing her body against hers. "Your mouth says no, but your body says yes. Give me more..." Emma whispered, staring deep into those darkening pupils. "You want more?"

"Yes..." the brunette hissed, and Emma felt a tongue against her palm, and she grinned like the cat that ate the canary.

"I understand your needs...and if you tell me where I can find your coward King, you will never have to hide Who You Truly Are beneath that red cloak ever again. You can have it all if you wanted." Emma moved her hand and allowed Red to take two of her fingers into her mouth, sucking off the fresh blood...and Emma's excitement grew, as well as other things... "You can be who you are...be free...no one will judge you for your past. Not there. No one will hold it over your head." she pulled her fingers free, and took a much needed step back, discreetly adjusting herself. "Tell me how they escaped."

Red, who was breathing deeply, got her hormones in check and shook her head to clear it. She stared at Emma, who was staring right back indifferently; her entire being was difficult to read. Red thought about what she said, about being free and not judged for her past. Sure, Snow was her friend, but she could never be without her red cloak, because her...'friend' would freak out every time she was without it, as she didn't trust in her strength to not need it. And Snow would always bring up the moment when Red nearly killed an entire village, because she simply didn't know and couldn't control herself. That was cruel and hurtful, but Red never let her know just how much it affected her every time she would unnecessarily bring it up. She was aware of what she had done, and lived with the shame. Hell, she probably punished herself more than anyone over it, but Snow could never truly let it go. Could she find forgiveness in her "enemy's" camp? After all, Red was cut from the same dark cloth as Emma and Regina. Why wouldn't they get along?

Red swallowed and sagged in defeat. "The kitchen."

Emma leaned forward, eyebrows drawn forward. "Yes?"

"Charming...He...He asked me to move the stove and I did. There was a hole in the floor that led down to the dwarves mine. He had the Prince and Champion with him."

Emma nodded and went back to the table and picked up her curved blade. She went to kneel between the maidens and shook the unconscious one awake. Before she could even start screaming, Emma drew a horizontal line across her pale throat, but she wasn't expecting a large squirt of blood hitting her in the face. Tucking away her blade, Emma took some of the blood that was spilling out and wiped it all over the other woman's face and stood to take her leave.

"When I release you, I want you to kill this one...and feed on these two."

Red's eyes widened in horror, "What?"

"You're very weak, you need to regain your strength. I'm offering you a home in the Dark Kingdom. Take it."

"Can...can you do that?"

Emma really didn't know, but she figured she could handle the punishment later. "Of course, now are you in or do you wish to die?"

Both Red and Emma were mentally questioning Emma's less-than-orthodox interrogation method. But it had obviously produced the desired results. The sexual tension though, as a result of Emma's little game was so thick you could cut it with a knife. She needed Regina... Was this attachment they had growing between them always going to be like this? It certainly made for one hell of a sex life, but unfortunately it wasn't always convenient timing. She needed a release. And she needed it now.

Emma needed to get the hell out of the wolf's presence, immediately. Otherwise; she might take her right then and there. She knew that she would deeply regret that move. The feelings she had for Regina were growing stronger by the day, so after finishing up their conversation, she left Red and got as far away as she could. Her heightened sense of smell made things even more difficult. When she could no longer smell the wolf and her damned pheromones, she found a bedchamber towards the back of the shop that was empty and she knew she had to take care of business herself if she was going to be able to function at all for the rest of the day. She knew that she had no time for such carnal pleasures, but her response to her encounter with the wolf was something she realized that she had no control over. The wolf's pheromones, commingled with her shadow magic, and that last minute decision to add the blood play...not only made Red tell all, but also caused Emma to experience an extremely painful erection. There was a lot she needed to learn about the effects of mixing her magic with others... First, the magical pregnancy, which was much welcomed as far as Emma was concerned... but now this? She had never had such a hard erection in her life! She immediately divested herself of her trousers and wrapped one hand around her throbbing penis, and with her other hand, she pinched her left nipple; all the while, closing her eyes, she imagined it to be her Beautiful Queen's hands on her body, skillfully stroking her member and sensually attending to her breasts. Alternating sides to give equal attention to her also erect nipples that matched her penis in stiffness...

