The Ever Queen: CHAPTER 15


Pesha kept her gaze pointed to the table, her fingers tangled together like threads on a weave. She’d told her tale of her evenings with the second mate of the Fire Storm—Hesh’s ship.

It answered some questions but brought many others.

“Why should I believe you that you’ve not bedded Larsson in weeks?”

Pesha lifted her chin. “King Erik, I swear to the gods, I’ve not. He went and got himself a mate, as I told you.”

A mate. Pesha insisted Larsson aimed to create a bond with a woman, much like my bond with Livia. No mistake, he wanted the power that came with it. The difference between Larsson and me was I loved my mate, with or without a heartbond. He would fall for his manipulation of such a gift, the same way as my father.

I’d make certain of it.

I drummed my fingertips on the table. “You’re certain the House of Blades has joined with Larsson?”

Pesha sniffled. “Yes. I didn’t realize they was plotting treason, My Lord.”

“And Lord Hesh has sided with a traitor. This is what the second mate told you?”

“Aye. Bonekeeper has his own plans, as I understand, but once Bonekeeper rises, Lord Hesh wishes to make amends for what he lost during the earth fae wars. He wants the earth fae to bend the knee to him. Already the House of Blades be sending folk through the Chasm to cause a bit of torment before Hesh brings battle.”

It explained the sea fae sightings that had the Rave warriors divided across the earth fae kingdoms.

“This could be why Larsson made his move,” Celine whispered. “He’s found something, some power, and Hesh knows of it, making him bolder.”

I clenched a fist over my knee. “When you were attending to the second mate, did he say where they were gathering?”

“I’m skilled at what I do, My King,” Pesha said. “I kept him talking, kept him busy elsewhere, after all. Although, I fear you will not care for my answer.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“He said it is an isle that folk cannot find, for it be shielded by spells. Only the blade lord can step through. Has a mark or some key, I am told. Paedar did not know what exactly, but it is the only way to find and step foot on this isle. Not even the crew goes ashore. That is all I know, My King.”

Already, my mind had drifted to a suffocating kind of darkness. A hate so fierce it heated through my skin, it scorched the remainder of my heart. Death was too swift for Larsson.

He would die, but it would take ages. Perhaps my lifetime.

Yes. I would tend to him for the rest of my days, slicing, plucking, carving. I’d tend to him until I slowly whittled him down to bone.

Pesha whispered a plea to be excused from the table. I waved her away.

“Dark tides, little eel,” Sewell whispered, fear alive in his dark eyes. “Told our fox, they see it—” He tapped the skin near the crook of his elbow, a signal to where Livia’s mark of the House of Kings would’ve been. “They take her like they took two little eels for turning tides.”

Sewell had lost love and family for standing against the ways of the Ever. Larsson may have other reasons, but Hesh was part of this. He aided in the suffering of my songbird because of me. Because I wanted a new kingdom that was not the one of my father.

We’d need to watch our backs for Hesh and his men. If they planned to return to the earth fae, to spill more blood, doubtless there would be watchers looking out for the Ever Ship.

“Whatever dark spells are at play here,” Aleksi offered up, “they could’ve used them to snare Gavyn. Perhaps he was getting close to finding Liv, and they knew it.”

I nodded at Sewell, readying to agree there was certainly something not right about Gavyn’s absence or about Pesha’s tale.

“King Erik,” the pub matron interjected. “Your presence has been requested in the upper rooms.”


Mariope shifted. “My King, I believe you will want to take this meet.”

“Seekers, little eel,” Sewell said, with a breath of hope.

Gods, he was right. It could be Gavyn.

Mariope guided us toward the steep, gods-painful staircases, and directed us toward the room where we were to gather. Like always, by the time I reached the top, I considered cutting off my leg. No one questioned and followed, every last royal unsettled by Pesha’s tales.

I entered the room but halted abruptly. “Narza.”

My grandmother stood in front of the narrow bed in the room. The shade of her hair, now a soft coral, fell in loose waves over her shoulders. Shells and fishbone crowned her head, and her gown was made of kelp satin that glistened beneath the candlelight.

My jaw pulsed. “I did not expect to see you. I was told you had left the Ever.”

She laced her fingers in front of her body, stiff and stalwart as always. “That is true. We returned at dawn, but when I was informed you’d taken the talisman, I followed after you immediately, King Erik. We were not far behind.”

The House of Mists was known to sail, at times, even swifter than the Ever Ship with their current spells and wind summons.

I fingered Maelstrom’s leather strap around my neck. “The way we left the earth fae realms, I wasn’t certain how they’d receive you.”

“Not well.” Narza’s lips quirked. “Deals were made, but I find them to be for your benefit.”

“Deals.” The hair lifted on the back of my neck. “What sort of deals?”

“The sort that will give you advantages over our enemies.”

From an arched doorway that led into a narrow washroom, another figure stepped into the room. Tall and brutish, clad in black like spilled ink, and a red cloth mask, from nose to chin. He tugged down the mask to reveal the scowl etched on his mouth.

“Bleeding hells,” Aleksi muttered.

Words dried on my tongue. For a breath, I could not move, too stunned to think, to act.

Valen Ferus’s dark eyes bled with hatred. “Hello, Bloodsinger. I don’t think we finished our conversations.”


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