For the first time in eight hundred years, the sun sets on the desert world of Crimson Winter, throwing the planet into unexpected darkness and further chaos. And with the setting of the sun comes the unexpected rise of hordes of undead creatures from the endless Sand Lakes.
Yukari Namikoya, Japanese high school student turned Chosen of Sapphiros, must rise to the occasion and use the powers she has been given to try and protect those she's come to love against overwhelming odds.
But when each night lasts a little longer, Yukari soon realizes that their days might be numbered and a sinister force beyond even the menace of the Vile Emperor might be behind the terrors that are besieging the planet during such a desperate time. The worst part is that Yukari doesn't know if her powers, or even the combined forces of her allies will be enough to protect the Kingdom of Taiyou, let alone the whole world.
“So it’s a children’s toy that goes down the stairs?” Rama
asked. “On its own, you say?”
I listened only half-heartedly as Hotaru tried, once again,
to explain another tidbit of Earth culture to someone who had no frame of
reference for what she was talking about. Hotaru was my best friend, but I was
often exasperated by her lack of good judgment. I prided myself on having a
solid grasp on the facts of any given situation, but it was not lost on me that
my round-faced, dark-haired friend was my complete opposite. It was a wonder we
got along at all.
Beyond Hotaru, Kaji rolled his eyes to indicate what he
thought of the current topic of conversation and I smiled at him, despite
myself. Like Hotaru, I had known Kaji my entire life. We didn’t talk much, but
when we did we often saw eye to eye, which was refreshing compared to the
arguments I often had with Hotaru.
Yue, the other one of us who had been chosen by Sapphiros,
was another matter altogether. I looked up as I saw my friend appear at the
base of the staircase and grab a couple of buns from the soldier handing them
out, her impossibly long, chestnut brown hair falling down to cover her face in
shadow. Yue and I had been close enough on Earth, though even then she had been
quiet and generally preferred to be on her own, rather than socialize or study.
Since arriving on this world, she had, if anything, become more distant from
the rest of us. In the last three days she had been mostly silent, using her power
to increase her walking or running speed until she was no longer visible as she
passed from place to place, in order to avoid having to actually encounter
She turned, buns in hand, and made as if to flash-step back
in the direction she had come when she stopped suddenly, her back stiffening. I
sat up straight in alarm before I realized what had caused Yue to pause. A
familiar grating noise filled the air and I looked over my shoulder in
disbelief to see the doors of the temple were opening at last.
The group of us on the steps hurried to our feet as two at
a time, sorceresses and sorceresses-in-training emerged from the massive
temple, fanning out from the doors themselves and down the sides of the
staircase. Prince Narlhep emerged slowly into the light of day from the dark
confines of the Jade mountain. He walked stiffly, but I was glad to see him
exiting the temple under his own power – after three days of his continued
absence, I had begun to worry he would not emerge at all. The prince took a few
more steps and stopped between Kaji and Rama, but he didn’t make any move to
take his helmet off, nor did he speak.
“All hail the new King of Taiyou!” Kaji called out, his
voice amplified by his power so everyone could hear him. “All hail King Narlhep!”
“King Narlhep!” The cheer was repeated by those of us on
the steps, Rama’s troops, and the Roughlanders beyond, though the many
sorceresses remained silent and stony-faced.
My eyes were trained on Narlhep, who still had not made any
move to remove his helmet – something was amiss here. After a long moment,
Narlhep retrieved his sword from Rama and started making his way down the
stairs. I fell in step beside him as the sorceresses began to disperse and the
others talked excitedly amongst themselves.
“Narlhep, are you all right?”
He didn’t answer me, confirming my suspicions. I quickened
my pace to keep step with him as he broke free of the crowd at the bottom of
the stairs and continued on away from where we had set up our encampment. Ahead
of us lay the partly-destroyed small village that decorated the one side of the
mountain, where we had commandeered most of our remaining supplies.
“Narlhep?” I tried again as he marched deliberately toward
a wooden cabin, which was slightly larger than the majority of the huts still
standing in the village.
I entered the cabin on the heels of the prince – or the
king now, I suppose. The cabin was still not very big, despite being larger
than most of the buildings in this village. The main room – perhaps the only room,
I couldn’t tell – contained only a few rickety chairs facing a wooden desk.
Behind the desk was a woman I had met before, but didn’t much like. She was
small of stature and elderly, with a bun of grayish-white hair held atop her
head by a black net of spider-like webbing. As the armoured King of Taiyou
entered her presence, the matronly sorceress stood and gave a slight bow of her
head in his direction. Narlhep did not wait for the woman to finish
acknowledging him before he removed her head with a single, powerful swipe of
I gasped, my eyes widening in shock. Narlhep, like me, was
only fifteen. I had never killed anyone before, though since coming here I had
seen my share of death. I had read in the museum of Taiyou that Prince Narlhep,
like the other princes of his line before him, had been responsible for the
death of his father, but until now I hadn’t fully believed my friend to be
capable of murder. Her head rolled to the ground as her body crumpled and a
slight green mist, like a gas, wafted from out of her body to dissipate in the
“She was the last of the Oujou.” Narlhep’s voice sounded
muffled from beneath his helmet, but I could hear him struggling to keep his
voice controlled. “I had no choice.”
“Narlhep, please, talk to me,” I pleaded with him, wanting
my friend back. “Tell me what happened in there.”
He gave no response, but stood tightly gripping his bloody
sword a moment in his gauntleted hand before walking past me. I couldn’t let
him just walk away. I tried a different tactic, though it would cost me to do
it. “Your Majesty?”
He stopped with his back to me and he didn’t turn his head.
“Don’t call me that,” he said. “I’m not the King of Taiyou.”
“If you’re not the King of Taiyou, then who is?”
Narlhep took a deep breath, audible through his helmet.
“The Chosen of Jedeite. I’m to act as Regent until he returns to Taiyou, then
my time is finished.” Meet the Author:
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