A Wicked Game [The Golden Saga #2]

All Rights Reserved ©

Summary

The pursuit for the Golden Crown continues but being the strongest academy representative is no longer enough. The victorious suitor must also convince the Golden Heir that they are everything the royals could desire in a bride before she can claim the title of Heliac's queen and guardian. Yet, Willow's purpose remains indifferent. But trying to balance life as a masked suitor while striving to achieve complete control of her powers is a lot more complicated than she anticipated. The more control she gains over her powers, the more control she loses of her emotions, and her feelings for Caiden are becoming harder to deny with each day she remains part of the competition. New secrets emerge, forcing Willow to choose between her heart and her goal if she wants to survive what destiny has in store for her. But completing what she set out to do is challenging when a mind corrupted by wicked thoughts is doing everything they can to prevent Willow from seeing the Crown Trials through. Copyright © 2021 Tori R Hayes All Rights Reserved

Genre:
Fantasy / Romance
Author:
Tori R. Hayes
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
43
Rating:
5.0 13 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Veiled

“Stance, miss Aldwyn!” Art shouted to make me stop in the middle of a transition from one position to another.

My supporting leg was trembling so badly that it was a miracle it didn’t shatter under my weight, while the other leg was bent by the knee and open by the hip, hardly allowing the toe from my straightened foot to brush against my shaking knee.

The rest of my body was locked in a banana-like pose with my hands crossed above my head in an uncomfortable position while I held my breath to sustain the current arrangement.

I knew that breathing would cause my body to give in, so I forced myself to suck it up. Anything else would almost certainly make whatever Art had in mind for me ten times worse. Art despised formalities, and he only referred to me by my last name when he was genuinely upset with me.

“Your toe is not supposed to touch your knee, but merely hover right beside it, so remember that pose. It’s one of the critical ones,” he said and lifted my hovering leg further to the right until he was satisfied. “It helps your body understand the language of balance and flexibility - two important skills for an Air Wielder.”

He finally turned his back to me, indicating that I could abandon the pose and return to a position more natural for my sore limbs.

However, after four hours of torment, regaining control of my aching body was more complicated than usual, and I struggled to even stay on my feet as he continued to lecture me.

Art was an excellent teacher, and I had learned a lot from him in a short amount of time, but I resented him in moments like these. He was impossible to reason with, and I’d come to know this attitude as his teacher mode.

He was pushing me to invoke the power in me, and this dance of misery was one of the first steps, but I was horrible at it. I’d been going through the moves step-by-step all day, and Art was still expecting me to execute flawlessly, but my muscles were burning, and my joints hurt every time I moved.

“Art, please,” I panted, leaning over my knees with sweat dripping from my forehead directly to the bare stone floor. “We have to participate in the Review tonight, and Evie is going to kill me if I show up in Adriel’s dress with more bruises than absolutely necessary.”

“Nonsense,” he said and brushed off my plead with a mere wave in the air. “The healers will fix you up in no time, but I don’t have time to teach you everything you need to know before the next trial, so I am forced to push you even harder than before.”

I sighed deeply and let my head fall to stop the pain in my neck from stinging like the cut of a thousand needles.

My bond with the healers had turned into a love-hate relationship. I was grateful for their healing abilities, but it provided Art with an excuse to be cruel.

We weren’t even sure when the next trial would take place or if I’d have to utilise my powers at all, but Art wasn’t willing to risk it. He needed more time with me, but I was exhausted to the point of a mental breakdown.

“The rearmost leg is always stretched!” he said loudly and hit my thigh with his dreadful staff, probably leaving another bruise.

I wanted to curse that monstrosity, but it was a staff I’d longed to own ever since the first time he showed it to me. A Blade Glider. A staff with large fan blades hidden in the framework, allowing an Air Iridis to fly when the winds are manipulated appropriately.

“You want me to do it again?” I sighed with a defeated expression painted across my face.

Art turned around with disbelief in his eyes due to the modulation in my voice, and I instantly cursed my quick mouth.

He might like the casual engagement, but he was still a golden descendant, and he was still my master, so I knew I had to tread carefully to avoid staying here for another two hours.

In reality, however, I wanted to collapse on the floor and give up everything I had learned so far, but I didn’t want to inspire another lecture from him, so I walked to the centre of the stage and crossed one leg behind the other, allowing the dorsal surface of my foot to rest against the floor.

I gently let the tips of my fingers meet their opposites like a reflection in a mirror, precisely in front of my heart, mimicking the shape of a sphere. And then, I began moving from one position to another in a motion that connected the steps.

“Flex, Willow! You need to flex your wrists!” he shouted to correct my moves while I did my best to complete the dance. I just hoped that my best would be enough to avoid another bruise.

