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Prophecy Unravelled

By Kathryn Royce-Martin All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 17 - The End

By the first light of dawn the combined army of Therin, Elves and Fae had destroyed the majority of Rantec’s army. Those not killed or mortally wounded had fled. The rising sun bathed the battlefield in an eerie mist. The ground was littered with bodies, weapons and blood staining the once green, damp grass. Aidan crouched to wipe his sword then resheathed it standing to survey the gruesome scene. The metallic ring of his father’s sword echoed in the silence after the clamour of the battle. Hating the senseless destruction he sighed saddened deeply by the deaths of some of his men.

Spotting Daien, Orien and Raef not far away talking quietly amongst themselves he hurried over. Concern filled their expression and Aidan frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

Daien held his gaze fear in his eyes.

“We can’t find Ren.”

Despite bone deep weariness threatening to overwhelm him Aidan reacted swiftly. Pointing to several soldiers who knew Tarienne he commanded.

“You three, the Lady Tarienne is missing. Gather others who know her and search the battlefield. Do not return until you find her.”

Saluting, the soldiers grabbed half a dozen others and began their search. Daien, Raef, Orien and Aidan spread out, stepping over bodies as they went. Each time they recognised one of their own, injured or dead they called for them to be taken to the castle. They called Tarienne’s name out loud and through mind speak but there was no response. When they came upon Authion and Kyre they broke the news that their sister was missing. Their faces creased with worry, their fear for Tarienne mirroring their own.

Raef reached for their sibling bond and couldn’t pin it down. One moment he thought it was there, the next he couldn’t locate it. Raef’s heart thundered, his stomach knotting with fear. The brothers joined the search, the group fanning out across the battlefield. Authion cried out suddenly and the others rushed to his side to find Tere in his wolf form, close to death. A deep gash in his flank leaked bright red blood, an arrow protruding from his chest.

Crouching over Tere Authion called to him softly. Raef contacted Arivaelle asking her to come quickly. Tere’s ice blue eyes were pale and glazed when he opened them but he managed to shift into human form the effort evoking a loud grunt. Pressing hard on the deep gash in Tere’s side Authion attempted to stem the flow of blood pouring from the wound. Aidan unclasped his cape draping it over Tere’s naked form to keep him warm. Kneeling beside him Aidan laid his hand on Tere’s shoulder.

“You fought like a true warrior today, my friend.”

Arivaelle rushed to Tere’s side her relief obvious at seeing Aidan and her brothers safe. Dropping gracefully to the ground behind Tere she lifted his head gently cradling it in her lap. Tere writhed in agony as he began to cough, the blood in his spittle bright and viscous.

“Shhhh, stay quiet.”

Arivaelle commanded gently as Tere tried to speak. He would not be dissuaded and when Arivaelle began chanting a healing spell Tere tried again, his voice barely a hiss.

“Tarienne.”

It was all he managed before he dissolved into another coughing fit. Raef’s heart skittered wildly. What did he mean?

Daien kneeled desperate for Tere to tell them more but consumed by sadness at his friends imminent death

Arivaelle lifted her head meeting their eyes, shaking her head sadly. Aidan lowered his head close to Tere’s.

“Tere, we can’t find Tarienne. Do you know where she is?”

Tere did not respond for a moment, then, with the last of his energy he lifted his arm pointing toward the far edge of the battle field where a large, grassy mound led down to the forests edge. Tere’s arm dropped and his eyes rolled back in his head as he died in Arivaelle’s arms. She let out a cry of despair and Aidan let out a deep, mournful sigh sadness consuming them all. Wrapping his arm around Arivaelle’s shoulders he pulled her from beneath Tere anchoring her tightly against his own side. Aidan made the sign of the cross over Tere’s body and stood pulling Arivaelle up with him, against his chest.

“He shall be buried as a warrior of Therin.”

Then added quietly.

“We must find her.”

Though they did not wish to leave Tere’s body they knew that they needed to renew their efforts to find Tarienne. Heading in the direction Tere had pointed they fanned out loudly calling her name. Daien’s heart pounded as he searched, his throat burned, his eyes were gritty and his fear for Tarienne threatened to steal all sensible thought.

