The terrible fear and bleakness in her eyes unnerved him. Her blank, penetrating stare seemed to go straight through to his soul. There was nothing he could do. Too cowardly to break the gaze, too determined to take back the promise, he stood before her.

Ravene swallowed, hard. Her unblinking eyes stared into him. She nervously licked her lips. "I- I- Prince- I- I don't think that I can do that," she stammered, still staring into his eyes.

Jayme lowered his head, breaking her unnerving stare. Damn, he thought, I was so close. "Very well Lady. I will respect your decision and I-"

"Wait." Ravene spoke in a soft, unsteady voice. "I..." she trailed off. Slowly, she took a deep breath, then another. "Is there any other way?"

"I don't believe so," Jayme replied quietly.

Ravene slowly sank back down onto the bed. Too much. He wanted too much. But then, a small voice whispered in the back of her head, you do want to escape from here. You were willing to do anything. He can get you out. Just help him.

She stared numbly at the tall Warlord Prince who requested her absolute surrender. She would be free. But she would be insane, lost to the rest of the world. There would be no way to escape, no way back, once she crossed that line and stepped into the Twisted Kingdom.

"May I have some time to think about this request?" Ravene said at last, her voice weak and shaking.

Jayme nodded. "Of course. I will return later." He slowly got up and strode to the door. Then he was gone.

How could she do it? Sweet Darkness, she wanted to get out of this horrible, foreign place, but to surrender her sanity? It was the only thing she had left; a reminder of who she is. Who she was. At least, until they stripped her of her power and left her forever mourning the loss.

But that Warlord Prince- Jayme. Something wasn't right about him. He acted like a man at least twenty years older than her and treated her like a young girl. Yet, there was a youthfulness about him. Observing him, she realized that he must be closer to her own age than he first appeared. Not to mention that there were subtle differences between Jayme and other Hayllians. His skin tone wasn't quite right. Now that she thought about it, his eyes weren't as sharp of a gold as the other Hayllian males she had observed in her court. They seemed a softer, more pale colour than the hard yellow. There were too many differences to be a pure-blooded Hayllian. He was probably a half-breed.

But what was a young, half-breed Hayllian doing in a court like this? There was something not quite right about this court. About this Queen for that matter. Something was wrong and she was in no condition to find out. There was no way that she could just walk out the door and wander around the property asking about the so-called "Queen" of this court.

Ravene sat in silence, her thoughts moving around in her head, slamming into each other as they jostled in her already overloaded brain. Sweet Darkness, why did she have to end up here? There were so many other things she would rather be doing. Preparing for when she would rule the Dea al Mon. Readying herself for the Offering. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of her homeland. Her family would probably never see her again, and if they did, it wouldn't be the same Ravene they remembered. She would be a mere shadow of what she once was, if that much was left of her.

She sighed softly. What was she going to do? She didn't have enough physical strength to break out, and her Craft was gone. She was trapped. There was nothing she could do, except sit there in a mouldy hut and wallow in self-pity. No! All her life, Ravene had never been the kind of person to sit and mope around in self-pity. She was stronger than that. That's what the young children in her home had done. She was not comparable to them, and would never be. She would have to be stronger. There was a way out. A way she feared and didn't want to face, but self-sacrifice was the cause for greater rewards. She closed her eyes and drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Ravene sat bolt upright. A furious banging on the doors shook her into alertness. What was going on? The door burst open as a bolt of Yellow power smashed into it. A group of males rushed in. One slammed the door shut and bolted it. The others grabbed her, and began running their hands all over her helpless body. Ravene opened her mouth to scream, but was cut off as one of the men crushed his mouth over hers. She bit his lip. He recoiled in pain as she let out a blood-curling scream. "Somebody help me!!" she yelled in desperation. Somehow, she knew that no help was coming. In a foreign court, in a foreign land ruled by a Queen that wanted her eliminated, she knew that she wasn't going to receive any salvation.

"Help me!" she screamed again, as the men began to press her down. "Get away from me!" she screamed at one of them and spat at him. A fist exploded against the side of her face as the world went dark.

