It is the last day of November. How did the time pass so quickly? The goal of this month for me was to get back into the practice of writing and from that perspective I was successful. Maybe next year I can invite back all of my author friends 🙂
I will continue my slow story posting into December and longer if necessary. I will post at least twice a week if not more often so I don’t lose my momentum. To finish off November let’s have a contest!
$25.00 Amazon gc for one lucky winner. To enter tell me what your goals are for next year. Not new years resolutions but genuinely what you’d like to get done in the new year. I’d like to finish my Moon Pack Series!
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.
Sigh! Don’t worry about inconsistencies, I’ll clean them all up before the final version 🙂
When he imagined what the dark fae kingdom would look like this wasn’t it. Finn watched as they approached a large castle with wide eyes. White stone glowed beneath the bright sun and flowering trees lined the street.
“Beautiful,” he whispered.
“It really is,” Criss agreed.
“Pfft it’s not as big as ours,” Amon scoffed.
Finn snorted. “Are you really going to argue over whose is bigger.”
Criss leered. “I’m sure there is more than one way to answer that question.”
A jolt of desire spiked through Finn. He licked his lips and grabbed onto his self-control with both hands. It had to be part of being fae. Before this he’d had a low sex drive not really craving the slide of skin against skin.
“Fae do have a stronger sex drive,” Criss said.
“Do they?” Finn scratched at his chin. “Wait, did you read my mind?”
“A little.” Criss’s predatory grin did little to make reassure him.
“For two men who don’t get along you don’t seem to have a problem ganging up on me.” Finn sulked. His emotions had been all around the place since the serum.
Criss squeezed Finn’s shoulder. “You’ll get used to being one of us.”
“I highly doubt it.” Finn raked his fingers through his hair and sighed. “I didn’t really think through the emotional changes.” Instead he had focused on the obvious physical transformation, especially the wings.
The carriage came to an abrupt halt. Before Finn could adjust to the change in motion the carriage door was yanked open. A man with bright blue hair and matching eyes offered them a cheery smile.
“Hello visitors,” he greeted them.
“Greetings Krane,” Criss called out to him.
“Welcome back, my lord. Lord Amon.” Krane bowed to both of the men in turn before turning his bright green eyes on Finn. “And who is this?”
“This is Finn. King Eohric is waiting for him.”
“Yes he is!” Krane’s excitement watched up even higher as if he had never done anything more exciting than meeting Finn. “Welcome Prince Finn.”
Finn didn’t get a chance to question the ‘prince’ thing. Criss had him by the arm and was pulling him out of the carriage. “Tell the king we are coming.” Criss addressed Krane.
“Right away.” Krane ran off into the castle.
“Now we can take our time.” Criss offered his arm.
Finn slid a hand around Criss’s arm. A spark shot from his palm into Criss’s arm. “Lead the way.”
Amon wrapped an arm around Finn’s shoulders on the opposite side. “Let’s go meet the king.”
Finn had an almost irresistible urge to sing “we are off to see the wizard” from The Wizard of Oz. He resisted, barely. Instead he let the powerful men on either side of him escort him to see the dark fae king.
The dark fae court was a different animal than the light court. It was more than different magic. The dark fae weren’t like the light fae with their almost human appearance. Instead there were many that didn’t resemble humans at all. Extra eyes, limbs, scales and feathers were not unusual features of the dark fae. It didn’t take away from them being living, intelligent people but it did take a little while to get used to.
He had approximately ten minutes before he was standing before the dark fae king. It took all his forbearance not to stare. The king had brilliant blue feathers crawling up his neck and framing his face. An almost peacock like iridescence had them shining beneath the sunlight filtering through the windows. His eyes were raptor yellow and held the keenest of a hawk not certain whether it should devour the prey before it or let it run away.
“Finn, royal fae, to greet his majesty,” Amon declared bowing low.
“Come closer.” Eohric waved one clawed hand beckoning Finn forward.
He had never experienced bone deep terror before. It wasn’t something he wanted to feel again. The quick gulping breath didn’t settle him like he had hoped. Setting his shoulders back, Finn took three slow, dragging steps forward until he stood at the bottom of the dais.
“Show me your wings,” the king commanded.
