With Tomich’s help Arya gave each of the nobles back their rightful land and titles. To show their gratitude, they bestowed gifts upon her. Mostly whatever they could make with their own hands. She received clothing, furniture, jewels, and pottery. What she hadn’t counted on were the many other regular citizens who returned. They had no homes, fancy titles and no birthrights to protect them. Her thoughts turned to Eli and Lila. There’s no way she would allow her people to suffer in squalor as they had. She also owed Eli for his kindness.
“Send a request to his highness Prince Jarrah. I would like a man named Eli and his daughter Lila brought to me. Also, I’d like my friends Lumi, Rayu and Jax to join me here as well,” Arya commands. Evander nods and leaves her chambers.
With kingdom business out of the way, Arya heads to the last place she wants to be. Alara stood rocking her son to sleep while her servants tended to her rooms. “Careful sister or I might start to believe you actually care about me,” Alara smirks.
“Well I wouldn’t want to give you that impression. Perhaps I should leave.”
“We both know you won’t. You came here because you want the knowledge inside my head.”
“So you admit you have the knowledge I seek?” Arya smirks back.
“I found Fayrah and Cassian Vale,” Alara dangles the information like bait. Bitch. She motions for Arya to come closer and take a seat next to her as she sits down on her settee. Slowly Arya moves to the open space next to her and sits down. It’s closer than she likes, but the information Alara has is vital.
“Cut the shit and tell me what I need to know.”
“Of course,” Alara inclines her head, “but first I want something from you.”
“Of course you do,” Arya rolls her eyes. “What will it be this time? A limb? The crown?”
“First I want you to hold your nephew and stop staring at him like he has horns and three eyes.”
Alara holds her baby out to Arya and Arya stiffens. She’s never held a baby before. Truth be told, she found baby’s quite repulsive. Still, she held her arms out and Alara put him in Arya’s arms.
Her nephew has dark curly hair, blue eyes and olive skin. He must look like his father. Alara’s skin is a few shades darker than Arya’s. The baby coos, reaching up to touch her face with soft tiny fingers and sharp nails. Arya smiles. He’s a beautiful boy. He mimics her smile, capturing her heart at the same time. “What’s his name?”
Alara meets her gaze and Arya senses the same longing in her sister, for the blood bond they share, that she has. “What I did to you…I’m sorry.” Alara apologizes. “I didn’t want to, but I didn’t have a choice.”
For once Alara is telling the truth. She truly issorry. Still, Arya knows better than to let her guard down. She hands Yael back to her sister. “He’s beautiful. Who is his father?”
Just like before, Alara shut down at the mention of Yael’s father. Every time Arya brings it up, Alara dances around the question or ignores it altogether. Perhaps in her own time she’ll talk about it.
“I don’t want to talk about him,” Alara swallows nervously. “I just want to get to know you. And I want a room on the ground floor, not in this dungeon.”
“A room where you’ll have your full power,” Arya narrows her eyes at her.
“I broke the trust between us. Allow me to fix it and prove to you that I am no longer a threat. I have my son. I can’t prove it to you locked down here.”
“You’re Darkin, you don’t exactly fit in here.”
“I’m asking as your sister Arya…please…don’t keep us locked away down here. Let me prove myself to you.” Alara knows all of the right buttons to push. Fearing she’ll become weak, Arya quickly stands to leave. “Arya please!” Alara calls after her. “Don’t leave us down here!”
Arya halts near the stairs and dares a look back at her sister. She has tears in her eyes. Tears. “Your majesty?” Evander places a hand on Arya’s shoulder.
Arya slides her gaze to the floor before meeting Alara’s again. “Find her new chambers on the ground floor,” she demands.
She can see the alarm in Evander’s eyes, but he’s obedient and simply nods. If Malich were here he’d tell her this was stupid. Maybe it is, but she has to try with Alara. She needs the answers in her sister’s head.
