Authors: Jennifer Fallon
The Immortal Prince stood on one of the high bluffs overlooking the Whitewater Narrows, wondering at the foolishness of mortals. Through the rain, he could just make out the shape of Arkady's ship as the amphibians towed it toward the rapids. The rain had swelled the rushing waters, making them cloudy and perilous to navigate. A human sailor standing on the deck of a ship had no hope of navigating the dangerous narrows and surviving. It was only the presence of the amphibians, swimming ahead of the craft, towing it in their wake, which made the journey through the Whitewater Narrows possible at all.
What had possessed Arkadyâor perhaps her husbandâto set sail in this weather?
As the waves tossed it closer and closer to the gap in the rocks, Cayal pondered the wisdom of letting the ship go. Although it was weeks since he'd last seen Arkady in Maralyce's cabin, on board that ship was the only woman who'd managed to get under his skin since Gabriella.
Perhaps she was even more dangerous, because she had made no promises she didn't intend to keep, had offered Cayal nothing she wasn't willing to give.
Nor had she asked for anything in return, which made her the most remarkable woman he had ever met.
Even before he was immortal, Cayal had been plagued by the fear that peopleâwomen in particularâwere interested only in the political advantage his friendship might bring them, a fear cruelly realised when Gabriella revealed her true colours the day he was exiled by his sister. For a Tide Lord, the problem was infinitely worse. Despite the incredible magic he could command at High Tide, there was no power in the universe able to truly know the heart of a woman, no magical ability to peer into the mind of a man.
Cayal had been alive too long to believe in love as a pure and unsullied force, able to triumph over all adversity. There were no happily-ever-afters in his world. His view of love and all its attendant baggage was much darker, far more cynical. Love was at best an excuse for stupidity, at worst a destructive, dangerous emotion that drove men to acts of annihilation which defied logic. It was a twisted, insidious sentiment used to justify everything from spoiling a child to destroying entire civilisations.
That's what made Arkady truly dangerous to him, he knew. He recognised the feeling in himself, the constriction in his chest at the thought of losing her. The horror of watching her wither and die while he remained unchangedâ¦
The fear of never seeing her againâ¦
Worse, the fear that he
actually be able to find a way to have herâthe Tide was on the way back, after all. It wouldn't be long now before he could compel the world to do as he commanded if the mood took him, Arkady along with it.
Cayal shook his head at his own pathetic predictability. Already he was contemplating world domination just for the sake of having one woman.
That's love for you.
And what if she'd changed her mind? It was more than a month since she'd left Maralyce's mine with Jaxyn. What if she didn't still want him the way Cayal wanted her? What if the memory of Maralyce's cabin had faded to an embarrassing interlude she'd rather forget?
Arkady was a duchess, after all, hugely conscious of her husband's position. And protective of it. That she'd kept his secret while they were married, even to the point of putting up with Jaxyn under her roof, was proof of her loyalty. And she certainly went back to her husband quickly enough when she thought Cayal was defeatedâ¦
Tides, it's enough to make a man crazy just thinking about it.
The rain was falling harder now, as the ship moved closer to the dangerous narrows. He hadn't caused this storm. Although he could affect its course, his power had yet to reach the point where he could harness this much energy out of thin air and force it to do his bidding.
Arkady might die in the next hour,
through no fault of mine.
Which would solve his problem rather neatly.
his problem. She had made him hope. She made him want to live again, even if only for the length of her tragically short life span.
Cayal was in no mood to be hopeful. He was done with immortality and determined to find a way to end it.
How dare you come into my life and threaten my resolve, Arkady Desean.
The ship was in the clutches of the current now, the efforts of the harnessed amphibians having little effect. Lightning streaked overhead as the storm moved closer, the thunder prickling along Cayal's forearms as the Tide magic returning to him responded to the elemental display. They were close enough now that he could just make out the cries of the crew as they desperately fought to bring the ship under control. Their efforts were futile. The cumbersome vessel had been swept up by the pull of the white water and was heading far too quickly into the narrows.
There will be no hope, no pain, once you're dead, Arkady.
Over the years he had come to understand Pellys's fascination with killing things. The guilty pleasure of watching something expire, the envy, the almost sensual delight of witnessing a life go where an immortal had no hope of following.
I'd be doing you a favour, letting you die, my love.
That was the logic Cayal's endless existence had forced him to adopt. He lived in a world where life was pain and death was a welcome release for someâ¦a door locked to him and his kind forever.
Are you frightened aboard your silly, dangerously top-heavy ship, Arkady? Are you clinging to the railing, blood racing through your veins as your heart pounds in anticipation of death, certain this is the end?
Thunder rumbled overhead. Below him in the raging straits, the amphibian harness became tangled as one of the outriders was thrown against the rocks. It was too late to turn back. The vessel had no choice but to move on.
Is your life flashing before your eyes, Arkady?
Are you thinking of me?
Another amphibian was torn from their harness by the rocks, its scream drowned out by the storm. If the ship lost any more of them, that would be the end of it.
When you're gone, there will be no more uncertainty.
I can go back to being sure I want to die.
The ship would break up on the rocks. Arkady would drown, more than likely, which as deaths went was probably one of the better ways to goâ¦
How I envy you, my love.
Another crack of lightning, the rain falling so hard he was all but blinded by it, the rumble of thunder making the ground shakeâ¦
And then it stopped abruptly as Cayal lost his nerve. Cursing his own cowardice, he waved his arm across the water, stilling it instantly.
The storm seemed to hold its breath as it halted on his command.
On the ship below him, the shouts of panic turned to shouts of astonishment, carried clearly now across the still water, echoing off the sheer cliff walls enclosing the Whitewater Narrows. The rain stopped, the raging white water calmed to a gentle flow.
Hastily, the remaining amphibians pulled the ship into the centre of the waterway and towed it forward. They could probably feel his presence. At the very least, unlike the humans on the barge, the Crasii would know there was magic at work.
The barge sailed past the dangerous entrance and through to the wider, deeper waters farther downstream, heading for the coast.
Cayal stood on the edge of the cliff, watching the ship sail past, knowing he was a fool but unable to find it in himself to regret saving Arkady.
Perhaps it was a good idea, not an act of rank stupidity,
he consoled himself. She was smart. Intelligent. Resourceful. Maybe, if he sought her out again, she could help him find a way to dieâ¦
Cayal smiled sourly at his own foolishness. What a pathetic justification to go looking for her. And as if any mortal could even understand, let alone be a willing accomplice to, such an endeavour.
But then another thought occurred to him. What if she feared him? If she felt threatened, perhaps, or believed humanity was threatened?
Would that be enough to enlist her cooperation?
Is that what I have to do?
The thought made a twisted sort of logic.
If you won't help me die, my love, then perhaps I'll have to make you want to kill me.
The Hythrun Chronicles
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
THE IMMORTAL PRINCE
Copyright Â© 2007 by Jennifer Fallon
Originally published in 2007 by Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Maps by Russell Kirkpatrick
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The immortal prince / Jennifer Fallon.â1st ed
p. cm.â(Tide Lords; bk. 1)
“A Tom Doherty Associates book.”