The Spoils of Allsveil: Dark Heart Heroes #2 (2 page)

BOOK: The Spoils of Allsveil: Dark Heart Heroes #2
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Paul winced. “Excuse me.” He turned and the men behind him stepped in line, making a human corri
dor and letting Paul walk past. Though his voice was hushed, even I could hear Paul admonish whomever he was talking to. “Darrin, women and children are present, watch your mouth.”

Sir Cartell
and my mother had propriety in common. Said women and children had just seen a man killed. Why would cursing matter? Then again, why would a queen preoccupy herself with formalities while fleeing from enemies? But mother drilled politeness in me and everyone around her. Much like Paul.

A blond man, just beyond his gawky years, strode with confidence and bloody clothes through the corridor of soldiers.
My haze of loss cleared. Revenge burned off the rest of my murky reflexes. I bolted from Nanna’s grip and lunged for Heinsley’s sword. The grip of the steel handle burned cold. Its weight was unfamiliar, but I was no stranger to this type of weapon. Heinsley’s sword wobbled heavily as I lifted the massive blade.

Dreshall
’s soldiers were slow to raise their swords against my newfound weapon, laughing at my challenge. I didn’t care for those men. My sole mission was to kill the man who took my father from me. The blond man raised his weapon and a slight smile brightened his face. A mischievous twinkle in his eye scalded me more than a thousand suns. He pushed one guard out of the way and barked an order to “stay back” before metal hit metal and I swung, not as an angry youth who takes up arms in spite, but as the warrior I’d wanted to be.

“Alexia!” Mother screamed.
But the name slipped past. The other men faded to gray.

My father’s killer barked words, but I heard nothing. My breath, slow and deep. My strength, hard and flowing. My skill poured from my soul. I was going to kill this man.
His smile infuriated me. But it didn’t affect my footwork, or my strikes. He deflected blow after blow, but the art of battle guided my actions. I would not lose.

A force of nature slammed into my back and pinned my arms. Both my backstabbing assailant and I went down. “No!” I shouted. The tool of my vengeance clattered on the stone floor. We landed and I thrashed, wanting to resume my vendetta.

“Alexia, stop!” My mother’s voice shattered my cracked heart. “I gave my word. Stand down.”

“Let me go!” I wailed at Mother, the traitor to father’s memory.

“No! I will not lose you, too.”

I froze. Her loss of faith in my abilities, when she
had fought for my right to take up arms, cut the flow to my reserve of energy. My father, my light in the dark, my rising sun, had slipped beyond the hills never to return. Never to see my wedding or hold his grandchild or meet the man I’d call my own. I cried for death. The murderer sat at the far end of the chamber smudging blood all over Nanna’s chair.

“I can see where the spirit of their people comes from.” He gripped his thigh. I’d struck him and hadn’t known. If I had my way, he’d be little pieces to feed pigs.

“Paul, warn the others. If the fairer sex fights like her, we’ll be crushed.” He flashed a smile my way. I scowled.

“Stay here. I’ll
bring the barber surgeon.” Paul clasped the man’s shoulder and left.

No one spoke for a very long time. Swords pointed at me from every angle. Mother clutched me, but with my reserve depleted, there was nowhere I wanted to go.
With little will to stand, Mother helped me up and we both leaned on each other for support.

Paul
returned, and the men holding a seventeen-year-old girl and her mother at bay parted for Sir Cartell.

“Noblewoman...”
Paul trailed off, asking for a name.

“Aighta Tyilasuir.”
Mother squeezed my arm and we separated.

Cartell
raised his eyebrows and proceeded to slaughter my family name. “Noblewoman Talliassher.”

I huffed. “Tyilasuir, Tie-la-ser, Tyilasuir.”

Cartell dipped his head to me. “Tylasure.”

“Close enough.” I crossed my arms.
Across the room Darrin the orphan-maker, for I was sure Mother would be killed before me, chuckled. I hated him for it.

“Yeah, Paul, get it right. Tyilasuir.”

