The Spoils of Allsveil: Dark Heart Heroes #2

BOOK: The Spoils of Allsveil: Dark Heart Heroes #2
8.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
The Spoils of Allsveil




Murder. Marriage. Forgiveness. The kingdom of Allsveil is the chessboard, and the royals are the pieces.


Two noble families meet in a whirlwind of battle, conquest, hate, and passion. When a neighboring army conquers her home, Princess Alexia is forced to marry her father’s murderer, Darrin, the new king's young prince.


While Alexia grapples with revenge and flirtation, finding her own strength in the process --the new king, Goththor, seeks forgiveness from his queen and from himself. Two generations learn that the game of chess is nothing compared to the game of love and forgiveness...


1 - Alexia

Months of fighting, and finally it had come to this—
an evacuation. The City of Allsveil defending against The Empire of Dreshall. The Horse against The Hawk. My father, King Fieron Tyilasuir, fighting King Aiden Goththor at the gates of our regal castle. All because two men couldn’t see eye to eye about a small city being under one banner.

At th
at moment, I’d never wanted anything more than to be a
for my father. Especially while I stood in the high tower evacuating the servants, wet nurses, and maids. But I was not a boy or a man. I was my father’s doted-on princess. A girl allowed to swing a sword with my father’s permission because he was the monarch.

My mother had a sword of her own and used it in defense of my unladylike desire to hold more than a misericorde. Her blade was not tempered in metal, but its steel cut and the ring of her tongue drove deep. They say the pen is mightier than the sword. I’m personally aware that my mother’s word is mightier than a frail quill from a duck’s arse.

Mother kept sneaking glances out the windows. I could tell that, like me, she wanted nothing more than to be down there, wielding a sword against invaders beside our king.

Horrors I’d been told about in stories lay on our courtyard battlefield. Arrows stuck out from the chests and sides of our men as thorns to a rose. Not one man died with feathers in his back. Brave warriors, all of them, who knew they would never see past this day and did not turn away from protecting us. 

Mother’s dark eyes expressed more fire than a hearth flame when she said, “Get them all out.” Worry tainted her expression even through her unwrinkled skin and hair pulled back in a severely tight bun. My mother, the queen, never out of place, never out of sorts, remained that way even in dire situations.

“Come, Emvery.” I offered my maid a hand and stepped patiently while the woman, who tended me since birth, waddled down the stairs one step at a time. “We’re under attack. You have to move faster.”

My mother drilled that sword of flesh with tone and timing. “Alexia, respect those who’ve protected you from rain and wind down to their bosom.”

’s all right, milady.” Emvery’s plump hand patted my arm. She always defended me—even against a queen.

“I’m sorry.” I took my maid’s arm firmly. She had a tendency to fall and was careful
going down stairs. “But the castle gate is failing. We must hurry.”

Near the bottom of the stairs, Mother spoke to the guards assisting our escape. “Are we the last?”

The two queen’s guards, Clay and Heinsley, looked at each other.

“I asked you a question, gentlemen.”

“No, my lady,” Heinsley answered. “Samalia refused to leave her quarters.”

Mother huffed and spun on her heel, stomping back inside the tower.

Emvery held me tight, or I would’ve followed.

“My lady!” Heinsley leap
t and caught Mother’s arm. “We must leave.”

The queen of Allsveil ripped out of her guard’s grasp. “Do not touch me, Heinsley. I will not overlook your inappropriateness again.”

Clay grabbed both my mother’s arms from behind. “I’m sorry, my lady, king’s orders.”

“Emvery, go!” I left my maid’s side and rushed back up the stairs.

Mother elbowed her guards while I passed them to get my Nanna, Samalia. A stubborn old nanny wasn’t going to be my martyr.

“Heinsley! The girl!” Clay said.

“You will address her as princess, or Princess Alexia!” My mother even now concerned herself with propriety. My practice in skirmishing with castle guards quickened my feet but while I could take three steps at a time, Heinsley, with his long legs, could take five or six even in his heavy armor. 

Hands scooped me up by my waist. “No
, Heinsley! We can’t leave her here!”

“We can and we will.” The guard
’s rough voice rushed in my ear.