He was walking along the grounds, enjoying his short time-off. That stupid bitch-Queen. She obviously didn't understand what she was dealing with. There was no way that her simple little mind could comprehend the danger she was putting the Realm in. But then again, she wasn't the brightest thing in the world.

He shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked along the beautiful inner courtyard. Although he hated the whole palace and everything that reminded him of it, there was one statue that always caught his eye. The one of the ferocious beast overlooking a sleeping woman. There was something about that one that caught his attention. Ever since the day he first saw it.

He paused at the fountain, running his hands through the crystal clear water that flowed from it. Mother Night, how he wanted to be free of this place and the taint that resided in it. Soon, he would be. Oh, there would be a price, but he was willing to pay for his freedom, regardless of the price. He hated what she had done to him. What she had done to his sister, to his family. She would pay. There was only one thing to do. Make sure that the Queen in the prison hut got out safely. He would trade his life, just to see her free. With Queens like that ruling the world, Kaelynn had plenty to fear. Especially if that particular one told her family, which she would undoubtedly do. Then, perhaps, there was a shred of hope left in the world.

A sudden scream came interrupted the still night. His head snapped up, green eyes blazing as he listened for the direction in which it came from. There! The prison hut. That meant..... No! That fat pig Oben probably got there first! He would completely destroy her! He had to get there fast. Shocks of alarm raced through his brain. He ran in the direction of the hut, praying he wasn't too late. Peace and serenity forgotten, he sprinted towards the sounds of pandemonium.

An elaborate window was placed on the highest tower of the whole palace. The Queen's Desire was the towers nickname, as it contained her personal quarters, including the bedroom. She stood at the window, her thick, long, golden hair flowing down to her waist. She had a trim, firm figure, tall with long legs. Clear, gold-blue eyes stared out the window at the beautiful courtyard below. The dark blue dress she wore accented her luxurious figure and features. Creamy skin completed her image. Her face was slightly pointed and seemed rather delicate, though there was a stubbornness lurking behind the delicate features. Perfectly arched eyebrows and golden lashes framed slightly tilted eyes, set over full lips. Her cold perfection seemed unreal. The only drawback to her cold, surreal beauty was the black wings that protruded from her back. They were of no real use. When she was born, they had been healthy, whole and strong. In her childhood, there had been an accident. All she could recall was great pain and darkness, which resulted in the loss of flight. She had been permanently maimed. But that was in the past.

Kaelynn Kareilee stood, framed in the elegant window overlooking the palace courtyard. Her gold-blue eyes stared mercilessly at the prison hut in which a gang of rowdy Warlords had been sent. The bitch in the prison hut stood no chance, if Morlad had done his job properly, which she had no doubt he had. He knew the price of failure and was all too willing to please her by doing as she asked. Now that he had finished his task, she had sent Oben and his gang to finish off the little whore. There was nothing the helpless bitch could do, but cry, scream and possibly black out. Her mind would hopefully be shattered, leaving the Dea al Mon to have no threat against her. It was perfect.

She turned from the window and crossed the room to her dressing table, it's gilded frame standing out in the room. She retrieved a brush and began to brush her long golden hair until it shone. Carefully drawing her hair over her useless wings, she stroked it with the brush. Then she flexed her wings.

Although the gift of flight had been robbed from her, she still had the constant reminder of the maimed wings. The best the healer could do was repair the damage, but her wings beyond full repair. They would be strictly ornamental. Oh, she could flex them and move them, but they wouldn't hold her weight in the air, not to mention the stress on them might cause some... unpleasant things to happen during flight.

It was her damn Eyrien mother's fault. It was her fault that she was a disgusting half-breed. It was her fault that her eyes were a horrible mixed colour. It was all her fault! Snarling, she hurled the brush into the wall and stood, enraged by the memories and effects that plagued her everyday. But that didn't matter. She would be known as the greatest Queen in all the Realms, as soon as she achieved control over them. Although Terreille had prospered mightily during the past few centuries, she wanted more. Hayll wasn't what it used to be. There was often talk of the Shadow Realm, Kaeleer. There was more to take in Kaeleer, more greatness destined to be hers. She would get it, one way or another. She would build up her court, build up the way to greatness. She would be the next Queen of the Darkness, and she would see to it that there was no one to stand in her way.

