The Sleeping Princess
Ever’s long white hair spilled over the side of the bed, her once glowing blue eyes sealed behind their lids, hands folded over her stomach. So still. So like death.
Kane’s heart cracked inside his chest. His baby. His little girl. What had his mother done to her?
“Ever?” he whispered, hoping she’d hear him, open her eyes, smile. Anything.
Kane sighed heavily. He had failed in so many ways: he’d failed to protect his father so long ago, then Seren, and now his daughter.
And Legion, his crumbling underground home. If he didn’t find his people a new place to live soon, there wouldn’t be a place to call home. The buried Atlantean palace had served them well for over a century, but the weight of the Crimson Desert deeply burdened the shoulders of the city. As their leader, reluctant as he may be, it was Kane’s duty to find them a new home.
Home, he thought wistfully. Where is my home? With the other demons? Here, in Necrosia?
Kane had to admit, the Necrosians were warm and welcoming, a far cry from his own suspicious and intolerant race. This place, even in the short time he’d been there, was quickly becoming a home away from home.
As much as he wanted to be a proud leader to his people, he couldn’t ignore their waning faith in him to protect them from capture, from slavery. With Malus now dead, however, he hoped the task would be easier. But Dark World was so unstable, so unpredictable. Without their leader, the queen’s shades would be free to roam the lands without any repercussions. Free to devour any and all souls that crossed their path. At least the queen had kept her ravenous minions contained within the walls of the Blood Palace, until she bid them otherwise, that is.
The only way to save his people and Dark World now was to obtain all the scrolls, rekindle the light of the Crystal Pyramid—and claim his birthright as the devil. He cringed at the last requirement, disquiet stirring within. His father had been a great leader, admirable, strong. Kane didn’t feel the royal power coursing through his veins. The responsibility smothered him, confined him, not unlike the shackles adhered to his wings. A prison.
“Any improvement?” a voice asked, pulling Kane from his dark brooding. Vrill, the leader of the necromancers drifted into the room, his silvery-blue skin aglow from the hundreds of candles illuminating the room.
Kane shook his head. “Nothing. It’s like she’s under a spell.”
Vrill nodded, wisdom shining behind his eyes. “Yes, I believe that is exactly what it is.”
Frowning, Kane asked, “What do you mean?”
The necromancer hesitated, then crossed the room and sat in a chair created entirely of bones, as was nearly everything in Necrosia. Finally he spoke, “When the queen attacked Ever...” his voice trailed off.
“Yes?” Kane lowered his eyes with the memory.
Vrill sighed, then said, “She may have...transferred her soul. I believe she is undergoing some kind of…metamorphosis.”
Kane’s heart stopped. The thought had crossed his mind, but until now, no one had dared speak the words aloud.
“But...” Kane began as he stood and paced the room, shaking his head. “Vale killed Malus before the ritual was complete, Ever’s soul could still be her own...couldn’t it?”
“I’m sorry Prince, we just can’t be sure—until she wakes up,” Vrill said quietly, his gaze resting on the sleeping princess. “And I’m not sure we should take the chance.”
“What are you saying?” Kane growled, brow furrowed and fists clenched, nearly charging the necromancer.
Vrill raised a patient hand to subdue the angry prince, stating, “We can’t know for certain that she’s still your daughter. The queen’s soul could be in charge, Ever might be a prisoner in her own body. We cannot take the chance that the queen still lives. If she’s in there, in her granddaughter’s body, she could harness the power of a hundred Devils. She will be unstoppable. We should...” Vrill lowered his eyes. “...put an end to her, now, before she can awaken.”
“How can you say such a thing? That...monster...is not in there,” Kane raged. “She is Ever!” He moved to his daughter’s side, stared at her angelic face, and whispered, “She just has to be.”