“Good,” he mumbled as I finally managed to finish the last step without being disrupted. “Not bad this time, but we still have a lot of work to do. I want you to master this dance as if your life depends on it, but I think I’ve let you suffer enough for today. We can’t have you collapsing in here, but I still expect you to practice the dance every night until we meet again in a few days. Can I trust you with that?”

I nodded and did my best not to slouch, although my body was screaming for it. But I knew it would cause Art to reconsider his offer, and I just couldn’t do another round.

“Excellent. Have a pleasant afternoon and good luck tonight,” he said and opened the door from the opposite side of the room, notifying me that I was free to leave.

I didn’t even think twice about leaving, terrified by the thought that he’d change his mind before I could get away, but I made it to close the door behind me before he had the opportunity to provide me with new corrections.

My legs were on the verge of giving up on me, but I couldn’t let myself relax just yet, so I prayed to the spirit of Pavo that the healers had time to help me right away.


I was still exhausted when I reached my room, but my bruises were no longer visible, thanks to the healers as always. It was practically impossible to find any evidence of my session with Art, which was great news to me - both in terms of pain as well as regarding tonight. Arawn would have no reason to ask me questions in terms of my secret training when I appeared to look like everyone else.

“Will?” Calla said, peeking out of her room just as I let the crystal around my neck touch my door to unlock it.

“Hi, Calla,” I said with a smile, barely making sure that the door didn’t close on me before I could get inside.

“Have you first returned from your session with Master Arthur now? Isn’t it nearly four hours since you left?” she chuckled and stepped into the hall.

She was dressed in a silver robe and a pair of fuzzy plush socks, most likely because she was waiting for her stylist to arrive and assist her with getting ready for the interview.

“Yeah, I haven’t had a break, not even once, during all four hours,” I said and rubbed my neck. “You should have seen some of the bruises before I went to see the healers. Art constantly…” I instantly stopped myself from talking before I shared too much of something I shouldn’t.

“Sorry, Calla,” I sighed heavily. “I would really like to tell you everything, but Wildcard rules state that I can’t share the details of my training with any of you… But yeah, it was a tough session.”

I hated that rule. I hated a lot of the rules, but that specific rule was probably the worst. My entire experience here would be ten times easier if I could just share what I’d learned with my friends as I progressed, but the contract abided me to talk.

“Right, I nearly forgot; I’m sorry,” she said, fiddling with her fingers as she averted my eyes, just like I averted hers. “How about tonight?” she chuckled, trying to change the dreary subject to something more interesting. “Do you feel ready to wrestle with Arawn for another round of questionnaire?”

“It depends,” I smiled with a glint of mischief and let my body rest against the door frame. “I’d rather sleep for a week, but at least Arawn won’t find me as intriguing as some of you other suitors,” I said and waggled my brows in her direction, which caused her face to turn pale from the surge of blood to her face.

We were down to fourteen suitors in the Crown Trials, and Caiden could now request to spend time with each of us individually if he desired to, which he had expressed by asking Calla on a date tomorrow. So, I was reasonably confident that she would be in Arawn’s abyss of doom tonight, being questioned relentlessly about her expectations and hopes for the date.

I’d spent time with Caiden before this, but not in any way that remotely resembled a date. Besides, the rules of the Crown Trials didn’t always apply to me, and no one, not even Piper and Calla, knew about our covert sessions. I had wanted to tell them, but nothing good would come of it anyway, so I had decided to keep it between just the two of us.

However, the secrecy was no longer necessary, and we didn’t have to be as cautious as before if I ever needed his assistance again, which was most likely more than a few weeks away from happening.

Following the king’s last warning, I had done everything in my power to keep a safe distance from him, avoiding situations where I knew I could run into him without the others around. And I’d been successful so far.

It had also been helpful that Art had demanded extra sessions to prepare me for the next trial, whatever that was going to entail. However, like with the first trial, we wouldn’t know until Caiden announced their plans.

“Stop it, Will,” she said and hid her pale face in her long sleeve. “I’m not the only one who’s been asked on a date, and Arawn will probably be more interested in interrogating the suitors who’ve already been on theirs.”

I chuckled and crossed my arms to adore her hopeful spirit. She might not have been the first suitor to be asked on a date, but she was amongst the first three, and Arawn was bound to have plenty of questions for her anyway.

Tanith had been the first suitor to be asked on a date about a week following the first trial, but she had refused to talk about the course of her date, claiming that it was an intimate matter between her and the crown prince, but she had probably just been terrified of Alia’s reaction to her narrative.

Not that I could blame her.

