Home > The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey #2)(6)

The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey #2)(6)
Author: Julie Kagawa

Voices rose around me as the ranks of Unseelie fey parted like waves. I couldn’t move. I was rooted to the spot, my heart pounding in my chest as the lean, dangerous form of Prince Ash strode into the chamber.

I shivered, and my stomach began turning nervous backflips. Ash looked much as he always did, darkly beautiful in black and gray, his pale skin a sharp contrast to his hair and clothes. His sword hung at his side, the sheath a luminous blue-black, giving off a frozen aura.

I was so relieved to see him. I stepped toward him, smiling, only to be stopped dead by his cold glare. Confused, I stumbled to a halt. Maybe he didn’t recognize me. I met his gaze, waiting for his expression to thaw, for him to give me the tiny smile I adored so much. It didn’t happen. His frosty eyes swept over me in a brief, dismissive glance, before he stepped around me and continued toward the queen. I felt a stab of shock and hurt; maybe he was playing it cool in front of the queen, but he could’ve at least said hi. I made the mental note to scold him later when we were alone.

“Prince Ash,” Mab purred, as Ash went down on one knee before the throne.

“You have returned. Are your brothers with you?”

Ash raised his head, but before he could answer, another voice interrupted him.

“Our youngest brother practically fled our presence in his haste to get to you, Queen Mab,” said a high, clear voice behind me. “If I didn’t know better, I would think he didn’t want to speak to you in front of us.”

Ash rose, his face carefully blank, as two more figures strode into the chamber, scattering fey like birds. Like Ash, they wore long, thin blades at their hips, and carried themselves with the easy grace of royalty.

The first, the one who had spoken, resembled Ash in build and height: lean, graceful and dangerous. He had a thin, pointed face, and black hair that bristled like spines atop his head. A white trench coat billowed out behind him, and a gold stud sparkled in one pointed ear. His gaze met mine as he swept past, ice-blue eyes glittering like chips of diamond, and his lips curled in a lazy smirk.

The second brother was taller than his siblings, more willowy than lean, his long raven hair tied back in a ponytail that reached his waist. A great gray wolf trailed behind him, amber eyes slitted and wary. “Rowan,” Mab smiled at the first prince as the two bowed to her as Ash had done. “Sage. All my boys, home at last. What news do you bring me? Have you found these Iron fey within our borders? Have you brought me their poisonous little hearts?”

“My queen.” It was the tallest of the three that spoke, the oldest brother, Sage. “We have searched Tir Na Nog from border to border, from the Ice Plains to the Frozen Bog to the Broken Glass Sea. We have found nothing of the Iron fey our brother has spoken of.”

“Makes you wonder if our dear brother Ash exaggerated a bit,” Rowan spoke up, his voice matching the smirk on his face. “Seeing as these ‘legions of Iron fey’ seem to have vanished into thin air.”

Ash glared at Rowan and looked bored, but I felt the blood rush to my face.

“He’s telling the truth,” I blurted out, and felt every eye in the court turn on me. “The Iron fey are real, and they’re still out there. And if you don’t take them seriously, you’ll be dead before you know what’s happening.”

Rowan smiled at me, a slit-eyed, dangerous smile. “And why would the half-blood daughter of Oberon care if the Winter Court lives or dies?”

“Enough.” Mab’s voice rasped through the chamber. She stood and waved a hand at the fey assembled behind us. “Get out. Leave, all of you. I will speak with my sons alone.”

The crowd dispersed, slinking, stomping or gliding from the throne room. I hesitated, trying to catch Ash’s gaze, wondering if I was included in this conversation. After all, I knew about the Iron fey, too. I succeeded in capturing his attention, but the Winter prince gave me a bored, hostile glare and narrowed his eyes.

“Didn’t you hear the queen, half-breed?” he asked coldly, and my heart contracted into a tiny ball. I stared at him, mouth open, unwilling to believe this was Ash speaking to me, but he continued with ruthless disdain. “You’re not welcome here. Leave.”

I felt the sting of angry tears, and took a step toward him. “Ash—”

His eyes glittered as he shot me a glare of pure loathing. “It’s Master Ash, or Your Highness to you, half-breed. And I don’t recall giving you permission to speak to me. Remember that, because the next time you forget your place, I’ll remind you with my blade.”

He turned away, dismissing me in one cold, callous gesture. Rowan snickered, and Mab watched me from atop her throne with a cool, amused gaze.

My throat tightened and a deluge pressed behind my eyes, ready to burst. I trembled and bit my lip to keep the flood in check. I would not cry. Not now, in front of Mab and Rowan and Sage. They were waiting for it; I could see it on their faces as they watched me expectantly. I could not show any weakness in front of the Unseelie Court if I wanted to survive.

Especially now that Ash had become one of the monsters.

With as much dignity as I could muster, I bowed to Queen Mab. “Excuse me then, Your Majesty,” I said, in a voice that trembled only slightly. “I will leave you and your sons in peace.”

Mab nodded, and Rowan gave me a mocking, exaggerated bow. Ash and Sage ignored me completely. I spun on my heel and walked from the throne room with my head held high, my heart breaking with every step.

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