“When did you wake up?” A relief traveled through her soul as her eyes glowed at the sight of him. Not believing that he was standing there as if nothing had happened.
“Not long ago.”
Daphne’s gaze wandered across his clean-shaven face. His horns were gone. He was standing there in his usual fashion, a white shirt and his customary dark trousers. His strong muscles could be quite well distinguished under his clothes. And his hair, though not adequately combed, did not look so bad, at least to her. That somewhat careless look of him made her feel more attracted.
“I’m relieved you’re finally awake,” her voice was reassuring, enlivening Lorcan’s senses. Her face being his first thought when he woke up. Recalling how she had been tortured to eradicate the only thing that claimed her as his own until now.
She felt her body tight as he began to walk up to her. Just a few feet away, they both stared at each other, waiting for something. Something neither of them dared ask for.
“Why did you go there?” Lorcan finally spoke.
“I needed answers.”
“And did you find them?” His gaze blackened. The woman was damned stubborn. She had put her life in danger only because she needed to know.
“Then...” Lorcan didn’t have the confidence to ask her about what she had found out.
“So, I am your mate,” she simply went on, straight ahead. Noticing how his square jaw turned tight, revealing his inflexibility. “Did you ever plan to tell me about it?”
And after a thoughtful silence, “No,” Lorcan responded with the truth.
“Of course not” Daphne flashed a melancholy, almost indulgent smile. “What will happen to us, then?”
“Daphne... there can’t be an us.” Lorcan’s gaze possessed no hint of callousness or disapproval for her. He was just explaining a fact in a neutral tone.
He noticed her head nodding slightly.
“Daphne...” her name slipped across his tongue with a hint of regret.
She found his grey eyes almost pleading again. For what exactly? “Don’t worry, Lorcan. I’m fine.”
“You have my word that I will always take care of you. I will see to it that you and your brother live well”.
He did not ignore what he really wanted with all his black-heart. He wanted Daphne. He was aware of this, but what could he offer her? To live a life in exile? Waiting to defeat Rothvaln?
And to end the awkward moment, she changed the subject. “I finally found Sorana.”
“Where?” His face now switched to a more severe one.
“In the dungeons. Such a strange place.”
“I don’t know for sure. There was a kind of mist inside, the soil was filthy, and the cells were made of thorns and rocks. I didn’t get to see Sorana. But we talked. I told her you were freed.”
“That is near the Abyss. Did she tell you why she was there?” he replied.
“She said she was betrayed. I assume it was Rothvaln. I asked her when she was locked up there. She said it had been for a long time.”
“At least we know where she is now.”
The weak rays of the sunset disappeared, leaving the twilight in place.
“I saw Eve too. But I couldn’t do anything for her.”
Lorcan saw her eyes grow dim, awakening in him the need to reach out to her. But he held back.
“I promised you that I will bring her to you, Daphne.”
“Lorcan, I don’t want to sound rude. I know who you really are and what you are capable of. But I have seen the consequences of your power in Rothvaln; you cannot kill him. And I don’t think the rest of the Lords can. Otherwise, they would have done so already. My question is, do you really have a plan to get back what you lost?”
That question left him thinking. His plan had so far been designed to get Sorana back. But he had not given much thought to how to recover the Kingdom. With the Pact between them, he could not get rid of Rothvaln. Someone else had to do it. And only then would he regain control of the Realm.
His silence was interpreted by Daphne as a sign of a negative response.
“Rothvaln will not stop. He will look for any way to capture me. And besides, Eve is in the middle of all this.”
“He won’t lay hands on you anymore.” Lorcan drew nearer menacingly; his grey eyes turned red. Anger was the emotion that commanded him now. “Don’t you dare run away again.”
“I can’t assure you that.” Her voice was serene and enraged by her answer; Lorcan faded away.
She remained there and watched for a while longer as the sky darkened and the stars began to appear.
In the Kingdom of Demons
Rothvaln’s loyal defenders could feel his rage in their bones. Some looked at each other, waiting for a sign of what was to come next. Others held their heads high, awaiting orders.
The floor still had bloodstains as Rothvaln watched it insistently.
Daphne had slipped out of his hands again.
His attention was diverted when a swirl of shadows appeared in front of him. And the figure of the Master of Shadows emerged from it.
“What happened here?” Nala, the Queen of the Lycans, the Master of Shadows, asked skeptically. Her slender figure now possessed the features that motherhood brought with it. Her son, named Lothian, had been born almost two weeks ago. And as much as she hated being where she was now, she was bound to do so.
The time had come to honor the deal. And after Alaric’s loud roars, she had to leave the heir of the Lycan throne under the care of her mate.
“Nothing,” Rothvaln replied.
“As you requested, my shadows went to the Wicked Land. Many remain hidden, and others are too weak to think clearly. I guess that’s all?”
Rothvaln observed Daphne’s blood on the ground with intensity. He tried; no one can say he didn’t. He tried to be patient with her. To wait for her and make her reconsider. But the waiting was over.
He could not steal her from Lorcan. She would come of her own free will. “No,” he answered, dragging his gaze from the ground to Nala, who felt a chilling flow on her back. Rothvaln’s eyes were pernicious, ominous. And the Master of Shadows only thought that this demon was out of his mind. “I want the shadows to go to the Mortal Realm. And destroy them.”
“Have you gone mad?” Nala opened her eyes, incredulous. She could do no such thing. Hundreds of innocents would perish. “You asked me for loyalty, and I assumed it was only in case of a conflict. Not that I followed your orders to wipe out innocents!”
“I guess I didn’t make myself clear back then.”
“What did the mortals do to you that you want to destroy them?” Nala could not understand the crazy idea of the demon. The demented man in front of her had deceived her. And she was so desperate at the time that she could not clarify to what extent the Pact meant.
“I just want her to come back.”
Nala frowned; this man was insane. His gaze was fixed again on the drops of blood which stained the floor. She followed his gaze. Who was he talking about? Whose blood did it belong to?
A voice behind her made her turn around, tilting her head slightly. What was she doing here?
“What news do you have for me?” Rothvaln asked.
The traitor, the spy, noticed the Master of Shadows, a cold and calculating look was all Nala saw.
“The place is in the Realm of the Dragons. She is there.”
“Did you see her?”
“No, but I heard that she has recovered.”
Rothvaln approached the spy. “I don’t care how, but I want you to bring me her brother anyway. Do you understand? Don’t disappoint me. Find a way, I don’t care how!” he shouted at the end.
“I understand.” The spy spoke. Gazing sideways at Nala.
Nala witnessed the interaction between the two. She could not believe that this Lord betrayed the demon known as Lorcan. The legitimate King of this Realm as the shadows whispered to her. And if she remembered well, this spy’s name was Sunnia.