Princess Grayson has horrific morning sickness. Malich can hear her emptying the contents of her stomach throughout the day while trying to be the picture of poise and grace simultaneously. Very few knew of her condition, save for her chambermaid’s, his brothers, himself, and Banon. All were sworn to secrecy for the protection of the Princess and threatened with death.
He hates the Winter Court. It’s always cold, snowing or raining. He misses the flowers and the sunny days of the Summer Court. One could go mad here. If it weren’t for the many eyes watching his every movement, mostly female, he felt as if he would go mad.
Truth be told, his thoughts are of the beautiful assassin. If he can’t buy or barter his way out of this marriage…oh Gods…he wonders if there would be anything left of either him or the Planes once she unleashes her wrath.
Princess Grayson isn’t bad she’s just not Arya. The Princess is soft and delicate, like flower petals. Arya is more hard and sharp like the cold hard steel of a knife.
“Is the future King not hungry?” The Princess’ aunt Delilah asks.
He was so deep in his thoughts that he didn’t notice her watching. He looks down at his plate of uneaten food. He’s starving but finds himself without appetite.
“If the food isn’t to your liking I can have the chef make you something more palatable,” Lizbet’s other aunt, Portia, offered.
These people were kind and helpless. Their best soldier is no match for even a blind man with no arms or legs. No wonder their Kingdom is in peril.
“The food is fine,” he offers them both a small smile before taking a bite to appease them.
Lizbet loops her arm through his and smiles at him with bright hopeful eyes. It sickens him. He wouldn’t be here if his brother’s hadn’t bartered him off like a prized mare. They’d stoop to any level to keep him away from the Summer Court.
The nobles are afraid and scrambling to Malich in droves to take up an alliance. His brother’s hoped to put an end to it by showing the nobles who pulls the strings. At the moment it’s Kahlem. As long as he has Malich’s parents, he’d alwayshold the cards and he knew it.
After their meal, Lizbet retires to her chambers while her aunts and cousins take the lead, showing him around. Walking through their kingdom he understands why it’s so sought after. It stretches for miles and is cleaner than any city he’s seen. There are no homeless or beggars, and the homes built here are pristine. The palace itself is like a beacon of light and hope with its white walls and diamond glass chandeliers. It reminds him of the Seelie palace…of the Seelie Queen. He needs to get back to her, no matter the cost.
“A word, your highness?” Delilah smiles.
He nods. Both she and Portia flank him on either side. “Rumor has it that you’re fond of a particular Queen of the Light Court,” Delilah watches him with calculating eyes.
“One can also sense your hesitation to marry my niece Lizbet,” Portia adds.
“Perhaps we might have a solution for you.”
Malich watches the two women exchange a knowing glance before meeting his gaze. Snakes…both of them. It didn’t take much to guess at the reason they’d want to help him. “Let me guess. You hope with the King dead and the princess unwed you could influence her to your own agenda. But now that she’s being married off to me, you fear losing your grip on both your niece and the kingdom you both covet? Does that about cover it?”
Both women blanche. It appears like most in his life, they mistook him for a young male lacking knowledge beyond his cock. They scramble to explain themselves, but he isn’t in the mood to be lied to.
“Save your breath, I am as interested in having you lie to my face as I am in marrying your niece, but alas I do not have a choice at the moment. My brother has something I want and marrying your niece is the only way to get it,” Malich shuts them both down. He doesn’t want to make enemies of them so he adds, “As King, I will do your bidding within reason. Request what you need and I will do my best to make sure those needs are met.”
This brings a smile to the women’s faces and they bow to him, dropping back to their protective detail. It appears he’s left one pit of vipers only to fall into another. He wonders if Lizbet knows how much her aunts covet her crown.
Dax suddenly places a hand to his chest to stop him, his eyes on the road ahead. The road back to the palace. Hundreds of men gather onto the streets bearing swords and armor. Their armor bears the crest of the Fall Court.
A male steps forward bearing the badge of a general and Malich crosses the distance to greet him. “Our quarrel isn’t with you Prince Jarrah. Walk away,” the general warns.
If only things were that simple. “If only that were possible general, but his majesty interim King Kahlem Jarrah has brokered a marriage between Princess Grayson and I. I cannot walk away. If you continue down this path you will be making an enemy of me.”
The general contemplates his words and whispers to his second in command who places two fingers to his temple. He’s a Channeler. They can move information from one mind to the next with a simple thought. The general is undoubtedly waiting for instructions on how to proceed.
The Channeler opens his eyes and whispers back to the general. His eyes give him away and Malich jumps into action. Backing away from the general he shouts over his shoulder, “Protect the women! Alumni, positions!” As he reaches Dax he whispers to him, “I want the Channeler alive. Kill the rest.”
The Fall Courts army is unlike any army he’s ever seen. Most attack head on with little regard for tactic, but not the Volc army. Several men line up in front and as Malich watches, they form shields with their bare hands, protecting the other soldiers. A second group walks up behind them. Archers. Bows knocked, they launch a tirade of arrows into the air. Neither the alumni nor the army of the Winter Court have a defense against these heat-seeking arrows.
Malich closes his eyes, marking each arrow and with a flicker of his power he disintegrates each arrow in the air. “Retreat. We do not have the defenses to fight an army of this magnitude,” Banon pleads.
“And do what?” Malich pins him with a glare. “If we retreat they won’t just simply go home. They’ll lay siege to first your towns and then your kingdom.”
“If we stay here, we’ll all die.”
“We have an alliance with the Seelie Queen,” Dax speaks, earning a glare from Malich. “Perhaps now would be a good time to call for reinforcements. Her army is equipped to handle such a threat. And she has ways of getting around during crucial times.”
His lightening lashes out at Dax’s suggestion. Arya under the same roof as Lizbet?If the Fall Court didn’t kill them all, Arya might once she learns of both his nuptials to the Princess and the child she carries.
“We’d be trading one vital situation for another,” Malich narrows his eyes at Dax.
“Perhaps, but we won’t know if we don’t survive this one and you know I’m right.”
As he contemplates what Dax is suggesting, Malich raises a hand to ward off yet another barrage of arrows. They meet the same fate as the first. Sighing heavily he turns to Banon and says, “Considering our dire situation, you wouldn’t happen to have any Channelers handy, would you?”
Banon nods. “I am one.”
“Send word to Evander Kale, general of the Seelie Army. Do make haste, we are running out of time.”ns184.108.40.206da2