Home > Shadows of Betrayal (The Shadow Realms #3)

Shadows of Betrayal (The Shadow Realms #3)
Author: Brenda K. Davies

 


Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work, in whole or part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, is illegal and forbidden, without the written permission of the author.

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Characters, settings, names, and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination and bear no resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, places or settings, and/or occurrences. Any incidences of resemblance are purely coincidental.

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Cole released Lexi as soon as he stepped out of the portal. He stalked over to one of the window openings overlooking the Gloaming. The glow of the approaching flames cast shadows across the land and lit the night as the opposing fae army came over the top of a hill.

There were hundreds of them marching on his home. His hands fisted as he glared at the traitors. When he found out who was behind this, he would make them pay.

“Stay here,” he said as he turned away from the window.

“I’m staying with you until you leave this palace,” Lexi said.

Cole didn’t have the time to argue with her. “Stay close to me.”

He strode toward the door to his room, flung it open, and swiftly descended the stairs. Her soft footsteps followed him down. Once they reached the first floor, she ran beside him as he raced for the weapons room.

He grasped the handle and pushed open one of the doors to the cavernous space. He waved Lexi inside and pressed his hand to the wall before closing the door behind him.

He wasn’t sure the palace was going to welcome her into this room. It had accepted her far more than most others, but the palace was an endless mystery. He would know soon if it allowed her to stay or if he’d have to ask her to leave.

The second the door closed, the wall beneath his hand heated. Lexi would be allowed to stay. The weapons room was a separate building adjoined to the palace. Its pointed ceiling was fifty feet off the ground.

As the wall warmed, the ceiling lit with the dim glow of moonlight. It spilled around the room to illuminate the hundreds of weapons lining the walls. More weapons were stashed inside the trunks around the room and hidden in containers set into the walls and floor. Few knew how to access those containers, but he was one of them.

“What? How?” Lexi breathed as the room grew brighter.

“Few are allowed in here, so there is no one to keep the torches lit. Instead, the ceiling draws energy from the rays of the moons, stores it, and uses it to light the room when those who are allowed into it enter. It recognizes our touch on the wall.”

“Amazing,” she whispered.

Over his many years and countless hours of training in this room with his father and brothers, he’d forgotten how amazing it was. But then, the whole palace had a life of its own.

He didn’t make a sound as he strode out to the middle of the white marble floor before stopping to kneel. After his father told him how to access the weapons in this hidden spot, it had taken many tries for him to locate them without fail.

When he was younger, he had to count the steps from the door to this secret cache. All the while, he worried he’d stepped too far to one side or the other. Many times, he did, and his father would have him start all over again.

One tiring day, he’d attempted to find the spot nearly two dozen times. Under his father’s watchful eye and endless patience, Cole tried and tried again until he finally located it. He never missed again after that.

When he placed his palm on the floor, it warmed against his skin until a golden glow shone around the edges of his hand. The familiar sensation wasn’t unpleasant as the palace recognized his touch and gave up one of its secrets.

Lexi gasped when the ground slid back to reveal the thick steel case beneath. Once the floor was completely out of the way, he pulled open the case to expose the weapons inside.

Numerous lethal weapons lay within, but he sought the sword in the center. The black, oplyx stone in the middle of the exquisitely crafted hilt shone as he twisted the long sword in his hands. He pulled the weapon halfway from its sheath to examine the honed blade.

It was as lethal as he remembered.

“Is that yours?” Lexi asked.

“It was my father’s.”

His father had spent countless hours sharpening and polishing this blade. And now that it was his, Cole would do the same. Numerous kings had held this sword in their hands, countless enemies had lost their lives to this sword, and Cole would take more of those lives tonight.

“Is it fae metal?” Lexi asked.

“No, but whoever started this rebellion will not survive this blade.”

Not even during a rebellion would he use fae metal against his kind. Those rebelling against him would not survive, but he refused to break one of the most sacred rules amongst the fae.

These assholes might deserve it, but the dark fae did not wield fae metal against their own.

Of course, some didn’t always respect the boundary. He was sure some of them were on that field now.

Cole dropped the sword on his back to the ground and slung his father’s sword over his shoulder. He would go into battle wielding his father’s weapon.

When he lifted his head, he discovered Lexi watching him with dread. Her sun-kissed skin was much paler than normal, and her full lower lip quivered before she stiffened it.

Bending, he clasped her cheeks in his palms. “I must go. Don’t leave this palace.”

“Go? What about battle armor?”

“I don’t wear any.”

“You can’t go out there without armor.”

“I never wear armor into a battle. It’s too constraining, and I can’t move as fast in it.”

“Cole—”

“I’ve never worn it before, Lexi. I’m not about to start now. I have to go.”

She looked about to argue more but closed her eyes and nodded. “Please, be careful.”

“Always.”

He kissed her forehead, her nose, and finally her lips before releasing her and walking away. As he crossed the room, the floor over the hidden cache slid back into place with a familiar click.

He didn’t look back as he opened the door and left the room.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Lexi stared after Cole as he left the room. She didn’t move until she heard the front door open and close. She was afraid if she moved before then, she would sprint after him and beg him not to go.

He’s not wearing battle armor.

It didn’t matter if he never wore it or not and had survived the war. He was going out there more exposed than most of the others on that field. All of him would be open and susceptible to an attack.

How could he not wear battle armor?

Lexi tried to rein in her terror before it got out of control. It was too late to stop him. He was already going out there, already charging out there to fight an enemy that should never have been an enemy.

What were these dark fae thinking to rise against him? Didn’t they have enough troubles with the Lord and the war that just ended without having to create more? She would never understand some immortals or mortals.

Once the front door closed, she sprinted across the room. She stopped in front of the weapons that first caught her attention when the lights came on. Lexi examined them before removing a small sword and the leather belt hanging with it.

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