Arya’s eyes flutter. Her eyelids feel heavy but she manages to pull them back only to be met with blinding light that seems to split her skull. She groans, grasping her head between her hands, massaging her scalp. Her body aches, she feels famished, and a thirst like no other makes her throat feel dry. She tries and fails to lick her lips. They’re stuck together. After prying them open she waits for her eyes to adjust and freezes. The last thing she remembers is the beautiful palace springing up from the crater in the ground. She realizes she’s inside now and wonders where Evander has gone off.
A low hum of voices captures her attention and she follows the voices to a nearby window. Thousands of people dressed in white stand outside the palace, lined up to enter. Arya checks for her weapons and realizes she’s no longer wearing her alumni leathers. Instead, she’s been changed into an elegant white silk boat-neck, off the shoulder gown with an open back that dips low to the small of her back. A crystal vanity sits in the far right of the room. She walks over to it, staring at herself as if she’s never seen her reflection before.
At least two inches at the front center of her hair has gone white. Her hair is pulled back at the sides, held in place by two diamond encrusted hair combs. She wears no jewelry around her neck, but there are diamond earrings in her ears. “Holy Gods,” Arya gasps. She has no idea how long she laid in that bed or what is happening.
In search of answers, she follows the beautiful halls of pale gray walls with white wainscoting and sparkling marble floors to a grand double staircase that led to a foyer. Before she can descend the stairs however, a voice that both warms her heart and strikes fear in her, calls out to her. She turns to find Malich, Evander, her friends and several of the Seelie soldiers gathered in a room. Her eyes slide to Malich who seems relieved rather than angry.
“What’s going on?” Arya asks, “And whoever put me in this ridiculous dress is going to die.” She expects the usual laughter, but no one even cracks a smile. Their faces are grim and all of them have a hard time looking her in the eye. “Did I miss something? Where are we?”
Arya meets each of their gazes but it’s Malich who steps towards her. “You’re in the Seelie Court,” he speaks slowly, “This palace, this populace, and its fortunes are all gifted to you by the Goddesses of light. You’re a Queen now.”
Even after the words are spoken, their meaning don’t hit home right away. Arya holds Malich’s gaze, eyes widening in horror and then she promptly doubles over and empties the contents from her stomach onto the floor. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand she pants, “What?”
The irises of Arya’s eyes suddenly turn from hazel to burning embers and visions of a bright light accompanying six female figures seize her mind. As the vision plays out she recalls their names out loud. “Danu, Goddess of Power…Igme, Goddess of Intellect…Ysgard, Goddess of Life…Arbren, Goddess of the Infinite…Esme, Goddess of Wisdom, and Mayv, the Goddess of Beauty and Battle.” The vision disappears as quickly as it came and the burning embers in her eyes dissolve back to pools of hazel.
Arya takes a look at everything around her. The palace, the vast territory and the persons she could feel with her power. Fear grips her heart. Being an assassin is all she ever knew. Why the Goddesses of this Court would bless her as heir both baffles and angers her at the same time.
“I don’t want to be anyone’s queen. I don’t know how,” Arya scoffs.
Lumi rolls her eyes, “Only you would find a problem with having an entire kingdom handed to you. Stop being an ungrateful arse, tap into the arrogant spoiled girl we all know you are and help us address your people. The moment you resurrected this Court, they could feel it and have been showing up in droves for a turn, winnowing in at will.”
Both Evander and Lumi began hurling an onslaught of information her way. She drowned them both out. She was a queen…she was a queen. Arya is both overwhelmed and frightened at the prospect of running a kingdom. She hasn’t the slightest clue how to do so and these people depend on her.
Her eyes slide to Malich, a glimmer of understanding flashing across his face. He knows what she faces. He has two kingdoms of his own to run. “Leave us,” he commands.
Arya watches on autopilot as the others exit the room, closing the door behind them. It’s just the two of them now. Her mind quickly goes to the night she shared with Ihsan, to her betrayal. “Malich, I-”
“Sh,” he closes the distance between them and places a finger to her lips. “Whatever happened, I don’t want to know, but you and I are on even ground from this day forth.”
Arya nods and swallows hard. Not a test then. It was a concession. Atonement for past discretions. She looks beyond the windows to the persons gathered around the palace, herpalace. Hooking his finger beneath her chin Malich brings her gaze back to him. “They’ve been waiting to lay eyes on you, their queen. We’ve held them off as long as we can, but they’re starting to become impatient. You need to address your people and I know the prospect of that scares you, but I will be there at your side to guide you along with General Kale. Do not be afraid my love, you’ll make an amazing Queen,” he encourages her. She hopes so.
Taking her by the hand, Malich escorts Arya to the throne room where her people have already started to gather. They room grow quiet as she nears her throne. It’s made of white marble as well with crystal and silver floral embellishments. A goose feather cushion sat in the seat part of her throne to cushion her hindquarters while she sat. Evander sat to her left and Malich to her right.
Evander took the lead addressing the Court while Arya looks on trying to successfully mask the fear gripping her innards. For several hours she was questioned, Evander and Malich both supplying her with the answers, while she simply mimicked them like a puppet. This was foreign to her, these proceedings. In truth, she still found it hard to believe it was real.
The meeting had all but come to a close when Arya felt sick to the pit of her stomach. Something was here. Something unwelcomed yet familiar, something…Alara.
She appeared before Arya, malnourished, red wrings around her wrists as if she’d been held captive, with tears in her eyes. Malich, Evander, and their soldiers all brandished their swords, occupying the space between Arya and her murdering bitch of a sister. Arya was half out of her seat when Tomich appeared, begging for Alara’s mercy.
“Please do not harm her your majesty,” Tomich begs. “We come in peace.”
“Is that what you call what she did to me? Peace?” Arya seethes.
“Forgive me sister, but I had no choice, just as I do not have one now.” Alara opens her cloak to reveal the baby strapped to her chest. A boy. Her son. “We need your help sister. We seek shelter and your protection.”
Arya blanches. Her sister could die a horrible death as far as she’s concerned, but the baby…he was innocent in all of this. Then there was Tomich, the Historian. She needed his knowledge and knew he would probably barter it for Alara’s safety and protection.
Malich places his hand over Arya’s and bristles when Evander purposely puts himself between them. Turning to Arya Malich commands, “Do not grant her a fuckingthing.”
Evander steps towards Malich, hand on his sword, and with a tone she knew Malich wasn’t used to hearing he warned him, “Never address our queen in that manner or you willlose that tongue.”
Malich rose and Arya quickly placed herself between them. All hell had broken loose in a matter of seconds and she’s only been queen for a turn, awake for far lessns 220.127.116.11da2