Just as despair began to settle heavy on his chest Daien looked up his attention caught by a distant movement. A figure appeared on top of the large grassy mound shrouded in mist. Tarienne! Sucking in a sharp breath he called her name relief making his voice husky with emotion. The others spun around hearing Daien call to her, watching him break into a run to reach her.

Tarienne began to move toward him but her form suddenly crumpled. Falling forward her limp body rolled down the hill coming to rest against a heap of bloodied and broken wolf corpses. Daien cried out hurtling toward her, his breathing rough.

“Ren, NO!”

Hearing his desperate cry Aidan and Raef bolted in his direction. Raef spoke with Arivaelle as he ran alerting her that they’d found their sister and that she needed help. When they reached her Tarienne was cradled in Daien’s lap. Tears rolled down his face as he rocked her.

“Ren, Sweetheart, no, don’t leave me, please, Ren, please.”

Arivaelle arrived, dropping to her knees. ” She cried, close to hysteria.

“Ren, no, Ren!”

Terror threatened to overwhelm Raef too but he managed to grasp for the last fragment of his control and grabbed Arivaelle’s shoulders, a little roughly.

“Focus, Rivi, help her.”

Arivaelle closed her eyes for a moment trying to call on the healing calm, sobs still escaping as she gulped in air.

“Forgive me, let me feel for injuries.”

Aidan squatted beside Arivaelle offering his support,his own eyes damp with unshed tears. After a few moments of feeling for injuries Arivaelle sat back on her heels, puzzled.

“I can’t find anything wrong other than the bump on her head. She’s just totally exhausted and her body has gone into a near shutdown so she can recuperate. I’ve never seen this happen before but I’ve heard about it happening. Daien, talk to her.”

Daien’s relief was palpable. Scraping the back of his hand across his face Daien focused on the woman in his lap. He called to her softly gripping one hand, lightly circling his thumb in her palm.

“You’re safe now my love. Wake up, we’re all here with you. Talk to me, Sweetheart.”

Raef joined in crouching beside her holding her other hand.

“You promised you wouldn’t scare me like this again. Come on Sweetling, wherever you are come back to us.”

A few moments passed before anything happened then Tarienne’s lids fluttered open to find five pairs of worried eyes staring down at her. Tipping her head back to see Daien’s face just above hers she witnessed the fear in his eyes quickly replaced by relief. Daien dropped his lips down to hers and kissed her with every ounce of love he possessed. When he lifted his head Tarienne saw the tears in his eyes as he whispered.

“I thought I’d lost you...”

Swivelling around she wrapped her arms around his neck hugging him hard. Daien buried his face in her hair. Aidan grew impatient, tapping Daien on the shoulder. They looked up and Aidan grabbed her hand hauling her into a hug that served to reassure them both that they were safe. Tarienne was passed around her brothers and Arivaelle all needing to touch and hold her after the scare she’d given them.

As Kyre released her a look of worry passed across her face.

“Where’s father?”

Raef took her hand, placing a reassuring kiss on her cheek.

“He’s alright Sweetling. He was slightly injured and Elyssia is caring for him in the castle. We’ve let him know that you’re safe.”

Frowning, she asked the question they’d all been dreading.

“What about Tere? He saved my life, twice. One of the beasts caught the side of my head with a mace and I fell onto a rock. Before I blacked out I saw Tere’s black wolf standing over me, protecting me. He must have dragged me under a bush to keep me safe. Where is he?”

No-one responded for a moment. Tarienne’s eyes met Daien’s and held them. Daien pulled her into a fierce hug and sadly told her of Tere’s death. Tarienne’s eyes flew wide with shock and she broke down in Daien’s arms, sobbing.

“He saved my life, Daien, he saved me, twice.”

Daien held Tarienne to him stroking her hair as she unleashed her grief. The others drifted off to determine how many casualties their own armies had sustained and to organise the burial of the dead. Aidan ordered a detail of soldiers to begin piling up the bodies of their enemies in readiness to burn them. He personally saw to collecting Tere’s body ready for his burial as a warrior of Therin. Another detail was organised to search for survivors and take them to the castle to have their injuries tended.

