Aria Castellan was the bastard daughter of the Dark Lord Vulcan Castellan, his first child and yet she wasn’t considered good enough or in this case bad enough to be anyone to him, but a soldier. She had been trained since birth how to kill and today was the day she took her first life. Vulcan had given her the mission she had been ready to use to prove to him why she was worthy to be considered his heir and daughter.
She was only twelve and had been showed no love from her father or her mother who shortly passed away ironically a week before Vulcan forced the woman he truly loved, Aries Ravikian, to marry him after he had murdered her husband; who was King of all of Valhalla, Raferan Ravikian.
“Aria?” A quiet and sweet female voice called from her door.
She turned around to find Aries in the door with a sad smile. “Vulcan has summoned you, don’t keep him waiting child.”
Aria knew she wasn’t the witch she wanted to believe her to be, she only thought such a thing because Aries was the reason she never had a mother, she was only two when he mother was killed. Even though she lost her birth mother, she gained someone who tried to be the mother she never had and Aries was, but Aria knew that wouldn’t last long and she knew sooner or later she’d carry Vulcan’s true heir.
Nodding to her, she waved her hand to dismiss her. “Tell him I’m coming.”
When the door shut, Aria continued to get ready and grabbed her favorite weapons. Looking in the mirror she looked just as her father always wanted her to look, the perfect soldier, not the beloved daughter of a Dark Lord.
“You vow to do my bidding, no matter the risk to your own life do you not?” Vulcan asked her as he stood before his throne looking down at her who was knelt before him.
“I do, my lord.”
“To take your first innocent life to show me how loyal you truly are?”
“Then go and do not return until you bring me your first kill.” Aria knew what he wanted, to prove she actually killed an innocent she was to bring their head and the bloody weapon she used to do the job.
She stood and bowed at her waist. “I will not fail you, my lord.”
Vulcan stared down into her eyes with eyes that were dark and cold, that had seen so much and showed how merciless this man —monster was. He had more blood on his hands than anyone in Valhalla and cared for no one but himself, his future, and his kingdom.
Aria quickly broke eye contact unable to look him in the eyes. “I know you won’t, you know what will happen if you do…” She knew, she knew too well, he’d kill her without a second thought and it wouldn’t matter if his blood ran in her veins. “Dismissed.”
She straightened and turned on her heels off to commit an act that should have been the hardest thing for a young twelve year old girl to do, but then she had been trained for this moment. Whether she could see it through would shape her future and if it lead to a darker path or her death, there was no path for her that had any light and she accepted that.
The Dark Forest was full of creatures, dark creatures that fed off the pain, death, and misery of others. Some toyed with their prey for days until they were mentally insane and then they struck when all hope faded from their dinner.
Aria never feared the Dark Forest, it surrounded her home, keeping out unwanted guests and putting fear into the nearby villages of those creatures that called the forest home. With that said it was rare to see anyone brave enough to enter the forest and yet here was Aria, not out of bravery, but of duty.
Aria was close to the village when she heard a stick break further to her right, immediately her hand moved over her moon-blades and she crouched down to the ground, taking cover beside a tree. As she peeked around it she saw a girl with long fair light hair and pale skin with eyes the color of starlight. She carried a crossbow, yet she seemed to be looking for something through the plants on the ground.
Watching her for a moment longer before welding her moon blade, this was her chance to take the life and make her father proud of her. “Who's there?” The girl stood up straighter and spoke with a firm and calming voice.
“That is of none of your concern, you won’t be alive much longer.” Aria came out from behind the tree and took her defensive stance like her mentor taught her.
The girl turned toward her and stood there and her gaze softened rather than narrowed as Aria had expected. “Are you marked? Possessed or are you simply a pawn of Vulcan?”
Aria had decided enough time was wasted and to get this over with, dashing for her and using her moon blades skillfully she attacked. The girl easily dodged her attack and countered it with her crossbow, careful not to get caught between the moon blades. Even with the knowledge of what looked like martial arts, Aria had more experience in battle and managed to unarm the girl, kicked her legs out from under her and had her moon blade at the girl's neck within a matter of seconds. Aria’s speed was formidable and considering whose daughter she was it wasn’t a surprise.
“Well? What are you waiting for? You're obviously not marked or my touch would have rid you of a shadow soldier’s touch.” Now the girl glared at her and she couldn’t be much older than Aria and yet just looking in the girl’s eyes, she could see the girl had seen more than herself.
