There was so much to tell her. I had no idea where to start. I was wary of her reaction to some of the things I would have to enlighten her about, as not all of them were pleasant.
My mate walked beside me, through the sunlit corridors of the eastern wings of the Aviary. I silently marveled at the way the morning sun glimmered off of her hair, and danced upon her flawless skin, as I waited for her to speak.
I knew she had questions. I knew they would come pouring out of her, any moment now. And yet she remained silent.
The sound of our footsteps echoed through the vacant, stone hallways.
I studied the side of her face as I gazed down at her, examining the way she furrowed her brow every now and then, the way she pursed her lips, the way she was nervously wringing her hands behind her back.
She had questions. Of that I was sure. But it was obvious that she wasn’t sure how to ask them. And I was positive that she wasn’t sure she even wanted to. Especially when it came to her father. That was the topic of conversation that I was dreading the most.
After another ten minutes of silent wandering, and the maddening way in which she was avoiding my gaze, I finally broke the silence.
“You know, the fact that you are not asking me a thousand questions right now, is quite out of character for one as persistent and knowledge driven as yourself.” I said, gently teasing her.
She was always so eager for information, ready to soak in as much of it as I would offer her, like a sponge. I’d found this fact irritating at first, before I’d grown to know her. Now, it was just one of the things that I adored about her. I enjoyed her persistence, her stubborn ways, her constant quest for knowledge.
And now, her lack of incessant questions was concerning.
She didn’t look at me, but the corner of her full lips turned up slightly.
“Yes, I know.” She said quietly. She kept her eyes ahead.
My jaw flexed. Frustration and concern bubbled up inside of me. The same, horrid feeling from this morning came back to me. The feeling that had come over me when she’d woken from a nightmare, and refused to tell me what it was about. I did not like being shut out. I did not like not knowing that she was okay.
I could feel her discomfort through the bond. But I couldn’t read her thoughts, not unless she wanted to send me a direct one. Even if I could read her mind, I wouldn’t have felt right invading her privacy in that way. But still... Her lack of communication with me was beginning to chafe. I did not like it.
And neither did my dragon.
He whined in the back of my mind, pushing me to press her further, to find out what was bothering her. His concern was stronger than mine, as he couldn’t understand logic and reason in the same way that I could.
He didn’t understand that pressuring her too much could cause her to clam up even further. The last thing I wanted to do was push her away.
“You are usually the one pressing me for information, but it seems the roles have reversed for today.” I said smoothly, not indicating any hint of my impatience. I remained calm and collected, letting my tone remain light and thinly veiled with humor. “Perhaps our mind link accidentally switched our brains?”
This time, she let out a small laugh. She turned her head and smiled at me, meeting my eyes for the first time since we’d left the room. I couldn’t help but beam back at her.
She turned forward again as we rounded a corner, and her smile slowly faded away. I frowned at the side of her face.
“I wanted to have a funeral for my father... I never got that privilege with my real parents... And now, since I’ve been in a coma for two weeks, I can’t. I’ll never truly be able to say goodbye to him. I’ll never get that closure.” She said slowly.
“Yes, you will.” I said firmly. She turned to look at me, her brows knitting together in confusion. “After the fight, I brought your father’s body back to the Aviary. I cleaned him, dressed him, and suspended his body with a preservation spell. His body has been awaiting burial ever since.”
Instantly, her eyes were lined with silver.
She stopped in her tracks, causing me to halt as well. She turned her body toward me, gazing up at me in disbelief. I stared down at her, waiting.
“You did that... For me?”
I cocked my head. “Of course I did.”
Suddenly, she threw herself at me. I felt my eyes widen in surprise as I caught her. Her arms wound around me and she began sobbing into my chest.
“I thought he’d be gone! I thought... Oh, Dristan... Thank you...”
I lowered my face, resting my cheek atop her head, and wrapped my wings around her back, tucking her into my warmth. How could she ever think that I would leave her father’s body behind? She should’ve known better, by now, that I would do anything to make her happy.
“You’re welcome.” I said softly into her ear.
I waited a few moments for her to gather herself.
“Speaking of your parents... I have something else to tell you.”
