Dark Angel Series
By Kathryn E Wanta
(Rated T for Teen, some language, violence and suggestive undertones.)
If you haven’t read the first part Click Here!
Part 2 of 3
The screams echoed down the massive hallway that was the main feature of the Buer castle. It was a familiar sound but still made Jinx cringe at the sharpness and volume at which Dire could shriek at someone. Curiosity got the best of her so she peeked into the throne room just to see who had upset the princess this time.
Deacon stood there with his hands placed neatly behind his back while Dire lectured him about some failed attempt to please her highness. He must have felt another set of eyes on him because he glanced in Jinx’s direction briefly making eye contact with her through the crack in the door. His dark eyes seemed to smile at her, pleased to see her there. A brief break from the fiery breath of his lady love, whom he seemed all too faithful to, despite her harsh treatment.
There must have been something about him that kept Jinx wondering why he endured such a one sided romance. Maybe he was a Shade, as Kee had said, and accepted this as his punishment for his demonic soul; living vicariously through the awful deeds of Dire, too kind to do them himself.
Jinx was spending way too much time in the presence of royals. She was starting to think that this was how life was. Spoiled little rich girls that always got their way. Even Kee had never tasted the bitterness of an average life, and likely never would.
She paused at the open air walkway that lead to the residential part of the massive palace and looked out toward the city. The city market was busy, as usual this time of day. It was the average creature doing their best to get by, while a poor hungry child pondered how to steal a bite to eat from one of the vendors without getting caught.
Her father had told her, the day he saw her talking to the young princess, to align herself with well-to-do people; they would protect her and insure her future, if she would allow them to. Because of her family situation, she would always be somewhat disadvantaged. Vampires wouldn’t see her as one of them and witches would think she was tainted and weak mentally, since she was so strong physically. It was unheard of to be both.
“You look deep in thought,” Deacon stated, approaching her slowly. He had heard enough about her to know that he didn’t want to startle her.
“I am,” Jinx laughed, allowing him to come up alongside her and lean on the ledge. Nodding toward the market, she voiced her earlier concern. “Why do we put up with these princesses? Is it really worth it to be here instead of there?”
“I don’t know, I kind of like the view.” He seemed very sure of that. Maybe he had once been there looking up at the palace with envy. “I am sorry you had to see that.”
“Sadly, I have seen worse from her. It’s the advantage of being invisible.”
“I see you,” he pointed out, putting a few fingers on her chin to force her gaze to him. “You are more than a wallflower. You are dangerous, like an assassin in the dark, waiting for just the right moment.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere. I dare not take things from the likes of Dire. I cannot afford to make myself more hated than I already am because of the unfortunate circumstances of my birth. But know that you could do better,” Jinx explained.
“Trust me, I understand your plight. Perhaps I can tempt you with chocolate instead? It seems I have mistakenly gotten the wrong kind of sweets for the precious pallet of my loving princess,” he taunted, holding up a box of fine chocolates. “Yours fancies sugar, does she not? As least one of us can come out ahead today.”
It was odd to think of her relationship with Keesabella like that. She wasn’t courting the princess, but she also didn’t want to turn down free chocolate, it was a rare treat as so few people there could make it very well. Maybe with all that has happened they both deserved a treat for once. She thanked him and bid him farewell as he headed back in to try to put out the fire in Dire’s eyes.
They could chow down on sweets and comfort each other on the lack of solid clues as to who or why someone had tried to bring Kee harm. They were lounging on the floor looking out the window toward the gate as what they called night rapidly approached.
“You don’t talk about him much. What is he like?” Jinx asked. She knew the princess had been to see him a few times. She understood the reasons why one might want to get to know their father.
“He’s hard to read and more than a little complicated. I think I was a mistake and he isn’t man enough to correct it,” Kee said coldly. She was surprisingly relaxed as they talked about it, even though the thought made her blood boil slightly. He had a way of making her feel completely worthless and beneath him, but in the same sentence, he also boasted that the best of her came from him.
I never thought I would say this, but for once I am glad that I am not you.” Jinx admitted. It was a hard life that awaited Her Majesty. She would likely never be queen unless she married into another kingdom and if anyone found out her true birth right, she would be dead, regardless of social standing.
“I wish I could tell everyone the truth, and live the shunned life you live with a mother and father that love and support you. I can’t even get mine to admit that they are mine,” Keesa explained. It was an awful thing to be envious of, but Jinx understood what she meant by all of it. By now Kee’s eyes were heavy as she looked over at her friend and the empty chocolate box on the floor. “Where did you get those?”
