by K.N. Lee
Lilae has been hunted since the night of her birth. She is the only heir to the human god's throne.
For centuries the races have been separated by an ancient barrier. Now that the barrier is crumbling and vanishing, the races are once again pitted against one another.
Who will rule? Which races will survive? Will Lilae give up her chance for the throne to save the race of the man she loves?
Coming January 2015 to
Amazon & www.Kn-Lee.com
Even in the lowest levels of the Aurorian palace, where the servants slept, the castle staff sat up and listened to the queen’s cries of pain. No one wanted her to die. She was only the fourth queen of the Black Throne and yet she was the most loved.
King Torek paced the dim, narrow corridor; the only light came from the brass torches placed against the stone walls. His brow furrowed as he waited for his summons.
He wondered if it was wise of them to try for a second child. He was growing older and weaker. But one son wasn’t enough of a legacy for an Aurorian king. Torek had grown up with four brothers and seven sisters. It was a shame that he hadn’t sired more children in his long lifetime. King Torek had four wives and only one son.
It was too late for doubts. They were twenty hours into labor and either the child would finally come or both the baby and the mother would die.
King Torek finally sat down on the carpeted corridor’s floor in exhaustion. His legs were tired from standing. Sweat ran down his balding scalp.
“Do you need anything, sire?”
King Torek waved the young guard away as one last scream, more agonizing than the rest, broke him from his thoughts. The sound itself, in its clarity, sent a shiver up his spine. Torek drew a fearful breath and waited. His body was tense and rigid. After a few moments of complete silence, the short midwife opened the doors to Queen Sysil’s quarters and ushered him inside.
The air inside the room was thick and steamy, the candlelight dim; it bathed the room in a faint orange glow. The smell of blood and sweat invaded his nostrils, so he covered his nose with his long velvet sleeve.
King Torek noticed his young wife sprawled motionless on the bed. “Is she all right?” A look of worry creased his aging face.
Queen Sysil’s eyes seemed sealed shut from tears of pain. Her scarlet hair was in disarray and sweat beaded her pale face. Her chest rose slightly and fell, and he sighed in relief.
The midwife nodded. “She’s only resting.” Her aged eyes seemed to hold something more.
“Where’s the child?” His dark eyes roamed the room. There were no screams or cries from the baby.
The midwife pointed a chubby finger to the small bassinet at the queen’s bedside. The midwife’s aide stepped aside timidly, careful to avoid eye contact as the king towered over them on his path to the baby.
An attendant wiped the sweat from the queen’s face with a cool rag. Sysil’s lips trembled. “I am sorry that it is a girl. We can try again, if it is your desire.”
If only they had time to try again. Sysil was only twenty-two, but Torek was nearly seventy, and his body reminded him of his mortality every day. Two children would have to do.
“A baby girl?” To everyone’s surprise, Torek smiled.
He looked in at the daughter who seemed so calm and peaceful. He picked her up, and his thoughts of having another boy vanished as he stared at her appealing, yet eerie beauty.
The girl was tiny, with a head full of short, curly hair. It was odd; he’d never seen anyone with hair that shade of red before. It was so bright, that it seemed to have traces of gold throughout.
The king’s body tensed as though under a spell, when his daughter looked up into his eyes. Under long, thick golden lashes were eyes of a rich, bluish green. He gasped, almost dropping her, when a faint flicker of light moved deeply within them. The child yawned so innocently, her little mouth opening in a perfect circle, before she closed her eyes to sleep.
“Do not look too deeply into the child's eyes.”
“She’s bewitched,” one of the attendants whispered.
Torek turned and looked at the midwife; one of his bushy white eyebrows rose in search of answers. The queen’s attendants avoided his eyes as they busied themselves with cleaning the room of the blood-soaked rags.
The babe did indeed resemble the queen as far as her hair color; however, her blue-green eyes were rare and unsettling. Though many humans of the North had special traits, there was something more to this girl.
Torek already felt a deep love for the child, his baby girl. He gently hugged her close to him.
“Let me hold her, your grace.” The midwife held her arms out, her small eyes never leaving the baby.
“My king, what is wrong?” Sysil weakly tried to sit up in the bed. Her face paled even more when she saw Torek’s smile fade.
The child’s eyes…did that thing again, flickering with light. Torek swallowed hard, fearing that something was wrong. He watched as the midwife examined the baby, the room full of tension.