The great hall became an infirmary and was littered with makeshift beds. Those who had any healing abilities were doing what they could for the injured including Garneth, Arivaelle and Elyssia.

Tarienne’s sobs eventually subsided. Daien took her hand, leading her back to the castle.

“You need food and rest, no arguments.”

Tarienne had no energy to argue, leaning into him as they walked. Daien released her hand wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her close against his body. His heart ached at seeing her so sad. When they reached her chambers Daien helped Tarienne undress and tucked her into bed. Within moments she was asleep and Daien wandered off to the kitchen to find something for them both to eat.

Not yet able to relax after the battle Daien made his way down to the infirmary to see if he could help but Elyssia shooed him away telling him to get some rest. Realising that he really was exhausted he decided to do as she suggested. A few minutes later Daien was slipping, naked into bed beside Tarienne. Looking wistfully at the bath he wished that he could soak his weary body in some warm water before he slept. Exhaustion won out and he drew Tarienne to him, looped his arm over her and fell into a deep, restful sleep.

The next morning, the castle was very quiet. The mood was sombre as everyone silently mourned the loss of those who had perished. Tarienne had awoken to find herself alone but knew Daien had slept with her because his soothing, delicious masculine scent lingered in the bed.

Slipping out from beneath the covers she padded over to the window pulling on her bed jacket against the chill of the morning. There were rows of covered bodies in the courtyard. Daien and Orien were overseeing the recovery of the deceased soldiers of Therin ensuring that they were treated with the dignity they deserved. Tarienne watched for a while a deep sadness descending over her.

Daien glanced up at the window as if sensing her watching. His rich voice slid into her thoughts.

I love you, Ren. I’ll finish up here and bring you some breakfast. Rest, my love, you deserve it. I won’t be long.

The immense power of his love flowed through their bond warming her heart and bringing a little smile to her lips.

I’ll be waiting, my Daien.

Daien held his hand over his heart for a moment, then strode away to assist Orien with the grisly task of identifying the bodies.

Tarienne didn’t envy Aidan at all knowing that he would personally speak with each and every family who had lost a loved one. Her heart ached for them all but most of all for Tere who had become dear to them all in the short time they’d known him.Turning away from the window she decided to take a long, hot bath to see if that would help ease her tired, sore muscles. She stripped using her magic to warm the water. Sinking down into the heat she sighed, the small cuts on her arms stinging as the water slid across them.

Dipping her head beneath the soothing warmth she rose up just enough to rest the back of her head on the edge of the bath. Little rivulets of water ran down her neck and between her breasts and her hair hung, dripping and curly around her face. She closed her eyes allowing the heat to seep into her muscles and drifted into a light sleep.

Daien entered the room quietly almost dropping the tray of food he held when he spied the most beautiful woman he’d ever known, naked in the bath. His woman. Sucking in a sharp breath he placed the tray onto the dresser. Unable to tear his eyes away from her breasts, bobbing up and down in the water as she breathed he wanted to taste her soft, moist skin. His body tightened and his heart thumped a staccato beat. With his last shred of sensible thought he turned locking the door to her chamber.

Prowling back to the bath he located a damp ball of fragrant soap and lathered his hands. Tarienne jumped a little as his soaped up hands began sliding over her skin. Tipping her head back, her face lit up with a smile filled with love. Daien couldn’t resist dipping down for a gentle kiss nor could he resist letting his hands slide down her body massaging her breasts. Their lips met and the gentle kiss he’d intended turned into a passionate, soul searing, melding of their mouths.

Daien ended the kiss tenderly lathering Tarienne’s hair, massaging her scalp, neck and shoulders in a sensual assault that had her fidgeting with arousal. When he’d finished she slid under the water to rinse the soap from her hair. Her muscles were so much more relaxed. Desire coursed through her melting her insides as it spiralled downward to her centre of pleasure. Standing slowly in the water she watched Daien’s gaze sweep over her his eyes darkening to almost black. Her hot gaze issued a silent invitation that she knew he could not resist.

Daien tore his clothes off in his haste to join her. Tarienne’s lips curved in an appreciative smile as she warmed the water a little more lowering herself into one end of the tub, her knees up so Daien had room to climb in with her. Watching his magnificent body enter the water made her feminine core tingle and ache simultaneously. Her breasts tightened. Her nipples puckered into tight little buds. Daien’s eyes turned molten and his lips parted as his breathing quickened. Tarienne couldn’t help herself. Her words breathy.

