Phaedra could hear a commotion in the library as she passed. Kerwin growled but his mistress raised her hand for him to stand down. Furniture lay in splintered piles about the room and she could hear glass shattering. A flying book narrowly missed her as she entered the room causing Kerwin to leap in front of her and yell, “Stop!”
The Goblin King looked wild and disheveled. His clothes were all but torn from his body, his crown sat askew on his head, his hair stuck out in all directions as he spun around, flinging whatever he could get his hands on. At Kerwin’s command he spun around to face mistress and manservant, his chest heaving.
Phaedra stepped out from behind her beast and folded her arms across her chest. This was not the first tantrum of his she’d witnessed and she doubted it would be the last.
“Are you vexed, my king?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Am I…?” He gaped at her. “Are you daft, woman?”
Torquil threw down the book he still had in his hand and crossed the room. A low growl rose in Kerwin’s throat, making the king step back.
“Kerwin, no.” Phaedra ordered.
“I have had some very disturbing news. The invasion of Abiloth was a failure!” Torquil paced with agitation. “The guards had not been drugged. In fact, they were waiting, waiting to ambush my army as they came through the portal!”
He stopped and hissed, “That rump-fed harlot betrayed me!”
“Tis no matter,” Phaedra waved.
“Tis no matter?” he shrieked.
Kerwin took a step toward him, bearing his teeth.
“Torquil, we have possession of the Silver Fleet, half the barbarian army the Alliance had depended on, the brat from Kendra and her amulet and the Dowager Empress’ precious son. We can either negotiate the release of the Prince of Lothiari in exchange for Abiloth’s surrender…”
“Or take Abiloth by force and kill them all!” Torquil cackled.
Phaedra smiled. “Our guests await our arrival in the courtyard. Would you care to accompany me?”
The sorceress and the Goblin King led a procession of orcs through the castle and into the courtyard of the Palace of Rune. Phaedra, in spite of herself, gasped at the sheer majesty of the glittering ships as they touched down. Yes, the ancient power behind the fleet was exactly what she needed to complete her plan.
They boarded the main ship where orc and goblin alike dropped to one knee. Standing among them was an overly smug looking Lord of the Underworld and his prisoners. Phaedra chuckled as she looked over Alaric’s choice of bride. She really couldn’t understand how such a lumpy, frizzy haired, unremarkable thing could manage to grab the confirmed bachelor, especially when she herself had no luck with him. The man looked far less dignified in his ripped and soiled attire, wayward hair and bruised face. She glided towards them.
“Welcome honored guests.” She crooned. “So good of you to join us at last.”
“Princess Phaedra of Izan, is that you?” Alaric asked.
“Why Prince Alaric, how kind of you to remember me after all these years. I understand congratulations are in order.” She flashed a smiled that didn’t reach her eyes as she turned to Isabel.
The sorceress’ eyes traveled up and down the woman’s body. Her muscles were taut and firm, her ample curves looking utterly ridiculous in the armor of men. Isabel’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes blazed as they locked with hers. So, the little halfwit wasn’t afraid. She would have to rectify that.
“Well,” Phaedra smirked, “now I know why I couldn’t turn your head, my prince. The appreciation of feminine beauty is often lost on men with a penchant to lay with other men.”
Alaric smiled. “As I recall we never had it off because of your penchant to lay with your brother.”
Phaedra giggled. “My lord, surely you are not still bitter about your thorough trouncing in my honor during your sparring exercises? Your bride may get the wrong idea and think you still hold a candle for me.”
“The people of your kingdom have some unusual customs, Phaedra, but even they would not confuse Alistair’s attempt on my life at your coming out ball as a sparring exercise.” The prince sniffed. “As for my wife, the level of her boundless intelligence would astound you.”
“Intelligence in a woman is so droll!” the Goblin King barked a laugh.
Phaedra smiled but her eyes held an evil light. “We shall see how intelligent your lady love is. Bring her!” She gestured and two orcs came forward, grabbed Isabel and dragged her down the gangplank.
“Stop! Where are you taking her?” Prince Alaric shouted, pushing against the orcs who held him and the angry Shumi at bay.
“Silence!” Phaedra barked.
An orc standing behind the prince thumped him so hard on the shoulder that he dropped to his knees, wincing in pain.
“Lord Rakad, you have done well. Join me in my chambers tonight and we shall speak about an appropriate reward.”
“Yes, my queen.” The Lord of the Underworld replied after swallowing hard.
“Take the prisoners to the dungeon.” He commanded so masterfully even the Goblin King jumped.
“No!” Phaedra said, holding Alaric’s gaze, “I have grown weary of this game. Time I replenish myself and move on to bigger conquests. Torquil, kill the prisoners and then gather your forces. It is time to end this war.”
The sorceress swept down the gangplank followed by Lord Rakad and a cackling Goblin King who waved his hand signaling his soldiers to carry out Phaedra’s orders.
The Shumi gathered around the prince, growling and snarling as the enemy approached. They were unarmed but that wouldn’t stop them from taking a few goblins down with them. Alaric noticed one of the orcs stood to one side, watching them. The orc raised its hand and suddenly the others froze.
It approached them and the prince glared, “What the devil are you looking at?”
The orc began to glow and weapons appeared in his arms before he threw them to the floor.
“Now, is that any way to address a Mirror Mage?” The orc answered, glowing again before suddenly shrinking down and transforming into Leticia. Her hair was tied back and she was clad in her blue robes.
The prisoners gaped at the woman as she pulled a small glass wand from her sleeve and approached the nearest goblin. She touched the tip of her wand to the creature, which glowed white after a moment before melting to the floor in a pool of liquid metal. This started a domino affect and soon the decks of every ship were glistening with the molten remains of the enemy.
Prince Alaric embraced Leticia heartily before he remembered himself and pulled back. “Leticia, what are you doing here? How did you find us?”
“I’m a Mirror Mage.” She chuckled. “It’s what I do.”
Alaric laughed. “No seriously, how did you know we were here?”
“Ever since the Harringtons were killed I’ve been helping to monitor mirror activity. Every Mage leaves their own signature whenever they conduct magic. Only the most gifted of us are able to pick up on these signatures.”
“And of course you are one of the gifted.”
“Of course! I discovered that the Mage who had transported Valeska through the portal somehow didn’t know Torquil’s minions had broken through the barrier when her beacons should have gone off like a siren. An investigation revealed she was the Mirror Mage of Izan as well as Rune. Thanks to Zenaida it took her longer to discover Nancy’s whereabouts than she’d anticipated, but the Guardian could only do so much. It was that very Mage who opened the portal into our world for the Goblin King. She also enabled him to seduce Princess Lavinia into granting access to the Crystal Palace, giving up your location in the Outlands and opening a portal that allowed his goblins to invade Abiloth.”
“Then Princess Lavinia is the traitor!” cried the prince as he paled. “Was the invasion successful?”
Leticia smiled. “No, Jarek was ready for the invasion and what’s more Nancy and Iskander are here. We must hurry, for the Mage in question has come through the portal with them and I fear they may be in danger.”
“I will leave you to it.” Alaric replied, hefting his sword. “I am going after Isabel.”