Lyrah felt the dread prickling her skin like cold fingers caressing her. Her heart felt heavy in alarm and a cold sweat broke on her forehead. Even her unicorn mare felt the disturbance in the air as they crossed the Suran bridge into the Realm of the Dark.
The Realm was protected by thick forests from all directions. From a distance away, you could see black towers piercing the sky like sentinels watching over the Jinn city of Karah. Grey clouds gathered above her as if to warn her to return back to her homeland where she was safe and warm.
Cold winds whipped over her body and face as her unicorn trotted into a small path that passed through the dense forests of the Realm. Tales spread of the tree spirits that resided in the forests and they judged everyone passing from friend to foe and that enemies never made it out of the forests. Lyrah swallowed hard as she urged the apprehensive animal forward. She wasn’t looking for trouble, she just needed to meet with the King, meet with her mate.
The thought horrified her. Not even her brother the Lord Mage could have thought that she would be mated to the dark King. She didn’t tell him about it. The Lord Mage didn’t even know that she was gone. She dreaded the moment when he did and he sent warriors to retrieve her.
The unicorn’s white skin began to glow as her fear increased. She snorted and rolled her eyes in fear as darkness began to descend around them.
The dark clouds above them, boiled angrily until they sealed out all light from the sun.
“It’s okay, Tatiana, it’s alright. You are not in any danger.” She soothed the frightened beast but Tatiana stopped on her tracks and began to stomp angrily at the ground. Lyrah ran her hand on the unicorn’s thick neck and closed her eyes.
She let her light energy travel through her body into the animal’s and soothed her until she calmed down. Tatiana stopped stomping and started moving forward again.
Lyrah looked back and she couldn’t tell where the path disappeared to. Her heart beat so loudly that it overpowered every other sound in the forest.
There was eerie suspense in the forest as if it held its breath and waited for the right moment to strike. There were no sounds of birds or insects. Not even the wind moaned. Everything was still and silent. Dread increased in Lyrah’s heart. It weighed on her like a massive boulder on her shoulders. She paled down as her surroundings became darker and colder.
Suddenly, the heavens opened up and sheets of rain began to pour. The thickness of the foliage in the forest made it hard for the rain to reach the ground directly but instead the water collected on the leaves and rolled down in big splotches.
Lyrah pulled up the hood to her cloak and continued forward. She didn’t know for how long she had been traveling but the forest was endless. Again, Tatiana began to snort, hot puffs of air escaping her nostrils.
Lyrah’s hands trembled with the increasing cold as she laid a calming hand on the mare’s neck again.
“Just a little longer, Tatiana.” She whispered to her.
Lyrah could feel the beast restrain from galloping into the forest. Something was watching them. She could feel the cold dark eyes on her back. She let out a shuddering breath and turned to her left. Right in the middle of the dark surroundings, she saw the red eyes watching her.
Leaves and branches crackled around her and as she turned her gaze around, she noticed that she was surrounded. Her eyes widened in terror. Ghouls!
Grasping the reins tighter, Lyrah kicked Tatiana’s stomach, and the unicorn shot forward.
A blood-curdling screech of retaliation rang into the forest as the ghouls began chasing her.
Lyrah reached for the sword on her side and galloped forward as the creatures raced behind her. Some of them swung on the low branches of the trees just above her. Lyrah looked at them and quivered with fear. They were hideous with red glowing eye-sockets and pale white skins tightly pulled against them. They had long razor-sharp teeth and claws on both their feet and hands.
Rumor was that the Ghouls were once a civilized community that practiced the arts of energy like the Mage but they were too greedy with power that they began to try and tame the Dark Energy, the most feared energy in the entire enchanted world. The Dark energy could never be tamed and it took over the Ghouls’ souls, tainting them with its evil and darkness. The Ghouls mutated from using the dark power and they became the living-dead. They ate flesh and drank blood to survive. They were responsible for massacring villages and villages in the Realm of the Dark. They resided in caves during the daytime and at night, they hunted for food in groups.
Lyrah feared she had passed too close to their caves and the clouds gave them cover against the sun. She watched in horror as one Ghoul jumped off a branch and went straight for her with its talons forward wanting to gorge her eyes out.
