Exclusive Excerpt from BEWITCH THE DARKNESS
From the Guardians of Eternity series by Alexandra Ivy
The exquisite throne room of the mer-folk castle was exactly what a throne room should be. A long, sweeping space with lofted ceilings from which dazzling chandeliers splashed light over the marble floors. A crimson runner led the way to a high dais where a massive throne stood in all its glory. And the walls were decorated with dazzling murals that were so real they looked as if they were windows revealing the beauty of the ocean that surrounded the castle.
Troy, the Prince of Imps, looked perfectly at home among the splendors. There was a noble elegance in his muscular form that was enhanced by the fishnet bodysuit that shimmered with tiny diamonds. And a regal perfection to his pale features. His thick mane of scarlet hair cascading down only added to his dramatic appearance.
Inga, the current Queen of the Mer-folk, on the other hand, looked like a fish out of water.
In appearance, she took after her ogre father. She was well over six foot, with shoulders broad enough to ram through solid walls and tufts of reddish hair on top of her square head. They stood straight up, as if she’d stuck her finger in an electric socket. At the moment, her solid body was stuffed into a muumuu in a shocking shade of orange with splashes of lime-green flowers. The only hint of her mermaid mother could be glimpsed in her eyes. They were a delicate blue that only flashed red when she was in a temper.
Which was unfortunately more often than not.
Standing near the throne, Inga was clutching the Tryshu in her hand. The mighty trident was the symbol of authority among the mer-folk. Like King Arthur’s sword, only with the power to level entire cities. She was shuffling from foot to foot, clearly uneasy beneath Troy’s accusing gaze.
“What do you mean they’ve cancelled the Royal Feast?” Troy demanded.
“Who is they?” Troy interrupted her defensive words.
Troy curled his lips at the mention of the arrogant mermaid who’d made it her life’s mission to undermine Inga’s authority. The petty female had publicly snubbed Inga, started rumors that Inga had stolen the throne even though they’d all been present when the Tryshu had chosen Inga as the queen in this very room, and stirred up rebellions whenever Inga suggested a change in tradition.
“Who else?” he pressed.
“The others on the Queen’s Council.”
“Sycophants to Perchella.” He snorted. “What do you call a group of sharks? A shiver? A herd? A pod of putrid poop-heads?”
“Troy.” Inga struggled not to smile.
Troy stepped toward his friend. “You’re the queen.”
“I’m aware of that, Troy.”
The ogress deliberately glanced toward the trident gripped in her hand. “It’s hard to overlook this.”
“Then you get to decide if there’s going to be a feast or not,” he patiently pointed out.
Inga wrinkled her nose, reaching up to scratch a tuft of hair. Her hefty fingers knocked her crown to an angle, giving her the appearance of a drunken sailor.
“They were right,” she said. “The mer-folk have suffered through too many changes lately to be in the mood for a party.”
“Pfft. They’re fey. Even if they smell a little fishy. And fey are always in the mood for a party,” Troy insisted. “Those hags are just jealous.”
“Jealous?” She blinked in confusion. “Of what?”
Inga snorted. “I’m a terrible queen.”
“You just started this gig.” Troy shrugged. “You’ll get better.”
“When you decide you actually want to be a queen.”
Inga heaved a harsh sigh, turning to glower at the throne. “What if that’s never?” she muttered.
“A legitimate choice,” he said, although they both knew it was impossible. As long as she held the trident, she was the queen.
They shared a rueful glance before their privacy was interrupted when the doors to the throne room were shoved open. Troy turned, knowing who was going to appear from the outer corridor. He’d already caught the scent of granite.
“What is the meaning of this…” Levet waved his arms in a dramatic gesture as he waddled up the crimson runner to stand in front of Inga. The tiny gargoyle barely reached Inga’s knees with large fairy wings that shimmered in brilliant shades of blue and red and strands of gold. The only gargoyley things about him were his ugly gray features and the stunted horns. He should have been a source of amusement, but amazingly the creature not only managed to bewitch the females, but regularly saved the world from disaster.
“Of what?” Inga asked.
Inga blinked. “What tapestry?”
Levet gave another wave of his hands. “The cancellation of the feast.”
Troy arched his brows. “What does tapestry have to do with the feast?”
“Oh.” Inga snapped her fingers. “Travesty.”
“Oui, that is what I said. It is a travesty,” Levet complained, his French accent more pronounced than usual. “Did you know that I have been practicing juggling my balls for weeks?”
“You…um…” Troy cleared his throat. “You juggle your own balls, do you?”
Levet sent him a glare. “My fireballs, you imbécile.”
Troy snorted. “Is that supposed to make it better?”
“Bah.” Levet stuck out his tongue.
“I’m sorry, Levet,” Inga interrupted the brewing battle. For whatever reason, the Queen of the Mer-folk was bedazzled by the annoying gargoyle. “The council decided it would be best to postpone it.”
“Best for who?” Levet demanded.
“Right?” Troy echoed the question.
Inga rolled her eyes. “For everyone.”
Levet stomped his foot. “No roasted pig? Or piles of mashed potatoes smothered in gravy? And pie?” His gray eyes widened in horror. “What about the pie?”
“I have bad news gargoyle. Even if there had been a feast it would be lots of ambrosia and nectar, not roasted pig,” Troy drawled.
Levet glanced toward Inga. “Is that true?”
Inga grimaced. She had enough ogre in her to appreciate a finely roasted pig. “Probably.”
Levet’s wings drooped in abject disappointment. “Party suckers.”
“Party poopers or joy suckers,” Troy corrected the ridiculous creature. “Pick one.”
Levet clicked his tongue. “You are…”
Troy frowned as his words trailed away. “What?”
The gargoyle pointed toward the back of Troy’s hand. “Being summoned.”
Glancing down, Troy discovered a black tattoo in the shape of a crow etched onto his skin.
“What the hell?” he muttered.
Levet moved toward him, touching the tattoo with his claw. “It is Cleo’s marker.”
It took Troy a second to recall the dark-haired nymph they’d encountered in London. He’d been with Levet as they hunted down the crazed vampire who was seeking to bring back the previous Anasso.
“She marked me?” Troy shook his head in confusion. He couldn’t remember the female touching him. “When?”
“When you agreed to her bargain to open a portal in London.”
Troy glared down at the aggravating beast. “I didn’t agree to the bargain. You did.”
Levet offered a smile of pure innocence. “That cannot be right. You are the one being summoned, not me. So.” Levet shrugged.
“You…” Troy reached out to grab the gargoyle. He didn’t know what he intended to do to him, and in the end it didn’t matter. A burning pain had him pulling back to cradle his hand against his chest. “Argh. It burns.”
“It will only get worse the longer you resist,” Levet informed him. “If I were you I would go see what she wants. You do not want her to lose her temper.”
Troy hissed, the pain becoming unbearable. “When I return we’re going to have a very long, very painful conversation, gargoyle,” he warned between clenched teeth.
Levet glanced toward Inga. “I hear that a lot.”
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Contest starts today, and one winner will be chosen from all eligible commenters at the end of our event. Winner will be chosen, then announced in our wrap-up post on November 1st.
Check out the Kick-off post HERE to see the full list of authors participating in our 2022 Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event. Links will be added to the main post each day when that author’s story goes live. Each post will include the inspiration image from a DeviantArt creator, the story, and the contest/giveaway info.