The Alicorn Court - Megan Linski
There was nothing more terrifying than being alone with your own thoughts.
I completely agree.
The sinister voice of the demon within my head festered at my insides. My eyes opened. I took in the sight of my room, brightening with the approach of the incoming dawn.
It was foreign to me. Unfamiliar. In recent months, I’d been forced to abandon my home at the royal palace, to make way for Gabby and Elijah’s arrival. They’d kicked me, my mother and our servants to a far-off estate on the outskirts of Dolinska. The mansion was grand, expensive, and had too many rooms.
I despised it. It wasn’t where I’d grown up— I belonged at the palace.
I’d hardly been at the estate all summer, yet still, my room was filthy. Bits of food, vodka bottles and discarded clothes lay in heaps. The shades were partially drawn, and dust lay on every surface. I remained curled in the sheets and tried to breathe.
It looked like some sort of animal’s nest. I forbade the servants from coming in here. In the corner was a full-length mirror. I’d thrown a blanket over it weeks ago and hadn’t removed it since. I could no longer stand my own reflection, for every time I looked in the mirror, the red eyes of the leshane peered back at me, that sharp-toothed smile gloating and arrogant.
Arrogant? Come now, be fair.
He hardly spoke to me, but when he did, it was to brag. Too many days now I heard his cruel laughter echoing inside my head.
I could hear it now. I reached for my prosthetic and fastened it on. Like every morning, the demon began tormenting me.
Cripple, cripple, he teased. Helpless and deformed.
My mouth curled into a sneer as I rolled out of bed and turned on the stereo— the sound of the laughter was so loud, it nearly drove me mad. I cranked the volume as high as it would go, until the floors were shaking and my ears stung from the noise.
A servant came rushing in the door, shouting over the music. “My prince, your mother is asleep. It’s still very early, and—”
“Leave me!” My tone came out in a harsh growl. The servant quickly bowed and hurried to shut the door.
I’d become nothing more than a hideous beast. Eventually, the laughter ceased. I turned down the stereo, though I left it on just in case the leshane came back.
He didn’t return, though I knew he was still there— inside me like a deranged cancerous tumor, gnawing away at my identity. I was grateful for the few moments of peace.
I forgoed a shower— what was the point?— and threw on a few pieces of my wrinkled uniform. It was the first day of a new semester at Arcanea University, and the start of my senior year.
Might as well get it over with.
The servants already had my trunks packed and loaded onto the back of the carriage. At the sight of it, I nearly became sick— wanted to turn and run— but though this demon had nearly taken everything from me, he hadn’t yet stolen my courage, and I refused to be a coward.
I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I had to see her. Though the prospect made my knees quiver, there was no getting around it. Eventually, I’d have to let myself look into those green eyes, and crumble.
My stomach grew hollow the closer we got to Arcanea University. The fall chill permeated the air, and a few leaves fell from the branches of the trees the carriage passed, lying forlorn and broken on the cobblestone.
The carriage stopped in front of the beautiful gates. I stepped out— the servants would drop my things off at my dorm. I’d always said I wanted to be treated like any other student while I was here, but now, the servants were a blessing. The leshane was draining all my energy, saving it for himself when he finally made his move to take over my body. I couldn’t carry those trunks to my dorm even if I wanted to.
As I wandered the paths of the university, the demon’s hold lightened on me just a little, easing the tightness in my chest and making it easier to breathe. Being in a place I loved like this put me at peace. It was like coming home. Despite how miserable and empty I felt, how cold my spirit was growing to be, there would always be a comfort in roaming the campus at Arcanea University.
No one was on