Lyrah tightened her hold on the mare with one hand and wielded her sword with the other. She sliced angrily at the creature and its head flopped into the foliage while its body fell in front of her. The unicorn jumped over it. Her thick muscled legs pumped hard as she raced to get into safety. Her skin was like a beacon for the Ghouls. It glowed brighter with increasing fear.
The Ghouls screeched again as more and more began to appear from all sides. They ran in a tight U-shaped form, directing the unicorn to where they wanted her to go.
Lyrah swung her sword from side to side trying to break free from the hold but they jumped away from the sharp weapon then resumed the shape.
Lyrah feared where they were directed. There was must be more of them waiting ahead. This must have been a hunting strategy. She had to get away before she met her doom in that forsaken forest. She pulled hard on the unicorn until Tatiana changed directions, stomping on the creatures. They let out cries and shrieks as they tried to hold the unicorn down.
Lyrah felt the cold talons rip against one of her legs and cried out. Her unicorn was also wounded, her silver blood dripping from deep grooves on her sides. She lost balance and tipped over sending Lyrah tumbling a few yards away.
The Ghouls attacked Tatiana in her moment of weakness but little did they know the strength of a unicorn. Tatiana let out a scream and her poisoned horn elongated. She got up and her body began to enlarge. Glass-like scales covered her entire body and protected her from further harm and jagged protrusions appeared behind her hooves. She kicked and swung her head as she fought off the creatures.
Lyrah got up and limped to her sword as the Ghouls surrounded her. They sniffed the air and licked their scaly lips in anticipation of the meal they were going to have after killing her. Lyrah eyed the loose circle of the creatures around her and set her shoulders square. She was not dying that day.
With a warrior cry, Lyrah attacked swinging her sword over her. She amputated several and beheaded enough. She gutted them and crippled them but more and more appeared from the darkness. She went through them, getting burning scratches along the way until she was in the same circle with Tatiana. The unicorn had fought bravely but Lyrah would see her energy was waning out because of her wounds. She too was getting tired. Her arms burnt and her legs quivered at the fatigue. She couldn’t hold them back any longer.
Now, more of them were surrounding them as if they knew at any moment they were going to fall in exhaustion.
Suddenly there was a low buzzing in the air, something like a swarm of bees in a distance. Lyrah felt uncomfortable as she tried to pinpoint what else was in the forest with them. The Ghouls screeched and howled blocking their ears and stumbling over themselves. Lyrah frowned when she saw most of them had black blood seeping from their eyes, their ears, nose, and mouths. The buzzing persisted and the Ghouls began to drop one after the other like puppets’ whose strings have been cut. Lyrah gasped in fear as black shadows blurred around her and what followed made her sick to her stomach.
There were shredding sounds as thick claws pass through skin and flesh. There were crunching sounds of breaking bones as necks were twisted in odd angles. More and more Ghouls died violently as the blurs whizzed around Lyrah and Tatiana.
Tatiana trampled her front hooves as she too nervously tried to capture the sight of the creatures dropping the Ghouls like a domino line!
Lyrah didn’t know any other race of beings living in the Realm of the Dark apart from the Ghouls and the Jinns. There were smaller races but they had died out or were just myths. Could it be that the Jinns had found her? Or maybe the spirits of the forest?
The hissing sounds the shadows made, made her skin crawl with fear. The cold only grew worse until finally all the Ghouls were slaughtered. The buzzing stopped abruptly as the pungent stench of their rotting flesh and blood rose into the sky and made Lyrah’s eyes water. She didn’t know how exhausted she was until she found herself sinking onto the ground next to Tatiana. The shadows stopped moving as fast and Lyrah noticed the silhouette figures circulating around her and Tatiana.
“Is she alright?” A male voice hissed from behind. Lyrah jerked towards it still holding her sword tightly in her hands. If she couldn’t see them, she couldn’t trust them.
“She’s wounded and so is the unicorn.” Another male voice answered.
“Let’s get them to Karah before the poison gets any worse.” Yet another voice stated.
