Excerpt from "Bound to the Prince"
@ Deborah Court 2011
Chapter 1: Blackfriars Bridge
It was the end.
As Igraine looked down from Blackfriars Bridge, her eyes tried to pierce the darkness to see the dirty water below. The river’s surface was already covered with a layer of fog that grew thicker with every minute, making it impossible to estimate how long her fall would be. She doubted that the impact alone would kill her, but the shock of it, combined with the icy temperature of the water, would finish her off for sure. If she waited until the Thames was cloaked into heavy fog, it would be easier to jump, not having to overcome her fear of heights.
It would take just one small step. The grey cloud would swallow her silently, and the world would move on as if she had never existed. On such a night, only few boats were on the Thames, so probably no one would fish her out of the water to save her. She felt a sudden coldness spreading in her chest, and she knew that it had nothing to do with the October winds that swept over the bridge.
She had not planned this, not even thought about it before. She had walked the streets of London for hours this night after spending the evening in the National Portrait Gallery. She had gone to one of the upper floors and visited the large collection of Tudor paintings, displayed in a dimly lit corridor. History had always fascinated her, faraway times and cultures so different from this world, tales from people who had lived and breathed, loved and died with passion although life had been short and full of hardships. The long-deceased men and women on the paintings had looked down her aristocratic noses to watch her while she moved about, their lifeless eyes following Igraine. They seemed to mock her, a woman in her thirties, who spend what was to be her wedding trip on her own. She was walking the silent, lonely corridors of the gallery at night while the streets around her bustled and hummed with life.
Having left the gallery, her steps lad led her automatically towards to the river. Going east, following the embankment, she saw the red-and-white wrought iron arches of the bridge looming in the distance and knew that this was her destination. Finally, she climbed the stairs to Blackfriars. It was blocked off for traffic due to renovation works, but she just ducked under the barrier and walked up the sideway until she reached the middle of the deserted bridge. She went to the railing and looked over to the near remnants of a demolished old railway bridge. Pairs of massive red columns protruded from the river like the teeth of a dead whale.
Maybe it was something she read about this bridge was what had led her here. In Victorian times, it had been a popular place for desperate women to commit suicide. Most of them had fallen from grace, impoverished and without hope, often pregnant with an unwanted, illegitimate child. The dignified presence of the bridge had separated them from St. Pauls, a symbol of faith and purity.
Igraine looked to the north, where the cathedral’s gloomy dome stood guard over the city. Suddenly, she realized how many generations of people had come and gone here, and she knew that it didn’t really matter what happened to her. The world would have forgotten her very soon. She was nothing but a light breeze that had moved the leaves of a huge old tree just for a short moment, then vanished into the air, never to be remembered.
She leaned against the railing and buried her face in her hands, her ragged breath rapidly turning into deep, painful sobs. There was only one question in her mind, growing louder and louder until she wanted to cry it out to the night, demanding an answer. Why? Why couldn't he just love me? I did everything I could to make him. What is wrong with me? She knew how foolish this was, like a little girl who couldn't understand why someone she loved had left her. Rationally, she knew that it had not been her fault, that he simply was a lying, betraying jerk who wasn't worthy of her love.
However, a little voice inside her head told her otherwise, said that she just was not the type of woman to attract a man’s love, that she would never be good enough, no matter how hard she tried. And what was worse, she knew that this belief was embedded so deeply inside her heart that it would always end like that if she hoped to find love. Anger rising in her, she hit the cold metal of the balustrade with her fist until her hand was bruised and bled, a most welcome feeling. The physical pain felt good, much better than the one burning inside her chest that threatened to rip her apart. It hit her with the might of a storm, wave after furious wave. She didn't want to hurt anymore. Feeling nothing would be a blessing.
Igraine straightened her back and leaned forward, looking down into the swirling fog. In this moment, everything inside her knew how wrong this was. No. Don’t let him win. You’ll find a way to shield yourself, to survive this. She hesitated, starting to retreat to the safety of the bridge. It was just in this instant that she knew that she was not alone.
Somebody was watching her.
She looked around, checking both sides of the bridge. Nobody. But she was sure that there had to be someone. The skin at the back of her neck began to tingle. Shivers of awareness ran down her spine. The ice-cold wind brought tears to her eyes and blew her long curls into her face, so she could hardly recognize anything. Suddenly, she felt vulnerable, frightened like a small animal while a predator lurked in the dark, waiting for the right moment to kill his prey.