Light flooded her senses. A terrible pain in her head throbbed mercilessly. A man was forcing her legs open. "GET OFF ME!!" she screamed, before another punch sent her world spinning. Dizzy and nauseous, she struggled for breath, to no avail. She was going to die here. Not right away of course, but nevertheless, she would die. A broken witch alone in a room full of enemy males would not be able to walk out the door unscathed, if she was able to walk out the door alone. She was slowly suffocating under the blows that rained down on her. There was no hope....

Suddenly the door burst open. A blast of Red power exploded into the room, striking one of the males on top of her. He screamed and scrambled off her. "Get off her!" someone yelled. Another bolt of power exploded into the group of males holding her down. They screamed in terror as they rushed out of the hut, fighting to be the first out. Someone used Craft to force them out, then slammed the heavy door back into place, bolting it shut. Ravene trembled, helpless and on the bed. A voice suddenly let out a stream of curses. Ravene braced herself for another attack.

"Did they hurt you?" A figure loomed in her field of vision. She couldn't focus her eyes properly, the shock of what almost happened to her caused her stare blankly at the ceiling. As much as she wanted to thank her so-called "rescuer", she didn't know who he was or if he was truly helping her, not to mention that her physical strength had been almost depleted. She couldn't even blink.

"Shit!" the voice cursed again. She felt the familiar feeling of having Craft surround her, then she was floating. Muscular arms surrounded her and gently carried her out of the prison hut. Someone had picked her up and was walking with her, to whereabouts unknown. All she could do was close her eyes and pray to the Darkness that nothing worse could happen to her.

Jayme opened his eyes groggily. He had drifted off to sleep after a long day of ensuring Ravene's safety. After all, there was a chance that she would comply to the bargain. Maybe freedom meant that much to her. It was possible. She hadn't refused him yet, just said that she needed time to think, which was understandable. It was a lot to ask out of someone. It wasn't just a quick favour that could be repaid back over time. This was her entire life as a sacrifice. Possibly, she felt the same as him and would be willing. If not, then there were always ways to persuade people and sooner or later, she would come around.

A fierce pounding on his door brought him out of his thoughts. Battling grogginess, he decided that it wasn't important enough to bother with and closed his eyes again.

"Jayme! Jayme! JAYME!!" someone was screaming his name and the pounding increased in volume and ferocity.

Resentfully, he opened his eyes. Whoever it was would pay. They disturbed his sorely needed sleep. Fine. He would answer the door, then blow them to pieces if the reason wasn't good enough to satisfy his rising temper.

Snarling, he opened the door. The sight that greeted his eyes was something he was totally not prepared for.

Taric Raehart stood, sweat soaked and breathing hard. Hanging limply in his arms was the Dea al Mon Black Widow Queen, Ravene Blaidez. She looked as though she was struggling to breathe. Her pointed face was heavily bruised and blood dripped her face and arms. Her long, silver-blond hair was dark with blood. Her blood from the looks of it.

"Shit!" Jayme stood there, swearing and taking in the sight of her.

"Jayme! Please, help me!" Taric panted.

Stammering, he stumbled to the side as Taric swept into the room and gently set Ravene down on Jayme's bed. "I hope you don't mind if there's blood on your sheets," Taric said weakly, trying to lighten the mood.

Jayme shot a look at Taric that should have left him bleeding. It 's effect was lost on the almost hysterical Prince who tried to decide what to do with the barely conscious Ravene.

"Jayme! I don't know what to do!" Taric cried to his friend. Jayme's heart softened. Although Taric's face and soul had been hardened beyond his years, he was still a boy. He didn't have the experience to know what to do with an injured woman. He wondered if Taric had ever had any experience with a woman. He had grown up through suffering and the experiences he had survived would have killed a weaker man. It wasn't fair. Now, in the time of crisis, Taric's vulnerability and age showed through. He was only a boy, living in a man's world. He had been forced to adapt, and had done so by could not hide his true age though he tried so hard to make people forget just how old he really was. For that, Jayme's heart went out to him.

Jayme took crossed the room in three quick strides. He firmly gripped Taric's shoulders and shook him slightly; just enough to get his attention. "Taric. I need you to calm down!"

