“It seems as though our little flower has fallen asleep yet again. What a shame, if she doesn’t wake up soon how will I ever meet her?” Natas pulled in a deep exaggerated breath, twirled his long bony fingers over the shimmering image of a dreaming Persephone in his cauldron, and sighed. His caved glistened in glow worms and was illuminated ever more so with the now white glow of the potion. Natas exploded in a plume of black smoke which settled to the floor and merged to form shadows. Errie disembodied humming echoed the cave walls, a dark chant.

 The princess played in the cauldron, as a young girl, along side King Meccio as a much younger and healthier man. Natas’s shadows savored in the joyous sight of a long forgotten memory surfaced by guilt and pain, they began to reach into the cauldron and drink from its depths. “Better wake up now princess, it’s no time for your dreams yet.” His voice carried on in the empty cave, a silent chasm which engulfed all sound to nothingness. No bird dared to carry a tune, no breeze had courage to whisper, all animals too frozen by instinct to move. A lone scarab, foreign to these lands, scuttled across the rocky floor. The shadows reformed and Natas locked eyes with the beetle. His face was pure menacing as he plucked up the beetle which struggled under the tight grasp of his pale fingertips, “This could be one way to do it,” he dropped the beetle into the hungry pot,”It’s time to wake up now,” as the beetle struggled in her image Natas became shadows once more.

“They are coming for you. “

“Who?! who is coming for me daddy?!” Persephone held tight to King Meccio’s cloak and trembled with fear as a deep  chilling voice bellowed through the air. Suddenly the bright sunshine she was basking under with her father became eclipsed. Blood seemed to stain the entire sky and a thick orange fog filled the space which was once a beautiful rose garden.  As the fog hit the roses; each rose burst into sickly black flames with a fume that smelt of decaying flesh. The young helpless girl looked up at her father only to scream in terror as thousands of shiny scarabs forced their way out of his eyes and mouth. Everything began to shake and she tumbled to the ground as she was too afraid to grasp onto her only support, a towering bug ridden man, unrecognizable as her father. He bent down over the mortified Persephone who was frozen in fear, the sound the beetles made while crawling on him made her own skin crawl. He spoke into her ear  and beetles  fell from his mouth  onto her trembling body and eagerly engulfed her in thousands of scratchy mandibles,” WAKE UP!” 

Persephone felt a hard slap of cold water across her face. She frantically brushed off her body, jumping up and ripping at her clothes. A pair of firm hands grasped her sides and she screamed a bloodcurdling scream. Suddenly her face was burning. She stumbled back and realized she had gotten slapped, she wasn’t covered in beetles, and Harbrum was looking at her with sheer resentment in his eyes. “I’m sorry my lady but you were inconsolable and you screamed when I tried to calm you! You’re going to get us killed!” He looked at his hand and back at Persephone who was rubbing her cheek looking more then terrified and stunned. Harbrum stumbled back, his mouth agape, a clear desire to run in his eyes. Persephone reached for his hand attempting to catch him as he tripped over a rock he hadn’t seen, together they toppled onto the grass.

   They looked at each other in stunned silence,  time seemed to freeze. The spell of silence was broken by three voices and metal hitting metal. There was nowhere to run as there was only one way to go from the dock, the same place the voices were coming from. Persephone looked frantically around but there was nowhere to hide, the bushes that sat between them and the path was their only protection. Harbrum brushed off the princess from his body and began digging into his robe. Persephone sat with wide eyes, her heart pounding so hard she could feel it in her skull. The voices and clanking metal grew closer and closer but Harbrum showed no fear. From his brilliant purple robe he pulled out something long wrapped with a black cloth and tied with a shimmering silver thread. “I beg of you to take this, you will know when the time is right to use it.” His hands were trembling as he held the package out to her. “But what is it?” she asked as she took the package and began plucking at the cloth. ” Stop! you mustn’t open it yet!” Harbrum took the package and rewrapped the small corner Persephone opened. As he closed it she saw a flash of gold and a twinkle of red and green stones reflected by the sun. He handed it back to her and motioned for her to hide it, she slid it in her dress. 

“Well if it isn’t the devil himself, Harbrum long time no see! The last I heard, you had lost your fiance and gone rogue,” a large man with curly red hair and a large ferret like moustache dressed in armor from the neck down was leading two other men who looked hunrgy for blood,” oh but who’s this here?” the red-haired man approached Persephone and caressed her hand, his eyes twinkled at the royal ring, “well, well, well… looks like we have a good haul today boys, a knight that has been avoiding trial and a runaway bride.”

To be continued