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Prologue

It was a cold night, cold as the ice of an unforgiving blizzard in the dead of winter.
A little boy, no older than three years, scurried through the corridors. He’d gone over the plan a hundred times, so he knew exactly what to do. But even so, he was excruciatingly nervous. A sudden chill went up his spine, so he pulled his ebony cloak around him like a cocoon. The halls were pitch black except for the occasional exposed window that allowed the full moon to shed a pool of light onto the floor. He scampered around the light pools, careful to stay hidden in the shadows. Any tiny mistake could be fatal to his mission.
The guards stood attentive at their posts in front of the bedroom door. Their purpose, to protect the contents of the bedroom, was starkly contradicting to the boy’s purpose. And this was a problem for the boy. Suddenly, one of the guards saw two small sapphire eyes flash in the shadows. Before either had time to react, they were knocked unconscious.
The boy pushed open one heavy door and squeezed through. Just as he’d expected, the room was empty except for two guards at the window. But they didn’t even have time to react before he waved his hands and they were on the ground as well. Not dead, he reminded himself once more, just unconscious. Master had assured him that there would be only one death. And it would be quick and painless. The room was very spacious, exceedingly so for just the single crib that was in the center, and the rocking chair in the corner. The boy pictured a mother sitting in that chair, holding her baby lovingly and singing a lullaby. Oh, how he longed for a mother of his own. But his mother had abandoned him as a newborn; at least that was what Master told him. The boy shook his head to clear his mind and focused on the task at hand. If he finished this mission just like he was told, he would get a mother. That’s what Master had promised. With that in mind, the boy moved towards the cradle and peered through the painted white bars. There was the baby, sleeping soundly on her back, her tiny chest moving up and down slowly. The boy was fascinated. Never before had he seen such a delicate creature, so petite and fragile and beautiful. Her skin was a cream color and her lips were the pinkest of pinks. Around her neck was an oval-shaped amber amulet that shone like the sun, even in the dark room. It glowed. It’s glowing with life, the boy thought. The same life that Master was going to take away from her. But it would be painless, he remembered, and then he climbed up to the top of the cradle, reached down and gently picked her up as gently as possible, so not to break her. Then he pulled her to his chest and hopped down. She squeaked like a baby bird as she woke up, and the boy looked down at her in his arms. The baby girl yawned, revealing a toothless mouth of gums and then opened her brilliant amber eyes and looked up at him. The boy gazed back at her, and then the baby girl did something that most newborns don’t typically do. She smiled. She smiled at the boy and then closed her eyes again, falling back asleep: right in his arms. He knew then that he couldn’t complete the mission. This infant obviously trusted him, and he was going to betray her. No one deserved the fate that she was about to be doomed to, especially not a baby. The boy took in a shaky breath and then leaned down and kissed her forehead. It was an unspoken promise, one to keep her safe no matter what. A flash of lightning cracked across the night sky, illuminating the room. The boy clutched the baby closer, who was sound asleep, so unaware of the impending danger. The window opened ever so slightly and a dark snake slithered out and dropped to the floor like a pool of black blood. Then it transformed into a man, standing straight and tall, and his entire being as dark as a shadow except for his piercing yellow eyes. The boy knew the man to be Master, and his bones racked with the realization.

“Excellent job, my apprentice,” Master said, reaching out his long boney hands to take the baby. The boy took a step back, holding the girl even tighter.

“No.” Was the single word that the boy could muster, but even the one sentence said a thousand. Another flash of lightning lit up Master’s face that was twisted in anger. And then a crack of thunder. The boy fell back to the ground in fright, now looking up at his Master who was looming over him.

“Don’t you want a mother, apprentice? You must give me the child.” Master’s voice was a mask of sweetness.

“You—you’ll kill her.” The boy squeaked. He was too paralyzed to scramble to his feet. His grip on the infant was slipping.

“Sacrifices must be made.” Master’s voice was growing impatient, and the mask in his words was dissipating. His voice sounded almost snake-like. “Are you going to give me the child, or not?” The boy’s entire body trembled, but his voice rang true.

“Never,” He spat. Master snatched the boy’s neck and picked him up, his anger rising to a fever pitch. The boy let go of the baby.

“Little ingrate. I should’ve known you’d betray me.” The boy’s face began turning blue, and he thrashed, trying to release himself. Master clenched his fist tighter. “You don’t understand the power of magic. That princess doesn’t deserve that kind of power. And neither do you!” Master threw the boy across the room, where he banged his head on a dresser. He was knocked unconscious. The shadow man came over to finish the job, but then he heard footsteps approaching down the hall. Growling under his breath, he quickly laid his hand on the boy’s forehead, and snatched the baby, going to the window to escape.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Arrow said...
Oct. 14, 2009 at 6:39 pm:
Wow! SO DRAMATIC!!!
 
WaterSorceress replied...
Jul. 6, 2011 at 6:31 am :
I know you posted this a few years ago---but thank you! :D
 
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lector said...
Oct. 9, 2009 at 8:46 am:
Amazing Story! Have you written anymore?
 
WaterSorceress replied...
Jul. 6, 2011 at 6:30 am :
Haha, I haven't viewed my TeenInk profile in FOREVER. Yes, I'm at about chapter twenty-eight. It's slow-going, but I'm proud of it so far :)
 
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