She was back at home in Theronia. Everything was back to normal and she had her life back. Her father was present with her laughing with her mother Queen Aaliyah Reed. Diego ran into their arms crying tears of joy.
”Where have you been? Weve missed you so much ” Aaliyah smiled, stroking her black hair.
”No harm shall ever befall you my daughter
” said Zikhali to her.
e safe with us ”.
Their smiles were from ear to ear with a sinister grin.
”Momma….pappa ” Diego was a bit unsure about them.
Zikhali Reed chuckled, ”Whats wrong my peach? ” He turned into King Dorian and her mother was the Dornish Prince.
”No ” Diego hissed taking a few steps back. Her back knocked against something and when she looked she found the Black Spirit standing behind her smiling as grimly as the Dornish.
”You… ” Diego muttered. Around her the Dornish mages appeared with their hoodies on, concealing their old faces.
”Do it ” said the Black Spirit
”Do it ” the prince agreed.
”DO IT! ” Dorian demanded.
The mages chanted the words Reverse Sealing with their palms pointing at her,then the seal on her chest over her breasts started to glow, burning her.
”No…no…noo… ” Diego cried.
Thats when she woke up from her nightmare and found herself in the water in a dark room with no lights. She scanned around the room then recognized whos room it belonged to. It was Spirits room in her inner consciousness.
The blue womans eyes met Diegos own blue ones and she smiled at her. Her red hair covered her breats and the floor. She played with the chains that binded her to Diego.
”Why am i here? ” Diego was confused.
”Why are you here? ” The Spirit agreed in a mocking tone. ”You came to me sister ”
”Dont call me that. Why would i come to you after you refused to help me? ”
”For power ” said the Spirit, ”And you got it. How did it taste? ”
Diego started to remember how she ended up in the presence of the Spirit. She remembered walking in the hallway full of water when the purple aura of the Spirit seemed to attract her. She started to breath into it then it led her to the Spirit like a zombie.
Diego blinked and found herself back to reality.
She was no longer in the dark room with the spirit, she was in a forest. She looked around and found the boy Altar Cleos eating and apple. There were more, he tossed one at her.
”Goodmorning miss ”
”Where are we? What happened? ” Diego asked.
Altar sighed, ” So you dont remember anything? ”
”Only till a certain point ” Diego said. ”Dorian was chasing us with his sand…..i saw you get swallowed by it ”
”I was ” Altar said ” but its nothing. ”
Diego saw Altars wounded arm then quickly tore her dress,
e hurt. Let me close that up for you ” she didn wait for a reply, she wrapped the cloth around his arm.
”Thank you….its nothing though ” Altar said
”No thank you….for saving me ” Diego said softly.
e the one who saved me ”
”Uh? ” Diego said.
Altar replied ”You really dont remember what happened when Dorian got us? ”
”No ” Diego said.
Altar laughed ”You displayed some…..unexpected abilities back there miss…. ”
”Diego ” Diego said ”My name is Diego ”
”Diego? Isnt that a guy name? ” Altar said.
Diego looked at him blankly.
”Anyway tell me Diego ” Altar said ”Whats the deal with you? And the Dornish….but mostly with you because that was…..intense. After what you did to those guys i couldve sworn that i was next ”
”Did i scare you? ” Diegos voice was low.
”Scare me? My dear you was amazing! I feel safer with you, ” Altar said ”You gave them a run for their money ”
Altars reaction was unexpected. She thought hed be creeped out by her powers and abandon her. She expected that from him, from anyone whod rescue her and find out that theyve rescued a demon monster. They treated her like the monster that she was back in Theronia when she was still a kid so it was only natural for her to think that way.
She wiped a tear from her eye and asked ”What did i really do? ”
”Well you blowed everything into smoke ” said the boy calmly, ”Including the king. Ive never seen them so terrified. It was out of character for them. I literally saw one of them pissing themselves ” he laughed.
”Altar….do you know what i am? ” Diego asked him.
”No. Thats why you
e here to enlighten me ”
”Do you even know who i am? ” Diego said.
e Diego. You just told me ” Altar laughed.
”Altar ” Diego began ”I am Princess of Theronia. Daughter of king Zikhali Reed. Diego Reed ”
Altar gasped. There was a silence for a while and Altar bit on the apple in disbelief.
e a princess? ” Altar said.
Diego nodded. ”Youll have to forgive my illiteracy. I dont pay attention to alot of things….but wow, you know youre the second princess i met by the way. What are you doing in Dorne so far from home? ”
”I was abducted by the Dornish ” Diego said ”I am what youd call a Pnevma. A host to one of the Ten Black Spirits. ”
”Wait wait….Black Spirits. ” Altar said ” Ive only heared stories about Black Spirits. Spirits made of raw Dark Energy….i only thought those were myths ”
”Im as real as they come ” Diego said, ” Theres one living inside of me. Last night you saw only a glimpse of what they can do. The thought of it is terrifying. Dorian wants my power. He wants to extract it from me and into himself so he can rule Beaunotique. ”
”So you dont want to be detached from…..your Spirit friend? ”
”Shes not my friend…. ”
”She? ” Altar gasped. Diego told him that her spirit was a female spirit.
