Daphne, at first, felt relieved to hear the name. “Sorana? Lorcan’s sister?” she asked, wanting to re-confirm the demoness’s identity.
“Do you know Lorcan?” The tone of Sorana’s voice could be perceived as puzzling.
“Yes, he’s been looking for you” Daphne approached the wall of thorns through which Sorana’s voice broke through.
“Lorcan is free?”
“Mmm,” Sorana flashed a weak hint of a smile, “That’s good news after all.”
“How long have you been here?” Daphne wanted to know, of course.
“I hardly remember it. It’s been a long time.”
Daphne may have felt sadness in her words.“Have you ever tried to get out of here?” she walked around the small space, looking for some sign of an escape or something else.
“If there was, I wouldn’t be here. There’s no way to escape. How do you know Lorcan?”
“It’s a long story, believe me.”
“There’s more than plenty of time.”
Knowing her past relationship with her brother, Daphne would obviously not tell Sorana about it. If she really betrayed her brother to win Rothvaln’s love, chances are that at the slightest opportunity to try to gain the impostor King’s affection, she would blurt out everything. And no, thank you. She wouldn’t risk it.
“How many others are here?”
“As far as I know, just you and me,” Sorana answered her.
“Have you heard of someone named Eve?”
“No. Who is Eve?”
“She is a friend. Rothvaln has her in his control”.
“I’m sorry I haven’t heard of her. Not many come to the depths of this city.”
“How did you end up here?”
“I was tricked, betrayed,” Sorana replied.
She remembered what Bossurk had told her. And she couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Lorcan. “I guess now you know how it feels. What Lorcan experienced.” Her words came out of her without any consideration.
“What do you know about what happened between him and me?” The hostility in Sorana was palpable.
“You betrayed your own blood for unrequited love. Tell me what good did it do?” Daphne spoke to her with a coolness full of disgust for Sorana. Without noticing it, a rage arose from knowing that just a few steps away was the person to blame for what had happened to Lorcan. And yet, the red-eyed demon was desperately looking for her. And something told her that his intention was not to hurt Sorana.
A knot of complex and contradictory emotions grew inside her. This feeling of empathy towards a demon that had only caused problems in her life. A monster with captivating red eyes, with murderous lips that threatened to take her life away. A beast that was indeed hers.
“Who are you really?” Sorana was intrigued by the prisoner who had such contempt for her.
“No one of interest.”
The conversation stopped there. Neither of them spoke anymore.
The distant noise caught the attention of both. Daphne’s cell was opened, and the same demon as before appeared.
“Let’s go. The King is waiting for you.”
Flanked by two other demons, Daphne was guided to the throne room where Rothvaln was waiting for her. His stance was strict. His face looked determined.
“I knew you would come on your own, my dear.”
“Rothvaln?” the King raised an eyebrow. “And since when have you referred to the King by his name?”
With a wave of his hand, Eve appeared. Her arms clinging to her body, her mouth sealed under the power of Rothvaln.
“Please let her go. She has nothing to do with this.” Daphne’s eyes went from her friend to him.
“You are wrong, my dear. Your friend is here because of you. You’re the only one to blame for her being here, with me.” The words sank into her. She looked at Eve, and her eyes were watered by the defeated sight of her.
“I’m so sorry, Eve,” because deep down, she knew that Rothvaln’s words had truth in them.
Eve’s eyes urgently fixed on Daphne. Her gaze was trying to tell her something desperately.
And with another motion from Rothvaln, Eve disappeared again.
“That’s better. Now let’s get started then.”
Daphne watched the demons, who looked at her with a smug smile as they approached her. “What do you want?”
“You don’t have to be nervous, my dear. They just want to help you.”
“I don’t need any help.” Daphne stepped back. “Don’t you dare come any closer!” she shouted at them.
“And what are you going to do?” One of them asked with a mocking grin, full of hidden promises of a slow, painful punishment that could well end her sanity.
“Get her at once.” Her eyes looked at Rothvaln, and at that moment, her face hit the ground. Her hands were extended and pinned down.
The sound of a torn blouse filled her with unparalleled terror.