“From Deacon…” Jinx admitted just before falling fast asleep there on the princess’ floor. The name concerned Kee, as did the fact that Jinx just passed out right before her eyes, but her body refused to respond to her brain’s demands for panic. Sleep just pulled her into its depths anyway.
As it often does, time passed rather quickly in slumber. There was a cool dampness to the air when Kee started to awaken, letting her know, even before she opened her eyes, that she wasn’t in her bedroom any more. Her face laid on cold hard stone, finally opening her eyes, she saw iron bars all around her.
Jinx lay in a similar set up not far away. Kee wasn’t sure if they had done Jinx a favor by taking her too, so she wouldn’t have to answer for her involvement in the kidnapping of the princess, or if their plans included her in some horrible fashion.
The lack of additional restraints forced Kee to take a look at the cage itself. She noticed right away that the rusty iron bars seem to sparkle in the flickering light of a nearby campfire. That could only mean one thing; her advisories knew enough about demons and dark magic to know that coating the cage in dust from the black heart stone would weaken her and prevent the use of most magic. It would also burn her skin if she dare touch it, for it was said to hold the light of a thousand suns and the sins of all the worlds, creating heat and agony where there was none, but only in those impure things where horror seemed to thrive.
Her foes would not likely appear until both were awake, so Kee made herself at home on the floor in the center of her cage and waited for Jinx to wake up. She pondered to herself how best to explain to her friend that this was not her fault. She had been played and turned into a pawn by the Shade, Deacon. He had used her feelings against her, flawlessly, manipulating her to fill a need for him. He had to have known the cautious princess would not accept treat a from a stranger; but from a friend, she hadn’t thought twice about it until it was too late.
Before she was even really awake and truly aware of their situation, Jinx began to beg for forgiveness. She knew she had messed up the minute she could not keep herself awake, and the thought had haunted her dreams while she slept.
“What do we do now?” Jinx asked, finally pausing from her verbal self-abuse.
“We wait,” Keesabella simply stated. The bad guys would come to them when they were ready to give them the details they currently lacked. There was always a reason, but until then it could only be assumed why they were taken. There were enough reasons to keep anyone guessing.
It was Deacon, who bravely approached first, with a handful of Orcs nearby to back him up in case the girls got out of hand. They glared at Kee with some distaste, likely aware of what she had done to the last set of Orcs that she had encountered. They wanted a chance to prove they weren’t so weak as to be taken down by what was a child in their eyes.
Jinx could not restrain herself as she laid into him about the kind of horrible creature he was and what she would like to do to him if given the chance. She cried out when she went to reach for him and brushed up against the bars, they burned her skin even with the lightest contact forcing her back into the middle of the cage. It didn’t however stop her verbal assault on the young man. He just hung his head and nodded, unable to deny most of it. He had expected as much from her, it was Kee’s calmness that struck him as odd.
“I am not sure what ever made you think any man would want you?” The voice came out in its usual condescending tone, as Dire spoke from a dark corner of the cave. Her presence there was somewhat shocking but not completely unexpected. The sisters had never been close or gotten along well. Jealously was a big issue between them.
“Only cowards hide behind others when committing felonious deeds,” Kee calmly taunted. Knowing that Dire had a hand in this shouldn’t put her at ease, but it did a little. It was better to deal with the devil that you know than one you don’t. “Do you not stand tall and proud at taking down your biggest rival? I just have to ask why go through all this trouble for me? What did I do this time?”
“Oh, I know what awful things you have done. You may think of me as being dull, but I am not, dear sister. You are no threat to me, but you’ll ruin this family’s good name with your sinister deeds, and I can’t have that. This name has value.” Given how their last encounter ended, she employed the aid of others. Dire wasn’t going to admit that her younger sister had tossed her around before, and she certainly wasn’t going to let her do it again with so many witnesses.
Kee smirked at the comment, but wasn’t about to argue over her lack of intelligence at that time. It was best to bite her tongue for now and gather more information. There was no need to admit to anything without first knowing what it was that Dire thought she had on her. Enough had happened recently to taint the family name. Most involved her, but surely Dire had no idea just how scandalous the truth really was.
The younger sister also knew enough to speak in terms her sister would understand and relate to. There was no love between them, just a bitter rivalry that was common among siblings of the dark side. They were destined to battle each other for the affection of their parents. Neither wanted to share in the lime light, for the rest of their lives; it was just how things worked there. They were each other’s worst enemy, alike in so many ways.
