“Excuse me. Can you repeat that?”
“You know damn well what I said?” The snobbish elf sneered, glaring at the guard. “I am prince Gantar of Peri. I seek asylum in Dongeng with my wife. She is the daughter of your Queen, so you must definitely grant it!”
“The Queen!” his voice raised a second and then he coughed. “Ah… as to the Queen. She isn’t doing well today. Perhaps you can come back another day.”
“Will you stop giving me the run around? Are we not allied with the Fairy race?”
The pair of them were standing in front of the castle. The city of the Fairies was a beautiful place filled with tall skyscrapers and excessive use of white stone. They resembled humans, but their tendency to see themselves as greater than the other species was shown in their tall towers and immaculate buildings. Part of that also came from the simple fact that fairies were cleaner than the likes of elves, humans, dwarves, and beastkin.
Celestials were a mysterious race, and almost nothing was known of them except that you had to go through Dongeng to reach them. The fairies were the only race with direct contact to them who were called the children of the gods. This put the fairies in a special place where they thought themselves above the rest of the world. Fairies were believed to be the creators of all other races besides humans. Although, beastkin like Olivia only came about when a human and a fairy bred. It was a cross between mortality and immortality that supposedly resulted in the other three.
As for humans, some claimed they were fallen fairies who lost their magic. Others said they were corrupted by devils. Basically, it was unknown where humans had come from, but it was agreed that other than the devils, they were the farthest away from the gods in lineage. When Prince David was born, all the blame was put on the King and humanity for harboring drops of demonic blood. In the minds of fairies, it was impossible for any of David to have come from fairies.
However, their arrogance was giving the prince a headache. When they reached Greenvale, they had come into a ceremony in which Theo was acting publicly. It had been Olivia who had realized that he was a devil and that he was behind the entire coup. Gantar wasn’t clear on how she knew. She said that it had something to do with her brother, which gave her the ability to sense it. For some reason, learning about that irritated Gantar greatly.
However, he did listen to his bride to be, and the two fled the city. He had heard rumors of chaos following his wake, but he hadn’t had time to stop until after reaching Dongeng. As for marrying Olivia, he had made the declaration himself. He had put a ring on her and kissed her lips himself. The only thing he hadn’t done is enjoy his honeymoon, but that would come once they achieved safety.
As for the woman, she had tried fighting him the first week or so, but he had punished her severely, and she eventually settled down. To an outside observer, the light in her eyes was gone, and she moved like a zombie. Only Gantar didn’t care. As long as he had her body, and she did everything he told her to do, he had no problems with a wife who was silent. In fact, he considered her silence a good thing. Why should a woman speak unless spoken to anyway?
He was just about to give up the guard here and try a different avenue when a voice spoke up from behind the guards. “Sister?”
Gantar looked up and grinned. “You… you must be Lucilla.”
A woman in a white robe walked down the stairway leading to the front gate. When the two guards saw her, they let out breaths of relief. She was an extreme beauty, with a voluptuous body. Her hair was grey, and she had two round, fuzzy ears on top. Her hands were in her sleeves, giving her a zen-like appearance. If she had a tail, it was completely hidden within her robes. Fairies, by nature, were extremely beautiful, and despite being closer to a beastkin, she had lost none of that beauty. Gantar couldn’t help but gulp at the sight of her.
“I am Lucilla, and you are?”
“Prince Gantar, at your service, my lady…” He bowed. “I’m afraid that I bring bad news. Peri has become infested with devils. I managed to save your sister and flee just in time.”
“Devils, is it?” She barely seemed to react at the words, her eyes instead flickering to Olivia. “That does sound unfortunate.”
Olivia didn’t respond at all to her sister’s appearance. She was hidden in her hood, her eyes down, giving nothing away.
“It is a bit more than unfortunate. The royal line has been compromised. I may be all that is left. I’ve come to swear my allegiance to you!”
“To me?” She blinked, finally breaking her gaze on Olivia.