“Gods you’re delicious.”

Daien chuckled and dropped down into the water splashing waves over the side. Hauling her onto his lap his lips frantically sought hers his hands roaming her body as if rediscovering the feel of her. She wriggled impatiently on his lap rubbing against his arousal and a low growl rumbled through him.

Deftly flipping Tarienne onto her back he lowered himself over her, kissing and nibbling her neck. Dipping down to her breasts he moved from one to the other until she writhed against him, her little moans fuelling his desire. Moving back up to her lips he allowed his hand to slide lower, cupping between her legs then slipped two fingers deep into her slick wetness. His body on hers, his fingers swirling and pumping inside her and his hot passionate kisses propelled her into an earth shattering climax. Tarienne’s body clenched around his fingers and she moaned his name

Before her climax had subsided Daien positioned himself at the entrance to her body. Lifting her legs he wrapped them around his waist. He eased into her tight sheath, her legs tightening around him pulling him in deeper. Groaning loudly he set a rhythm that was sweet torture. The ache inside her built quickly again and Tarienne arched her back to take him deeper. When he shifted a little so he could slip his fingers between them and massage her sensitive nub she screamed with the intensity of the climax that shattered her in the most pleasurable way. Her clenching muscles evoked a deep, sensual groan from Daien and he plunged into her over and over crying out her name as his seed pulsed into her.

Gasping for breath Daien collapsed onto her, showering her face with kisses.Tarienne giggled and let her legs untangle from his waist dropping them back into the warm water.

“Daien.”

Daien responded languorously.

“Hmmmm ...?“.

Tarienne stroked his damp hair.

“I love you. Let’s get married.”

Lifting his head from where it rested on her breast he gazed into her eyes.

“I thought we’d already agreed on that?”

Her breathing quickened as his finger lazily circled her breast.

“I know silly.”

Gasping she continued briefly marvelling at how he could arouse her so soon after bringing her to two glorious climaxes.

“I mean, let’s get married now ...well not today, but very soon.”

His gorgeous, brown eyes gazed into hers and his rich chocolate voice sent shivers down her spine.

“Sweetheart, you know how much I love you. I’ll marry you today if you want to.”

Tarienne hugged him hard shaking her head.

“Not today, Mother would never forgive me if she wasn’t here for the wedding, but very soon. Right now I want to warm up the water and spend some more time together.”

Daien smiled suggestively, raised his eyebrows then pulled her to him. He began a sweet, slow torture his hands exploring, rubbing and gently tweaking her most sensitive places. Barely capable of coherent thought at Daien’s sensual worship of her body Tarienne let her hand drift down into the water whispering the spell to heat it. Daien’s passion heated too, and Tarienne thought she might die from the pleasure of being swept to sweet ecstasy, yet again.

When they finally headed downstairs Aidan was standing in the repaired throne room with one arm casually looped around Arivaelle. Raef was perched on a low table with Elyssia tucked onto his lap his arm possessively around her. They all looked bathed and somewhat refreshed though the burden of being King, obviously weighed heavily on Aidan today after the bloody battle that took so many of his soldiers lives.

Tarienne walked straight to Aidan slipping her arms around his waist in a reassuring hug. Aidan held her tightly then eased her away a little. Looking very serious he asked something that tore at her heart.

“Do you feel up to singing the lament at Tere’s funeral tomorrow?”

Tarienne swallowed hard taking a few deep breaths but her voice still came out as a whisper.

“Yes. I’d like to do it, for Tere.”

Aidan pulled her to him again holding her for a long moment then releasing her into Daien’s arms. She snuggled close to Daien drawing strength and courage from the man she loved. Arivaelle and Elyssia crowded in around her slipping their arms around both Tarienne and Daien in a group hug.

“We’ll sing the lament with you if you’d like.”

Tarienne nodded, unable to speak past the lump in her throat. Their support meant everything to her.

When they separated Raef strode over casually and slid his arm around Tarienne’s waist holding her tighter than she expected. Frowning a little she looked up at him sensing there was something he needed to tell her. He pulled in a breath.

