I am so frightened, Diary. I am so frightened. Please, someone help me. A
darkness has come, and it lives inside me. I feel it, but it wasn’t there
before. It makes me do and say things I don’t want to. It grows stronger,
and it’s hard to fight, and I’m frightened, Diary. I have only the
strength to fight it when no one is around, but whenever someone comes, it
pushes through and I can’t control myself anymore. I’m scared - I am
afraid it will make me do something horrible, but I can’t tell anyone of
it. Someone help me! Save me!
Rose flipped another page.
Oh, Seyella, alter this fate. Someone help me. I have killed my
mother and father. I could not stop myself. The darkness within has
led me to kill them, the day after my marriage to Valfort. I am
scared. Mother! Father! Please forgive me, I did not mean it! I
can’t control this darkness within me! I can’t make it go away. It
guides me to commit the most horrible things, things I can’t even
dream of. I’m so scared. I want to die, but the darkness won’t let
me. Someone help me. I’m so scared. I want to die. I want to die.
Rose read the entry in horror,
running her fingers over the tears staining the page. The entries seemed to
break her heart and terrify her at the same time. Carefully, Rose flipped to the
last entry in the diary, made on the night before Chystine’s death.
I cannot be afraid anymore. This darkness has taken everything I
have ever loved, and I am no longer afraid to die. It is now or
never. I shall use the skills the darkness has used against it. I
will rid this demon of me. Oh, Valfort, forgive that I must use you
to rid the world of me, but I can’t stand this darkness. Whatever I
make you do, it was I who made you do it. Let it never be a stain
upon your conscience.
The next morning, Rose dressed
herself and sent her maid away, and stayed in the library the whole day,
refusing to see or speak to anyone. Most people, including Edmond, believed that
Rose needed time alone to deal with the death of Fillona, though in truth, Rose
sought more for an explanation. Edmond kept Durgen on guard at the entrance to
the library, and was there in case Rose needed anything, but the duchess refused
even to eat. Rose scoured over the books, turning the pages of demonology books
until finally, that evening, she found what she had been searching for.
Rose left the library, flying past Durgen who had apparently fallen asleep on
guard, and into Edmond’s study. The Duke was startled at the girl’s sudden
entrance. “Rose, what are you doing here? What is it? Is something wrong?” He
stood up from his chair to meet her.
“Edmond, I have something I must tell you, but not here. We must go someplace
safe.” Rose took his hand and left the study, into the main hall, and out the
door. Durgen never woke, but Ferka saw the two rushing out together, hand in
hand, as she left the West Wing, Rose carrying Chrystine’s diary and another
book under her arm, and something in Ferka snapped.
Edmond and Rose journeyed outside, into the cool night, and down the road a
little until the castle was only a faint silhouette against the darkening sky.
“Rose, what is it? Was it another attempt? Did something happen? Are you safe?”
“Edmond, you didn’t kill Chrystine!”
Edmond stared at Rose utterly confused. “What do you mean? It was my arrow that
killed her.” He obviously had some difficulty talking about it.
“No, Edmond. Chrystine was possessed.” Rose lifted Chrystine’s diary. “She
wanted to die. She used the skills in archery that the darkness inside her had
given her to cause you to kill her. She knew that if she struck your arm, you
would release the arrow to pierce her heart!” Edmond looked at her utterly
confused. “Here, read here.” Rose opened the diary and pointed him to the
Edmond read eagerly, and seemed almost doubtful at first, then read it again. He
looked up at Rose. “How is this possible?”
“She was possessed, Edmond, by a mystran.” Rose opened the demonology book she
had been holding.
Rose glanced down at her book and read, “‘Creature of the shadow and shape
changing evil spirit. A mystran is seldom encountered directly but only in other
creatures it possesses.’” Rose looked up. “A creature of darkness, one created
long ago in Northern Sarvonia. Somehow this one made its way to Santharia and
possessed Chrystine. She was a frightened little girl, and from the time before
she was married to the time your arrow finally ended her life, it feasted on her
Edmond’s knees went weak, and he sat down against the base of a tree. “Then
“…meant for you to kill her. She fought against the demon within her for so
long, but in the end, could only be rid of it if she died.”