“Of course! Your father is dying. The human realm is barely being kept together by your uncle. Upon his death, you gain 1/6th of the throne. With my support, and by extension Olivia’s, you’ll have a claim to 1/3rd. Olivia says she knows two other sisters who would support you if you claim the throne. Besides, you will be queen now that the largest competition has already been taken care of.
Olivia jerked when he said that. Of course, she had been there when that beast attacked. A chimera was a city-destroying calamity. Even will users couldn’t hope to survive such an onslaught. She had seen it bearing down on David and her sister. It took her weeks to accept it, but he was almost certainly dead. Both her sister and David were gone. With the two of them, the claim on the throne was more than 1/3. It was half. The remaining two would also quickly follow suit. In other words, the human realm was already Lucillas.
The loss of Prince David pained her heart, but as Gantar had said, there was no way to undo it now. She hated his guts, but she also had nothing else to live for either. As much as she loathed to admit it, Gantar was her best chance. He would help the human realm now remain together, and then the human realm would help him become the new king of Peri. It was the only way Olivia saw that she could maintain the balance. It was the only way she could honor her brother, by completing the dream he had started.
Furthermore, now that he was dead, the magic in her belly would have faded. That meant that the pregnancy would start. If she gave herself to Gantar, he would think he was the baby’s father. In nine months, when it was finally born, Father would already be dead, the Lucilla would already be on the throne. She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when he realized the baby wasn’t his. The alliance would shatter long before the humans helped him get back on his own throne. Then, she could live out the last of her days.
So, they both had their reasons for remaining together. Gantar wanted to borrow Lucilla’s power to become king, and she wanted to manipulate Gantar until she was safely in a stable human realm. Of all of her family, Lucilla hated the devils the least. She would be tolerant of Olivia and her baby. At least, that was what she hoped. This was the life Olivia had planned for herself in a world without David.
“Come with me.”
Lucilla seemed to grasp something from the flat expression on Olivia’s face. She gave a little nod and gestured the two into the palace. They walked in silence as she moved ahead of them. Olivia moved even then like a zombie. As far as she was concerned, she didn’t have a life. When the baby was born, her life would be dedicated to it. That was the simple nature of the world.
The three ended up in a small receiving room. A servant had already prepared hot tea and something to eat. Lucilla gestured for the pair to sit on the couch. Gantar was rather pleased that his words were finally being taken seriously and he was being treated how he felt a prince should be treated. As for Olivia, she felt just a shadow of warmth at the feeling that her big sister was taking care of her. It made her feel closer to David in a way. He too made her feel the warmth when he took care of her.
“So,” Lucilla spoke up after a bit of silence. “What is this talk about? I have no interest to take the human throne. I deliberately came to tend to mom just so that I avoid such a dispute. Besides, it is… another’s place to take the throne.”
“Take care of mom? Is she sick?” Olivia asked the first words she’d spoken in some time.
Although these were sisters reuniting, the snobbish Gantar only felt irritation that his wife spoke out of place. He would definitely need to punish her later. He had come up with many ways to do it at this point.
Lucilla wore a complicated look. “She is… in a way. In another… she has always been.”
Olivia wore a confused expression on her face, but it was clear Lucilla wasn’t willing to say more.
“Whatever, it doesn’t matter.” Gantar waved off their conversation. “You must take the throne now. David-“
“Do not say that name in this place!” Pure fury suddenly painted Lucilla’s face as she slammed the glass down, shattering it.
The act caused both Olivia and Gantar to be stunned. For Olivia, who had always know Lucilla to be even-toned and thoughtful, she had never seen her have such a vicious look. Her thoughts of protecting David’s child through her sister started to turn into doubts. If she was like this, how could Olivia’s baby be safe? However, Gantar didn’t seem upset at her outburst. Rather, he seemed overjoyed. As the man who had engineered David’s death, knowing that your ally hates him just as much, it was a relieving feeling.
“You need not worry about… that man… any longer.” Gantar carefully didn’t use that word, causing Lucilla to calm down.
“What do you mean? That man will be the next king of Pria.”
“I mean that man is dead!”
Lucilla suddenly shook, a stunned expression flashing through her eyes. “E-excuse me?”
“Prince David is dead!”
