Critique Piece, Chapter 9

Hello all, I need some critiques on this passage. It’s for my NaNoWriMo novel. In the scene, I am killing off a secondary villain as well as my protagonist. Any thoughts you have would be lovely and appreciated. Sorry about the formatting, I can’t seem to get it the way I want it, so it’s just the way it is.
He held her by the jaw, his hands surprisingly warm, as the knife tenderly kissed her cheek. She screamed once more , the gag preventing her full volume but she’d really just wanted him to stop at any rate. He kept going, pressing the blade into the softest part of her face. It felt like white hot acid were being drawn across her cheek, the warmth of her blood flowing into the fabric securing her mouth and collecting. There was nothing she could do but scream, and yet it did nothing. Each swipe of his hand tore more of her humanity away than it did skin and Katerina was replaced with a trapped animal, fighting desperately for her right to live.
Tears pooled in her eyes, those which escaped mixing with the blood and just when she thought it could get no worse, he stopped. The pocket from which his knife came held one other metallic item which he traded the knife for. He opened the little mirror and showed her what he had done. She could just barely make out the two humps at the top and from the way his sickening grin was plastered over his pale face, she could only assume that the rest of the injury was a heart. He seemed like the sort of twisted person who would delight in the sick satisfaction of making his mark on all he came across. It seemed much smaller than it had felt, and she supposed she had the gag to thank.Her eyes moved to the other individual and as her worst nightmares came alive, her eyes gushed once more. The man from her dreams rocked back on his heels, noticing the direction her eyes had ventured. “Yes. It’s him. Would you like to say hello?”

Josh stumbled forward and caught sight of Katerina. Recognition didn’t cross his drunken face, but something else did.She’d seen it briefly the night she’d left the house in the care of Natalia and Ianna. 

“Shall I put her out of her misery, Alexander?” Josh’s voice slurred the words together, but they were unmistakable. Alexander, the man from her dream, looked back at him and moved out of the direct line. He took a moment in his move to pull down Katerina’s gag. He motioned for her to make her plea. She took a deep breath, steadied her nerves as best she could and watched Alexander remove himself from between them.

“I will not beg for my life from this pig. From either of you. Just do it.” Her cheek squelched with the injury, the pain from which screamed at her to stop. “I want to know why.” She swallowed the fluid in her mouth, the bitterness of bile, rusty pennies and saliva causing her to force it all down.

“You don’t even know who you are do you?” Alexander chuckled. “You’re the most crucial part of this plan and you haven’t even got an idea why. It’s a shame about all that, really. But someone should have told you before now. This is a task far more important than you.” His attention turned to Josh. “You will take the gun in your hand and you will use it on your useless self. Now.”

Josh’s face went blank, as though he felt nothing, knew nothing. He pulled a black object from his waistband and without hesitation put it to his head and pulled the trigger. He dropped to the ground and was no more. Katerina, although incredibly glad she would never be accosted by this man from her past again, found herself unable to do anything more than stare at the large hole where his head had been intact just moments before. He was bleeding out all over the dead leaves and she couldn’t find a reason to be sad about it. Alexander walked over and picked up the gun, waving it around.

“Now. It looks like we have business to discuss in private, then. You were born into a warring faction, you are the last living, direct descendent of the purest line of monarchs.” He waited for understanding to cross her face, but when it didn’t, he let out an exasperated sigh. “I can’t explain our entire history! You really should have pushed harder with those lunars to tell you about who you were, who your parents were. But you won’t have the chance now, I suppose. Really too bad about it, but I guess that’s the way destiny is sometimes. Anyway, the whole thing boils down to you have to die so that we can survive. As I said, nothing personal.” Alexander raised the gun to her chest, and offered one last time. “Any last words?”

“I hope you’re happy with yourself.” She began slowly. “Because in the end, I’ll be there, waiting for you when you least expect it.”

“I’m sorry, my dear, but I’m afraid you’ll already be dead.” The sound of the bullet never really registered with Katerina, as she closed her eyes, shock already taking over. There was a gurgle of blood before her body went limp. The bullet had gone straight into her heart. Alexander was pleased with his handiwork. He cut the bonds away, wanting the chance to gloat over her dead body. “Now I have the power. And you are just a casualty of war. You weren’t worthy of all that could have been yours anyway.” Alexander backed away and disappeared into the darkness.

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Chapter 5

So today, I’ve been madly noveling, and although I am glad to have a break from homework, it’s interesting that I never really escape it. Today’s thankfulness comes from being 1/6 of the way to where I was before. But the thing is, I’m writing an entirely new book, and so I think I’m really only about a tenth of the way there, which is even more exciting to me. Anyway, what I’m truly thankful for is inspiration. For me, it comes from life, coffee and great playlists. I think that’s really great, and there’s something quite amazing about taking a blank page, a nothing, and creating an idea, a something. So, in honor of that, I’m going to offer a small segment of my WIP (work in progress) and go back to work. I chose this because it’s one of those scenes I can’t descide how to rework. [This is part of Chapter FIVE, the main character Kat is reading from an old book called The Love of the Queen of Souls. It’s the scene I just finished, and it’s easily the flimsiest but it serves a purpose and well, PLOT TWIST.]

           There was once a summer princess who longed for the chill kiss of winter. She craved the balance and poetry of the cold and the warmth. Her heart was met each day by the warmth of the sun and she could take it no longer. On the evening of her twenty seventh year, she ran from her life and met a stranger in the woods. He was just the frost she’d waited for and she invited him to accompany her to back to her home and immediately fell in love with him.

           They were forbidden to be together, but the summer princess could not forbid her heart from feeling and she secretly married the stranger in the woods. They were very happy, each completing the other in ways they had never known before. They were warned about growing hostilities because of their love, but the summer princess had more news: she was with child. Still, their union did not make everyone happy and the forces of summer and winter, ever at odds, went to war.

           By the time the princess gave birth to not one child, but a pair of twins, the winter and summer courts were rapidly running through their supplies and soldiers and a truce could not be found. The summer princess and her stranger in the woods were betrayed by a most beloved friend and were forced to give up their children, a son and a daughter, in order to spare their lives. As the children were taken away, the summer princess sacrificed her life so that her children would have a chance. A great fire was set to their home and trapped within, the stranger in the woods and the summer princess became spirits, collecting the souls of the winter and summer folk who could not pass on. In a final act of desperation, the summer princess offered the sky people, who ruled the earth and all those within, her life forever in exchange for her babies, that they might be free.

           But the sky people were a vengeful sort, and did not suffer the summer princess lightly, as they blamed her for disrupting the harmony they had created. A curse was placed on her daughter, that she might never find happiness until the war between summer and winter was over. Her son was not cursed, but was stripped of his memories and destined to return to the winter, who would betray him. One of the sky people, a young mother herself, took pity on the children, knowing that all that had happened was because of love, and they were the product of good intentions. She knew that the curse of the daughter and the fate of the son would be what came to pass, but in the event that they found each other, a great alliance would be formed, one that would cause peace to regain control.

           For their unwillingness to compromise, both the summer and winter were forced to live out their lives and fight their wars amongst the humans. They would never be allowed to return to the sky people and their homes, nor could they pass on to the land of souls until the princess and prince are reunited and the war is ended.

           
Katerina came to the end of the story and looked up. Natalia’s eyes were glassy with tears and she couldn’t look at Kat. At the end of the story was a page that looked like it had been added in, but Katerina couldn’t read it. It was in some sort of loopy lettering in some language that she’d never seen.