Lyrah was exhausted! She wondered if she could fight these beings off with what little strength she had left. As the shadows moved forward, Lyrah saw them. They were not Jinns. They were something else. They had ivory skin and long straight black hair. They were mesmerizing and surreal beings with dark glowing eyes. They were tall and lean and when they walked, they reminded Lyrah of the Cheetah in the Savannah plains of Africa in the human world. They made absolutely no sound. Lyrah’s body quivered with fatigue as she held up her sword to ward them off. One reached forward and plucked the sword away from her like a toothpick. Lyrah couldn’t fight anymore and the last thing she remembered was being picked up like a baby before she passed out.
Lyrah felt someone painfully probe her leg and opened her eyes. Blinding light came to view and caused her to blink several times to gain focus. She looked around it she was in a house. There was a glass chandelier above her and a beautiful ceiling with what looked like cherubs and angels in a garden. She was warm and cozy but she could still hear the soft patter of rain outside.
Pain shot through her leg again and she jerked it away.
“You’re awake.” A soft melodious voice chanted through the room.
Lyrah rolled her eyes down to look at the person poking at her wound and let out a soft gasp. The girl was beautiful with cascading black hair down her shoulders. She had a face like one of those angels on the ceiling. There was a hint of a smile on her face as she quickly wrapped her wound and got up. “Where am I?” Lyrah’s mouth felt dry and thick with a metallic taste.
“You’re in Karah. I’ll go and tell my brothers that you’ve woken up.” She said happily and disappeared out of the room.
Memories began to flood Lyrah’s head. She remembered the Ghouls in the forest and the three strange beings that saved her life.
Tatiana! Was her mare alright? Were they able to rescue her too?
“I see you have finally decided to wake up.” A thick male voice drawled from the doorway.
Lyrah turned her head to the familiar face. He was one of her saviors from the forest. He entered with two other males behind him. What she thought was dark eyes, in the beginning, was actually marine green eyes and they were very handsome.
“Who are you? What are you?” Lyrah managed to whisper unable to hide her fear from the beings in front of her.
The girl looked nervous for a moment as her hand searched for one of the males’. She bit into her lower lip and looked down. That made Lyrah worry a lot!
The first male answered. “My name is Herik and these are my brothers Leon and Stef...” He then turned to the pale female and placed a comforting hand around her shoulders. “And this is Eva, our baby sister. We are—we are--”
“You can’t tell her, we don’t know her.” Leon hissed lightly with accusation in his eyes.
“She’s safe.” Stef was watching Lyrah closely and it made her skin crawl.
“We are the—Nosferatu.” Herik answered.
Eva’s head bowed down as if she was ashamed while Leon stepped into the shadows his eyes burning with menace.
Lyrah’s eyebrows arched up in utter astonishment. The Nosferatu were a myth in the enchanted world! They were born with the abilities of gods. They were once a very strong and intelligent race much more feared than any other in the enchanted world. Unfortunately, their abilities were due to the particular makeup of their blood and soon people greedy for power and fortune learned of this trait. They captured the Nosferatu and drank their blood to acquire these abilities. Another unfortunate event was that the abilities were like a drug ‘high’ and lasted for a short period of time. Nosferatu were slaughtered like cattle by rogues and their blood was sold in black markets to the highest bidders. A vial of Nosferatu blood could take a impoverished person from the bottom of the chain all the way to a chair among the Nobles.
Most Nosferatu fled into the human world. They were safer there but they were turned into Night-walkers because the human sun was unlike the enchanted sun. Their delicately structured bodies couldn’t tolerate the direct sun rays. It caused them to blister and die from UV poisoning. They were known as Vampires in the human world.
“Oh, high Priestess,” Lyrah murmured as she looked at them. Her heart broke for them. How did they survive all this time?
Stef smiled softly. “I can feel your remorse and confusion. I’m an empath. It is the reason why I can trust you.”
Lyrah turned to the handsome young man. She still couldn’t believe she was among the Nosferatu. “How is this possible?”
“We are under the protection of the king. We are safe here. We have been for the past two millenniums.” Herik replied.
“At what cost?” Lyrah couldn’t help ask. She knew how everything worked. There was always a price to a kind gesture.
Herik shrugged his shoulders as he looked around at his siblings. “We pledged alliance with the King. We are forbidden to kill while feeding. We have voluntary blood donors from very strong bloodlines that feed us every month. We are responsible for the safety of these donors as well as the people in this district of Karah. With everything that is happening with the Ghouls and the disturbances, the king needs all the help he can get.”
