A hooded figure limped through the dark forest weaving its way through the thick vegetation. The dark robe it wore looked tattered and swept the forest floor disgracefully. The small animals scurried fast into their safe haven as it walked past them.
The figure huffed and puffed as it climbed the slope, which leads to a hidden cave. The cave entrance was hidden from any mortal or immortal eyes by magic, fallen rocks and tree vines covering the entire rocky base. It produced a crooked stick from underneath its robe and drew a symbol in the air as its lips chanted an inaudible ancient spell.
The symbol lit up like fire depicting a crooked version of ‘P’ and there appeared an entrance which was dark just like its heart. It sauntered inside the cave as had done this for a million times before. Its vision or posture not wavering once as it advanced the cave further.
Multiple tunnels branched two different directions and one wrong step could lead to the invader’s death. The figure raised its left hand extending one of its bony fingers drawing another symbol in the air which revealed another hidden pathway right in the middle of the tunnel.
The pathway absorbed the figure and carried it to the heart of the cavern as it vanished from the spot as if it was never there.
“Hello Gretchen you took so long,” a man who wore only a kilt sneered at the figure now dropped in the fire lit cavern by the magic bubble.
“Quiet, Dominick! I am no servant of yours,” the witch snarled in a raspy voice that shook the cave walls.
Dominick snarled at her but kept quiet. She is dangerous. Provoking her doesn’t sound like a good idea to him. Though he did not fancy the witch, he kept her as she was the oldest and one of the powerful witches to survive the war. He needed her to win this war against his so-called brother Antonio.
“A Qistina has arisen.” Dominick cringed, hearing her raspy voice.
No matter how often he heard her voice, it was not something he could get used to. Her voice sounded like a dying man’s gurgle or in her case a dying woman, he wondered if she even fit into that category. He had never seen someone as ruthless as her. The witch removed the hood revealing her crooked features. Her hollow eyes stared at the crackling fire with no emotion.
“Qistina?” Dominick enquired in a bored tone. Whenever they met the old hag spoke about a Qistina and he never understood how that was even relevant to his quest against his brother.
“Fool!” The witch hissed showing her shapeless teeth with a black tint. Her wrinkled skin wrinkled further if that was even possible and Dominick stopped breathing for when a stench of rotten corpse drifted to his nose. “A Qistina can save or erase our supernatural world with just a thought. If she is on our side, the entire supernaturals will bow to us,” she stated. Her hollow eyes glinted in the firelight.
Dominick didn’t respond as he waited for her to continue her rant. He understood nothing she said. His mind was only on one thing, his brother’s throne, all those Lycans bowed with their neck exposed to him.
“Your victory will be short-lived if you don’t have a Qistina by your side,” the witch said as if she was reading his mind again. “We must find her before her powers are fully awakened,” Gretchen continued.
“How do you know she has arisen? You have been searching her for years now,” Dominick stated as he sat on the elevated rocky surface. He missed the satin and silk. The hatred for his brother only grew. It was because of him he was forced to leave and live in a hidden cave like a fugitive with no luxury.
“Oh, I have my way, Dominick,” the witch cackled as she produced a scroll from inside her robe.
“My son was the one who killed the last Qistina. Stupid boy clawed her heart out before he could finish the consummation and it burned him to death,” Gretchen scrunched her disoriented nose with distaste. It looked as if someone had broken it and later fixed it wrong.
“Grendell was never a bright boy. Now, you must finish the task, Dominick.” Dominick’s head whipped towards her direction at that.
He let out a humorless laugh. “So, you want me to kill the Qistina? You are insane Gretchen,” he commented narrowing his eyes on her.
“I want you to mate her, Dominick. You will gain her power upon consummation and then you can rule the supernaturals,” Gretchen announced as she sat in front of the fire.
“I don’t want a mate!” Dominick’s jaw clenched and his beast rumbled in agreement. “Mates are a nuisance and I never ever want them in my life,” he sneered at her. He hated when Giselle stepped into their Kingdom. She was weak. “Mates aren’t worthy of my time.”
“So how do you plan to fight Lucian?” Gretchen asked tending the fire.
“Lucian is lost in the human world. Dimitri is lost with him. There is no way he will return now.” Dominick stated as a matter of fact.
Gretchen’s evil laughter filled the cavern and echoed through the walls. It sounded as if a hundred demons were laughing with her. “Dimitri has found Lucian and he will be back to the supernatural realm anytime now,” she cackled.
“Lucian is stronger than his father will ever be. You couldn’t even scratch Antonio last time and do you think you can win the fight against Lucian?” She questioned as Dominick watched her with a dumbfounded expression.
He challenged his brother that night because he witnessed Lucian shifting at such a young age and he feared he would never get the throne if he grew up. However, what he didn’t expect was the Ghouls and vile vampires to ruin his plan. Antonio blamed him for the bloodbath.
“I have been training for the past thirteen years and I can beat Antonio now,” he sneered at her. He would have won the challenge if it weren’t for the unsuspected intruders. He was sure that fucking beta of his brother had betrayed him. “Antonio is my only concern,” he snarled punching the wall of the cave causing the debris to fly around.