She said, ”Its not that i dont want to detach myself from her…..i just dont want to die. Also if i let Dorian get this power everyone and everything will be in danger. I now understand the burden and the responsibility this power comes with …monstrous power like this can not be in the hands of tyrants. Better me who doesn know what to do with it ”
”I understand ” Altar said.
There was a silence. ”So whats next? ”the boy said, ”What will you do from here? ”
”I just want to go home back to Theronia ” she said, ”Im not sure how yet but ill think of something. ”
”Tell you what ” Altar said ” i have a solution that can solve both our problems. A proposal. ”
”Allow me to be your shield for your journey to Theronia. Well think of something together…also im pretty sure the king will send out men to look for us. ”
”Youre offering to take me home? ” Diego gasped. Altar nodded. Diego asked ”Whats in it for you? ”
”Youll replace the opportunity i lost because of you, my knighthood. What do you say? ”
Diego didn know what to say. She started crying. ”Thank you… ”
Altar smiled bent on one knee and said ”I swear upon the honour of my mother and father that i will protect you with my life Princess Diego Reed. ” He unsheathed his sword and undid the red scarf around his neck, ”take this as a reminder to my oath. ”
Diego reached out for it then wore it.
The Pnevmas rampage had turned everything into ruins. The wall of Dorne had been completely destroyed and scattered in boulders. Bodies had been scattered everywhere that night, mostly the Dornish men. Daerason was buried under rocks and rubble like the rest of them. He shot his hand out and coiled it in a fist, then his whole body emerged from the rocks, wounded.
The morning was was sunnier than usual.
How did i survive that? He thought.
He scanned around and all he found was a mess. Dead men, dead horses….civilians, this is a mess.
Dornish mages were running up and down recovering the bodies with the few Dornishmen left.
Daerason stopped one of the busy men and asked them if they knew where the king was. Before he could say no Daerason told him to find him.
The prince sat on the nearest rock and contemplated on their annihilation last night. Their kingdom had never taken that much damage. Daerason had only heared about the power of the black spirits but hed never really seen it close up, last night was the first.
That was just a portion of their power, he thought. He now understood why his father desired it so much. She can destroy a whole nation if she wanted to….thank the gods she cannot control such power.
”Your highness, up here! ” One of the men called.
They pointed at the wall ruin that still stood, and there their king was: stuck to the wall with only his legs visible. His whole upper body was stuck in the bricks.
”Bloody hell, how did he get up there? ” Daerason exclaimed, ”Get him down frim there! ”
The knights brought a ladder and hammers and started carving the king out. His leg moved and they cheered. ”Hes alive! ” then one of them fell from the stairs. The prince slapped his forehead and walked away.
Dorian had felt the full impact of that blast. He was charging at the Pnevma when she unleashed that devastating blow.
A few hours later the king had been taken to his room to rest. The palace would need a rebuild aswell, the inside wasnt as worse as outside, just broken windows and a few cracks on the walls. A few dead men were found inside and more wounded. They all claimed that Altar Cleos had did that to them when they tried to stop him.
Half of the Dornish army had been crushed by that boy. Daerason walked around outside his fathers room analyzing the situation and thinking of possible solutions.
”The king is awake ” the mage leader Lady Lane said. She was also a professional healer and the leader of the mages. She escorted him to his room then left them.
”The girl…. ” Dorian said. He gasped for air. ”Where is she? ”
”Father, calm yourself ”.
Lady Lane came back with a glass of water which she offered Dorian. The king finished it all in one gulp.
”Better? ” Daerason said. The king nodded. Daerason explained the situation,
”There was no sign of them in the ruins. Im afraid Altar Cleos escaped with the girl….or she escaped with him. Either way they are gone. ”
”I see ” Dorian said disappointed.
”Too many. ” Daerason said ”inside and outside. Our forces are crippled, we need some time to regroup. ”
”Just as i feared ” said the king. ”I have a job for you my son. I want their faces everywhere. Gather a searching party. ”
”Hunting… ” smiled the prince.
They had been heading south for a while now with no map and no idea where they were heading to. Their path had trees and silence only. All they needed to find was a house or a settlement so that they could ask around but they werent in any luck in the forest they were in. There werent even animals.
”If only we had a map ” Diego said.
”Yeah no shit
” Altar said,
”Its like we
e walking in circles here. ” Diegos legs were starting to hurt.
”Lets rest here for a while ” Altar suggested.
They sat on the grass to catch their breath till they heared voices.
They looked at eachother and nodded in silence. ”Stay here ill check it out ” Altar said to her.
He went on ahead then found two men talking, both in grey and blue Dornish armour. The logo of the setting sun shined on their breastplates. Altar sneered. ”So much for help ” he mumbled to himself.
The men held posters of their faces, stamping them on trees. Altar gasped, You
e not serious he thought. He read the captions beneath their faces:
”ALTAR CLEOS: DEAD OR ALIVE; FIFTY GOLD COINS. DIEGO REED: CAPTURE ALIVE; OJE HUNDRED GOLD COINS ”
The boy knight let out a sigh. He was about to leave when he saw them pull out a map, which was exactly what they needed. Without any thought Altar went out there and unsheathed one blade with his left and killed both men. He snatched their map and called Diego out.