We struggled down the stairs. Heinsley squeezed my arms together while he leaned against the wall. I kicked and hit all the right places to tumble us both, despite the stupidity of falling down a stairwell. I was too angry. Too fevered in my desperation to get to my Nanna. We could not leave her to these plunderous savages.

Heinsley took my blows without so much as a grunt. My attempts became an embarrassment and after the eighth strike, I stopped. I didn’t want to hurt him or me. He was only trying to save us.

Clay held Mother fast by the shoulders, his back to the open escape.
He was the brawny type that filled an entire doorway. If he stood in the archway, Mother wouldn’t be able to get around him. Not even if she crawled. Which, no matter the dire consequences, could I ever see the queen of Allsveil doing.

“Good.” Clay’s relieved face swept over me and Heinsley. “Let’s get out of here.”

Clay took hold of Mother’s wrists and turned around, engulfing the open door. A buzzing, the sound of a thousand whistles, then screams echoed off outside the tower walls. Clay stumbled back. My mother scrambled away just in time before Clay fell flat on his back. If it wasn’t for Clay’s size, we’d all have arrows in our bodies. Twenty or more bolts stuck out of Clay’s chest, stomach, and legs.

“Oh bloody hell!” Heinsley let go of me and leap
t down the stairs.

My legs wobbled and I leaned against the wall. Heinsley pulled Clay all the way in and slammed the door. Thuds pelted the thick oak door.

“Clay?” Mother knelt to the man who’d saved her life and took hold of his hand.

Clay lifted his head. “Go, my lady.”

Dread shot through my stomach. The pain Clay must be in. Not only that, but in pain and knowing he was going to die. I leaned forward to force myself out of my locked position. “Nanna can help!” I turned and ran up the stairs.

God, Alexia, duck under the windows!”

Tears threatened behind my eyes, knowing but hoping that wouldn’t be the last warning Clay ever gave me.

The thousand whistles of death came again and I dropped and shielded my head. Glass tinkled. Arrows broke through and clattered against stone.

I ran up
the tower of stairs until the next window. I didn’t hear whistling, but I ducked under the sill anyway. Five flights of stairs and endless windows later, I reached the top of the tower and into the sixth-floor corridor. Rooms were on the right, while the left wall displayed sculptures, paintings, glassware, and artisan creations of our people. There was no time to save most of the precious items. Only my Nanna and my people were more valuable than the items of culture. Empty corridors greeted me as I raced down the hall.

“Nanna!” My breath labored.
I barged in to her room, not bothering to knock. “Nanna!”

No answer.
I went to her bedchamber and there, in bed, surrounded by all her scrolls, sat Nanna Samalia. The wrinkly old woman nestled a book the size of a small tabletop between her knees.

“Nanna.” At my wits
’ end, I crossed the room.

“And I’ll repeat myself.” Nanna’s jowls shook. “I’m too old to run around. Leave me.”

When I was younger, her scowl, chin whiskers, and wrinkles could scare me into behaving. Now that I was older, I searched beyond her gruff manner. I saw a woman born from a life that cut and made people wise to the ways of the world or devoured them whole. Nanna told me the truth, when so many slathered butterscotch or jam over the rubbish of innocence.

“You will run or I will carry you.”

Nanna pinched her face into a scowl. “I told Clay to carry you and the queen out.”

“Clay is dead.”

Her face never changed. Almost as if she expected as much.

Ringing of metal and shouts brought my attention to the window. I peeked through, careful not to
be spotted by the enemy. Shadows cast down on the courtyard. Arrows flew. But not even their arrows could reach up to the top of Nanna’s tower. A hole in the twelve-foot-thick front wall looked like a screaming mouth with angry ants pouring out. The portcullis was breached.

“Nanna, we have to leave
, now.”

The old woman flung her comforter and turned to get out of bed. “Damn guards can’t even get you the hell’s breath out.”

My attention went back to my father’s men. Every one of those brave souls was trying to stave off the attackers to enable us to escape. To fail them and be captured would not honor their deaths. Beautiful steeds of white, bay, and chestnut charged into an onslaught of enemy soldiers. We had spirit, but they had numbers. The clanging of swords reached my ears, the sound making me shake from anticipation. And then I saw him, my father, in his plate armor. I could tell it was him even from this height. No one could spot the riveted armor, the subtle grandeur, the meticulous detail in the gorget, breastplate, and vambrace, and say it didn’t belong to a king. And that king was at the front of the lines, protecting us.

