Chapter 1: The Lords of EverNight
A sample of Chapter 1 for Smile of a Broken King.
A knock sounded at the door, prompting the servant to stand and allow a large, dark man with crow’s wings in. His sharp, yellow eyes looked the girl over in the tub, a grin stretching over his long face. He stepped inside and bowed to her, flourishing his feathers. She lowered herself deeper into the water in a sad attempt to hide from him.
“Greetings, madam... You may call me Tengu.” He introduced himself, lifting his eyes to her small, mortal frame. She waved a weak hand, making sure the bubbles covered her body from his hungry gaze.
“Talia...” she muttered quietly. He strode to the side of the bathtub and chuckled darkly, placing himself in the seat beside her. She turned herself away from him. “Why are you in here?” she quietly inquired. Tengu hummed in false thought and waved the servant away.
“The king has appointed me your personal guard. Seeing as you were previously a slave, there’s a great possibility the orcs will try to harm you. Though, nearly every creature here could harm a human.” He laughed to himself.
Talia lowered her gaze at that note, sloughing off debris from her body as he continued on with his base insults. “Humans are much too fragile to even be allowed inside these castle walls. I’m not sure what his fascination is with them.”
“Well, whatever they may be, can you guard me from over there?” she finally asked, nodding towards the door, her arms firmly covering her breasts. Tengu paused and stood quickly, taking himself to the door of the bathroom, putting his back to her.
Talia sunk into her bath, relieved. She relaxed in the water for ages, almost refusing to get out. It would be a pain to get used to the winter air within the castle after such a warm experience. She had a thought suddenly, looking at her guard.
“Tengu?” She muttered under the water.
“Yes, madam?” He answered, keeping his back to the small human female. She put her arms over the side of the bath and rested her chin on her hand.
“What manner of creature are you?” She asked curiously, the warm water easing her to casual comfort. He glanced over at her.
“It’s in the name. I’m a Tengu.” He answered simply.
“What’s a Tengu then?” She stood on her knees, hiding behind the tub wall. He hummed in thought and folded his arms, shaking his head.
“A creature that resembles a crow. Probably the simpler way to explain it.” He huffed. Talia paused and nodded quickly. She left him alone after that, the fear of making anyone more powerful than her angry keeping her from pushing too far.
She rinsed herself off and stepped out, taking a towel off the side of the tub. It was a pale lavender color and very soft. Talia wrapped herself in the cotton, a faint smile breaking her lips. Soft was a luxury she was glad to acquire, one she would possibly refuse to give up after this night.
“Through the halls with torched walls, past the glaring portraits and steel fixtures, you will find two grand doors. Enter. Within is your new chamber. He will be waiting for you.” Tengu’s message echoed in her whirling mind.
She whined under breath. What if I annoy the king? What if he decides he doesn’t want me? Two offerings a generation has happened before... No offerings a generation has happened before. He didn’t even have to take me. He could have killed all his girls off... Why me...?
The crackling of a torch distracted her from her thoughts. She brushed a hand over her lavender, cotton towel. She sighed softly as the worry slowly melted from her mind.
A long, dim hallway fed her from the bathroom to a pair of large, silvery teal doors. She stood before the towering passage, the ornate, shining features glistening. Talia hesitantly took the knob and allowed herself inside.
“Excuse me...? Tengu told me this was where I slept...?” she announced in a small voice, stepping into the dark room. Warm air carrying the scent of lavender wrapped her in its arms, comforting her. Someone chuckled in the moonlit shadows. Talia flinched at the sound, gripping the soft fabric of her lavender towel instinctively.
“Yes. This is your chamber. You share it with me.” A man stepped forward from the shadows, bathed in the lunar glow. His silver hair shone, reflecting the moon itself into graceful silk strands draping over his shoulders. A patch of blackened hair eclipsed the beautiful silk, leading from the crown of his hair to the back of his head, like a brush stroke on a piece of parchment.
His skin was beautifully kept, smooth as the marble pillars, clear as the vast, pure Coyorian lakes, soft as the cotton clinging to her dampened body. All in sight as far as Talia could note. His pointed ears curving somewhat inwards to his skull like basilisk horns.
He wore simple, thick down clothes to combat the harsh winter Coyoria was infamous for. Colors mixing to create a loose fitting tapestry of blue and green. Colors reserve for the highest honored royal blood. He could be a fifth lord, more prominent than the other four. He could have been an elf of a greater race.
He offered her a hand, ungloved with pristine, pale cream skin. Talia mindlessly took his hand and followed him through the room. He placed her carefully on the bed and chuckled softly. She held the fold of her covering to her chest, picking at the bottom of it as she stared into his royal green eyes. The foreign spark in their depths almost taunting her embarrassment.
“Do you know who I am?” he asked in a low, raspy timbre. Talia shuddered, a tightening sensation gripping her chest. She couldn’t help but grasp the soft cotton tighter, desperate for the comfort it once brought only a minute ago.
She didn't know what she felt, she didn't know why. She shook her head silently, another shudder erupting as he gave an amused noise and brushed a hand through her hair. She released her grip, a breath escaping her.
“I am the king.”
Read the whole chapter here.