Please note: This is the sequel to Kidnapping the King: The Royal Series Book One. Please read Book 1 first.
Maverick watched as Grant threw his goblet against the wall. The wine splattered along the stone, dark red liquid dripped slowly, inching it’s way to the floor.
Maverick had noticed Grant slipping away slowly and he knew each passing minute was pure torture for the king.
It had been three days since Emilia had slipped into a coma and she had yet to wake up. The prognosis had been bleak but he knew Grant still clung to a small sliver of hope. To make matters worse, the doctor had informed the king that Emilia was pregnant and the likelihood of her carrying the child was slim to none, as they were unable to feed her. In fact, that’s what would likely kill Emilia, starvation.
The doctor was fearful of sliding liquids into her mouth as he said she’d likely choke. Maverick had to talk the King out of hanging the poor man out of frustration.
His pregnant unwed lover was lying unconscious, clinging to life while he sat here in perfect health, walking, talking and breathing. Yet, when Maverick peered at his best friend, he didn’t even look alive.
“Grant.” Maverick said softly.
The king turned to look at him, the shadows from the fireplace casting shadows along his tired face. His eyes had dark circles and bags and he didn’t look like he had changed clothing since the night that Emilia had slipped into her coma.
“What?” Grant said, turning back to the wall.
“You can’t go on like this.” He said gently, inching towards him slowly as he was worried he would startle him.
Grant ignored him, his expression blank.
“Some of the servants were talking and…” Maverick began. “Well, there was something that they thought might help.”
“Like what?” Grant grunted. “We’ve tried everything.”
“You won’t like it.” He said each word carefully, worried about his reaction.
“Just say it.” Grant hissed. “You think I haven’t heard it all? I had a fucking healer in their yesterday with smelling salts and incense.”
“Well, Beth came to see me.” Maverick began. “She…well she’s from Ocartese, you know the village over in the mountains, the one with the huge waterfall?”
Grant snorted. “I know that village, it’s the one with all of the witch craft and bullshit shaman hocus pocus.”
“Exactly.” Maverick planted his hands firmly on his hips and looked at him intently.
“So you think we should…” Grant laughed menacingly. “What?”
“Well you’ve tried everything else, right?” He asked.
“Good, God, you’re more mad than I.” Grant stood to reach for another wine goblet.
“We should try, I’ve heard some stories.” Maverick said, throwing his hands out in front of him. “Please.”
“Fine, send them in.” He spat, pouring his goblet to the very top.
“That’s the thing.” Maverick said. “We have to bring her. Something about how they need their own land, something about spirits and connections.”
“For fuck’s sake.” Grant huffed.
“The doctor approved the move, he said it shouldn’t make her any worse, we just need to be gentle.” Maverick said. “So are we ok to do this?”
“What will they do to her?” Grant said, taking a long sip of his wine. “Do they dance around a fire or some nonsense?”
Maverick shrugged, “I really have no idea. But just so you know, the village is not keen on outsiders.”
“Outsiders?” Grant laughed. “I’m their King and they are my people. We are not outsiders.”
“The village is very tight knit and they won’t go around just helping anyone.” He replied. “The only reason they are even offering a hand is because Beth pleaded with them.”
Grant laughed again. “Fine. We’ll take her tomorrow, first thing in the morning.”
“Grant…” Maverick said. “It is morning. The sun’s just come up.”
The King stumbled towards the window and squinted outside, then grunted and returned to his seat.
“How about I take her?” He said. “I’ll bring a few guards.”
“No one leaves this castle with her, unless I’m present.” He said, his voice full of venom. “I let her be harmed once and it won’t happen again.”
“Fine.” Maverick said quickly, throwing his hands up in surrender. “But can we go now? Time is…crucial for Emilia.”
“Let’s sober you up.” Maverick said, standing behind him to rest a hand on his shoulder. “Have a bath, you stink.”
Maverick rushed around the castle, gathering guards and urging the doctor to move Emilia to a carriage quickly. He watched intently as they loaded her in, supporting her with soft pillows and wrapping her in a warm blanket.
