“I have the power to control people’s thoughts and actions...What am I, if not a Goddess?”
In a world where all those in power have power the Princess must play a dangerous game with a dangerous man.
Who will win? What will the consequences be?


4. Chapter Four

Chapter Four


“In case you were unaware Your Highness; my army awaits an order that could kill a few thousand people. They could be here within the day killing any and all they see in their journey,” Max threatened. His voice was emotionless, stating a simple fact; he was willing to kill for this.


I had no idea if any of the words he spoke were the truth, and there was simply no time to send a scout to verify his claims. The decision had to be made now. It was smart of him to force my hand in this way. It forced me to accept his word, to put some trust in him. Even if his claims were true, I had to trust he would not hurt my people if his demands were met.


“If I agree?” I asked slowly, knowing this game was no longer playing out in my favour.


“Then my army will retreat.” Max supplied simply.


I didn’t believe him for one minute; why would he give up such a valuable position when he knew he could use the threat over and over to force me to conform to his will? I had to make a choice. Think quickly and clearly so that both I and my people survived this.


“I have a counter proposal,” I spoke, letting the thoughts from my mind flow freely into the air without filter.


Silently Max stepped closer again. The tone of my voice letting him know that the words I was speaking were not apart of a preconceived plan. I had placed my trust in him and now I was forcing him to do the same with me.


“I shall allow you to marry me in one years time; after my eighteenth birthday. If by that time we find love together that is.” I turned away from Max failing to hide the smirk that stretched over my lips.


Max’s weakness was that he was far too confident in his ability to manipulate me. He saw himself as the white knight with the power to rescue the princess from her fate. He believed in happily ever afters where the prince and princess would be happy and stay together forever. He was willing to bet everything he had staked thus far on this belief. I was willing to bet my life he wouldn’t succeed.


“I agree. However… I have one other condition.” Furrowing my eyebrows I turned towards him, trying to guard my emotions against his penetrative gaze.


“What is it?” I said, trying to keep the annoyance from my voice. We both knew I had no choice in this matter. Whatever he decided he wanted, he would have. The threat he posed to my citizens was just too high to decide otherwise.


“That your people understand that we are courting.” Max shrugged.


I tilted my head to one side, trying to determine why he would ask such a thing. If he thought that the public eye being on us would stop me from murdering him in his sleep he was very, very wrong. There must be some other reason for this request.  


“Let’s just say I don’t want any competition.” Max winked. I could hardly suppress the shiver that forced its way up my spine.


“Very well,” I replied stoically, turning on my heels I almost ran up the stairs towards my throne where I knew Alexander crouched, listening to the conversation.


“Advisor. Please inform the public of official courtship of myself and Prince Maximus of the Southern Kingdom. To be made official in two days time” I stated, barely looking in the old fool’s direction.


He stayed for a moment debating the order, before finally strolling off in the direction of his stateroom. I followed the movement with my eyes, my anger boiling beneath the surface threatening to lash out. I counted my breaths, slowing my heart. I knew that if the anger took hold it was Alexander who would win. I had to control myself.


“That man irritates you, Mia,” Max said from behind me. His voice was the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard in my mind, serving only to further my hatred.


“Yes.” I responded, closing my eyes. The memory would not cause me pain here. I could not afford a moment of weakness in front of him.


“Tell me why.” Max raised his voice in a condescending tone. I flinched. I had always hated it when people yelled; the fear of being struck was ingrained into my personality.


“It’s none of your business,” I spat.


Before Max had a chance to respond I slipped off my shoes, grabbed my dress and ran towards the secret compartment on the left wall. It would lead me anywhere in the castle I chose. Max started heading towards me, I could see the intention in his eyes. He wanted to squeeze out any information he could. The secret door swung open. As soon as I stepped through it I slammed it shut. I hoped that Max was on the other side, staring at the door in disdain.


I kept running for longer than I thought was healthy. I finally came to a stop, resting my back against the cold concrete wall, heaving as though I was going to puke. After a minute the spasms stopped and I sunk down to the dirty floor. I knew what my father would say if he could see me like this, dirtying such an expensive dress, having an emotional breakdown, touching a commoner’s child, and worst of all not using my powers. The list of things I had done wrong today seemed to grow longer and longer the more time I spent thinking of them.


How many times would you hit me for today father? I asked myself, counting the mistakes in my mind. When I got to five I had to stop, remembering that when I had gone over that number the punishment had changed. Instead of hitting me my father would lay me over his knees, grab his hunting knife and carve into my back with short sharp strokes designed to scar.  


Over the course of my life the King had been able to design a dragon over my back. The head started on my left shoulder, and the tail ended on my right hip. Every aspect of the dragon was imbedded into my skin, every scale and claw a part of the punishment. Sometimes he would continue the design even when I had done nothing wrong; “Because even when we do everything we can, bad things still happen” - that was what he told me.


A sob escaped my lips and I hated myself for it. I hated being weak and unable to conquer this fear. I hated knowing that I was the reason for my father’s death. Just a weak little girl with the power to control thoughts and actions - I could barely control my powers under normal circumstances, let alone under such violence. My power had exploded, stopping my father’s heart dead at the last stroke of the dragon's tail. My mother was also affected by my power’s outburst forcing her into a coma from which she would never awaken.


Once the tears finally ceased I was able to stand upon shaky legs. With my hand on the wall guiding me, I let my feet take me in the direction of my room, knowing there was no rush. I had no appointments scheduled for the rest of the day, for I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle them. That and the fact that my back was starting to ache from the memory of my father.


My room was my solace. My escape from the world. Ever since I was born, I had used the same room. The murals on the wall that had yet to be painted over depicted every princess story I had ever been told, but now the paint was peeling, revealing the ugly truth underneath. The princess was really a monster, the King a horrible man, the Queen was long dead, and the villain? Well, he always ended up winning.


Over the years my bed had been upgraded to that of a queen. I had installed a vanity mirror as well as a bookshelf spanning half the wall. It was my goal to one day read everything in the room, and then everything in the library.


Sitting in my wicker chair in my reading corner, Max lifted his eyes from the leather bound book as I entered the room. For a moment we stared shocked at one another; me with my tear stained face and dirt smearing the bottom of my dress. Him with his jacket off, the sleeves of his shirt rolled up, and thick framed glasses positioned on his nose.


“I wear these for reading.” Max supplied in a rush. Trying to fill the somewhat awkward silence.


Instead of responding I collapsed onto the bed throwing an arm over my face. I hoped that if I just ignored him long enough the man in the chair would disappear. In the silence I could hear Max shifting, placing the book on the side table. I already knew what he had been reading; my diary. The man didn’t even understand the basic principles of privacy and he somehow expected me to grow to love him?


“I never knew that you thought of me that way.” Max sighed dramatically and I growled in response. If he wanted to live he would drop the subject. It wasn’t the time nor the place to discuss what might have been, or what was.


“Why didn’t you tell me?” Max finally asked after a moment.


“Get out!” I screamed, lunging from the bed and almost landing on top of him.


The look on his face revealed he finally understood the limit of my patience. He scrambled towards the door quickly, a frightened expression crossing his face when he couldn’t figure out how to open it. In his panicked state even a simple door was far too much hassle for him. I could feel the aura of my power swirl around me, pulsating and waiting to reach out to any who crossed my path.


I stepped in close to Max, knowing that the full force of my power was trying to squirm it’s way into his mind. I allowed it for a moment, knowing that this may be the only chance I had to try. But nothing changed, I couldn’t feel the presence of his mind. I opened the door, vaguely aware of his passing form as he fled. I raised my hand, clenching it into a tight fist before pounding it into the spot where Max had been standing just a moment ago. Closing the door quietly I let my hand linger for a moment, trying to reconcile the anger that had overcome me with the fear and other emotions from earlier in the day.


Heaving heavily I dropped my hand to my side. Hopefully Max had learnt his lesson. He would stay away.He would run to the other side of the castle, or even better he would rescind his offer and leave for good. If only I could be that lucky.




The roar of a beast frightened me, causing me to turn my head back the way I had come. I had sunk back into this familiar nightmare, the fear though was still as fresh as the first time.


Fool. Look forward. Never behind.


I reminded myself harshly, slowly turning my head in the direction that I was running. It was too late. A large log loomed before me, causing my foot to slip and send me sprawling at an odd angle. Somehow I managed to flip myself over midair, scraping along the ground on my back.


Quickly I stood, trying my hardest to ignore the pain in my back.  A large crash behind me warned me that the beast was beginning to gain on me. It wasn’t surprising considering one of its steps was a dozen or so of mine. I could only see the beast’s shadow. It was enough to have me running for dear life. From what I could tell the beast was more than triple my size, with quick agile movements. It must of had a weak sense of smell and hearing since it was barely able to keep track of me.


It was at that moment I ran into a wall. Always, always there was a wall. It caused me to turn and confront the beast. The dragon’s mouth moved into what I assumed was its version of a smile. Its teeth gleaming in the dull light as it sought me out. I reached deep inside myself, pulling every spare fragment of my power to the surface. If I could just control the beast I would surely be allowed to live. Pressing my hands together I imagined gathering my power into a tight ball, compressing my will into a physical manifestation which was only possible in dreams.