Before he could even think of them, his wings snapped out of his back as if they obeyed a higher power than the person who housed them beneath his flesh. Finn winced at the sting against his back.
“Beautiful. Not as pretty as mine of course, but quite respectable.” The king made a considering hum in the back of his throat as he surveyed Finn’s wings.
Finn bit his lip to hold back the dozens of sarcastic remarks begging to be spoken. He would probably only be able to speak a few before the king speared him with his sharp nails. A buffalo wouldn’t survive a kingly clawing.
To Finn’s consternation the king stood, towering over Finn. As the royal climbed down the steps Finn spied a set of even bigger claws in place of where humans would have feet. Finn would bet his shaky retirement plan that Eohric had ripped apart more than one enemy beneath both sets of claws.
Eohric towered over Finn seven feet of powerful, intimidating bird man. He flashed Finn a grin of razor-sharp teeth. “It’s always nice to meet more kin. Come we will discover how you fit into our world.”
Finn wasn’t completely convinced he belonged at all but he didn’t dare voice such words when the king appeared so pleased with himself. Instead he meekly followed the king and tried very hard for his face not to look as if he were going his death. He had to make friends with the royals or at least appear neutral to any conflict if he wanted to be let into the investigation into the fae deaths. Because despite the transformation Finn was still very much an investigator and he wanted more than anything to figure out what was going on in the fae kingdom, both of them. Determination washed away the grinding fear. He would survive this then he would make his way back home. He had his cat waiting for him.
Amon ushered them out of the hall. “We’ll finish eating in the dark fae court,” he whispered.
“Good idea.” Finn quickly agreed. Sitting down to eat where someone had been poisoned wouldn’t be a wise decision. He looked around but didn’t see the third fae. “Is Cian going with us?”
“No.” Amon placed a hand on Finn’s back to usher him down the proper corridor. “He has other duties to attend today.”
“All right. How are we getting there?” He didn’t know the ways of fae transport. Would they be teleporting or maybe another fairy circle?”
“To the carriages,” Criss piped up. “We will take them to the other kingdom.”
A bit of disappointment followed Finn as they walked. He had hoped for something esoteric not archaic. Still it wasn’t as if he were used to traveling by carriage. Shaken from the poisoning, he allowed the duo to get him out of there as fast as possible. The investigator part of him wanted to stay behind and find out what happened but the wiser half demanded he get the hell out of there before something else happened. He had only just transitioned into a fae, he didn’t want his next step to be a dead fae. It was no longer a nebulous idea that someone was targeting them. The real question was how they got the poison to the table. “It has to be an inside job,” he muttered.
“What?” Criss asked. He leaned closer to hear Finn. Scents of honeysuckle and mango drifted in the wind. Finn inhaled as if Criss had turned into the only source of oxygen.
“You smell amazing,” Finn whispered. He took another deep breath.
“Back off!” Amon hissed.
A smirk curved Criss’s mouth. “It’s not my fault he finds me irresistible.”
Finn too several more slow steps with Amon before his head cleared. “What happened?”
“Criss is wearing fae attractor cologne. It’s formulated to appeal to anyone with our genetics,” Amon said.
“Why would you do that?” Finn asked. An odd sense of betrayal pierced his heart as if he’d expected more from him. Since his change, Finn had been running on instinct. Right now he wanted to punch Criss for a scent that didn’t belong to him.
Criss raised an eyebrow at Finn. “I’ll have you know that I am not wearing a fae attractor. I only do that at the clubs. Finn finds my natural irresistible,” he bragged.
“Hmm, I think I can resist.” He didn’t tell them how hard resisting would be. The two men he was traveling with were unfairly handsome. Why couldn’t he travel with ugly guys or girls?”
“If we weren’t expected together I’d leave you to approach the dark court alone,” Criss said with an exaggerated huff. The humor in his eyes eased Finn’s anxiety that his escort had truly taken offense.
A bit of teasing hadn’t led to him being left alone.
“We’ll take this one.” Amon pointed to a gold tinted carriage with bright yellow horses attached to the front.
“Um, are those horses yellow, or am I seeing things?” After he spoke both of the horses turned green.
