Three months after the events of “House of Earth and Blood”
Tristan Flynn wanted nothing more than to be anywhere other than his current location. His current location being, of course, the study of his father, Lord Hawthorne. Not that his father had a whole lot of use for the sumptuous array of books lining the walls. Lord Hawthorne did much of his research and learning at the bottom of a bottle of wine.
Tristan’s mind drifted as he considered his options. He could use his Earth magic to create a powerful earthquake that would shake the towering shelves of books in the room to the ground. He could send vines twisting through the foundations of the room pulling it apart from the bottom up. Or, he could open a mawing hole in the Earth itself and swallow the room and the surrounding villa whole. He even wished that he had his father’s Valbaran fire magic so he could simply torch the place.
Instead, he stared at his feet like a child, scuffing his shoe against a carpet several millennia old, as his father tucked into both a bottle of wine and one of his favorite pastimes -- scheming.
“With so many of Lunathion’s factions decimated by recent events, it’s time for the Fae to resume their rightful place at the top of food chain,” began Lord Hawthorne steepling his hands about his wine glass. “The wolves, the strongest power in the city, were already mere shadows after what happened with Danika Fendyr and the Pack of Devils. And, after the gates opened...well, Moonwood is more like a Moontree now.”
His father paused to laugh at his own joke. Tristan rolled his eyes at the floor.
“The Autumn King and I have spoken --”
Tristan looked up sharply at the mention of the Autumn King, because now he knew this was more than just the usual half-assed drunken grandiosities his father spouted. If the Autumn King was involved ...
Tristan’s stomach twisted.
“And, we sense there is an opportunity for the Fae,” continued Lord Hawthorne after another sip of wine. “Few know what actually transpired the night the gates opened, but the Asteri do … and so do we.”
Tristan couldn’t help but shudder at the mention of the powerful rulers of Midgard, who even though far away in the Eternal City, could -- with the merest absent thought -- end Tristan and his father’s existence where they stood before either could pass another breath.
“Even with the truth obscured, they will have a difficult time finding an Archangel willing to take on Lunathion after what happened with Micah and Sandriel. Especially with Hunt Athalar, who nearly rivals the Archangels in power, free from his bonds and roaming the City … with our princess.”
Tristan was still reeling from the events that occurred during the Summit three months ago. The knowledge that his best friend Ruhn Danaan’s cousin, Bryce Quinlan, was really the Autumn King’s only daughter, Starborn and a princess of the Fae. And, that her Ordeal and Drop into immortality the night the gates had opened had resulted in her being even more powerful than the father that had all but ignored her. Tristan already hated the Autumn King for how he treated Ruhn, but his blood screamed with rage at the thought of how his King had tossed aside and ignored his only daughter. His princess.
“As you can imagine, the Autumn King does not relish the idea of Bryce and ... that Malakim … together.”
Cthona’s tits. Tristan knew where this was going.
“And, as the Fae look to solidify our standing and power in the city, it is important we present a united front. A union of the Autumn King’s only daughter and the future Lord Hawthorne would be the beginnings of an unrivaled dynasty,” Tristan’s father paused to take another sip of wine. “And, would further demonstrate that when it comes to Lunathian, the Asteri would be best served to let the Fae manage the city’s affairs. Of course, it would be better if Bryce was a full-blooded Fae instead of harboring that tainted human blood. But alas.””
Tristan swallowed the bile rising in his throat after his father’s display of bigotry. If he wasn’t horrified, he might be impressed by the scope of his father and the Autumn King’s scheming and the sheer balls and stupidity it took to devise a plan that hinged on him successfully wooing a female who had told him to “go fuck his little lordling self” as much as she said “hello” to him. The Autumn King and his father had come up to the line of treason against the Asteri and were teetering on its edge, drunk on the promise of power to come.
“Has anyone bothered to ask Bryce about this plan?” Tristan knew the answer before he even asked the question, but he wanted to buy some time as his mind raced. If this topic had been broached with Bryce, the Five Roses neighborhood where they stood would have already been levelled to the ground by her rage.
Lord Hawthorne waved his hand dismissively.
“These are matters of state, boy.”
“You’d think that hitting 70 would at least mean you could stop referring to me as a ‘boy.’”
“Why don’t you put that smart mouth to work winning your princess from that angel scum.”
Tristan looked his father in the eye.
“You’ve never actually fucking met Bryce Quinlan, have you, Dad?”