Unraveling Destiny (The Fae Chronicles Book 5), page 20
“You took their Witch and Guild, so they retaliated by taking your King. You started this, kid. You shook their world up, and you expected them to just walk away. It doesn’t work like that and you know it. They want your attention and now they have it. You want to get someone’s attention, you walk in and you cause a scene, you shake it up in a way that will leave a lasting impression. But if you want to get a point across that you’re not afraid, you walk in and you take the biggest one down, point made. Ryder is the strongest of the Fae, and he’s yours. The Fae weren’t the target here, Synthia. You were.”
“I got the message, but they fucked up. They miscalculated, and that’s going to cost them,” I snapped.
“You can’t kill them all. Not all of them are Mages.”
“I’m going in there, Alden, and I am getting him back no matter the cost. They killed children at the Spokane Guild and again today. That isn’t part of the Guild’s mission statement. They are not the same Guild anymore. Not with monsters helping to run it—and there is no way right now for us to separate the wheat from the chaff. They chose to become murderers when they placed a bomb inside that hall, knowing there were innocent lives that would be harmed. They could have done this cleanly, you and I both know that. They chose poorly, and for that, if they fight me, they will fall. The Guild will not take from me. Never again. I didn’t start this, or choose to do this. They did this. If you can’t back me or this is too hard for you, I understand. Don’t think you can stop me, though. He’s the father of my children and the love of my life. I will do anything I have to in order to get him back. I’m not asking for your help because I know this will put you in a difficult position, but my loyalty is no longer to the Guild.”
I took a deep breath and leveled my steadfast gaze on every person assembled in the council room. My voice rang out with my determined resolve. “I’m Synthia, Goddess of Faery and the Queen of the Horde. I will reign down blood and fire to get my King back, and if I have to do it without you, so be it. I will not fall. I will not bow. I will become the monster they accuse us of being if they wish it. You can either stand with me in solidarity, or stay the hell out of my way. The choice is yours. I expect a decision and a response from all of you within the next few hours. I suggest you think it over and consider your decision carefully.”
I leaned against the wall for support, my eyes closed as I ran my hands slowly along the soft silk of the wedding dress I still wore. It was in tatters, ripped and coated in the blood of the innocents who had died today, along with Faolán’s. I’d taken off the heels, and now wore boots that were easier to maneuver in. My hair had been piled atop my head, giving an entirely new meaning to messy bun. It was still sticky with blood that had mixed with the glitter Madisyn had sprinkled in it for the wedding.
I hadn’t even stopped to wonder if she was okay, which probably made me the worst daughter in the world. I couldn’t. Focusing on the events of today would be debilitating if I allowed myself to do it, so it was best to try and focus on what was happening now. In light of everything that happened, I really wanted to sift into the Blood Kingdom and hold my babies while I cried for their father and what might be happening to him at this moment.
I hadn’t come this far to lose him, and I wouldn’t lose him, no matter what happened. I was going to get my guy back; I just had to figure out how. I opened my eyes to find Zahruk and Ristan watching me.
“I’m not going to start crying again,” I said with enough determination that I almost believed it.
“I know,” Zahruk replied casually, as if our world wasn’t sitting in the balance or in someone else’s hands at the moment. “You’re a fighter, we all know it. I have no doubt that you can lead us and get him back. I do, however, think you should retire that gown. It’s rather ruined.”
“Yeah, just give me a few and I’ll get right on that,” I sighed as I tried to close my eyes again, only to hear the shuffling of feet as Alden and Lucian made their entrance. I patiently waited as Alden cleared his throat, buying time as he considered what to say to me. I didn’t speak, just stared into the eyes of the man who had raised me. I knew he’d come, because this was the man who had raised me. No matter what happened, or how we had changed, he was my family.
I hadn’t sent word to him or asked him to come. I was just grateful he did, though. He had vast knowledge and understanding of the Guild, and that was priceless. I also had a feeling that helping us was something he needed to do to absolve himself of the guilt he felt for the part he played in the Guild’s plans so long ago, and possibly to try and help those that weren’t truly corrupted by the Mages, just being misled.
He exhaled and shook his head as he stared into my eyes. “It’s gone, isn’t it, kid?” he asked as he took a place against the wall beside me. “That last little shred of humanity you have been holding onto, it was stolen from you today. They took it from you, and the only way to get it back is to get him back, isn’t it?”
“I didn’t pick this fight. I don’t want them dead, but if that is what it takes to bring him back, so be it. I won’t lose him, Alden. I have given up enough of me to the Guild; they don’t get to do this to me or anyone else. Not anymore.”
“I know you didn’t, kid. It isn’t our Guild anymore; they’re playing by new rules now. They allowed evil within the ranks and we have to come to terms with that. Me more than you, but I’m here. I’m on your side. I have always been on your side, even when it didn’t seem like it. If they’ve woken the Original Witches, we have to assume the Mages have promised them something. There’s no way that they would help the Guild without expecting something in return, not when they know it played a huge part in taking them down. My guess is they’ve been promised more than just their freedom, and if they are still hell-bent on taking out the humans, we can’t allow that to happen.”