While servants move Alara’s things to the ground floor, Arya paces inside the throne room. From what she learned from Tomich, Darkin dwell within the Unseelie Court. They aren’t welcomed in the Seelie Court because their power is in direct contrast to those who dwell here. In short, Alara’s power is in direct contrast to Arya’s, whatever Arya’s powers might be.
“Forgive me your majesty, but his royal highness Prince Jarrah has just arrived,” Evander informs her.
“Let him in,” she nods.
Evander leaves to let Malich in but not before casting Arya a worried glance. He’s worried Malich’s presence in Arya’s life without them being wed will cause her to lose favor with her citizens. Still, he does as he’s told.
As Alara and her son are moved to their new rooms Arya keeps watch. The moment Alara steps out of the hushstone room, her shadow wraps itself around her. The sick feeling returns to the pit of Arya’s stomach.
Heavy footsteps behind her catches her attention and she turns to greet Malich. His eyes are on her sister, no longer stifled behind hushstone walls. Like Evander, he doesn’t approve.
“Is this wise?” He asks, worried.
“Only time will tell,” Arya shrugs. “Meet me in my chambers.”
Malich nods, leaving for her chambers. Arya dares a step inside her sister’s room as Alara runs herself a hot bath. She turns to Arya and offers her a smile of gratitude. Arya won’t dare let the small kernel of hope she feels inside for a loving relationship with her sister to reach full bloom. Everything about Alara was created to kill her, and Alara holds all the cards. Arya is convinced she knows where they came from.
“You have your rooms. Tell me about Fayrah and Cassian Vale.”
“Sure,” Alara smiles. Her smile quickly disappears. “But first I want a new wardrobe for both Yael and I. You have the coin, you can afford it.”
Arya clenches her teeth. “I see old habits die hard. Rather than barter information like a lowborn you could’ve just asked.”
“I’ll get right on it,” Evander speaks before Arya can even give the command.
Alara’s hard edges soften and something like remorse sparks behind her eyes. “If your hope is to get close to me, you’re going about it the wrong way. I don’t take kindly to threats or ultimatums. As my sister, you’re welcomed to all I have, but you must stop treating me like some sort of meal ticket and treat me like a sister.”
Smirking, Alara says, “Do sisters not steal each others clothes or fight for the better room?”
Arya blinks at her and smiles. “Aye, I suppose.”
“Then one could argue I amtreating you like a sister. One could also argue that the crown sitting atop your head is as much mine as it is yours.”
Arya removes the crown from her head and tosses it over to Alara. “I have no use for crowns. The decision to put it upon my head was not my own, and believe me, its not worth the headache.”
Alara eyes the crown as no more than a trinket. It appears she has no interest in sharing or taking the burden Arya was given. The corners of her lips turn up into a smile and she slides her gaze over to Arya. “You have a closet full of these, don’t you?”
“Try an entire room full,” Arya winks at her.
Alara bursts into laughter so contagious that Arya finds herself laughing too. For the moment they’re two sisters enjoying a laugh. Arya didn’t realize how much she wanted to be a part of something…to be a part of a family until now. “Who was born first, you or me?”
“As if I would allow you to beat me out of the womb,” Alara scoffs. “I’m the oldest by four minutes. Your stubborn arse refused to come out.”
Again they both laugh. “Thank you for that,” Arya inclines her head.
“Would you happen to know where to find a nymph?” Alara asks, catching Arya off guard.
“What would you need a nymph for?”
“I thought you said I simply have to ask? Why the inquisition?”
“Why the secrecy?” Arya fires back.
“To hide us,” Alara swallows hard. There’s real fear behind her eyes.
“From what or whom?”
“Please,” Alara begs, but she refuses to answer the question.
Whatever Alara is running from, it can’t be good. Folding her arms across her chest Arya replies, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Of course she knows where to find a Nymph, but if Alara can keep her secrets, then so would she. They’re running out of time. Arya can feel the power inside her building and transforming. The more she knows, the safer those around her will be from her power.ns220.127.116.11da2