The walk with the king took them through halls of soaring ceilings and unimaginable luxury. Gold gleamed off door handles and gems caught the sunlight from their spots embedded in the walls. It was like walking through a dragon horde. He eyed the king to verify he was more birdlike than dragon.
“Something wrong?” Eohric asked.
“No. Just trying to understand the difference between the two kingdoms.” That was partially correct at least.
“Hmm. There is only surface difference between us. Tatiana lives in the air and light but underneath the shiny gloss of good press is a pit of deceit darker than the darkest fae. Never trust the glow of the light they use it to bedazzle you from their flaws.
Amon made a soft noise as if he wanted to disagree but didn’t dare.
Eohric cast a glare in his direction but didn’t engage. He smoothly continued his lecture. “The dark, on the other hand, welcomes our darkness and display it for the world to see. We might be monsters, but we are honest monsters all the same. We do not bother with pretty lies.”
Finn nodded along to the king’s blatantly biased speech, but didn’t refute anything. From Eohric’s perception he was completely correct. The walked on in silence before stopping before a pair of enameled doors. Across the surface a great tree stood, shining like a beacon. “This is where we will test your blood.” Eorhic’s vicious grin didn’t reassure Finn on any level.
He gathered the tatters of his resolve to ask the needed question. “What will I have to do?”
Eohric shoved open the doors. “Stand there, look pretty, and bleed.”
Amon grabbed his arm as if sensing Finn was seconds from fleeing and chancing it in the other realm. Maybe he should quit being a cop and examine careers in dental assistance. A cop’s life wasn’t agreeing with him any longer.
“Easy, my sweet” Amon whispered in his ear. “Let’s find out your background before you try to escape.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Finn hadn’t tried to give an innocent look since he’d left his teens and from Amon’s amused expression it didn’t work anyway.
“Of course not,” Amon agreed.
Criss laughed behind them.
Finn tilted his chin up and ignored his annoying companions.
Eohric glanced over his shoulder. “Problem?”
“Nothing, your majesty.”
“Call me Eohric, Finn. We are kin of a kind and there is no formality between family.”
“As you wish,” Finn agreed easily. He wasn’t the best at formal greetings anyway. Best if he didn’t have to remember them.
“Don’t worry we’ll send you to etiquette training once we find out where you fit in the hierarchy.”
“Yeah.” Finn whispered.
The king gave another amused glance over his shoulder. Guess Finn wasn’t as quiet as he thought.
Finn allowed Amon to drag him to the middle of the room where the king waited by a stone altar.
“I’ve seen this movie before.” Finn dug in his heels pulling Amon to a stop beside him.
Eohric laughed. “If I’d known you were so amusing I would’ve looked for other king ages ago.”
“Glad to entertain,” Finn said dryly.
“Come, I have other things to do today,” Eohric demanded.
Unable to deny the powerful king, Finn approached the altar. The lack of bloodstains reassured him…a little. “What do I need to do?”
“Place your hand on the middle stone.”
Finn turned his attention to the details of the altar, tracing the individual stones with his right forefinger. The middle stone glowed a light amber.
“Press your palm right there.”
Finn nodded but kept his questions to himself. The king didn’t appear willing to share. Instead the royal appeared amused over Finn’s caution. Worries piled onto worries, but Finn took the plunge and pressed his hand where indicated.
At first nothing happened. Then the amber stone glowed brighter, a low hum building. It started quiet but gradually grew in both light and sound until Finn had to grit his teeth to stop the vibration and close his eyes to protect them from blindness.
A bell tolled, echoing through the room and crashing through him like an ocean wave. Finn blinked at the soft pop of sound followed by the light dimming to nothing.
“Lift your hand,” King Eohric commanded.
Finn snatched his hand from the altar. Words began to glow on the stone to his right. He couldn’t read the writing. He didn’t know the fae language.
“Hmm,” Eohric stared at the stone.
Criss gasped. “Wow.”
“What?” Finn looked from one man to the other. Neither were speaking.
“You are a child of my younger brother Dolan and a descendant of queen’s cousin Bedelia.” Your light connection is more distant than your dark one making you a member of my court. I, King Eohric, claim you, Finn Bronich, as my nephew may the goddess guide your footsteps.”
The words were barely out of his mouth when an otherworldly wind swirled around him.