She knew that this day would come, that she was expendable to Moriah. But this, she never expected this. Her hands were beginning to hurt and her belly felt uneasy. She hadn’t taken the potion Demos brought and she was beginning to feel the effects. Perhaps it was better she died this way than to be hung in front of a crowd.
She felt the hatred that Milos directed towards her and she knew that he was not the man Aliana would have chosen to married. Ana-Moriah had gotten to him. It was obvious by the way he sung the witch’s praises. She felt sorry for the young prince, as he might not realise it just yet, but he was just another pawn in her game. He too was just as expendable.
Doranand, she wondered how he was faring. The old Milos had spared his life, she was not sure if this new version would be as merciful.
The door to her cell opened and she saw a lone figuring standing there. “Doranand! Thank the gods you are alright,” she said launching herself in his chest and clung to his waist.
“I am fine Lania.” he said as he smoothed back her hair. She looked up into his face and his expression was soft.
Her brain finally caught up with her body and she realised how close she was and what she had actually done. “I am sorry. I never meant to...” she said as she pulled herself away and smoothed her hands on her shirt. He was an earl’s son and even though she was pretending to be Aliana, she was just a maid. He however didn’t seem to mind as his lips twitched slightly as if he found her reaction amusing.
“If this is to make me change my mind, you are not doing a very good job.” said another voice. She looked around Doranand’s huge form to see Prince Milos behind him.
“If she hugs me, it shouldn’t matter to you because she isn’t Aliana.” said Doranand as he tucked her protectively under his arm. Milos’s jaw tightened.
“But I am Aliana,” said Lania as she ducked out of Doranand’s home.
The prince’s eyes narrowed as he looked from her to Doranand. “The enchantment makes her unable to disobey the queen. The queen wants her to make everyone believe that she is the princess, so she will play the part accordingly.”
“What are you talking about?” her mouth said. “I am Aliana.”
“Then show yourself to be the Red Sapphire.” said Doranand. “The last time you two came together after a minor separation you flamed up before the entire city. If you are Aliana do it again.”
Her hands began to shake once more. “I can’t, at least not now.” she said as she turned away. “It is difficult at times.” she deflected.
Doranand held her by the shoulder and turned to look at her. “I am trying to save your life Lania, tell the truth.” his eyes churned.
“I can’t,” she squeezed out. Besides it might be already too late to save her life. “I can’t change, not now.”
“Since you cannot change, tell me this,” said Milos. “What did I tell you after the first time we kissed?”
“The first time we kissed?” the pain in her stomach was beginning to get worse. She wrapped her hands around her it and pulled in. She didn’t know, what would have been a possible response. She had always imagined that when she kissed someone it was definitely if she loved them. But she had heard that he had proposed because he lied that she was pregnant after he slept with her to prevent Aliana from being taken as a mate by river wraiths. “After we kissed you told me that I would be safe from the river wraiths.”
“The first time we kissed, I told you that you kissed like a virgin.” his shoulder tightened and his expression suddenly became uncertain. “Your point has been made lordling, but her fate remains the same.”
“What do you mean?” fired Doranand.
“He means that even though he knows he is under a spell he can do nothing to change what was ordered for him to do.” she said as the pain in her belly exploded. She fell to her knees as she felt her limbs changing.
“Lania,” said Doranand coming beside her and taking her in his arms.
“What is happening?” said Milos as he came beside her.
“The potion is wearing off.” he said as he touched her face once more. “Do you have more?”
She felt the pain receding slightly but she let out another grown before she could answer. “It is in his room.” her voice was hers again. The way Milos stared at her face had probably changed as well.
“I will go and get it.” he said getting up but she held on to him.
“No don’t go, please. If I am to die let me die as myself. That is the best I can do for Aliana and for me.”
“You just need to drink it once more, hopefully by then we can find a way to break the spell.”
“I will get it.” she thought she heard Milos say and she no longer saw him, she didn’t mind that much as long as Doranand was beside her and holding her. This was a good way to die.
“Please don’t make me drink it again.” she pleaded.
“Too many have already died at Moriah’s hand. I cannot let you die. We will figure this out.” he then brushed her hair away from her face. She could no longer protest and if living awhile longer as someone else made him touch her like that then she would do it.
“Ok,” she managed to squeeze out.
“Here it is,” said Milos coming back. “I am compelled to kill Aliana, as it is she is not my wife. Take what you need and go. Ensure that you aren’t here when the sun rises. That is the only kindness I can offer you. Your army marches towards the Ashlands join them if you can.” he said as he turned to walk out of the cell.
“What about you?” asked Doranand.
“What about me?” he asked flatly.
“You can’t allow Moriah to continue to use you like this.” said Lania. “If your orders are anything like mine, you are to kill your parents. I don’t know them much, but they seem like good people.”
She watched as his expression twist as he tried to sort through what was real and what was implanted in his mind. One second his face seemed pained then angry and then it became flat.
“I will do what I must to protect them. I cannot be controlled if I am not alive.”
“You mean that you are going to commit suicide?” said Doranand shocked. Lania too was quite astounded at what Milos was willing to do.
“I cannot feel the love I had for my wife. I cannot feel the strength or power that came from the earth, which means that she truly is dead. I remember loving Aliana but all I feel now is hate and anger toward everything. In this state I am no good to this world. Maybe after death, I will regain what I lost.”
“Are you sure about this? There has to be another way.” asked Doranand.
“There is no other way.” he said sternly. “You owe me nothing, but when you get the chance, kill baron Matthias. He killed my brother and he I suspect is involved with Aliana’s death.”
“I will. I promise.” said Doranand. “If you see Aliana on the other side tell her that I am sorry.”
Milos nodded. “She is fading away. Give her the potion quickly.” he said looking at Lania.
It was like she was watching them through a haze and barely felt when he placed the flask at her lips. “Drink.” he said and she obeyed. The pain was so much worse this time. Maybe it was just too late. She couldn’t remember what happened next.
When she woke she was lying in a boat with Doranand’s worried face hovering overhead. “Thank the gods.” he said helping her to sit up.
“Where are you taking me? What happened?”
He pointed to the hill on which the palace stood. It was lit up fully and the banners were being pulled down to half-mast. Bells tolled throughout the city telling everyone the news.
A royal had died. Milos was dead. With her empty cell in the dungeon, she would be blamed for it. “We must go.” she whispered and Doranand didn’t hesitate to get them moving.