We rode hard for a day, not having time to stop and dawdle along the way. The crisis situation, in my mind, was beyond caring about safety for myself. I had to find Lumin within the night or he would not survive until the morning. The pieces were fitting together in a deadly puzzle that would leave the world decimated.
We reached the ocean, looking out into the large expanse of water. Mari’Anya, HellFire and I looked down off the edge of the cliff into the crashed waves below.
Where is the cave?
“You see the cliff we are on? It is about fifty feet underwater straight below us.”
How do we get down there? The sea is a cruel mistress and those rocks would tear us to pieces. She told me, unsure about how I was going to answer.
“It is the only way down.” I got a running start and dove off the cliff, without a second thought. I have to do it… For Lumin’s sake and the world’s sake…
I heard Mari’Anya and HellFire follow me off the cliff, just as I hit the water. I was disorientated for a tick as I was slammed against a rock. The current was stronger than I remembered from when Hiku fell in when we were children. I was hit up against another rock, knocking my head into jumbles.
Swim down. I reminded myself as I heard two splashes in the water. “Swim down!” I yelled, as water intruded into my mouth. I spat it out, took a deep breath of air and went towards the cave. I saw HellFire and Mari’Anya swim towards a dark tunnel and I followed them, knowing that was the Siren’s Cave.
I had to swim through sharpened coral to get to where they were. I felt myself cut no less than four times by the razor sharp spikes of the coral reef. I swam faster, knowing there were carnivorous beasts that were attracted to the smell of blood.
Inside the cave, we found the air pocket and broke into the surface. Mari’Anya was the first to climb out of the water, followed by HellFire then me. I looked to my companions, looking to Mari’Anya first. Her wings were wet and a few feathers looked like they were broken, but besides that, she looked fine. HellFire shook, his mane throwing water everywhere, before lighting himself on fire. I watched the steam rise and I knew he was fine as well.
I, on the other hand, was not in the same good shape as they were. I slammed into three rocks on the surface, knocking my head around and even slammed a wing into one of the rocks. I looked at the blood that welled up on my arms from the cuts. I would not allow my injuries to hinder my quest. “Let us hurry.”
We ran, HellFire lighting the way with me then Mari’Anya following. They wanted me in the center, in case something happened. We found the Crossroads, three different paths laid before us. The Heights, the Depths and the Dreamscape each had their own path.
Which one is it?
I looked at them, “I do not know.” I pulled out the map and found it waterlogged and unreadable. “Well, the map is dead.” I threw it on the ground. I was going to have to use what little of my magick I had left. “Keeper of Oblivion, light our way.” I felt the magick well up inside of me, but someone blocked it.
“You do not need magick to ask for my help.” I heard the Keeper as he appeared in front of the center tunnel.
He was an old man, bent over, his white hair was as long as his beard, going to his midsection. In his gnarled fingers, he held a lantern that was lit but illuminated nothing. Two horns came from his head and I understood it now. “You are the first Demon King!”
He put a finger to his lips, “Yes, and to answer the question you are thinking of, yes, the curse started with me.”
“Why?!” I yelled to him. I felt betrayed by him, though he has only been helping me.
“I saved her. And she tore my heart to pieces. I gave her everything and I thought she loved me back, but no, she shred my heart and cursed my soul.” He admitted to us, “Please, help my descendant.” He dropped the lantern on the ground, causing it to burst to flame. A line of flames shot into the center tunnel, lighting our way.
We ran passed him and I heard him in passing, “I am sorry for the curse, but I know you will find a way to break it.”
Mari’Anya thought to me, Well, we now know where the curse came from and why the poor Demon Kings have been killed.
“Too bad I trusted him. But we cannot think about that now. We only have thirty clicks until the full moon rises.” I thought only about finding Lumin in Oblivion.
How are we going to find him?
I tried to think as we ran and I came up with an idea, “This is going to sound just a little bit pathetic, but it has to work.” I thought about everything I had done up to this point. I never felt so sure of anything else in my life, but I knew I loved Lumin. “Take us to Lumin, my love!”
I felt the magick of Oblivion pull at me and I noticed the world sped up, helping us along. We passed by the desert Dreamscape, where I always seem to end up when dreaming.
We arrived at a lone tree, where the world stopped speeding up. I looked around and saw someone laying at the base of the tree. I recognized him instantly, “Lumin!” I sprinted over to him, sliding to his side. I grabbed his hand in mine, “Please, wake up.”
Mari’Anya and HellFire stayed back, allowing us room. I leaned over him and brushed my lips against his. I did not feel his breath on my lips and I felt my eyes tear up. “No… We still had time!” I could not stand it. I collapsed onto his chest, trying to hear his breathing, to hear a heartbeat, to hear any kind of sign of life. I heard nothing and I could not take it anymore.