She lifted her red, puffy eyes to meet mine, still pressed against my chest. She waited, her eyes serious. I gave her a soft smile of reassurance.
“When Torryn and Andi went to get the hair samples from them, for the rune removal ritual, Torryn reported to me that the tomb had fallen into disarray. With no one in the Fae lands anymore, there has been no one to upkeep the tomb. So, while you were gone, I had their bodies brought here as well. I had three coffins carved, from the sacred willow trees near the base of the volcano. Only the most well respected, most royal, have the honor of having their coffins carved from the sacred willows. I wanted to ask if if you’d like to have all three of them laid to rest in the sacred tombs of the Aviary, or if you’d prefer to have a new tomb built? Either way, it is up to you.”
Her multi colored eyes sparkled up at me, her jaw going a bit slack as my words sank into her mind. She blinked a few times.
“You did that for me?”
I huffed a breath. “You’re surprised... Do you think so little of me?”
She slapped her palm lightly against my chest. “Of course not! I’m just... I never thought I’d get this chance, that’s all.”
Delicately, I tucked a loose strand of her silky, dark hair behind her ear.
“I know. That’s why I did it.... So, would you like to lay them to rest in the Aviary’s sacred tomb, or create a new one?”
She chewed her lower lip and I tried not to scold her for it. I clenched my jaw.
“Here... In the Aviary. This is my home, now. This place is what is going to bring everyone together. It makes sense to keep them here.”
I nodded. “Very well. We’ll have the funeral, a final goodbye for all of them, tomorrow.”
“Thank you.” She whispered, her eyes shining with tears again.
I planted a chaste kiss on her lips. “Come now.” I withdrew my wings from around her and continued to lead her down the hallway. “We have other matters to discuss.”
She took my hand in her small one as we strolled along. Passerby’s walked by occasionally, whispering and murmuring when they saw her, and she smiled politely at them. When one looked as though they were about to say something to her, I growled, warning them to give us space. Each of them had the same response, which was scampering away with red cheeks.
“What happened with the wolves? I know that they’re all here, now. The doctor told me you were training with them.” She asked, staring at the floor.
I stopped near a bay window and gazed out over the long expanses of trees, stretching out, and disappearing into the far reaches of the morning sky. It was quite a view. Dawn had brought hues of bright orange, soft pink, and swirls of purple with it.
Brenya came to my side, and I could feel her eyes on the side of my face.
“After you fainted, I ordered Warrick to take you away. With the pack leader dead, I did not know how much further the fight was going to go, and I couldn’t risk you getting hurt if all hell broke loose. So he took you... After that, Marrok stepped forward, claiming the right to take the title of pack leader, seeing as he was the Alpha’s son. He was challenged...”
She stiffened beside me. I turned toward her, studying the worrisome look on her face.
“He’s fine. Don’t worry.” I added quickly.
She relaxed a fraction and I turned back toward the window.
“He won the fight against the challenger... After that, he spoke to the pack. He told them of the Aviary, of you, of what we were doing. He told them that we were going to bring the races together, train, and stand against the king. At first, the wolves wouldn’t listen... But eventually, they came around. So, I gathered your father, and the book of shadows, and I flew them back here. As the new Alpha, Marrok now has a direct, mental link to every member of his pack. So, he rode on Torryn’s back, while he and Andi flew back to the Aviary. Marrok directed the pack from above, so they would know where to go. When they arrived, we held a gathering, with everyone in the Aviary. We welcomed the wolves, explained what was expected of them, and made sure that they knew violence would not be tolerated. They’ve all been assigned work, to pull their weight, like everyone else. So far, it’s been peaceful. There were a few fights at first, but Marrok is actually quite good at keeping the wolves in their place. I’ve grown a new respect for him, actually... He’s even been granted a place on the high council.”
She let out a long breath. “Wow... So, everything has gone smoothly, then...”
My throat bobbed as I turned to her. “Well... Not everything.”
Her brows furrowed as she leaned against the stone windowpane.
“What do you mean?”
I grimaced. “It’s... Sylvie.”
My dragon growled in my mind at the mention of her name.