Heavy boots trampling down the corridor broke the silence. The door burst open and the captain of the palace guards, Pirin, charged into the room.
“What is going on?”
Pirin pointed to the midwife. “Get the child from that woman! She is a witch.” Pirin looked to the king and spoke quickly. “We found the real midwife’s body in the stables.” He glared at the woman who stood there with the princess in her arms.
There was a collective gasp from the aides.
“I’ve been called many things over the centuries, but never a witch.”
Torek’s heart raced as he watched the midwife transform to a woman of a younger age. He stepped back, startled. His jaw hung open as his eyes searched her face. Torek balled up his fists as the rage filled his veins.
She did look evil with her black hair and pale skin. Her blue eyes looked at him without fear and that made his anger intensify. She stood there holding his beloved daughter.
“I assure you,” she said, “I am Delia, Elder and gatekeeper of the Underworld. Not even a witch is safe from my power. Now, lower your weapons, and listen to me.”
“Sorcery! Seize her!”
Delia shook her head, gripping the baby close to her chest. “I have not come to harm the child.” She raised a hand as if to calm them, meeting all of their eyes.
“Seize her!” The soldiers charged for her.
The calamity and uproar upset the wee princess, who wailed into the air.
“Silence!” With a flick of her small hand, Delia seemed to rip their voices right from their throats. It was so sudden and immobilizing that no one could even scream. The room was flooded by light and all sound was sucked away. When she lowered her hand, everyone was frozen in place like statues.
Delia slumped onto a chair, as though exhausted from her sudden burst of energy. She looked down at the child whose cry was the only sound heard in the room. She sighed and gently rubbed the girl’s tiny hand, as if to soothe her.
“I warned you,” Delia said, shaking her head. “You people think you know everything don’t you? You know nothing. I have come a long, long way to help you humans.”
Torek watched as Delia gazed into his daughter’s eyes. He saw the woman’s body shiver and knew that she, too, saw the light flicker there.
“The Ancients have asked me to protect this child, and as an Elder, I am more qualified than any of you to help her fulfill her destiny.”
The veins in Torek’s neck strained as he watched the woman cradling his daughter. Elder or not, he wanted to break free from the hold she had on all of them, and wring her neck.
“I cannot begin to explain how important this little girl is, nor do I have the time. But you must understand. It is too dangerous to keep her here. There are dangers for her, and she is a danger to you.”
She reached inside her leather side-purse for a clear vial of blue liquid. When she opened the cask, a slight cloud of frost escaped. Torek watched as Delia drank a tiny sip; she squeezed her eyes shut and breathed deeply, as if waiting for something to happen. Finally, she stood.
“Listen, Torek. You should be glad that I arrived first.” She wrapped the baby in a blanket and secured her to a sling upon her chest. “I don’t have the time to explain everything, but you have to know that others will come, if the child stays here. You have to trust me.”
Delia was asking the impossible of Torak and Sysil; he wasn’t sure he could give up his newly born daughter, even if it was absolutely necessary.
“Our world is about to change,” Delia said. “There are beings who would seek to kill the princess and destroy your kingdom. Understand that I will protect her, train her, and prepare her for the time when she will be called upon to save our world. She has one of the most difficult tasks of all ahead of her, and I will make sure she is safe until that time comes.”
Delia looked toward the captain of the guards; he was tall like most Aurorians and very well built. “Pirin is it?” His eyes widened. “I shall take you with me. Lilae will need training, and”—she looked him over - “you will do.”
Delia released Pirin from his frozen state, and he fell to the floor. His hair was so blond that it was nearly white, and it fell into his eyes as he looked up at her. He winced as he began to move his limbs, as if shaking out pins and needles. He stretched his arms and picked up his sword.
“What do you mean, ‘will do?’” Pirin frowned at her, furrowing his thin eyebrows. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
“Do you understand that you have been chosen to join the child and me?”
Torek looked around at the others, whose eyes were now glazed over; he sensed that they were no longer aware of what was occurring.
“Why?” Pirin asked. “You’re still an enemy as far as I’m concerned. I know you have power. I’ve seen that. But try to harm the king and queen and I will find a way to kill you.”
Delia blinked at him and sighed. “I know you have no reason to trust me, but in time the Ancients will reveal to you what I have seen.”
Pirin stood there, as if unsure about what to do. He glanced at the king.
