Dark Fantasy / Romance
Date Published: November 25, 2013
The King was dead.
His body was found slain in his room, only months after his son had been brutally murdered. Skylar Mandolyn, his daughter, has now become the last heir to inherit the throne. But instead of becoming Queen, she has been imprisoned for helping in the escape of Sir Harlin Brien, her knight who was framed for the King’s murder.
Confined to darkness, Skylar's captors have given her no choice but to yield to a new kind of enemy: a kingdom that has advanced in both technology and warfare. It's when she refuses that the prison uses its other means of persuasion, and although unmerciful, the whip lashings and isolation can't suppress the memories of her family's downfall. Pulled between her subconscious and reality, Skylar already knows who the true enemy is, because even the darkness can't hide the deceptive hands that have destroyed them all.
With two kingdoms on the brink of war, Skylar's only hope is in the person who has gone missing—Harlin, the knight who was sworn to protect her. The memory of him surrounds her when the darkness screams louder than the prisoners, and when Death smiles a faceless grin in between the cracks of the stone. While the tremors start to rise from the deep, crawling up through the prison's walls, Skylar doesn't realize that she will soon see why he's one of the Benighted.
The mystery was never how Harlin escaped. It's how he'll return.
The screaming that woke her was not a natural scream. It was a scream with a thousand voices, all bellowing forward, all in their own misery. They rose up in the dark, scraping their cold nails against the prison walls, forcing her to open her eye to know that it was real. But when she did, all she found was her mouth quivering and her throat hoarse from the agony that had been all her own.
There was a bright glow flickering at the corners of her vision, and she found that against the wall across from her was a golden shadow casted by a candle in a glass lamp. She felt something light fall across part of her back, and felt the last whimpers of a scream fade out into the air.
"Forgive me, Your Highness," the Physician's voice broke in, soft and full of pity. "It's the only way I can help you."
She felt his warm hand touch her forehead, then her temple. When he moved his hand away, all she saw was the candlelight in the lamp, not knowing that the Physician had moved to grab the small cup they had given to her for water. Looking about him, the Physician secretly mixed some of the Thymelock salve into the water. "You've been having intense dreams," he commented as he worked, trying to sound as matter-of-fact as possible. "Intense pain creates them. Dreams become demons. Memories become monsters."
Skylar could only lay still, her lip quivering from the anguish.
"Drink this," he murmured closer to her now, lightly rolling her over just enough to lift her head.
Skylar moaned when he moved her, but as she felt the rim of the cup against her bottom lip, the cool liquid slipping into her mouth, her body automatically embraced it. She gulped the liquid, feeling it as it washed down her throat and hit her bare stomach. The cup was removed, and the moment her head rested back on the straw, the chemicals from the Thymelock had consumed her.
The numbness was like nothing she had ever felt before. It was paralyzing and relaxing, melting the tension in her body and warming it from the cold. But in the peace that held her down, something in the corner of her mind stirred. Skylar looked out past the candlelight's edge, and out from the darkness she saw the memory coming, moving on hands and knees, dragging itself across the stone floor towards her. There was no hesitation when, in all its torment, it reached out and grabbed her.
A. M. Dunnewin inherited her love for mysteries and thrillers from her family, which motivated her to pursue a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Although her stories cover a wide range of genres, she primarily writes historical fiction and thrillers. An avid reader at heart, she's also a passionate collector of both antique books and graphic novels, and has been known to search for stories in the most random places. She lives in Sacramento, California.