She soon found a rhythm that perfectly mimicked the moves that only her Lover had ever used on her to completely arouse her to the point of no return. In her mind's eye, it was so real that she even believed that she heard Regina speaking to her. Coaxing her closer to her climax, and encouraging her to let all of her tension out and to allow her to hold her for just those few stolen moments. Regina always knew just how to help her when she was stressed or in need.

It didn't take much longer after her imaginary version of Regina stroked her and pinched her in an almost frantic rhythm, for Emma to come completely undone. Her orgasm was mind-blowing, like only Regina could do to her. Never before had she brought herself to such a state by her own hands... She then quickly redressed and got back to business before she could be missed. The experience had her truly questioning her very sanity. It seemed so real! Was Regina actually there? Was this another magic effect? Emma headed back and told herself that she was obviously in great need of a refreshing, full night's sleep as she tried to clear her mind to go back and meet the others.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Outside the blacksmith's shop where Belle and Pocahontas were, Belle was sitting on the bench, and Pocahontas was politely standing off to her right; both women were anxiously waiting for something, but they got nothing but muffled voices...and there was a thud a few moments ago.

"Should you go in and check on her?" Belle asked worriedly, glancing up at the lieutenant.

Pocahontas lips twitched at the corners, "She's fine."

Suddenly, they heard a woman screaming at the top of her lungs and there was a lot of noise coming from the shop causing Belle to jump off the bench and stand next to Pocahontas, who had her bow and arrow trained at the door. There was loud growling and a bark or two that came from behind the solid wood door before it all just stopped. Belle spared the dark-haired woman a nervous glance. "Shouldn't you go in and check it out?"

The lieutenant shook her head, drawing back her arrow a little more as they heard slow and heavy footsteps approaching the door. After a few beats, the door opened slowly causing it to creak eerily and Emma stepped out, covered in blood, not looking too happy about it. She shook some of the blood off her arms and it hit the floor with a soft yet audible landing and Belle gagged a lowered her weapon with a sigh of relief, "What happened in there?"

Emma came down the steps stiffly, "She narrowed down my search."

Belle's eyebrows shot up, "So she talked?"

The blonde looked at the adviser and nodded, "That and she wishes to join the Dark Queen's Court. I granted her permission to do so."

"The Evil Queen won't be happy someone was invited to her court without her prior consent." Pocahontas stated the obvious, and Emma sighed. "Whose blood is on you?"

"Oh, the prisoner's...Red was hungrier than I thought, and made a mess...and knocked me over into that mess."

Belle frowned, trying not to think about the image. "Oh—well where is she?"

"Right here."

The three Dark Kingdom associates turned towards the hoarse voice and saw Red standing in the doorway, looking exhausted and just as disastrous as Emma, if not more so. Pocahontas looked a little dubious and leaned in closer to her superior, "How can you trust her?"

"I understand her...and she can hear you just fine Lieutenant." Emma chuckled.

Pocahontas shook her head, holding her bow and arrow a little tighter. "I'll kill her if she keeps looking at me like that...She hear that too?"

While Emma and Pocahontas continued their light but serious banter, neither of them noticed that the young advisor, Belle, was walking up the steps toward the tired and probably terrified wolf. She walked slowly, so that she wouldn't startle her. "Hello..."

Red opened cracked one eye open, before they both just popped open at the sight of Belle in front of her. "Hi."

"Um, are you alright?"

Red glanced at Emma, who still had her back to them, and then back to Belle. "She didn't hurt me. She helped me..."

