Four banished angels. A world created by the hands of God. A kingdom on its knees - and only one mortal to save them.
Growing up in the mortal world, Sarajane is shocked when she gets kidnapped and finds out that she is a princess in Saskia, a parallel universe she had no idea existed.
It's there that she discovers her abilities, but as her magic keeps growing, so does the threat towards her and her loved ones.
Following her destiny, she takes on the fight against a fallen angel and the task of saving Saskia and Earth before Lucian can destroy it.
Will Sarajane live up to the expectations or is it too late for her to save her new world?
Queen Bellona -Saskia-
I look upon the paintings that hang in the library of all the people that went before us. Their stories never interested me, not even as a child. My father spent my childhood drilling stories of the past into my head. My hate for him pushed me to pray to God and ask him to take my father, but he never did. His fist was his way to discipline me.
My mother would clean my wounds after my father’s rages. I could still hear her voice. “Oh why, Bellona, do you upset your father and force his hand upon you?” She would look at me with no remorse, only disappointment.
I hated her, but as always, I bit my tongue. “Sorry, Mother.”
It was just a whisper, as it was too painful to speak with broken ribs. For weeks after beatings, I was left to recover in my sleeping chambers. There were no children my age so the servants became my toys.
Shaking my head, I come back to here and now. I run my fingers along the spines of the books until I come across the one I want, the one my father used a long time ago. A shiver of pleasure runs through my body as the memories pour in. Her face frozen in a mask of pain. Her pleas for life. I was so young, yet every moment was truly enjoyable, watching her very soul torn apart. A smile plays on my lips just thinking about using the book again. Only this time, I know exactly what to do. I am not a frightened little girl anymore. I am the queen of Saskia.
Holding the book firmly to my chest I leave the library. Taurus, my personal bodyguard, is waiting for me outside to escort me back to my chambers. A small, fresh cut is on his face, something I must inquire about later, but not right now. I have too much to do. We walk in silence. The castle is empty, as everyone is preparing for the festival.
Reaching my chambers, I turn to Taurus. “I do not want to be disturbed.”
He inclines his head. “Most certainly, my lady.”
I close the door and cross the floor to my bookshelves that are mounted against the stone wall. Sliding the bible out causes a draft as the hidden door opens. I nearly laugh at the irony that my father used a bible as the passageway to enter such a dark place. I light the torch just inside the door and carry it down a winding stone staircase. I remember the day I discovered the secret passageway. My father was raging, full of wine, turning over tables in the library. I had never seen him so angry. He tore the books from their shelves; pages fluttered around me. I was truly terrified. I knew what these books meant to my father. He crossed over to the mortal world, taking all kinds of books. He was obsessed with their world.
He looked at me; the look of madness in his eyes terrified me. Racing towards me, he picked me up and threw me on the white marble floor, breaking my arm. A scream rose in my throat. “Get up. You disgust me,” he said while moving towards me again. He tripped over an overturned table and fell. I got up and ran to my mother’s chambers. Tears poured down my face as I cradled my arm. When I entered, my mother was lounging on her four-poster bed. She took one look at me and asked, “What have you done now?” At that very moment the realisation hit me. If he came after me, he would finish what he started, and my mother would not stop him this time. I ran and locked my mother’s door. She got up off her bed. “Bellona, what do you think you are doing? Unlock that door at once.” Placing the key in my dress pocket, I glared at her. “You won’t hurt me anymore.” I could hear the venom in my own voice.
Her face turned red with anger. “You spoilt little…” She never got to finish her sentence. Anything I put my hand on I flung at her. She screamed, startled. After emptying her dressing table, I moved around the room and started throwing books at her.
“Stop this at once—” She was cut off midsentence by a book I aimed at her head, but I missed. I reached to get another book and that’s when the bookshelf opened. “Close it, and close it now, Bellona.” Her eyes darted to the door. “Your father will kill you if you go down there.” She actually looked frightened. She darted across the room, but before she could reach me, I opened the door and closed it behind me. She was still screaming her protests from her chambers. I raced blindly down the stone steps until I ended up in a large, circular room.
The room I stand in now. My father never knew I found his secret room and my mother never told him. I place the book on the stone stand that is in the centre of the room. Opening the cover causes a breeze to flutter around the room, stirring the candle flames, making them dance wildly. I close my eyes and breathe in the musty smell of the book. A low sob pulls me back. Bethany, the servant girl, is curled up sobbing in her cage. I move towards her, making her move back into the cage. Her ratty, dirty hair covers her face.
“Oh, Bethany. Shhh! It will be all over soon.” She looks at me and starts sobbing again. She has a poor existence. I am doing her a favour.
I prepare the altar by lighting candles and purifying the area for my sacrifice. Just below the altar, I place a large piece of black cloth for Bethany to lie on. Once Bethany is removed from the cage, I wash her down and remove her soiled clothes. She stands still, staring at the ground. The smell is becoming less intense the more she is washed. I hum a tune my mother used to sing to me at night time. It was one of her rare moments of kindness towards me.
“Lorem, my lady.”
I hit Bethany across the face. “It is forbidden to use Latin. You know this.”
I inhale a deep breath to calm myself. Latin stirs too many awful memories. It was the tongue of my parents. When I came into power, I banished the language and enforced English.
Bethany holds her face. “Sorry, my lady.”
I wrap her in a white silk robe and brush her wet hair from her face. Taking her bony hand, I place her on the ground in front of the altar. She keeps her eyes closed, but her body shakes with silent sobs. Taking my pendant off the altar, I place it around my neck. The purple stone starts to swirl.