Taric looked pleadingly at Jayme, his green eyes blazing. "Okay. What do you want me to do?"

Jayme stood near the bed where the traumatized young woman lay. "Ravene," he said gently. He received no response.

"Ravene," a voice called softly. She was floating in the abyss, the dark sanctuary. The voice called her name again, from somewhere above her. Confused, she paused. Where am I? she thought as she floated in the strange darkness. She felt a beckoning from below her. Odd. How could she feel it from below? She had only worn the Red and not even that anymore. The voice called once again above. The surface felt so far away. The strange pull happened again. This time, it pulled harder, trying to lure her to the depths of the abyss. She paused for just a minute, then turned and silently followed the strange call into the deepening darkness.

Ravene's eyes glazed over. "Damn!" Jayme swore. "She's lost consciousness."

Taric's eyes blazed in a stark white face. "Do you want me to get somebody?"

Jayme paused over his examination of Ravene. "Go to Myranda. She'll know what to do. Don't tell anyone else."

Taric nodded. "Of course. You think I want the Queen to know her rival is lying unconscious in your room?" He ran his fingers through his bleached hair and strode out the door, composure regained. Jayme sat back to wait.

How was it that Taric happened to discover Ravene? Unlikely that he was just walking by and heard her scream, though he could be telling the truth. It was essential that they keep her alive and sane enough to weave the web crucial for escape.

Taric was a kind hearted man who could keep his head in any crisis. He had never seen him so out of character. Instead of his normal easygoing, everythings-gonna-be-okay attitude he normally took in chaotic situations, he was replaced by a white faced youth. There was something going on. No one knew exactly what Taric's job was in the court, only that he wasn't a pleasure slave or used in the bedrooms. For all Jayme knew, Taric was still a virgin.

But that still didn't explain why Taric was so worried. The prisoners, although he pitied them, he never made any physical contact with them. Why Ravene? Maybe it was because she reminded him of the horrible fate his own sister had suffered when they brought him to this twisted court, twelve years ago.

Taric was a man he had a lot of respect for. Although Jayme had lived longer than Taric- about 100 years longer- he wasn't that old. If Jayme was of the short-lived races with a short-lived life span, Jayme would only be about nineteen or twenty himself. Maybe that's why he was never really used as a pleasure slave. He was still too young, and only beginning his real training. Although, he supposed, it could be worse. Kaelynn could have started twisting him at a too young of an age, although 100 years didn't count for much. He had only been in this court for 27 years and already regretted it. He had to make that decision... and it had cost him dearly. But there was no fixing the past, only the future. Everything had a price, and he was willing to pay whatever it takes to get out of there.

Ravene. Now that was another story. He had been waiting for 27 years. For someone to free him from the twisted place in which he was forced to call home. To serve the tainted bitch in which who he had to call "Queen." To rot slowly in an area that has no meaning to him. This is what he had called living. And then she came.

She would be the one to get him out, to set him free. She could do what no male could; weave a tangled web. Once he could get her to weave that web, he could be free. He would be able to see his family again for the first time in 27 years. He would be able to live a normal life. But he needed to get her to weave that web first.

But it wasn't fair to her. Here she was; a beautiful, powerful, gifted young woman who had taken all of her former glory and power stripped from her. Now, a shadow of the greatness that could have been hers lay on his bed. She could have been the greatest Queen the Dea al Mon had ever seen. Now, she was all alone in some foreign land with strangers that wanted her dead. How was that for irony?

So now he sat by the bed, praying that Taric would get back soon with Myranda; the only other person he trusted in the entire court. Hopefully, she would be able to heal Ravene. That bitch Queen up there, Kaelynn. She must have ordered Ravene be killed. That whore! He would find a way to make her pay. For what she did to him. For what she did to her. She would pay. For now though, all he could do is pray that Ravene would heal whole and weave the web for him. Where was Taric? If that Prince didn't get in here right now... May the Darkness have mercy on his soul.

His thoughts were interrupted by Taric strolling into the room, a woman with short, ebony hair trailing behind him. "Here you go Jayme. One hero and one Healer," Taric said.

