017 The Other Princess
I entered the great hall with Denrick in tow. No one noticed us, but all drank in the gorgeous form of the new Princess. With my untested powers of sight, I did not recognize the creature on the dais. We pushed through the crowd to the foot of the dais despite the protests of the guards, who dared not confront Den.
I sprang onto the platform and stared into the faces of the royal family. The Queen let out a loud tremor of dismay.
“Not so dead, am I?” I asked as I struck the Queen’s face with my palm.
Blood dripped out of her mouth as she slammed into her husband's chest.
“When you try kill me, not send drunk men.”
I turned to my replacement, Silver. My eyes blazed with the light of the starlet and heat emanated from me, keeping any guards from intervening in the confrontation.
“How dare you? You said you change!”
“They said you were dead. I only did what they told me to do.”
“I sure you glad. You con-spire to kill me.”
“No, I swear to you that I did not know.”
My hands encircled her throat. Fire flowed from me onto her tender skin. To ensure my revenge, I paralyzed the mind of Denrick so that he could not thwart me.
“Why I trust you? Your pow-er is back.”
“You have no reason to believe me, but I speak the truth. They forced me to do this. Sharpshooters have rifles trained on your head. Let go of me before they kill you.”
“You are burning me, please let go,” her mind pleaded.
I probed her mind to determine whether she spoke the truth. As I did so, I encountered three other lives, innocent, unable to speak, but only to send simple emotions to their mother's heart.
“Please, Nyla, it is for their sake that I do this. I must protect Faithful's children.”
And what of my child? What of the opportunity you cheat her of?
“I didn't choose this. If you do not release me, they will kill you. Please give me the chance to make this right.”
I hated her, but for the children of Faithful I released her. The flame around me receded into my starlet. As soon as I relinquished my grasp, Silver tackled me to the ground and drew a pistol. The shot that ensued did not strike my chest, but felled a sharpshooter who intended to kill me.
Another bullet blew the gun from her hand along with two of her fingers. I threw her off of me. With the addition of Denrick’s senses, I located the enemy. The starlet hurled from my fingers and struck the heart of the shooter. As my weapon exploded, it incinerated my foe and sent fragments of his armor into the crowd.
My starlet returned to my hand. When I stooped to raise Silver, she tried to crawl away from me. I grasped her bloodied palm and her missing fingers rejoined her hand as the blood that tarnished her clothes receded into her veins.
Why did you save me? I asked.
“Faithful wanted me to.”
She scurried away as soon as I released her hand. I unparalyzed Den and stomped over to the Queen.
“Two time you try kill me and last night you said I your child!” Flames danced around my hand ready to consume her flesh at my order.
“You are no daughter of mine.” She spat in my face. I admired her bravery to defy me, the wielder of her chief fear.
“This girl, who has so grievously disrupted our celebration, is unfit to be Princess. She entered the tournaments contrary to the clear rules which stated that the victor of the duels would become son of the King and Queen. Nowhere did the rules permit her, a girl, to compete, thus she is ineligible for heirship. The widow of the man she killed has been made Princess in her stead.” Centin thundered into the giant vibrator for all the crowd to feel.
“Rule not say I must be man. I won fair,” I shouted. “You take re-ward of my fight, since I a girl and un-ani-mal,” the long words hurt to say.
Silver's hand closed around my wrist. “Please, don't put yourself in danger. I'll do all I can to help you, but provoking Centin will only make him hurt you.”
“And what do you suggest?”
“I don't know. I'll find some way to fix this.”
Do not fail me. Were you not with child I would slay you.
Guards surrounded Den and I and pricked our backs with their spears.
“You are a fool, Nyla. Do you really think you can resist me.” Centin struck my face with his claws. Blood spattered onto my dress and the force of his blow sent me into the spears of the guards. Three blades protruded from my chest and drove me to my knees. Silver thrummed a scream into the ground.
Why do you hate me so? My mind shrieked in agony.
“I hate you because of all the pain you have inflicted on my people. You will not go unpunished.”
When he mentioned the pain I had inflicted, he really meant the transgressions he had transferred to me or the abominations Gemma had committed through the instrument of my body. He hated me because he hated himself.
“Please, just let her go,” Silver pleaded.
Centin disregarded her entreaties and lifted me by the throat. His mind compressed around me, preventing me from using my starlet to resist. My pleas to Denrick yielded no help as hordes of guards pinned him down and mercilessly bit at him with their poisoned fangs.
I pleaded for help to no one in particular, sure that no help would come. Centin crushed down on my my mind, since the unconscious Den no longer protected me. Blood filled my lungs and black spots filled my vision. Just before death could claim me, Theila confronted Centin's mind. Her dagger-like hand plunged into the chest of his mind, causing him to retreat from my head.
Thee' engulfed my body in hers and slashed her way through the men who emaciated her brother. Despite her slight form, her blade-hands wreaked unbelievable carnage among her enemies and caused all to flee from her presence. She dragged her wounded brother across the hall with the spears still embedded in her back.
She laid down cover with a crank gun to keep the guards away, but more soldiers pressed in through the entrance of the hall. All manner of projectiles slammed into her shelled body. A stun grenade fled from her hand into the mass of her enemies and incapacitated many of my foes.
“Nyla, if you wish to survive, you must make all of them forget their fear.” Her fiendish voice commanded.
All of them? But there are thousands present.
“I will aid you.”
But it will hurt so!
“There’s no other way to save Comfort.”
I concentrated my mind on the terror around me. With Thee's empowerment, the horror of those who surrounded me flowed into my soul, outweighing the pain of the blades in my back. Before she disappeared, Thee' removed the spears from me and buried her fangs in my neck. Agony seized me as her venom coursed through my veins, replacing the blood pooled in my lungs with stinging liquid. She departed before I could thank her or allow her to plant her parasite.
Den lifted my head and cradled me against his chest. I clamped my hands to his wrist like a vice and tried to keep from biting my tongue out.
Everyone stared at us and the corpses in perplexion.
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