“That is a question for me, my darling boy.” Titania appeared beside Arthur. He eyed the woman, realizing just then that neither she, nor any faeries, had been present while the knights were greeting each other.
“And you are?” Kay’s eyes were narrowed and his arms crossed. His pale lips were set in a scowl that demanded an answer or challenge.
Titania met his gruff demeanor with grace, her opened arms wide in a welcoming gesture. “I am Titania, Queen of the Southern Faeries. I welcome you to the land of Faery, home of the elven kind, your residence for the last two millenia. I hope you found your stay comfortable and to your liking.”
Her smile did not fade but her eyes held a powerful threat that Kay did not miss. His scowl deepened, but he kept his lips pressed tight. Titania turned her attention to the rest of the group. “As Arthur mentioned, you have been brought here for a purpose. Faery is under attack from a vile opponent, someone who knows our most inner workings and has been privy some of the most private meetings and sensitive information. Someone who we trusted to be on our side no matter the situation. They turned on us, betrayed us. The audacity they have shown in their attacks, the faeries they have killed…”
Her voice had grown hard and a snarl pulled at one corner of her upper lip. Her blue eyes were dark, a storm raging within them. Her hands clenched at her sides and Arthur quirked an eyebrow when he saw blood dripping onto the ground from her closed fists. The skies turned gray as clouds rolled in and thunder echoed overhead. An invisible gust of wind swirled around the Southern Queen, her anger taking palpable shape.
With visible effort, Titania closed her eyes and inhaled deeply as a red-haired woman approached her. The woman was just as beautiful with her fair skin and emerald eyes, but her beauty held a softness that Titania did not possess. Her manner was tender and loving as she soothed the flustered queen. Her voice was lilting with a hint of Irish and when she spoke a wave of calmness washed over the knights. “There now, Titania. Save your hatred and anger. You will need it later. Do not waste it on idle angst.”
Titania took several deep breaths and nodded. The storm raging in her eyes and in the skies above cleared, revealing the bright blue once more. She gently squeezed the other woman’s shoulder before looking toward the knights. “You must win this war or all is lost,” Titania said, her voice low and pleading. She was silent a moment, then she walked several paces away and stood with her back to the group, looking out at the forest surrounding them.
The red-haired woman’s smile reached out to caress the hearts of the men and set their bodies glowing with warmth and love. She clasped the delicate fabric of her sheer dress with long, thin fingers. It was the color of a sunset and the patterns shifted as she moved. It tinkled as if embedded with miniature crystals. Her perfectly shaped nails were bright orange, miniature tangerines on the tips of her fingers. She curtsied elegantly before Arthur as she raised her eyes coyly toward him.
“Arthur, king of Camelot, leader of a thousand knights, legend centuries beyond his time. What a pleasure it is to finally meet you face to face.” Arthur’s heart thumped heavily in his chest and his breath came hard and fast. His mind refused to form a coherent sentence, so he simply returned her compliments with a nod. The lady rose and surveyed the other dozen men surrounding their king. “Knights of the greatest caliber sit before me today, pulled from their own world and thrust into another time, ready to take on whatever may come with a bravery no longer seen in these lands.” She raised her arms as if to embrace them all with her love and compassion. “I am Oonagh, Queen of the East.”
“You should be called the Queen of Melodrama.” Another lady joined them, as powerful and dangerous as Titania, though her skin was pale white, her eyes and hair raven black, and her lips blood red.
Oonagh’s smile did not fade. Instead she turned to the new arrival and embraced her as she had Titania. “Mab, my darling. So wonderful of you to see you. We had feared the worst when you were late to raise the knights.”
Mab waved a dismissive hand at the other queen. The motion revealed a rip in the arm of her black riding jacket and a drop of icy blue blood fell to the earth. When it hit the grass, the blades it touched froze instantly, turning frosty white and snapping off in the wind. “It was nothing. A few of Lea’s minions had the audacity to try to waylay me on my path.” Her vicious smile revealed teeth as white as freshly fallen snow. “They make wonderful decorations on the way to my castle now.”
Oonagh’s smile wavered slightly. “Lovely.” The distaste bled through her voice, but it only made Mab’s wicked grin grow wider. Oonagh clapped a hand over her chest. “Oh my, how rude we are. My darling knights, please give me the honor of introducing to you Queen Mab, ruler of the North, commander of ice and snow.”
Mab nodded once toward the men, all of whom stared at the ice queen with a wide-eyed respect. “Welcome to Faery,” she said by way of greeting. “I would say enjoy your stay, but I doubt many of you will.” Her eyes settled on Kay. “You might.”
Arthur looked sidelong at his foster brother, throwing him a questioning glance. Kay was entranced by the queen, though, and his gaze did not waver from hers until she broke the contact.
“I see Titania is still struggling with this.” Mab’s cold gaze shifted to the Southern Queen.
Oonagh glanced toward the golden queen, standing on the hill where Lancelot’s coffin had been barely an hour before. “Yes, she is finding it hard to cope, having lost those dear to her. I fear if we do not end this quickly, it may be a fight to keep the South from falling into the hands of the enemy.” Pulling her stare away from Titania, she addressed Mab directly. “Isobel is at the castle, making it ready for the knights.”
Genre – Paranormal Romance
Rating – PG