Heart of a Wolf Series
BORN OF DARKNESS
Diantos watches from the dark. Wanting the freedom to roam the realms like the daughters from the Light Realm.
Being the daughter of the Dark Realm’s King has its advantages. She can move around the kingdom without being detained. One of the downfalls is that everyone knows who she is and her father knows exactly what she was up to at any given time.
That is until now. The portal to the Earth Realm is left open. Now is her chance. Can she deny the darkness that she was born into; which still lives inside her? Can she survive undetected in the world of humans?
Thick clouds shroud the forest in darkness. The sun cannot penetrate the thick veil that surrounds the Dark Loxy Realm. She moves easily through the dim light. Her steps silent as the slight wind rustles the dead leaves scattered across the ground. Diantos moves forward, pausing when a slight movement from above draws her attention.
An owl sits watching her from its precarious perch. It's white feathers a stark contrast against the dark, brittle branch of the tree.
Diantos raises her bow. The owl continues to stare at her. Taking a deep breath, she pulls the string back and takes aim. The bird's head cocks to the side as if studying her.
She pauses and takes a closer look. Her eyes grow wide. "What are you doing here?" Diantos sucks in her breath in excitement and lowers the bow.
The bird's head turns as it looks over its shoulder. Diantos' gaze is drawn in the same direction. Seeing nothing, she turns her attention back to the bird. Only to find it is no longer there! Shaking her head, Diantos turns to head back towards the castle when arms grab her from behind.
She lashes out with her legs, raking the heel of her foot down his shin. The arms release her, and she stumbled forward. Twisting, she swings her arm. He easily deflects the fist aimed at his face.
"Ariston!" She yells at him as he laughed. "Stop doing that to me!"
"You cannot let your guard down for a moment, little sister."
"Did you see it?" Diantos turned and pointed towards the branch.
"You were aiming your bow in the air, at nothing."
Looking over her shoulder, she shakes her head. "No, there was a white owl."
Ariston grabs her and turns her to face him. "You saw a white owl?"
"Yes, I was going to kill it. But it was too pretty." Diantos punches Ariston on the arm when he laughed. "I stopped when I realized what it was."
"It's a good thing you didn't shoot it! Mom would have killed you."
"I have to tell mom I saw one!" Diantos' eyes grew wide with excitement. "She says the owls are good luck!"
"Race you home!" Ariston calls out as he was already taking off at a dead run. Diantos laughs and ran after him.
The owl flies high above the trees, watching the children dash towards the dark castle. It banks and turns away as they make their way through the gates and disappear behind the stone fortress.
Diantos ran into the room; her face lit with excitement. Her mother and father stood facing one another. Tears streaming down her mother's face as her father glares down at her. They stop arguing as soon as they notice Diantos.
Diantos cannot contain the news and blurts it out. "I saw a white owl!"
"That is wonderful, dear." Nedali quickly wipes her tears, leans down and hugs her daughter to her. "You must show me where you found it."
Oblivious to the strained look on her father's face, Diantos nods. "Father, do you want to come too?"
King Tarthanes face softens when he saw the hopeful look in her eyes. "I'm sorry darling, I can't go today. Your mother can go with you tomorrow."
Diantos nods, with a big smile on her face.
Nedali kissed Diantos on the cheek. "What part of the forest did you see the owl in?"
Diantos looks nervously down and shuffles her feet. "I uh..."
"I found her by the portal," Ariston calls out from where he leans against the doorway.
"You were out by the portal?" King Tarthanes steps towards Diantos, and she takes a slight step back.
She didn't dare lie to him, so she nods her head. "I didn't go close."
"It does not matter how close you were. You are not allowed anywhere near that side of the forest!" He turns to Ariston. "If you found her there, then that means you were there too."
Ariston stands up straight. "Yes, father." He held up two fat rabbits. "We were hunting when I realized Diantos had strayed too far, so I went after her."
King Tarthanes takes a step and kneels down in front of Diantos. He leaned forward, so his eyes were level with hers. "You must never go to the portal. You never know what will come through. It is too dangerous for you to be there. Is that understood?"
Diantos nodded. "Yes, Father."
When he stands up, Diantos glares at her brother who stands there with a smirk.
Nedali pats her on the shoulder. "Diantos run along and get cleaned up."
