"Your majesty," Jake called out to Cassie who was storming away into the gardens. Dirt was slowly creeping up her yellow dress, her hair was flying behind her in a chaotic fashion.
Jake stumble after her in the powder blue and silver uniform of a protector.
"Please your majesty can you..."
Cassie stopped suddenly at the large water fountain and turned round. Her face was scarlet with barely contained anger and she was trembling. "Why so you call me that?" She demanded.
"Call you what? Your majesty" Jake asked he had straightened up and placed his feet together.
Cassie shook her head. "That, your majesty, since when did you become so formal with me Jake?"
"Because I am your protector."
"No you are my friend, my best friend."
"I can't be a friend, this is a friendship we should have grown out of long ago. I am not your imaginary friend Jake, I am your protector."
Cassie sat down the edge of the fountain and taps the space beside her. Jake sits there, he grips the wall tightly. She notices this and asks.
"What is wrong Jake? You have been acting strange for the last couple of weeks."
"Why are you avoiding this ceremony tonight the queen expects you to start getting ready now, there will plenty of suitors to choose from and marry."
"I don't want to marry them."
Jake looks at her glumly and says "what about that Stewart guy?"
She pulls a disgusted face and replied "ewww Stewart the sewage mouth, he seemed good until he kissed me."
"He kissed you?"
"Is the kissing part the only thing you heard Jake? Is that jealousy I detect in your voice,” She teased him playfully. “No he had bad breath as I said Stewart the sewage mouth." She shudders at the thought and Jake laughs.
"See hanging out with me as normal is way more fun than being all formal."
"I guess…I doubt people have such a close relationship with their protector I mean people talk and since..." He goes quiet.
Her face creases up with concern. "Since what Jake? Has something happened?"
Jake begins to tremble slightly. "It's my sister she went rogue." He almost chokes on that word rogue.
"My god I'm so sorry.” If a protector goes rogue it means they have become one of the dark ones, an evil demon, the human connected to them becomes a servant to their every whim. However only the protectors young and old can see these creatures and destroy them. Before they can hurt other humans.
“Of course you’re sorry now,” Jake replies and stands up. “You only care about yourself Cassie.”
“No I don’t!”
“Oh really? You run out of the castle having a tantrum because you don’t want to go to a party, it’s pathetic,” he said it so sharply it cuts Cassie deeply. She glares at him trying to keep the tears that are welling up from running down her face.
“How could you think I cry over such petty things?” She gets up and looks directly into his eyes. “Can you not bear to think about what happened… between us?”
He froze and stammered “W-We can’t afford to display those emotions Cassie, I shouldn’t have been so emotional, I should be professional.”
“By lying about mine and your feelings? To follow a supposed code that forbids a relationship between a human and protector.”
“I care about you Cassie.”
“Jake please admit it.”
“That you love me, like before,” she said bringing him closer to her so that their lips are almost touching.
“We can’t show our affections,” Jake said, pulling his face away the pain clearly showing. “With my sister going rogue they are watching my movements more closely, they may even sever me from you.”
Cassie looks shocked. “No, they can’t that means you will be deleted from my life permanently, dead. They cannot do that.”
“They can if they think you could be in any possible danger.”
“I am the princess they will have to act on my orders and I say no.”
Jake looks at her sadly. “It does not matter, if the queen is convinced that I can put you in danger then you will have no choice.”
“I can’t lose you,” Cassie cries, Jake hugs her close.
“I’m surprised you are not bored of hanging out with your protector than other people.”
“They are boring and talk badly of me behind my back.”
Jake nods. “Okay there is that, is it because of my good looks and winning personality that makes me better.” He smiles and she laughs.
“Your majesty,” a voice called out, a male voice. The pair were startled and both turned to meet this individual. Cassie immediately recognised the man as Stewart. He was dressed smartly in a dark grey uniform, his dirty blond hair combed into a neat, precise style, his moustache trimmed. He had high cheek bones, fat lips, pale skin and a pair of almost black eyes that seemed to bulge out slightly from their sockets. She could not see his protector like Jake could. A sour faced man with the same dirty blond hair. He was dressed in the same powdered blue and silver uniform as Jake.
“Why hello Stewart, you wish to speak to me?” Cassie said, addressing him in a formal tone.
“Yes if you may your majesty, I wish to speak to you before tonight’s ceremony in private.”
Cassie glances over to Jake who looked to be glaring at someone, probably Stewart’s protector.
“Yes we can talk.” She walks over to Stewart and quickly glances over her shoulder to Jake, who was watching her protectively. She knew he would appear if she needed him.
Jake wanted to go with Cassie but they wanted privacy, he had to respect that. Richard who was Stewart’s protector also watched the pair disappear before turning his attention to Jake.
“Your name is Jacob?”
“Yes it is and you are Richard.”
“Yes now we are acquainted I heard it is a great honour to serve a royal.”
“Yes it is,” Jake replied stiffly. He never liked Richard much.
“It must be a lot of strain, having to be extra careful.”
“I protect Cassie as I would any human if I were their protector, there is no difference between a royal and a peasant in my eyes.”
Richard stepped forward so he was closer, his height was greater than Jake’s and his shadow seemed to block out the light.
“You are extremely close to her majesty considering you are meant to be a protector, do you both address each other with first names?” He seemed to scrutinize Jake. Stepping closer so Jake was trapped between him and the fountain.
“That’s none of your business.”
“Hmmm, maybe not, but the royals may have severed you, I mean, they may have if I hadn’t killed them all.” Richard began to grin cruelly as he watched the realization dawn on Jake’s face. The terror lighting in his eyes as the words connected and made sense.
Suddenly a loud whoosh of water started behind Jake he spun round, his hand whipping out the sword. A misshaped form with what looked like huge talons on ends of its hands burst out of the water. He barely moved out of the way, it collided with him. Knocking Jake onto his side, he twisted under its weight and threw his sword down. It wedged into the creature’s shoulder and it howled in pain. Jake pushed it off him, blackish blood was splattered across his face and uniform, smelling of rotting meat. He had his sword ready, he couldn’t see Richard anywhere only the broken creature rising upwards. Jake knew Cassie was in danger. He had to find her. The saw the creature’s face properly for the first time. Disbelief restricted his chest and he stared dumbly at the creature who had been his sister. An awful demon-like version of her, she had bloated grey features that stretched over a mouthful of fangs. Her body resembled a human with the bones broken and reformed to create a bony scarred new body with four pairs of arms tipped with talons of bone.
Jake felt something move behind him, he went to dodge them but seeing his sister wasted precious time and concentration. A blade wielded by Richard’s hand was thrust forward, luckily not stabbing Jake but it sliced across his right side, opening a deep gash. A sharp pain shot up his side making him cry out in agony. He should be accustomed to such wounds but something was different. He twisted sharply and fell to his knees. There he glanced the blade was made of black metal, glistening with fresh blood, a blade dipped in a deadly poison.
His vision became blurry. The demons closed in.