Rise of the Seven (The Frey Saga, #3)

Rise of the Seven (The Frey Saga, #3)

Melissa Wright

Chapter One


I couldn’t say I wasn’t slightly disappointed when I got my memory back. Somehow, I’d expected to be smarter. I mean, I wasn’t an idiot, I’d just thought the old me was exceptionally clever, knew everything, sharp. She had been in line for the throne, after all. And, aside from that, I was certain I’d be less clumsy. I mean, come on, surely that was because of the bonds, because they’d messed with my brain. But I wasn’t. And not only had I retained most of my awkwardness, it seemed worse, because everyone was watching me now.

I held back a sigh as my gaze again traveled the room full of elves. Yep, all watching me. I automatically straightened my shoulders, which were heavy with thick armored plates, my new decoration for formal gatherings. A lean, raven-haired elf who I’d recognized as once being a leader in the eastern range seemed to make the decision to approach but, before he’d moved more than three steps, Rider was in front of him, matching his height and distracting his attention from me. I glanced at Rhys, who appeared to be scanning the room for others who would attempt approach. I’d had enough. I stood, hand sliding to rest on the hilt of the sword at my waist, and addressed the crowd.

“Your attendance is greatly appreciated. Please enjoy the feast and the wine. Good evening.”

As I stepped down, the room was silent. I could see the smirk on Anvil’s broad face but I didn’t care, I turned from the gathering and slipped out of the room. I knew why I was there, knew I needed to make appearances, a showing of my position, but I really hated castle politics. My guard had been doing what they could, keeping the most troublesome leaders from a private conference. And they had handled the stream of subjects who’d lined up at the season change for audience with me. Me, Lord of the North.

I snorted, shaking my head, and someone laughed. I looked up to find Grey, leaning against a corridor wall, watching me. His smile held a thousand secrets. “What?” I demanded, defensive.

He simply shook his head and straightened to join me. “And where are we headed?” he asked.

I didn’t have the slightest idea. “The library,” I answered confidently, having no other option for the direction I’d been going.

He laughed again, seeing through me with ease. “To see Ruby, I presume?”

Agh, I hadn’t known she was there. Ruby, though I considered her invaluable in my guard, had felt the need to hide during our “showings” because before I’d been bound, northern rule hadn’t tolerated fairies. It was something I’d have to work on changing, slowly.

“I’d like to see if she’s made any progress,” I lied. I knew the moment I saw her she’d spill whatever she’d been researching, so it was a relatively safe lie.

Grey only smiled. His devotion to Ruby was boundless, but he knew her character as well as I did and better. She was going to be pissed.

Her head popped up the moment we entered the room, red curls bouncing with the movement. “Well, that was fast,” she chided. She glanced out the window as if she were checking the height of the sun, though it was dark with night. “You’ll not set yourself by running out on guests after a matter of minutes.”

We all knew I’d made it at least an hour but I didn’t argue the point. “Ah,” I said, “I mean to make a reputation as a mysterious captain.”

“Mysterious and all-powerful,” she replied thoughtfully, and then changed the subject as she saw my jaw tighten. It was no secret I was uncomfortable with my new strength. It would have been enough to have regained my own power, but I’d been inundated with that of Asher, and all those before him. I could still see his lips move, a silent stream of the words that would release me, the recital that would drive the forces of so many he had taken into my very soul.

“So, I found several stories regarding the wolves,” she announced, smoothly pulling me from my trance.

I smiled. She’d been obsessed with Finn and Keaton since the moment she’d found I’d known them before, and I’d not been willing to give up their secrets. Truth be told, I didn’t entirely know the whole story, but it was fun to mess with Ruby.

She grimaced when she saw my mood change. It annoyed the crap out of her. Occasionally, I felt a little guilty about it because, after all, she had helped deliver me from the evils of Grand Council, but it was too entertaining not to keep up and it wasn’t like she didn’t have it coming after what she’d put me through when I was bound.

She snapped the book she’d been reading shut. My cheeks tightened, fighting to pull back the smile, and her face nearly caused laughter to boil up.

Grey intervened. “Well, since Freya has left us without the benefit of the feast, I say we head to the kitchen.”

Ruby took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders, and walked right past us.

“I think she preferred the old me.” I laughed as Grey and I followed.

Her head poked back through the door as we were nearly to it, and she started to speak, thought better of it, and turned to continue on her way. I saw Grey’s smile out of the corner of my eye.

When we reached the kitchen, Ruby’s posture changed the instant she stepped through the door. As I entered behind her, I saw the reason why.

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