Shadow Deep

Chapter 1

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"She's beautiful, Lux!"

The dark-haired 8-point star witch smiled at the part-human, part-demon and part-elf that was currently showering the young princess of Azares with attention. The fair, golden-haired princess was blushing in an adorable manner as her wide blue eyes watched the red-gold-haired witch bashfully.

Lux was the entrusted caretaker of Princess Azalea of Azares while her parents were away. As usual, the ten-year old princess received enormous attention due to her looks and power. Despite the fact that she was untrained, the little princess possessed an 11-point star power. A power that only surfaced once every seven generations. Only the legendary 12-point star could outmatch such a rare amount of power.

Unfortunately for Azalea, the 12-point star did exist. It had appeared after a hundred centuries since it last existed. But that power was lost to the humans now. The witch who had possessed the 12-point star now lived deep within the abyss called the Shadow Deep, betrayed by her own kind.

Lux could still remember Dellatrix. How could she not? Both she and Sorae had the chance to serve such a powerful being. Dellatrix had treated them like her younger sisters. Lux had wanted to come with her when she had been exiled but Dellatrix ordered her to stay put and stay with Sorae. She said that the life she was about to enter was a life neither Lux nor Sorae could withstand. And so, the two remained.

Sorae, a 7-point star witch, contained human, demon and elfin blood in her. When threatened, she could rise to summon a 9-point star power level. While Lux became entangled with human royalty, Sorae became a war mage, learning the arts of defense as well as offense with both magic, wits and weapons. Sorae hated fighting but she took that path in order to learn how to defend. Her whole family, even her half-demon father, had been killed by demons.

"Lux, are you listening?"

Lux snapped out of her reverie and turned to look at Sorae and Azalea. It seems that while she had buried her head in deep thoughts, Azalea had found a new friend in Sorae. The two were now holding hands like sisters.

"What were you saying?" Lux asked sheepishly. Sorae shook her head in reprieve.

"I asked when you would be leaving," Sorae replied patiently.

They were currently in a neighbouring human kingdom, Marnar. Azalea's parents had left earlier to go to another kingdom but had bid Azalea to return to Azares. Sorae would be following the king and queen to the other kingdom as soon as she saw Lux and Azalea off.

"We'll be leaving in half an hour," Lux answered. "Our things are just being loaded on to the carriages."

The other witch nodded. "Do be careful, Lux. You just finished your moontime and your powers are still in a 4-point level."

Witches' powers were cut in half during their moontimes. Those that had half-stars lost their magic during this vulnerable time.

"Don't worry," Lux reassured her. "I'm sure we will be escorted by mages with no less than 6-points."

Sorae frowned. "Actually, the most powerful escort you'll have is a 5-point. The King and Queen have taken the more powerful ones."

Lux felt her jaw drop. 5-points were powerful enough but compared to some powerful demons, 5-points would have trouble.

Sorae looked apologetic. "I wanted to come with you at least but they said they needed me. What if they needed someone with the 9-point level? Honestly, I cannot even go to that level unless I was beaten to a bloody pulp. I mean no offense to your parents, milady." Azalea only shook her head to express that she was not offended. Sorae smiled at her before turning back to Lux. "I mentioned that you were only at a 4-point star level but they said that you might revert back to your normal 8-point before you leave."

"I understand. Don't worry. I'm sure I'll get my full powers back while we're travelling." Sorae smiled at the dark-haired witch.

"Of course. You'll be fine." Sorae turned her attention to Azalea. "You will be starting your training, correct?"

Azalea only nodded. They slowly walked towards the front of the palace and to the carriages. Thirty mounted soldiers - twelve of them mages - were already waiting. Lux bid Sorae good-bye and even Azalea spoke to the red-head. Sorae had almost squealed as she gave the princess a gigantic hug. Azalea had the talent of extracting a squeal from almost anyone.

Sorae waved them good-bye until they could no longer see her. Azalea, who was sitting from across Lux, stood up and crawled next to her caretaker. Lux smiled and raised her arm to let the princess snuggle next to her. Azalea wrapped her arms around the young woman and smiled with so much affection reflected in her eyes. She obviously idolized the witch. And said witch loved the princess like an older sister would a younger sister.

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Clear silver eyes watched as the little princess of Azares' train rode swiftly through the thick hidden forest trail between Azares and Marnar. If his calculations were correct, twelve of the thirty escorts were mages and they did not have a power level higher than a 5-point star. In fact, there was no one in the whole train that had a power level higher than a 5-point star.

Odd.

The only reason that he, an incubus, was sent on a mission that was usually a job for hunter demons was because he had to overpower an 8-point star witch that was the caretaker of Princess Azalea. Was this the wrong carriage? Was it a decoy?

"I don't sense an 8-point star level, Raven," a chestnut-haired incubus - Raven's best friend, Sedark - said as his eyes narrowed towards the train. "Is this going to be a waste of my time?"

The reason Sedark was also sent on this particular mission was the same as Raven's. In case Raven encountered problems, Sedark would be his back-up... along with fifteen other weaker demons.

"Let us think this through, Sedark," Raven replied. "What if it is Princess Azalea's train?"

A nasty smirk appeared on Sedark's face. "Let's attack it then just to make sure. If she's not there, let the others feed on them." He jerked his head towards the fifteen demons who were looking at the escorts hungrily.