She’d been a mess since we’d returned. Before, she’d been nothing but respectful toward me. But after Brenya had killed her father, she’d had a complete change in attitude.
“Oh, gods...” She groaned, closing her eyes. She hung her head in shame. “She and Marrok must both hate me... I killed their father...”
“No, not entirely... Marrok told me that he was glad it happened, actually. He said that it was destiny. He thinks it was meant to happen, so that he could become Alpha and lead the wolves to join us, something that would’ve never happened under the leadership of his father. Marrok was not close with his father... But Sylvie...”
“I have to see her.” She snapped, pushing off of the wall.
My arm shot out, blocking her path. Instinctive, protective rage boiled in my veins.
She looked up at me with pained, quizzical eyes. “Why not?”
“It’s not a good idea. She has been... problematic... since we’ve been back. I don’t want her anywhere near you.”
She crossed her arms. “Problematic in what way?”
I lowered my arm and turned back toward the window, sighing through my nose.
“She refuses to work. She stays in her rooms all day, and when she’s not in her rooms, she’s training, or picking a fight with anyone who comes near her. I had to threaten to throw her into the dungeons if she didn’t stop causing conflict. So, now she mostly stays in her rooms... Marrok came to me a few days ago, expressing concern for his sister. He noticed a change in her mood, through their mental connection, and he sought her out. He found her in the infirmary, standing over your bed. She was just standing there... watching you... Marrok said that she didn’t do anything, but that her thoughts were dark, and violent. After that, I ordered guards to follow her everywhere, every minute, of every day. She hasn’t caused anymore issues since then, but it is something that I need to address. If she doesn’t come out of this... depression, grief, whatever it is... I am going to have to kick her out.”
She gasped, and grabbed my arm. “You can’t kick her out! Please, just... Let me speak with her. I have to apologize... Perhaps then, she can heal!”
A low growl escaped my lips as I turned to her.
She let go of my arm and glared at me angrily.
“Dristan... I am not a human, anymore. I am perfectly capable of defending myself if I need to. She can’t hurt me. You have to let me atone for what I did to her!”
I tore my eyes away from her, growling again as my dragon snarled in the back of my mind.
I knew she was right... But...
Flash images of her, lying limply in my arms, blood leaking from her mouth, nose, and ears, flooded my mind. Memories flooded my thoughts, memories of sitting beside her bed, drowning in despair, begging her to wake up, to come back to me...
“Brenya... I just got you back... I can’t risk something happening to you again.”
She was silent for a few moments. I kept my eyes trained on the mountains in the distance.
Weak... She must’ve thought I was so damned weak... Fearful, and paranoid, and weak.
I hated letting her see my fears... But it was the truth. And I wouldn’t keep the truth from her. Not anymore.
“Dristan...” She whispered, leaning into my side. I glanced down at her and found her staring off into the distance as well.
“I know that what you went through must’ve been awful... But you can’t keep me from every threat that I am faced with. Need I remind you that we are going to war, soon? Do you expect me to sit on the sidelines when the time comes?”
I gritted my teeth, not answering.
“Exactly. There will always be risks. You can’t keep me in a cage. That’s not who I am, and you know it.”
I sighed heavily. “I am quite aware of that.”
The corner of her lip quirked upward. “Good. Because I am going to talk to Sylvie, no matter what you say about it.”
My dragon, though disapproving of her plans, snickered in the back of my mind. He loved her defiance. He always had. He liked the way she challenged us. He liked her fierceness.
“Fine.” I grumbled. “But you’ll be heavily monitored by at least three guards, and myself.”
She rolled her eyes before she met my gaze. “Fine.”
I growled again, and pushed away from the window, continuing to walk down the corridor. She caught up with me easily, smiling widely at my side.
“I’m quite relieved that Marrok isn’t upset with me. I’ll still have to speak with him, tell him I’m sorry...” She said.
“He doesn’t need, nor want, and apology. He’s told me several times. Though, I did warn him that you’d do it anyway.” I said, raising an eyebrow.
She scowled at the side of my face.
She silently stewed beside me, and I inwardly grinned at her annoyance, as we walked toward the training rooms. The metallic clanging of swords could be heard down the hallway, and as we drew nearer, the sound of fighting men an women grew louder. We paused at the wide, stone doorway and peered inside.