“Do you think they brought one of the Original Witches here, to Faery?” I asked.
“Who else would be able to take Ryder away from you on your wedding day, kid? He wouldn’t have been easy to grab. There was no sign of a struggle, so you tell me, who is strong enough to take the Horde King without a fight?”
“Honestly, I have no idea,” I groaned.
“Someone with enough power had to be brought here for that purpose,” Alden pressed.
“Why wouldn’t they just kill the Elders that woke them up outright? The Original Witches are powerful enough to; they’re Demi-Gods, like I was. Once they are out of stasis, why not just escape, why help them?”
“Because you have their sister, and the Elders probably told them as much. Look, I have no idea if the Elders woke one, several or all of the members of the coven that they had access to. I fear I may have spoken hastily about their connection, and what we assumed would happen, should one awaken. Not that it matters now, anyway. At the end of the day, the Elders turned those Witches against you as well as the Fae, so they took from you and Faery to get your attention.”
“I didn’t take their fucking sister,” I snapped. “I got slapped upside the head with that one. I sure as shit don’t want their sister, and I also don’t want them destroying the humans. I know they are low on the food chain lately, but that isn’t right. They don’t deserve to be punished for something that happened so long ago. These humans didn’t even have anything to do with it, much less know anything about it.”
“No, but they won’t see it like that. They’ve been in stasis, so for them, it was yesterday,” he countered. “And the Mages that are hiding within the ranks of the Guild don’t care about right or wrong or the body count; they only care about winning.”
“That’s brilliant when you think about it, the assholes. They have an enemy, so they wake up an enemy to attack their other enemy.”
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
“Damn, why didn’t I think of that?
“Back to your humanity, kid,” he said after a moment of silence. “I know you have a right to attack by force, and I understand why you would want to, but not all of them deserve to die. I’m not judging you if you decide to destroy them. I’m just asking you not to become the monster they think you are to get him back. Don’t let them take that sliver of humanity that’s left inside of you.”
“I didn’t lose it, it’s there. It just has to adapt to being in both worlds. I can’t abandon this one now, and I won’t. I won’t abandon that one either. We will fix the portals, and we will rebuild what we have lost, but not until I have him back. I won’t rest until he’s home.”
“Good; you’re going to need to keep a level head if you want to get him back,” he nodded as if he was satisfied with where my head was at.
Keir, Liam, Elijah, and Lasair approached solemnly. I waited with my breath stuck in my lungs as they looked at me. Lasair bowed almost imperceptibly, and inclined his head towards me.
“We’re in, Synthia. You are the key to this world, and without you, it will die faster than it already is. So, we’re in. I will send Liam and the Crimson Guard, and Keir will send his son, Adam, who will bring the Light Knights, as well as the Shadow Warriors. We found out this morning about a mess in the Light Kingdom that Princess Shea left behind. Evidently, she left her stewardship of the Light Kingdom a few weeks ago without warning or word. Adam had agreed to take over stewardship of the Light Kingdom after the wedding; however, the events of today have made alterations to our original plan for now.” Lasair swallowed; his solemn eyes didn’t condemn me, or judge.
“I guess Adam better get busy finding the real Light Heir then,” I mused. My eyes slowly found Adam where he stood, ramrod straight at my words. “But that’s a subject for another day. Right now, we have a bigger problem.”
“Synthia,” Zahruk interrupted. “There are a few leaders of the Horde outside the gates, waiting; they have demanded to speak to the…” He looked at Ristan in askance as the Demon grinned back at him, anticipating my reaction to what Zahruk was going to say next. “…pretender to the throne.”
“Then let’s not keep them,” I said as I glamoured on black leather pants, and a black corset that had daggers of every length inserted into clever sheaths that were reinforced along the boning of the corset. I also glamoured on a slender sword at each hip. The boots were the finishing touch, black to match my outfit, and comfortable enough to move in. Several times a week, Ryder and I had been sneaking away and practicing for this type of situation. Not that he ever dreamed that he would be taken, but he wanted to ensure that if, for any reason, I had to personally fight to get the respect of the Horde, I would be prepared. As for the blood that had been spattered in my hair and on my face, I didn’t bother to glamour it clean. I wanted these assholes to see it and hopefully understand that I wasn’t someone that they should underestimate.
“I’m ready,” I confirmed, and palmed my daggers as Zahruk and Ristan took their positions at my flank, just as they would have done for Ryder. The others fell in behind the captain of the Elite Guard and the Demon, and walked purposefully with us as we made our way through the castle. We walked because I needed the time to prepare mentally, and they knew it. It was also an important show of force and solidarity. The staff stopped and turned, watching as we made our way to the main gates. The four groups of warriors fell into step as we passed them in the hall. Elijah even signaled for the misfits to join us. Together, we walked towards the uncertainty of what awaited us.
