“What’s going on?” she shouted. “What happened?” Similar questions emanated from around her.
She pushed through the crowd, fighting to see the fallen person.
Her stomach dropped. Was it the plague? It hardly ever attacked royals. Her mind reeled through all of the terrifying possibilities, but nothing could have prepared her for what she saw.
Lying on the marble floor, deathly pale and eyes bulging and bloodshot, was High Queen Callista.
“No,” Andrea gasped. Tears flowed down her face. Her mother had the plague. Panic filled her mind, making everything foggy. She couldn’t live anymore. She couldn’t do this . . .
The sharp feeling of nails digging into her arm woke her up out of her daze. “We have to get out of here,” Prince Darian pleaded. “The plague is fast moving. We have to leave or we’ll die!”
Her mind cleared. She had to leave. Now. Around her royalty collapsed. The sound of skulls hitting the floor rang out. But . . . she couldn’t leave! Her mother was dying! This was her home!
An infected home that she couldn’t stay in much longer.
The truth penetrated her mind, and she hesitated before saying, “Okay.”
Prince Darian hauled her up off of her knees. She found herself sprinting, leading him through through the now dark and ominous ballroom, through mounds of fallen people. She dashed to the front entrance, cavernous and illuminated with flickering candles. She pulled open the ornate silver doors and down the shining glass path away from the palace.
Time and tears blurred, until she found Prince Darian saying, “You don’t have to run anymore.”
They were standing in the vivid green grass outside of the evergreen forest, large and snowy. She found herself shaking, from cold and from fear, holding Prince Darian’s hand like it was the only thing left.
Sadness struck her like a monster digging in its claws. He was the only one left. Nobody had made it out of the palace with them. She took a trembling breath and said, “We’re the only survivors.”