Bloodlines, p.23
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       Bloodlines, p.23

           Trisha Lynn
 
Chapter Twenty-Two

  When they reached the edge of the water, Loki went ahead and touched the calm surface, his fingers gliding over the mirrored top. She looked around but saw nothing. She resisted the urge to touch the surface of water herself to see what the heck he was trying to do.

  She jumped back when, after a few moments, bubbles came plopping to the surface in front of them. A small wooden boat surfaced. Too narrow to be a row boat, but too wide to be a canoe; something in between. She let out a tiny squeak. She couldn't help it. Her eyes reached Loki and he was smirking. Magic! It was going to be the death of her.

  He pulled the boat's front onto the shore a little bit, then held out his hand. Obviously to help her on. She knew touching him was a terrible mistake, but he didn't seem to notice the crazy spark or whatever it was she felt each time they touched, so she tried not to make it weird. She gripped his hand, his strength ushered her up and into the boat. He quickly pushed the boat off and in one graceful move; got in, sat down and began rowing. It was quite impressive, all that tall, lean frame moving in feline gracefulness.

  She decided she needed to know more. “So why now? Why after all this time do they want me to come here?”

  He shrugged. “It was time. You are coming of age.”

  “Magical age?”

  “Something like that.” She had the overwhelming sense that there was so much more he wasn't saying. She was silent a moment.

  She felt like she still had so many questions, and his brief answers and comments typically raised even more questions. She allowed another of his comments to surface a question. “Why do you tell me I should forget about Erik and my friends?”

  His lips thinned, and she knew she'd hit a nerve, but he simply said. “Because.”

  She crossed her arms over her chest. “That's the most childish answer in history.”

  “It's also the only one I'll give.”

  She grumbled. “Well, it's certainly not a good enough one.”

  His eyes flashed with impatience. “Adeila, you are destined. You will be Queen someday. You will leave behind your human life.”

  When she sputtered and began to argue, he cut her off. “A human is no match for a Faerie Princess of your bloodline.” He looked across the small river to the castle, and in a very low whisper, added, “You have been given the perfect match.”

  Her eyes bulged. “Wait, what?”

  His eyes came back to hers, his body was tense. He'd said too much, and his mistake was written all over his face.

  “Loki, what the hell are you talking about?”

  “Nothing. Your parent's will explain all of it.”

  “Oh, hell no!” She went to stand up, but the boat shook from her jerky movement. He grabbed her left arm, and yanked her back down. He growled and continued to row in silence until they reached the edge.

  As soon as the boat was near enough to the shore, she leapt off. Her eyes watched for a moment in fascination as the boat sank again into the depths of the river, nothing of its existence showing but the tiny bubbles coming up. After the moment passed, she rounded on Loki again, hands on hips.

  “What does that mean, Loki? No bullshit!”

  He sighed. “You were betrothed before your birth. Combining the two most powerful families in all of Faerie.”

  Her heart stopped. Not that she was planning on being with Erik forever, but the fact that she had the freedom to choose whomever she wished to be with was something that she just always assumed. Betrothal was like a medieval thing. People did not do that anymore. Well, not in American, at least not that she'd ever heard, but clearly this realm was a bit more set back from the modern times.

  “Before my birth? So I'm supposed to marry some guy I've never even met to strengthen my family line?”

  “Something like that.” He continued to move toward the castle walls, and she followed him because she had nowhere else to go.

  “Who? Who the hell am I betrothed to?”

  “Your parents will tell you when the time comes.”

  She grabbed his right wrist; the heat that spiraled up her arm was so intense she dropped his wrist as if it had burned her. He looked down at his wrist and then her hand, seemingly perplexed. Whoa! It appeared that Mister Unemotional Arrogant Jack Ass actually felt something this time too. Maybe she wasn't entirely crazy after all.

  She shook her hand, and checked it for burns. Nothing was apparent on her skin, but the zinging feeling ran up her arm and across her chest.

  “What the fuck?” She knew it was a terrible outburst but she was so emotionally screwed up at the present moment she didn't even care.

  His eyes were slightly wider than usual when they met hers, but he quickly masked it, turned and headed back toward the castle.

  She gritted her teeth together, hard, and fell into step behind him.

  “Dammit Loki, at least tell me the guy I'm betrothed to! We can both pretend the weird mystical shit that just went down when I touched your wrist – didn't - but I want some answers. I am not marrying anyone. So that can just be taken up with these supposed royal parents of mine!”

  Loki turned his head towards her, but his face was still an unreadable mask. “His name is Lukkas.”

  Okay, was that so damn difficult? She puffed out a breath. “Okay, so why is he so important that I need to marry? What do my parents receive from our union?”