Edmond glanced at Rose. “Then who could be trying to murder you?”
Rose shook her head. “I don’t know, but--”
“Rose…” Edmond cut her off as his eyes stared past her to the castle. Rose
turned around and saw that the castle was no longer silhouetted, but was aflame.
Fire and smoke raged through the windows. Before Rose could say anything, Edmond
had stood and grabbed Roses hand, and they both ran toward the castle. As they
approached the path that wound toward the entrance, Edmond slowed down in
disbelief, while Rose ran ahead.
She found Bethina staring up at the castle. “Bethina, what happened?”
The maid turned around and, with a sudden burst of relief, embraced her
mistress. “Thank Seyella you’re safe! We thought you were still in the castle.
Ferka’s gone mad. She was shouting ‘She will never replace my mistress!’ and ‘I
should rather see the castle burn than see them happy here!.’ She is absolutely
“Where is she, Bethina?”
Bethina pointed to the West Wing, where the stifled sound of screams echoed
through the open window. The maid looked back at Rose. “Milady, no one has seen
the Duke. We think he was trapped in his study. I’m sorry, Lady Rose.” Rose
looked at the maid with confusion as she hurried off as one of the other maids
shouted to her. No one had seen the Duke and her leave the castle.
Rose looked up as Ferka appeared, leaning out of the window of the West Wing,
then suddenly a cloud of smoke hid her form and a bone-chilling shriek was heard
as the stones in the ceiling of the castle, unable to remain stable under the
intense heat, came toppling down, collapsing the West Wing. A dark cloud emerged
from the West Wing and Rose knew instinctively what it was. It hovered a moment
in the still, chilling air, then quickly floated down, toward the collection of
servants that had gathered in front of the castle.
Rose ran up, past the servants, and met the dark cloud before it could reach the
others. The mystran hovered there, facing Rose, who stared into the churning
abyss of darkness. Her eyes never left it, looking at it with anger, with
dedication, and with strength. The mystran paused and, seeing that there was no
fear in her heart, shot off toward the north, and was never heard from again.
Rose turned around, and found Jaken. “Jaken, prepare the horses for the older
servants of the house to carry them to the town inn. The rest will walk. Hurry
now, before it gets too late!”
The servants did as she said, and Rose hurried to the shadows where Edmond had
watched in disbelief. Rose smiled at Edmond, and he embraced her. “Oh, Rose, how
brave you are!”
“It was nothing. Come now, before the night grows too much later.” Rose took
Edmond’s hand, but he didn’t move. She looked up at him into his sad, soft eyes.
“Rose, you should know by now that I never wanted to be a Duke. I never wanted
this power. Everyone thinks I’m dead, and I have the opportunity to, after all
these years, follow the path I have always wanted to follow.”
Rose stared at Edmond with confusion. “But... but where will you go?”
“Perhaps… perhaps to Ximax first, to see my sister. It has been so long, and I
miss her dearly. Then, to a temple of Nehtor. I never told you, Rose, but I have
always wished to be a White Nehtorian, a Dalorin, to travel and heal and help
those in need. That, Rose, is where I belong. You, my Rose… you are so strong.
With a heart as tender and brave as yours, you deserve to be Duchess. You will
get married again, have children, and lead the life you were meant to lead.”
Rose’s eyes had filled with tears. “But… I will miss you.”
“I will write to you, Rose. I promise you. Do not cry. You are so strong. You
have freed me from the burden of guilt and from the cursed obligations I have
had. You will carry on, and will be a far better ruler than I ever was.” Rose
nodded and Edmond embraced her. “Thank you, Rose. I owe you all the happiness I
possess.” He reached down and gently kissed her lips - the first kiss he had
ever given her, and then he stole away into the night.
As she hurried away to catch up with her servant, she heard him whispering to
her from the shadows, “You and I will meet again!”