Page 20 of Court of Nightmares

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Maybe change is good.

“Nathair?” she whispers, half asleep and adorable as I move through our court.

“Shh, sleep, Althea, we will keep you safe,” I promise as I head into the welcoming darkness, my feet knowing where to take me without thinking. After all, this place was once my home, filled with such power, death, and monstrous beauty.

The hallways used to dance with people and life, but now they remain empty, filled only with ghosts of the dead as a constant reminder of how I failed.

“Thank you.” She sighs. “Thank you for killing me.”

I look down once more as her eyes slide closed. When I killed her, she said I freed her, and the look of relief on her face was so strong that I felt it in my soul. After all, hadn’t I felt that way once, freed from torment and madness by death?

“You are welcome, Althea, but I am glad you are back. I am glad you are one of us. Now sleep,” I order, pushing some power into the command, and she slides back into slumber. She will need it for what is to come.

I could head to many of the chambers that remain empty, but instead I head to the one I could never bear to reopen, although the others kept it clean—my mother’s chamber.

She was queen before my father killed her.

The rooms were sealed up on my order after her death, after I took the crown from him to protect our people, but it is the only place I can imagine that is suitable for one like her—a true queen. Her soul reminds me of my mother’s.

I head past the thrones and up the stairs to the room that overlooks them. The door unlocks at my approach, and a fire roars to life, warming the giant stone room. The white fur rug of the wolf my mother killed in battle still lies on the floor, and the deer leather chairs before the fire remind me of a time when I used to sit there before bed as a child, escaping my father and his declining mental stability.

The huge four-poster bed stands to the left near where I entered, and the balcony shutters are locked and long since sealed. The rooms behind hold her gowns, jewels, and bathing chambers.

The room is decorated in all black, with accents of yellow and royal purple, and although no one has stayed here in hundreds of years, it’s clean. I lay her gently under the sheets, removing her boots before I tuck her in and brush her hair back as I press a gentle kiss to her brow.

“Sleep, my queen, and when you awaken, you will meet those you are destined for.”

With that, I close the room and resume my duties, joining my brothers, my fellow kings.



Iwake, feeling comfortable and restored, and for the first time in a long time, I am full and filled with power and strength. Stretching under the luscious silk sheets, I let out a soft sigh and sit up, pushing my hair from my face.

There, standing before a fire, a masked man watches me. His mask is in place but other than that, the only thing he wears are black cargo pants. His midnight skin is on display, stretched over huge muscles and streaked with highlights. His nipples are pierced and chained together, and tattoos dance across his skin of lightning, sun, moons, and wind.

He’s huge, bigger than even Nathair, and I know he isn’t one I’ve tasted.

“Who are you?” I ask without an ounce of fear, knowing I don’t have to be afraid of them.

Whatever or whoever he is, he’s one of them, and now someone I am bound to it seems, which is made apparent by the mark over his heart.

“Conall,” he responds, his voice deep like thunder. I remember it from my judgement.

“You controlled the shadows, the darkness,” I murmur as I slide from the bed and stretch before padding over to him and curling up in a chair, watching him curiously.

“I did, but that is not all I can do,” he murmurs.

“No?” I ask.

“Ah, but that would be revealing all my secrets.” I almost feel him winking at me. “I came to check on you. You slept a long time, but then again, I remember I did also after . . .”

“After dying?” I murmur.

“Yes,” he says without shame. “After Nathair killed me and I made the choice to come back and face what I had done.”

“It seems we all have a similar story,” I reply carefully.

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