Diantos turns and heads towards the doorway; she sees her mother hold her hand out to Ariston and heard her say, "Let me see what we can do with those."
Diantos waits in the hallway for Ariston. When he rounds the corner, she punches him in the arm.
"Hey, what did you do that for?"
"You lied. You were hunting near the portal too." Diantos accuses with her fist on her hips.
Ariston shrugs. "It's the only place I can find anything worth trying to eat. If you tell, father will not let me hunt anymore and you know I am the best hunter in our realm."
"I didn't say anything to him, did I?" Diantos points towards the great room where they had left their father. "But, you got me in trouble!"
"I supposed you didn't tell on me. Thank you." Ariston frowns. "You need to be careful going there, though. You didn't hear me coming up behind you, so you were not paying attention. It really could be dangerous."
"Mom goes there every day." Diantos watched him.
"Yes, but I am an adult," Nedali said softly.
They both jump and whip around. Neither of them had noticed her coming.
Nedali continued, "We have been shrouded in darkness for centuries. When I look at the portal and see all the realms that pass by, I know there has to be a better place for us."
Ariston moves closer. "Mom, why did our realm become so dark?"
A look of sadness sweeps across Nedali's face. She smiles at the memory. "Loxy was once united as one realm. It was beautiful, and we all had plenty. There was a disagreement between two of the powerful kings. When they could not come to an agreement, the queen ordered her oracle to cast a spell on our realm."
"The Light Realm Queen is responsible for this?" Ariston waves his arm, pointing towards the dim light that falls through the window.
Nedali hesitates, and then nods. "Yes, she is the reason we live in fear each day."
"Then why don't we just go to the Light Realm and live there?" Diantos looks up at her with an innocent, hopeful look.
Nedali shakes her head. "The Light Realm Princess controls the portal that we use to travel. Going through the portal is forbidden. We are locked in our realm." Nedali glances over her shoulder.
Diantos notices that her mother looks a little nervous as she looked towards the door. "Momma, are you okay?" She places her small hand onto her mothers.
Nedali takes a deep breath and continues, "I have been watching the portal. There is a pattern. The same realms pass by in a sequence." She gathers Diantos and Ariston to her. "I cannot stand by and watch my children starve. I have to do something. Come, before your father finds out."
Diantos looks from Ariston to her mother. Confused. "What happens if..."
"Nothing is going to happen," Nedali assured her. "Now come on."
Nedali turns and heads towards the door with Diantos and Ariston following her. The skies have grown darker in the little bit of time they have been inside the castle. Nedali takes a deep breath and slips out the door. She leads her two children through the yard and heads deep into the forest.
A dim glow off in the distance casts a small beacon of light for them to follow. Diantos stands just inside the line of trees that surrounds the opening of the portal. The mist swirls in a kaleidoscope of colors. Just as her mother had said, the realms flash by quickly. Diantos can barely make out shapes and colors.
"Now stay right there and don't move. I will be right back." Nedali looks into the wide-eyed stares of her babies watching her. She takes a deep breath and turns towards the gateway to their freedom. She mumbles to herself as she moves closer, "I sure hope this works."
In front of the portal, she taps her leg in time with the changing of the realms. Three, two, one, she dives in.
Diantos gasps. One hand covers her mouth while the other clutches the tree.
Ariston stands with his hands gripped into a fist at his sides.
They stare into the portal.
A face appeared in the mist. Princess Seriana Aphenithea waved her hands frantically and yelled, "NO!"
Nedali's screams echo through the trees. The swirling mist of the portal begins to turn bright red.
Diantos darts out from behind the tree and runs as fast as she can. Ariston moves faster and grabs her a moment before she reaches the portal.
Reaching for the portal, Diantos fights him, screaming for her mother to come back.
Ariston wraps his arms around her and holds her close. He pulls her deeper into the woods, away from the portal. Tears fill his eyes as they both hold on to one another and cry.
"She killed her!" Diantos sobs. She pulls back to look up at him. "The Princess killed mom; I saw her face."
Ariston stands silently, nodding as he pulls her back to him. Tears stream down his face as he stares out into the dark woods.
Diantos scream. "I hate her! She should die for killing our mother!" Her small body shakes in anguish as she continues to sob.
After a few minutes, Ariston sniffles and wipes his tears. "We have to tell dad."