Igraine directed her eyes to the columns of the demolished bridge. It was too dark to see clearly, but on one of them a large black shadow that had crouched there slowly rose against the starless sky. It could not be a human being. How could anyone have gotten on that ruin, with no way to cross the deep chasm between the bridges? But it stared at her as it wanted to look right into her soul, she was sure of that.
She whirled around and started to run for her life. Only a few moments later she heard a deep, heavy thud behind her that made the bridge vibrate under her feet, but she did not turn back. Then, the sound of footsteps. Someone was coming after her, and he was fast like the wind that tore at her body and hindered her progress. Yet Igraine managed to make it almost to the end of the bridge.
She never saw it coming when she was thrown down to the ground by a heavy weight, driving the breath out of her lungs, so she couldn't even scream. Panicking, she struggled to free herself, but to no avail. Suddenly, a smooth piece of fabric covered her head, and she became rigid with fear. My God, he will choke me to death, she thought. She tried to speak, to beg for her life, but every sound was suffocated by a piece of fabric that felt like pure silk on her skin.
But isn’t this just what you wanted? Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true. The self-mocking thought was her last before a merciful darkness came upon her and swallowed her whole.
Chapter 2: The Angel of Death
"I command you to awaken, human."
As Igraine drifted peacefully in a warm, liquid darkness, the unknown voice cut through her mind like a knife, calling her. "Wake up," the stranger said again. He was obviously male. His voice sounded deep and rich, and strangely alluring. She had no choice but to follow his orders, driven up to the surface of her conscience against her will. Whoever spoke to her in her dreamless bliss, he used a gentle, yet underneath iron force to make her listen to him. It almost felt like magic.
"Is this it? Am I dead?" she whispered to herself, not knowing nor caring if her mysterious companion heard her words. Was this heaven, hell, or a completely different place altogether? Maybe there was a special hell to punish nearly-suicidal women who had – though only for a very short moment – thought about jumping off a bridge. "I admit I was a coward even considering the possibility," she murmured to the dark presence sitting at her bedside. At least she believed that she was resting on a bed. Or was it a coffin? "Now you can condemn me to eternal pain or whatever people like me deserve."
A deep, mocking laughter made Igraine startle, and she opened her eyes, blinking. As she had expected, there was no light. Surprisingly, the dark didn't frighten her, but felt warm and soothing. Blinking, she tried to adjust her eyes to the impenetrable blackness, but all she saw was the stranger's shadowy form beside her. He seemed to be tall and broad-shouldered, and undeniably male.
She felt that his presence affected her body. Her breasts felt tight and heavy, and without realizing it, and she inhaled his incredible, wonderful scent. He smelled clean, but somehow exotic. Maybe he used a very special, expensive brand of aftershave. It was decidedly masculine, earthy and fresh at the same time … and irresistible, drawing her to him. Something soft and silky brushed her arm when he moved his head, watching her in the darkness. Igraine had the distinct feeling that he could see her clearly. She did not know what lead her to this conclusion, but he stared at her.
She felt his gaze as it wandered over her face, then her body. It made her skin prickle. He was so near she could hear him breathe, a deep and even sound. Shivering, Igraine sat up and forced herself to straighten her back. She didn't want to think about the reactions he caused within her when she had not even seen the man.
The Angel of Death, she thought. Her own personal one. By now, she was quite sure that she still lived, but she doubted that this enjoyable condition would last very long. "Are you the one who attacked me on the bridge?" she asked. Maybe he had a partner in crime. Her own voice sounded strange in her ears, harsh and raspy. "You covered my head with some kind of fabric."
"I cannot deny it, human," the stranger answered. "I had to make sure you would not get away. And it was inevitable to prevent you from seeing where I brought you." He chuckled to himself. "You were easy prey, though. It would be much harder to catch and skin a rabbit."
Her breath caught in her throat. Was this the fate he intended for her? "Will you skin me, too?" she whispered, at the same time realizing how foolish she sounded.
"Do not be ridiculous, wench," he said with blatant disgust. "You would not be worth the effort. I have never eaten a human, but I strongly doubt you taste good, with your weak, shivering flesh. So frightened, always overcome with fear, eager to protect your worthless lives." With his words, he seemed to address the whole group of humanity now – obviously excluding himself -, which proved to Igraine that he was totally insane. It made her shiver with fear, indeed.