There he was, sparring with a random Fae male... Just as my eyes landed on him, his name fell from her lips. It was quiet, not quite a whisper, and filled with shock.
My dragon growled menacingly from the depths of my subconscious.
As soon as she’d said his name, his head whipped toward the door. His eyes landed on her, and they widened slightly, before he straightened himself from his fighting stance.
He flicked his gaze to mine as he moved to take a step forward. Immediately, I bared my teeth at him, and he stopped, dead in his tracks.
My dragon crept closer to the front of my consciousness, ready to spring into action if he needed to. He detested Ronan, even more so than I did, which was saying quite a bit. I’d gladly shove my sword through his throat if Brenya would let me.
Stay, stay, stay...
Back, back, back...
Ronan lifted his chin and glared frostily at me before turning his eyes back toward my mate. He gave her a polite smile, and nodded, before turning back toward his opponent and then continued to spar with him.
I lifted a brow and glanced down at Brenya. She was staring up at me, her jaw hanging open.
“You let him out of the dungeons?”
I turned my gaze back toward the bastard, wishing I could use my power to throw him across the room while somehow making it seem like an accident.
“Yes. It wasn’t easy, or pleasant, but yes.”
She let out a breathy laugh. “Well, I’m impressed. I didn’t think you’d be able to let it go so quickly. What happened?”
I led her away from the training rooms, feeling my temper rising from staring at the bastard for too long. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on our conversation with him so close. She kept pace at my side, patiently waiting for me to explain.
“A few days after we got back, I went to the dungeons. Of course, I brought Warrick with me, to keep me from doing anything rash. I explained to him that the engagement between the two of you was off, and that the binding rune had disappeared due to the mate bond between us. He wasn’t happy about it, but after I very kindly explained to him that there was absolutely no room for argument, unless he wanted to be publicly executed, he was much more agreeable.”
She tried to cover her laugh with a scoff of disapproval. “Brute...”
“Hmm...” I hummed, glancing down at her with an innocent smile.
I turned my gaze forward again as we slowly strode through the hallways.
“I also explained that I was willing to let him remain on the council, due to your compassion, not mine, but only if he agreed not to cause any problems. I made it very clear that if he disrespected our union, or so much as looked at you in a way I found the slightest bit irritating, I would kick him off the council without a second thought.”
“I see. Very reasonable.” She said, fighting a grin.
I smirked down at her.
“I’m still a bit worried about being so close to him, at council meetings, and all. Do you think, since the mating bond has finally been consummated, that it’ll be easier for you to tolerate him being near me?” She asked thoughtfully.
I considered it. I did feel better, now that the bond was secured. Before, any male coming near her, or especially touching her, would’ve set me off like a bomb. But after last night, I felt more in control of it. I didn’t feel like a loaded gun, waiting to go off.
“As long as he values his life, and doesn’t do anything foolish, yes. It should be fine.” I mumbled.
She sighed in relief. “Good...”
“But don’t expect me to be kind to him.” I added.
She rolled her eyes. “Fair enough. I’m just glad you got everything cleared up while I was out.”
“Yes, I’ve been quite busy.”
She cocked her head as we rounded a corner. “What else have you been doing?”
“I’m glad you ask.” I said smugly, turning another corner.
We stopped in front of the entrance to a long, private corridor. Two dragon soldiers stood on guard, heavily armed. They both bowed as we halted there.
The corridor, stretching beyond the guards, was brightly lit with elegant chandeliers. The floor was of solid, white marble, a startling contrast to the pitch black walls of the volcano’s rocky surface.
“Where are we?” She murmured, her eyes shifting between the guards and myself.
I lifted a brow. “You’ll see. Come...”
I took her hand and pushed past the guards as I led her down the hallway.
At the end of the corridor, a large, wooden set of double doors waited for us. One door was decorated with detailed carvings of dragons, weapons, mountains, skies, and jewels. The other was littered with intricate carvings of laughing Fae people, a bow and arrow, animals, the moon, and a beautiful landscape of the forest.