”Well that was fast ” Diego commented after seeing the dead bodies.
”They were nice
” Altar smiled.
e bounties now by the way ” he showed her their posters, ”And your head is five thousand more than mine. ”
Diego sneered, ”They dont give up. We must get going… ” she looked at the map, ”So from here we were moving south so we have to be…..in the Forgotten Forest near…..No Mans Land? ” she sounded unsure. ”Do you think theres people there? ”
”Does the name No Mans Land give you any reason for people to live there? I hightly doubt it ”
”Theres one way to find out ” Diego said ”besides its the closest village. ”
”Fine…..lets go then. This life sucks anyway ”
Where ever theyd find posters of the faces Altar would simply just burn them with a touch. ”Im starting to enjoy this ”
”Youll burn down the whole forest ”
”Wouldn be the worse thing Ive done ”
The posters soon disappeared as they approached No Mans Land. Altar paused and armed himself with both blades, ”Did you hear that? ” He asked
Diego didn hear anything. Just the wind and rustling….then she heared growling. She hid behind Altars back and said ”Yes….i did ”
”Stay sharp. Stay close ” Altar told her.
Diego suggested that it could be an animal, but Altar kept his guard up. He called ”Show yourself! ”
The sound of foot steps caught their attention and it got stronger and stronger.
”Its coming ” Altar said. What they saw made them gasp. Altar lowered his weapons in disbelief. ”You must be kidding me ”
Diego was just speechless. The figure looked at them breathing heavily. ”What is that? ”
Diego gasped. Altar replied, ”That my Princess….is what you call a minotaur. Though Ive never seen one in person. Why didnt Karl warn me about these things living in Dorne? ”
”Maybe because he didnt know? ”
”Nonsense, Karl knows everything. ”
The minotaur stood on two legs, with the face of a bull and the body of a man. Its legs were bull legs and it held a giant log of wood.
”I think i know why the place is called No Mans Land ” Diego said softly.
”The name was sketchy wasnt it? ” Altar joked.
The minotaur roared and threw the tree log straight at them with unbelievable strength. Altar sliced the log into two protecting Diego who was behind her. He spun the blades and said, ”I can take him. ”
”Are you sure? ” Diego asked.
Altar said ”Sure….its only one if them. ”
Suddenly more appeared from behind the beast.
”I take that back ” Altar said ”i fought people not monsters ” he sheathed his blades, grabbed Diegos wrists and ran with her.
”I thought you said you can take em ” Diego said. Altar replied, ” I said one. Not the whole neighborhood. ”
The minotaurs were much faster than them. One of them was closing in at Diego then he pushed her aside and the minotaur knocked him inside till he hit against a tree with his back.
Diego ran for him and called him to wake up. The Beasts still closed in at them angrily.
Before their horns could tear through the boy, he ran on the tree and flipped over the minotaur. He staggered to his feet and stood in defense mode infront of the princess panting.
They found themselves surrounded. They took cautious steps closer to them, then Altar quickly drew a line of fire around them that protected them. The beasts roared and cried out when they saw it then took a few steps back. But they didnt leave.
From the trees a muscular man appeared and landed on the floor. The ground shifted and Altars protective flame died out. The man walked to the beasts and roared like one of them. The minotaurs sneered and him growling then they all retreated.
The man looked back at them then there was a silence. He waved at him with a friendly smile.
”Er…thank you ” said Diego.
”Maybe hell kill us himself ” Altar still stood his ground.
The man gave a puzzled look, ”What are you doing this deep in the forest? ” His voice was as thick as his arms.
”We ventured here and got lost on our way ” Diego said
”But you have a map ” the man said.
”We just got it ” said Altar, ”Plus No Mans Land seemed to be a great tourist attraction ”
The man giggled. ”You have jokes….but you just almost died. Who are you? ”
He asks for our identities….he hasnt seen the posters….
”Not many people ventures this far because they know the minotaurs of No Mans Land. They dont really like guests. ”
”I hope we dont run into them again ” Diego said.
”You wont if u head north or west from here. They live in No Mans Land and only have a certain raduis in which they venture from their home
” he looked at them,
e not from around here are you? ”
”From Dorne ” Diego said, ”but we dont go out much. Yourself? ”
”Well you don look like a knight ” Altar sheathed his blades.
”Ofcourse i dont. Im not. But you do ” said the man.
Altar replied, ”That is the dream ” The man wore brown trousers and a green cloth around his waist. His muscular chest was bare with battle scars and scratches. He had a block face with black trimmed hair and a scar over his left cheek.
”Well im from the Earth City ” the man said to them, ”Balon Stone ”
”Earth City? ” Diego looked at her map, ”Thats not very far from here. ”
e going there too? ” Balon said
”Actually yes. We read our map wrong and come here. But thanks to you we know our destination ”
”Say Im heading there myself. Allow me to escort you ” he said
”Okay ” Diego nodded.