Ellen skittered back a few more steps. “Lucia, you’re scaring me.” She pointed to the snowflake in my hand. “How did you do that?”
“It’s my magic.” I told her. The snowflake twisted, the points coming together. “Don’t you think it’s unfair. The Guardians get magic, but the royal family doesn’t.”
“That’s because--” she stopped talking when she saw the snowflake grow. “Lucia, please stop.”
“I have to keep the balance, Ellen.” I held my hand out further. The snowflake had become an icicle and it was still growing. “You knew the dangers of being a Guardian.”
Ellen let out a scared sob and turned on her heals. She ran down the hall, rubbing tears from her eyes.
The icicle in my hand shot forward, leaving a trail of ice in its wake. When it met Ellen, she screamed before falling forward. As she hit the ground, the light gem popped off the band around her wrist. It rolled away from her, stopping when it hit the wall at the end of the hall.
I walked past Ellen, sparing a glance down at the ice that was spreading over her back. My powers were growing with each gem I took back. Little Ellen was a perfect example of my control. But I didn’t have time to marvel at my creation.
I knelt to pick up the light gem. As I reached for it, I noticed it shiver, then inch closer to my hand. I smiled, seeing how they wanted to be back with me. I was their princess. I was in charge.
“Lucia.” I heard Mizuki call as I slipped the gem into my pocket with the others. “There you are.”
I turned and looked down the adjacent hallway. Mizuki was walking briskly toward me, but she slowed as she got closer. “Where’s Ellen?”
I was spared an exclamation by a shriek from the hall I’m come down.
“Ellen!” Luna’s cries echoed off the walls, and her footfalls were like drumbeats.
I looked back and saw my sister kneeling beside Ellen’s body. Skyler stood behind her, shock and horror pushing through his professional persona. He looked up at me and, for the first time, seemed to notice something.
“Lucia…” he began, wind circling his feet.
Mizuki looked around the corner to see what was going on. “Oh… no.” She whispered. She placed herself in front of me, glancing around, looking for the danger. “How did they get inside the building?”
“Mizuki.” Skyler said in a warning tone. He helped Luna to her feet and positioned himself in front of her. “Look at Lucia. Really look.”
Mizuki shook her head. “What are you talking about? We need to get someplace safe.”
“Look at her!” His voice boomed around us. It was the first time I’d seen him completely loose his cool. He was frantic, feral even. “Can’t you see the change?”
“She’s being attacked.” Mizuki countered. “And each time, one of her friends dies.”
“Look at her hair!”
Mizuki didn’t have a response to that. She stood in silence for a moment, then, slowly, she turned to look at me. I knew what she was looking at. I knew what Skyler had finally seen. What no one wanted to see.
My hair was covered in frost. The chocolatey brown locks that I shared with Luna, that we inherited from our father’s lineage, now faded and ended in white ice. Everything about me was tinged in cold, and they were finally seeing it.
“Lucia, you…” Mizuki trailed off, still reluctant to speak the truth out loud.
But Skyler wasn’t. “She killed them.” He shouted. “There were no more assassins after her. She killed Ellen. She killed Seraphina. And she killed Natsuki.”
Mizuki turned on him. “Stop. I was there. I saw what happened.” She opened her mouth to continue, but no sound came out. She still didn’t want to admit it.
“Then where did the ice come from?” Skyler pushed. “Where were the assassins?”
“I don’t know.” Mizuki waved her arm out, drawing water from a nearby vase. “But Lucia doesn’t want us dead. She wants us, all of us, to be happy.” She turned to look at me. “Right.”
In response to her hopeful look, I met her with one of cold uncaring. “I don’t care what you do.” I told her. “All I want are my gems back.”
“Gems?” Mizuki mumbled through her shock.
“The gems aren’t yours.” Luna countered. “They belong to Amali. They belong to our family.”
“Until father dies,” I shouted at her. “they are mine. As long as I’m heir, they belong to me. Why don’t you just wait your turn.”
“Lucy.” Tears welled up in Luna’s eyes and she turned away. “This isn’t you.”
Mizuki fully turned so we were face to face. “Did we mean nothing to you? Do you really hate us guardians?”
“No.” I answered coolly. “I loved Peran.”
“And the rest of us?”
Mizuki slumped to the ground. The water she’d taken from the vase swirled around her like a shawl caught in the wind. I clicked my tongue, looking at the shimmering gem on her wrist.
“Kill me.” Mizuki whispered. She looked up with newly determined eyes. “You killed my sister because of these gems. Why not me?”
For a moment, I hesitated. I’d never meant to kill Natsuki. She’d been an accident.
Mizuki read my pause as reluctance and hid her gem behind her back. “I won’t give it to you. You’ll have to kill me to get it.”
“Mizuki! No!” Skyler shouted, running forward.
But he was too slow.
The water around Mizuki fell as she did and froze as she did. It was proof of my control. Just one sliver of ice in her head and I’d granted her wish.
Mizuki and Natsuki were reunited.