Raven's smirk was cruel. "Good plan."

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An alarmed yell jerked Lux into attention. She quickly took a look through the window and saw about fifteen demons attacking the escorts. A couple of them were stopped by spells but the mages that attacked suddenly dropped dead from their horses.

There were more powerful demons out there.

Lux cursed inwardly. She should've insisted that Sorae come with them. At least, with Sorae, they have the power of a 9-point star witch with them.

The witch quickly wrapped a cloak around Azalea. It had a strong 8-point star concealing spell on it. Lux made sure that it had her best spell.

"Listen, Azalea," Lux said urgently. "Remember our drills. Run away as fast as you can and never look back. I already sent Sorae a distress message. She'll be looking for you." Lux touched the pendant hanging from a gold chain wrapped around the princess' neck. "This will activate as soon as you feel extreme fear. When I say so, run as fast as you can, understood?"

Azalea nodded, fear in her eyes. Looking through the window and seeing that only ten escorts remained standing, Lux opened the carriage's floor door and slipped through it with the little girl. They crawled towards the side closest to the thick woods.

"Where do you think you're going?" a harsh voice demanded. Lux spun around to look at the chestnut-haired demon.

"Run!" she screamed. She saw Azalea run but the demon in front of her looked confused. His eyes then widened in realization.

"A concealing spell!" he roared. He then grabbed Lux. To her shock and distress, a raven-haired demon grabbed Azalea as if the concealing spell was nothing. Feeling the sudden rush of power, Lux threw a wave of power around herself, making the demon holding her let go, stunned, and killing the other weaker demons.

"Let go of her!" Lux yelled as she ran towards the demon and Azalea, hand raised as she threw a spell at the demon that would not hurt the princess.

However, to her immense shock, the demon merely absorbed the power she threw and then threw it back at her. Lux gasped as a 9-point star wave of power hit her and threw her against a tree. Losing consciousness quickly, she slid down the tree and onto the ground. The last thing she heard before she fell into oblivion was Azalea screaming her name.

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Raven stared at the witch in surprise. He had responded to her quick attack with pure instinct. So this was the witch who had the 8-point level. She had been concealing her powers.

Glancing over at Sedark, he saw that the demon was all right but a bit shaken and bruised. Apparently, despite the fact that they both had the 8-point star level, she was still slightly more powerful than his friend.

The princess was screaming and Raven could only assume that it was the young witch's name.

"Lux! LUX!"

Sedark slowly approached them as he rubbed his back. "What are we going to do with that chit?" he asked, jerking his head towards the young human woman.

Raven considered what to do with the witch. But before he could think any further, something suddenly started glowing brightly. He quickly looked down at the princess and found her clutching a glowing pendant. She suddenly felt hot and he promptly let go of her.

"What is she doing?" Sedark demanded, looking at Raven. The incubus' eyes, however, were focused on the witch lying at the base of a tree. Sedark turned to look as well and his eyes widened in shock.

The human was waking up.

"H-how can she wake up?" Sedark asked in bewilderment and awe. "You hit her so hard."

"She's reacting to the little girl's distress," Raven answered grimly. They watched as the woman struggled to stand up. Princess Azalea then ran towards the woman.

"A-Azalea," she gasped as the girl threw herself on the woman. "I-I'll protect you."

The light disappeared. Raven slowly walked towards the two humans, his face blossoming into a lethal smirk.

"Ah, Princess Azalea," he said with a deep caressing voice... the voice of an incubus. "I am here to pick you up and take you to my mistress. If you come with me, I will spare your keeper."

"She will not come with you, you silky liar," the witch spat as she tightened her hold on her princess. Before she could even blink, Raven had already tore the princess from her grasp and throw the princess to a waiting Sedark. Azalea promptly fainted. Raven took hold of the witch's upper arms and pull her towards him.

"I beg to differ," he whispered seductively, looking deeply into those brown orbs. The witch - Lux - stared back at him, fear and defiance in her eyes - a combination that made his blood run.

"You won't get away with this," she whispered fiercely. "You won't get too far. I had already sent a distress signal."

Raven only smirked. Using psychic tendrils to hold her in place, he used his long fingers to caress her cheek, her face. She shivered at his touch, her eyes widening in horror as she realized what he was.

"Y-You're an i-incubus," she whispered almost inaudibly, trying to shrink away from him. His smirk widening, Raven only pulled her closer towards him.

"You're trembling, my dear," he said, giving her a feral smile. "Are you cold?"

"Raven, we should leave," Sedark interrupted. "We wouldn't want to take any chances."

"Of course." A quick jolt of power sent the young witch falling into his arms. Sedark looked curious. Raven only smiled. "She's my prize for succeeding in this mission." Sedark only raised an eyebrow.

"You usually go for the voluptuous lonely airheads. She doesn't look like she fit any part of that description."

"I wanted to try something new," Raven replied calmly. He looked down at the human female in his arms. "And she will do nicely."

"She is an 8-point star witch," Sedark said in a warning tone. "She'll fight you with everything she has. She seems the type to do so."

The smile that met him was dangerous and terrifying. "That's exactly what I was hoping for."

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A/N: Like it? No? Please review and tell me!