I burst into tears, feeling my heart sink into despair. I sat back up and leaned over his face again. “…And with one kiss, Sleeping Beauty awoke to see her true love sitting beside her…” I muttered one of the tales I once told the children. I leaned in and kissed him gently. “Please wake up… King Illuminescentnight of the Third Moon…” The name just came to me, as I pressed my lips to his.
I felt a jolt of magick surge through me, as I heard Mari’Anya yell, Twilight!
I sat up to see the Prince standing over Lumin and me. He smiled, evil filling his eyes. He was no longer in the form of a human, but to what he looked like in the fire. I tried to stand, but my muscles would not move. “Stay there.”
He passed by me and I saw Mari’Anya pounce on him. He swatted her away easily, slamming her into the tree. “Mari’Anya!” I saw him move towards HellFire, “HellFire, you are dismissed!”
A column of fire enveloped HellFire, but the Prince was faster than that. He stuck his hand into the column and grabbed HellFire’s neck. “Not this time.” He threw HellFire into Mari’Anya and I heard bones crack.
I tried to stand again, but I was paralyzed. “Leave them alone! It is me you want!”
He turned, “Yes, it is, but it is joyous to see others suffer.” He walked over to where Lumin lay, “Looks like the curse got to him before you did.” He leaned down to my level, “Poor Twilight…” He opened a door of darkness, leading to the Depths, before picking me up in his arms.
I tried to flail and hurt him, but he had me in his magick. I looked to Lumin and I felt my will to fight vanish in an instant. I was too late… I cried as the Prince and I went through the door.
We reached the other side of the door and I got my first glimpse of the Depths. The fires of the Depths were black and gave no light to the darkness. I ignored the Depths and the Devils watching the Prince and I. I did not care what happened to me anymore. I fought for too long, just to find out in the end, it was not worth it. I was too late to save the one I loved.
The Prince looked down at me in his arms, “Welcome home, my love.”
“I am not your love. Not now, not ever.” I growled through gritted teeth.
He just smiled, “You will love me or you will regret not.”
“Might as well just kill me now. I lost the one I loved to a curse that I could not have stopped.”
“Just face the facts, love. You are mine now.” His head snapped up as a Devil came up to him.
“Your highness, the human army and the other races are at the castle in Ancial.”
He looked to me, “You did this!”
I could not help but grin to him, knowing I got under his skin, “Yes, I did that.” Thank goodness he knew nothing about Hiku being the new king.
He looked back to the Devil, “Let me finish with her, then we will mobilize and destroy the castle.”
My eyes widened. I knew exactly what he was planning and there was no way in the Depths I was going to allow it. Then again, I was in the Depths and I still could not move. “Touch me and die.”
He grinned, “We will see about that.” He looked to the smaller Devil as he walked away. He continued walking towards a giant set of doors with two Devils guarding the door. They opened the door, letting him into a giant bedroom with a bed bigger than Lumin’s.
He threw me onto the bed and I felt the magick that held me dissipate. I grabbed my blades, but I was not fast enough to draw them fully. He pounced on me, holding my wrists in place. “I will enjoy every tick of this.”
I spat in his face, giving him my answer. Mari’Anya! I yelled but received no answer in return. He bit down into my shoulder, hard. I screamed in pain and I tried to kick him off me. He held me down with one hand, as he grabbed rope from above my head. He tied my wrists above my head, before getting off me.
I was not going to take this laying down. I kicked him in the face as hard as I could and I heard a snap as his nose broke. Blood sprayed everywhere as he yelled loudly. I took this chance to reach above me, pulling my wrist out of the rope. I was free and before I thought about what to do next, I ran out the door and into the guards.
They trapped me inside the bedroom, so I slammed the door in their faces. I looked around, looking for a way out, but the Prince grabbed me. He put a dagger to my throat, as he bled all over my wings. “You will pay for that.”
“You keep saying that, but I will be damned if I let you touch me.”
He took the knife and changed his plan. He pressed the knife against the base of my white wing. My eyes widened as I knew what he wanted to do. He slammed the dagger down, slicing through feather, skin and bone. I screamed as loud as I could, tears of pain welling up into my eyes. Someone… Please help me… I felt the world around me spinning as the pain ripped through my body.
He smiled against my shoulder, licking the blood that came from my shoulder blade. “Are you going to be good now?”
I shook my head and slammed the back of my head into his forehead. He held onto me, though I know I hit him hard. I felt his magick surge through me again, once again paralyzing my body, “I was going to be nice about it, but now…” He pushed me onto the bed face first.
