The sword shrieked as it traveled through the air. Its ring was the clock striking midnight, its blade the hour hand moving toward the dawn of a new day.
Her skin caved in to the sharpened edge, allowing it to pass through her ribcage and reach her heart. The blade twisted, eliciting a mouthful of blood to crawl up her throat and find its way on the ground before her.
With an emotionless laugh, she dragged the tips of her elongated nails against the steel blade, eliciting a cacophony of screeches and howls. It was as though she were urging the sword to quicken her incoming death. Despite the blood cascading from her mouth, deranged laughs still bubbled out.
“You’re insane,” Troy scowled as he pulled his sword away from her, unwilling to continue to dirty himself with her blood.
“Well, that makes two of us,” Xenia sputtered through a mouthful of blood. She collapsed to her knees, weighed down by the sheer weight of her crinoline and the blood soaking the front of her dress.
Anger swirled inside of her like a capricious hurricane, threatening to reach the shore at any moment. But before it could, a sudden miracle by Mother Nature veered its course to the side.
All of Xenia’s plans had been soiled by this bastard—the same one that had cast a shadow of misery over all eight of her previous lives. She belonged on the throne, her inheritance right, but this man had overstepped his duties, eyeing someone else’s platter. His insatiable greed for someone else’s meal and her refusal to placate his insensibility became the catalyst of a vicious cat-fight for the crown.
Troy looked down at her scornfully, his luxurious blue suit now marred with a deep red. It was her blood—and his. After all, they shared the same lineage.
Brother and Sister, but Brother had killed Sister eight times now—going on nine.
“Better luck next time,” Troy said, his voice laced with derision. Of course, he was sarcastic. After death, what ‘next time’ was there?
Despite his sarcastic spite, Xenia smiled at him. Strings made out of anger pulled back at the corners of her lips and forced her eyes to curl into lovely half-moons. Even now, she was befitting of the title “Princess”, the paragon of virtue and etiquette. Although she teetered over the cusp of death, she exuded excellence, superiority, perfection; she was the perfect princess but mere fodder to the prince’s deceit.
“Indeed,” Xenia chuckled. “I’ll have better luck next time.”
As her vision began to blur and her eyes began to droop downward, she pulled up the sleeve of her dress, revealing a number tattooed on her forearm.
Xenia smiled at the marking. And as her heartbeat descended dangerously low, the number changed to zero.
Thunder roared, accompanied by the soft sigh of rain. Xenia slowly opened her eyes, revealing two vertical pupils of pure, golden hatred. Her hair, a limp yellow, was matted against her head, darkened by the gloom and fog of rain.
She laid flat on the ground, letting the downpour of rain wash the blood from her eyes. Beside her, her carriage, toppled by unknown mercenaries, burned in a tower of flames. The mahogany wood provided food to the spiral of flames desperate to taste the sky.
Perched upon a nearby tree, a murder of crows shrieked. They thrived on schadenfreude, watching her narrowly avoid the gates of Hell.
Xenia was back again, back to when Troy had first attempted to assassinate her, a roadblock to his crown. She, the eldest princess, was first in line for the throne, an eyesore to Troy, the first prince, whose nightly dreams were filled with the sweet glory of imperialist conquests.
Throughout her eight lifetimes, she had exhausted every option in an attempt to save her beloved brother, who had gone astray. But his resolve was carved in iron. He was to wear the crown, and he’d butcher any relative who presented themselves as a roadblock.
Xenia reached under her crinoline with a trembling hand, unsheathing a silver blade that glinted despite the cloud-covered skies.
“I’m coming for you, Prince Troy,” Xenia whispered to herself, almost as if it were a mantra. This was her last chance, gifted to her by the good graces of God.