PART TWO: THE TRUE HEIR
At some point during her solitary retreat into the Orchard, it began to rain but Princess Lyric did not notice. The rain soaked her clothes to the bone even as she rocked back and forth with the voices in her head the more incessant and nagging. And then at around quarter past midnight, she began to hear new whispers revealing dark sins committed that were not only the Queen Mother’s. Lyric looked up and saw her husband looking grimly at her. Only then did Lyric notice how drenched she was.
Prince Giles stretched out his hand and she took it, promptly standing up as assisted by her husband. Her eyes were still blank and obsidian; practically soulless and so she looked away from him. Her husband gently turned her face to look at him directly in the eye before bringing her closer to embrace her in a bone crushing hug.
In his arms, Princess Lyric begun to come down. She could ignore the whispers better and she no longer felt like a wicked woman.
“My- my Prince- your- your mother- I am so sorry- I-”
“I know the truth. I have known it all along. I learned it from my father,”
Lyric was surprised but burrowed closer still to her husband.
“You… you were meant to be King not- not your sister. She isn’t even mildly related to you,”
The Prince nodded. “But she is still my sister. I will always see her that way regardless of what happened in our shared past. Come, let us get out of the rain,”
Princess Lyric nodded surprised that her husband could so casually dismiss his true claim to the Throne of Breanna. She however, dutifully followed him all the way back to their home. She felt more powerful than she had ever felt before, power awakening her magical circuits as a result of the dark energy she had obtained from absorbing the Queen Mother’s sins.
It was easier to ignore the voices when her husband was so caring to her. He helped her out of her soaked clothes and had a bath prepared for her. In the warm bath filled up with cathartic herbs and flowers, she had temporary reprieve from the whispers that had turned to deafening screams. She could hear every single person’s sins within the Royal Palace she called her home and they tempted her.
For Sin-Eaters, the entire Ritual of Confession where they pardoned sins was all consuming. It was a rare affliction that affected witches only and she had been terrified that when she eventually got married and had daughters of her own, she would pass on this affliction either to all her daughters or to at least one. Sin-eaters were essentially boogie men of the Realms and the people were right to fear them.
However, her curse was what had led her to meeting her beloved husband in the first place. He had been visiting Avala, the land of her birth when they had first met. He had not revealed that he was a Crowned Prince initially and had been more curious about her than anything after witnessing her leaving from the only ritual that could save a Sin-Eater’s soul- the Cleansing Ritual. He had seen Lyric before she had participated with about 100 others led by the Grand Mystai, the Highest ranking Priestess in all of Avala who was the only one capable of Cleansing so many of her kind.
Once the Ritual was completed, the dark energy that clung onto ever Sin-Eater’s aura causing them to possess a measure of pure magic but at great cost to their soul. It was not uncommon for Sin Eaters to become consumed by the darkness and lose their souls in the process. The only problem was that once one gave into the temptation of consuming the sins of one person, it began a dangerous descent into spiritual damnation.
The Lyric that Prince Giles saw once she left the Temple was an entirely different creature, with her entire slate completely wiped clean. He had been curious because he had noted how dark her aura was when she went in and how it had suddenly become lighter. He had asked her how she had managed it and though she tried her best to ignore him, he had been persistent and she had eventually confessed the truth of her burden…
Rather than run for the hills as most people would have, the Prince had been even more intrigued, wanting to know how she kept the dark call of Sin-Eating from consuming her. Lyric had surprised the Prince with her compartmentalization process, how she shelved the whispers incessantly nagging at her was nothing short of impressive. He had come to visit Avala almost every Summer when his kind the Nebula Fairies were least comfortable in Breanna. They had formed an unlikely friendship which evolved into love.
The Prince had secretly married her and when time came to introduce his new wife to his parents, he had kept her secret with himself. By then, she was already expecting their lovely girls, identical twins and it was more readily acceptable to all parties involved why the Prince had married her.
To help her manage her gift better, they had obtained a Psionic Inhibiting charmed necklace which kept the voices at bay until that fateful night when her mother-in-law’s sins had been too tempting for her to pass up… The graver the sins, the easier they were to slip through the Charm’s inhibiting power and once she gave in, until she could complete the Cleansing Ritual, the charm’s powers were nullified.
Lyric sighed sinking into the water in the hopes of drowning out the deafening sounds of the Palace inhabitants’ sins while trying to get over the Queen Mother’s sins that she had made her own by confessing her. Before long, she felt what felt like tentacles grip her neck in a vise like grip effectively drowning.
The Princess panicked, swallowing the bath water and fighting for her life. She focused on the tentacle grip effectively slicing it and freeing herself, willing the water to bubble away, causing it to evaporate away in lovely bubbles. She focused on the source of the attempted murder and found the perpetrator.
She willed herself to appear before her, the temptation to absorb her sins too great to overcome.
“Why can’t you just die?” she snapped.
“Is that what you really want, or is it your sins you wish pardoned?” Lyric asked her, her eyes turning obsidian black yet again.
“You’re sick- you really think I can trust you?”
Lyric hesitated listening to the woman’s sins.
“Your daughter sits upon the throne of Breanna and yet the rightful heir to that throne is my husband. The Queen Mother made you do it- she convinced you to give her your only daughter. She convinced you that there was no way you could possibly give her a good life. You were just a lady-in-waiting, what could you give your daughter that she, a Noble Woman, could give her? Lady Inya needed a daughter in order to have a stake at becoming Princess Consort, the chosen mate to the Prince of Bearing City…Now you must protect your gravest sin- giving away your only daughter. Come and lessen your burden on me,”
“You- you will ruin her! My daughter deserves that Throne. She has earned it. You- you are going to ruin everything,”
Lyric looked at her confusedly. “I’d never tell your secret. If anything, only I can take away that burden from you. You no longer need to carry it with you, Xenia. Come, let me confess you,” she said stretching out her hand.
The Lady in waiting Xenia, sighed and begun to weep even as she walked towards Lyric.
“I cannot leave you alone for one second can I, Lyric?” asked her husband suddenly bursting into the room.
Lyric hissed at him. “Stay out of this. It does not concern you,”
“Is that right? Have you forsaken all goodness in favor of an accursed future? What legacy shall you leave your daughters, please tell me?”
Lyric was momentarily distracted and Prince Giles dismissed Xenia then coming to cover his wife’s nakedness and holding her in his arms once more. Before long, she began to weep asking herself over and over again why she was so weak. The Prince consoled her and promised to make it all better.
When the morning came, they received a personal visit from the Grand Mystai herself and she performed a Cleansing Ritual for the Princess alone. Once she was cleansed, the Princess was stronger and her charm began working its magic on her once more.
“How can I ever thank you, my lord, for everything you have done for me?” she asked her husband.
“Remaining my beloved wife and the perfect mother you are to our daughters is more than enough, my love,”
Lyric sighed. “You know, someday, the cat will be out of the bag and the people shall learn the truth,”
“I hope for your sake that it never comes to pass but if it does, we need to be ready and we must tell my sister the truth,”