Belle studied the brunette curiously, unsure what to say. The brunette leaning on the door looked like she just went through a night of hell, and all Belle wanted to do was hug the poor woman...and comfort her in front of a fireplace, while she rested in her arms. Belle was sure that beneath all of the blood and bruises...there was beautiful young woman.

"Ahem."

Belle startled and found Pocahontas and Emma standing at the bottom of the three steps; one was amused, and the other was not. "We need to get moving, I don't want to be here all day. And you shouldn't stand so close to the beast."

Red involuntarily whimpered behind Belle, and the advisor heard it, and immediately went on the defensive. "Well then you are free to leave Lieutenant. Should a problem present itself, I trust that our Champion will make sure that no harm comes to me."

Emma raised a brow but didn't say anything, she looked at Pocahontas for a response...mentally egging this on. Hmm. She wondered... I wonder if Lancelot knows his woman swings both ways...and that she's perhaps...jealous of the advisor's attention being drawn elsewhere. Hmm. Emma noted to keep an eye on that. Could be interesting, most definitely gossip-worthy. Knights gossip more than the helping hands...she was sure she could find out more if she wanted.

But now was not the time for such trivial matters. Emma walked with Red behind Belle and Pocahontas, because the arrow-wielding warrior refused to be within arm's reach of the wolf. Belle and Pocahontas were a few feet ahead of them, and out of hearing distance so Emma decided to tease the wolf a bit.

"She's cute isn't she?"

Red dropped her head a bit, but Emma couldn't tell if she was blushing or not. "I...she's nice."

Emma nodded, "I believe she thinks you're nice as well."

"Why are you being so nice to me right now?"

"Long walk, just making conversation."

"Don't."

"I fed you. At least humor me."

Red growled and stepped into Emma's personal space baring her teeth. "I'm not a pet dog for you to toy around with!" The pair walking in front of them didn't even notice the commotion and had kept walking, leaving Emma and the wolf in the middle of the slaughtered village.

Emma saw the anger in Red's eyes, but she also saw the hurt and confusion—and she understood it, because she has been there. "I know you're hurt and angry...and right now you're alone. I'm offering friendship, don't reject it."

"Afraid I'll hurt your feelings?" Red snarled, feeling confident, because she had at least two or three inches on the blonde.

"I don't have feelings." Except for maybe a certain brunette and the little human she's carrying that we created together. "Well, none that can be hurt by the likes of you." Emma amended. "If you'd rather deal with it yourself, be my guest I don't care."

Red's hand reached out and caught Emma's arm as the blonde made to move around her. "What you said back there...what you did...what was that?"

Emma shrugged Red's hand off of her arm, "I was helping you to open your eyes to who you really are beyond that red cloak. You're living with a beast inside of you. She will forever be a part of you. Red, you suppress her because you don't believe in yourself. You're not truly living until you embrace what you're meant to be. I can only speak these words because I truly have just embraced my own inner-beast as well. More recently than you would believe. As in today, recent."

Red's head cocked to the side; genuinely confused and intrigued. "And why is that?"

Emma scratched the side of her nose with her thumb sighing quietly. "I ran away so I could be myself and make my own decisions. I decided who and what I wanted to be, I didn't go around asking questions. I have decided that it is time to stop running."

Emma moved around the wolf and continued walking to the front gate, leaving Red standing in the middle of the road pondering what the blonde had just told her.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

"You had no right giving invitations to my Court for your own gain, Lady Swan." The Evil Queen hissed as she stared at her champion furiously. She watched as the blonde lowered her head, having the gall to look guilty and all the Evil Queen wanted to do was throttle the woman much like she had when Emma first come to her...but with finesse.

"I apologize, Your Majesty."

"She's your responsibility."

Emma's eyes widened, "W-what?"

The Evil Queen took a small step into Emma's personal space, "You heard me. You wanted the dog, you take care of her. Anything she does wrong, you will face the consequences."

"What?! How does that even work?"