I could not see him but I felt the knife tip glide across my back, cutting me as he sliced off my clothing. I felt bare as he stripped away my clothes from my back. I was touching my blades, but I could not move enough to use them on him. I laid there, tears streaming out of my eyes into the bed sheets. He used his magic to flip me over, forcing me to look into the cold darkness that radiated from his eyes.
He set himself against me, before slamming himself in. I screamed in bloody murder as I felt someone else’s magick well up inside of me. He pulled out and slammed into air, as I vanished from his bedroom and from the Depths.
I heard a guard burst into the room, “Your highness! The Demons have escaped!”
I felt his magick dissipate again, as I arrived at whoever summoned me. I saw Lady Kell standing next to me, along with the rest of the Demon race. We were in the Ladies room, the Ladies gathered around us. The youngest girl fainted from an overuse of magick, blood dripping from her palm. The Demon army looked to the humans and a tension arose in the room.
One of the Ladies walked over to a Demon male and curtsied to him, “We were not sure if it would work, but we are glad to see everyone is safe.”
The male, who I saw as the commander of the army, answered her, “How did you do it?”
She smiled and pointed to the fainted Lady, “She is not full human, but actually a mix of Elfin, human and a little bit of Demon. She was the one who got you all here.”
He bowed to the Ladies, the rest of the army following suit, “We thank you, miladies. Without you, we would all have perished.”
The Ladies curtsied back, “Do not worry yourselves over it. We are at war with the Devils and needed the help. Would you help us defend Ancial and the rest of the world?”
The commander hesitated, “I do not know. King Lumin was not with us and I do not know what to do.”
The Lady looked grim, “Well, at the very least, we just ask that you help the Elfin and the Dwarves with a barrier to protect this castle. We are brim full of all the races of the world and are in desperate need for help.”
He looked to his troops, who were all nodding, “I guess it is unanimous, we will help.”
Kell looked at me and I saw the sadness in her eyes, just as she saw the pain in mine. She helped me up and saw the bloodied stub coming out of my shoulder, as well as the blood sliding down my leg. “We need to get that fixed.”
Hiku burst into the room, “Twilight!” He came up to me and hugged me.
I yelled out as he touched the stub on accident.
“What happened?” He asked both of us, but I watched as he blushed when he looked at Kell.
“Let Twilight rest and heal. Healer’s orders.” She gave me a sideways glance.
I could not feel the world around me. There was nothing left for me here, and I realized I would have given everything to save the one person who I could not. I was detached from it, no longer caring about these people. I know I fell into darkness and part of me never wanted to return.
I woke up, once again in the Dreamscape, but I was not in a desert. I stood at the entrance of the Crossroads, from inside the Dreamscape cave. I walked out of the Dreamscape tunnel and into the main cavern. I turned to the left and sighed, “So here I go…” I started to walk down the tunnel towards one of the Deaths, either the Heights or the Depths.
I passed by blurred images of my past. I saw my mother giving birth to me with my father looking over her shoulder. They looked so happy to find their baby girl happy and healthy. I leaned into the image, trying to get a better look of their faces, but the image blurred more the closer I got to the cavern wall.
I walked a few more steps and saw the night where I lost everything. I watched as my father fought off Devils who were after my mother and I. I watched as the Devils outnumbered him and I saw true courage as he sacrificed himself for us. I watched my mother, holding me in her arms, ran away from my father’s death and the Devils that pursued us.
The image stopped and I was forced to move to see what happened next. I moved forward, following the tunnel until I saw another image move, continuing the story. I stood and watched the blurry scenes. Mother met the Faeyri, Elfin, Dwarves, Apocalypha and Demons. She spoke to each of them, trying to find her way to Ancial and I watched as they all helped her along.
The image stopped and I moved forward again, until I found the appropriate image to continue. She finally reached the edge of Ancial, and I saw that I was about two and walking at this point. We were camping, both her and I were laughing and having a joyful time. I saw eyes in the bushes and so did she. “Twilight, run!”
I ran away from the camp, but I turned to see her killed with a dagger. “Mommy!” I screamed and ran back to her. I saw the man, who I now recognized as Dante, turn to see me.
His eyes were evil and foretold of doom. “So, you are her offspring.” He kicked me and I hit the ground hard. “She chose an Angel over a Demon and they both paid for it. Now it is your turn, abomination.”
The scene stopped and I cried out to the image, “No!” I ran forward, knowing I had to know what happened. The image was farther spaced apart from the others. I reached it and watched the scene unfold completely.