“Let me go!” She cried out, trying to get out of the grip. Moving her feet hard, but it was no use. Her back was exposed to the dirty looks of these demons. To the unworthy eyes of a traitor sitting on a throne that did not belong to him. A traitor who was watching what was taking place without the slightest trace of remorse.
A painful, agonizing cry filled the entire hall. A cruel, lacerating pain had been unleashed on her back.
“Aaah! Please stop” Daphne was screaming with tears in her eyes. More of her agonizing shouts escaped her throat in response to the sliced skin on her back. The demon in charge of such an atrocity cut her flesh, again and again, wanting to erase the mark. To make it disappear, but the mark healed her torn skin each time. And yet again, the demon would cut it.
Rothvaln stood up and approached her calmly. Bending over, with his fingers, he wiped away her tears and then tasted her salty essence. “The pain will soon be over. You just have to hold on a little longer.”
Daphne could not answer him, not when her cries were the only thing that could come out of her.
A sharp object kept tearing her skin apart.
“Please,” she begged. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“Because you are mine and no one else’s.”
After another scream, Daphne became silent. The violence stopped, the punishment stopped. Other cries filled the place, the shouts of those demons that had been hurting her.
Daphne tried to get up with her hands-free, but her skin was still healing, very slowly.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Daphne heard Rothvaln say, not to her, but to someone else. And when she looked up at that moment, she saw dark spots running from his hands to his face, like thin stains. The fake King’s body was paralyzed in the place, along with the rest of the demons. An image she had already seen in another time, caused by the one she secretly hoped would come for her.
With the pieces of her torn blouse, she covered her chest. Standing up and now facing the Lord of all Demons.
“Lorcan,” for the first time, she felt relief in her heart. He had come for her. Her mate.
“Come here,” Lorcan’s voice showed no love, but hatred, absolute anger. Daphne obeyed him. She stayed by his side. “I told you to stay away from her,” he said to Rothvaln, who was now trembling under his power.
“Rem-em-ber,” Rothvaln was trying to speak. “If you do it, you’ll be finished-.”
“Shut up!” Lorcan commanded him. His blood-red eyes, thirsting for his life, were being noticed by Daphne, who suddenly gasped.
“What’s happening to you? Stop!” she pleaded. A chill ran through her body as she watched Lorcan begin to transform into something else. His skin began to darken, like rusty metal. From his teeth, huge fangs descended, and from his head, long-horns erupted. “Lorcan!” Daphne fired at him, but he did not listen. His mind was in a deep, dark well. Only the urge to finish off Rothvaln seemed to keep him lucid enough to focus on his power to destroy everything.
Daphne stood in front of him, wanting him to look at her. She placed a hand on his face, but Lorcan did not respond. He only concentrated on destroying those who dared to touch her. “Lorcan, listen to me, Lorcan!” her eyes widened when a blackish liquid began to flow from his ears.
She turned and saw Rothvaln. His eyes were crying out with demonic blood, his skin seemed to be suffering from black crater-like sores. The rest of the demons lay unconscious but still wrapped in Lorcan’s power.
She looked at her mate, who was getting weak. She could feel it. She could feel within her how his power was beginning to decline. “Lorcan! Listen to me! Stop it!” but he didn’t seem to do it.
Her chest went up and down as her breathing accelerated when her despair joined her fear. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. With a new determination, she looked up at the red-eyed demon. His masculine face, his long-horns, were the reflection of pure beauty. She approached the violence that his body was giving off. It was as if an alien force was moving her at will. Daphne took one of his hands. The warmth was so familiar, so exquisite.
“Let’s go.” The syllables came out of her peacefully.
And as if time stood still for mere seconds, Lorcan’s demonic eyes fell on her face. The Present froze over. Only he and she existed at that single moment. And the gradual sensation of losing physical awareness brought them to the Land of the Dragons.
Daphne and Lorcan materialized in the same library where Teias was still with Maret and Myron.
She felt Lorcan’s hand slipping abruptly from hers, and only when she caught sight of the Lords’ gaze did she suddenly seek out her demon, watching as his body collapsed to the ground.