Shadowfield Chronicles, Part 4: Request
“What was the shadow gem? The shadow gem was made as a weapon against an all-consuming darkness. It was made in Shadowfield, and yet, it is the very thing that almost ripped the country in two. There is a belief that the shadow gem was not shattered, that the tale of its use was a lie perpetrated by Lux.”
How do you describe Dante? Many words came to Leia’s mind.
A whirlwind of confusion and fascination.
And if you’re being unjustly poetic- fiery.
Leia stepped from the wall of flames and let out a brief sigh of relief. The flames had accepted her- Dante had accepted her presence. Good. When one is denied, the flames do not relent- they burn you alive without a single hesitation. At the front of the long rectangular room, Dante sits at a desk made of the finest wood and detailed with both gold and silver. His dark skin glows in the red light coming from the room’s ceiling. His mess of blonde hair is cut close on the sides, but thick on top. Two horns as black as night protrude from this skull, pointed backwards and curled, like a ram. He scribbles in a thick, leather-bound journal with a quill. His head is bent and does not rise when he speaks.
“Princess, I do not like being interrupted when I am in the middle of important work.”
Leia glances behind him, at the beanpole of a man standing obediently behind Dante’s chair. On this man’s arms, symbols appear as if they are being scribbled into his flesh; the man does not flinch. Instead, his eyes are glazed over, and his mouth is set in a hard line. As Leia watches, the symbols make their way up his neck. “Marking another lover? I’m sure it’s quite important.”
Leia walks up to the desk and sits on the corner of it. With a casual flick of her hand, she upturns the inkpot. The symbols stop moving, and Dante’s latest endeavor snaps out of his trance.
“Dante.” The voice is soft and brisk. “You aren’t finished. Who is this girl? Is she another-”
“No, Prix,” Dante interrupts, “this is Leia.”
“Princess of Shadowfield?” The man looks to Leia and tilts his head, curious. “What is she doing here?”
“I’m here on official business,” she answers, “which is none of yours.”
“I’ll finish the runes tomorrow,” Dante says, “please leave us, Prix.”
Prix wanders away, swaying from side to side. He walks through the flames, and Leia is left alone.
“So what brings you to my establishment, Leia?”
She didn’t bother with pleasantries. “I got a mission from my father. He has reason to believe the shadow gem resides in Lux.”
Dante raised an eyebrow. “According to the histories, the shadow gem shattered after its power was unleashed.”
“And how long ago were those histories written?” Leia stood up from the desk. “As Princess of Shadowfield, I’m commanding you to help me get past the border and into Lux.”
“Why does your father want the shadow gem?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Will you help me or not? Do I need to command you with magic?” Leia cracks her knuckles. “I’d rather not force you, Dante, but I will.”
“Sweetheart,” Dante says, rising, “you never need to command me.”
“There’s always a price with you, so hurry up and tell me what it is.”
He opens a drawer to his left and takes out a single scroll. “Kill this woman for me.”
Leia takes the scroll, unfolds it, takes one look, then closes it. She nods. “Another date that didn’t end well?”
“Lux women are the worst.”
“And yet you continue to be enticed by them.” Leia chuckles and puts the scroll away. “And what about my request for Diamond and the others?”
“They’re taking care of a few things for me right now, but by the time you pay your due, they will be back. Diamond has been inching to wield again.”
“I’m sure,” Leia says. She turns around, ready to walk out. Dante sits back down and begins to clean up the spilled ink.
“Leia,” Dante says when she’s about to enter the wall of flames, “the shadow gem broke when its power was released. It damaged our country. What does your father want with it?”
“My father has always believed that the tale of the shadow gem is a lie. He thinks it was wielded not by Shadowfield but by Lux. And he thinks a war is on the horizon.”
“We’ve been at war with Lux for centuries. We’ve just stopped fighting. But if what your father says it, why would Lux lie about it being broken then?”
“I don’t know, Dante. Personally, I don’t care. I’ve been cooped up in my castle for months. I need action. And if a mission to prove to my father that the shadow gem doesn’t exist- if it ever did- gets me out of there, fine.” Leia walked through the flames.