Half her, and half me.
She turned to me with confused eyes. I simply smiled down at her, and pushed the doors open. I ushered her inside and her jaw dropped.
The suite was extravagant, large enough to fit several families, comfortably. I’d had the rooms designed similarly to Brenya’s, only bigger. Better.
I’d built it with less of a modern feel, knowing she preferred comfort over style. I’d added character. The floors didn’t match the ceilings, or walls. Some of the stones which made up the mantles, and window panes, were made up of different colors and sizes. I’d filled it with books, paintings, and endless pillows and throw blankets.
I’d added several rooms, some of them guest bedrooms, some of them work rooms, some of them simply for storage. The kitchen was spacious and open.
I’d kept the island concept. I liked being able to lift her up onto it. The first time I’d kissed her would always be one of my favorite memories, so naturally, I couldn’t build her a home without a kitchen island.
The living room was enormous, with vaulted ceilings, and several, plush, creme colored couches and armchairs. The stone fireplace was glowing with a crackling fire. The floors were covered with the finest of rugs, and the walls were lined with countless books. The coffee table and end tables were adorned with melting candles, stacks of papers, and quills.
The back wall was completely open, with floor to ceiling windows all the way across it. The balcony was huge, complete with several potted plants, torches, fireplaces, hammocks, and of course, furniture. I’d even have my own landing pad built into the far, left side of the balcony, in case I ever needed it.
Slowly, she walked into the living room, her eyes drinking it all in. I waited, leaning against the door frame.
Finally, she turned to me, her brows still furrowed. “What is this? Are these my new quarters?”
The corner of my mouth turned up.
She frowned. “What was wrong with my old rooms?”
I pushed off of the door frame and stalked toward her. “They were... too small.”
She rose a brow. “They suited me just fine...”
I stopped a foot away from her. “They were too small for us.”
Realization lit up her face as her lips parted. I lifted and hand and ran the back of my fingers down her cheek.
“Brenya, I had these quarters built specially, for you and I. For us to live in... Together.”
She caught my hand in hers. “For us? This is all for us?”
I nodded, a slow smile spreading across my face. “Yes. For us.”
“Together... Here... We’re going to live here... Together...?”
I huffed a laugh. “Do you want me to spell it out for you? Do you need to see it in writing?” I glanced around the room theatrically. “I think there’s a pen around here, somewhere...”
She launched herself at me, nearly throwing me off balance.
“Oh my gods!” She squealed as she wrapped herself around me.
I laughed as I wrapped my arms around her and lifted her off the ground.
“Dristan, I love it! It’s so beautiful!”
“I knew you would.” I said, grinning from ear to ear. I spun her around, kissing her neck, as the sweet, wind chime sound of her laughter filled my ears. Gods, I loved that sound.
My dragon purred inside of me. I set her back onto her feet and grinned down at her. She beamed up at me, her face pink with excitement.
“I’ve already had our belongings sent here.” I said.
“Yes. Which reminds me...” I said, taking her hand. “Come on. I’ve got something to show you.”
I pulled her down one of the hallways, toward the door at the end. When I pushed the door open, she nearly screamed.
“A library?!” She pushed past me and ran into the room, marveling at the expansive collection of books lining the walls.
She rushed toward one of the shelves and ran her fingers along the row of bindings. “I’ll never be able to read all of these...”
I walked into the room and shut the door softly behind me. “Yes, well, there’s one book in particular that I thought you might want to see...”
Her head whipped toward me and her eyes widened. “It’s here?”
I nodded, walking toward the large desk, situated in the center of the room.
She began to slowly walk toward the desk as I stopped in front of it. When she lowered her gaze from mine, and her eyes fell upon the sparkling Book of Shadows, her mouth popped open.
“Gods above...” She whispered, reaching a hand down and running her fingers over the jewels. “It’s even more stunning in person...”
I hummed my agreement. As she continued studying the book, I pulled the key from my pocket and held it out to her. She eyed it warily before finally taking it from my hand.
“You didn’t open it while I was gone?”
I frowned. “No, of course not. This is your Book of Shadows... No one should open it but you.”
She smiled and lowered her gaze. She was silent for a few moments.
