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Chapter 2 His Lair

  • Blackstone was the village I grew up in. One of the furthest north villages in Ferus. It was considered to be in the Doglands. Places where very few ventured.
  • Especially because of what lingers in the White Mountains. Mountains which spanned so high that their caps were covered in snow. Though there were paths which wound it, they were made perilous by the violence of the immortal breed that resided there.
  • In their bleak fortress.
  • I was staring at it now. Closing the gap between it and I, though it already felt like I’d been riding the horse paths for an eternity.
  • It had been my own people, cousins and my younger sister which had found me in my mansion bought through my wedding to a fine lord until his demise.
  • Leaving me a wealthy widow.
  • But that wasn’t what made me special.
  • I had a way of reasoning with monsters. Of talking the most demonic beings into being rational.
  • At least for a time.
  • That’s what they wanted me to do now.
  • Reason with the dark prince.
  • The Mountain Mob, his closest subjects were known for their cruelty. And four times in the last fortnight they’d come down from the Mountain to feed on Blackstone villagers. Merciless and vile.
  • What chance did the villagers stand against them?
  • I’d wanted no part of the painful gift I had. I’d dealt with the suffering it caused long enough. But for Sasha, I’d do just about anything.
  • Even this…
  • I wore what I considered my war clothes. A black riding habit with a lace ruffle around the collar and the sleeves. My tall hat pinned jauntily with a sideways tilt. My black hair with the red sheen rolled into a high bun beneath it. My white gloved hands lightly holding Sabbatical’s rein.
  • Already I’d been stopped by several Eternus on foot. Catching his rein or his mane and stopping him to demand of me where I was going. He’d neigh and shy sideways. Discomforted by the presence of the soul-feeders.
  • I’d confidently told them that I was bidden by their Prince to meet with him before nightfall tonight.
  • Though I’m uncertain I’ll even make it to the fortress by then.
  • However, in only a few short hours, I was indeed there. Drawing up on the dark stone walls and high ramparts. I slowed, stunned by how imposing it was.
  • I don’t know what I expected, but this seems so much worse.
  • It was higher than anything I’d ever seen. Looking nearly abandoned. Not a single guard stood on the walls. There was no moat, no bridge.
  • Just one closed metal gate.
  • But as I neared it, a man stepped on the otherside. “State your business.”
  • “Here to meet with your prince.”
  • He was called the Dark Prince by the villagers. Renowned and feared. Both powerful and ruthless. Though he was rarely seen, it was known that he was the only one that the Mountain Mob answered to.
  • The man grunted and rolled open the gate. Making me wonder how many well-bred women strayed up the mountain to meet with him.
  • How often has that simple explanation gotten someone inside?
  • It was working well for me now.
  • I was ushered into a chamber on the top level that was more of a cave than a room. With one wall entirely absent as it looked over the mountain walk headed up to the fortress.
  • A cold wind whistled into it. I shivered as I walked in.
  • At first glance I saw no one in the darkness.
  • The only light was the waning evening sun gazing in upon the mountain through that gaping mouth into the expansive room. But along the walls was dark.
  • There was a huge four-poster bed. Painted gold. With silver and gold accents throughout the chamber. My fingers trembled at the mere thought of how cold they’d be.
  • There’s no heat here.
  • How does he live?
  • But being immortal meant he required perilously little of it.
  • Still there was a grate next to the bed and a heavy mantle above it. Laden with candles.
  • I knew of no Eternus that either burned candles, nor ones that needed a fireplace.
  • He brings Skins here?