Dante reached for me with his dagger, but I saw a bright light glimmer above him. He took the knife and cut my arm, getting a tiny bit of blood on the blade. The glimmer became brighter, until I saw Dawn descend from the Heights. She slammed into my small body and I knew what would happen next. I stood up and heard Dawn’s voice coming from my tiny mouth, “Dante, I banish you to the frozen hells of the Seven Hills, where you will die and be cast into the Depths.”
I watched as he grabbed my mother, as the air tore apart into a door. He yelled, “I will have her!” He was thrown into the Seven Hills. The air came back together, sealing the magick door.
I watched as she came out of me, using my shadow to get close to me. I was at first scared of her, but she just smiled kindly, “You will not remember any of this…” She placed her hand on my forehead and I fell to the ground, my memories taken from me. She then descended into my body and I realized I looked two years older now that she was in me.
She stood back up and we walked into Ancial, where we were found by Dyne and Hiku. She introduced me to them, not letting herself be known to anyone. She let me live a normal life, though I had no recollection of anything that had happened before Dyne and Hiku.
I took a step back from the image, now knowing everything that had happened up to when I met Hiku and Dyne for the first time and I had a true family. I looked deeper into the tunnel and took a deep breath, “I hope I am going the right way… I would hate to accidentally end back in the Depths.” I started to walk deeper into the cavern.
I felt a brush against my skin, causing me to stop walking. It was a whisper in my soul and I turned around automatically. I did not see anyone behind me, so I turned back around. I took a few steps when I felt the brush again. “Who is there?” This time I did not turn around.
Tis I, Twilight. I heard Mari’Anya answer me.
I turned and saw her and HellFire standing there with me. “You died…?”
No, we did not. But we were sent here to make sure you did not make it to Death. She told me.
I shook my head, “I have nothing to live for. I lost the one I wanted to spend eternity with…” I did not feel the tears fall, but I heard them hit the ground.
That is a lie and you know it. She growled to me. You still have to save Ancial and you are taking the coward’s way out. Anyways, you did not lose anyone, but if you keep walking, we will lose you. She walked over to me and rubbed against me.
I put my hand on her head, but I could not feel her fur under my palm. “I cannot even feel you…”
That is because you are killing yourself. The farther you go into the tunnel, the harder it will be to get you out.
“Then how are you here?”
Simple, we were still in the Dreamscape with our bodies. Once we get you out of here, we can get back through to the real world by using the Siren’s Cave.
“What is the point of me going back, Mari’Anya? The Demon army is there and Hiku has found his queen in Kell. Lumin is gone, dead, no longer alive… Why should I stay alive when I have done nothing but hurt those around me with my petty arrogance!?”
“You have not done nothing, nor have you caused harm to those around you.” A female voice came from behind me.
I whipped around to face an Army of Angels. They were all dressed for battle, ready for war. I recognized the Angel, “Dawn?”
She smiled to me, “Twilight, you have done something no one else had succeed in doing. Your mother was closest to it, but she had her life cut short by Dante.”
“What did I do?” I was confused and at this point, had no self-worth for succeeding in anything.
“You brought the races together to fight a common enemy. You were raised in part by each of the races and now we have seen the error of our ways.” She looked me straight in the eye, “The Angels have ruled over the races, though none of them knew about it. We have been playing God, but even we could not have foreseen the effects you have put into place.”
“But what is it worth if I do not wish to be round to see a golden age?” I looked at the ground.
“It is worth much.” She lifted my chin up and smiled, “Especially, since we were able to save a certain Demon King from a curse that would have taken him.”
“What do you mean?” My head shot up.
“When you found him, you still had time, but the Prince put a death spell on him, killing him slowly. He was the bait to get to you and to break you. But after everything we have seen, we thought it only right to give him back to you.” She stepped to the side and Lumin stood there smiling at me.
I cried in joy as I ran up to him and pounced into his arms. I heard HellFire and Mari’Anya come in close to us. “You are alive!”
“Well, partially. I am about as alive as you are.” He looked to Dawn, “Thank you…”
She smiled, “Do not worry about it, child.” Her face then suddenly hardened, “We have a war to fight and I am afraid it has already begun,”
“We need to hurry back, then.” I spoke, determined to live now that I had Lumin back.
I watched as Dawn created a circle around all of us. “As the Elders spake, ‘When the World leads to War, may the Destined rise up.’ From which all magick flows, from the moon and the sun, who seek to bed amongst the jealous stars above, send us to the Kingdom of Ancial so we may defeat the jealous star.” In a flash of multi-colored light, we left the tunnel to the Heights and I knew exactly where we were heading.