  He shrugged and she almost punched him. “Come on, Loki.”

  He whirled on her. “I don't really know, Adeila! His lineage and yours is known for producing children, so it is no question that offspring would arise from such a union He comes from a very strong family, his lines mixed with yours would probably make heirs to these thrones incredibly strong and powerful.”

  “So they want these super Fae or something?”

  He groaned and scrubbed his hands down his face. “No, it's not like that at all. It's just... Your families are tied together by strong bonds as is; if a marriage was unionized between the families it would make an already strong alliance even stronger. It would make some powerful Fae, yes, but not for the sake of powerful Fae. It's just... way too complicated to explain to you right now.”

  With that he turned on his heel and walked to the wall.

  She decided to let it rest; give her anger to those that rightfully deserved it. She decided instead on checking out this impenetrable wall. It was at least ten feet high, with vines, moss and huge star shaped flowers of the deepest, darkest shade of purple she'd ever seen growing all along it. She could see no door way, or gate in sight.

  Loki waited for her to stand next to him, and then he pulled a knife out of his pocket. She took an involuntary step back, and watched in horror as he sliced his palm open and laid it against the wall. Almost instantly, the stone shifted and a doorway opened within the wall. It was incredible and unbelievable to watch, but Loki gave her no time to dwell as he walked through and gestured for her to follow. As soon as her backside was through the doorway it solidified once more. She turned around and watched it with awe. She reached her hand out and touched the stone. Jerking back when she felt a thrumming within it, like that of a heartbeat. She looked down at her hand, and then tentatively put her palm flat against it again. The heart beat drumming resonated within her palm, and sent a bit of energy zinging up her arm and across her shoulder. It was amazing. It gave her a feeling of coming home from a long day, and energized her almost like a long nap would do. She let a small smile slip over her face, until someone cleared their throat behind her. She jerked away and turned back to Loki, who was standing with his arms crossed over his muscled chest waiting for her.

  Sighing, as the dislike she'd had for him wallowed its way back in her head.

  Loki turned again away from the wall and towards an archway ahead and this time another figure materialized out of nowhere. It was a tall guy, almost as tall as Loki, but he was the polar opposite when it came to looks. He had sort of shaggy sandy blonde hair that flopped across his brow and fell to his
collar, large midnight blue eyes swirled with dark purples and a ring in the outer edges was lavender. Most people just thought the sky was black, but if you gazed close enough you could see the washes of deepest blue, the molten of liquid grays, and the brilliance of the darkest purples. His build was slightly lanky in comparison to Loki's, but almost as well muscled. He seemed younger, and had a cockier air about him, but his face had a very good-natured, amiable and friendly look about it.  He was incredibly gorgeous. Like brilliant sunshine on a meadow of dandelions and cornflowers. Like a bonfire on a crisp autumn night. His smile was magnetizing, in an open, almost mischievous way. She liked him instantly.

  “Hi, Princess! I'm Sorryn.” He stuck out his hand, much like Loki had done in Chemistry class. Recognizing the voice from the mirror, she swallowed and stepped forward, taking his large, tan, callused hand within her own. A small energy crept along her skin from his touch, but nothing remotely as intense as touching Loki. She wondered why that was.

  “Nice to finally meet you.” He smiled at her, and then turned to Loki, his face growing more serious. Like the good foot soldier.

  “I have contacted the King and Queen of your arrival. They are pleased you used this less... unattended way instead of straight through the village and front gates. They will meet you in the throne room, whenever you are ready.”

  “Thank you, Sorryn. Make sure the Princess' room is ready and that dinner is sent for her when I ask for it.”

  Sorryn nodded. “Yes, sir.” With a little wave and a smile to her, he was off.

  “He's your second right?”

  Loki only nodded before moving toward the palace. She took a breath then looked around them. Dusk was approaching, so everything was washed in a dim gray but it did nothing to hide the magnificence of the place. It was all giant haphazard stones, cobblestones, granite, marble and wood. Directly ahead of them was another wall with an archway, and through it she could see stones, gardens, fountains and trees. Moss, bushes, vines and flowers grew within every inch she looked.

  They went through the archway and was assaulted with the fragrant scents of cherry blossoms, apple, lavender, lilac, jasmine and countless other smells she couldn't even being to identify. There were little brooks and natural waterfalls made of stone and rocks. Everywhere she looked was some product of nature.

