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Malich and his brothers traded veiled insults all afternoon while attending a gathering at the Winter Court. It was cold, so Malich made sure to wear extra layers. He couldn’t help but notice the many eyes belonging to the Courts female population, devouring him as he drank wine and talked politics. Many of the eyes fell to his empty ring finger with contemplative glances. So did his brothers’. If Arya didn’t come back, he didn’t know what he would do. All he could do is hope, and wait.
“Where is your bride to be?” Bevi asked. He’s the least threatening of the trio. It’s probably why Arokin and Kahlem put him up to the task of inquiring about Arya’s whereabouts. Malich’s other brothers Odious, Cassius, Odin and Rhesus mostly remained neutral unless provoked or they saw an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
“Where are mother and father?” Malich fired back with an inquisition of his own.
His brother’s were calm and unreadable. Instead, all eyes went to Kahlem. Malich watched him closely and knew whatever would come out of his mouth would be a carefully crafted lie. “They’re enjoying themselves on the sea at the moment. Father insisted on tying up support from our allies over seas.” Indeed a lie. Their father suffered from seasickness. He would have sent someone else in his stead or taken an army with him.
Giving nothing of his suspicions away Malich frowned, “Support?”
“For the growing threat of course,” Kahlem inclined his head.
It was yet another lie. He would have to send his soldiers to uncover the truth Kahlem refuses to speak. Arya perhaps.
The mere mention of the deadly beauty enveloped his thoughts, drowning out his brothers’ conversations. He knew when he sent her there was a possibility she wouldn’t come back, but he hoped she would. If she did, no matter the transgression she may have committed against him, he knew before he let her go that he would forgive her just this once. He owed her that much. It was the price he had to pay for atonement. The price he had to pay for peace of mind.
A figure approaching from the corner of his eye caught his attention. It was Lumi, concealed by a red cloak and mask, flanked by a Seelie Soldier in white. The look on Lumi’s face was grim and Malich’s heart clenched. Perhaps she’d left him after all, never to return.
“A word, your highness?” Lumi inclined her head.
Malich motioned for her to come near and she whispered into his ear, “It’s Arya, something’s happened to her. Evander sent word for you to meet him in the Seelie Court immediately.” The words hadn’t fully left her mouth before Malich rose from his seat.
“Excuse me your majesty, but I have an urgent matter I need to attend to,” he inclined his head to his brother.
With a wave of his hand Kahlem dismissed him, “As you wish brother.”
Quick, long determined strides weren’t enough to get Malich out of there fast enough. There were horses waiting, a fabric donning the Red Legion Crest strewn across their backs beneath the saddles and a protective detail. Six alumni and six Seelie soldiers flanked him on both sides as they headed for the Seelie Court.
Malich blanched when they made it to the border of the Seelie Court. It’s plush green grass is two inches higher than that of the Summer Court and its landscaping is heavily decorated in various species of white flowers and trees with white leaves. Gone is the barren wasteland of dirt and withering life. The large crater where the Seelie Court had fallen now housed a white stone palace with marble pillars and heavy white marble French doors with diamonds embedded in them. The palace is surrounded by white stone walls at least two stories tall with its entrances and exits marked by large white wooden doors.
Malich looks to Lumi and the others before continuing inside the now open doors. A Seelie soldier closes the door behind them, sliding a large wooden beam into place to secure it. They dismounted as Evander descends the stairs of the palace to greet him.
“What in Anan’s name is going on here?” Malich demands to know.
“Follow me,” Evander replied.
As they stepped into the palace, Malich took in the glorious sight of it. He’d heard stories about the beautiful Seelie palace that existed before it was destroyed, but actually seeing it took his breath away.
The floors were white marble flecked with gold, silver and embedded diamonds. The ceilings were vaulted with large glass skylights to light the many walkways. The walls were pale gray with white wainscoting that went a third of the way up the walls.
Evander took them to a foyer where double staircases with silver wrought iron railing brought them up to a second floor. In the far west wing he pushed open two heavy white marble doors and there, laying on a white wooden four poster canopy bed with sheer white curtains pulled back was the love of his life. She wasn’t moving and a single lock of her curly hair in the front of her head had turned as white as the palace itself.
“What happened?” Malich demanded to know. He left her in the General’s hands because he thought she would be safe. “Whose palace is this? I demand answers and an audience at once. Let them know his royal highness of the Summer Court would like counsel.”
“There won’t be any need,” Evander informed her, “It’s all hers. The Goddess’ of light…Danu, Igme, Ysgard, Mayv, Arbren and Esme have claimed her as their heir to the Seelie legacy.”
“Anan’s cock,” Malich drags a hand through his hair. To say this complicates things a bit is an understatement. Arya couldn’t simply marry him now, her marriage had to be blessed by the very Goddess’ who’d chosen her as heir. “How?”
“Arya said she was born here. Perhaps she’s the first of its descendants to come back that the Goddess’ deemed worthy of the title,” Evander suggests. “When the Litri’s were brought to power here, it was after the death of the prior royal family. They too had been wiped off the face of the planes, their lineage with it. Kaliz Litri, known then as Kaliz Averroes died and was resurrected by Ysgard, the Goddess of life. She married Alaric and made him King.”
Again Malich blanched. “Arya died and was resurrected on this land,” he informed him.
Evander’s brows rose and a light came on in his eyes. Stammering her recounted, “The-the land…it was withering. She opened her palm and fed it her blood. I tried to reach her, to stopher, but I was blasted with light. The next thing I knew Mother Nature had grasped her by the foot, rooting her to the ground and siphoning her power. She collapsed in my arms.”
Malich looked down at the unconscious assassin, now Queen and heir to the Seelie dynasty and roared with laughter. Evander, his soldiers and those of the Seelie army stared at him as if he’d gone mad. Of course the Gods would spite him by making her Queen. A Queen he couldn’t command, she outranked him. His lips curved, imagining how much Arya was going to lovethis turn of events. She lived to be a thorn in his side, keeping him on his toes, feathers ruffled and his manhood at full salute whenever she wished it.
Regaining his composer and wiping the amusement from his face Malich asked, “How long has she been down?”
“Three moons,” Evander replied.
Noise outside the palace caught Malich’s attention. He and the others raced to the windows and stood in awe of what they were seeing. Winnowing in faster than they could keep count, thousands of males and females dressed in all white appeared and knelt before the palace.
“Holy Gods,” Malich breathed. He’d never seen anything like it. “Who are they?”
“The remaining citizens of the Royal House of Litri…or the Light Court it seems.”
“You were general of the Litri army were you not?”
Evander nods, “Aye, that I was.”
“Find your scattered army and bring them here, my beloved is going to need it.”ns 22.214.171.124da2