I can't breathe

That was the only thought in DG's head as she stared blankly at the green marble tomb that encased her. It pounded at her mind, echoed in her ears as loudly as the screams that refused to forced past her lips.

I can't breathe and I'm going to die

A steady stream of tears poured unchecked, pooling in her eyes before trailing over her temples to dampen the hair trapped beneath her body. The pain in her chest was getting worse, the horrible tightness growing with each desperate, gasping breath, and DG knew that her time in this strange world was growing short. The pressure increased with each passing second and panic caused her heart to race until she feared that it would burst under the strain.

Using the last of her precious oxygen, DG finally broke her silence, her rasping voice and wheezing gasps terrible to her own ears. "I'm scared! Please, Cain, I'm so scared!"

She screamed it over and over again until the darkness edging over her vision took hold and the world around her went black.


DG awoke to the sound of her own screams still ringing in her ears, her heart pounding as she tried desperately to breath past the ragged sobs that tore painfully through her throat. It has been the dream again, the same hideous nightmare that had tormented her every night since the final battle for the fate of the O.Z. had taken place. Since that first night, she had grown to dread the coming darkness, fighting her own body's demands until exhaustion claimed her and she could fight no more.

Her first official act as princess had been to have the canopy over her bed removed after it's hovering presence had thrown her into a full fledged panic attack, too much a reminder of the heavy marble lid that had almost been the death of her. It hadn't helped and, if anything, the openness left her feeling even more vulnerable than before. During the day she pasted on a brave face and convinced all those around her that she was adjusting to life in the O.Z. with surprising grace. Under the cover of night, though, DG fought simply to keep from being crushed under the weight of her fears.

Knowing that she had slept all that she would that night, DG climbed from her bed and began the now familiar ritual of lighting each lamp in the hopes of chasing away the last vestiges of fear that clung to her even in waking hours. Wrapping herself in her favorite woolen throw, DG settled into the lounge beneath her window and waited for the warming light of dawn.


Azkadelia made a decidedly unroyal picture, sprawled as she was before her sister's door, ear pressed firmly to the wood as tears traced a path over her pale cheeks. Each muted cry and tortured moan tore into her heart until she could have sworn that she felt her blood flowing from a thousand ragged wounds. It hurt her more than she could express to know that the pain her sister kept hidden from the rest of the world had been caused by her own hand. Her beloved DG had been broken and she had no one to blame but herself.

It was only by accident of fate that she had discovered the misery that haunted her sister in the darkest hours of night. AZ, herself, didn't sleep much these days, the quiet allowing too much time to contemplate on her annuals long captivity and the atrocities that had been carried out against her people and in her name. The cruelties and deaths that she had seen committed through her own eyes ensured that she find little peace, no matter the time. She had been wandering the corridors, whiling away the long hours, when she heard the muffled sobs pouring from beneath DG's door when she thought that no one was there to hear. She had gone back every night since and, each night, her sister awoke gasping and crying out for the same man.

Pulling herself slowly to her feet, Az took a deep, steadying breath. A plan had been forming in the back of her mind as days had turned to weeks without respite and the time had come to turn thought into action. Resolve growing with every step, Azkadelia made her way toward her parent's chamber, unknowing and uncaring of the late hour.

Ignoring the startled exclamations of the royal guards posted before the doors, Az burst through, stopping only steps inside the room as the Queen and her consort stared with wide-eyed confusion from their bed. "You have to help her!"

The weight of her daughter's words washing any remaining traces of sleep, Lavender rushed to the side of her eldest, frantic worry marring her tranquil features. "Azkadelia, my darling, what has happened? Is it DG?"

Limited strength sapped and emotionally exhausted by her outburst, Az collapsed to her knees at her mother's feet and buried her face in her hands. "You have to help DG, mother. She hurts so much, all the time, and it never stops!" Raising dark, anguished eyes to meet frightened pale, Az grasped her mother's hands in a tight desperate grip.

"You have to help her. You have to bring him back."