My hate bloomed to a full loathing of everything Darrin. He’d been able to say my name flawlessly the first time. That only fueled my desire for vengeance.

Paul
bowed to Darrin and gave an ungracious smile. “As you say, my prince.”

That wiped Darrin’s smile clean off with an extra dose of soap-root.
Paul, my newly endeared enemy, turned back to us. “Lady Aighta Tylasir, may I present Prince Darrin Goththor, heir to the White Hawk, son of Aiden Goththor.”

Mother
pulled me close and gripped my arm so tight my fingers tingled. If she hadn’t let go so quickly I might have lost my arm from lack of blood. “This is Princess Alexia Tyilasuir. King Fieron Tyilasuir’s only daughter.”

Paul’s eyes flicked to Mother and he gave her a slight nod.

Darrin rose from the chair. He looked pained. Good. “Well, now that we know each other, your new lord and master awaits.”

Nanna stepped over to me, taking my other arm
in a death grip. “
Hopefully,
the father is not as abrasive as the son.” Nanna’s tenacious rasp cut through our whispers. Mother glared at Nanna, but Nanna never shied away from a contest of will.

A line of soldiers escorted us out of Nanna’s rooms and into the hallway. Where before the halls were empty, now soldiers hulked about. They took no care as to what broke. The
glass sculptures, the priceless art, the best of our people all became loot.

“What are they doing?” I said.

“Plundering.” Nanna scowled at one man shoving a glass chalice in a sack. He went for another item and I cringed at the sound of shattering glass muffled by burlap. That was one of the artisan glassblower’s finest gifts to Mother. I knew she loved it.

“Fool,” Nanna said under her breath.

Men roamed everywhere. No room was without soldiers grabbing anything and everything they could. My heart burned all the more.

We were escorted to the dining hall, where we had our meals most nights. It was the largest room in the castle because father wanted
to…had wanted to…dine with servants and nobles alike, right alongside each other. Every man was a jewel, he said. Fascinated by the “colors” each person reflected, Father had wanted to know them all. He had wanted to soak in their knowledge, their creativeness. But even with my father’s geniality, I did not wonder why he could not get along with the sullen, stern, forbidding chunk of a man that now sat in my father’s chair. If I were on the battlefield with my king, this one would be dead. Cold gray eyes assessed Mother. I expected him to ask, “How much for the sow?”

I’d never met King Goththor, but t
his man was a king, no doubt—his air overconfident, comfortable with everyone looking to him. But he also looked devoid of any love. His eyes were hard. Much like the glaze of death I saw in soldiers’ eyes after battle. Straussler, our man-at-arms, warned me of men like this one. I didn’t believe one could be soulless. The king of Dreshall proved me wrong. His eyes skated away from Mother and I felt the stone in my belly lift.

Paul nodded. “Lady Aighta T
illyasuir of Allsveil, may I present to you—”

“Aiden Goththor,” my mother finished. “We’ve met.”

Darrin strode up to his father, pushed a chair out with his foot, and fell into the seat. A tiny spark of life lit up in the king’s eyes when Darrin joined him.

“Your king is dead, and your people still fight,” King Goththor said. “Call in your
men-at-arms.”


I’ve given you my ring and my word, what more do you need?” Mother clasped her hands.

“Which Paul showed your
commander,” King Goththor’s cold gaze remained on my mother. “He thought you were dead and fought all the more.” He’d said it more as a threat than fact. As if Mother had given them the ring to set a trap in motion.

Darrin leaned over and whispered in his father’s ear. King Goththor grunted and said, “We’ll find him.”

Straussler, head of the Black Knights, was still alive. He had to be. A Black Knight would not surrender. They would avenge. All eyes stared at Mother, who said nothing. The span of silence grew. King Goththor flicked a finger and a guard pulled Emvery through.

Leaning toward Mother,
King Goththor said, “If you want your maid to live, tell them to stand down.”

I grabbed Mother’s hand. Emvery trembled, fear in her eyes, but she didn’t speak a word.

“Father,” Darrin leaned forward. “Hasn’t there been enough for one day?”