Torek knew that if the Ancients, the creators of the races who populated the world, put their trust in this woman, then she must be an important person and one to listen to. The king tried to nod in Pirin’s direction, though he was still pinned still from Delia’s powers.
“You’re obviously not from Auroria,” Pirin reasoned, his eyes grazing over her dark hair. “You don’t have our pure blood, nor fair hair and light eyes.” Though Delia’s eyes were blue, they were dark, like the ocean at night. “But you haven’t come all of this way just to kill the child, either.”
Delia nodded. “I have not, Pirin. But there are those who would come from afar, to do just that.”
“Then why have you come?”
“As I said, I wish to protect the child from those with power, who would use it to kill her. She is a weapon that if in the wrong hands, could cause great harm to this world.”
“You are really an Elder?” Pirin remained calm, looking at the woman who claimed to once rule the Underworld.
Delia gave a single nod. “I am.”
Pirin frowned. “You don’t look like an Elder.”
Delia raised an eyebrow. “Have you ever seen an Elder?”
He shook his head.
“Good. And you don’t want to see me in my true form.” She watched his face. “Pirin, look at me.”
He glanced up at her.
“I will tell you everything you need to know after we are far from danger.”
Delia shook her head. “I don’t think you are quite ready to know such things,” she said. “But in time, I will tell you.”
Though Pirin’s stance looked imposing, his eyes filled with worry. “I need more than that, Elder. I have a wife and two little girls. What will become of them? Who will protect them if I come with you and the princess?”
“Bring them,” Delia said without hesitation. “We will give this child a family, and protect her until her time has come.”
“Do I have a choice?”
She nodded. “You do. But wouldn’t you still be serving your king and queen by protecting their daughter?”
Pirin looked up. “Yes, but I’d be putting my twin daughters in harm’s way.”
Delia lifted her shoulders. “Are there any other soldiers who could do as good of a job in protecting and training the princess as you?”
He shook his head.
“And wouldn’t it be wise to keep your family close, to protect and train them as you would the princess?”
Pirin looked back at his men. They were still frozen.
“I know your secret, Pirin…”
His face lost what little color it had when his eyes lifted to hers. “What?”
Delia sighed. “You heard me.”
He shifted from one foot to another. “What do you think you know?”
“I know everything.” There was a tense silence between them, as she watched him with a straight face. “So, are you coming or not?”
“I'll do it.”
Delia nodded, a small smile forming at the corners of her lips. “Are you doing it because I know all of your secrets, or because you want to?”
He didn’t hesitate. “Everyone has secrets. I care about the child. You have given me a chance to protect her, and I accept.”
She nodded, as if pleased by his answer. “Well said. I see much good in you, Pirin. You will go down in history for your part in this.”
Pirin put his sword away and looked at the queen, whose tears were trailing down her face. “I don’t care about history. I only care about this child and my own. If what you say is true about danger heading this way, then we’d better get going.”
Pirin crossed the room and wiped the queen’s face. He leaned down and whispered something to her. Pirin unhooked Sysil’s silver necklace and balled it into his fist.
Delia narrowed her eyes and asked, “What exactly are you doing?”
Pirin turned, his hazel eyes wet. “For the princess. She will need a token from her mother. It’s the least we can do, isn’t it?”
“Very fitting.” Delia nodded, staring at the necklace for a moment before putting her hand across the baby’s face. Instantaneously, the little girl fell asleep.
“One more question, Elder.”
“Call me Delia, please,” she replied to Pirin.
He nodded, dropping the necklace into his pocket. “Fine…Delia.” He lifted his shoulders in a shrug, and asked, “Why me?”
Delia pulled on her cloak and covered the girl’s head, holding her snuggly against her chest.
She walked toward the door, but glanced back at Pirin, an eerie smile on her pale face.
“It was always you, Pirin. Coincidences don’t just happen. We have all been chosen, so long ago that the world has forgotten. We cannot escape our fate; not when the entire world is at stake.”
Meet the Author - K.N.Lee...
Her works include, Rise of the Flame, The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld, Dark Prophet, A Gifted Curse, Wicked Webs, Empty Your Heart, Pixie Dust, and the paranormal collection of short stories, Thicker Than Blood. Her short fantasy story, The Last of the Jinn, is in the anthology, A World of Worlds and The Ticking Ring is in A World of Joy by ASMSG authors.
Author, K.N. Lee loves hearing from fans and readers. Connect with her!