Gretchen clucked her tongue. “Lucian is the strongest hybrid out there Dominick.” She circled him as she spoke. “Do you think he will let you have the throne to yourself? He has the magic of the Elves and an aggressive beast which is a very dangerous combination for you,” she stated earning a disapproving growl from him.
Dominick couldn’t respond to her claim as it was true. He might be strong, but Lucian was stronger as a child and his strength might have only increased. But, he meant when he said Lucian wasn’t his concern. Antonio had betrayed him when he ascended the throne—a throne Dominick also had a claim to.
“Where do I find her?” He fisted his hands suppressing a growl. Gretchen wouldn’t stop until he gave in and he played along.
“The signs say she will come to us. Her location is hidden from my view, but I know she will come. This is her destiny. This is where she belongs,” Gretchen stated waving her hand at the fire pit making the fire burn higher.
“I call you to rise from hell!
I summon you from hell up to this earth.
I call upon you!
I summon you to stand before me.
Puoots... I summon you!”
Her voice rose higher echoing through the cave as she chanted.
The fire shimmered and cracked like thunder spitting out a two feet fire demon. Its molten lava eyes narrowed at Gretchen as it let out an inhuman wail. Smoke rose from its tiny horns as it looked around accessing any threat.
Dominick tensed, his beast surfacing at the sight of the potential threat before him. His eyes shifted to that of his beast as he accessed the fire demon for any weak point. Why would Gretchen summon a fire demon in his place?
“Go, find the Qistina. Bring her to me,” Gretchen ordered in a commanding voice. Her voice steady for an old woman. “Look for the sign of a blinding white light. It will lead you to her,” she continued.
Dominick relaxed only when the fire demon vanished into thin smoke with another wail. “Now what?” He questioned not bothering to hide his irritation.
“We will wait for the right moment,” she smirked wickedly before being swallowed by the same magical bubble which dropped her earlier.
Dominick let out a loud roar and punched the wall. “Wait? You want me to wait?! I am done waiting and I will not mate a fucking Qistina even if you promise the world to me!” He shouted at the space. I’ve wasted enough time here.
The few Lycans who joined him to fight against his brother was out scouting for food and necessities. The witch was insane. There was no way he would mate with anyone. She was trying to get rid of him, he knew that.
“I will have my revenge, Antonio. I will be the King one day and I will bestow your punishment with my bare hands,” he snarled as he plotted his next step.
Dimitri let out a defeated sigh and sagged into the couch. Lucian declined to go with him and he didn’t know how to handle the situation.
“I am sorry, Uncle Dimitri. I don’t think I am ready to go with you,” Lucian said without any second thoughts.
Dimitri tried to reason with him but Lucian brushed it off like it didn’t matter.
“My exams will start soon and I don’t want to leave now. Also, I am not leaving Alexa behind if I decided to visit my biological parents,” Lucian declared leaving no room for arguments.
“Lucian, do you not want to meet your parents?” Dimitri asked.
“I do, Uncle Dimitri. I want to meet them, but I cannot ditch the only family I’ve ever known in my entire life for the sake of some damn rules. If I am coming with you, it will be upon my conditions and not on the conditions of my parents or any supernatural or anyone for that matter,” Lucian stated. “They will be given a warm welcome here if they decided to visit me. I am not ready for the responsibility they want me to accept.”
Antonio won’t be pleased to hear this. “I shall convey the message to King Antonio,” Dimitri replied after a while. “You all are the witness for our conversation here and I want the same to be conveyed to the King,” he stated pointing at the guards, who swallowed with wide eyes before casting their eyes down. “I will see you later then, I guess,” the Elf Prince turned and winked at Lucian who gave him a full-blown smile of his own.
Lucian did not expect to meet Dimitri. It’s not that he did not want to go but his parents not accepting his choice of mating did not bode well for him. He had a lot to think about and it was the right thing to do. I have to complete my education.
He had an ambition of becoming an entrepreneur and now it seemed like it doesn’t matter. With what Uncle Dimitri had explained, there was no need for education to where he goes. He was their Crown Prince. Though he repeated his name several times a day not to forget, he never gave much thought to it. He realized now that the Prince in his name is not a part of his name but his position as a Royal.
Lucian plopped on the couch once Dimitri and the guards left. He closed his eyes and massaged his temples as he thought about the conversation again. Alexa, who was a silent observer throughout the conversation, massaged his temples soothingly. Lucian leaned closer in instinct, inhaling her calming scent. “What do you think of my decision Alexa?” He asked after a while.
“It’s your decision to take, Lucian. Whatever it is, just know I am with you,” Alexa replied earning a nod of approval from him.
The Steller’s who were the silent spectators sagged with relief. Victor hurried to the fridge pulling out the champagne he got for their birthday today. He knew he was being selfish, but he couldn’t help the happiness that bubbled within him after hearing Lucian’s answer. Today I will celebrate and tomorrow I will worry about the future.