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MIDNIGHT

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The sirens knew how to do only one thing. Kill. Usually, it was just those who travelled their seas, until the greedy ruler of Greake, the green city of the lake, captured their queen. Determined to find their Queen and wipe off all the cities surrounding the Golden seas, the sirens ventured into the lands at midnight. So many lives were lost from the midnight invasion, as such the humans had a powerful witch, Adora, summon the Pombero to keep the sirens off their lands. King Edwardo got greedy again. With his sword in hand, dripping the blood of their victims, and Adora by his side, he haunted the sirens who were retreating into their seas. The few who survived the slaughter were enslaved by the king and exploited for riches until they died a miserable death. Edwardo didn't stop there. His quest for wealth and power clouded his sense of reasoning. His ambition rose to a level that even Adora was afraid. He had ships positioned all the seas, men buried deep in the water, with nets cast everywhere. No matter how many lives were lost, Edwardo could only be pleased at the sight of a siren. Adora was afraid for his men. The innocent life growing inside of her did not deserve the life Edwardo was forcing them into. The news of her pregnancy excited him no more than the men returning without a siren. He was too power crazed to care for anything else. Especially not after Adora revealed to him that the heart of a siren held the key to immortality. Adora felt used and neglected. Her caramel skin had paled out from casting too many spells. Her vicious emerald eyes had long lost its will. The waist length luscious dark hair, that swayed elegantly with her hips whenever she moved, were now tangled, lustreless and annoying to look at. Many mistook it for pregnancy hormones, unaware that Edwardo was the only hormone that could wreck a woman as beautiful as Adora. Sick of the bloodshed, Adora performed a dark ritual, one that brought a temporary calm to both sides. They say there is a price for everything. The sea takes what it wants in exchange for what it is to give. Adora didn't give much thought to it, until she pushed the hideous child out of her womb. Years later, the throne of the Golden seas remained empty, as none of the sirens were powerful enough to contain the darkness that enveloped the throne. Given that half of their powers were locked away in the other half of their hearts given away by the sea to human mates, whom they were bound to love for the rest of their lives for the sake of peace. Princess Almira was not looking forward to finding love. All she needed was the other half of her heart to take over her mother's throne. Since the mates were immune to their manipulative melodies, Almira decided to go in search of him herself with only one plan. Drive a dagger through his heart and retrieve her property.

Chapter 1

"Rule number 1?", He barked, thrashing the boy with a whip; His screams erupted in place of an answer; Dante's tiny body wiggled in a struggle to break free from the strong arms that held him and escape the cruelty of a man he'd known as his father. The piercing screams did nothing but only agitated Edwardo to exercise his arms more.

"Answer me, boy!" He bawled, raising the whip to go in for another mighty lash.

"Never call you father, I am sorry, I won't, I promise; Don't hit me anymore, please, I beg you, your Highness," the boy pleaded helplessly. His small body was soaked in sweat.

"You are a monster. The day I met your mother, I expected she would birth a fine child, but look like you! You've got hair all over you like fur. Can you blame anyone for treating you like an animal?" Those cruel words pierced through his fragile heart. He dropped to the floor with a loud thud as the soldiers released him.

Prince Dante curled into a ball, sobbing. The cruel words of his father echoed in his mind to replace the old ones. It was a routine now. Each time his father came in contact with him or his younger brother, Xander, reported something false to his parents, he would get beaten like an animal. He didn't dispute that he was too hideous to be loved. He just wanted to be able to talk to his parents and play with his brother.

Dante had been born with a rare form. A condition known to only a few as hypertrichosis or the werewolf syndrome. The rest termed it a curse. One that was so 'contagious' that they had to keep their distance. Dante didn't mind. He was too ashamed to try to get close to anyone anyway. No one knew that he was Prince even. His father had countlessly denied him, claiming he was a child his mother had picked up in the forest. He got thrashed every time he tried to dispute it.

Dante's mother wasn't any different. She avoided him like a plague and shut her doors anytime she heard him close by. He had not seen his mother's face for almost three years!

The soldiers were no different. They were always willing to hold him down for his father to torture him. The servants treated him worse.

