Forever (The Queen's Alpha Series, #5)By: W.J. May
The Queen's Alpha Series, Volume 5
It came back to Katerina in little fragments. Not the details, exactly. More just temperatures and flashes of light. Like a series of over-lit snapshots, strewn together on a tenuous string.
First there was the feeling of absolute shock when a troop of soldiers appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Dylan by the arms. He was too stunned to fight them. Too shell-shocked to move. Too completely astonished to do anything other than stand there as the man in charge clamped a silver manacle over each wrist.
Vampires weren’t the only ones who had trouble with it. Wolves did, too.
His skin had just started to hiss and steam when the soldiers turned their eyes to the people standing behind him. Frozen in confusion, staring on in shock.
Cassiel was the first to spring into action. And the first to be taken down. His hand flew to his blade as he automatically rushed forward in his friend’s defense, but something in Dylan’s expression made him pause. The two men locked eyes, and the next thing Katerina knew the fae was laying down his weapons, sinking to his knees with his hands folded behind his head.
The manacles went on him as well.
Tanya was the next to surrender. Followed quickly by Aidan and Rose. All three of them could have easily gotten away, but what would have been the point? They had come to Belaria as a united front, to restore the rightful king and take control of the army. They couldn’t scatter like a bunch of common criminals. Defeated before their mission even began. More importantly, they could never leave Dylan. Even though he was the one the guard really wanted. The rest were mere collateral.
Katerina was the last to go.
She alone hadn’t moved. Hadn’t taken her eyes off Dylan for a single second. As the soldier came towards her she was still staring at his skin, watching the way the gleaming silver cuff burned deeper and deeper into his flesh. The same thing was happening to Aidan. And Rose.
How is it possible that they don’t scream, she wondered, dazed. How do they keep quiet?
It took her a second to realize that someone was speaking to her. By the time it registered, she had been knocked to the ground. She landed hard on her hands, scraping her palms on the rough sandstone, before she was yanked back to her feet. Her wrists bound behind her back. A delicate silver chain tying them together.
And so it was that the six friends were dragged through the street. Cuffed and chained like criminals. Paraded into the city square for all the world to see.
For the most part, Katerina kept her head down. Her flaming hair spilling around her cheeks to shield her from the people’s gaze. But splintered images still broke through. A farmer staring in shock, his hand half-raised in the air, holding a horse’s lead. A tiny girl perched upon her father’s shoulders, pointing curiously and saying something Katerina couldn’t hear through the crowd. A pair of women on their way to the market, openly scowling at the band of ‘felons’ even though they had no idea who they were or of what they were accused.
It was a spectacle for the ages. One that would have been a thousand times worse if the gaping townsfolk knew exactly who was being paraded through their streets—but a spectacle nonetheless. Ironically similar to the gang’s recent flight through the midnight sky.
Two exhibitions in just two days. We should really take this show on the road...
The ivory pillars of the royal palace were getting closer, gleaming almost painfully bright in the early morning rays. Every street in the city seemed to lead to the same place, and by the time they’d reached the alabaster steps an impressive crowd had gathered behind them.
“Say something,” Cassiel muttered.
Katerina looked up in surprise to see him staring pointedly at Dylan. The two locked eyes and he cocked his head back towards the curious horde of people in their wake.
“Tell them who you are.”
It was a testament to Dylan’s state of mind that he hadn’t thought of this already. If there was trouble within the palace walls, the only chance the gang had was to get the people on their side. But addressing the citizens of Belaria had been Dylan’s nightmare for a long time.
He glanced anxiously over his shoulder, looking as nervous as Katerina had ever seen, but for one of the first times in his life words failed him. Not that the guards gave him much of a chance to speak. He only had time to glance over his shoulder, those sky-blue eyes sweeping the crowd, before they rushed him forward up the steps.
An unknown criminal was one thing. But let the people know it was their prince who was bleeding on the steps before them and they could have a full-blown riot on their hands. It was clearly a risk they weren’t willing to take.
The crowd remained oblivious. But the people inside the palace were a different story.
There were audible gasps of shock. Hissing whispers and sudden exclamations as the gang was led quickly down the hallowed halls. Men and women dressed in fine clothing, silken doublets and satin gowns, froze in place like lovely statues. Their eyes as wide as saucers. Their mouths agape. Some of them took a compulsive step forward. Most were stunned in their tracks.
I wonder if this is what it will be like if I ever make it back to my own castle. How many people would welcome me? How many would try to resist? How many would just stand there, not knowing what to do?