We will not fulfill any book request that does not come through the book request page or does not follow the rules of requesting books. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Comments are manually approved by us. Thus, if you don't see your comment immediately after leaving a comment, understand that it is held for moderation. There is no need to submit another comment. Even that will be put in the moderation queue.

Please avoid leaving disrespectful comments towards other users/readers. Those who use such cheap and derogatory language will have their comments deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked from accessing this website (and its sister site). This instruction specifically applies to those who think they are too smart. Behave or be set aside!

The Prisoner’s Throne: Chapter 25

Oak steps onto the crust of ice, his breath clouding in the air.

He is dressed in thick furs, his hands wrapped in wool and then in leather, even his hooves wrapped, and yet he can still feel the chill of this place. He shivers, thinks of Wren, and shivers again.

The Stone Forest is different from what he remembers, lush instead of menacing. He is not pulled toward it now, nor does he feel pursued by it. As he passes, he attempts to see the troll kings, but the landscape has swallowed them up. All he can see is the wall they built.

When he approaches it, he finds that a great ice gate—newly built— stands open. He passes through. As he does, some falcons fly into the air from the top, probably to announce his arrival.

Beyond, he expects to see the same Citadel that he invaded with Wren, the one in which he was imprisoned, but a new structure has taken its place. A castle all of obsidian instead of ice. The rock shines as though it were made of black glass.

If anything, it looks more forbidding and impossible than what was there before. Certainly more pointy.

Hag Queen. He thinks of those whispered words and is more aware than ever why Folk are afraid of this kind of power.

Oak trods past copses made entirely from ice, animals sculpted from snow peering out from their branches. It makes him think, eerily, of the forest in which he found Wren. As though she has re-created parts of it from memory.

She made all of this with her magic. The magic that should have always been her inheritance.

The doors to the new castle are high and narrow, without a knocker nor any handles. He pushes, expecting resistance, but the door swings open at the touch of his gloved hand.

The black hall beyond is empty but for a fireplace large enough to cook a horse, crackling with real flames. No servants greet him. His hooves echo against the stone.

He finds her in the third room, a library, only a portion of it stocked with books, but clearly built for the acquisition of more.

She is in a long dressing gown of a deep blue color. Her hair is down and falls over her shoulders. Her feet are bare. She sits on a long, low couch, novel in hand, wings spread. At the sight of her, he feels a longing so sharp that it is almost pain.

Wren sits up.

“I didn’t expect you,” she says, which is not encouraging.

He thinks of visiting her in the forest when they were young and how she sent him away for his own good. Perhaps wisely. But he isn’t about to be sent away easily again.

She goes to one of her shelves and returns the book, sliding it back into place.

“I know what you think,” Oak says. “That you’re not whom I should want.”

She ducks her head, a faint flush on her cheeks.

“It’s true you inspire no safe daydream of love,” he tells her.

“A nightmare, then?” she asks with a small, self-deprecating laugh.

“The kind of love that comes when two people see each other clearly,” he says, walking to her. “Even if they’re scared to believe that’s possible. I adore you. I want to play games with you. I want to tell you all the truths I have to give. And if you really think you’re a monster, then let’s be monsters together.”

Wren stares at him. “And if I send you away even after this speech? If I don’t want you?”

He hesitates. “Then I’ll go,” he says. “And adore you from afar. And compose ballads about you or something.”

“You could make me love you,” she says.

“You?” Oak snorts. “I doubt it. You’re not interested in my telling you what you want to hear. I think you might actually prefer me at my least charming.”

“What if I am too much? If I need too much?” she asks, her voice very low.

He takes a deep breath, his smile gone. “I’m not good. I’m not kind. Maybe I am not even safe. But whatever you want from me, I will give you.”

For a moment, they stare at each other. He can see the tension in her body. But her eyes are clear and bright and open. She nods, a slow smile growing on her lips. “I want you to stay.”

“Good,” he says, sitting on the couch beside her. “Because it’s very cold out there, and it was a long walk.”

She lets her head fall against his shoulder with a sigh, lets him put his arm around her and pull her into an embrace.

“So,” she says, her lips against his throat. “If everything had gone well that night on Insear, what would you have asked me? A riddle?”

“Something like that,” he says.

“Tell me,” she insists, and he can feel the press of her teeth, the softness of her mouth.

“It’s a tricky one,” he says. “Are you sure?”

“I’m good at riddles,” she says.

“What I would have asked you—if somehow I wasn’t trying to manipulate the situation so that you could wriggle out of it—is this: Would you consider actually marrying me?”

She looks up at him, obviously surprised and a little suspicious. “Really?”

He presses a kiss to her hair. “If you did, I would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to prove the sincerity of my feelings.”

“What’s that?” she asks, peering up at him.

“Become a king of some place instead of running away from all royal responsibility.”

She laughs. “You wouldn’t rather sit by my throne on a leash?”

“That does seem easier,” he admits. “I would make an excellent consort.”

“Then I’ll have to marry you, Prince Oak of the Greenbriar line,” Wren says, with a sharp-toothed smile. “Just to make you suffer.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode