“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?


7. Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven


As though by mutual agreement both Max and I went our separate ways after the announcement. My head was spinning, the moments leading up to the kiss replaying in my head. My lips were still tingling from the brush of a kiss. It made me giddy a stupid smile spreading on my face. I had to resist the urge to break into laughter.


It was ridiculous. A man like him should not have an effect on me. I forced the sensation down, smuggling it into the recesses of my mind, knowing it would haunt me deep into my dreams. My heart rate finally slowed to its usual levels, and my breath came much easier. Now that I was away from him the influence seemed less concentrated.     


Placing my head in my hands I forced myself to breath. Somehow I found my way towards my bedroom, though by the time I got there the sun was starting to fall. The sight terrified me: darkness meant sleeping. Darkness meant dreams that became nightmares. Usually they only happened once a week, but I was certain they would come again. How was I meant to stand against them with no power?


I could barely feel my powers sitting deep in the bottom of the well. I had by no means the full extent of it. With what I had now I would barely be able to extinguish a single shadow, let alone the hordes that overtook my mind. Already my heart was racing even thinking about the darkness and all that came with it . The sun was starting to fall quicker, bringing sleep ever closer.


Trying to take my mind off of the night to come I slipped into my bathroom, turning on the hot water until it was positively boiling. Stripping down I stepped under the water. It’s scalding temperature burned for the briefest moment before my body started to get used to it. I just stood there for a while, washing myself of the fear that seemed to be crawling over me until I felt clean.


I twisted my hair into a towel and dressed in my usual nightgown. I felt normal, for the first time in what felt like forever. I felt like my world had returned to its previous pace. Sighing I finally exited the bathroom, lighting one of a dozen candles figuring I would try to have a relaxing night before I gave in to sleep. I grabbed my diary from its hiding place under the mattress before retiring to my reading chair.


Opening my diary to the bookmarked page I quickly scanned the page, furrowing my eyebrows as I realised it was from a month or so back. It wasn’t anything remarkable; just my thoughts on a council meeting that had occurred earlier in the day. I whined about how the ministers would ignore everything I said - how some of their thoughts plagued me.


“Just a girl.” They would think when I opened my mouth.


Just a pretty girl in a pretty dress without a husband or fiance. However, that fact had just changed. I was now a pretty girl with a fiancee. Max’s proposal might just help me improve my country, though I would never let him know it.


A knock on my bedroom door interrupted my thoughts. I placed my diary on the table and slowly went to the door, peering through the peep hole to determine who was on the other side. Sighing I pulled open the door, I was sure the look on my face said a million things, though by the look on Max’s face he didn’t exactly care.


“Max?” I questioned, rubbing my eyes, trying to determine if he was an apparition.


Max smiled, and without invitation tiptoed his way into my room, taking off his shoes by the door before moving to sit on the side of my bed. I stared at the door for a moment, my brain too tired and sluggish to move that fast. Closing the door I turned to Max, regarding him slowly. What kind of game were we playing now? Who was the hunter and who was the prey?


“Why are you here?” I asked, wrapping my arms around myself self consciously.


“I have come to battle your nightmares of course Princess.” Max bowed gallantly and I snorted for effect.  


Max furrowed his eyebrows in response to the noise. I stood there awkwardly, expecting this joke to be over quickly. The punchline had been delivered - now it was time for him to leave and allow me to sleep. After a minute Max relaxed down onto the mattress. I was starting to realise he was deadly serious.


“You’re serious?” I asked in complete disbelief. Max opened his eyes to meet mine, nodding slowly, placing his arms on his chest.


I fidgeted nervously before stepping to my side of the bed. Gently I slid under the blankets. It was more awkward than I considered possible. Max shifted and I held my breath, uncomfortable with the thought that he might try to cuddle. Max sighed deeply and I squeezed my eyes shut.


“Just go to sleep your Majesty, I will guard your dreams.“ Max stated sincerely, a slightly irritated tone infiltrated his voice..


For the first little while it was weird. How was I meant to fall asleep with another person laying beside me? What if I turned over during the night and hit him, or worse, what if I snored? Max’s hand intertwined with mine, causing my heart to race. But all my doubts disappeared, as did any fear of having nightmares.  