“Who are you?” Leon finally stepped out of the shadows and his eyes were still very hostile towards Lyrah.
Herik hissed at his brother but Lyrah quickly stuttered her reply. She was still very much shocked by the discovery. “Nice to meet you all. I am High Lady Lyrah of the Realm of Spells and I thank you for rescuing me and nursing me back to health.”
Lyrah watched as their eyes widened in shock and in unison the males went down on their knees and bowed...even the hard-ass Leon while Eva bobbed lightly. A small smile touched her lips as she watched the wonder of the world occur right in front of her.
“We had no idea, Lady Lyrah. We apologize for not realizing it from the beginning.” Herik said without lifting his head.
“Nonsense.” Lyrah tried to sit up but the room suddenly tilted and she found herself back on the bed. “You’ve done nothing wrong. Get up already.” she rolled her eyes.
They got up. They looked at her much more cautiously, a little afraid as well. Lyrah couldn’t blame them after all they were a rare delicacy for the corrupted beings.
“I made some soup for you, Lady Lyrah. I’ll go and get it.” Eva quickly bobbed and left the room.
“How is my mare doing?” Lyrah couldn’t help but think of Tatiana. She fought bravely for her life but she was gravely wounded.
“Your mare is recovering well. We got the best vet to look at her. They removed the venom from her body and she is doing well.” Stef answered. “She’s a mighty strong mare. I could taste her spirit and courage in the air.”
“That was a mighty big crowd of Ghouls going after you back there. I have never seen them in a big group like that before.” Leon said darkly. “You are lucky to be alive.”
Herik sighed. “With all that is happening—the death of Queen Seranis and the disappearance of the ancient weapon, the Coral Spear, everyone is getting apprehensive. The past is repeating itself.”
“That is utter nonsense.” Lyrah snapped though she too wondered what was happening. Everything was falling apart for the Realm of Spells.
After the great conference of Royals several weeks ago, an attack was rendered on them. A lot of the royals escaped with injuries but the queen of the Realm of Water lost her life. Now the tensions were rising between the two Realms and Lyrah felt that maybe the Jinn King could help. He was the only royal who wasn’t present for the conference so a lot of the other royals speculated that maybe he was responsible for the attack.
Lyrah knew he had nothing to do with it because she remembered what a spy once told them. She said that the true king of the Enchanted world was rising again. Lyrah had no idea who she was talking about but she was deathly afraid that indeed the chain of events occurring in the Enchanted World was because of this true king.
“Tensions are building up in the enchanted world because there are a few greedy people that want power. It has nothing to do with some myth.” Lyrah felt that she said that more for her benefit.
The males grunted lightly but Lyrah could tell that they were not convinced.
“You are far away from home, Lady Lyrah. Whatever brought you must be of great importance.” Herik remarked as he eased onto one of the chairs in the room.
Lyrah tried to sit up again and this time she was able to withstand the dizziness. “Yes, it is of great importance and utter urgency that I meet with your king.”
Herik and his brothers shared a cautious look then he said. “Then we will escort you to the Black Fortress ourselves as soon as you and your mare get better. The Ghouls are attacking more and more suddenly and it’s not only at night—even in the early hours of the morning or early dusk.”
“They are in a feeding frenzy.” Stef frowned lightly. “More people are moving away from the outskirts of the forests.”
Herik nodded. “Nowadays the king has asked for warriors to patrol the forests in intervals to make sure the Ghouls don’t get out into the cities. We were on duty when we heard the Ghoul calls in the forest. You were very lucky we were close by.”
Lyrah nodded lightly. “And I’ll be forever grateful for this.” This could be the reason why the Jinn King couldn’t make it to the conference, she thought lightly. “Do you know why the Ghouls are acting this way?”
“They are crazed by the subtle energy swelling in the forest. The animals have migrated too. This has caused food shortage and now the Ghouls are attacking and eating whatever they can find.” Leon answered.
“It’s a very evil energy that is corrupting and distressing all the animals and at times the ones who can sense. I live with it every day and all I can say is that it’s getting stronger.” Stef said darkly.