"Easy." Regina smirked, "It's like having a puppy, dear. You teach her right from wrong, and if you can't...every wrong move that puppy makes, you will take her punishment—whatever that may be. Hopefully, for your sake, she's housebroken..." Even for Regina, that was low.

"I've never even had a puppy!" Emma exclaimed, face growing red in frustration.

"There is always a first time for everything, dear. Now, my beautiful Assassin, bring me their heads and be home before lunch tomorrow—if you can."

Emma's eyes narrowed while she watched Regina's backside as the brunette returned to the group standing by the gates. 'if you can'...if I can? Emma thought with a tone, she took it as a personal challenge and stalked toward her horse as she yanked her hood back over her head. She mounted her steed gracefully. If she were being honest, she was tempted to take Red with her, just to make sure the wolf didn't do anything stupid until she learned that Queen Regina was nothing like Queen Snow White. Regina is creative and fair—sometimes, Snow White is...well simply put, a bleeding heart.

Emma shook her head and turned Apache around, she would move faster without the extra weight. She pulled some of her shadow magic from within herself just as Rulf had taught her, and placed both hands on either side Apache's neck and pushed some of her magic into his body. He whinnied and tried to escape, but it was in vain. Emma quickly pulled her hands away and stroked his mane until he calmed down and the magic settled inside of him. Not even sparing the group a second glance, Emma loosened the reigns and used her legs to spur him into a run.

The others watched as Emma and the horse ran under a tree that was casting a great shadow, and they vanished in thin air; like ghosts. Emma had temporarily given Apache the ability to see in the dark just as easily as she could. The duo ran through the Shadow Realm easily, and with Apache able to navigate himself without having a heart attack being surrounded by darkness; Emma had her eyes everywhere, until she found the portal that was near a well-hidden mine shaft, that wasn't too far from the White Kingdom. She and Apache left the Shadow Realm and she tightened his reigns to get him to stop.

Emma looked down at the ground and saw that someone or several someone's had come through here...there were too many tracks overlapping for her to tell what size they were, or how many, but at least they all went in one direction. Apache followed them without direction and briefly Emma wondered just how smart this animal truly was, and how much power she had actually given him. As they trotted through the snow, Emma kept her eyes open for any mini-human ambushes. She and Apache rode for quite some time until they came up on a fallen tree...and coincidentally, that's where the footprints ended. Emma dismounted Apache and drew her sword, pushing her hood down. She leaned over the fallen tree to check for more tracks but there were none, it was as if they had just disappeared—like magic.

Apache whinnied suddenly, and Emma turned around. She found looking at her were the very dwarves that Snow White was so damned fond of. They were all carrying their mining axes in a defensive manner. As if that would really stop her from doing what she wanted—killing Charming and Mulan...then dancing on their ashes.

"Ain't nothin' here for you Sister" Emma immediately recognized him as the one they called Grumpy, she had always hated him. Talk about a terrible name to match a terrible person. She has wondered many times he became grumpy because of the name, or if he was just created that way...

"Ten strong men with incredibly sharp axes against Me... it hardly seems fair—for You." Emma chuckled, taunting the dwarves with her most princess-like voice. She even pulled a "Snow White" and fluttered her eyelashes and giggled like an innocent little girl. Little did they know this was no laughing matter, and she was no sickeningly sweet Snow White. "Tell me where they went and I'll make you deaths quick, and maybe even painless..."

Apache snorted and held his head high, and Emma was really starting to wonder if she just gave him night vision, because it seemed as if he were agreeing with her. The more that she ventured forward in this quest, the more her magical abilities seemed to manifest. But the thing was, none of it was concrete. It was all just questions in her head. So many questions continued swirling through her head. Emma! Get a hold of yourself!