“I don’t know why, but I’m nervous to open it...” She admitted, lifting her indigo and sea foam eyes back to mine.
I cocked my head. “You don’t have to open it now, if you’re not ready. I will not rush you.”
She furrowed her brows and lowered her eyes back to the book.
“No... We’ve wasted enough time...”
I clenched my jaw as she picked up the book.
“Here goes nothing...” She whispered.
Without another moment of hesitation, she pushed the key into the lock, and quickly turned it, before I could even blink.
As soon as the lock clicked open, a strong surge of power pulsed outward from the book. It rushed past me, and I inhaled sharply in surprise at the amount of power behind it. It felt like someone had just thrown a bucket of ice water over my head. But just as quickly as it had come, it was gone...
“What the hell was that?!” She shrieked, stepping back.
I moved around the desk and came to her side. “It’s alright, it’s just been lying dormant for a long time.” I said, soothing her.
Her eyes were wide as she looked up at me. “Okay...”
“I’m right here with you. Don’t worry.” I said, wrapping a wing around her.
She closed her eyes and nodded before lowering her gaze to the book again.
I held my breath as she reached down and lifted the cover, pulling the book open.
“Wow...” She breathed, flipping through the thick pages. I raised my brows in silent agreement.
Each page was packed to the brim, leaving no space without words, or illustration. The spells the book contained were ones that I had never heard of, or seen before. The more pages she turned, the more my brow furrowed.
“H-how am I going to learn all of this?” She whispered.
“We’ll figure it out. You’ll have to do a lot of training, with Warrick and I... Andi and Torryn will help, too. We just need to get your power under control, so you can learn how to use it properly. Then you can start practicing these spells, and see what they can really do.”
She glanced up at me, and I noticed a flash of fear cross her features.
“Oh... Er, right...” She murmured.
I narrowed my eyes. “What’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Nothing.”
But her response was too fast, and there was an edge to her tone.
She was lying to me.
I reached down the bond and brushed my hand against her consciousness.
‘I can feel it... Something has been bothering you since this morning... Please, tell me what’s wrong.’
She squeezed her eyes shut.
“It’s just that... I’m scared... I’m scared I’ll lose control again...”
I turned my body toward her and took her face in my hands, forcing her to look up at me. Her eyes were swimming with moisture.
“Listen to me... You’re not alone. Don’t be afraid, love. That isn’t going to happen again. We will help you. I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
She shook her head as a tear spilled down the apple of her cheek.
“I’m not afraid of hurting myself...”
My brows knitted together. “Then what are you afraid of?”
She sighed shakily. “I’m afraid of hurting someone else... When I killed the pack leader, it was like someone else was controlling me... I wasn’t myself... I wasn’t in control. What if I accidentally hurt Warrick? Or Andi? Or Torryn? Or.... Or you?”
Her voice broke on the last word, and more tears cascaded over her face.
I shook my head. “You won’t.”
“You don’t know that!” She retorted, her lower lip trembling. She pulled out of my embrace and turned away from me, lowering her gaze to the book again.
I slowly lowered my hands, my brow still furrowed.
She was silent for awhile.
“In my nightmare...” She whispered. “I was back in the forest... The pack leader was trying to kill me, and I... And I couldn’t control my power... When I was fighting him, he turned into each one of my friends... I tried to stop, but I couldn’t... I watched Warrick, Andi, Torryn, and Ronan, as they were all dying at my hands... And then, you were there... And I couldn’t stop... I killed you.”
I was silent as I gazed helplessly at the side of her face. The only sound in the room was the dull thudding of her tears hitting the surface of the wooden desk.
I sighed and came to her side.
“Brenya... It was only a dream. That’s not going to happen...”
“But it could.” She said, absentmindedly flipping through the pages of the book.
“Brenya, you just need to train, that’s all.” I said quietly.
“What...?” She said, her voice softer than before.
“I said, you just need some training and you’ll-”
“No, Dristan, look!” She said, her voice rising as she interrupted me.
My eyes hesitantly left her face and fell toward the desk. Her hand was resting on a page near the back of the book.