Now what did this man plan to do to her? Rape, torture? If she was lucky, he'd just kill her (hopefully quickly), and throw her lifeless body away like garbage. She was quite sure that he was plain crazy. Calling her "human" indicated that he had some kind of schizophrenic disorder. Maybe this madman believed to be a vampire or some other supernatural being, it didn't really matter when he intended to kill her.
But how could she try to escape? Should she jump up and try to run into the total darkness, hoping he'd murder her out of rage? Her death would be quick, at least. Being an avid watcher of crime shows on TV, she knew that no matter what she said or did, he would kill her anyway. It simply was too risky to let the victim go. Remembering the almost supernatural speed he had moved with when he had kidnapped her from the bridge, she had no hope that she could ever outrun him. It was hard to predict his reaction. Perhaps she'd make him really angry by trying to flee, and her torment would last even longer - or whatever that sadistic psycho had in store for her. Either way, she was screwed up.
"Don't even think about it," he said, interrupting her thoughts. "I am much faster than you. You can't see in the dark. Where could you possibly run to?"
Gasping with surprise, Igraine stretched out her hand and searched the bed for something to get a hold on. Finally, she found a thick, solid rod that felt like wood – a bedpost, she presumed. Grabbing it, she swung her legs over the side of her resting place, hoping it wouldn't be her final one. If she was to die, it would be standing upright, facing whatever would happen to her. Slowly, she rose, hoping that he didn't notice her shaking knees. Showing fear would only give him the pleasure of dominating her even more, helpless as she was.
For a moment, she felt dizzy. The desire to lay down again was almost overwhelming, but she managed to keep standing. She couldn't sense his presence near her anymore. He seemed to have stepped away from the bed, although she had not heard his steps. Yet she still felt his eyes on her, watching her every move.
"What did you do to me?" she whispered, "Drug me? Of course you did. What was it, benzodiazepines?"
"Cease this senseless chatter instantly, human. I do not even know what you are talking about. Naturally, I used a spell on you to keep you unconscious while I brought you down here. I ponder you still feel its effect on you. But what kind of magic are those … benzodiazepines?"
She shook her head. "Don't try to fool me. I know that you are mad as a hatter, but planning a kidnapping like this, drugging the victim and bringing her to wherever the heck we are requires an organized, clear-headed person. I am a nurse, you creep, so I know exactly how the minds of maniacs like you work." She lied. Igraine worked at a hospital's department of dermatology, the most boring job she could think of. Treating skin rashes, acne and fungal infections was her daily job. Although she did have a certain amount of medical knowledge, she had never seen the psychological facility of the clinic from the inside.
He laughed again, obviously amused now. He seemed to enjoy playing with her for a while, like a cat that wasn't in a hurry to kill a mouse it just caught. "Considering your poor human eyesight, I'll enlighten you know, woman. You do not seem to have the faintest idea who you are talking to."
Suddenly, a golden light emanated from a corner just a few steps away, and Igraine saw that it came from a huge, antique brass candle holder. She was surrounded by grey stone walls that seemed to belong to some kind of cavern. She looked down at herself and realized that she was still wearing her college sweater, jeans and sneakers. Her clothes looked dirty and torn in some places, probably from her attempt to flee. She remembered that someone had jumped on her from behind, pinning her to the ground. Then, he had thrown something over her head.
"Why did you cover my head?" she asked. "Did you try to suffocate me, but didn't succeed so you decided to drag me down to this cave instead? What is this, some underground lair to hide your victims?" She didn't know where she found the courage to speak to her kidnapper in such a way, but she had to keep him talking to her. Otherwise, her life might be over in a few seconds. Keep talking, she thought.
For the first time, she noticed the uncountable adornments on the time-weathered walls. They looked old and strange, like symbols from a long-lost culture. She wondered who had carved them into the dark grey stone, for it had surely taken a whole lifetime to cover all the walls, using just a knife. But where was her kidnapper? He still hid in the shadows, having moved so silently that she couldn't imagine where he was lurking for her now. But she heard his voice again, without any amusement in his tone now.
"This lair happens to be my home, human."
She was standing in a large underground cave, without much furniture - just a hearth at the far end in which some charcoals still glowed, a long oak table at one wall with a pitcher and a water bowl for washing, as well as wooden dishes with food, fruit, bread and cheese. She had slept on a simple makeshift bed with a woolen blanket, but at least it looked clean. There were several more unlit candle holders like the first, one in every corner of the room.