Next, Bossy stepped up next to his brother, grip tightening around the wooden part of his axe. "You've taken everything from that man. Let him be prin-" he didn't get a chance to finish that sentence because a well used hunting knife that Emma used to gut her wildlife dinner was lodged into Bossy's throat and he was choking on the blade. He fell to his knees just as the blood started to travel down the length of the blade, and his fellow dwarves watched in disgust and horror as one of their own frantically clawed at his chest while trying to breathe around the rugged blade before turning over and dying in the snow, a slow pool of blood forming around his head, seeping into the snow, like paint.

Emma sighed as if she was heartbroken over the sight, "I prefer Dark Knight, or Assassin...Princess is just too...superficial. Now, don't make me ask you again. Where are they?"

Grumpy's frown, if possible, deepened as he shook his head. "Over our dead bodies sister."

And then there were five...

Emma kneeled over Grumpy after she lodged his own axe into his thigh. There were bodies strewn all over the trail, and five were not yet dead, but Emma didn't care about that. They wouldn't be a problem anytime soon. She was feeling generous with just leaving them with scars and limps...a story to tell. It was also entertaining to see Apache literally stomp one of the dwarves into the ground when he managed to come up behind her and stab her right thigh—Emma was quickly growing to love that beast. Though judging by the amount of blood that was running down her leg and pooling into her boot, it seems that the small man had hit his mark.

"Do I have to ask you again dwarf?" Emma grunted as she shifted her weight off her bad leg, wishing she knew a healing spell.

Grumpy winced as he touched the tender area around the axe that was currently residing in his thigh. "If I tell you, will you still kill me?"

Emma glanced at his heavily bleeding leg, "I wouldn't have to."

Grumpy eyed the blonde warily, casting his gaze down to the ground in shame, "Charming took Mulan and his kid to a cabin in the mountains... East. There's a village there that is called East Arrowbluff, and it's very small."

Emma nodded and forced herself back to her feet, she walked away from the small man—more like she limped. She used her extremely strong arms (the very ones that Regina has spent many hours worshipping and telling her how much she was enamored by these particular appendages)to pull herself back onto her saddle, and had a difficult time bending her leg enough to place her foot in the stirrup. Without being told to, Apache headed east. Grumpy sat in the snow watching the Dark Knight ride off until he couldn't see her anymore and looked at the spot she in which she was recently kneeling next to him, the drops of blood that stained the snow, her blood. "The Dark Knight bleeds."

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

The sun had set hours ago taking the warmth with it. Emma kept her hood up to keep her ears warm and the wind from drying out her eyes. She flipped Apache's eye covers to at least keep the cold wind from his eyes as well. They'd been in the mountains all day and they found the village only by sheer luck. It was even smaller than she had expected, no more than ten cabins and they were all quite close together. A perfect dwelling for tiny men...As the snow and wind blew around them wildly, Apache held his ground while Emma sat on his back staring down at the village...looking for any sign of Charming. She pressed down against the laceration on her thigh...she had torn part of her shirt and wrapped it to staunch the flow of blood, but even Emma knew she would have to get out of the horrible night weather soon...and get somewhere warm. She could run Apache through the Shadow Realm but it wouldn't be without extreme risk, as he had been though a lot and was most likely too exhausted to press on much further...and she was nervous about magicking them...she would be fine, but she wasn't sure about her steed—he may end up in pieces.

Emma shivered, she was definitely going to have to talk to Regina about conjuring her an insulated winter armor if she was going to be tracking people at night. Emma patted the side of Apache's neck and dismounted. She knew he could see just as well as she did, but she felt more comfortable being on her own two feet as she guided him off of the ridge that looked over the nameless village. Once they were on the ground, Emma led him to the village. She wasn't surprised to find all the windows and doors closed and locked shut...some were even frozen shut. She wasn't sure where to start, until she noticed a lone man throwing chopped wood onto a small pile on the side of a cozy-looking house, very wearily.