The room went silent for a moment and Lyrah’s heart quickened.
“It crawls under your skin and settles a like cold and balmy dread—you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?” Stef asked Lyrah. “You’ve felt it too, haven’t you?”
She looked up at the brothers and nodded. “It’s there alright. Something dreadfully evil--”
“The Dark energy,” Stef stated and the entire room went quiet as everyone tried to find a better explanation for the phenomenon occurring around them.
“Here we are.” Eva entered the room with a steaming bowl of soup and some freshly made bread. The aroma was mouthwatering as she passed across the room and placed the tray on Lyrah’s lap. She frowned at the sudden silence of the room. “Is everyone okay?”
they all muttered yes and assured her they were alright.
“We are on duty in a few minutes so we better get going.” Herik stood up and bowed down. “Lady Lyrah.” then he marched out with his brothers.
Eva smiled lightly as she settled down beside Lyrah. “My brothers are the only family I have left. They always do the honorable thing. When the king came to the city and asked for the volunteers to watch over the Ghouls, my brothers were the first to step forward and pledge alliance with him. At times I feel sorry for the burden the king has.”
Lyrah wished she could say the same but she remembered the evening she saw him battle with her brother in the gardens of their fortress in Agore, city of the Mage. He was darkly handsome with long black hair that was braided tightly on his temples and black slithering tattoos on his back and arms. He looked like a killer but her heart instinctively recognized him as her mate. He was a force to reckon with and now she needed him more than ever.
The Lord Mage already had an alliance from the Realm of Fire. The Fae were still reluctant even though their king was safely returned to them by the Lord Mage. The Realm of Water wanted nothing to do with the Lord Mage now that their queen died under his watch. The Realm of the Dark was the only Realm that didn’t even voice out their decision. Lyrah hoped to change King Rhol’s mind and have him align with the Mage.
“Have you seen the king, Eva?” Lyrah couldn’t help but ask.
Eva nodded her head lightly. “My brothers and I have lived with him for a while, my lady. He practically raised us until we were old enough to live somewhere else on our own. I hardly saw him though but he is very handsome...very dangerous and brutal.” she added then smiled sadly. “I think my brothers feared what could happen if I got closer to him so most of the time they refused for me to leave the quarters where we lived—but every once in a while, I escaped into the library and I would meet his warriors and his helpers along the way. They are beautiful people.”
Lyrah couldn’t help but smile at the young woman’s dreamy face. “I know the feeling with a brother of my own.”
Eva’s eyes widened a little. “The Lord Mage!” she sighed softly. “He must be a handful.”
Lyrah couldn’t help but laugh. Though looking at Eva's sad face made her heart ache, she was a very expressive girl. “Oh, he is. I’m glad he has a queen now and so he pays little attention to me.”
But that wasn’t the case, especially when he discovered she was gone. Lyrah pushed the dreadful thoughts aside and began to eat.
“Well, please try to eat enough and get some rest. You have good blood in you. Your wounds are healing fast.” Eva stated as she checked at the angry grooves on Lyrah’s leg. “A few more days and you’ll be good to go.”
“Thank you very much, Eva. I’ll always remember your generosity.”
This time Eva smiled without reservation at Lyrah and got up. “Anything to help a friend of the king. He saved our lives and we owe him more than you can ever imagine.”
Lyrah smiled lightly as the young woman bobbed and raced out.
She finished the soup and placed the table on one of the side tables before cuddling deeper into the warm covers. She was a little tired but she couldn’t help but wonder about what was happening. She felt the cold dread in the forest, Tatiana did too. It was like a big cold snake coiling around her and making it hard for her to breathe. Others felt it too. This was information that could be useful later when she returned home, she thought, but now she needed to rest.
Rhol's biggest fear was coming true. He feared this day was going to eventually come but he didn’t think it was going to be so soon.
More of the Ghouls’ frenzied attacks were reported everyday. They attacked everything from hunting dogs to stray horses to unknowing people. It was too much and it was only a matter of time until they found their way into the cities and slaughter his people.
The descending darkness in the Realm came with fear and horror as the night creatures came out to hunt. It was happening again, just like how it had happened several thousands of years ago. This was the indication that something evil was rising and that the enchanted world was in grave danger.