In the middle of the cave was a place clearly intended as a training area. While the rest of the floor was strewn with fresh straw, a large circle had been cleared, so the rough stone underneath could be seen. There were racks with all kinds of weapons, armor or other items used for warrior training – swords and spears with blunted tips, different wooden sticks, shields, ropes, even a longbow and arrows. "Is this some kind of medieval role playing game? Where am I?" Igraine hesitantly asked. The mental illness of her kidnapper seemed to be more complex than she had surmised. This time, he didn't answer.
"These caves are underneath an estate near the large human settlement, Londinion," he answered out of the darkness, his distaste obvious in his voice. Londinion was an ancient name for London, used by the Celts before the Romans came to Britain and called it Londinium. Igraine knew this from a history book about England she had bought in a bookshop just two days ago. She also knew that she really shouldn't have asked. For a kidnapper, it wasn't a good sign at all if he told her the whereabouts of his hiding place. It meant that he didn't intend to ever let her go.
"Once they were built for secret meetings of bored, decadent noblemen. They called themselves the Devil's Society and used to celebrate black masses down here, fogging their senses with opium and having their way with young virgins they sacrificed on their altar of lust." His dark laughter made her shiver with fear.
"Of course they are long gone now, nothing but dust despite all their miserable efforts to practice black magic and become immortal. When I came to the human world, I found that this underground place served my purpose very well. No human ever went down here since it was abandoned over two hundred years ago, and it had all the amenities I required. Your kin seem to have forgotten it. Don't even think about fleeing, woman. This is an endless labyrinth of caves reaching deep down into the earth, and you'll never find your way out. No one will come to your rescue, and no one will hear you scream."
She heard him approach her from behind while he spoke. Finally, he stepped into the circle of light by the candle. Igraine closed her eyes and took a deep breath, knowing that she most certainly would not live to see the next morning. Her body felt like stone, frozen with fear. Nonetheless, she had to face him. Taking a deep breath, she turned around.
"Who are you?" she whispered.
He was incredibly beautiful, moving out of the dark with the natural grace of a predator. The stranger was only wearing black trousers, a silver sword belt and soft leather boots. Apart from a leather band around his upper arm, his torso was uncovered. She could see far too much of his tall, lean body, hard muscles moving under the skin that looked smooth and pale, almost like white marble. Yet it seemed to glow in the warm candle light, dusted with a hint of gold.
Her first thought was that he had not seen the sun for a very long time, and strangely enough, her heart filled with pity for him. But it was more than foolish to pity a creature like him. Danger emanated from his every pore, and any instinct she had inherited from her ancestors screamed at her to run for her life. He reminded her of one of the ancient warriors she had read about in Celtic legends, belonging to a long-gone era.
Calling him the Angel of Death had been just the right expression to describe this male. His hair fell down over his shoulders, so light that it shone like the silvery moon on a clear night. It reached almost to his waist. Igraines fingers ached to touch the silken strands, to feel their softness. His face might have belonged to a Michelangelo stature, pale and narrow with high cheekbones, full lips and a straight, aristocratic nose. One side of his face was marred by a long, deep scar, which only added to his beauty instead of destroying it. It made him almost look human.
Igraine didn't utter a sound until she looked into his eyes. Sinking into their depth made her gasp with horror and pleasure alike. There was wisdom in them, a vast range of emotions she could not even guess at – and pain, so much pain. For a second, she wondered how old he was, assuming that he was mortal at all. She didn't have to look at his pointed ears to know that she was not facing a human being. His eyes were deeply golden like a cat's, and seemed to burn into her soul, forever imprinting her with his image.
He smiled, a dark, knowing smile. "Aye, your kind has always been fascinated by my people. We look irresistible to humans. It has been like this since the dawn of time. It makes us easier to hunt you down if we need to. If you sense our presence, you try to follow us, begging to touch us just once. Even if we kill you afterwards."
"Who … what are you?" she repeated, not knowing how she managed to hold his deadly stare. Yet she did.
"Why, an elf, of course," he answered very slowly, as if he was speaking to a simpleton. His arrogance angered her. "Some of your people call us the Fae or Sidhe, or the Tuatha Dé Danann. Yet we are nothing like what the humans believe us to be. I am Prince Elathan, Lord of the elven realms, firstborn son to King Bres."
