Page 142 of A King So Cold

Turning my face back to the water, I closed my eyes, but reopened them when eyes of glowing amber filled the back of my lids.

Truin stuttered over the incantation a few times, but as I was shoved to the sand, the ends of my hair falling into the cool water, and a blade sliced open my wrist and foot, she began to say it right.

I hardly felt the sting thanks to the two limbs being submerged in the sea.

But I did feel regret.

Insurmountable, it began to build behind my open eyes—created the urge to scream at them to stop. To give me a little more time to fix all that was still broken before I left.

In the darkness, I told myself, his smile coming forth, the affection that brimmed his eyes and re-sculpted his face from something bored and sinister to a priceless artifact you longed to stare at day in and day out. The years I’d spent darting away from him as though he’d ruin all my fun before I was ready. The countless months he’d been by my side, providing counsel I’d consistently snarled at while trying to staunch my bleeding heart. The many weeks he refused to leave when I gave him every reason to.

The times he’d saved me, not just from danger but from myself.

He couldn’t save me now, so I’d carry him with me.

Find me in the darkness, I whispered to the gathering wind, hoping he’d hear it somehow.

It was strange, feeling your life leave your body. I hadn’t known what to expect when I’d done the same to those who’d betrayed me and their kingdom, but it wasn’t this.

A peaceful swaying while lying perfectly still.

The sound of the water and Truin’s voice were beginning to fade as I realized with a gradually moving sadness that I’d never bear a child.

I had no heir, but that part didn’t bother me as much as knowing I’d never get the chance to grow a babe inside my womb and birth him or her into their father’s strong and gentle hands.

The lord would make a wonderful father.

Turning my head slightly, my stuttered exhale stirring grains of sand, I saw a world of red colliding with blue. A brilliant purple, the likes of which I doubted any had seen before, unfurled, rolling with unnatural speed into the depths beyond.

Each breath grew loud, too loud, in my ears, and I fought to keep my eyes open.

With her long brown hair falling over her shoulder, glossy and almost as vibrant as the blue of her eyes, she swept her fingers across my brow. “Wait,” she said. A tear slid down my cheek and her finger collected it. “Just a little longer.”

“I’m…” It hurt to swallow, to even rasp, “I’m scared.”

Her angelic face creased, eyes filling with tears that would never fall. “Brave girl, let me sing you a song.”

Suddenly, she was no longer touching me, but seated atop the water clouded with my blood, with two babes in either arm.

My brothers.

One had inky black hair and bright, forest green eyes that didn’t smile, but rather, seemed to look through you. Rahn. Jonnis was smiling, his dimpled cheeks smooshing his deep blue eyes as he sucked on his fist.

My mother bounced them a little, humming as she did.

I wanted to touch them, tried to, but I could no longer lift my arm. It was as if it did not exist even though I could see it, drifting just below the surface of the purple-colored ocean.

“Little princess, little princess don’t you sigh, these stars will want your every smile. Little princess, little princess don’t you weep, it’s past time you went to sleep. Little princess, little princess it’s all right, Mommy’s love will see you through the night…”

The male, I’d already forgotten what his name was, began to shout, and I heard Truin pause, but not before I saw shadows begin to take shape.

A clang sounded, faint, and so was the scream that followed.

My lips parted, shallow bursts of air moving between them. My mother looked up, then down at me, her eyes still glistening. “He comes.”

Then she and my brothers were gone. I screamed for her to come back, but I couldn’t hear it leave my tight throat.

Trees faded in and out of view, taller than any trees I’d ever seen before, and among them, I swore I saw huts and homes.

A tail flicked. Blue or green, I wasn’t sure. Everything became a muted, duller shade of its true color. It made sense the darkness would steal it all. It made sense and… Two red eyes peered at me from beneath the water, pink lips shaping around words I couldn’t hear or make out. Her bronzed skin shimmered, her green hair clouding around her oval face as she repeated herself. “Hold on,” I think she said.