As time progresses so does the darkbane’s proximity to the fatal part of his father’s brain. They’re running out of time and Malich has all but given up hope, set to drag Arya back here kicking and screaming if he has to, if she didn’t kill him first, when she appears in the doorway to the infirmary looking nothing short of a true Goddess.
Her hair falls in waves framing her face, and her lips are the color of blood, same as her gown. It’s silk with a plunging neckline and straps that hung over her shoulders. A diamond belt cinched the smooth flowing fabric at her waist, high enough to create a slit for her long tone legs to show through when she walked. He tries and fails to keep his arousal at bay. She knows how to make an entrance.
“What do you want?” Arya asks as if she has better things to do. At least she’s here. She could have chosen not to come.
Stepping aside, Malich motions to his father lying on the sickbed. Arya’s eyes slice to the Princess at his side who seems to be shrinking in the presence of Arya’s innate beauty.
“This is my father, Simeon Jarrah. He’s part of the leverage Kahlem held over me,” Malich explains, “My marriage to the Winter Court Princess in exchange for my father’s life.”
Arya tears her icy glare from the Princess long enough set eyes on his father. Her mask of steel falters only slightly as she takes in his current state and swallows hard. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Darkbane,” Lizbet answers, earning another icy glare. Determined not to let Arya affect her confidence, she holds her chin up high and musters the strength to match Arya’s iron will and continues, “It’s been implanted in the Kings brain somehow, inching closer to the part of his brain connected to his life force. If it reaches his life force, he’ll die.”
“Why not take it out? What do you need me for?” Arya asks growing more annoyed by the second.
Malich decides to intervene and explain it himself. “Darkbane has only one weakness, light.”
“So,” Arya shrugs, “There are thousands of lightbearers within the planes. You have my permission to enlist whomever you need.”
“I need you,” Malich swallows hard. “Yes there are thousands of lightbearers, but this procedure will require someone with your power. Kahlem knew that when-”
“When you chose to turn your back on me,” Arya pins him with a glare. He wouldn’t blame her if she left his father to die a horrific death. She owes him nothing.
After a long bout of silence between them, Arya sighs and finally speaks. “What do you need me to do?”
Malich sighs with relief. He hoped the good parts of her were still there and he hadn’t destroyed it yet. If he could, he’d take her in his arms to show her how much this kindness meant to him. But she isn’t done. “When I’m done, no more letters and no more requests for my presence. I don’t care who’s dying.”
He swallows hard and nods. He has no choice. He’s in no position to argue and until he can give her what she wants, what they both want, its best they stay away from each other. His brother will use her against him and vice versa.
Arya walks to his father’s bedside and turns to Lizbet, “What do I have to do?”
Lizbet reaches for Arya’s hand and when their skin meets, Arya flinches, pulling back a little. She wants nothing to do with the Princess who stole her life. “Place your hand on his forehead. Draw the darkbane into you with your light. It’ll be drawn to you, but too little power and you’ll lose your grip, killing him instantly. Too much power and you risk harming him with your light. The dose of power must be concentrated and balanced.”
“Well that’s an awful lot of pressure,” Arya scoffs nervously. “Anything else you’d like to add?”
Cupping her face in his hand Malich assures her, “I trust you. You can do this.”
A stiletto meets the skin underneath his chin. “Don’t. Touch. Me.” Arya warns him.
Malich swallows hard raising his hands and backs away. Once he’s a careful distance away Arya sheaths her stiletto and turns to his father. She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. After two more deep breaths she hits him with a blast of light from her palms.
Malich has no way to tell if everything is going according to plan and his heart lurches when Arya sucks in a breath, recoiling at the same time. She doesn’t remove her hands though. Instead, sheer determination spreads across her facial features and beads of sweat gather on her forehead as she silently battles the darkbane to save his fathers life.
Moment later Arya’s eyes fly open and she looks down at her glowing hands. A small orb of light beneath her skin travels up the length of her arm to her chest and then settles over her heart. There it grows dim and she quickly backs away, speechless.
Lizbet places her hand over his father, examining him for any lingering signs of the darkbane. As she examines him, he shoots straight up and gasps, startling Lizbet who screams.
“Father?” Malich calls out to him. His father meets his gaze and tears form in his eyes. Malich rushes to his bedside and wraps his father in his arms. “You’re back. I thought you were lost to me forever.”
Fright spread across his father’s face, “Kahlem. He…”
“I know,” Malich nods.
“Your mother…is she here with you?” His father asks, panicked.
Malich shakes his head and sorrow fills his father’s eyes. “Then he still has her.”
“I got you back and I will get her back to. I promise you. I won’t stop looking for her as long as there is breath inside my body.”
Pressing his head to Malich’s, his father breaks down into uncontrollable sobs. When he is able, Lizbet has the servants prepare him a room next to Malich’s.
Grateful, Malich remains in the infirmary to thank Arya, but as he looks around he realizes she’s not there. He searches the palace and she’s nowhere to be found. She’s gone. He laughs to himself. Of course she won’t give him the satisfaction of thanking her. She wants him to believe she doesn’t care, but he knows her. He knows better.
“Is she gone?” Lizbet asks.
“Yes,” he nods.
Lizbet watches him with careful eyes. Her lips move as if she’s going to speak but no words come out. Instead, a defeated look washes over her. “I know I’m not as beautiful or as powerful as she is, but I do care for you Malich.”
He grimaces at her use of his given name. To date, Arya is the only one who calls him by his given name. Like most things Arya, it started out of rebellion. She refused to call him Majii because she hates authority. Well, any authority that isn’t her own.
“You don’t get it do you? I am not yours to take. What you did betraying me to my brothers…it cost me my mother, my father his wife, and my mother her freedom. It’ll cost you too. If you cared for me, you never would have lifted a finger against me. The moment you did you became my enemy.”
“You left me no choice,” Lizbet’s voice breaks. “Do not act as if your actions didn’t lead us down this path as well, starting from the night you seduced me into sharing your bed. You could’ve left me out of your twisted games with your brothers, but you didn’t. I was no more than a pawn in the game of chess you’ve been playing with them since you were adolescents.”
Malich forces himself to meet her gaze. Perhaps she isn’t entirely far off from the truth. He hadused her and intended to discard her as he’s done many before her. Through carelessness and perhaps too much spirits, he impregnated her. A mistake he wishes he can take back. Still, she’s right. It’s his fault as much as it is hers.
“Please husband, do not shut me out. I don’t want to bring a child into a world filled with resentment and hate,” Lizbet pleads. “You are a Prince and soon you will be King of my court. From birth people like us, we aren’t groomed for love. We’re groomed to covet the crown and the power that comes with it. Our duty is to the crowns we wear. Love is for paramours. We’d be foolish to think we can have them both.”ns 184.108.40.206da2