He had been here before with the ancients of the five Realms...well four now because Queen Seranis was dead.
This was beyond what they first thought. This was not about Ron or Kruk. The chain of events were orchestrated by a mastermind, the puppeteer behind the mass killings, the hatred and the greed for power.
Though the king Fae was found, Ron was still elusive. Kruk’s pack reigned war on the Realm of Spells killing Queen Seranis, stealing the Coral Spear and injuring several.
Rhol’s tattoos hissed in contempt. Didn’t anyone else see the repeat of the past? Was he the only one who knew exactly what was happening. He stayed away from everyone else because he was investigating to see if what he believed was happening was true and he came to an obvious answer; the past was rising up to bite them in their asses again. No one else saw that. They pointed fingers at each others, blamed each other for all the wrongs occurring in the enchanted lands and refused to see what was really happening.
Rhol was sure that the disappearance of the Coral Spear was just the beginning of everything. Soon the all the five Mortal Locks would disappear and the evil will rise and unleash its terror on the lands once again.
“More attacks close to the Shalarian District, my king.” Rhol’s second hand entered his office and announced. “It is getting worse by the day and the Ghouls are teaming up in great numbers. We have sent reinforcements this afternoon.”
“Tell me something I don’t fucking know,” Rhol grunted softly and sighed.
“It was Lady Lyrah, my king.”
Rhol’s heart jerked in his ribs as he eyed his commander with menace. “Is she...” his throat closed up and he couldn’t add a single word.
“She barely escaped but she’s alive and recuperating in Shalarian.” The commander added. “We got the information from the Aryan brothers. She is in their care as we speak.”
“What about her escorts?” Rhol snarled. He couldn’t begin to imagine what was could do to them for not protecting her better.
The commander hesitated for a moment. “She—she had no escorts, my king.”
The tattoos on his body shrieked in protest and darkened dangerously. His skin rippled in fury as he got up. The fury was directed straight at Lyrah for foolishly venturing into placed unprotected. She was a small fragile woman and he couldn’t even begin to contemplate the kind of death she would have had from the Ghouls.
He remembered her dark eyes when they first laid on him. She was terrified and he could smell that sour acrid scent from a mile away along with her softy scent of wildness and sun. What was she doing so far from home? Tyran had no idea his sister was gone or he would have locked her in one of his many towers in his fortress.
“Get my convoy ready for Shalarian.” He barely voiced out the words.
“Yes, my king.” The commander bowed and went out.
Rhol smashed his fist on the crystal desk and red energy pulsed inside it on impact. What was she thinking moving around alone? Did she come by car? He doubted it very much because if she did then she would have been able to surpass the Ghouls.
Cold rage seeped into his veins, thickened his blood with unshed violence. How could she be so careless with her life? He knew as much as she that they were mates. He saw the realization sink in her big dark eyes when she watched him at her balcony. He heard the stutter of her heart, tasted the slight sweetness of her curios arousal laced with the honey and cream of her excitement.
Everything in him screamed that he went up there and took her away with him...then Tyran threatened to take his head off.
Even though so much was happening around the Realm, Rhol could never get Lyrah’s face from his thoughts. She haunted him day and night like a restless spirit seeking refuge in the depth of his mind. The stories were true. Her beauty and her light were nothing like he’d ever seen. She was strong-willed if she managed to travel across the lands to his Realm but he saw her a weakling. She was a female after all.
Not only were they a weakness to themselves but also a weakness to their mates. Rhol saw the way his warriors and his Court members changed when they became mated. They lost their viciousness and became...soft. He didn’t want that weakness in him. Not now when he discovered how dangerous the enchanted world had suddenly become. He wasn’t going to claim her even though she made his blood boil. He was going to take her and send her back home the moment he had the chance.
Lyrah didn’t know for how long she had been asleep but she was suddenly awoken by a disturbance in the room. The room was dark and cold and something was stalking her in the darkness. Fear choked her as she tried to get to lamp on the side of the bed. She heard the silent hiss of warning and bit into her lip to stop herself from screaming. The Ghouls had found her. She just hoped Eva was alright.
