They came to their cell doors at the jangling of chains in the corridor, eager to see who would be joining them in this rotting, rat-infested eternal hell. New prisoners weren't a very frequent occurrence, so it always lifted their spirits a bit, the excitement of it, when it did happen. The only people down here were the worst kinds, the murderers and rapists. Thieves and minor criminals got to go in the upper prison, and never stayed for long. But down here, deep in the bowels of the castle, this was where the worst of them were, the ones that would never see the sunlight again so long as they lived. The kingdom was generally peaceful, and so there were never many cells filled at any given time here. At the moment, only five of the twenty had people in them.
Torches were few and far between, leaving the corridor and the cells in an eternal twilight, hardly any light leaking into them. The first ones, in fact, were nearly five feet from the bottom of the staircase, and so it was a few moments before she stepped into the light and became visible. She still walked with all the grace of the princess she was, hair nearly the color of snow falling down her back, her chin tilted up and the blue of her eyes gleaming in the firelight. Silvery-white wings were visible at her back, so large that the longest feathers trailed along the filthy floor, covering them in dirt and grime and who knew what else, as did the pale blue hem of her dress. Shackles were locked around both of her wrists, a loose chain hanging between them and still allowing her a decent amount of movement. Her legs hadn't been restrained at all, unlike most of the other prisoners. Already, the pale skin beneath the shackles was rubbed red and raw from moving her wrists.
Most of them found it hard to believe she was only fourteen--not to mention that she was down here as a prisoner. She had visited them a few times before, bringing the only decent food and clean water they ever got, even occasionally sneaking down blankets. Never anything that could be used as a weapon, of course, but things that would bring comfort. And yet here she was, joining them.
The guards gladly ignored the murmuring that started up, nudging her forward until they moved past the five occupied cells, to the sixth in line, and slid the door open. She stepped in of her own free will, still silent and unyielding to the urge to break down, and kept her back to the outside as the door slid shut for what would likely be the final time, the lock sliding into place. After a moment of silence, the guards started their way back up the corridor, their boots echoing loudly on the stone floor.
"Let me take a wild guess; you're wondering what I did."
"You're going to be waiting a long time for that news, I bet." Silence fell at these words, and she calmly retreated to a corner of her cell, sinking to the floor and pulling her knees up to her chest. Now to wait. To wait for the right moment, an opportunity, a split second of a guard not paying attention.
Time passed, though how long she could not tell, day and night no different from each other down here. All she knew was that it was long enough for the guards to begin slacking off when bringing her food, would begin opening the door instead of just sliding it through the slot. It was a foolish move, and she had known it would happen, and gone out of her way to act sweet and innocent so they would cease considering her a threat. None of the others were smart enough for that. None of the others were women.
And finally, finally, it was time to use that to her advantage. She was already wide awake and on her feet when she was brought her first meal of the day, something which the guard likely found a bit odd, but he didn't acknowledge it as he slid the door open, stepping inside--and leaving it like that. She watched silently as he moved over to place a tray on the rickety table, glancing at her only briefly before turning, his back to her, to leave the cell again--and that was when she pounced. She lurched forward, swinging her arms up to bring the chain down in front of his throat and yanking back, pressing it into his windpipe. He thrashed against her, and she crossed her wrists to tighten it even further until, eventually, his flailing and attempts at escape ceased, leaving her with a limp body sagged against her. Shoving it away, she crouched down to grab the simple club that hung from his belt.
Smiling to herself, she stepped out into the corridor, graced by actual firelight for the first time since entering this hellhole. She was not a pretty sight these days. Her hair had become greasy and generally filthy, her dress ragged and torn off at the knees, and even her wings were ruffled, filthy and missing feathers. Her wrists were solid scabs all the time, dried blood streaking much of her arms from their constant wounds thanks to the shackles. But for now, none of that was important. For now, escape was the only thing on her mind. She began heading down the corridor, her gaze locked on the stairway--until another guard stepped into view, from the shadows in front of a cell door where he had been sliding a tray of food in. His eyes landed on her and widened, and he quickly backed towards the stairs, one hand moving towards his sword, but she was too quick for him. Before he could even react, the club hit his side full force, and the cracking sounds made it quite clear ribs had been broken. He stumbled away, making a pained noise, but she would show no mercy. Not today.
The club made contact with his face next, the snapping of his nose audible in the quiet of the corridor, and blood instantly gushed from it, splattering his face, his clothes, the club itself. And yet still she attacked, landing blow after blow, until both of them and the nearby ground were covered in his blood. Other prisoners watched silently from their cell doors, never making a sound and silently cheering her on, even though they knew she would not release them. And finally, as she stood over his still form, they were certain that he was dead--and just as certain, for the first time, that she truly belonged down here with them.
"Anyone want to come with me?" she asked softly, one of the few times they had heard her voice since she joined them. A long silence stretched where nobody spoke, until finally there was a chorus of 'yes' and 'please'. Grinning, she crouched down to retrieve the ring of keys from the corpse, making swift work of the locks on all five still closed cells. A melody of clinking chains was the first thing to make it's way to the guards stationed at the top of the stairwell, and they traded confused looks, backing away from the door as it got closer and hesitantly reaching for their swords. Surely they were imagining it? Or maybe there were to be executions they had not heard about? The door slowly swung open, and both were terrified to find themselves looking into the gaze of the princess. Even though attempts had been made to keep it quiet, by now, months later, everyone in the kingdom had heard about what she'd done. And nobody was eager to ever see her released from the bowels of the castle again.
The maids never were able to get the bloodstains from the stones after what she did to the guards, beating them with the club until they were barely recognizable as human corpses. The other prisoners, the couple who got captured, would later say that she appeared to take a vicious pleasure in it, grinning wide as she was coated in their blood. It was something even most of them, with the heinous crimes they themselves had committed, could not stomach. Bloody footprints and smears wound their way through the entire castle, only ending when she stepped outside with her followers, their chains still jangling quietly, not to be unlocked until she picked them later. Her wings, once a glorious silver-white, were now streaked with bloody red and tipped with grime.