There was no way of knowing if this was merely a challenge of my leadership, or if they’d try to overthrow us. It was the Horde—the deadliest, vilest creatures known to this world, as well as Tèrra. They were unpredictable at best and understood two things: power and death. Ryder had been dealing with small uprisings before this shit had happened, and now I had to figure out how to prove to them that I was worthy of sitting on his throne in his absence. I had to prove that I was powerful enough to keep them in check—and strong enough to punish them if they stepped out of line.
“Show no fear,” Zahruk whispered.
“Don’t let them talk over you, Flower. Don’t break eye contact first, no matter what they do. Head up, shoulders back, and show those fangs you’ve been hiding.”
“I plan to.”
Outside, the noise from the crowd was deafening. The stench of death lingered with a faint tinge of sulfur and blood as the crowd waiting outside the gates made rude noises. They paid no attention to the shrouded bodies that waited in the courtyard for their kin to take them home for burial, or away for burning if they weren’t claimed. The rough group that waited for us and called themselves the leaders of the Horde had very little loyalty among them, not unless you belonged to the caste of the Horde that ruled.
“Who does this bitch think she is?” One of the taller ‘leaders’ snickered as we approached.
“Your queen,” a creature that looked like a Goblin with red eyes snorted. Blood dribbled from the red cap on his head, identifying him As a Dunter or a Powrie. Great; they were blood thirsty and fast little assholes. The only difference between the two types of Red Caps was the amount of kills they had under their bloody caps.
“My queen,” the first heckler chortled. “I’d bend her over and show her what queens are good for. She’d know her place and not be leaving us waiting at her gates, pretending her pussy makes her our new King.”
I listened to them as I approached, stopping just short of where they stood. I waited in silence, allowing them to continue to talk shit. I didn’t look away, didn’t back down. I squared my shoulders and waited patiently. They stopped, and as they turned, the eyes of one of the males who’d been talking shit about me widened as he took in the sight of me.
“She doesn’t look like much,” the male said as his iridescent eyes slid over my body, stopping to watch my breasts rise and fall with each breath I took. Those eyes raised and he snorted. “Not even enough meat on her to keep a man warm at night.” I tried to figure out what kind of creature he was and came up blank. He was extremely tall and emaciated, with long, black, lank hair that descended well past his shoulders. His iridescent eyes had shadows around them that gave the appearance of being sunken in. His lips were slightly blue and his skin was so pale that it was almost corpse-like.
The crowd behind him jeered, shouting their agreement as they chimed in with insults of their own. I grinned at his lewd remarks and waited for the noise of the crowd to die down. Once it was at a tolerable level, I spoke.
“Your King needs your help,” I called out to the crowd, and watched as the asshole laughed openly.
“He isn’t here, sweetheart,” he snorted. “I say we take his woman and his Kingdom. I didn’t much care for the prick anyway.”
“Which caste do you lead?” I asked, and he grinned as if he found my question funny.
“The Sluagh has no leader,” he laughed, and again, his posse snorted and chuckled. “But I guess if we had to pick one, it would be me.” The creatures behind him nodded.
“Good to know,” I snapped as I lunged before he could react. I wrapped my legs around his waist and held on as he tried to dislodge me. Zahruk and Ristan also lunged into fighting positions, getting close until I screamed for them to remain where they were. My hands twisted the neck of the ghoul-like creature and I bit into his carotid, tearing the flesh from his neck as I let my legs drop to the ground and spit it out. “Now pick another leader,” I shouted to the onlookers.
No one moved, no one responded. They gasped, as if they couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. The asshole dropped to his knees as his arterial vein sprayed blood. Blood dripped from my chin as I brought my hand up and wiped it away with the back of my hand, as the crowd stared at me.
“Damn, Flower, savage as fuck,” he laughed quietly as his grin widened.
“It’s the only thing they understand,” I growled.
“You have their attention, now keep it,” he encouraged. “Your next challenger will be faster and or stronger than he was. That little maneuver of yours will take a while to heal, but I don’t think he is going to be back in the fight anytime soon.”
“Good to know,” I mused as I turned and stared down the crowd who watched me for any sign of weakness. “How long do you think it will be for them to regroup and choose a warrior?”
“It won’t take them long, and they are probably going to send a few warriors. Lathe was one of their best, and you just tore his neck out with your teeth, which honestly, I couldn’t be any prouder if you ripped his heart out and shared it with me. However, they will be ready for that move next time.”
“Swords it is.” I nodded. “Too bad, I was so looking forward to gagging on a bit more blood.”
“You two are fucking twisted,” Zahruk grumbled beside us.
“Jealous because you haven’t ripped anyone apart lately?” I mocked with a grin on my lips.
“Who says I haven’t?” Zahruk drawled, turning to grin as I frowned.
AMELIA HUTCHINS SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Unraveling DestinyEscaping DestinyFae Chronicles 01 - Fighting DestinySeducing DestinyTaunting DestinyDeath Before DawnClaiming the Dragon KingA Demon's Dark Embrace
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