“Look... There are runes here... Why would there be runes in an Elemental Book of Shadows?” She said, scanning her fingers over the words.
I leaned onto the desk to get a closer look.
“What in gods’ names...” I murmured, studying the strange spell.
The title of the spell nearly knocked the wind out of me.
“It’s a portal Spell.” I whispered.
“A portal spell? Portal to what?!” She gasped.
I picked the book up and lifted it closer to my face.
“I’ve heard myths of a spell like this, but I never thought it actually existed...”
Long ago, there was said to be a very powerful, male Fae, who was able to open portals. To what, I did not know. That Fae, supposedly named Atreyu, was said to have mysteriously disappeared, hundreds of years ago.
I’d never truly believed those stories. They’d been passed down through several generations, and the truth of them had surely been twisted and warped throughout the years. Also, there was no one else who was able to open portals. That was why so many referred to those stories as myths, nothing more than stories used to scare children.
But this spell... Perhaps this meant that the myths were true, after all.
I scanned my finger down the page.
“Gods above... It opens a portal to another dimension.”
“What does it say?” She urged, squeezing closer to my side.
“It says that the spell requires four different runes... It says that each of these four runes is required to preform the spell... When the runes are acquired, they must be placed a specific distance apart, each at a different corner of the earth. They form a square, with a minimum of 300 square feet, and a maximum of 58,000 square feet in size...”
“58,000 square feet? Why would a portal need to be that large?”
I shook my head slowly as my eyes continued scanning the page. “I don’t know...”
I turned the page, searching for the list of the four runes needed for the spell.
“Shit, some of the pages have been ripped out...” I cursed.
“Wait, there is one page left... There’s a sketch of a rune... And there’s some kind of riddle, too...”
I lowered the book so that she could see it.
Slowly, she read the riddle out loud.
“With enemies, is where I dwell.
An interesting parallel.
For those who seek to break my spell
must first endure the pits of hell.”
A chill crept up my spine.
We turned to look at each other, our confused, horrified expressions both mirroring the other.
“What the rutting hell does that mean?” She whispered.
“I don’t know.” I murmured, trying to keep the discomfort from showing on my face as I stared into her frightened eyes.
“Gods... This is so strange. And the other pages have been ripped out? This is the only rune listed?” She asked, turning her eyes back to the book.
“Yes... The question is why.” I growled softly.
“Indeed... Any idea what this riddle means?”
I shook my head. “I’m not sure. But whatever it means, I think it leads to this rune.” I said, pointing to the sketch.
She studied it. “I have no idea what kind it is... I hardly know anything about runes. We’ll have to have Ronan look at it, see if he can figure out what kind of rune it is.”
I growled softly.
“Dristan, this is important.” She complained.
“Fine...” I grumbled, closing the book. “I’ll call for a council meeting, tomorrow morning... Perhaps one of the others can shed light on this riddle, too.”
“Yes, and what a spell like this would even be used for...”
“It could be nothing...” I said with a small shrug.
She narrowed her eyes. “I doubt it. This is the last spell in the book, it has runes involved, and some of the pages are missing. Obviously, something is going on here. I was meant to find this spell, Dristan.”
I pressed my lips together. “You’re right... I just have a bad feeling about this. That riddle sounded very ominous...”
“You’re telling me. It gave me the creeps!“She shivered.
The mood of our first day as mates together had gone downhill, fast. I needed to lighten the mood, to ease her mind, and my own, if only for a little while.
“Chicken.” I said, nudging her in the ribs.
Her mouth popped open as she glared at me in shock. A small smile broke out across her face a moment later, and she slapped me in the arm.
I chuckled. “Come.” I said, setting the book down. “Let’s just enjoy one, full day together. We can worry about this tomorrow.”
She crossed her arms. “And what are we going to do for the rest of the day?”
I lowered my head and smirked at her from beneath my brows. “I can think of a few things...”
She laughed and darted out of the room.
I went to chase her, pushing my worries to the far reaches of my mind.
Tomorrow... I’d deal with this tomorrow...
For now, I just wanted to enjoy my new home, with my new mate, in my new life. Even if I could only be lost in it for one, short day.
Tomorrow could wait.