Prologue

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Prologue

Once upon a time, there existed a great and powerful island continent called Atlantis.

Massive and rich with gems and gold, expensive resources, and an ancient culture that predated even the Greeks, who settled on the mainland just several miles off the coast of the continent. Atlantis was an island filled with exotic beauty, animals never before seen in other lands, music that had the power to hypnotize even the most powerful of gods. The rich scent of the salty ocean air, fish being brought in at the ports, spices that dazzled the senses.

And lying parallel to this beautiful land in the mortal realm was the Atlantean pantheon on a mainland island realm called Leanorius. A land much like their mortal island, massive with deeply carved valleys and towering mountains, lush with thick green forests and several thousand species of plants, nymphs, and demons. Temples to the many gods spotted the land, ranging in colors and styles and materials.

And even amongst the gods was the sound of beautiful music, lyres gently strummed in time with an aulos humming to the beat of drums and a tambourine jingling. Laughter from temples rang out, wine was spilled and shared, warm oven-baked bread broke and honey drenched.

It was a hot sunny afternoon in August, one of the hottest days even in Leanorius. Though warm and beautiful and truly a day blessed by the king, Atlan, there was a darkness lurking through the trees as plants shrank back from its path that led straight to one of the most revered of temples that sat on a sacred coast.

A temple made entirely of sparkling white and gold marble, stretching two stories high with tiered roofs and rows of columns etched with ancient legends. The symbol of a gold dragon twisted into infinity with a sword through the center was imprinted above the main entrance. Exotic plants twirled and spiraled about the temples as if to comfort the screams that rang from deep within its marble walls.

The screams echoed through darkened halls, cold and empty, save for weaponry and mosaic art upon the walls, stands holding plants aloft. The screams rang clearer from a dimly lit room with nothing, but several pillar candles lighting its way.

"Please, my goddess, you mustn't scream." Even though he said it, he knew it was useless and agony spread through the demon as he stood at the edge of the bed, watching the goddess scream in agony, arching her back and throwing her head against the gold satin pillows. She wrung her fists tight in her sheets, tearing them as she lay with her legs bent at the knees resting on pillows. Her long curly black hair stuck to her sweaty, flushed face, her fangs bared in agony.

She wanted to beg for her demon, Valarian, to seek help, but she didn't dare. Though the pain was excruciating, there was a fearful giddiness that she wasn't sure belonged to her or the precious babe who was desperate to escape her. She knew, if she dared to scream any louder, the other gods would soon come to investigate and be horrified by the sight of their supposedly virgin goddess giving birth.

Lea, Atlantean goddess of curses and battle strategy, choked back an agonized sob, squeezing her eyes shut as she felt a tremor race through her body as she pushed on Valarian's command.

Just when she thought it would never last, there was a sharp wail that echoed through the halls and she gasped, her eyes flying open.

"It's a boy, my goddess," Valarian gasped, struggling to hold the wet infant in his arms, rubbing gently at its back as it screamed, tiny hands twitching and reaching for his mother, "One moment--"

"Give him to me!" Lea's voice was fierce and Valarian didn't dare disobey, so he passed the infant to Lea, who took the child gingerly into her hands, staring with wide eyes down at the tiny babe in her grasp. He wailed for all he was worth with a pair of powerful lungs, a dusting of black hair sticking to his head. She cleared her throat of a lump that threatened to join the infant in a sob.

Instead, she wet her lips and began to hum and sing as softly as she could.

It was the lullaby she'd heard so many Atlantean mortals sing to their infants to calm them. She'd spent months watching the Atlantean mothers cater to their infants, picking up whatever she could learn in order to apply it to her own babe, a babe who would have no one else in this cold cruel world, but her. Her and Valarian and Zetnos, her dear brother, who was risking his very existence by distracting Atlan during the birthing, even though it killed her inside to not have him there by her side to help.

So she sang softly, stroking the infant's cheek with her thumb, tears welling in her eyes as she watched the infant choke on a sob for a moment, frightening her before she realized the infant was calming down. After a moment, a pair of eyes opened to gaze up at her and this time, Lea couldn't resist a sob.

A pair of sea blue eyes stared up at her, like the pools that she made her temple upon because she loved them so. They were so incredibly blue, and for a mere infant, they were powerful and radiated innocence and warm and love.

Never in her life had she seen something so beautiful.

So sweet and soft and loving.

No one had looked like her like that. No one.

"My lady, we must clean him." Valarian said softly. Lea sniffed helplessly, tears trailing down her cheeks. The infant whimpered, confused by his mother's tears, reaching up tiny hands. Lea choked on another sob and squeezed her eyes shut.

"Not yet, Valarian. Please, give me a moment." She whispered. Valarian nodded and obeyed as he attempted to clean what he could as Lea gazed down at those baby blue eyes that gazed up at her as if she were the only god in his world. She leaned down, touching her head to the child's before placing a kiss there, feeling her tears pour freely down her cheeks.

"Mine... You are my precious, precious gift, child. I will do anything in my power to protect you, because you're all I have in this world." She whispered. The infant opened his mouth in a yawn, still making a light grasping motion, so Lea placed her finger in the tiny fist and the infant's eyes drifted shut sleepily.

This was her child.

Her only child.

And she would slit throats to keep him from harm.

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