The young girl shook before Emperor Jugan. Her white hair and fair eyes made her appear as the innocent victim. In truth, her beauty was nothing to be fooled by. She was a Frost Seer. Her heart was as dark as the Devil itself and the Emperor knew it. The oppressive walls of the throne room gave Jugan great comfort. For others, they brought a sense of unease. The white-gold throne cradled him, his face drawn down at the corners as he gazed upon her.
“Tell me, Reiza, are you certain about what you saw?”
He studied her features, wondering how one so young could bear such responsibility. She was still only a novice. Nowadays, even that marked her as a precious commodity. Most ancient seers were long dead, leaving the few that were born to fend for themselves.
“I am sure, your Grace. Your eldest son is destined to marry the enemy. If that happens, there is no doubt that he will have secured your throne.”
Fear crept into the Emperor's eyes. He clenched them shut, unable to rid himself of the child's words. His Eldest son, Ryore, was his greatest disappointment; so feeble and weak, as no Emperor should be. Jugan eyed the curious girl, with her long white locks and vexing beauty. The last of her kind.
Jugan saw how her eyes roved about the grand throne room, seeming to memorize every detail, from its cold blue walls to the harsh glare of the lights above. All that power, he thought, and all you do is stand there, shaking.
Reiza's visions had brought shocking details to light for him. While he knew she was only conveying the truth, certain details caused his mind to rage. His eldest was never to ascend his throne. He made a weak Prince and would only make a more pitiful Emperor. No. If Jugan had to plot his own son's demise, then so be it.
“Young Reiza, have you told anyone else of these visions?”
His tone was firm, receiving only a stern glare.
“No. I have told no one else, Sire. I am loyal to our realm and only our realm.”
He admired her candour. The girl already appeared to be more promising than he had anticipated.
His words were like ice, cutting across the blinding space.
When Reiza took a step, he held up his palm.
A tall figure lurked in a shadowed corner. Reiza turned. She watched in fascination as the creature appeared to materialize out of the air. Like a night-time shadow, it glided along the cool stone floor. With it, came the strangest sensation, a tingling that started within the toes, and gradually worked up the rest of the body. The brilliant light hit its skin and every solemn feature was revealed.
Reiza managed to stifle a gasp. They were no more a thing of shadow than she. A fine looking young man rose up before her, dressed head to toe in slimming black. A little muscle clung to his flesh, but what caught her attention the most were this man's eyes. They were red, beyond any she'd seen. Like pale blood-diamonds, they stared you down, piercing into the depths of your soul. Reiza hung back. That tingling. Is it him? She wondered.
The young man's voice was as deep as those eyes. His words penetrated the very air, leaving a terrible sense of foreboding. Reiza watched him bow low before the grand Frost Emperor. She marvelled at his lengthy hair, already a mass of silvery grey.
“Welcome, Prince Arlas. You may rise.”
Arlas immediately straightened. He looked to Jugan as a servant would its master.
“It is good to see you once again. Still dressed as the stealthiest of shadows, I see.”
The Prince grinned, an unsightly image if ever there was one. The Emperor calmly appraised him. Arlas had always been willing to get his hands dirty. For this, Jugan was truly thankful. He could think of nobody better for the task he had in mind.
“I suppose you're wondering why I summoned you.”
The prince nodded.
“Arlas, young Reiza here is quite certain of the visions she's been having of late. She believes that the daughter of our greatest enemy is destined to become my eldest's wife. As such, I will be needing you to do me a favour.”
He shot the boy a serious look, which would have stricken terror into any mortal. But the Prince was no mortal. Despite their youthful appearance, Air Mages were known to live well past a hundred years. Their life span merely extended itself. Arlas gave only a polite nod. He showed no fear, no uncertainty.
“What is the favour, Sire?”
Jugan's gaze passed from the Mage to the young seer. He was confident in his knowledge that this here was a man whom he could trust like no other. If Reiza's predictions were in fact true, then he would need to act swiftly.
“As you know, I would like Prince Fadius to take my throne once I'm gone. In order to make sure he becomes my successor, I need you to dispose of the girl who is destined to become Ryore's wife.”
“And then I can have Ryore for myself?”
Reiza's small voice chimed out through the room. It brimmed with desperation, her eyes wide and pleading. Jugan sighed. He waved his hand in the girl's direction.
His guards, having seen the dismissive gesture, began to approach the elaborate throne.
“Sire,” They gave brief bows, their eyes focused upon the Seer, “are we to escort the young Miss out?”
Reiza stared up in horror. Tears had begun to form in her eyes. Both men were quite large, with more than enough muscle to spare. They pressed in at either side of her, waiting upon the Emperor's command.
“Please do. I've had enough of her visions for one day.”
Jugan watched as each guard seized one of Reiza's spindly arms, hauling her toward a pair of grand double doors.
Her wilful protests echoed back. Before long, they were no more.
“You know Arlas, I think this might actually work.”
Jugan beckoned the Prince towards the throne.
“Young Reiza named a Miss Violetta Flame, to one day wed my eldest son. She is the one I would like taken care of.”
The boy's eyes roved across the Emperor's face.
“Is there any particular way you'd like her dealt with?”
The Emperor rose up, out of his icy throne. His eyes locked onto the Mage.
“I would like you to put an end to Miss Flame's existence.”
Arlas frowned. He understood well what was expected of him. He was to use his powers to facilitate the girl's death. Only then would he have proven himself.
“Arlas, you look troubled. Does this task displease you?”
The Prince's head swam with thoughts of how he would do it, and of what his brother would say if he ever found out. He stared deep into his master's eyes. He needed to do this.
“No Sire. The task is mine to carry.”
Jugan relaxed back into his throne.
“Arlas, do you think your brother will suspect?”
There was doubt there in his master's expression, something Arlas was keen to displace.
“No Sire. He will not suspect a thing.”
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