“I have something that Tere asked me to give you before we left Darewood.”

Producing a little package of soft hide tied with string he placed it in her hand. Unwrapping it carefully Tarienne’s hands shook. Raef tightened his grip around her waist. Pulling at the last of the string holding the package together the hide fell open to reveal a small black, hand carved wolf with tiny, ice blue, gem eyes embedded in the wood. Tarienne gasped. Raef steadied her as she shook and turned damp eyes to him.

“It’s beautiful.”

Her watery gaze met Daien’s. He smiled his little reassuring smile and Tarienne sucked in a long, deep breath to compose herself. A sigh left her lips as she struggled to control the overwhelming sadness rolling through her. Closing her hand around the little wolf and raising her eyes to the heavens, she whispered.

“I’ll treasure it always, Tere. Thank you, dear friend.”

Aidan stepped forward Arivaelle’s hand held tightly in his. Bringing her fingers to his lips he dropped a light kiss on her knuckles. A big grin split his face as he met Arivaelle’s eyes and spoke.

“I wanted you all to be the first to know that I’ve asked Arivaelle to marry me and she’s accepted.”

Elyssia and Tarienne squealed hurtling forward to envelop Arivaelle and Aidan in bone breaking hugs.

“What wonderful news!”

Tarienne gushed happy for some good news amongst the sombre mood.Raef stepped forward, pulling his second youngest sister into a tight embrace. Kissing her on the cheek he released her grasping Aidan’s hand and pulling him into a brotherly hug. Slapping him on the back as he released him.

“Well done, Aidan.”

Raef beamed. Daien did the same, comfortable now with the tactile ways of the Fae and as close to Aidan as a brother.

Despite the joy of Aidan and Arivaelle’s news the next day was difficult for everyone. The acrid smell of smoke, from the piles of burning enemy bodies invaded every building and every room in the castle.

At dusk Tarienne and Daien joined the mourners lining the square at the centre of the castle. Aidan and the others were already waiting at the front of the assembled crowd. Daien slid his hand into Tarienne’s as they joined Tere’s friends assembled in a circle around his funeral pyre.

Aidan’s arm curled around Arivaelle’s waist as he signalled it was time for the fires to be lit. The gathered crowd waited in silence for their King to personally light Tere’s pyre. The fire took hold blazing in the darkness. Tendrils of smoke drifted upwards filling the air with the sweet scent of fresh hay and the musky oils used to cleanse the bodies.

Tarienne began the Fae lament her voice not as clear nor as strong as she wished, softened by barely contained emotion. She knew that very few could understand the words but the mournful tune pierced the silence speaking of bravery and love to all who listened. The words evoked a deep sadness yet spoke of the joys of the life beyond death. They wished the traveller well on their journey, pledging undying memories and eternal love. Tarienne’s sorrow welled up tears spilling down her cheeks. The loss of Tere who had managed to become dear to them all in a very short time was a physical pain. Her chest tightened, her throat constricted and her voice wavered.

Elyssia and Arivaelle joined in moving up close beside her when Tarienne’s voice faltered. They stood together united in their grief hands outstretched toward Tere as the pyre burned. Even those who did not understand the words cried at the beauty of the music they made.

The three women linked their arms holding the last note until they saw the hazy figure of a huge wolf rise above the flames. It paused briefly looking back at the assembled group. Its ice blue eyes glowed then disappeared into the darkness. The crowd gasped collectively and the moment passed. Tarienne gazed into the darkness a moment longer her heart aching.

Tarienne, Elyssia and Arivaell, eventually turned back tearfully to the awaiting arms of the men they loved. They watched the flames in silence huddling close lost in their own thoughts until most of the crowd had wandered away. Finally they headed back within the castle walls to share a glass of wine and a toast to lost friends.

Several weeks had passed since the burials. Friends and family had arrived from Darewood. Royals from outlying kingdoms began entering the castle, invited for the royal wedding. Therin was ablaze with colour and filled with expectation, the streets lined with market stalls and brightly clothed entertainers. The people were excited not only because their King was to marry a Fae princess but there would be two other Fae weddings also. The Lady Tarienne was marrying one of the King’s elite guard and her brother was marrying his long time Fae love. Therin was abuzz.

