Heir to the Shadows

Nick is undescribable. His life is a whirlwind of bad luck, secrets and distrust. Cursed at an early age, Nick's life was never going to be easy. Some will stop at nothing to prevent him from revealing their secrets.

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1. Prelude

"My baby boy," she whispered almost to herself as if she couldn't quite believe it.  She listened to her baby cooing softly, he was beautiful.  "My beautiful baby boy."  

"Isabella, I...  I'm so sorry," spoke Queen Isabelle's maid softly.  The young Queen looked up concerned.  She hadn't heard her hand maiden, Jocelyn, enter her chambers.  "Your son is cursed."  

The Queen jumped slightly.  "What do you mean?"  

"It...  You see... A shadow crossed and came to rest on the bow of his cradle before you held him first."  Her maid's voice cracked half-way through and her eyes were red, tears brimming over the edge of her eyelids. 

She was serious, realised the Queen with a small start.  She had known that her maid came from a superstitious village but this was ridiculous. 

The Queen laughed, startling her maid.  "Jocelyn, I have just finished twelve hour of labour and a nine month pregnancy, please do not pester me with such trifles.  He is my first born and a boy no-less!  Leave me with my young Prince before you tire my patience any more."  The Queen laughed again as her baby gurgled in response to his mother's voice.  

Her maid crossed herself quickly, speaking urgently.  "Isabella, he isn't yours now.  He has been claimed by the shadows.  You must give him up!"   

The Queen was quite angry now.  Her son had come into the world today and had secured the young Queen's place in the Royal family.  She already loved him more than anything.  

"Speak no more of this, Jocelyn!  Remember your place!  I am your Queen and this is your Prince that you are calling a monster!" Jocelyn took a step back.  Immediately the Queen winced.  Jocelyn had been the only person in the whole castle to be kind to her when she had married King James.  She had always treated her maid as a friend and had never belittled her.    

"If you plan to keep that creature, I am afraid that I must take my leave from you forever, my lady, that thing is evil.  It is no more a child than a changeling.  I will not be near it nor will I raise my own children with it."  The Queens eyes stung from the vicious but apologetic tone to her best friend's voice. 

Despite the tears now streaming down her face, Jocelyn strode confidently towards the door.  Just before she left, she paused.  "I am sorry for you, my lady.  Truly."       

 

 

The Queen sat in silence for a long time, no longer happy to be holding her baby boy.  The day had been soured.  Her happiness had been crumbled by Jocelyn.  Looking down at her baby with bleary eyes, all she could see was a beautiful little Prince.  How could Jocelyn think that a child of such innocence, could be evil?

 Suddenly the doors to her chambers flung open.  Her husband, the King, smiled warmly at her.   "What is it, darling?" he asked, coming to kneel beside her bedside.  "A Prince or Princess?"
The Queen smiled tiredly.  "A Prince, my dear."  

The King's smile reminded his wife of her previous happiness.  "A boy?  A baby boy?  Truly?"   "Would you like to hold your heir to see for yourself?" she asked, teasingly.    

He reached out and clutched his boy to his chest carefully.  He stood up and began rocking him slowly.  His mind was already racing ahead with all the thoughts of what he would do with his child already.  He would have to learn to ride a horse, of course and how to sword-fight.  He remembered when his own father had taught him how to fight.  Now he would be able to teach his own son.    A boy with the beauty of his mother and the fierceness of his father!  He would be unstoppable, thought the King warmly.  

His son yawned softly and reached out from beneath his swaddling.  The king offered his right finger tentatively.  His baby grasped it surprisingly firmly and held it against its chest.  He promptly fell asleep.   "He is worn out and so are you," said the King delighted, sitting at the edge of their bed.  He rocked his child slowly.  "You must go to sleep."  

"First we must name him," reminded the Queen, stifling a yawn.  She leaned against her pillow tiredly.    

The King thought for a minute.  "Robert?  Stephen?  John?  Samwell?"   The Queen shook her head.  "

How about after your father?  Nicolas?"  

"Perfect."  The king leaned in and kissed his Queen softly.  When he drew away, she was asleep. 

        He pulled the blankets up around her and then placed his son into his cradle, kissing him softly on the forehead.  Finally he wandered out of the room, allowing them both to sleep.  His son!  Nicolas!  He was still slightly reeling.  He had a beautiful wife and a beautiful son.  He wondered what gender his next child would be.  A daughter if his mother would have her way, he thought to himself, chuckling softly.  So that they could name her after her. 

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