“If she dies, I am going to kill you.”
Male voice… surly… Erick.
“How was I supposed to know the Sirens would turn against her and try to drag her to the depths?”
Another male voice… older, familiar… Dante.
“It was a good thing that Hiku was able to get them away from her when Erick dove for her.”
Third male… sounds like uncle… Lumin.
“She is breathing, so at least she is still alive…”
Fourth male… sweet… Hiku.
I opened my eyes and was staring straight into four male faces. I sat up and hacked as I coughed, trying to get the rest of the water out of my lungs. Dante rubbed my back, patting it lightly to help me lose the water. I leaned against his hand as he lowered me back to the hard wood.
I closed my eyes, keeping them open was too much work. “What… happened?”
Dante answered, “The Sirens tried to kill you.”
“Why…?” I remembered the singing and not being able to breathe. “But, they helped me…”
Erick scoffed, “I t was not really helping when they try to drown you.”
Dante answered me, “The Siren’s Kiss was a link to the Sirens for protection. However, as it was destroyed, they were able to ensnare your and Sedi’s minds. Luckily, your Foriner prince, here, was able to swim to get you back. And your Nakaran prince used fire to get the Sirens away from you two as Erick pulled you to the ship.”
“Ah. Ok…” My body felt heavy. “Where are we headed?”
Lumin answered me, “Nowhere. We are on the Bloodied Shadow awaiting our next command. You were unconscious for almost an hour.”
“Rest…” I told him, hoping they would understand.
I could hear the smugness in Erick’s voice, “We figured that.” I felt someone lift me into the air, but had no energy to fight it.
I heard a door open and the person set me on something soft. I felt someone pulled blankets over me, before brushing their lips across mine. “Sleep and we will talk after you have…” Sleep overtook me before I could finish hearing that thought.
“How did you defeat him?” A low growl vibrated through my bones.
I tried to open my eyes, but something was holding them closed. “Who?” I answered.
“Sedi. How were you able to defeat him?” I heard Estein move towards me.
“Magick.” I coughed as I felt sick to my stomach.
“Nevarrians do not have magick.”
“Sirens do.” I swayed back and forth, feeling my arms growing tired as they were bound above my head.
Estein lifted my face to his, “Open your eyes!”
I tried to, but could not. “Too heavy…” Fatigue took over my body, making it too much effort to do anything but hang there by my arms.
I felt a hard slap across my face. “You dare defy me?”
“I cannot open them!” I shouted into his face. “It feels like something is keeping them closed!”
I heard him pacing back and forth in front of me. I heard him then turn towards me and felt him place his hands on each side of my head. “Then I guess I will have to force you to.” I felt something snake into my mouth, testing, tasting.
I felt an odd satisfaction when I gagged and threw up on him. He ripped his tongue out of my mouth as I heard him shout for his guards. I heard steel being scrapped along the ground, and as it stopped, I heard the air being cut around me.
The blade was placed at my chest, a cutting wound, nothing that would kill me. I felt the tip of the blade start to press into my skin, but everything vanished before I could bleed for him.
I woke up with a start with Lumin placing the last talisman and the dream catcher above the bed. I looked up at him and then down at my naked body. There was an imprint of the blade, but luckily, no blood. I looked up to my cousin, “Thank you…”
Lumin knelt down next to me, hugging me, “You are welcome. I think through everything, the Princes forgot about the dangers you face while sleeping.”
“Lumin, why did you not want me to hear what you were talking about?” I asked him the question that started this seagoing mess.
I heard the door open and saw Hiku and Erick standing in the doorway.
“Loves?” There was a hard look in their eyes as they walked over to me. I saw it at the last second. “Lumin! Get back!” I pulled him behind me, but realized my error too late, as he grabbed my arms.
The Princes’ eyes were solid black, devoid of color and life. I looked back to see Lumin’s eyes the same way. “Dante!” I shouted, hoping the Desu would have come to my rescue.
Hiku leaned close to me, “The Desu cannot hear you.” He licked the side of my face, a long warm line from my chin to my temple.
Erick came up on my other side, “He was resting before going overboard.” He licked from my temple to my chin, another heated wet line.
I felt tears falling down my cheeks, “Why?”
Lumin whispered, his voice no longer his own, “It is simple, little princess.” Estein spoke through him, “Sedi was a master of mind manipulation. They belong to me now. If you want them back, then let them escort you home, where you will bow before me.”
I could not… would not… fight against them. “I will do as you say…” I heard voices outside the ship as seagulls loudly complained overhead. My hands were bound behind my back, exposing my body to the air.
The Princes yanked me out of the bed, before placing a rope around my neck. They both tied to other ropes to the one around my neck, leashes to drag me onto the deck. They both looked back at me, lust and hatred reflecting in their eyes.
They pulled me off of the ship, dragging me onto the docks. I saw Akiti loading up various ships, but they all stopped and stared at me as we passed. They all know who I am. I watched as none of them tried to touch me, in fact, they all backed away from me.
Winter was setting in, as cold air whipped through the seafaring town. The night set in and the moon was full. They pulled me into a carriage, but I noticed a white cloak sitting on a nearby building. I smiled, knowing the Lady was waiting for me. This might work. I sighed loudly, before my brain kicked into gear. I pulled the ropes that leashed me to the Princes taunt. They pulled and I fought; they pulled again and I fought some more. In a flash of light, I saw the Lady leap down and slice through the ropes that bound me to them.
The Princes were slow to react, Estein’s control not quick. He cannot control them fast enough because they are not Akiti. I thought to myself, as I kicked Lumin in the stomach and ran.
The Lady ran ahead of me, slashing and slicing at any Akiti that was standing in our way. We reached a building and turning inside, the darkness hid us. She carefully cut the binds on my arms and we listened as Akiti passed our building by. We found a secret room with stairs that led down into a basement and we sat on the floor.