Aidan could not remember being so happy and found himself uncharacteristically emotional. A few months ago he would not have believed he could love someone so much that his heart would ache. Now he couldn’t imagine a life without his amazing Arivaelle.

Tarienne found it difficult to believe that the day of their wedding had finally arrived. She was so happy she wanted to cry and did several times along with Elyssia and Arivaelle. Arivaelle was nervous at becoming the Queen of Therin but she looked incredibly beautiful in the flowing, pale blue gown that was traditional for the marriage of royalty in Therin.

Tarienne wore a rich cream, lacy gown, pinched at the waist with flowing Fae lace tumbling down the full skirt. Her mother had brought it and Elyssia’s stunning snow white gown with her from Darewood anticipating the happy event.

When the day finally arrived the ceremonies were beautiful though neither Daien nor Tarienne remembered much about them. Raef and Elyssia were so exquisitely happy that it made Tarienne cry again. The crowning moment of the day was when Aidan wed Arivaelle. Aidan looked magnificent in his royal colours of deep maroon and gold. Arivaelle was breathtaking in her pale, blue, low cut dress, woven with silver and gold. It was cinched at her tiny waist and flowed into a full skirt that spread out behind her as she glided down the flower strewn aisle toward Aidan.

Aidan’s eyes glistened as she walked toward him on her father’s arm. Tarienne leaned into Daien for support the intense emotion whirling through her stealing her strength. All eyes were on her sister, Arivaelle. She was exquisite and the ladies of the court gasped at her ethereal beauty.

When the ceremony concluded and Aidan kissed his bride a great cheer went up from the guests. Soon after an even louder cheer could be heard from the crowd outside.

“Long live the King! Long live the Queen!”

Aidan’s face split into a huge grin as they headed toward the great hall for the wedding feast. Raef, Elyssia, Daien and Tarienne followed close behind anxious to be the first to congratulate Aidan and Arivaelle. Tarienne paused looking into Daien’s eyes. Daien lowered his head to steal a quick kiss filling her with a sense of completeness.

Moving into the great hall and there were hugs and kisses in abundance the like of which the Castle of Therin had never seen. The wedding feast was unparalleled and celebrations continued until the early hours of the morning.

Visitors from the Elven kingdoms confirmed the return of the balance of magic. They congratulated Aidan and Arivaelle leaving them invaluable magical gifts as a sign of respect and confirmation of their allegiance. Tarienne didn’t believe that Aidan knew the value of the gifts given. She would have to ensure that they were placed in the keep for safety.

The next morning the castle was extremely quiet. Tarienne decided that she would like to take a walk in the sunshine leaving a softly snoring Daien to sleep. Smiling happily Tarienne kissed Daien on the cheek. Joy filled her as her thoughts returned to their wedding and the exquisite pleasure they’d shared last night.

“Sleep well my wonderful husband.”

Shutting the door Tarienne sauntered down into the gardens. Surprised to find Aidan there looking very pleased with himself she glided up behind him tapping him on the shoulder. He spun around and his face lit up. Tarienne walked into his open arms hugging him tight. She beamed, this was a very happy, ‘just Aidan’. She teased him gently.

“I gather you had an enjoyable night?”

Aidan released her collecting her arm and tucking it through his. They walked along the cobblestone path through the sweetly scented garden.

“It was the most wonderful evening of my life. I wanted to thank you.”

Tarienne frowned, confused.

“Thank me?”

Aidan paused turning Tarienne to face him grasping both her hands gently.

“Yes, if you hadn’t come to Therin and changed my life, challenged everything I believed in and supported me unconditionally I would never have known of the Golden Stone and I would not have met your most incredible sister. A few months ago, I would not have believed I could love and be loved so deeply and have the most amazing friends who I know would follow and support me no matter what I asked of them ... friends I trust with my life. So, yes, thank you.”

He drew a breath and looking uncharacteristically anxious continued.

“Ren, would you do one more thing for me? Would yourself and Daien please stay here at the castle with me ...with us, and make it your home?”

Tarienne blinked back tears.