Her appearance worried Maverick, as she looked weak and frail. If she weren’t breathing, you’d think she was dead. Her ivory skin lacked colour and life and her breathing had grown shallow.
He turned to see Grant stumbling from the front of the castle, a guard quickly running to catch him before he fell. Maverick had seen Grant in some very serious states, but this one, was like nothing he had ever seen before. The man had lost all hope.
The guards ushered the King into a seperate carriage and Maverick decided to join him, to make sure he didn’t drunkenly fall onto a path. The journey would be a long one, so he was hoping he’d have time to sober up a bit before they arrived.
He slid in next to the King and nudged him. “We need to keep pushing and hoping Grant. You have done everything you possibly could, but this could be it. The thing that saves her.”
But each word Maverick said was a pure lie. He didn’t believe in magic or fairies or any sort of witchcraft and healing. Yet, Beth had insisted that she had seem miracles occur in Ocartese and although he thought she might be slightly insane, like the rest of her village, he decided anything was worth a shot. They’d brought in doctors from around the land who had tried everything imaginable.
What else could they do?
The journey was a long one, made even more lengthy as the carriage made a few stops so Grant could vomit out the contents of his stomach. Maverick had a servant come along and bring plenty of water and bread, to help sober him up and so far, he was becoming more coherent.
“I feel like shit.” Grant moaned, leaning his head back, water in one hand.
“That will happen when you get that drunk.” Maverick chuckled. “We’re getting close now. Do you feel less drunk?”
Grant nodded. “I’m not drunk anymore, just hungover.”
He turned to look at Maverick. “Did I really agree to let you drag me to some voodoo village to try and help Emilia?”
“Yup. That’s why I asked when you were blind.” Maverick winked at him.
“This is surely a waste of time.” Grant said, looking out the carriage window, at the village in the distance.
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Maverick said gently. “Only one way to find out.”
“Don’t these people wear those…odd outfits?” Grant asked. “The ones with the patterns.”
“I’ve heard things here and there.” Maverick shrugged. “But they pay their taxes and don’t cause trouble. I’ve personally never had a reason to visit before, it’s one of the few villages I’ve never seen. They like to be left alone though.”
They had reached the entrance to the village.
“Wow.” Maverick whistled. “That is not normal, nor expected.”
Unlike most villages, which had a simple fence around the perimeter, this village had taken the time to fully fortify their village. Tall stone walls towered high enough, that the view of the village was completely blocked. Two tall towers were connected to the front gate and archers stood on the top, staring down at them, fully focused and ready for an attack. Their bow and arrows were already drawn.
“Holy shit.” Grant said. “That’s some serious security.”
“It makes sense that The Pillager never bothered to come here.” Maverick whispered, as if they could hear him.
The carriage stopped at the gate and two women in robes stepped forward, followed by five more women, fully armoured, swords drawn.
Maverick pulled himself out of the carriage and Grant followed. He stepped towards the two women in robes and held his hands up to show he was not armed.
“I have arrived and I’ve brought your King.” He said, nodding behind him as Grant approached.
The first woman pulled down the hood of her robe, revealing long silver hair, a wrinkland dark blue eyes. She knelt before Grant and looked up at him.
“Your majesty.” She said.
The women behind her followed suit and kneeled as well.
“What is your name?” Grant asked as all of the women stood to their feet.
“I am Cora. The leader of this village.” She said.
“A woman?” Grant smiled.
Cora nodded. “Yes, we are all women.”
Maverick shook his head. “All of you?”
Cora tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at him. “Yes.”
“How-” Maverick began.
“Enough.” Cora cut him off. “Where is she?”
Maverick was slightly taken back by her rudeness but he led her to the carriage that held Emilia.The woman peered down at her and then flattened her hand, held a few inches from Emilia’s face and closed her eyes. She began to hum to herself.
Grant looked over at Maverick and whispered. “I told you.”
“Pity.” Cora said.
“What do you mean?” Grant asked quickly.
“She’s a strong one.” Cora said. “It would be a pity if she died, but not all hope is lost. Come quickly, I’ve arranged for one of our best healers to tend to her.”