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The Ever King: Chapter 35

The Songbird

Erik abandoned the hall without another word. The heady quiet of the room crushed in on me, but more than unease, I was furious. This woman came into the king’s hall, his revel, his hard-fought victory, and drew him back into the darkness that held him captive.

There was more to his parting words. In my soul, I felt there was more.

I took a step toward Lady Narza, but paused when a rough palm wrapped around my arm. Sewell gave me a warning look. “Careful steps, little fox.”

That was all he said before releasing me.

Lady Narza had young features, much the same as my own grandmother, but fae folk hardly aged once their bodies were matured. Seemed to be true for sea fae as well.

“I’m not some naïve woman captivated by the title of king,” I said. “I know who he is. I know what brought him through the Chasm. I’ve known since we were children in a war on opposing sides. What confuses me is how it seems his own blood doesn’t know him at all.”

I turned briskly to escape the hall, but was stopped when a hand gripped my wrist and spun me around.

Narza’s eyes burned with emotion. “There are dangers for you in this land. Dangers for him. If stronger magics are working to oust the king, you will only survive if your bond is sealed. You must see the whole of him if you are to let him in entirely. This was the downfall of my daughter—she chose not to see Thorvald’s darkness.”

“Yet you offered the bastard a spell in that talisman that only strengthened his power.”

“Think me a fool if you wish, girl,” Narza said. “Thorvald had the most cunning of tongues. Even I believed he wished to create a union that would only strengthen the Ever.”

“And when it didn’t go your way, you abandoned a tiny boy to the brutality of life.” My blood boiled into my cheeks. I’d be wise to hold my tongue, but anger bled over. Countless thoughts of Erik suffering as a child, of his own father’s rejection, weighed heavy on my chest.

“Lord Harald would not allow me in the palace,” Narza admitted softly. “He had wards put in place against me. Erik was twisted and used, and I was forced to watch as the last piece of my beloved daughter grew with a desire to become another Thorvald. He was always meant to be Erik Bloodsinger.” She swallowed and stepped in front of me. “For the first time, I see him doing that because he found you.”

“Because I became the new mantle—”

“There is no mantle.” Narza’s voice cracked. “There never was.”

“What?” I held out my arm. “Then what is the mark?”

“A symbol of the heart bond I began for the House of Kings. A symbol that bonded you to my grandson because, even as young ones, your heart found itself in his.

“Kings across the histories have bartered with the ladies of my house for gifts of power, but all were made with weak bonds. More power, more brutality, more of everything. Thorvald wanted to be the most formidable Ever King. He was clever; he studied the past and lore of the sea witches.”

She grimaced and stared at the floor. “He stole my daughter’s love by promises he never intended to keep.”

My head was spinning. “What was the gift of the mantle then?”

“A bond of two hearts, girl. An old spell, but one that is nigh unbreakable when truly accepted. It would’ve given Thorvald the power of every sea, of every house, if he would’ve embraced and honored the power that comes from such a bond. My daughter loved Thorvald, she believed he loved her. How wrong we all were.”

“What changed?”

Narza smiled sadly. “He got what he wanted, and his true intentions were made known.”

He got his perfect heir. Another piece chipped off my heart for Erik.

I let out a rough breath. “You think Erik will be a new Thorvald, but you’re wrong. His darkness pulls me closer the same as his light. I want all of him.” I was falling in love with all of him. “I only wish his own people wanted the same.”

Forget pride, forget what was wrong and right. I wanted Erik Bloodsinger, and I planned to have him for myself.

First, I needed to find him. I turned away from Lady Narza. She let me go, a new shadow in her eyes.

I’d find Erik. Not for answers to a dreary past, but to quiet his anguish bleeding into my chest. Wherever he was, he was in the throes of despising himself.

I turned down a long corridor and cursed. Only guards strode the halls. Erik was gone.

Where would he go? I didn’t know the palace well, but the urge to find him simmered to the brink of desperation.

“What a grand show.” From an alcove window, Fione stepped into the flicker of lanterns. “Not only did you disgrace the most powerful woman in our realm, but your little tantrum has made our king look even weaker, like he needs his little pet to stand for him.”

Hells, I tired of them all.

“You know, where I am from, women do not pit themselves against each other over a man and title.”

Her eyes were dark, glazed with nothing but scorn. “Then you won’t survive long here.”

I clenched my fists. “You think him weak, but it is not a weakness to stumble. It is not a weakness to show you have a heart or . . . or to need others to hold you up at times.”

“What a child you are. No one holds up an Ever King. They are born to be brutal, unfeeling, and your presence has revealed our king is not. Some think Thorvald would’ve been better off leaving Erik in your world when he was taken as a child, then creating a new heir.”

“You say this, yet you want to be his mate?”

Fione chuckled. “It is inevitable. The lords will ensure the next heir is from the two most powerful houses. Not from some brittle earth fae. Mark me, I will claim a place alongside the king, and ours will be the fiercest bloodline. For I will never ruin my heir like Erik’s mother ruined him by giving him too much heart.”

I pressed my chest against her, heated anger in my veins. “I come from a land filled with strong kings, and I number Erik Bloodsinger amongst the strongest. He survived wars and torture only to return to his land again and again to fight for the trust and loyalty of his own damn people. He is stronger than you will ever be.”

I shoved past her and turned down a corridor, not knowing where I was going, merely following the darkness.


I startled when Celine emerged from a damn wall. “How . . . where did you—”

“I heard you stand for him.” Celine shifted on her feet, then all at once wrapped her arms around me. “He’s never had someone stand for him. Wouldn’t allow it, honestly, but I’m glad you did.”

Stunned, a little uncertain, I gingerly patted her back. “Do you . . . do you know where I might find him?”

“Follow me.”


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