In fact, when the morning light snuck through the gap in my curtains, I couldn’t remember dreaming at all. I felt more refreshed than I had in years - no dreams, no nightmares, no darkness. The shadows that had once converged in my skull seemed to have vacated.


I stretched out, my hands almost hitting Max in the face. Luckily he was awake enough to dodge the blow. Without a comment I rose from the bed, rolling my shoulders. My power had fully returned to me from the day before, I could feel the depths of it in my stomach, churning and ready to obey my will once again.


“Have you considered talking to someone?” Max asked rather suddenly, and I considered the question.


Assuming that he was talking about the recurring nightmare or the inherent darkness that proceeded from it, then of course I had once talked to a professional about it. But considering all the secrets I had to keep, the truth ended up bent and close to broken. The councillor just ended up more confused. No-one understood why I had nightmares, why my powers disappeared afterwards, or why I had the same nightmare since my father died.


In my spare time I had been researching, reading every text book on dream analysis, every book on mind manipulation, trying to find clues about the source of my power, or if there had been anyone before me with a similar power. In the past few months I had stopped trying - if in the last few years I hadn’t found anything then why would that change now?

“We have a council meeting today.” I said, ignoring Max’s question.


I saw him raise an eyebrow behind me in the mirror of the vanity. I had to smile to myself - he was always expecting me to be reluctant to take him places. But having him in the room with me during the council meeting was bound to work in my favour. Showing the members that I had the support of such a man would only further my reputation. They would have to listen to me now, and if they chose not to then I was willing to use my powers to convince them to. I had never been willing to do that kind of manipulation before, though I knew it was possible.


In my youth my father had strengthened my power until I was able to control the minds of a few dozen men at any given time. He had me practice every day until I was perfect. Now I could command a whole room if necessary, though I had been out of practice for a while. My nightmare-free dreams had given me the strength of mind and body to believe I could do it.


“Why am I coming along?” Max asked, watching as I rifled through my wardrobe. I shrugged in response, knowing I had a smile plastered on my features.


“What have you planned Your Majesty?” Max asked, using my formal title. I motioned zipping my lips and throwing away the key, a small laugh escaping when I saw the look on his face.


I started humming, which I think freaked him out even more, but after a minute Max smiled, shaking his head. Once I popped back into the room Max stood, gathering his shoes and making his way to the door. It was almost sad to see him go, but there was still so much I had to prepare before the meeting.


‘I’ll see you in an hour” Max said.


“An hour” I reaffirmed, the smile still yet to leave my lips.


Max bowed, I shook my head ushering him out the door before closing it behind him. Automatically my smile dropped. My mind clouded, my power restless. It coiled inside me like a venomous snake, waiting for the chance to strike. I breathed through my nose,  forcing my body to calm down.  


I pinched myself, the pain distracting me. A small movement in the corner of my room caused my head to turn. Screaming, my heart leapt into my chest as I was confronted with what looked like a giant spider hanging from the roof. I closed my eyes, backing away. I had hated spiders for as long as I could remember - they had far too many legs in my opinion. One of my maids came through the door, my eyes snapped open landing squarely on the place where the spider had been. The maid looked at me expectantly, her eyes drifting towards the empty corner and back to me, as though she were unsure of what she was meant to be seeing.


“Is all well your Majesty?” The maid inquired. I nodded without notice.


Perhaps I was hallucinating. It would not be unusual, except I had never done it before. Even during times of great stress, my greatest asset was the security of my own mind. The thought of losing that now was terrifying.


Slowly, the maid backed out of the room. I should’ve messed with her thoughts, changed them in some way. While I wasn’t as good as it as Alexander, I was still somewhat adequate. But at the moment my mind was elsewhere, my eyes kept wandering over to the corner, expecting the spider to appear from whatever corner it was hiding in.


I shook myself sternly. I shouldn’t let this bother me. Every other week I had been tired and without my power, still fearing the nightmare even though days had passed. It was the first time that I had complete control of my power during a council meeting, and I was intending to use it to my full extent.

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