“No!” He should be protected! What was he doing meeting the battle head-on? But father in battle was magnificent. No one escaped his flank. Soldier after soldier fell under his mace and sword. Hope grappled with fear, but my elation at seeing
Father at his finest was a boon. Clay would not die in vain.

A man,
in a suit of armor equal in quality to Father’s, fought against the tide, headed straight for my king. Some men avoided the two. The other king was certainly bound and determined to reach father. Desire to be there, to protect the one man I truly loved fueled my frustration at being born a girl. I should be down there, fighting with him. The two equals met and my father gave the man no soft touch, no breath to hold, no shield to hide behind. I recognized the emblem across the opponent’s breastplate. A white hawk with a gold eye. The emblem of Dreshall. For his salt, the other man took the blows and delivered his own. But the aggressor overreached and left his right side open. Father swung his mace and knocked the man down.

“Yes!” I hopped in my excitement.

The bird’s golden eye faced the sky and my father maneuvered his sword to punch a hole through the metal. A cry as high-pitched as an eagle’s ripped through the air. I covered my ears and watched a blond man bound from the aggressor’s ranks like a gazelle. Father looked up, and the bloody tip of a sword broke through his back plate. My eyes saw, but I refused to believe.

Father dropped his sword and I staggered back.
The king of Allsveil sailed backwards and the window that let me see the battlefield now seemed too high to reach. My vision tunneled. My breaths came with excruciating clarity. My palms hit the floor. My neck could no longer hold my head. The long braid of my hair curled in a perfect circle under me.

Cool hands touched my cheeks. The wrinkled face of a woman who scared most men looked into mine. Her pitiless glare softened. Nanna, whose life’s ravages
destroyed her youth but not her wisdom, was there to comfort me. But her face faded, and all I could see was my father tumbling down and the blood on his back.

Soldiers came
inside Nanna Samalia’s room. Mother was there. Heinsley disappeared into what seemed a sea of men entering the bedroom. I watched with numb precision Heinsley’s extraordinary footwork as he battled to protect us. Our man, the queen’s guard, was both beautiful and deadly while protecting us. But Heinsley’s life’s work, keeping the queen safe, wasn’t enough. Seconds later, he too fell. My death was coming and I welcomed it. For the rest of my days I would not forget the blood on the sword and my father’s descent.

I stood
for our turn. Mother stood in front of us, hands clasped in greeting as if accepting one of her subjects for conference. The men, solemn and wary, kept an eye on her, but their swords remained low. One man dipped his head and approached.

“I’m not here to hurt you.” He sheathed his sword. “I’m looking for hierarchy.”

Mother’s posture remained straight, her chin held high. “You’ve found the queen of Allsveil.” She held her hand, exposing the ring with our house emblem, a red rearing horse.

The soldier dipped his head. “I am Paul Cartell, King Goththor’s military commander. In the name of my
Liege King Aiden Goththor of Dreshall, I ask for your submission.”

“Submission can only be given by my husband.”

She didn’t know Father was dead.

Sir Cartell’s
face turned stone hard. “I’m sorry, but your king has been dispatched. The fighting continues despite the loss. Please tell your man-at-arms to submit and we can avoid any more useless deaths.”

Mother swayed but I could do nothing to help her. I leaned upon Nanna, my life ending before my eyes.
Sir Cartell reached to steady her, but thought better and remained where he was. My noble queen stood her ground. “If I’ll not go after the survivors.”

“Agreed. Do you yield?”

“Stop fighting and we’ll yield.” Mother slipped off the ring in clumsy diminution of status and handed it to Sir Cartell. “Show them this.”

Sir Cartell
turned to a man in front of the line and handed him our family ring. “Get word to our liege.”

The man took my heirloom in hand, nodded
, and pushed through the other soldiers. A voice from the hall echoed through the corridor and into Nanna’s apartments. “Paul? Have you found anyone yet? This place is as deserted as a friggin’ desert.”

BOOK: The Spoils of Allsveil: Dark Heart Heroes #2
8.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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