Authors: Heather Killough-Walden
The Shadow King
Book 7 in the Big Bad Wolf spinoff series, The Kings
by Heather Killough-Walden
Copyright 2015 Heather Killough-Walden
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Heather Killough-Walden Reading List
The Lost Angels series:
Always Angel (eBook-only introductory novella)
The October Trilogy:
Sam I Am
The Big Bad Wolf series:
The Big Bad Wolf Romance Compilation (all four books together, in proper chronological order)
The Kings - A Big Bad Wolf spinoff series:
(in their proper order so far)
The Vampire King
The Phantom King
The Warlock King
The Goblin King
The Seelie King
The Unseelie King
The Shadow King
(future The Kings books TBA; 13 total)
The Chosen Soul Trilogy:
The Chosen Soul
Drake of Tanith
Queen of Abaddon
A Sinister Game
The Third Kiss: Dorian's Dream
Note: The Lost Angels series (not including Always Angel) and the Big Bad Wolf series are available in print and eBook format. All other HKW books are currently eBook-only.
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“The true sweetness of chess, if it can ever be called sweet, is to see a victory snatched, by some happy impertinence, out of the
of apparently irrevocable disaster.”
- H.G. Wells
A note from the author…
You may notice the prologue of The Shadow King looks suspiciously like the ending of The Unseelie King. However, if you’re planning on skipping it because of this, I would reconsider. They’re
the same. There’s something new there – and it’s important. (sly smile)
And there’s an introduction, too.
So read up!
Once upon a long time ago, there lived a man who was more than a man. But he lived in a time of secrets and danger. His particular secret was one he shared with all of the men and women in his pack. As their alpha, his power protected them all from the deadly, judgmental scrutiny of the human race. Year after year. Decade after decade.
He kept them safe.
But in his third decade, the man found his own woman. And she claimed him heart and soul, as he did her. Together, they led their pack, side by side, the alpha and his mate.
Until the day he failed to protect them. There were too many. He wasn’t powerful enough to win this fight.
His mate fell with the others, and as her tightened fists loosened their grips in the waning moments of death, they in turn released what they had until that moment been tenderly holding – his heart. And it floated away.
Leaving him empty. And
The man survived the fateful day that took from him everything he loved. And when he did, he changed, vowing to become at all costs and once and for all, powerful enough to win any fight that ever again came his way.
No one knew where she was. She was probably going to die here, in this absolute darkness. She could hear things moving around her. Slippery things. Maybe clicky, crawly things. But she couldn’t see them. And thank the gods, she couldn’t feel them either.
For Dahlia, there was only the cold and the dark. And time.
Violet Kellen stared into the surface of the liquid in the goblet and tried to keep down the revulsion she felt knowing it was blood. It was
blood. It had been the only way to complete this particular spell.
Her reflection on the liquid’s surface was oddly clear for the blood’s thickness, but this was magic. She’d come to expect the odd things.
Her face had always reminded her of those China dolls mortals kept, too smooth, too heart shaped, too perfect. She was a Tuath. Her sister had always tried to tell her that perfection was simply the Tuath way. But to Violet, it was distracting. Her lips were too symmetrical, too pink, her eyes too large and far too bright. They looked like smoky quartz to her that had been lit from behind by a candle’s flame. No one’s eyes were supposed to look like that. None of the girls in the books she read about looked like that. If she went out in public, she wore glasses to deflect the oddness of their light.
Her hair was so thick, it could be braided into the width of a human arm, and it shimmered like satin – literally, like satin – in layers of dark brown to light gold. Long bangs framed her face like an actual frame, adding to Vi’s frustration.
Still, even though her beauty was strange enough to Violet that she rarely looked in mirrors, she felt that her sister Dahlia was far lovelier. There was a mystery to Dahlia that added to her beauty. She was the dark one, black hair like a waterfall of night, eyes as green as Dorothy’s
That was one of Violet’s favorite books.
, she scolded herself. Magic like this did not abide distraction. Warlock magic wanted
of your attention for itself. Hell, it wanted all of
. One slip, and its darkness slid past the boundaries of a spell to disappear out into the world. That was the last thing the world needed more of.
But this spell was a particularly dangerous one. It had come straight out of the tome of Wolfram Lovelace, a warlock who’d lived millennia ago.
Violet was unlike other fae in many ways, the use of non-fae magic being only one of them. Using warlock magic, in particular, was of course
different. But just as not all unseelie were evil, Violet knew that not all warlocks were inherently bad.