After a moment a ball of light appeared in my hands. The light swirled, shadows dancing within. I knew the light was the basis of my powers; the shadows were the constraints I had put on it. I purified the power, letting my head relax backwards, I closed my eyes releasING all of the rules and procedures my life had placed on my power.


In the seconds before I was going to release the ball of light a hand clamped down on my arm, the power disappearing. I could no longer feel the energy of my power, I could no longer access the well in which it lived. My eyes snapped open, falling upon the man standing next to me.


“Max,” I said slowly, as the dream started to change.


The dragon disappeared first, bit by bit, until all that was left was the memory of its glowing yellow eyes. A subtle darkness ensued in the dream; I had no idea if it came from him or from my own mind. After a moment the darkness disappeared, replaced by a small flickering light in the centre of a vast room.


“Are you alright, Mia?” He asked. His eyebrows furrowed a look of worry plastered on his face.


“I’m fine.” I tried to reassure him, but my voice shook in fright.


Max observed me for a moment before shrugging. I tried to understand his game; how had he known I was having a nightmare? How was he able to access my mind and shut down my power? Was he aware of the true extent of which I could use it?


“What is that?” Max asked, a strange tone to his voice.


I turned to look at him, before realising the back of my dress had torn during my fall earlier. Gently I pressed a hand against my back. It came away sticky and wet with blood. I fumbled around in my mind for an excuse to explain away the scars until I realised that I did not need to offer this man any explanation.


“You know as well as I.” I replied.


I had always believed that Max had understood what my father used to do to me. I had always assumed he had known, but I could never be sure. I was never really given the chance to ask him. By the time the dragon was complete, my father was dead. Max left soon thereafter to take over the lands in the south.


“Do I? Max questioned, a smirk playing at his lips.


Despite his words Max stepped closer, a hand raised placatingly, as though he was approaching a wounded animal he was sure would run. I stayed still; in that moment I didn’t think it was possible for me to run even if I desperately wanted to. I felt the heat emanating from his hand. It should have burnt me; of that I was sure. Most healing magic did burn somewhat. But there was no change. The dragon on my back could not be healed by magic or by any doctor, it was something I could never get rid of.


“What is it?’ Max asked breathlessly, dropping his hand.


I wondered vaguely how much power he had put into trying to heal the scars. It must have been an awful lot to leave him exhausted. Max had always been a talented young man, and my father had often compared me to him. I had only one power - magnificent though it was, it was limited by the rules and morality of human life. Max had many abilities; they were not overly significant he was able to execute them without much thought.


“It is a law.” I supplied simply, as though the words themselves would be explanatory enough.


“Law...” Max repeated as though he was my echo.


The cogs in his mind turned, trying to determine how my father had carved a law into my back. My father was both a skilled ruler and magician. Every word he wrote, every flick of his pen became a law none were able to break.That is why during his reign the crime rate had dropped to practically zero, and had steadily begun climbing again.


When my father had started carving the dragon into my back, he spoke the same words with every stroke of his knife. Through the pain I couldn’t remember the words specifically. All I could remember was that it was a binding spell, made specifically to contain the true extent of my power.


Too bad it wasn’t enough to save my father’s life.


“Please, tell me?” Max asked, reminding me that he was still present in my mind.


I wanted to gather my power and push it against him. Hoping the push would be enough to force him out of my mind. But I still could not reach my power. Not even a fragment of it remained. Was he somehow blocking it?


“What have you done?” I asked totally ignoring his question. My anxiety started to rise as I panicked.


My power had always been by my side, easily accessible to the point that I could use it without thought. But here in this dream I could not access it. I could not force Max out. It frightened me terribly - if I had no power I could not protect myself. Or the people around me. They would die. It would be all my fault.


I clutched my head, the shadows in my mind doubling and tripling until the light in the room was extinguished. The shadows were all around us, mocking us, turning every dark thought into a reality. The demons swirled around us, compressing us and sucking all the air out of the room. Dropping to my knees I heaved, unable to breathe as the thoughts continued to flow in my mind.


Max came to stand above me. I realised I was in the perfect position for him to kill me. All he would have to do was take out the hunting knife hanging by his side and finish the job my father had started. The pain would be quick -  over before I had much of a chance to recognize it. I would die here in my dreams, slipping into a coma in the real world. None the wiser that it was the man I was meant to be in love with who did the deed.

He dropped to the ground beside me. The demons caged us in, threatening to overwhelm us at any moment. A sob escaped my throat because I knew the darkness was of my mind. They were just a figment of my dreams, something I should easily be able to slay. But I was sitting here unable to move or save myself from the onslaught. Without so much as a comment Max scooted closer, his arms coming to wrap around my shoulders pressing me closer to him. A light emanated from the space between us, illuminating the shadows and disintegrating them in front of our eyes.

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