A low groan escaped past his cyanosed lips, soon followed by a bloody coughing fit that soaked the ground beneath his knees, already painted by the dried blood of countless innocent and corrupted souls, in a mess of fresh crimson droplets.
As far as his sight could see, there was no sign of life left in that battlefield. He couldn’t even see a bird chirping in that ominous place. The smell of death lingering in the atmosphere was slowly suffocating his airways rendering him unable to continue breathing. He felt frozen in his place as if a serpentine was ever so slightly tightening its clutches on him, watching, waiting, to sink its sharp teeth deep inside his flesh the moment he decided to make a move.
He had no idea how long he stayed in the same kneeling position, trying hard to hear something, anything but he couldn’t. His forlorn figure was unable to hear any heartbeat in that deserted place except for his own, which too was slowing down with every passing moment.
‘Is this how it ends?’
Lifting his golden eyes up to the skies, the brutally wounded man let out a loud howl which was answered back by nothing but the swooshing of air.
‘Dead. They’re all dead.’
He had lost all his comrades in that battle but that was nowhere near enough to shake his resolve. It only fueled him to fight harder. This was the first time he unleashed all his powers, facing a swarming army of rogues all on his own and the struggle had been worth the pain. They were all dead, their leader nowhere to be seen.
‘Should’ve killed that bastard too.’
Even in his last moments, the man couldn’t help worrying about the safety of his people. The next heir to the throne hadn’t been decided. If he died, his kingdom would be left in a vulnerable position. Rebels would easily gather back in a decade more or less and snatch what he had fought for till his last breath— his people.
He could feel his body turning numb.
A moment later, his legs buckled beneath him, displacing several mots of dust as his huge frame fell like a log to the ground. He felt paralyzed, unable to move himself. His mind seemed to have lost all contact with the rest of his body.
He thought his life would flash before his eyes, one last time, before he’d have to close them for an eternity but it never happened. His empty golden eyes could picture nothing instead of the gray skies hanging above his head. His mind was blank, almost as if it didn’t have a memory worth playing in his last moments.
His caged heart hadn’t allowed anyone to get too close to it. He had never experienced true happiness or bliss in his life, and that’s how it was supposed to be. He was born with the king’s crest after all, and in his world, kings weren’t supposed to have mates.
‘Lucas. We were victorious.’
He was trying to mind link his trusted beta to inform him of their situation, but his deteriorating condition wasn’t being of much help in establishing a good connection.
‘I’m alive but I don’t think my body can handle healing my wounds. It’s exhausted as I drained my power till its last drop. It’s shutting dow-.’
He paused speaking inside his mind as all of a sudden the loud wails of a woman reached his senses. His pupil dilated as he realized there was someone else present besides him in there but what baffled him more was that still he was unable to hear any other heartbeat in that ground except for his own.
“The baby is not breathing.”
There were cries followed closely by muffled voices.
“Shhh, honey. Calm down. Our daughter is fine.”
‘Is that Alpha Adrian? Did I mess up the mind linking?’
As the king, he shared a mind link with every wolf coming under his kingdom, especially the alphas. If he tried hard, he could hear what they heard, see what they saw. It came as a curse for being the holder of the crest. His mind was never at rest.
“I’m afraid we can’t save her, Alpha Adrian.”
‘Is their child dying?’
It was Alpha Adrian’s first child after many years of trials.
Lying lifelessly on the blood-ridden ground, he was more worried about his alpha’s daughter than his own well being.
‘Should I give her my crest?’
In their world, there were only three ways of obtaining the title of an Alpha; being born with a crest, challenging and winning against the current king and the king himself awarding you with his crest.
Currently there was no one else besides him with the king’s crest, and a king couldn’t die as long as that crest remained engraved on his chest. Too powerful to die yet too wounded to stay alive he was rolling like a pendulum between the realms of life and death. He was well aware of the fact that his body could go into a dormant state any moment to heal his injuries which could prove to be a major advantage for the escaped rogue leader.
‘Alpha Adrian is a decent man. He’ll raise her well.’
The Alpha’s alert voice came immediately through the mind link.
“Do you want me to save your daughter?”
“If you agree to this, place your hand on her chest.”
He had read about this procedure of transferring your crest to another person, but had never seen anyone performing it. He had no idea whether it’d work by using another man as a medium.
“I have placed my hand on her chest, King Erebus.”
Hearing Alpha Adrian’s voice, he closed his eyes getting ready to pass on her crest to the dying baby.
His lips were whispering incomprehensible words as he placed his quivering hand over his exposed crest resting on top of his slowly beating heart. As his fingers tightened their hold on his skin, small rays of light emitting out of his crest were seen escaping through the spaces between his fingers. After a moment, his crest stopped glowing altogether.
He was close to losing consciousness as a loud cry, much louder in pitch, reached his ears. A newborn was mewling.
“It’s a girl!”
“What have you decided on naming the princess?”
Too many voices were swarming his head.
“You gave her a new life, my king. I’d be honored if you named her too.”
He didn’t know what to name her. His had despised his name all his life due to its devilish meaning: God of darkness. He didn’t want her to suffer a similar fate. He wanted her life to be filled with light.
A gurgling sound came out of his throat as his breath got stuck, his chest becoming unable to inhale anymore air.
The more his breathing got worse, the louder the child’s cries got.
As his eyes gradually rolled back into the back of his head, he was unable to notice one detail: It wasn’t his crest that he had shared with that girl, it was his soul.