Everything would have been bearable if his appearance were his only flaw. Dante was half insane too. During some nights he was normal, other nights, especially at midnight, a strange song in his head would exert control over him. He would destroy things, try to end his life, and end up locked away in chains in the palace barn.

His only place of comfort was the ocean. He had to wear oversized clothes, gloves, and a hat to conceal his repulsive appearance. The last thing he wanted to do was scare the villagers and have his father ban him from leaving the palace. He couldn't afford to lose the little happiness he felt whenever he gazed at the golden sea.

Dante had gotten accustomed to sneaking out at early hours of the day, to spend time with the only thing that didn't openly detest him. He could share his worries with the sea and enjoy the breeze that calms his nerves.

Meanwhile, deep below the water, Almira and her maid watched him. She never got a clear view of his face because he always had a hat on and she had to be far away too for her safety. Humans could never be trusted. Even though there had been a spell put in place to erase their existence from their memories, no sane siren could trust a human. Her mother, Helena, was yet to be found. The throne was begging for a ruler. Normally, she wouldn't have thought twice, but the darkness of the Golden Throne would destroy them all if she wasn't powerful enough to contain it. That led her back to the human on the cliff.

"I try to call out to him many times, but the piece of me he possesses cancels it out, every single time", Almira communicated to her handmaid. The maid tried to hide her smile. The princess narrowed her seafoam eyes at the giggling girl.

"May I know why you find this situation amusing, Kitanna?".Kitanna knew to stay calm even though the voice in her head made her scales stiffen. Almira's voice always had that cold and unfeeling melody to it, even in a good mood.

"He's your mate, your highness. You should stop trying to kill him", Kitanna's voice was tiny but confident. It had this chirpy edge to it that could brighten any mood.

"I believe I shall be doing him a favor. He doesn't just come here every day to make my heart pound. I can almost sniff the misery around him. Our poor home will get tired of his complaints soon enough. Isn't a quick cold death at the bottom of the sea he loves, a rewarding death?", Almira asked. Kitanna's blue eyes budge, steps away from falling out.

"Make that bigger, and you'll be replacing the giant squids", Almira remarked. Kitanna blinked.

"I do not understand. You are supposed to love him, your highness. He is your soulmate".

"He is the ocean's choice, not mine. Once he comes of age, I shall dig my hand into that piece of flesh and pull out my missing piece. You and the ocean can do the loving part. We must return now. His presence annoys me, but for my sake, I need to make sure I'm there when he decides to end it all", Almira shrugged, swimming ahead.

"Your Highness! That was a cruel thing to say", Kitanna complained.

"I know a worthless person when I see one. There's so much he can do with his time".

"He's only ten!" Exclaimed Kitanna.

"He should go play with friends then. If he doesn't have any, he should study. You said he is Prince, his throne is not located on that cliff, is it? No one rules a kingdom by staring at the sea. I believe those humans couldn't have embedded in those books they carry around that the norms and values of their kingdom, are written in water," Almira retorted.

That was the last time she saw him.

Eleven years later, Kitanna came swimming into her room in a panic.

"I didn't think it was possible to sweat in water," Almira uttered evenly.

"There is a problem, your highness."

"It's not hard to tell," Almira said without interest.

"It's about your mate. He is getting married!" Kitanna announced. Almira squinted her eyes at her.

"When?".

"Now!" the girl breathed.

Chapter 2

Cold water drenched him on the spot he lay. He gasped, jerking up from sleep with a shiver. "Sleeping around like an old hag, do you not have duties to perform? Today is the Prince's wedding. You should be clearing the dirt around the palace!" The harshness of the man's tone made Dante shiver. "I am sorry I overslept, sir. I did pick all the dirt around yesterday. I only need to sweep the floors", Dante managed to reply, between scampering off the floor, and squeezing the water off his wet clothes. "Move, boy! We do not have time", the head cleaner, Guirello said impatiently, shoving him out of the room.Dante quickened his steps to avoid being manhandled. The years had gone by with increasing hardship. Imagine struggling to feed in a palace filled with food. Hell, even the dogs fed better than him. He worked as a slave, possibly lower if there was something like that. He received no wages as i

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