Criss laughed. “They are fae horses. They change colors.”
“Oh.” Finn relaxed. At least he wasn’t hallucinating. With all the changes in his DNA he wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn he was seeing things.
Amon patted him kindly on the shoulder. “Don’t stress. You aren’t the first person to not know what they are.”
“Maybe the first fae,” Criss teased.
Before Finn could retaliate Criss opened the carriage door and slid inside.
“Who’s going to drive this thing?” Finn asked as he climbed up the carriage steps.
“Drive it?” Amon asked as he joined them.
“Yeah, steer it to where it needs to go.”
“No one. They only go between courts, they drive themselves.” Criss patted the seat beside him. “Come sit here. You might get nauseous if you sit backwards.”
Finn glanced at Amon who nodded. “All right, thank you.”
Criss offered a salacious grin. “Trust me darling, I don’t bite.”
“Uh huh. Sorry if I don’t believe you.” Finn dubiously eyed Criss’s sharp-toothed smile.
“Well not out of the bedroom at least,” Criss amended.
Amon kicked Criss who sat across from him. “Behave.”
“That’s asking a lot for a dark fae,” Criss frowned and rubbed his shin.
“How long does it take to go from one kingdom to another,” Finn intervened hoping to derail another argument.
“An hour. There are small portals that transfer us from one kingdom to another. They are interlinking across the realm. The carriages all have a portal activators on the top to trigger them.”
Sounded more electronic than magical but Finn kept his opinion to himself. This realm was much different than the one he had been living in. As he opened his mouth to ask further questions the carriage took off. They raced forward not unlike a race car taking off or an amusement ride, slow and steady with fast acceleration. It made Finn consider whether there was some time as well as distance magic happening here.
For the first time since becoming fully fae, Finn leaned back to simply enjoy the adventure. First was the meeting with the fae king, then he had to investigate an attempted murder.
The breakfast was amazing, the audience not as much. Finn shoveled another forkful of mystery eggs into his mouth in the most polite way possible. He just wanted to hide back into his room and not deal with everyone staring at him. Per the queen’s orders, Finn had come to breakfast with his wings out. A special chair allowed him to sit without setting them at a bad angle.
“Try some of this.” Amon placed some blue-green sausages onto his plate.
“I don’t think that’s edible,” Finn argued.
“It’s from a special cow that only breeds here,” Amon said. “Try it.”
Finn poked at the meat with his fork. It didn’t come alive and snap off a tine so he cut off a tiny bit and ate it. Flavor exploded across his tongue. He swallowed the bit before turning wondering eyes onto Amon. “That’s really good.”
“Have some more.” Amon placed three more sausages on his plate and Finn couldn’t find it in himself to complain. Criss scowled at them across the table. Cian had vanished when they entered the dining room. Amon said he’d gone to join some of his soldier friends.
For a brief moment Finn had longed for Axel with a painful longing. The vampire would’ve offered insight and witty repartee if he found himself in a room of a hundred fae. Finn didn’t know what to do.
He picked up the juice as the woman two seats down toppled off the chair she had been sitting in and began convulsing on the floor.
“No one touch anything,” Finn shouted. He raced over and dropped to his knees. Once again something rippled beneath his skin. Instinct had him pressing his fingers against the shaking woman’s neck. Unbidden, foreign words spilled from his lips in a lyric litany. Silver lights glowed from Finn’s fingertips as he spoke and something pulled from him and sank into the woman now lying still beneath his fingers. Sweat beaded on his brow and pooled at the base of his spine as his body warmed from his effort.
“Finn, pull back. She’s fine now.” A large hand pressed against his sweaty back, yanking Finn back from his trance. He snapped into awareness and yanked his hands away from the stranger
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Finn cleared his throat. “You’re welcome.”
Amon helped Finn to stand.
He wavered on his feet, his knees bending without permission.
“Hey, I’ve got you.” Amon pulled out a chair and let Finn collapse into it.
“What happened?” Finn asked, his throat dry and voice cracking.
“Here.” Amon handed over a glass of water.
Before Amon could explain anything a woman rushed into the hall with complicated braids in her dark hair and wearing a sunshine yellow dress. “Dani!” she shouted, falling to her knees beside the other woman.