When she tried to make her hand make the killing blow, she seemed paralyzed in place and it made her mad. Why could she not take the girl’s life when her father had done so, so easily many times before. “What have you done to me!? I am a trained killer, how are you stopping me?!”
The girl laughed and laid her head back on the leaf covered ground. “I have done nothing, it is you who is unable of killing me and which tells me you are still a pure soul.” The girl used her legs to knock Aria’s legs out from under her and roll over onto to pin her, her fist around her neck fairly quickly. “Now… I am going to let you go and we will talk, if not… I will not hesitate to kill you. For out here it’s kill or be killed.”
Aria swallowed a lump in her throat but she neither nodded or spoke. “Fine…” The girl loosened her hold and got up, holding her hand down to Aria until she took her hand and helped her up. “I’m Jessica Lark and you?”
Avoiding looking at her, Aria, bent down and gathered her moon blades. “Aria Castellan…”
Jessica looked paled making her look almost white. “Dark Lord’s spawn?!”
Aria looked at her with an emotionless stare and rolled her ember eyes. “Bastard spawn if you prefer.” She practically growled the words out, it was bad enough she failed to kill her innocent, now she would be killed by her father.
The silence stretched on until Jessica spoke again. “That’s why you tried killing me… I take it you believe your… father will favor you more if you take a life on your own. Well no offense, but that monster could never love or be capable of such emotions for anyone, you're wasting your life trying.”
“I do not believe I asked for your opinion!” Aria snapped at the girl.
Jessica let out a slow sigh. “I didn’t mean any offense.” She looked at Aria with pity when all others looked at her in fear of what she could be. “Come with me and try not to kill anyone.”
The girls came out of the forest with herbs of different kinds and came to stop at a small cabin just on the edge of the village. As Jessica entered with Aria close behind, she went over to a man in a bed and smiled down at the fever struck man. “I had planned to heal him by normal means, because if I heal him the way I was gifted. The villagers consider me a witch sent from Vulcan to plague them.” She looked up at Aria with a sad smile. “This man is my uncle so he doesn’t believe the same as them.”
Aria watched as Jessica placed her hand on the man’s forehead and closed her eyes as bright white light came from her hands and surrounded her, just the beauty of the healing impressed Aria. “That’s amazing…”
“I have had the ability to heal since I was a child, not only that but I have the gift to remove your father’s cursed marks that his shadow soldiers brand on people.”
After witnessing such a sight, Aria had realized the good and joy in helping and healing others. She even made a friend out of Jessica and decided she didn’t want to return to her home, because even with everything she was given there, the greatest treasure was here in the village. A friend, a home, and people who actually cared about her. Although she hid her true identity in fear what the villagers would think of her, even Jess knew they would sentence her to death or send her away back to the cursed place she came from.
It had been a month before Aria’s new found joy came to an end, her father came looking for her and it wasn’t out of love or care, but rather curiosity of what or who could take down a Castellan.
Aria had been taking a walk through the village with Jess when he came riding on a dark large steed and two of his highest ranking soldiers flanking him. He stopped before her in the middle of the village and rather than cowering away like the rest of the village had done the moment he rode up, she stood her ground glaring her father down.
“What is the meaning of this Aria?” Vulcan asked in a calm, yet strict tone. “Was it to much to ask of you to kill one innocent to prove your worth to me?”
“She doesn’t have anything to prove to a monster such as you!” Jess was brave and even bold to talk to Vulcan in such disrespect, but Aria had become a close friend in that single month.
Vulcan simply looked at her and immediately she began choking as if his hand was curled around her throat crushing the life from her. “You dare speak to me peasant?” He had become irritated.
“No! Stop it!” Aria stood in front of her friend, but it didn’t stop the mental hold Vulcan had on her. “It is me you came for not her!”
“I see now… you believe you’ve made a friend. Aria, you better than anyone know better than to do such a thing… We Castellans do not have friends, we have subjects and enemies. It is time you learned that.”
“NO WAIT!” Aria came forward her own power raising to the surface. “She could become of use to us…”
Vulcan rose a brow and loosened his hold on Jess, but kept her silent. “Go on…”
Aria took a shaky breath before she answered him. “She has the ability to heal.”
“What use would healing be to me?” When Aria didn’t answer he smiled. “I’ll tell you what my daughter… I will let her live if you take the life of someone here.”
