The Horde was assembling for war. The process seemed unreal, as thousands of our allies had gathered around to protect us and gain favor with the newly crowned Horde King. Some came to see the birth of the miracle babies—as they now referred to the wee beasties inside of me—who grew stronger with every rising of the suns. Those who gathered in the walls of the keep did so with the pretense of wanting to protect my glorious beast—as if he needed protection.
Ryder was one of the deadliest creatures that existed, and yet, despite my best efforts, he behaved as though I was too frail in my current condition to protect myself, so he had his brothers watching over me night and day as war loomed on the horizon.
He was trying to shield me from what was coming, but I wasn’t a fool. I could smell the conflict brewing in the air, thick and dangerously near. I wasn’t an idiot either; I knew we wouldn’t make it out of this fight unscathed. No one would. For all we held, and all we cherished, peace would come at a steep price—because it always had. Even in my world, wars left devastation in their wake, but these were creatures who didn’t want control; they wanted to destroy. These were powerful creatures that could do damage on a scale that Humans had never witnessed before.
Ristan had been spending more time with Alden, and was now acting as his shadow on all things Guild, bringing back any information he or Alden discovered. I often protested that it was no longer safe for Alden to be there; however, he stood fast in his belief that the Guild could be saved. He was hell-bent on ensuring that those who were worth saving were saved.
It gave me some comfort to know that Alden, with all his stubbornness, was protected by
the Demon. Well, for the most part. I feared for both of them as they continued to put together the missing puzzle pieces. Trickery was everywhere, and no one was safe from it. Not even me.
Fear had become a constant thing in my life, and I was sure it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. It had grown roots, and each day a new bud would bloom as my time to bear Ryder’s children grew nearer. What I feared the most wasn’t losing Ryder, or if I would ever be able to gain his love, but what would come when my babies were born. I was strong, but that alone wouldn’t keep them alive. I had spent more time with Danu, and so far we hadn’t found anything to protect the babes, except keeping them where they were—inside of me, where they would be alive and safe.
Time wasn’t on our side though, and it kept moving along, oblivious to the turmoil around us. More than a month had passed since Ryder’s coronation, and my time was steadily drawing nearer.
The uncertain and fragile state I was in weighed on my mind heavily as the days passed without a cure for the land. Ristan had been given visions that led everyone to believe that Ryder’s and my children were the cure for this world. However, other than a few visions in infancy, including the one vision of me handing my son to Adam, he hadn’t seen anything more of them in our future and that scared the hell out of me. I mean, if they were the cure, why couldn’t he see them with us, unless it ended badly?
So much had happened in the short time since I’d met my beast that I hadn’t even been able to catch my breath or wade through my inner fears. I knew I loved him, but love wasn’t strong enough to seduce destiny into giving us what we wanted. Danu kept telling me that
destiny had to be won, that I wasn’t just born to it, and that I had to fight to get it.
More reports came in daily from Ryder’s spies in the Human world; some of the reports we had gotten over the past month were frightening. They hinted that the Mages were gathering strength, torturing and killing the lesser Castes of Faery both here and in Tèrra, as they called my world. They were smart, but their actions did not seem coordinated, strategic or very organized as one would tend to expect from people who planned on wiping out an entire race for vengeance. Unlike Ryder, who was continually watching them and learning how they moved. He tried to learn everything about how they thought, and how to intercept their moves.
Information on Faolán was almost non-existent and it worried me more than the Mages, backed by Danu’s husband did.
Watching Ryder as he countered each attack on the Horde Kingdom had given me both comfort and an uneasiness that I couldn’t explain. Knowing he was strong enough to protect our children was comforting; on the other hand, I knew that if I ran from him, there was no one who could protect me from him—not even Danu could achieve that, based on the rules that governed her powers, even though he was one of her many creatures. Not that I was planning to run; it wouldn’t be an option even if I considered it. Knowing Ryder’s power and the strength of the Horde Kingdom didn’t give me as much comfort, for I knew that most castles and powerful dynasties such as this one usually fell from within. It was one of the problems in this world—everyone wanted to rule it.