Summary in a Nut-Shell: Aleks Mickelsen has a lot on his plate: Can he find and stop a dragon? Can he wrangle the fairy courts together under his leadership? Can he keep his sweetheart’s father from murdering him?
Newly proclaimed king over all fey, Aleks Mickelsen is a changeling with a lot on his mind and many enemies breathing down his neck. The fey realm of Niffleheim is rife with danger everywhere he looks. A terrible dragon by the name of Fritjof is intent on causing chaos, pitting the fey against each other and starting an interspecies war for the chance of gaining his freedom. Aleks’ biological father wants him to abdicate the throne before his coronation, or else. All that, and he has to impress the father of the girl of his dreams. What’s a bloke to do?
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Emerging from the bowels of the fey realm, Aleks led the way to the Autumn Court. It was probably unnecessary at this point to take the lead, but as the group’s navigator, it was an ingrained habit. They hadn’t made it very far into the plains, when spears with sharp, narrow heads thunked point down in the ground all around them, trapping them in a circle.
“We have to keep creating distance,” Henrik said, grabbing a spear from beside him and lobbing it back.
The dwarves raised round wooden shields, deflecting the attack. As more joined them, the women spread out, spears and axes ready in hand.
“We’re sitting ducks,” Zaria shouted, zapping a hooked spear away from her. It disappeared into thin air, arriving where, Aleks knew not.
A set of spears – one barbed, one hooked – shot toward her. She did the same to them as she had the first spear, and retaliated by tossing a fireball at the brigade. They ducked, throwing up their shields, but Zaria once again purposefully aimed high to avoid hurting their foes. She and Aleks did not want a war on their hands. They were trying to diffuse one.
“We have to snuff our lanterns. It’s the only way!” cried Filip. “Turn off your stargazer, Aleks.”
He did, clicking a button within a star cutout on the egg-shaped device. His friends likewise darkened their lanterns, deliberately shattering them against the ground. After a brief flare of light as oil and fuel burned bright, the world went dark, and Aleks had to clear spots from his vision.
It was still night, sometime past midnight, and all was pitch black. The scalloped icy ceiling over the plains offered no hint of recourse. In an instant the tide had turned, and their attackers were on the defensive. The all-female dwarf unit came to a stumbling, crashing halt.
Aleks couldn’t see it, but he pictured the scene like one of the cartoons he had watched growing up, with one soldier running into another and causing a chain reaction, sending everyone toppling like dominos.
Dwarves shouted and groaned, hurling insults at one another like they hurled spears. Some hit their marks with deadly accuracy, as barbed as some of the real spears lobbed in their direction. Wounded egos and pride ripped through the troop, tumbling them into chaos.
The Ravagers had relied on the light generated by Aleks and the others to direct their attacks. Without it, the soldiers were as blinded by the darkness as Aleks and his friends. Try as they might, none of the female warriors could move for knocking into someone or tripping over the uneven ground. Unlike the dwarves, however, they stayed quiet, essentially becoming invisible to any straining ears close by.
Zaria touched his sleeve, making him jump. “Easy,” she whispered, leaning close. “Do you think you can lead us in the dark?”
Aleks’ fairy power was the ability to navigate on instinct. He always knew where he was going… well, he used to know. Lately, his magic wasn’t always right at hand, and he’d unwittingly taken his friends down many wrong turns and paths; but, they’d always forgiven him, and somehow they’d always ended up right where they were supposed to be. He knew without asking they all had his back.
The inner debate roiled in him. Could he lead them? Glitchy powers or not, Aleks felt certain he could. This was a path he’d taken before, so he had a pretty solid idea of what to expect and where to go. Instead of giving a verbal answer that might give away their position to the nearby dwarves, he took Zaria’s small, slender hand in his and tugged her forward in the dark. She understood him, like she always did, and followed without hesitation.
Patricia Mather Parker
Author of The Abode
Log Cabin Library
Mom Read It
E-book ISBN: 978-1-942750-12-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942750-11-6