In fact, she had heard of quite a few good warlocks, mages using their magic for the general betterment of the world rather than its detriment. The Warlock King was a good example, in fact.
Violet had nothing against warlocks in general, and fortunately for her, her tutor in the magical arts, Lalura Chantelle, didn’t seem to either. The old witch had never given Violet a hard time for wanting to learn that branch of magic. She’d never judged.
Violet was beyond grateful for this. Because warlock magic had an edge to it that she felt she could truly understand. It was dangerous, yes. But… it was also deep. Like a shadow at midnight, endlessly dark and filled with possibility. In fact, Violet often felt there was a kind of dark magic people hadn’t yet touched upon. She dreamed there was a spell out there somewhere in that darkness, just waiting for someone special to figure it out, to bring it to life, and breathe it into magnificent existence.
She wanted to be that person. She wanted to be that person
. It was what she knew she’d been made for. It was the reason she studied as she did, read as she did, and practiced as she did.
She’d heard one of her Tuath friends say something once: “Darkness is the prettiest color.” She’d been talking about Tuath fae, of course. But Violet heard something else with those words. She saw the shadow they cast – and wanted to jump in.
And so, darkness wasn’t bad, no. Not as such. But just like with anything, as warlocks went, some were worse than others. And Lovelace had been the worst.
Using dark magic was
tricky but using Lovelace’s magic was a deadly gamble.
Still, it was the only way to peer through the particular veils Violet needed to see through right now.
She chewed on her bottom lip, narrowed her gaze, furrowed her brow, and leaned in – to see past the reflection on the blood’s surface. Slowly, another image took shape. When it formed fully, Violet very slowly straightened. A coldness swept through her, tightening her skin into goose bumps.
“She’s in the Dark.”
Few knew that she’d trained herself in various forms of non-fae magic, including the warlock spell she’d just utilized to locate her sister. A fae warlock. Was there such a thing? Well, she guessed there was now.
Her gut churned. Her head began to throb.
“The Dark, huh? You don’t wanna go there,” said Pi in his crackly voice from where he bounced in the hearth across the room.
don’t want to go there,” corrected Poppy, Violet’s best friend, and the only other fae aware of Violet’s magical dealings. “No light, no heat,” Poppy shook her head. “No
. But we’re not fire elementals.”
Poppy’s given name was Persephone, but because she hated being compared to the Greek goddess, and because she loved picking poppies, everyone had called her Poppy since childhood. She seemed stubbornly oblivious to the fact that picking poppies caused her to resemble Persephone even more.
She turned back to Violet. “I’ll go with you, Vi.”
Violet had known she would offer. But she also knew she couldn’t allow it.
“The road to the Dark is paved with Shadows,” she said aloud, quoting an old fae nursery rhyme.
“That means you actually have to travel through the Land of Shadow to get there,” came a new voice. Violet and Poppy faced the door.
But it was Pi who greeted the newcomer first. “Good evening, Lalura!”
“Good evening, Pi.”
“Lady Lalura,” Vi greeted her tutor respectfully. She knew what the old witch was in the mortal realm: A magic user nearly unrivalled in power, and worth more respect than people normally possessed to give. She had an inkling she knew what she’d once been in the fae realm, as well.
“Violet,” Lalura nodded, making her way into the room. “I hear you’re off to save your sister, or some such thing.” The old woman was utterly unconcerned, except that she looked from one piece of Violet’s furniture to another with an arched brow and a rather put-out expression.
Violet jerked herself into motion, rushing to take a pillow from one hard wooden chair and place it over the cushion of her velvet loveseat. “Please, sit here,” she gestured, smiling hopefully.
Lalura hobbled over to the chair, gave it the once-over, and then turned around and settled into it, setting her cane to the side.
Violet sighed in quiet relief. Then she said, “I suppose you don’t think it would be wise for me to go.”
Lalura laughed. It was an odd, dry sound that somehow got into Violet and felt funny. “Oh, I absolutely don’t think it would be wise,” she said, still smiling. Her blue-blue eyes twinkled in the low light of the fireplace where Pi still bounced, watching and listening. “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.”
Violet’s eyes widened. She looked to Poppy, whose brows just about hit the ceiling. Poppy came around Violet and addressed the old witch. “You think I should go with her, right?”
“Not even a little bit.”
Poppy’s mouth dropped open. “But… she has to travel through the