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Taken by the Dark Elf King : Chapter 14

Elvie

IT HAS BEEN A WEEK since that disaster of a dinner.

I have settled into a comfortable routine. I wake up, and eat a breakfast of interesting fruits before dressing in one of my gowns that was delivered and joining Kae in the laboratory. There I help her with all types of experiments and help catalog the vast amount of plants she has in her collection.

Some days we wander the castle grounds. She’s shown me the royal library and in the evenings after I have my dinner of cooked root vegetables, I’ll make my way down there and find a book to read amongst the towering stacks. Some days Kaethe and I spend sun-up to sundown in the garden. Helping replenish the soils and find new herbs that she needs for her antidote.

Today, we are outside by one of the quarries. Kaethe is listing off the healing properties of the ivy she is cutting, which is growing up one of the sides of the castle walls.

“These are particularly good for settling the stomach and since Roselyn became pregnant she can hardly keep anything down. I’ll deliver this to her and then maybe—”

She is cut off by the sound of metal clanking. Distinctly male grunts and groans cut through the air. How long has it been since I’ve heard those particular sounds?

Too long with how unsatisfied I’ve felt lately. The last person who I wanted to hear those sounds from, I have not seen nor heard from since that first dinner. It’s clear he is avoiding me.

We continue down the path from the quarry and the sounds of males fighting gets louder. It is interesting to me that Arkain has not at least sought me out for that. For all his proclamations of being a beast and his horrible conversation skills, he has behaved with respect towards me. He could’ve easily overpowered me if that is what he ultimately desired.

Something tells me that it’s not. And besides, he could always have a slew of other lovers. He is a king after all. Jealousy curdles my stomach for some unknown reason.

As we round the corner we come face to face with the men training. Arkain is easy to spot. Even among the other warriors he stands out. Shirtless, in low-slung leather pants I’ve never seen on a male like that. Muscles on top of muscles ripple underneath his gray skin. Pale scars dot his stomach and back as he moves.

He does not possess the grace of light elves but there is beauty in his brutality. He is sparring with two of the other soldiers and they do not stand a chance. With every swing of his sword and block of his shield, those muscles flex, absorbing the impact. Sweat dampens the dark hair at his neck and he fights on.

Maybe he is a monster, but he isn’t one that I fear.

I do not know how long I stay rooted to my spot, watching him defeat opponent after opponent, my breaths becoming shallower. That part of me that has always been intrigued by his kind is inflamed by the sheer power of him. Inflamed so much so that I can feel my pussy grow damper with each passing moment.

He is a natural warrior. A king that keeps his kingdom through bloodshed.

My staring must go on too long as Kae nudges me and the trance is broken.

“What?” I ask, and she merely raises her pink brows. I gently shove her shoulder forward and glance back to the sparring pit.

My eyes catch a pair of red ones. Arkain is breathing heavily, his massive chest rising and falling quickly. His eyes look crazed, but I swear I see pleasure in them as well. Like he’s missed seeing me.

After being here a week I realize that the emotion I saw on his face is the one I spied on Ari’s. Loneliness. Everyone I meet says how much of a good king he is but that he’s become removed from them. My lady’s maids have told me stories of all the parties his parents used to have and how the castle has grown quiet and cold. And how they not so subtly hope I am the one who changes things back to how they were.

These people do deserve fun. If I’m being honest, this last week has made me feel uncomfortable. We cannot spend our lives avoiding each other. With that in mind I know what I must do.

I break eye contact with him and Kae and I walk back towards the castle. Two guards are positioned out front and I stop before them. Their red eyes look down at me curiously and Kae stops ahead of me no doubt wondering what I’m doing.

“When the king is done training, please inform him that I would like for us to have dinner together this evening.” They bow their heads and I catch up with Kaethe.

“What was that about?” Kaethe asks and I shrug. There’s a lot of reasons that I need to try to give whatever this is between us another chance.

But instead of listing all of those I say simply, “I have a weakness for sweaty males.”

Making my way to Arkain’s private dining chamber feels different this time. For one thing, I am not in that horrendous black. Since my own gowns from Lysan have just arrived, I am in a wispy dress of pale blue with sheer sleeves and pearl detailing. Pearls have also been placed in my hair, highlighting its silver tones.

The guards open the doors for me and I find myself face to face with the king. He is standing at the opposite end of the table. He must have just bathed after his training session, because his hair is still wet. He is in a pair of pants and black tunic with red stitching. Red eyes appraise me from head to toe and I spy a little unease in them.

For some reason I curtsy and do my best to seem calm, even though my heart is racing.

“I hope this color pleases you more than the Myrkorvin black,” I say. A joke as a type of peace offering, and I pray to the gods he takes it. He’s quiet for a moment and then waves his hand, my chair sliding out with invisible hands as I sit at the opposite end of the table.

“You look beautiful,” he says quietly. Servants come in and pour our wine and I try to hide the blush in my cheeks. Before I can even take a sip, the first course is served and I prepare myself to be greeted by another seasoned carcass when a plate of carrots and peas is placed in front of me. The garlic and butter they have been cooked in tickles my nose and makes my mouth water.

I notice Arkain has been served the same. That warms something in my chest.

There is a beat of silence and then I say, “Arkain” at the same time he says “Elvie.”

We both smile sheepishly and I reach for my wine to take a sip.

“You first,” I offer. He grunts and nods, spearing a carrot with a fork.