She simply stared at him, unable to believe what she saw and heard. What on earth was the right way to greet an elven prince who had abducted and brought her to his lair? Why did he even bother to introduce himself when he wanted to kill her anyway? He could have done it right there where he caught her. The bridge had been deserted at this time of the night. Nobody would have stopped him. Maybe he wasn't a crazy killer, after all?
At least for now, the pompous elf did not attack her. He just looked at her down his nose as if she was some insect crawling at his feet. Surely he expected her to curtsy or bow to him. Igraine had a sudden desire to giggle uncontrollably, despite the dangerous situation she had maneuvered herself into. Everything was too absurd to be true. Maybe she just had a drug-induced, very realistic dream. Unsure what to do next, she finally decided to talk to this "prince". It would be senseless to lie to him about her identity. While she had been unconscious, he had doubtlessly searched the contents of her handbag and read her name on her passport. Well, assuming that elves could read human documents, of course.
"My name is Igraine Chandler," she said, proudly raising her chin. "Lowborn nurse of the human realms and daughter to no one." Damn. Her wayward mouth again. Igraine had a strong tendency to make more or less funny comments when she was frightened, to ease her tension. Even if it might get her into trouble, she just couldn't help herself. "And may I ask, Your Royal Highness," – she pronounced the title as if she strongly doubted that he had told her the truth -, "why you kidnapped me from a bridge? And why couldn't I see you when you followed me? If your intention is to murder me, you shouldn't have bothered. Didn't you see that I was about to jump down?"
The prince – if he really had spoken the truth which she still doubted – looked aghast, obviously deeming her mad. He looked her up and down for a moment, then he answered, "You didn't see me because I hid my true appearance beneath a veil of magic. Your ancestors used to call it glamour. And the answer is no. You wouldn't have taken your own worthless life, wench. I have seen too many hopeless mortals in my time. Their eyes were empty, bereft of any hope – so unlike yours. There is a fire burning deep within you, woman, fueled by your anger. I can feel much pain in you. Yet you didn't let it destroy you as any weak human should have. You are very stubborn, redhead."
Now it was her time to stare. She fought the urge to raise her hand to her shoulder-length, curly hair. She always had believed it to be a dull brown, although it was naturally highlighted with auburn streaks. No one had ever called her a redhead before. After all, she wasn't anything special, nothing but a nurse from New Jersey with a couple of too many pounds around her waist. Just old, plain Igraine, who had been let down by her faithless fiancé. He had promised to accompany her on this vacation to England. It should have been their honeymoon. She had been looking forward to this. Visiting old, beautiful castles and cozy villages with white, rose-covered cottages, having dinner in pubs and spending passionate nights together, celebrating the life they'll live as a married couple and maybe even making their first baby. Being an orphan, all she ever had wished for was her own family, and a cozy, laughter-filled place to call home. Was that too much for ask for?
Their separation had been over a year ago. She didn't even know why she had finally decided to fly to England on her own. Maybe she needed this to make a clean cut in her life, to forget all about this. Instead, she had ended up in some godforsaken underground place, imprisoned by an elf who claimed to be a prince and seemed to despise all humans. To add to her distress, this inhumanly beautiful creature seemed to affect her in a way she never had felt before. Just looking at him made her body react. Her skin tingled, awaiting to be touched, and she felt a raw, carnal desire racing through her body, right down to the place between her thighs that ached with need.
“Stop it, stupid!” she softly hissed to herself, at the same time hoping he had not heard it. Obviously, she had not slept with a man far too long. Certainly not since her boyfriend Stephen dumped her a year ago, claiming he “wanted a girl he could present himself with” in his beauty doc circles. He told her this after ten years of waiting for him to marry her, so she could have a loving husband and children one day. It was all she ever really had wanted. The money, the prestige, it only mattered to him, not to her.
She even put back her own career, quit her college courses in English literature, so she could work as an unpaid assistant in his newly founded plastic surgery practice. Fortunately, she was smart enough to attend evening classes and get a nursing license during that time. Without it, she would have been without an education after Stephen left her. Before her ex-boyfriend got his medical degree, she had worked as a waitress in the evenings, so he could finish his education earlier. "Later it’s your turn," he always had told her. "I will make it up to you, I swear. You’ll lead a good life. We'll have a big house with a large garden for our children to play."