“Silence!” The queen stood, her magic poured over the room, pressing a calm into all the bystanders. “I want no one to touch anything else on the table. If Dani was poisoned we want it investigated. Amon get your men and start an investigation.”
Amon bowed. “Yes, your majesty.”
The queen fixed Finn with a cold stare. “I know you hoped to infiltrate my kingdom, but while you are here we will take advantage of your expertise. You will assist Amon in determining what is going on and put and end to whomever is attacking my people. The kingdom is pleased that you saved one of our own and will allow you a boon of your choosing. Pick well and alert me to what you have decided.”
Finn bowed but didn’t speak. Sometimes it was better not to say anything especially with royalty. No one spoke again until the queen left. “You should probably get her to a healer,” Finn said to the woman still kneeling beside Dani.
“Yes, yes I should.” She brushed away tears from her cheeks. “Thank you for saving her.”
“You’re welcome.” Finn offered an awkward smile and didn’t bother hiding his relief when Amon led him down the table to take samples of everything. Something she ate had been tampered with and they would have to discover what. Finn’s nerves settled. This he understood. Plain old detective work eased the anxiety rushing through him. If he figured out the killer maybe he could regain some of his old life again.
Sorry there was a problem with the posts so I’m redoing.
Finn rolled out of from beneath his covers and hit the floor. Instinct had him sliding under the bed. Heart pounding, adrenaline spiking, and Finn trying to figure out what happened. His wings fluttered against the dusty floor as he tried to piece together his disjointed awakening.
What the hell had happened?
Before he could move from his hiding spot a pair of boots came into sight. Leather with intricate embroidery of some sort of bird flying up the sides.
“Come out, come out little pigeon, it’s time to pluck your feathers,” A cold man’s voice called to him.
As a cop Finn had experienced some hair-raising situations. This one made his facing crack addicts and possible murderers a walk in the park. Something in this person’s voice instilled a bone-deep fear. The kind of terror children feel for the monster under the bed except this time he was in the monster’s place and the creature he feared walked free around the bedroom. He didn’t dare breath too loudly or try to move his crushed wings. If he could he would’ve retracted them but he lacked the calm needed to push them back beneath his skin.
“I promise you a swift death, my dear, it won’t hurt much.” Smug satisfaction oozed from the being. He didn’t sound human, he sounded other. The kind of other people only whispered about in rooms with bright beaming lights and no shadows.
How did he get in here? He could spy his closed bedroom door from his spot beneath the bed. Inside he screamed for help, wishing for one of his supposed guards to rescue him. Maybe he should’ve let them put a guard inside the room with him. He had foolishly believed nothing could get past the trio on the other side of that door.
Before he could decide what to do, his bedroom door slammed open. Magic rolled across the room, smelling of lightening and cold ice.
“What are you doing here Ballor?” Amon asked.
“Visiting the new royal. After all you can never have too many allies .”
“Somehow I don’t think dropping by in the middle of the night will endear you to anyone. Leave now or I’ll inform the king of your trespass,” Criss growled.
“Silly mutt, do you think the king will cry over one less royal. He might be feathered but he means nothing to either court,” the intruder claimed.
“If he were of such inconsequence you wouldn’t be here,” Criss said. His voice had a flat tone as if he was fighting to keep from raising his voice.
“Ah, you caught me brother. I just wanted to meet your little protégée,” the stranger taunted.
“Leave,” Amon demanded.
“So touchy. Fine I’ll just be on my way.”
Before he could let out the breath he was holding the beautiful boots stopped right in front of the bed. A pair of gold eyes peered at him from an inhumanely beautiful face. His skin was almost as golden as his eyes. A smile spread across his face exposing a set of unnaturally sharp teeth. “I’ll see you later, little pigeon.”
Finn swallowed, not daring to speak until the face vanished and the boots walked away. Only when the door safely closed did he venture out.
Criss rushed to help him to his feet and brush away the dust gathered on his wings.
“Wh-who was that?” he asked through the fear building in his chest.
“That is the Lord of Shadows, King Eohric’s favorite assassin,” Criss answered, his expression grave.
“I thought you said the king didn’t want me dead.” Finn winced when his voice came out a bit whinier than he liked.