Emma would recognize the weak White King anywhere, she pulled Apache along as quickly as she could until she was right behind Charming. He sensed her and turned around swinging his axe wildly, Emma barely ducked in time and the edge of the sharp blade nicked her forehead; causing her to lose her balance. Thankfully, Apache nudged his nose into her back and pushed her into Charming, sending the pair into a tangle of limbs in the snow. No words were uttered as David and Emma tried to right themselves, the wind blew harder and howled louder; masking their grunts and growls at each other. Charming pushed Emma off of him and into the wood pile. He reached for his axe, but seemingly out of nowhere, a black hoof beat him to it, and dragged it away.

The distraction was just long enough for Emma to get back on her feet, and whack Charming behind the head with a block of wood. She tossed the blood-soaked wood into the pile behind her, trying to soothe her burning lungs and leg. Charming was laying face down in the snow, whether he was dead or unconscious it mattered not—Emma slowly drew her blade, he was losing his head either way.

Several chilly moments later...

Emma stepped into the warm cabin and the smell of vegetable stew assaulted her nostrils and her stomach complained about the lack of attention it had received today. She; however, ignored it completely when she spotted Mulan in the bed near the fireplace...bundled up in the most loving way. She had a bit of color, but she still didn't look very well yet. Emma looked around but she didn't spot the little prince—although, she could sense him hiding in the shadows behind a dresser. She would grab him later... she first and foremost had a job to finish. Emma closed the cabin door with a grim smile and twinkle in her darkening gaze. Mulan had been allowed to live too long. This was the end of her story. And Emma would be returning home with not one, but two heads to add to the collection she had began for her Queen. First, the Huntsman, second, her Father, and third, her damned nemesis, Mulan. It's almost too bad she had to be disposed of...In any other situation, they could have worked together as a great team, Mulan was a fierce warrior. Just not fierce enough...

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

The very next morning at sunrise...

The Evil Queen would have never admitted it out loud, but she had a hard time sleeping without her blonde lover right next to her side. She got little sleep that night, and what sleep she was blessed with, had her tossing and turning. The Dark Queen had tried to see her through the mirror, but the genie trapped inside couldn't even find her...it was disconcerting for the Evil Queen—and she was not used to such feelings.

She could barely focus on her breakfast meeting with her council about her plans for the now ruined White Kingdom, and she was positive they had thought that decade after decade of being Queen had finally caught up to her, but they dared not say anything negative about the Evil Queen...to her face.

"Your Majesty, are you alright?" the new Captain of her army asked, she was guarding the Evil Queen for Emma until the blonde got back. The dark-haired woman had replaced her husband as gracefully as the situation permitted and he seemed to be taking it in stride, but Regina was no fool, she saw the look in his eyes when she took his rank and gave it to his wife this morning after breakfast.

Regina shifted in her throne, tearing her eyes away from the double doors. "Yes, Captain I am fine. Is there any word of arrival from my—our Champion?"

Pocahontas' eyebrows raised, but she was smart enough not to question it, or tease the brunette when she was clearly agitated. It was new for anyone to see the Evil Queen so worried about someone...it wasn't as if the brunette hadn't sent the blonde out before, but she's never been this...anxious before. "Not in this realm Your Majesty, no."

Regina sighed, "How is the wolf?"

Pocahontas frowned, "Belle seems to be quite smitten with that beast."

Regina looked up at her Captain with a small smirk, "You sound jealous Captain...but of whom I wonder?"

Thankfully, the red-faced Captain didn't have to fumble over an answer, because a messenger came barreling into the throne room, breathing very hard. Pocahontas began to descend the steps, speaking with authority. "State your business messenger."

"Ta-the Dark Assassin..." was all he managed before The Evil Queen was on her feet and in front of the young boy before Pocahontas could comprehend what the boy had said. The young messenger swallowed nervously. "M..m-majesty."

"Where is my Dark Knight?"

"The medical wing Your Majesty, she arrived minutes ago... barely conscious."

Purple smoke engulfed Regina and she was gone without warning. Pocahontas swore under her breath, she flipped the boy a gold coin from her money pouch and went running to the medical wing praying that her blonde friend was alright.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