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A Court of Dawn and Daggers - Book One in The Fire Fae Trilogy

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Chapter 2

"Bring him to me."

The sentence echoed around the hall, bouncing off the walls ominously before settling heavily in the pit of his stomach.

He could not bring himself to fight, as he was thrown at the feet of his long lost family member. He did not respect violence.

'Do you remember the stories I used to tell you? About the Fire Fae?'

The boy did remember.

The Fire Fae dance with flame. Every time you light a fire, they will be there. Every time you cook a meal, they will taste it. They thrive on pleasure, but they are not simple creatures of hedonism. They have rituals, rites of passage and traditions.

For example, every second generation of Fire Fae, a royal-blood must make a change - leave their mark on the kingdom. Rumour has it that the last Fire King did not honour this tradition, and abandoned his people to live as a human.

His grandfather raised an eyebrow, allowing him time to understand. It didn't take long.

'But there's no way...'

No way he could be fae. No way he was of royal blood. There were so many impossibilities.

'There is. And it is time for you to step up.'

His once kind and loving grandfather watched him coolly.

'I have decided to move on to my next stage in life.'

His words hung thickly in the room like smoke, choking the boy. He watched as his grandfather stood, raised his hands above his head, and began to hum a hypnotic, lilting melody. Slowly, fire began to circle at his feet, spiralling upwards and enveloping his cloaked figure.

Once it reached his head, the boy recalled another tale. When a Fire Fae decided it was time to move on, they could simply become fire. The flames would never die, a constant reminder to others of their previous form.

A singular tear slid down the boy's cheek, sizzling as it his the floor.

'Your majesty.'

The person who had brought him here knelt, head bowed towards him. Seeming to sense that he was at a loss, they spoke.

'I am Ember, your head guard. Would you like to retire to your chambers for the night?'

With a simple nod, the boy was escorted to a staircase. It was pure gold, with engraved symbols on the rail.

The boy was intensely uncomfortable. He was used to a much simpler life. And he liked it that way.

Once up the stairs, the boy found himself in a lavishly furnished room with tones of red and gold. There was a maid tucking corners of red bedsheets in.

She had thick, wavy blonde hair, and a small smile was playing on her lips.

'Ah, excuse me your majesty, I intended to finish before you arrived. My name is Ash, I'm your personal maid.'

Ember moved to stand by the door, so they were out of the way but clearly on guard.

The boy found himself confused. He was struggling to process so much change so quickly.

'I- uh... words...'

'Take your time.'

Ash smiled warmly and placed a hand on his shoulder. He pulled away, not feeling comforted by physical contact with a stranger.

'I'm sorry. I need some time alone to process everything that has happened today.'

'Yes, your majesty.'

Ash finished making the bed hastily and retreated.

Ember sighed.

'I'm sorry your highness, but I think it would be best for me to remain close by. The kingdom is not entirely at ease with a new king yet, and I cannot risk your safety. I understand your need for peace, however, so I will be in the room next to yours. Rest well.'

As Ember retreated, the boy began to ready himself for bed. He was soon comfortable, under the fresh sheets, which smelt remarkably like rhododendrons and roses.

As he considered all of the happenings of the day, the boy knew he would not sleep. He pulled the sheets close, but could not relax into them.

When he opened his eyes in the morning, he half expected to see the familiar old stove and feel a sore neck from sleeping in his chair. Instead, he felt the heavenly softness of bedsheets, and saw the unfamiliar reds and golds of his new bedroom.

A gentle knock on the door made him roll out of bed, and scramble to open it. He was greeted by Ember's caramel eyes, full of concern.

'I thought I should check on you before breakfast. Would you prefer to have it in your room today? I can arrange for it to be brought here.'

Breakfast in private sounded perfect. He would have enough attention without people watching him eat. He nodded, warm gratuity spreading in his chest at the offer.

'Very good. I shall fetch Ash.'

As soon as Ember was gone, the boy felt empty. Somehow, even after being snatched, he knew that Ember was someone he could trust. Yes, he was scared, but they were so solemn he could not imagine them being anything less than perfectly honest.

He may not be home, but he supposed there was some solace in that.

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