“Shhhh!” She jumped forward and physically put her hand over Gantar’s mouth. “You cannot say things like that here… she… hears everything.”
“What are you talking about?” Gantar shoved her hand away, “You heard what I said. The man is dead!”
Strangely enough, Lucilla wasn’t paying attention to him. Rather, she was looking around frantically, her eyes moving wildly. There was an intense fear in her eyes. There was also a flicker of pain and possible regret? The emotions flooding across her face were difficult to read. However, when nothing happened for a solid minute, she finally let out a sigh of relief.
“She didn’t hear.” Then her eyes narrowed and shot to Olivia. “Is this true?”
Olivia shook under that severe look, but managed to just force out a weak, “yes…”
“I see…” Lucilla crossed her arms. “This is…”
She stopped as if she didn’t know what to make of this situation.
Gantar didn’t seem to read the awkwardness and let out a laugh. “So, you see, the way I see it, you owe me. After all, I’m the one who killed that devil prince!”
“What?” This time the expression on her face was clearly angry.
“Haha… I killed the Prince!”
“YOU…. WHAT!?” A voice suddenly boomed.
It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, with no discernable point of origin.
Lucilla’s face turned white. “Oh no, she heard…”
BOOM! The entire castle shook as a violent explosion took it. Without hesitating, Lucilla grabbed Gantar and Olivia and dragged them to their feet.
“You two must go! You must go now!”
“Wh-what?” Gantar was shaking, clearly startled and also a bit confused.
“I told you, fool! That name is not to be used here! She heard it! Now she’s coming for you! You must run!”
“S-surely you’re joking…”
Lucilla shoved them into the hall, desperately trying to force them to move faster. Somewhere in the distance, there was the brutal scream of man as if he was being slaughtered.
“She’s escaped again!”
“By the Celestials! Who said his name?”
Upon hearing those noises, Gantar finally began to realize something was wrong. He began to move with his own feet down the hallway. The screams of people seemed to be getting closer and closer, and soon Gantar and Olivia were running at full tilt with Lucilla covering behind.
“You shouldn’t have come here! What did you do… oh…” Lucilla was fully panicking, only causing the other two to feel even more fear in their hearts.
They turned a corner and then stopped. At the end of the hallway was a woman. She was absolutely beautiful. She had a face as if it was carved by angels. Any man who saw it would be instantly mesmerized. Her body was tall, slim, and perfect. Her breasts weren’t particularly big. Her butt wasn’t particularly round. However, she had an overall appearance that screamed perfection.
Gantar had frozen as if his soul left him. Even in front of his supposed wife, he stared at the woman openly and completely. Olivia’s expression was different. She recognized this woman, but only vaguely.
Lucilla pushed in front of the pair of them, holding her hands up like she was approaching a wild dog. “Mother… you misheard. There was no such thing said. There are tons of things that sound like that. There is Jaded… um… Graded… Debated…”
Mother casually backhanded Lucilla, causing her to fly into a wall, and Olivia to jump in shock. Her mother didn’t even look Olivia’s way. Her eyes were solely focused on Gantar, who was looking at her with just as much vigor.
“What… did… you… say?” She asked slowly, approaching Gantar with wide eyes.
“I… um…” He found his mouth without moisture, so he worked spit into his mouth before answering. “Prince David is dead. He was eaten by a Chimera.”
He was suddenly compelled to answer as honestly as he could answer. His heart had already been taken by this woman. Just a single look and he had no eyes for any other woman. That was how powerful her beauty was. When people claimed that the homunculus was a pale clone of her, there were various reasons why.
“How was he eaten?” Her voice was quiet, but everyone heard it.
“I… I used an attractant and dumped it at his feet!”
She suddenly burst out laughing, her voice completely crazed and disordered. “You did it! You killed him! You killed David!”
Gantar smiled and nodded, going with the mood. Lucilla was bleeding on her face. She crawled over to Olivia and grabbed her hand.
“We… we have to go. Now!” She whispered anxiously. “She’ll be after you next.”
“Huh… wh-what is wrong with mother?”
