Home > Moonlight Prince (Vampire Girl #4)

Moonlight Prince (Vampire Girl #4)
Author: Karpov Kinrade

PROLOGUE

Kayla Windhelm

"The darkness takes shape. Small at first, then larger."

—Arianna Spero

I dream of fire and pain. I dream of Daison and Ari. And then, just as the flames threaten to consume me, he is there. Tavian Gray.

He holds me. And together we burn.

***

I wake gasping for breath, my head covered in sweat. I must have had a fever. Again. Too common now. Sickness. Ever since that bastard… ever since he… No. I cannot think about him. I cannot think about what happened. If I do, I will break. So I push away memories of Levi, memories of the dungeon, and I will myself to move. My limbs are weak, battered, cramped from days in a cell, but like a rusty door, eventually they give way. My bones pop and crack as I sit up. My breath weighs heavy. And then, looking down, I see it. I see him.

I suppose I knew this day would come. I dreaded it. But now, seeing him on my lap, I can't help but smile. "Hello… Riku."

The little phoenix chirps back at me. He is a deep purple with streaks of silver, his feathers metallic in appearance. Slowly, I bring up my hand, move it forward like I do to calm horses.

Riku doesn't back away. Instead, he leans forward, into my palm, and I caress his feathers. They are soft, smooth, despite their solid looks. He seems to like my touch. He keeps rubbing against my arm, so I keep petting him, and he chirps in what sounds like happiness.

I can't help but giggle. Giggle. Me. A Shade who's just been through the worst days of her life, giggling on her bed with a tiny phoenix on her lap.

And he is tiny. About the size of a potato, easily fitting into my hand. Much smaller than I imagined.

"The mighty Riku," I say in mock seriousness, lifting him up to my face. "You are so cute."

He nods, beaming with his eyes. A mix of deep purple in the center and silver around the edges.

I had always thought Riku would be red, maybe orange. You know, fire colors. But my flame is inexplicably silver. So I suppose he matches me.

I force myself to sit up even more. Somehow, it hurts less now. Perhaps because of the cute baby phoenix in my hand. He hops onto my shoulder, perching there, and I glance at both of us in a polished steel oval that acts as a makeshift mirror. We look quite the pair, my blue hair complementing his deep purples. My pale skin matching his silver.

My gown is a simple green, unlike my very non-simple room. Fen insisted I stay in one of the bed chambers reserved for the most renowned guests within Stonehill. It's huge. Complete with a burning fireplace and a thick fur rug, bookshelves with more books than I've ever read, and even a vanity! Who needs all this stuff? Maybe a princess, but I'm no princess. I miss my own home, my small house outside the castle. And how Daison used to—

I push thoughts of him away, turning to Riku. "So hey, buddy, you hungry? You need any food?" I can't remember if Spirits need to eat. I try recalling if Ari ever feeds Yami, but can't remember. Then I think of Baron. Baron definitely eats food.

Still crazy to think he's a Spirit. When Fen told me all the details, my brain almost exploded. He'd been half Fae for centuries, but never knew the truth. How do these things happen?

I try not to ponder too heavily as I scour my room for food. Someone left an assorted meal of bread, cheese and ham on my dresser. I offer the ham to Riku, but he waves his little beak at me in a very displeased fashion. So I offer him the bread.

Then he chirps and digs in.

He's quite immaculate, getting every little crumb. "Good baby phoenix," I say, petting him on the head. "Now how about some water and—"

Footsteps. Outside my door.

My heart stops, my breath hitching. Please be Tavian. I ache to be with him. He's visited my room since we were freed, but I've been half asleep most of the time, battling fever. Today, I feel better than I have in ages. I need to see him.

I need—

The door opens.

It's not Tavian.

It's Asher.

"Ah, I see our new Druid has awoken." He closes the door, adjusting the black sleeves of his pristine suit. His dark hair is tidy, but messier than usual Asher. I wonder if something's happened.

"Can you see him?" I ask, raising my hand with Riku.

Asher nods. "Of course."

"And you're not surprised?"

"Why would I be?"

Because I haven't told anyone I'm a Druid. Not even Fen. Only Tavian. Only Tavian knows.

Asher seems to notice my pause. "I overheard your new friend talk about it. He seems quite nice."

So Tavian told him. Somehow, something feels wrong about the idea. I don't know Tavian well, but I know he's a private person. I don't imagine him spilling the secrets of others.

"I had my doubts," says Asher, waving his hands in the air. "But now that you have Riku, there's no denying it."

I drop my eyes, sighing. "No. I suppose there isn't."

"Come my dear," says Asher, putting a finger under my chin. "This is good news. We have three Druids on our side now. And the Midnight Star. Levi won't challenge us again."

I know he's trying to cheer me up, but at the mention of Levi I feel sick. I bend over, trying not to vomit, but preparing for it all the same.

Riku chirps soothingly in my ear, and it helps a bit.

"I know it can be… hard," continues Asher, "having responsibility thrust upon you. Even if you are raised to rule, the idea of ruling and the act of ruling are two very different things. As a Druid, you have a duty to your people. Maybe not as a supreme ruler, but as a guide. A mentor." He looks away, into the flames of the fireplace, his voice soft. "I feel much the same."

   
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