Criss sighed and laced his hands together. “Just because he doesn’t want you dead now doesn’t mean he won’t send his people to assess you. I doubt he sent the Shadow Lord to kill you. He probably just wanted to see what you would do when threatened.”
“Well if I’m asleep, I hide.”
“It’s a good instinct,” Amon said in a soothing voice. “If he had a knife you’d be in a more protected position.”
“Or trapped between a wall and a man with a knife,” Criss countered. “We’ll have to teach him self-defense.”
“I know self-defense,” Finn snapped. It had only been a day and he already was tired of being underestimated.
“With wings?” Amon asked.
Finn slumped. “No.”
“We will start training after breakfast,” Criss said. “I’ll send a message to the king to see if he sent his assassin or if he’s doing freelance work.”
“Great.” Already he could tell this wasn’t going to be a good day.
Sorry this one is a bit short. It is at the end of the chapter. Tomorrow’s will either be long or two posts to get in before the holidays 🙂
“Let’s put that aside for now,” Finn said. He didn’t want to deal with fighting fae. Since taking the serum his life had been a rollercoaster of emotions. Peace was needed, desperately. “What does the King Eohric want with me? The queen has offered me shelter.” Without solid allies, Finn had to maneuver for the best position between royals.
Criss cast a superior look at Amon before addressing Finn. “King Eohric extends his invitation for you to visit the dark court. Queen Tatiana explained how you have markers of each side of the fae and there are ways for us to identify your ancestors that the queen is unaware of.”
“What ways?” Cian asked. “We don’t want you dissecting him to see how he works.”
“I would never,” Criss pressed a hand to his chest, but his mock outrage didn’t reassure Finn in the least.
Something bubbled along his skin. Finn absently scratched at his arm while he considered his next move. His life was spinning out of control and he didn’t know how to reel it back in.
“What’s wrong?” Amon came to stand beside him.
“I don’t know what to do next,” Finn confessed. “If I visit the dark king will I offend the light queen or if I stay here will I offend the king?”
The days events overwhelming him. Pacing back and forth, different scenarios flashed through his head. What should he do?
Cian stood in the middle of his path, forcing Finn to stumble to a stop.
“You need sleep. Get some rest and you can address everything in the morning.” Cian folded his arms as if waiting for Finn to agree with him.
“You can visit Eohric without Tatiana becoming upset,” Criss promised. “She contacted him about you which means she won’t mind the contact. Despite what rumors say, the royals get along to some extent. They might be the leaders of different factions but they often work together to achieve the best for fae kind.”
“I read that they fight amongst themselves.” He had never heard of the light and dark fae working together before.
“Of course not. Battles are good reading. Peaceful resolution never gets the good press.” Amon squeezed Finn’s shoulder. “Cian had the right idea. Get some rest then tomorrow we can discuss your options.”
Deciding to pick and choose his battles Finn wished everyone good night. In minutes he was stripped and enjoying the hot water. His wings fluttered sending water into all directions. Finn concentrated on his wings and imagined them beneath his skin. It took several gallons of water down the drain before he finally got his wings to recede. Gasping he leaned against the shower wall trying to regain his composure. Although it hadn’t hurt, the experience had been uncomfortable. “I hope it gets better with time,” he groaned.
The strange tingling across his skin when he recessed his wings caused great discomfort. Doing that all the time wouldn’t be his first choice. The fae seemed to want to see his wings denoting him a royal and feeding the court gossip line. However, if he planned to continue his police work he would need to be able to retract his wings at will.
He left the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his hips. When he returned to his bedroom, a set of red, silk pajama bottoms lay across his bed. Finn ran his fingers down the soft fabric relishing the smooth texture beneath his fingertips. His towel landed on the floor and Finn slid on the luxurious pants.
“Nice,” he approved. Mostly because he hadn’t brought a change of clothes with him. He wasn’t a red silk kind of guy but as they say beggars can’t be choosers, especially if he fell into royal fae category. Maybe he could convince on of the court lackeys to retrieve some clothes.
After dressing, Finn slid into the bed. The long day pressed down on him. It was time to rest and refresh. In the morning things would look better, or at least not worse.