46 Chapters
Medium 9781942496656

Chapter 36

Charlotte Jones Solution Tree Press ePub

Kaelo glanced at his watch. The Iniskroun were late; Captain de Solis should have arrived. His relatives were watching him, murmuring among themselves. Even after having sworn loyalty to him, even after having planned this for seven years, they still did not trust him. It was infuriating.

Before he could consider the matter any further, a sharp knock struck against the thick wooden door guarding the entrance. Everyone in the garden froze. Kaelo shot a questioning look at General Shevo. The Iniskroun were supposed to knock four times.

Quickly, he turned to his sister. “Answer,” he hissed softly. She nodded and slowly stood, her face pale.

“Yes?” she said loudly.

There were footsteps, too many. Heels clicked against the cobblestone on the other side of the wall. Shevo glanced at Kaelo. This was not good.

“Open this door.” The voice on the other side was gruff, firm. It was not one of the Iniskroun.

Kaelo clenched his jaw.

“Under whose authority?” his sister said.

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Chapter 5

Charlotte Jones Solution Tree Press ePub

Before Shira could shout out a spell to light up her hands, something slammed into her and knocked her backward into the dresser. Arms wrapped around her waist and dragged her out from beneath the moonlight into the shadows, and fear rushed through Shira faster than she thought possible.

In less than a second, she was fighting as hard as she could to return to the moonlight, struggling to escape from whoever was holding onto her. She tried to cry out, tried to make any sort of noise, but her attacker, who was far stronger than she, began to overwhelm her. Her arms were suddenly pinned at her sides, and a piece of cloth pressed against her nose and mouth.

With a whiff of the fabric, horror froze Shira’s struggles. It was no ordinary cloth; it was covered in nluusonl suloun, a Cloudic sleeping potion so strong that inhaling it for even three seconds could render someone totally unconscious. Inhaling it for more than twelve seconds ensured a person would never wake up. Shira closed her eyes, and every ounce of training her father had instilled in her kicked in with a single surge.

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Chapter 1

Charlotte Jones Solution Tree Press ePub

The Sunbursti capital, Eleora, was abuzz with excitement. It was the day of Shining Shira’s nineteenth birthday, and royals from every surrounding country swarmed into and around the palace. Fantastical clothing, ridiculous outfits, impeccable taste—everyone watching, everyone waiting. Everyone wanting the festivities to begin.

From the southernmost fishing village in the district Chamania to the hunting camps in the northern Dalmar territory, every town in Sunburst prepared for the celebration. The marketplaces and large streets were cleared; banners and ribbons were strung across the roads, coloring them in the red, orange, and gold of Sunburst’s flag. Musicians gathered, polishing their instruments and preparing to play the whole night. Children were let out from school early, and their parents dressed them in their finest clothes. Young men and women nervously and excitedly got ready; balls proved a huge opportunity for courtship.

Within the palace, fresh fish from Sunburst’s southern coastal district Chamania was unloaded by the wagon. Produce from the fertile grasslands in Sunburst’s middle district, Taran, where Eleora was located, was unpacked from the farmers’ carts by the basketful. Armed with soap and rags, servants scrubbed every panel of the floor-to-ceiling windows, covering all sides of the castle, and every skylight on the roof. The bright white stone hallways glistened with the evening sunlight, sparkling after having been scoured within an inch of their lives.

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Chapter 21

Charlotte Jones Solution Tree Press ePub

“Your highness?” a gentle voice said from the doorway.

Celeste stood, and Malena carefully entered the room, curtsying before she met the queen mother’s eyes.

“You may leave,” Celeste said to the soldier standing just inside the doorway.

When he was gone, Celeste’s façade crumbled, and for an instant, Malena saw everything.

“Thank you for letting me come at such a late hour,” she said. Celeste nodded, and for a long moment, the two women just stared at each other.

“It has been a long time,” Celeste said softly.

Malena nodded as her gaze dropped to the floor. “I know.”

“Where are the girls?” Celeste said after an awkward pause.

“They’re in bed. It has been a long day for them, with the late night last night.” She paused. “Sori is old enough to watch them if they need anything.”

The uncomfortable silence lengthened. Finally, Malena looked up.

“I’m—I’m sorry. I should not have come. This was a mistake.”

“No, I’m glad you’re here! I—” Celeste hesitated. “I’ve missed you.”

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Chapter 38

Charlotte Jones Solution Tree Press ePub

Commotion in the infirmary tore Shira from her troubled sleep. She rubbed her face groggily, scarcely even able to move. Her eyes were heavy, barely flickering open before she tried to settle back into unconsciousness. The voices beyond the small curtain Kafil had kindly put up were panicked and barely constrained to a whisper. What was going on? Her fingers stretched out, letting more sunlight rush into her before she tried to curl into a tighter ball and block out the noise. Instead of slipping back into oblivion, however, her world cleared, and the voices became more coherent.

“What happened to him?” someone whispered sharply. It sounded like Addae. Kafil murmured something quietly in response. “Will he wake up?”

Kafil murmured again.

“There’s so much blood,” another, Hagos maybe, said weakly.

“Will he survive?”

Shira’s eyes flew open. Her heart leapt out of her chest, and her mouth went dry. There was only one person they could be discussing. Quickly, she straightened the too-large Sunbursti uniform she wore and pulled back the curtain.

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