Her hand trembled as she touched the foot of the lamp and switched it on. Bright light flooded the room but it was not enough to get rid of all the shadows in the corners.
One corner, in particular, had her skin crawl.
“You are far from home, dirani peeta maiyan.” A familiar voice purred from that same corner she eyed cautiously.
Dark cold eyes shone at her as the menace stepped out of the shadows and had Lyrah’s heart leap into her throat.
“Rhol.” She breathed softly as the massive and heavily muscled Jinn stepped even further into the light until she could make out every contour of his uncovered torso and every chiseled plane of his brutally handsome face. His skin was bronze and it glowed faintly in the light. Dark purple tattoos slithered around his shoulders and arms, changing shape every now and then.
His thick legs were covered in a lynak pair of pants and he had black boots that came up to his knees. He looked every bit the lethal predator that he was and Lyrah wondered if he was truly there or if it was just a dream.
Dirani peeta maiyan; my little mate. Something clenched deep in her stomach at the words. It was an unfamiliar feeling that made her irritated and uncomfortable.
“It just goes to show how hard it is to get hold of you.” She tried to suppress her fear of him but couldn’t hold back the ripple of her skin as his smoldering eyes settled on her lips and lingered there for a moment. She fought the urge to lick them and added. “I’m glad that I finally caught your attention--”
“You dared to venture into the Realm without escort, you endangered your life and you did all that to catch my attention?” His voice purred with enough malice to snuff out any hopes she had on getting on his good side.
She swallowed visibly and clutched the sheets for strength. “I had to get here somehow. I would have come straight to the Fortress if this hiccup didn’t deter my plans.”
Lyrah wasn’t prepared for the soft rumble from the King but his eyes were crystal hard on her that she wanted to squirm and look away. Instead she raised her chin a little to assure him that he could never look down on her no matter how scary he appeared.
The tattoos hissed again and Lyrah watched in awe as they darkened and became agitated.
“This hiccup that you talk of would have cost you your life. The Ghouls are far more dangerous than before and they would not hesitate to shred you into pieces. How did you get here?”
Lyrah fought between telling him the truth or lying. It was obvious that either way she was going to have him even angrier. Lyrah never envied her sister-in-law Queen Noelle when she got reprimanded by her brother and now she too was going to taste what Queen Noelle had to go through.
“Answer me, dirani peeta.”
Little mate! She wanted to snort at that endearment. She had a name but she was going to air that later when she wasn’t so angry. “Tatiana brought me here.” She raised her chin up defiantly.
Rhol’s eyebrow arched up slowly, almost intimidatingly. “I take it that Tatiana is the name of your horse?”
“Unicorn.” Lyrah corrected him feeling her fear giving way to her anger. She couldn’t believe how much he was belittling her. “And a warrior in her own right.”
“Horse, unicorn, I don’t care. I, however, have a lot to say about your actions and I think your brother will too.”
Lyrah paled visibly as she eyed the angry Jinn. “The Lord Mage doesn’t know that I’m here.”
Rhol moved around the bed. “But he will when I send you back to him with escort.”
Lyrah wanted to protest but Rhol scooped her off the bed. His tattoos automatically circled her hands. They were warm and made her body shiver deliciously. They were almost caressing her and she hated what they made her feel especially for a heartless male like Rhol. He stalked out into what looked like a lounge where Eva stood looking pale with worry and her brothers concerned but respectful. There were several other Jinns in the room and Lyrah could tell they were Rhol’s close warriors.
“Say your goodbyes, dirani peeta.” He instructed her darkly, his hot breath washing over her ear and sending prickles throughout her body.
Lyrah fought the tears wanting to overwhelm her. She didn’t come all the way here only to be sent back empty-handed. Her arms tightened around Rhol’s thick neck as her body trembled with unshed tears. She didn’t want to cry in front of all these people.
“Eva, thank you for your hospitality. Herik, Leon and Stef.” She turned to the three brave males. “I can never repay you for what you’ve done for me. I can only pray for your safety every day as you go out there and face the Ghouls.” She tried to smile but she trembled to hard that a shudder ran through her body.
Eva bobbed softly while her brothers bowed and before she could say anything, her entire world went smoky black and the room and everyone inside it disappeared.