by Valley Fey/Pinprick
originally published at 03:18AM on Saturday, May 24, 2008

The queen held Alfred back as the alphyn roared. His eyes glazed over as visions of royalty, jewels and gowns and valiant deeds, rushed over him. Sioni fell backwards into the rosebush, pricking her hands and arms, and cried out.

Helen laughed as Eva pulled her daughter from the thorns. “My, my, you’re not a very clever bunch, are you?” She murmured, but her eyes betrayed her harsh tone, and she couldn’t look at the prince. She stepped forward, toward Sioni, and the girl put up her bleeding hands.

“Please, no more! Don’t hurt me again!” The girl cried, closing her eyes tight. Helen placed her hands against Sioni’s palms, and twined their fingers together.

“Please, remain calm Sioni, I’m not going to hurt you.” She whispered, her voice breaking. Her eyes drifted from one face to the next, the hatred in Eva’s eyes mirrored in the queen’s… but she couldn’t bear to look at the prince. She’d blinded him, it was true, to save Arden- to complete her revenge.

She concentrated on healing Sioni.