“Aidan you already know that I love you as my brother. Daien and I have spoken much of this. We’d love to stay here with you. Daien also wishes to remain one of your Kings Guard, if you agree.”

Aidan’s eyes moistened.

“Nothing would make me happier. Did you know that Rivi’s wedding gift to me was immortality?”

Tarienne nodded.

“That’s the most wonderful news, Dear heart. I did the same for Daien. Now we can all spend eternity together.”

Aidan mused.

“Hmmm, eternity. I don’t think I want to be King forever.”

“You won’t have to be, Aidan. Life will change and in time you can hand over the rule to your children.”

He hugged her hard and they walked back inside together reminiscing about the previous day. This was the real Aidan, his compassion and tenderness the attributes that made him such a good King.

By the time Tarienne returned to her chambers Daien had bathed and was pulling his boots on. His face lit with love and his lips curved into the special smile he reserved only for her. She walked straight into his arms for a long, good morning kiss.His voice husky with emotion he whispered close to her ear, maling her shiver.

“Good morning, my beautiful wife.”

Tarienne grinned.

“Good morning to you my gorgeous, sexy husband.”

Daien captured her mouth again in a passionate kiss. Tarienne slipped her arms around his neck and leaned into him savouring the feeling of belonging to each other.

Two days later, Tarienne, Daien and their family were ready to ride to Ferngrove to spend their honeymoon there. Tarienne was anxious to leave though she loved Therin. At Ferngrove they could relax and enjoy each other’s company, without the pressures of royal life.

The triple wedding only a few days earlier was still fresh in the minds of the people of Therin. The streets were lined with well wishers throwing flowers in front of the cavalcade. Tarienne prayed that the celebrations had begun to erase the memories of the fear and death the people had seen over the last few months.

They were all eager for a glimpse of their new Fae Queen, their beloved King Aidan and the Fae royalty. Many of the gathered crowd were from the outlying villages on their way home now that it was safe to return. Tarienne waved and smiled as the crowd cheered noting Daien’s discomfort at the attention. She smiled. He was a King’s Guard at heart.

As the horses cantered through the huge iron gates separating Castle Therin from the surrounding villages Tarienne glanced back at the place she now called home then allowed her gaze to drift over each member of her family. She fervently hoped that the next few months would not be as eventful, or dangerous, as the last.

Her eyes alighted on Daien her heart swelling with love for him. Turning as if sensing her gaze he gifted her with one of his heart stopping smiles and her heart skittered. His eyes darkened then his warm voice washed across her thoughts.

Are you certain you don’t want to ride up here, with me?

Heat suffused her body and the staccato beat of her pulse quickened. Through the strong mind connection she’d developed with him, she sent back a breathy response.

Yes I do want to, but we’d never make it to Ferngrove.

Daien barked a laugh. Her eyes travelled appreciatively over his very enticing body as he pulled his horse over to hers covering her fingers with his where they held Lacey’s reins. Lacey nickered at Daien’s black stallion as they stopped flank to flank. Daien leaned down from his much taller mount capturing Tarienne’s lips. Fisting the front of his shirt to hold him to her she was desperate for the contact with her man as always. Vaguely she registered the clip clop of the others passing as Daien’s lips slid seductively over hers. The rich, spicy taste of him sent warmth and desire flooding through her.
Aidan chuckled, commenting loudly.

“They’re always doing that.”

Laughter rippled through the group and Tarienne smiled against Daien’s lips, releasing him reluctantly and whispering for his ears only.

“Later, my Daien, later.”

The look he sent her was full of heat and promise. Suddenly she wished that the journey to Ferngrove was near its end though they had just started on their way.

Tarienne absently rubbed Lacey behind one ear as they moved on cantering along the grassy edge of the well-worn road. Scanning the forest the odd feeling that they were being watched slid through her. She frowned. Probing carefully for a mind connection she hardly dared to believe it was him. Smiling broadly as she recognised the familiar thought pattern she sent her thoughts over the distance between them.

Welcome back, dear friend, we’ve missed you.

From the cover of the forest a large, lone black wolf with ice blue eyes stood quietly watching, on guard should he be needed. A wolfish grin curled his lips as her thoughts reached out to him.

It’s good to be back, Dearheart.


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