Keiran stood outside the door, a sour expression on his features. Inside was quiet, and it worrried him. Shouldn't there be some type of noise? Screams or the wailing of a newborn baby? But it was silent.

He punched the wall, his knuckles coming back bloody. Damn it. What's taking so long?

Finally, a small shriek pierced the silence and continued into a resounding cry. The door opened slowly, and a young healer stepped out, a bundle clasped in his arms.

My Lord, your daughter. He held out the baby.

My wife, how is she? Keiran ignored the outstretched offering. His neck craned to see beyond the boy and into his wife's chambers. How is my wife?

The boy retracted the newborn and cuddled her to his chest. Looking down, he replied hesitantly, She didn't make it, my Lord.

Keiran was silent. He froze. No.

Give me the child, Keiran. a figure stepped into his line of sight. The man's hair was long and white, but not with age. His tanned skin contrasted the thick mass of ivory that hung behind him as a cloak. He smirked. We must give her a name, after all.

Keiran nodded slightly, still not moving toward or away from the door.

The healer handed the man the baby girl. Scrutinizing her for a moment, the man announced, She will be called Thea, for no other name shall do. She is a gift from the gods. A great destiny awaits her. He cradled the child for a moment longer then relinqueshed his hold on her to the boy.

Take her out of my sight. Keiran said calmly. His eyes stayed fixed on the doorway.

Of course, my Lord. The boy bowed and scurried off to the nursery, to hand the child over to the maids who would look after her in her mother's place.

Holy fuck, not again. Thea stated, goggling up at the monstrosity. Four of its eyes, each a luminescent yellow, focused on her, and its other four turned to Evrain.

Evrain asked, lightly. His eyes darted to meet hers briefly, then settled on the towering spider advancing on them. He relaxed against the nearest wall, lax and seemingly ready to sleep rather than bolt. As the needle tipped legs lurched closer, he raised an eyebrow at his companion's continued silence. Don't ask, run! she said, grasping his hand and jerking him along behind her as she took off down the tunnel. Head twisted to glance back at creature, she held the torch above her and aimed. The light from the flames was just enough for her to see the demon squint as it lumbered behind them.

Evrain ducked, the flaming wood shooting over his head and scorching the delicate skin of the demon's belly. It left behind a smear of red goo across its flesh. Evrain never looked behind, eyeing the girl attached to his hand.

Why is it always spiders? she mumbled to herself, stumbling through the darkened cave. She shuddered at the thought of the hairy, leggy, thing behind them. Why was it always the things she hated most?

It's always whatever you don't like. She jumped, not expecting him to comment. From the glimpse she got as the entrance of the cave came into view, he was smirking. And why, she wanted to know, did he always know what she was thinking?

The two burst into the daylight, recoiling from the harsh sun. Thea skidded to a stop, doubled-over and panting.

You know, Evrain remarked too casually for her comfort, a holy fuck doesn't sound too bad right now. He grinned over at her, lifting that damned eyebrow.

She rolled her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she let it out in a sighed whisper, Why me?You lazy fuc-bum! Thea learned long ago never to bring that word into a conversation with Evrain. Sometimes she slipped, and paid for it, but mostly she just left it out entirely.

He took his time spreading the grin on his lips. I am, indeed, a lazy bum. Now, my being a lazy fuck is an outright lie and you, Lady, are not yet capable of passing you offering?Would you accept?

The young boy's head bobbed as he made his way up the hill.

Evrain watched, amused, from his perch on the low, sweeping branches; his legs swished the grass with each forceful kick of his feet. He glanced down at Thea, eyebrow arched. Friend of yours?

She snorted. He's courting me. Anticipating his reply, she cut him off,

Finally, the boy's smiling face appeared over the crest of the hill. Thea admitted he looked quite young, with golden brown curls and a cheerful, rosay complexion, he easily passed for a small child. It was no wonder Evrain found him entertaining. She hoped, however, he would resist making too much a fool of her.

Ah, Thea, hello! I've been looking for you, it's such a lovely day, don't you think?Go, stranger, and to Sparta tell, that here, obedient to her laws, we fell. she recited slowly, quietly. Her hands tightly gripped the heavy sword by her side, eyes gazing off into the distance.

What's that supposed to mean? the man beside her asked.

You ever heard of Thermopylae?It was a battle, a long time ago. 300 soldiers died holding the pass agaisnt more than two hundred thousand enemy soldiers. That phrase is written on their memorial. She kept her eyes on the hills ahead. Over the tops, thousands of armored creatures marched toward them.

Did they die? He turned to look at her, All of them?You think we have a chance?Not much of one, no.

They fell into silence as the soldiers drew nearer on the horizon. Behind her, thirteen men and women stood with swords drawn or bows leveled; their faces were tense and weary, tightened with fear. The only way through the pass is through us. she thought. If we're gonna die, we'll give em hell first.