She summoned her moon blades to herself after a few moments of thinking. “Anyone here?” When her father nodded she threw her moon blade toward Vulcan and his men, her father sat where he was on his steed as the blade hit its mark. Vulcans soldier toppled to the ground off his horse headless. She smiled at her father as she caught the blade when it came flying back at her. “You said anyone here…”
He narrowed his eyes before he broke out into a smile. “Indeed I did… Fine the girl may live, but you are to return home with me, now that I have a riderless horse.”
Aria looked at Jess who repeatedly shook her head no, but she knew what Vulcan would do if she didn’t. She left her friend’s side and climbed up into the saddle.
“A gift for my daughter’s friend.” He waved his hand at her with a smile and released her completely. “Try healing now you wench.”
Vulcan turned his horse back toward the Dark Forest and rode off with Aria riding close behind. She neither looked back or showed what emotion she was feeling, for fear of what Vulcan could do with it if he saw just how much he hurt her. What had made it worse was the fact she couldn’t get the image of beheading Vulcan’s second from her mind, she saw the split second of late realization before the moon blade cut right through his throat and then his head falling from his shoulders down to the dirt below, his body falling a moment after that. She had never imagined even killing one so fowl would make her feel so guilty, that the blood would never wash off her hands, because of her one life was lost from Valhalla.
“Do not think your actions from today will go unpunished Aria… I admit I am proud of you for killing my second so swiftly, though you could have let him suffer a while longer, rather than giving him a quick death.” That was her father, he never liked it when a person didn’t suffer in some kind of torture even in death.
“Forgive me if I do not feel as you, father, I only reacted within the moment.” She heard the attitude she gave him and for but a moment she felt an invisible fist around her neck, then it was gone.
“Do not use that tone with me insolent brat.” She knew an order when she heard it and even if his voice didn’t raise, a chill ran down her back with the hidden threat in those few words.
She had gone silent and avoided looking him in the eyes knowing her eyes would give off what she was feeling in that moment.
“Why not make yourself useful and accompany Aries in my bedchamber, she says she’s ill and yet had requested to see you once found.”
Aria knew when she was dismissed and hurried out of his sight before he changed his mind about her. It was bad enough as she walked down through the halls, everyone looked at her as if she was on death row. Some pleased that her own father would actually kill her for disobedience and some pitied her by the looks of it.
“I hadn’t expected him to spare your life… though I guess you did take a life, yet it wasn’t an innocent.” She knew the voice too well, it came from her father’s first general also known as Vulcan’s right hand, Solivan Nirown.
Turning around she met his silver eyes and unlike Vulcans they held more mystery than anything else. “Come to punish me for killing Fenris?”
"Now if I wanted to punish you, I would already have you on the floor bloody... No, I came to see if Vulcan had done anything to you. Considering it's rare for him not to kill those who defy him."
"Maybe he made an exception since I'm his only heir." Aria made sure the attitude and sass were clear in those few words.
“Perhaps… but what about after he has a true heir out of Aries? You know he rather have an heir with royal blood from both a royal and powerful line.” His voice never rose and never gave off any hint of a threat, he was merely stating fact.
“I do not have time for this.” When she went to turn, he grabbed her arm and held firm.
“A word of advice Princess… hide all emotion, it’s the only way to survive here without putting lives on Vulcan’s hit list.” With that he let go and left her to do whatever it was she was going to do.
It had been six months since Aria met Jess and made her first kill, ever since Vulcan had her training nonstop with his best… Solivan. It wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be, he came off as evil and cruel as Vulcan, but as she trained with him; she began to notice the different side of him and it only took her six months to see it.
Solivan became her friend, the only person she seemed to trust in this place, besides Aries; her stepmother was now pregnant with Vulcan’s true heir, but she was still so kind to Aria even when she was cold towards her.
The only thing that felt off to her is when the scouts came in from the borders of the Dark Forest, saying some young girl with the touch of death had killed many of the people in the neighboring villages. It worried Aria, because the only person she knew that could do anything with a touch was Jess, she had the healing touch. Though Vulcan’s last words to Jess had haunted her the more she thought about it. What if Vulcan cursed her and rather than having the gift of saving lives, she now took them with just a touch. It scared Aria that her first real friend is now suffering because instead of having something that helped others, it destroyed them.
Whoever it was Aria had to find out one way or another if it was Jess, because there was no way she was going to leave her out there alone to suffer such a fate as that. Anyone like Jess would willingly take their own life in order to save others and to end their life of misery.
Merci pour la lecture!