High Prince James Viante Montaine Del Timeria De’Arc is exactly what he seems. The spoiled, unprincipled son of the most powerful man in the known world, his whole life is presented to him on a golden platter, his every wish carefully tended to, his every command fulfilled. Conversely, Dante is a Taboo child, his very existence a sin, his life a crime punishable only by death. But Dante has one thing James wants more than anything - an adventure like those in the old stories, a time without the ever-present boredom that threatens to strangle James. And for this gift, the wealthy boy is willing to pay any price, break any oath, destroy anyone and everyone in his way.


2. I.

 She isn’t coming.
 She isn’t coming.
 She isn’t coming.

 It’s been so long, and she still hasn’t come for me. Never before has she stayed away this long, has she allowed the hunger to grow this intense. It is fading now, to be sure, as my body grows used to the emptiness within, the gnawing pain in my core that threatens to leave me motionless, curled in pain on the floor.
 She isn’t coming.
 She hadn’t come, not even to punish me when I’d called for her, the sound harsh and shrill and foreign in a throat that hadn’t uttered a word in what I knew must have been years. She always came for that, bringing with her the stench of sweat and blood, metal and death. When first she’d locked me down here, she’d come to me often. I think it might have been every day, but my memory is fading now and I haven’t had a means of telling time anyhow. Without a sun, without anything but the cracked stone walls and packed dirt floor, the pile of broken furniture and unwanted trinkets, time has no meaning.
 But back then, I hadn’t been hungry. Instead I’d been lonely whenever she was gone, and had run to her whenever her steps sounded outside the door. Back then I’d still cared, even if she hadn’t.
 Both of us changed, eventually.
 I’ve gown smarter, grown wise to this world of darkness and stone. I realized finally the idiocy of running to her, of welcoming her into my world. But still I’d gone, crouching at the edge of the shadows, because the hunger drove me to it. The hunger made the other pain worthwhile, if only because afterwards she let me eat.
 She’d grown distant, coming less and less often, allowing the hunger to build up more between visits. And she’d become colder, the pain she brought more intense, as she’d come to hate me.
 I deserve to be hated.
 She isn’t coming.
 She’d finally grown tired of me, her hatred outweighing any love she’d once borne.
 And so, now that she hasn’t come, hasn’t stopped the hunger, it rages inside me, devours me, torments me. And, I know, she will never come to me again, and I will die here, locked in this room.
 But I am not ready to die yet.
 Summoning my strength, I creep closer, mouth filling with the scent of the creature, with the warm-blood smell of a living thing. Of food.
 The thing waits, oblivious to its peril, its fur brushing the floor and its nose twitching ever so slightly, its ears pricking up and swiveling, its tail, bald and hairless, curling and uncurling nervously. So then, maybe not so oblivious after all.
 Still, it matters little. The thing tries to run at the last moment, but I catch it before it finds safety. It screams as my teeth sink into its hide, as the warm lifeblood rushed into my mouth, as the taste of meat hits my tongue and I tore into the creature. It is pitifully small, with barely mouthful of meat on it, not enough to sate the hunger, only enough to reawaken the pain once more to a burning inferno.
 Just as I lick the last traces of blood from my hands, body shaking with the pain of starvation, the sound comes. It is the sound she made when she approached my door from whatever world waited outside: the heavy thumping of feet coming slowly, steadily, inexorably closer.
 But it isn’t her. This sound is harder. Louder. More.
 It’s as if there are many of her, like she is carrying something that weighs her down, so that the steps are not as breath-quiet as usual.
 My ears lay back as I smell the strange, familiar foulness, and I carefully pad to my hiding place, a pile of broken furniture near the door. Taking each step carefully so that I make no sound, so that no piece of wood or metal falls to the ground below, I climb to the top and crouch there, tail curled around my feet, waiting for the door to open.

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