Now, Stephen was married to a 23-year-old anorectic blonde who had come to his practice to get bigger boobs. A few months later, he told Igraine about their affair and called it quits. Igraine, now 31, had no husband, no family, no real education and a new job as a nurse which wasn't very well-paid. She had dedicated too much time working for her non-existent future with Stephen, so she never had tried to make friends of her own. In the evenings, she turned to chocolate as her only comfort. If no one loved her anyway, what was wrong with this? She was lucky to be a tall woman, so she didn’t gain too much weight after all. Even with her extra pounds, men were still interested in her. A nice, attractive colleague at work asked her out for a date, to which she agreed, but she couldn’t wait until the evening ended. Then he could go back to her safe home and her best friend, the well-filled fridge. She hardly gave him answers when he tried to talk to her. That night, he brought her home with a disappointed look on his face. He never asked her out again.
Igraine had been so immersed in her thoughts that she hadn't noticed the prince getting nearer until it was too late. He had circled her like a helpless prey and stood right behind her, his tall body almost touching hers. When his warm breath grazed the nape of her neck, she wasn’t able to move at all. She closed her eyes, shivering. He did not touch her, but stood so close that she could feel the heat of his body.
And God, his scent was wonderful. He smelled like no mortal man ever could, even if they used the most expensive perfumes - manly and just a bit musky, but at the same time sweet and fresh. It reminded her of young leaves on a tree, right after the rain. She just couldn’t describe it. He seemed to breathe in her scent, as well, since he lowered his face to the side of her neck, inhaling deeply. Despite his obvious dislike of the human race, the elf seemed to be curious about her. After all, they were different species. But right now, all she sensed was his raw masculinity which awakened her female instincts. The irresistible call to mate.
“Do you know why I hunted you on that bridge, human?" he breathed into her ear. "I do not intend to kill you – at least not now. I took you from your world to have my pleasure with you. Probably you won't survive this anyway, and you'll soon wish that I had ended your life on that bridge when I first laid eyes on you. It always has been the way of the Fae to steal mortal females if one of them catches their eye. You are here to be my slave, to fulfill my every need and desire. I think you'll look quite appealing in elven clothes after I'll have ripped those filthy human rags off your body, woman,” he said. His voice was mesmerizing, even more than his scent.
“You know, I would take you to my bed at once, if I didn't wear out your weak body too much with it. It could kill you. As befits a warrior's slave of pleasure, you'll learn how to fight and become stronger. Since your body is frail, you have to be in the best possible shape to survive being taken by an elf. You have no choice, human. There is no way for you to resist me. But I'll make sure that you take your own pleasure, too.”
Igraine wondered if he was joking or not. If she was to become his slave, was he trying to take her against her will after all?
But he did not hurt her. He didn't need to. It simply was impossible to defy him. She felt magic flowing from his hands when he softly touched her hair, savoring the feeling of it. Then his fingers traced the outline of her ear, not pointed as his own, and slid down along the side of her neck. Now she hardly could keep herself from moaning. She only hoped he didn’t notice how deeply he affected her, how much she wanted him to throw her down on the bed and take her, no matter if he killed her afterwards.
Suddenly, she felt his strong hands around her upper arms, grasping her, turning her around to him. Igraine found herself facing the elf, with his muscular body so near that she believed to feel his thunderous heartbeat – or was it her own? She stared right into his enraged eyes, paralyzed by her fear and desire. She asked herself how old he was, how many battles he had seen. Elathan seemed to look right into her soul, his eyes exploring her. Had he decided that she was not worthy, after all, and would kill her right on the spot?
But he just dropped his hands from her arms and turned away. “Prepare yourself for some hard exercise, wench," he said huskily. “We'll start right away. If you do not follow my every order, the punishment will be severe. If you lose yourself in self-pity and whine like you humans are accustomed to, every day will only be harder for you. Otherwise, if your accomplishments please me …” He stared at her for a moment, pondering. Then, a boyish but very naughty grin softened his features. “Maybe I will think about a way to reward you for your efforts.” Igraine forgot to breathe for a few seconds. Under normal circumstances, his otherworldly beauty was almost painful to see, but when he smiled, his face seemed to radiate light, like a shining star in the night.
“Now choose your weapon, human. Your first training lesson has just begun.”
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