“Thank you, My Lady.” I whispered.
She nodded to me, her clothes glowing lightly to let us see each other. She wore a white sleeveless tunic, pure white leggings and cloak. She had white gloves that almost hid the small daggers that ran up her forearms.
“I found the answer to my riddle.”
She pressed a finger to her lips as we heard movement upstairs. We waited until the sounds left. She mumbled, “I am happy I found you. Dante was worried that I would not be in time.”
“You know Dante?”
She nodded, “He is my consort, which is why he could shift into someone else.”
I looked back on the memory of Dante getting stabbed by Sedi. “Can he multiply as well?”
She nodded, “He is of the stars and they gifted him with replication and disguise.”
“I found the answer to your riddle.” I whispered.
She looked at me, confused. “How?”
“Go before the Gods and be wed to Dante. You are the Daughter of Light and Dark, he is touched by the stars. He is your answer, My Lady.”
She was shocked, “How could I have not thought of that?”
“I think you were never meant to meet him.” I answered her. “My Lady, do you know of the Oblivion Dream?” I asked her.
She shook her head, “Is that where your answer lies?”
I nodded to her, “I know where it lies and how to get there.”
She looked at me and I knew that she knew where it was. “Are you sure?”
We were interrupted by a booming voice, “PRINCESS!” The ground shook as Estein unleashed some of his fury. “COME OUT OR THEY DIE!”
I stood up, but the Lady pulled me down, “What are you doing?”
“He will kill them!” I hissed at her.
“He wants you! He knows that this will pull you out of hiding!” She growled lowly.
“My Lady.” I spoke her title with enough authority to make her wince. “Do you trust me?”
I watch different emotions wash through her face, before she finally said, “Yes.”
“Find Dante and stay with him. Get married, so you both may return to the heavens.”
“What about you?” She asked.
“Do you know a way to counteract a mind manipulation spell?” I asked her, remembering my Princes and cousin.
She kissed me as I felt three sparks of electricity flow into me, before she became a white bird.
I dressed in her clothes, the white making my skin glow slightly, before settling the short blades at my hips. I found two daggers crossing the small of my back, before putting the third and fourth daggers in glove sheathes. I smiled to her, the sad truth filling me, “You asked what I am going to do next… I am going to see Estein.”
I walked down the main street of the town, but as I passed each Akiti, they shrank away from me. I sang a variation of a song from a book I had read by Matt Redman, “Standing on this mountaintop… Looking just how far I’ve come… Knowing that for every step… You were with me…”
I passed by houses that were darkened since the Akiti invasion over a year ago, “Kneeling on this battle ground… Seeing just how much You’ve done… Knowing every victory… Was Your power in me…”
Wind started to pick up around me, my soul feeling both heavy and light, “Scars and struggles on the way… But with joy my heart can say… Yes, my heart can say…”
I felt tears stream down my cheeks as I felt both hot and cold, fire and ice in my body and my bones, “Never once did I ever walk alone… Never once did You leave me on my own… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful…”
I watched the Akiti fly towards the clock tower. “Kneeling on this battle ground… Seeing just how much You’ve done… Knowing every victory… Was Your power in me… Scars and struggles on the way… But with joy my heart can say… Yes, my heart can say…” I almost shouted, using my voice to call upon my God for one last blessing. I could see large black wings extending from the top of the clock tower, as Estein watched me. “Never once did I ever walk alone… Never once did You leave me on my own… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful… Scars and struggles on the way… But with joy my heart can say… Never once did I ever walk alone… Carried by Your constant grace… Held within Your perfect peace… Never once, no, I never walk alone… Never once did I ever walk alone… Never once did You leave me on my own… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful…”
I saw my three men standing at the base of the tower. They were dangerous, but I watched as they shrank away from me, the Lady’s clothes blessed with both light and dark. “Every step I am breathing in Your grace… Evermore I’ll be breathing out Your praise… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful…”
“You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful… You are faithful, Kitarr, You are faithful …” I prayed as I stepped towards the clock tower, “Kitarr, I was faithful… Please forgive me for what I must do. Help me help them, save me to save them. Blessed Be, so mote it be.”
Estein glided down from the top of the tower, slowly clapping his hands. “A songbird has arrived at my door step.” He cocked his head sideways before tsking, “Cutting your beautiful hair. That will have to be punished…” He looked to my friends, “Maybe one of them should pay for this defiance?”
I flicked a glance to my comrades. “Let them go, Estein. They have no purpose in this…” I glared at the enemy, “This is between you and I and I think that you will see things my way.”
“Give me one reason to let them go.” He landed near Lumin, using a claw to graze my cousin’s skin.
I pulled the two daggers from my wrists, tearing the gloves with their sharp blades. I crossed my arms to place the dagger points against both of my forearms. “You want me?” I just grinned, my mind spinning as the wind picked up around us.
I watched Estein catch the scent of blood as the daggers lightly cut into my wrists. “You would not kill yourself…” He seemed sure of it, though his voice held some doubt. He cut Lumin across the cheek with one of his claws.
Quickly, I drew the blades to my wrists, slicing the arteries and felt the blood flow freely. Estein hissed loudly as the pool of blood grew around me, “No!” He reached for me, but the Lady’s clothes prevented him from touching me.
Hiku, Erick and Lumin surged forward as I fell to the ground. I was caught by Erick, but I knew they were still following Estein’s orders. I looked up at my friends, and then flung my arms across them, getting blood on their faces. I watched then lick the blood off their lips and I knew they were able to start fighting Estein’s control.
“I am sorry, my loves.” I closed my eyes, preparing for Death to overtake me.