Alia hadn’t received the news like the lady she was impersonating when Tanith first revealed that she had been asked on a date by Caiden.

If it hadn’t been for the rule that declared disqualification for that kind of behaviour, she would undoubtedly have set Tanith’s dress on fire and watched as Tanith sought to bury herself to suffocate the omnivorous flames.

Why Tanith was still following her about like a puppy was still a mystery to me, but perhaps Alia was concealing something I was too blind to see. Caiden certainly appeared to think so, and it puzzled me why the lovebirds hadn’t been on a date yet.

Azure had been the second suitor to be granted an exclusive one-on-one meeting with the prince, and she had savoured the attention she had received while she meticulously documented how Caiden had brought her to the highest tower of the castle to enjoy a romantic meal beneath the stary night in the glass dome.

He had really gone above and beyond to make her feel special, and it made me curious about his plans with Calla.

“Has he revealed any details of his ideas?” I asked with a hopeful smile stretched across my face, but she replied by shaking her head, and I sighed as my smile faded.

“Not yet. He just asked me to meet him in front of the Parlour around three tomorrow… Of course, I’ve let myself imagine what he could be planning, but he always seems to have something unexpected up his sleeve,” she chuckled and leaned against the white wall that separated our two doors.

“That’s true,” I sighed, allowing my mind to sort through the occasions he had surprised me so far. He had been the entire reason I’d had a fighting chance against the Faceless Shifter during the first trial.

I would never have been able to stay calm in the dark if he hadn’t helped me unveil the memory that had been the key to managing my powers.

“Why are you still in that sweaty outfit?” Adriel shouted as he approached us with rapid steps from the other end of the corridor.

“I’m so sorry, miss Young,” Adriel said to Calla with an apologetic glimpse in his eyes that quickly seemed to disappear when his gaze shifted to focus on me. “But miss Aldwyn appears to be forgetting that this evening doesn’t belong to her, and we have a deadline to meet, so I’ll have to kidnap her for the time being,” Adriel continued with an unnerving smile as he gracefully passed Calla to bring me into my chamber.

“See you on the train, Calla!” I shouted just before Adriel pushed me inside to mould me for tonight.

“Will,” he sighed as if he was wearing the world’s weight on his shoulder. “I don’t enjoy pushing you, but we don’t have a lot of time left, and I need to have you scrubbed down before we can proceed with the styling and the dress,” he said and looked me deep in my eyes.

His brown eyes were shining with a tinge of gold from the yellow blood veins that ran inside them, revealing his gift as a Light Manipulator.

I felt compelled to explain myself to him but realised that nothing I said would make sense to him. He didn’t know anything about my sessions with Art, and he wasn’t meant to either, so I just nodded and waited for him to let go of my shoulders so I could proceed to the bathroom and undress by myself.

Adriel closed the door behind me, leaving me with the privacy I needed to get ready before slipping out of my comfortable warrior clothes and returning to the dreadful life of the enacting suitor of the Crown Trials.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Supastef: Ok so far, boss is a bit slimy though,coming on strong too early, almost assault

Sophie: The story so far has been mostly well written, the plot hasn’t been left with any gapping plot holes and I am patiently waiting the next update

LynnMarie Lupe-Martini: Love this story is there another part to it

dionnan01: Can not wait for this story to go on. I have read one book till now (Trapping Quincy)and I will read everything you write.I can find everything in your novels, I laughed, I couldn’t let the i-pad down till I finished the story. I am addicted to your way of writing, never stop!

Soni: Okay I like every characters in this story love d way u describe the whole wedding process Anabiya is such a cute little spoil girl I like her bt Mushtafaa is no joke and love making description is good 👌 I like it 💜 and ur story line is good too pls keep going 🤞And I m going to reaur story "Nev...

Edna Garza: So good couldn’t stop reading

Mary Ann Rogers: Loved it 🥰I’m still crying.

Timothy: I liked everything about this book.the twist turns and romance..I'll recommend this to my wife

More Recommendations

britg92915: What an amazing story

Lissy: I love this book. Once again I can't wait to read the next one

Lissy: I do hope Shar isn't in trouble. I do love this series. I'm going to find my next book

Lissy: This book was amazing. I love the characters you are adding, and of course the originals as well. I am so glad I started on completed books because I would have went crazy waiting by now

thenortons464: Am loving this book.Please send through next chapters.On the edge of my chair!

Lee H: The entire series was fantastic. Loved how the characters were lined up for each story creating an a phenomenal flow of the characters in the series. Congratulations 💯❤️🤍❤️🤍🌶️🔥🌶️🔥🤍💦🤍💦🤍💦

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.