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Claimed by Fate.

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A new day.

Somewhere miles from the rift, my magic deposits me unceremoniously in a meadow.

I’m landing roughly on my butt for probably the millionth time tonight. I grumble at my inexperience in magic, which led to my less than gentle landing.

Sitting up and rubbing my lower back with a groan, I took in my surroundings.

Mountains densely covered in trees reach to the rising sun, cradling the warm glow of the growing light.

Soul-catching hues of blush and blue were shown through the trees framing my view.

My heart skips a beat, struck by the beauty before me.

Birds waking from their slumber sang a ballad to the day, birthing within me a sense of peace I’d never known.

And for a moment, here in this vast meadow of rolling green grass

I wondered if today they would sing for me too.

Sitting there in wonder for a long time, I close my eyes and breath in the sweet-smelling air while stroking the soft grass absentmindedly. Wildflowers sprung between my fingers as I did, tickling my hands.

The soft sounds of a town in the distance eventually snap me from my trance.

I’d pull myself together and venture into town to figure out my next step at some point.

but not right now.

Right now, I needed this moment.

With the reality of what I accomplished today finally sinking in, I allow myself to fall back into the grass with a wild grin plastered across my face.

And then I laugh.

I laugh for all the pain and suffering I’ve endured till now.

I laugh at the injustice of it all.

I laugh until I cry.

It was madness.

I was mad.

I was free.

Once my hysterical laughing fell silent, and I lay trying to catch my breath.

My mind drifts back to my cell—or, to be precise, to my father.

He will find me, of that I’m certain.

After all, he is a remorseless king with nothing but time on his hands.

As ruler of the Faye kingdom, my father has no shortage of means to track me down, and I have no doubt that he will use everything at his disposal to bring me back.

Unfortunately for me, that means using compulsion to control those under his command.

Or, at a more concerning level, control anyone I find myself around.

With compulsion, he is able to manipulate anyone he wants from anywhere, as long as they have come into contact with either himself or someone under his influence.

akin to a hive mind.

Compulsion is not normally this powerful, but my father was an exception to the rule.

And to his dismay, so was I.

His compulsion has no effect on me—a mystery that enraged my father more than anything else about me.

He and my mother spent years trying to break me, to infiltrate my mind, to no avail.

When it became evident that he would never succeed, he left me to rot in the cell that had been my home since birth.

Lucky for me, I’d managed to teach myself some magic in those years of solitude.

magic that aided in my escape.

It took time to store enough power to teleport twice.

Once to get out of the castle, and once more for the human realm.

In that time, I’d nearly died of starvation and the regular beatings.

But I had survived and escaped with my mind intact.

For this reason, as long as I’m alive, I know I’m a threat to his absolute rule and, to a lesser degree, his ego.

Laying with my face turned to the risen sun, I resolve myself.

Today was the beginning of a life-or-death game of hide and seek.

One that I was hell-bent on winning.

So, let the game begin.

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