Holding the black knife above Bethany, I start my incantation. Almost instantly, the energy in the room starts to rise, causing my hair to snap with electricity. I continue the incantation, saying it louder and faster, until I can’t hear myself over the roars of the demons in the room. The demons circle Bethany and me in a large black fog. They move so fast a wind races through the room. The only thing you can see through the black fog is their red, greedy eyes. I thrash the knife into Bethany’s heart.
Lightning strikes the floor beside the altar, opening up a hole in the stone. This has never happened before, but I ignore it and continue. Bethany’s eyes shoot open and the roar that leaves her mouth is so filled with pain and horror it sets the demons off. Their dark forms cover Bethany. They slash at her flesh while sucking all the blood from her body. I place my pendant above her heart and the demons tear at her soul. Bethany’s face is white and drawn, but she is still alive, still screaming. The colour of her eyes starts to drain. She looks at me, horrified, trying to claw at her face, but the demons push her soul into my pendant. Bethany’s eyes are completely white, her face frozen in a mask of anguish. The next part still shocks me.
I can hear her bones crumbling. Her head twitches until all that remains is ash and hair. I close the ritual by thanking the demons, but they are already paid in blood and pain.
The demons still linger in a circle around me. They normally leave after the sacrifice. Their unusual actions make me feel tense. The ground beside the altar starts to tremble. I get up off my knees. The hole that the lightning created is oozing with black liquid. The demons never move, but they all keep their eyes closed. I watch as a hand reaches out and grabs the side of the hole. Then a man climbs out with such ease and grace.
When he stands, I can feel the power radiate off him. His gaze falls upon me. I inhale a sharp breath at the sight of his eyes.
His lip curls into a smile. “I seem to have that reaction from most people. Is it my eyes?” He laughs at his own joke. I have never seen anyone with red eyes besides the demons, but he is a man.
“Who are you?” I ask in a commanding voice. He repeats my question back to me with a few of his own.
“Who am I? Where did I come from? And what do I want? They are the answers you really want to know.” He raises an eyebrow. “Am I not correct, Bellona?”
My patience is running out. I turn to leave, but the man is right in front of me. “That’s no way to treat a guest. Usually they would be offered a drink, maybe a seat.” I am beginning to feel very unsettled with this man.
“You may sit, but I have nothing to offer you to drink.”
He smiles. His teeth have reshaped from straight to long, black, pointed ones. “Oh, but you do.” He springs and grabs my head, pulling it back as he sinks his teeth into my cheek. Pain shoots through my body, but I am unable to scream or move, which makes it more terrifying. Images start to play out before my eyes, a land on fire, and the heat is at boiling point. I can taste the hot air in my mouth, making it hard to breathe. People with hollow eyes and burnt skin, their bodies tied in chains while carrying large rocks in their hands. The weight of the rocks causes their backs to hunch over. It is an image of torment and pure horror.
The man pulls his teeth from my face. I fall to the ground. Blood still runs from my puncture wounds. I look up at him in shock. He licks his lips and kneels down beside me.
“I am Lucian, king of the underworld. This is the first time in twenty centuries I have stood on solid ground.”
He moves around the room, but it looks like there is an invisible barrier that only allows him to go so far. He doesn’t look surprised by this at all; it is as if he was expecting it. I am unable to speak. The need to sleep makes my eyelids heavy.
“Oh well, this will have to do for now. The day will come when I shall call upon you for one request that you must fulfil.” He grabs my chin. “I want your oath, Bellona.”
I try to speak, but can’t. Lucian clicks his fingers and my mouth starts moving, my voice leaving, but it isn’t me. I grab my throat to try and stop the words, but they just pour out. “I, Queen Bellona, give you, Lucian, my word that I will grant you one favour whenever you need it.”
He smiles and lets my face go. It rests on my chest. I don’t have the strength to raise it. All I can see now is Lucian’s legs as he walks away from me and returns to the hole beside the altar.
“We will meet again.” And at that, he leaves and the demons follow him. When the last one goes through, the hole in the ground closes up. My eyelids flutter and I collapse.
When I awake, the room is in darkness. My body feels stiff and sore. Grabbing the altar helps me steady myself and stops the room spinning. I stumble up the stairs, inspecting my face with a shaky hand. It is crusted in dry blood. I hold on to the wall as I make my way back to my chambers. I stagger to my bed and collapse on it, falling into a nightmare of the underworld. When I wake, I feel disorientated. I am lying on my bed in my gown. Raising my shaky hand to my chest, my fingers rest on my pendant. I let out a sigh of relief at feeling it under my fingertips. Moving my hand to my cheek, the skin feels rough. I rise on shaky legs and examine my face in the mirror. The left side from my cheek down to my neck is still crusted in dry blood, but the puncture wounds have healed.
I have never encountered anyone like him. Taurus is stationed outside my chamber doors. When I open them, he takes in my appearance. I can see he is straining to keep his face composed.
“Taurus, get Corrona to fill a bath for me and prepare my supper.”
“Yes, my lady.”
Taurus leaves. I sit down on one of my armchairs beside the unlit fire. I have seen a lot in my hundred and fifty years, but never anything like Lucian. And to discover that another world exists… not a world I would ever want to rule. Corrona enters my chambers and her gaze falls on my cheek. She looks away quickly when she catches my eye and starts filling my bath.
About the Author
USA today Bestselling author Aoife Marie Sheridan lives in Ireland, has two leprechauns and a hawthorn tree in her back garden, that she guards day and night against the mischief fairy folk.
When she's off duty she loves to write, read and drink tons of coffee. Oh and she eat's lots of chocolate, LOTS!