Jayme managed a small smile. "Hello Myranda. Can you heal her?"

Myranda Thorra. The only other person inside these walls that he trusted. A woman with a muscular figure and ebony hair cut short around her earlobes. She wore a flowing, white dress that fit amazingly on her toned frame. Besides being strong in the Craft, she was an excellent Healer, one of the best Jayme had ever met. She wore the Green and knew exactly how to use it to heal or to harm. Not a woman he would want to trifle with. She was best known for her miraculous healing skills and quicksilver temper and sharp tongue. Especially by those she that got in the way when she was healing someone.

It was a lucky accident that Myranda wasn't considered enough of a threat by Kaelynn to destroy. Although she wore the Green and by all-rights should be eliminated, she wasn't considered strong enough to be a threat. Not to mention that her family had gone into exile from Hayll and resulted in the Thorra name being shunned. Kaelynn had decided that she would accept Myranda's father's pleas, and took her in. The other reason was that Myranda served the palace and the court; she had a contract that couldn't be broken, therefore allowed to keep her strength and Jewels.

It came back to the question, why did he trust her? For starters, Jayme's family had been close to the Thorra's before they came into exile. Myranda was somewhat of a cousin to him, though the bloodlines may not actually be traceable. It was the thought that counted. Also, Myranda was one of the few decent women in the court, excluding the bitch that controlled their lives. Besides, Myranda had her own plan for escaping. No one knew what it was, but Jayme had promised that he would see her outside of the court if their paths should cross again.

Back to the Healing about to take place. "Cut the pleasantries, Jaymeson. Am I allowed to at least look at the young woman that requires my services?"

"Of course." Jayme stepped away from the bed, fully revealing Ravene.

"Hmm," Myranda kneeled over her, examining every inch of Ravene's limp body. "She doesn't look to be too badly hurt, but I can give you some herbs to help her. She's bruised, though miraculously nothing is broken. What happened to her?" Myranda flashed a brilliant, blue-eyed stare at Jayme. Jayme in turned looked at Taric.

Taric realized that everyone in the room was staring at him. He met their gazes steadily and took a deep breath. "She was almost raped until I found her and put a stop to it," he said quietly.

"What?!" Jayme snapped. "Raped? Why?! That bitch! That stupid, whoring bitch! I am going to personally rip her apart and send her to Hell!"

"Jayme! Get a hold of yourself! If you want to escape from here, you need to stay alive. It won't do you or Ravene any good for you to go off on a murderous rampage. Hell's fire man! Pull yourself together!"

Jayme slowly took a deep breath, then sighed. "Your right. Mother Night, how I hate that bitch."

"Don't we all, Jayme," Myranda said quietly. "Here. These will help her regain strength and help with the healing of those bruises so that she'll be able to move normally. There's also something wrong with her psychic scent. I can't sense her Jewel of Rank. There's something not quite right.... but I don't know what it is."

"She was recently broken, Myranda," Jayme said softly.

Understanding dawned in the other woman's eyes. "Of course.... That explains why she's so weak." Briskly, she used Craft to call upon some more packets of various herbs. "These should make her more comfortable, and to help her recover from the shock. Is that all?"

Jayme and Taric nodded. "All right then. I shall take my leave." Myranda bid each of them goodbye and was gone.

"Now what?" Taric asked Jayme as he ran an exhausted hand through his hair, making it stand up on end. Pale strands hung in his eyes as he ran another hand through it.

"I don't know. I guess we wait. I can't do anymore now that she's unconscious," Jayme replied, stifling a yawn. They stood awkwardly, not sure what to do next.

"Well? Aren't you supposed to be sleeping? Go to your room," Jayme said at last, irritated.

"What about her? What are you going to do with her? Although that bitch in the grand chambers is going to be pissed, you can't just put her back in the prison hut," Taric remarked, the contempt for Kaelynn clear in his voice.

"As much as I regret it, there is nothing I can do about that. She should be returned to the hut," Jayme said coldly.

"Jayme-" Taric started to argue. Seeing the look in his eyes, Taric just nodded and used Craft to help aid him in the task of floating Ravene back to the hut.

