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The Crown of the Realm

The night suns took over the celestial mantle again. Lorcan had not been seen all day. And although this was a good sign, in part, Daphne felt a kind of anxiety at the thought that something might have happened to him. Her senselessness knew no bounds, worrying about a demon who had only been blackmailing her from the beginning. To think of that individual who had brought nothing but trouble into her life? that was illogical, insane, and inexplicably unavoidable.

It was at least an hour before ten. Walking back to her room with the hands busy in a bundle covered by a green cloth, Daphne met Teias again for the tenth time. There had been many coincidences, as Teias grinningly acclaimed. But how could they all be coincidences? When his face was seen in every corner, she dared to stand. And even on the outside, as she walked near the shore of one of the lakes with James.

Walking through the floor leading to her door, with her mindset on her purpose for this particular night. Teias’s form was not visible, but she knew he was hidden in the shadows.

“Why are you following me?” she said when she thought she walked past him.

“How did you know it was me?” Teias came out of the darkness.

She stopped and turned to him. With a forced smile, she said. “You’ve been following me all day. Who else would it have been but you?”

“What are you carrying there?”

“It’s none of your business.” She answered and turned around to continue but paused again. “Where is Lorcan?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Worried?” He raised an eyebrow with his arms crossed at chest level.

“Don’t talk nonsense.” She cowardly replied.

“Mmm,” Teias sneered again.

And after a silence, he asked. “What?”

“I’m waiting for you to answer me?”

“He will be back soon, Ragothara.”

“Ragothara? What does that mean?”

“Someday, I’ll tell you... or not. Good night, Ragothara”.

Daphne rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh, making her way back to her room.

After making sure to lock the door, she carried the bundle to the bed. Unfastening it, she began to undress nimbly. First, she slipped on a long-sleeved red cotton shirt, fitted with a brown corset at her waist. Even though it didn’t fit her well, at least it did the job. The boots and the black leather trousers were, fortunately, her size.

Maret had provided her with the attire. And Daphne accepted it, and on closer inspection, the other dresses in her wardrobe could not serve any purpose unless it was for some different type of activity involving laughter, dancing, and a tea party.

Sitting on her bed, ready, she waited for Maret, praying in turn that Teias would not discover them.

What were Maret’s real motives? She didn’t have the slightest idea, but neither was it the time to delve into something she would later discover. After all, other matters were more urgent to know.

After a knock on the door, she stood up, advanced, and asked quietly. “Who is it?

“It’s us,” James answered from the other side.

As she opened, the figure of Maret stood out. “It’s time to go.”

“Wait, I’ll need something to defend myself with.”

Daphne looked at Maret and then at the sword strapped to her back.

“No fucking way,” Maret spat. “You’ll have to figure it out. This one stays here with me.” She ended by saying and pointing to her weapon.

Well, at least Daphne tried.

“Good luck, sister, come back safe,” James said to her, hugging her.

“I love you, brother” And when he was about to follow the demoness, she halted. “Wait again. How am I supposed to get out of there?”

“You talk too much. The same way you did before. I can’t risk going back there, not with Rothvaln. Besides, why can’t you do it on your own?”

“Because Rothvaln has always controlled how I get in and out of the Realms. I don’t know how he does it. But so far, the only kingdoms I can go myself to have been the Ancient Land, that of Vampires, Witches, and the Mortal Realm”.

After breathing out forcefully, Maret spoke. “Teias will come at any moment.” Maret placed a hand on Daphne’s shoulder, and in a flash, they appeared in the Wicked Land.

Surrounded by that lugubrious place, in a city made of rocks that resembled the ruins of a forgotten civilization, it should be perceived as something melancholy and not as terrifying as others had mentioned.

“You know where you have to go?” Maret asked.

“Yes.” Daphne watched from afar. From her position, there was only one way to go, forward. “Not a word of this to anyone.” At that very moment when she would warn Maret again, the demoness was gone.

Daphne began to walk in a straight line, going back to where those demonic creatures moved with fallen faces, with surrender, gathered around her again.

These demons did not seem to be the ones Daphne had heard about. Violent and evil beings, well, not that there is much difference with the rest she has been dealing with over the years. But what she had understood was that they could not distinguish between their own species and the others. What was really going on?

She caught a glimpse of the thorn-covered rock that housed Bossurk. Once again, the terrible demons walked in her direction, passing her by without paying attention. As if she didn’t exist or as if she was one of them.

As she neared the impenetrable rock, she whispered. “Bossurk, let me in. It’s-” She couldn’t finish saying when a hand rushed at her again.

Her eyes adjusted to the scenery. Darkness enveloped her once again, but she could see Bossurk clearly near his writing-table this time. The impression was odd. Every object, every corner of the rocky cave, and even Bossurk’s face, was being illuminated by thousands of tiny glimmerings, clearly sketching the shapes of everything.

“You have changed,” Bossurk smiled. With the snap of his fingers, a flame appeared in the air, lighting it all up. “Why did you come back?”

“I need answers, Bossurk. And the only way to get them was to come here.”

“I guess things haven’t progressed.” Although Bossurk muttered to him, she could hear him clearly.

“You told me to trust Lorcan, and he’s keeping something from me. Especially with the mark on my back. I had no choice but to run away from him and come here. I need to know what’s happening to me. Like you said, I’ve changed. I don’t know what I’m becoming nor why.” Daphne paused. And then she went on. “Bossurk, I need you to tell me the truth. I need to know who Lorcan really is, why Rothvaln locked him up, and why Lorcan would be the only one I should trust?”

Bossurk walked up to the crown, taking it from the place hidden behind the glamour and putting it in her hands.

“Why are you giving me this?” Daphne looked at the grotesque black stones that adorned the heavy object.

“This crown belongs to the King of Demons, The Ruler of the Abyss,” Bossurk finally confessed.

“Why doesn’t Rothvaln have it with him?”

“Who said I was talking about that traitor?” Bossurk’s eyes turned black. The fury was like a stream of blood coursing through his veins and stirring up the rancor within him.

Traitor? Rothvaln, a traitor? If he was not the one Bossurk was referring to, then who was the supposedly rightful King? What did all this have to do with her, with the mark, with Lorcan...? Lorcan...

Lorcan being a prisoner.

A demon that the Five Lords did not hesitate to follow.

The General of the Demon Legions, who owes his loyalty to the King, was precisely obeying Lorcan’s orders.

“Are you talking about Lorcan?” She asked, anticipating the answer.

Bossurk nodded.

“But how did he end up in that place?”

“Ragothara, I don’t think I should be the one to tell-.”

“This is the second time someone has called me that. And it’s precisely you who must tell me because no one else will”. Her feminine voice, sounding imposing, commanded him to follow her orders, and Bossurk felt this masterful effect.

With the crown in her hands, she went over to the table and laid it down.

“Where do I start?” Bossurk looked thoughtful.

“Wherever it’s easiest for you. I don’t need any extra details about the story. I just want to know what really happened.” Daphne liked it concise, straight to the point. No bits of information that were not useful at all.

“Well, that would be a bit complicated. ”

She felt that she was losing both patience and time. “Bossurk, start with the traitor part. Lorcan is the King or was. Why did Rothvaln betray him?”

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