“I wanted to apologize. For how our last dinner went.”

I raise an eyebrow and he continues. “How I spoke to you…I regret that. It’s been a long time since I had to take someone else’s feelings into consideration. Since I’ve had to speak to anyone outside of a council meeting. You have every reason to hate me and yet you were trying to understand, but I threw that back in your face. For that I am truly sorry.”

Well, what can I say to that? There is tentative hope in his eyes. It is a heady feeling to have this male who is so deadly looking at me like I am a lifeline.

“I forgive you. If my mother heard how I spoke to you I think she would’ve keeled over. It wasn’t very princess-y,” I say and he laughs. A real one and it warms my blood. “How about we start over? Try this again?”

“I would like that,” Arkain says quickly before biting into one of the carrots. We sit in silence for a few minutes, but it is comfortable unlike last time.

“How often do you train out there?” I ask. He takes a sip of wine and then wipes his mouth with one of the cloth napkins.

“Everyday, I oversee the new recruits’ training myself.” Of course he does.

“It hardly seems fair to spar with them,” I say, polishing off the last of my delicious carrots. “You are so much larger than them.”

He chuckles again and says, “I wasn’t always this size.”

“I should hope not or gods bless your poor mother.” I clamp my mouth shut but instead of getting upset he smiles slightly. I press on. “What do you mean you weren’t always this size?”

He sighs and leans back in his chair, twisting his wine goblet in his hand.

“I mean that Ari was me.” I raise a brow and he continues. “That is how I looked when I was still a young male. I was sickly and small. My parents had been mated for centuries but had had trouble conceiving. A few days after I was born the healers told my mother I was sick. That if I lived to see ten years they should say a prayer to the gods.”

“Arkain…”I stop myself, unsure of what to say.

“My mother was fierce and refused to believe their advice. Every day she would pray that I would live. And I did. I kept growing and growing and my tenth birthday came and went. And even as the healers were sure I would lead a normal immortal life, I was to do so in my sickly form. Skinny, weak.” He bites off the last part of that statement and takes another gulp of wine.

“Dark elves respect strength. From the first king, we’ve always had to win our kingdom through blood. A king that cannot defend his throne is not one that will provide security and stability to the realm. So the lords of the kingdom began to whisper that I may not be the true heir to the throne. That this was a sign from the gods that my parents’ line was to end with them.”

“I’m sure they feel stupid now,” I say and he nods his agreement. “So how did you become all of this?”

“Dark elves can mature slower than others. My father sent me to live with the warriors posted in the east; the ones on the frontlines. Then, something inside me unlocked. There was a raid on our camp by some Orcs. We were dangerously outnumbered. And all I could think of was my mother, who prayed for her son to live. I couldn’t die at the hands of the enemy without putting up a fight. Something primal unlocked in me that night. And I started to grow. By the time I returned to court there was no question of who the rightful ruler of Myrkorvin would be.”

“No, I would say not.”

“I vowed to never be weak or scared again,” he says. We are silent for a moment as our plates are taken away. Our next course is then served. This time it is a rich vegetable soup with a golden broth and rice. I dip my spoon in and take a sip almost moaning at the flavor.

“Why did you want to dine together?” he asks me. I make a show of swallowing my bite and reaching for my wine as I find an answer. Arkain was honest with me and I can at least be honest with him.

“If this bargain is to stand and we are to be wed, I think we both owe it to each other to give it a fair shot.” I look up at him and his scarlet eyes narrow in on me as I press on. “You and I do not know each other. And while our union had an unorthodox beginning, I am not saying we shouldn’t at least try and make a go at a real connection. Even if it is nothing more than a friendship, we owe it to each other and the people of this kingdom to at least try to make it work.”

He is quiet for a moment and I think he is just going to leave me hanging when he speaks again.

“And how do you suppose we get to know each other?”

“When are we to be wed?” I ask.

“The priests will come on the full moon a month from now to officiate us and proclaim you queen.”

“A month, that’s plenty of time for us to court each other then.”

He coughs and wipes his mouth again.

“You want me to court you? How would we even do that?”

“Like everyone else does. It will be the easiest way for us to get to know each other.”

He seems reluctant and then says, “I must confess, I’ve never courted anyone before.”

I raise my brows. “You’re over four hundred years old and you’ve never courted anyone?”

“Well how many males have courted you?” he asks in a put-out tone. I wave him off with a hand.

“I’m twenty-three, Arkain, it’s less shocking that I’ve never courted anyone. I still know how to do it.” I purse my lips. “Don’t tell me you are still in possession of your virtue too. I simply refuse to believe that.”

His face darkens and I take that to mean he’s blushing. He grumbles into his wine cup, something I cannot make out.

“What was that, Your Majesty?”

He cuts me a glare and sets his cup down. “I have been with others in the…physical sense.”

My mouth pops open in feigned shock. “Scandalous.”

“I never had much time for courting. By the time I came back from my time training with the warriors I had a craving for fighting. There was always another battle to fight, a war to wage.” They come to clear away our bowls and he laughs darkly. “Besides, you saw me in my other form. Who would’ve wanted me to fuck them like that? Let alone court them.”

There is so much self-hatred in Arkain that it breaks my heart. He wants so badly to be the monster that he pretends to be. I grab my goblet as the servant gets done filling it with wine and a new plate of fresh vegetables is put in front of me.

Looking him in the eye over the lip of my cup, I smile.

“I would’ve wanted you to, Arkain.”


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