Once he was outside Jayme's door, Taric glanced at Ravene and decided to place a sight-shield around her, in case that whore Kaelynn happened to see them. No one would be able to see through his sight-shield. You would have to wear Jewel's darker than the Gray, and unfortunately for the controlling bitch-queen, she only wore the Sapphire. Smirking slightly about his formidable power over her, Taric began the long walk back to the prison hut, floating their precious burden behind him.

Jayme paced restlessly in his room. What else was he to do? She certainly couldn't stay with him. That would bring Kaelynn down on their heads and who knew what the twisted bitch would do to them? Kaelynn had been allowed to walk the Realms for too long. Although that was a fact, there was nothing he could do about it. Why would he bother to risk his own life to stop this tainted, twisted, malignant force when all he wanted to do was see his family once again? Someone would eventually stop her, someday in the hopefully not-to-distant future, but it didn't need to be him.

He continued pacing in his confined living space. Come to think of it, there was something odd about Taric's sight-shield. There was too much power there for a simple sight-shield. Either he wore extremely dark Jewel's, or there was something more to that spell. Then it hit him.

Jayme stopped pacing abruptly. That was it! That's how Taric had managed to stop Ravene from being raped! They both knew Oben, both knew that the man never went anywhere without a huge gang of Warlords around him. Not to mention that he probably had Kaelynn's support and Sapphire Jewel backing him. In order for him to defeat a gang of men, Taric would have to wear a Jewel darker than the Sapphire. That would explain a lot of things going on. Such as why Taric wasn't used as a pleasure slave. It would be too risky, using a male that is full of contempt and can so easily destroy you. Kaelynn wouldn't take Taric to her bed if there was a chance he could destroy her, even with the Ring of Obedience.

Although. . . If his memory served correctly, then there was an example of a powerful Priestess that used an extremely powerful, dangerous, cruel male to warm her bed. What was her name? Jayme struggled to recall and began pacing, yet again. Dorothea SaDiablo. The most twisted, tainted bitch the Realms had ever seen.

Daemon Sadi. The one name he would never forget his entire life. Daemon had to be long dead by now. His time had ended, long ago, along with the greatest Queen in the history of the Blood. May the Darkness watch over his soul.

His mind made up, Jayme stopped pacing, vaguely aware of someone standing in the door frame.

"Stop pacing and get some sleep, Syarus!" Taric remarked offhandedly as he observed his friend pacing repeatedly in his room. "Seriously, stop pacing before you fall through the floor! Hell's fire, the floor must be so much thinner in that spot now. I'll be surprised if there's no footprints on the ceiling of the dining hall tomorrow." Taric grinned shakily.

"How is she?" Jayme asked.

"She's still unconscious, but I think she'll be fine. She's breathing normally enough. I suggest you go see her tomorrow morning, at the least. Give her some of those herbs before she dies."

Jayme shot a ferocious glare at Taric, who stared back, nonchalantly. "Sorry, bad choice in words. Well, not dies. . . Hell's fire, if she means that much to you, why don't you just go down there and stay with her all night?!" A spark lit up Taric's eyes, just for a moment, then it was gone.

"Don't be an ass Taric," Jayme shot back. "Good night."

"Good night Jayme. Don't do anything stupid." With that remark, Taric backed away from the door frame and was gone.

What was that supposed to mean? Jayme wondered. Silently, he waited until he was sure Taric wasn't waiting outside the door, and carefully slipped out, his destination clear.

Cloaked in a sight and psychic shield, Prince Taric Raehart stood a little ways away from Jayme's door. He watched his friend stride silently down the hall and disappear around a corner. He smiled, knowingly. So. . . He had chosen to take his advice. He wouldn't regret it. Neither would she. As silently as he had come, Taric slipped away into the shadows, back to his own room where he could reflect on the chaotic scenario in which a young Queen had almost lost her life.

It has certainly been a while. Sorry about the delay in updates, in all of my fics. I seem to have forgotten about why I hate school so much. Especially all those pointless courses! Waste of my time! Ah well, there's nothing I can do. . . See Lizz?? I do so update! Speaking of which, Light's Mistress will be updated shortly. I hope. :) Okay, I hope you enjoyed this chapter of Shattered Horizon.