  A tingling within her blood made her take a moment and breath deep. She felt alive. Her skin alighted with the joy of being in such a natural splendor. The gardens ran rampant and were millions of colors of different exotic looking flowers and bushes and birds. The trees grew all over the place in no apparent style, as if the entire palace was built around them instead of them being planted there. Statues of Faerie maidens, horses, birds, foxes and other animals were scattered around. Bird feeders and bird houses popped up here and there made of birch branches. She watched as a fat white rabbit hopped from beneath a large lilac bush to another bush weighed down by giant cone shaped orange and white clusters of tiny star shaped blossoms.

  It was amazing, it took her breath away. Her body thrummed with excitement, her heart galloped with the exhilaration. Her mind halted briefly with nervousness but she allowed her other senses to override it for the time being. Just being there, standing in the array of natural beauty so preserved and honored by the Fae, felt so right. It was almost painful. She shouldn't feel this way. It was wrong, wasn't it? She'd never even been here before, but she couldn't deny the feelings of coming home washing over her.

  As they walked forward she saw a large pool. Above it a waterfall cascaded over a flat stone with carvings of animals and trees. Lily pads dotted the top of the water with vibrant pink flowers. Small trees and ferns popped out around it. To the right a curved stairway was cut right into the side of the pool and stone waterfall, and went to a level up above with a small bridge. It was levels and levels of something out of a dream. The number of flowers and natural arrays of stone and trees made it as if you were walking into someone’s very vivid imagination. But if the light breeze picking up her hair and sending the scents of flowers towards her was any consultation, this was very real. As they got closer to the pool she could see very large multicolored fish swimming about, and the shadow of a few turtles.

  They continued walking, passed the pond and stairwell, and she could see more archways, each different, some were carved with leaves or animals, some covered in brilliantly colored and exotic flowers and vines. Each leading to some other section of the garden. She had an inexpiable urge to venture. To discover.

  They came to a large covered gazebo like structure of light tan wood, polished nicely with just enough roughness to make it look perfect within this stone and greenery setting, with stairs leading inside it, then from inside, stairs leading straight, and then others leading up to the left. She followed Loki to the ones on the left. Even the steps were impressive, large cut stones with flowers and ferns growing along the entire incline.

  It was obvious that they were going the long way around the castle to avoid any probing eyes around the front doors. She was kind of glad, as not only did it give her more time to collect her thoughts, but it allowed her to see the entire scope of the majesty this place had to offer.

  It was becoming harder to not feel like a Faerie Princess. Once they reached the top, more fountains and trees and flowers assaulted her senses, but they were on a stone walkway that met two large stone steps leading to a giant double wooden door, under a huge stone archway attached to the very impressive stone, glass and wood dwelling that was the castle of Oakend.

  Once they got closer to the door, she could see intricate Celtic like designs carved all throughout the door, swirls and floral designs, along with carvings of horses, wolves, birds, other animals and leaves etched along its stones. It was kind of like what was on her wrist and Loki's tattoo. A mixture of Tribal, Polynesian and Celtic in nature with swirling and flowing lines throughout it.

  A guard stood on each side of the doorway. They looked imposing, but she would have guessed guards to wear chain mail or armor of some kind. These men did not. Simple brown slacks, high leather boots, light green tunic like shirts, covered by deep green vests with a sigil of oak leaves in light green emblazoned upon them. Across the vests she saw the glint of daggers and at each man's hip was a unique scabbard housing a likely lethal sword.

  Loki turned at the door, the men both made a small bowing gesture to him, and he nodded and let his eyes drift towards hers. She was still mad at him, but he was essentially her life line here. So she could only nod slightly in acceptance of what was to come.

  One guard opened the huge double doors for them and it was like the breath was knocked from her. If the outside was any indication to the inside, she should have been prepared. Stone floors, wooden columns, a giant fountain depicting a horse, several birds and small animals cascaded into a large stone pond, directly in the center of the giant open room. She looked up to see stairways and balconies and above that she could see the canopy of branches and leaves from the great oak in the castles center.

  Loki moved down a hallway. The floors were stone on the edges but wood along the center, the walls were stone about halfway up then turned to a very dark brown wood. It was a gorgeous contrast, and very interesting to see. There were a few tapestries here and there depicting horses, one even depicted what she thought was the mythical unicorn, foxes, Fae maidens, long billed birds and many other animals. Large potted plants were everywhere, here and there vines grew up the walls, a few small trees even grew from some spots, different shaped and sized lights hung from them, giving off a dim magical glow. Loki had said that this part of Fae didn't use electricity, but he'd told her that magical flame was infused in the bulbs or lanterns to give off light and heat.

  Apparently some parts of Fae did have electricity but Oakend and Neberuk refused to allow that sliver of technology into their depths quite yet. It is said that the more technology that the Fae realm allows the more the magic fades away. It made sense to Adeila, in an
odd kind of way.

 

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