Summary: As darkness devours the light, so shall evil devour the land/as a candle lights the dark, so shall the healer offer her hand. As a flower blooms forgotten, so shall the princess be begot/when war ravages her home, in battle she'll be caught.

Two girls work together to save a hidden land. Will they succeed? Featuring an almost-kiss, three misunderstandings, five royal lines, a fondness for mint, a prince in the kitchen and a war looming over everyone's heads.

A/N: If you're reading this, then good. Good that you think the story is interesting (it is) and I hope you'll bear with the prologue. It's just an insightful monologue and a scene involving two girls (mentioned in a couplet) with their ancestors. Raven will be seen again, don't worry.

Note: Might get a little dark. This is a highly reworked (but unbeta'd) piece of fiction, so there will be few grammar or spelling mistakes. If there are, please comment and I'll fix them. Thanks!

It is the healer you should be terrified of.

It wasn't the warlock child who was known for his brutality. It wasn't the fierce alpha who they spoke of in hushed whispers. It wasn't the witch shifter who they rumoured killed as easily as she healed. (She did.)

No. It was the healer. It was the girl with the endless blue eyes and the scythe-sharp smile, the girl with rage and kindness living side by side in her heart. It was the woman with beauty in her brutality and brutality in her beauty, the woman with a flame burning in her aching heart and scarred bones.

Interlopa had many languages, but Romanian was what immortalized villains and heroes. And no one was sure which one she was. They called her Brusc. This scarred girl with sorrow in her bones and danger in her heart, this girl who had been left behind one too many times. This orphaned girl watched over by no one, left to wither away on the inside. This girl with eloquence and torture in her nerves and longing in her eyes - they called her brutal. They called her a hero (a terrifying one) to her face and a monster behind her back.

It was always the healer. It was the girl with eyes like water and hair darker than her murderous intent, the girl with the scythe-like smile and grace in every limb. It was the broken girl that somehow healed.

It is the healer you should be terrified of.

- 9:00 p.m., May 21, 1999

Duchess Raven Melchizedek, Second in Line to the Throne of Canticum, knocked on the door.

Well, she didn't actually knock. It was more of a frantic banging.

Still, the door swung open and Raven found a young woman staring her in the face. She looked confused, but her brown eyes darted down to the bundle in Raven's arms and glimmered with recognition. She stepped back, inviting her in.

Raven followed the the woman into a warm, bright room where a man with slit-pupiled, blue eyes was playing with a young girl about two years old. He looked up when they entered and Raven felt the stirrings of hope in her heart. Surely this man could help. He would save Mesmera.

She pushed her hood back and spoke her first words since her sister died. "Please." Her voice was a rasp. "My niece. Help my niece."

The man and woman looked shocked, but then he nodded solemnly. "Give her to me."

Raven wanted to flinch away from him - she barely knew the man - but she handed Mesmera to him anyway. He cradled her in his arms and began singing a lullaby - at least, she thought it was a lullaby because he was tra-la-la-ing the tune.

Someone placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see the woman and the little girl smiling. "His methods are boring to watch, and you look like you've been through a rough time, Duchess. Please, have something to eat or drink."

All too suddenly, Raven was aware of the rumbling in her stomach and her parched throat. "Thank you," she croaked and winced - her voice was rusty with disuse. "I'd like that very much."

Five minutes later, they were sitting at a dining table and Raven had learnt a few things. She had learned that the couple was called Lalitha and Suraj Erlahe - fairly common names around this area, past the Kaven Jinns. She had learnt that their little daughter was playful and had inherited Suraj's healer talent, and she had also learnt that Lalitha was very curious as to what had become of Raven's sister and her husband, Nizin and Xander.

"So you're Mesmera's sole caretaker?"

When she put it that way, it sounded so sad and desolate. "I - well, my brother will help."

"Will she know her parents?"

"No," she said, and she could feel her heart breaking. "I'm going to raise her as a Westglade - they're a couple who died protecting the Royals, they would have been honoured - and I won't tell her until it's completely safe for her to know who she is."

Lalitha sighed. "There will always be people who want to kill her, Duchess. You must tell her when she old enough to bear the weight, not when it's safe to."

Raven looked at her plate. "I suppose you're right." She was eating freshly fried pancakes with some sort of thick gravy. It was nice to eat something real after five days and night of gingerbiscuits. She would never eat another gingerbiscuit as long as she lived; she was sick to death of them.

Then Suraj walked in with a laughing Mesmera on his hip and something disappeared; a great weight Raven had been carrying ever since she escaped the palace. She held out her hands and Mesmera nearly leapt into them.

Raven smiled weakly. "Thank you so much. Really. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay you." She considered it. "When the war is over, I'm buying you a huge, expensive gift. It's not even going to come close to a thanks, but it's the best I can manage."

Lalitha laughed. "We have no need of such things. All we ask is that you and Mesmera drop by once in a while."

"Of course," Raven said and the idea of even thinking otherwise was ridiculous.

She stayed for a week, relearning to navigate people and washing away the stress of the war. She learned later that a mysterious explosion had fought off the attacking forces five days after the Leventea massacre, which was when Raven had come here. She had fully anticipated that the war would end, so she thanked the Erlahes repeatedly and then went back to the palace. It was a hectic process to get the administration up and running, but Raven was confident that she could face anything as long as she had friends. And she did.

Three years later, she received an emergency summons from the Erlahes and went to visit, thinking they had information on how to trace the people who had attacked. Instead, she received an unpleasant surprise.

Two bodies: a man and a woman. Still. Lifeless. Unbreathing.

And the small, wonderful girl? The one who had excitedly spoken to Raven every visit and become fast friends with Mesmera?