“This family’s reputation? We have more skeletons in our closets than most. I wasn’t aware that something as tarnished as ours could be damaged further,” Kee explained. There was a groan and an angry grunt from Dire, clearly annoyed by Kee inability to take this serious. She had distanced herself from them recently. They weren’t entirely her family any more. She no longer saw herself as one of them. When it came down to it, they were only half-sisters.
“I know where you have been spending your long nights,” Dire admitted, hoping to get more out of Kee than just the raised eyebrow she received. ”And you don’t spend them alone. Does the Archen warm your cold heart or are you just using him to fuel your new goddess-like strength?”
Her sister assumed the worst of her, and why not? She was a Succubus after all. They were the same in that respect, as far as Dire knew. They were known to hunt down and pursue dangerous men. It was how they survived. Kee laughed a little under her breath. Dire couldn’t have been further from the truth. Her story was slightly more believable, and despite Dire’s concerns about the family’s name, that actually preserved it better than the truth.
“You’re not so different from me. The only thing that you are truly upset about is that I beat you to it. While you waste your time and efforts on worthless conquests, I am taking on real challenges. Not that he would have you. No one wants you, which is why you remain unmarried. Every man in this city is waiting for me to come of age,” Kee fired back gratefully. It was mean spirited, but it was the only tone that Dire seemed to respond well to. “You are the one tainting our good name with your unimpressive looks and unremarkable ability. You should be ashamed.” Kee looked at Deacon as she spoke of unimpressive things. He was as low as they came, an easy mark for a she-devil.
Dire was stunned; no one had ever spoken to her like that before. It was cruel and unwavering emotion as only Keesabella could deliver it. She did not fear her sister and it showed. There was no concern for Dire’s fragile ego in her voice, and unlike Dire, Kee didn’t care what others thought of her. There in the darkness, secrets were everywhere and anyone could look saintly in the right light.
Pyregon didn’t see himself in Kee’s eyes, like he did with Dire, and he never would. He liked her based purely on what he thought he could get in exchange for her hand when the time came. She was beautiful, and that was rare in their world. Dire was more what men expected; she was pretty but had a sinister aura about her. No rumor of heavenly romance would degrade her worth in the eyes of men; if anything it only bolstered her abilities as a seductress.
“I know your plan to seduce the Achen runs deeper than that. A conquest is one thing, but I imagine that you want to bear his child and give birth to the future ruler of Nue-Mezzo,” she accused, but seemed to ignore the confused look on the younger girl’s face.
This was the first she had heard of such a thing. The rumors had only begun to breach the walls of the Dark Side. Of course the ever popular social butterfly that was her sister had been there to overhear such gossip and aided in spreading the word as much as she could. Legends had started long ago. It was the one thing the Archangels truly feared; that one day a child would be born of both the light and the dark. Seeing in shades of grey, they would rule the lands of the middle world and bring peace to the races that occupied that space.
It was funny how, in all their long chats Meta had failed to mention that. It would mean that the Archens would have to sacrifice a part of themselves for the happiness of others. The gates to the Dark Side would open under new rules and the things they hated would be let out. It was unthinkable and had, of course, already happened; not that many people knew about it. It certainly didn’t mean that she was this child they feared so much. It would take more than just the circumstances of her birth to justify her place in the world.
“Again, I fear that you are just jealous that you didn’t think of it first. Though I think our parents might have concerns, should I conceive a child at such a young age and without a proper husband. You have to admit, being the grandparents to the future King or Queen of Nue-Mezzo would have its perks,” Kee pointed out.
“I don’t need to justify your murder in the eyes of our parents,” Dire warned, “I will just blame the Orcs. They already don’t like you. I wonder, however, what your relationship with the gatekeeper is, exactly. Will he miss you when you are gone, or simply replace you? Perhaps with me?”
“I have feelings for him that I myself can’t explain.” Kee sighed heavily and leaned against the bars for support. This was draining. No one seemed to notice as she wrapped her fingers around the bars without any discomfort and put her forehead to rest there. “It doesn’t matter what I say. Your mind is made up. You don’t approve and you probably shouldn’t. There is more at stake than your selfish pride. Let Jinx go, she had nothing to do with this.”
“I agree, but as you stated my mind is made up. I never needed a reason to kill you, other than my own hatred of you. But I never liked your friend either; the world will not miss either of you.” Dire was heartless and cruel. She would not only deny the world its possible savior, but also Kee’s closest ally. She would not only enjoy this, but she would also savor it. She spun around and flipped her hair as she walked off. She needed to make it look like an unfortunate accident, or a cruel act of a feuding clan, just in case she was wrong and her parents didn’t approve.