“Mother… died when that man was born. This is all that is left…” Lucilla diverted her eyes, trying to pull Olivia down the hall.
As the Queen and Gantar laughed, she suddenly pulled out her hand. It went right through his chest. In a single motion, she was holding his heart in her hand. Gantar’s smile turned slightly sickly, but he died before he even realized what happened.
The two sisters had turned two corners before being stopped. The Queen had found a way to be in front of them again, even though it was impossible to head them off, as the corridor only went one way. She had blood running down her arm now, dripping to the floor. Yet, somehow, it didn’t make her any less beautiful.
“I… smell him on you, daughter…” She said darkly.
Olivia was reminded again of how much Mother allegedly hated Prince David. She suddenly felt like the stupidest woman alive. She had been thinking about Lucilla, but she had never considered her Mother. They had said her mother had been driven mad by her hatred for him. She had never known that they meant that literally.
“You, were with Gantar, yes?” She suddenly blurred, and a moment later, she was standing right in front of Olivia as if she had just teleported.
She raised her bloody hand, looking like she was just about to do the same to Olivia that she had done to Gantar. However, her body suddenly froze. Her eyes widened to the size of teacups. A horrified expression appeared on her face, and she reached out, pointing directly at Olivia.
“What is that!” She screeched.
The place her finger pointed wasn’t just at Olivia, but it was directly at Olivia’s womb. It was the spot where Olivia’s baby was. She instinctively wrapped her arms protectively around her baby. Without even thinking about it, she screamed.
“I loved him, Nya!” Olivia found herself crying out defiantly. “I won’t let you hurt it, you cow!”
For several seconds, the world felt like it had frozen. Her Mother neither attacked nor did Olivia back down. She stared her mother down defiantly in a way no woman had ever done. The fairy queen began to tremble. Her entire body shook like she was about to explode.
“You…. you… you…” She started saying, her unhinged eyes shaking wildly.
A sudden sound of air whispering, and then a thud. Then another, and another. Fifteen more followed in rapid succession. Each one caused the queen to straighten her spine slightly. Her shaking stopped, her eyes turned blank.
“He’s… still alive, you fool!” She managed to barely get out the words before collapsing to the ground.
There were fifteen darts in her back, each laced with a drug made to knock out an elephant. The guards down the hall behind her let out breaths of relief as she fell to the ground. Just as Olivia was starting to breath easier, her eyes landed on Lucilla, who was watching her with an ugly expression on her face.
“You… what did he do to you? He… enslaved you didn’t he… you let… you actually let…” Her expression grew filled with shock, hatred and anger.
“So, what if I did, nya! If Mother’s right and he’s alive… that means he’s coming here! He’s coming for me!” Olivia had stopped caring about either of her family members.
She was filled with anger and righteousness of her own.
“Why would he come…”
“You don’t know the man he is, nya! He’s my man! And he’ll definitely come, so don’t even think of hurting me!” Olivia said, mustering up all of her defiance in a single stroke.
“H-he can’t come… she’ll kill him.” Lucilla shook her head.
“Hmph! You think he’d let a thing like fear stop him! Nothing can stop him!”
“Mother… will…” Lucilla had a strangely defeated look on her face. “What have you done?”
“Nya! Don’t even tell me that! While you sit here acting aloof and uncaring, the rest of us had to live out there and fend for ourselves on our own!” Olivia growled.
“Guards!” Lucilla called out, pointing at Olivia. “Arrest this woman! She must be kept under strict surveillance.”
After speaking, she spun around and started walking away. Olivia didn’t fight as several fairy guards grabbed onto her arms and restrained her. The man who looked to be the captain looked up at her.
“Where are you going, my lady?”
Lucilla shook her head, “I must go to the border. If Prince David…”
When she said his name, the body of the Queen jerked for a second, causing everyone to gasp. However she stopped moving, so Lucilla continued. “If he makes it into the country, then she will burn it to the ground to get to him. We’ll all be doomed. We can’t allow them to meet, or it will be over for everyone!”
Lucilla left the castle and the capitol that night with only one mission. She absolutely had to stop Prince David, at any cost.