The words didn’t remove that
cold, dead mask on King Goththor’s face. Instead he ignored his son and gave the signal, a raised thumb, to slit Emvery’s throat. The soldier holding Emvery flicked a knife from his palm and brought the sharp edge to Emvery’s neck.

“Wait!” I stepped forward.
Emvery’s eyes popped out.

“Alexia
,” Mother whispered. I ignored her. The gray, lifeless eyes of a king who no longer cared for much other than himself stared at me.

“Blow the horn four times
,” I said.

“And you are?”

Paul cleared his throat. “Sire, may I present Princess Alexia Tyilsure.”

Darrin snorted. “Keep trying, Paul.”

King Goththor did not look amused with his son or his
commander. “And what will happen if the horn is blown four times?”

“The people will know that we’ve yielded and they will retreat.”

The golden eye of the hawk on King Goththor’s breastplate flashed. He glanced at Paul. The man-at-arms bowed and walked behind the row of chairs at the long table to the end of the room. A large horn spanned the wide window. Its pipe tapered from the mouthpiece and was long as a man was tall. My spine went rigid. For an enemy, Paul seemed a decent man. It would be painful to watch him convulse and die when his lips touched metal.

An arm twirled me around, a sharp blade pressed upon my neck. Mother yelled but I couldn’t see her. “What aren’t you telling me?” King Goththor whispered in my ear. “Tell me now,
or you and the maid die.”

“Poison, the mouthpiece is poisoned.”
But only to those not immune to the drug. Father had bested an enemy by the same tactic.

“Paul, stop.” The king’s baritone
boomed down the dining room. I staggered as the pressure around my neck relaxed abruptly. King Goththor sprawled back into my father’s throne and glared death at me. His eyes glinted dire threat if I defied him again. The soldiers around me echoed his expression, disdain painted across their features. I held my neck. Red, sticky fluid coated my fingers.

“Clever.” King Goththor smirked wickedly.
His eyes found my mother. “You have another mouthpiece? Or is that even the method?”

Mother nodded. “Four
blasts will halt the fighting.”

“You do it.” King Goththor stared at me. “If things go well, I’ll let your mother live.”

I could hear the lie. But it was my mother’s life. I looked to her. With a pause, and her reserve back in place, she nodded once. I paraded down the hall with my head lifted, past Paul and to the horn. The closer I came to the window, the more I could hear the shouts of men, the ringing of steel; our forces were still fighting. All for naught. I could only hope the invader on my father’s throne would keep to his word.

“Stop
,” King Goththor said. “You don’t dally to your death, do you, child?”

I whirled around. “What does it matter to you?” Before anyone could stop me, I blew four times. Outside,
the fighting slowed. The clatter of swords dropped on stone rang in the air. Goththor’s people called out, my people shouted in surrender. The stench of death that had surrounded us for months still lingered, but the battle was over. I turned around, walked back to my mother, and stood next to her.

“You’re still alive.” Darrin smiled. He had the kind of smile a girl could swoon over, but he would not win me
.

“The Tyilasuir family is immune.” My prim voice did me proud.

“Or maybe it’s not poisoned,” Darrin said.

“Want to try it for yourself?”

Darrin waved a hand. “Oh no, you did a fine job. A surprise to see such a talented horn-blower.”

Soldiers around me laughed. Confused, I frowned and looked to Mother.
She gave me a stern look that told me to say nothing. Still…I expected to die anyway. “I could teach you, although you might do better if you used your other end.”

Paul snorted
but regained himself. Some of the soldiers snickered. Darrin flushed and frowned. Mother grabbed my arm. “That’s enough.”

It was slow in coming, but King Goththor started to cackle. “Fiery like my
Bridgette, that one.”

The soldiers went silent.
Paul gave me a very sad look—a look you’d give a favorite goose before the hatchet went down on its neck. Chills ran down my spine. I’d forgotten about the stories of King Goththor. For every laugh of his, another dies. Was he truly that mad?

BOOK: The Spoils of Allsveil: Dark Heart Heroes #2
13.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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