Jessamine, Laec and Çifta will never be the same after the Daughter of Winter’s return, but each still has a chance for happily ever after.
- One must lay to rest the lies of the past.
- One must fulfil his commission in order to be with his love.
- One must overcome the expectations of an entire kingdom.
And all depend on the actions of the rightful heir to the Rahamlar throne. Can the dark prince’s plan be thwarted?
In a story with more twists than a coiled snake, A Prince of Autumn takes readers on a roller coaster of emotion and action to a satisfying conclusion.
Welcome to the continent of Ivryndi, where flora and fauna magic reign, and an unseelie prince with a mysterious power threatens it all. If you love stories steeped in the beauty of nature, slow-burn romance, and endearing characters you'll never forget, enter the dreamy otherworld of The Scented Court. This series delivers an epic-length fantasy experience by an award-winning author.
Release date: August 21, 2023
Publisher: Intellectually Promiscuous Press
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A Prince of Autumn
Frostbite took a long time to heal—Laec was learning this firsthand—even with access to healing botanicals. He shifted in his seat, pulling his jacket away from his shoulder where skin and muscle still ached. In the two-and-a-half weeks that had passed since the Silverfae invasion, the injury had gone from reddish-white to the deep blue of a bruise, and the skin had a tight and shiny appearance. It ached all the time and was painful to touch. Even the cuts he’d sustained from blades hurt less than the injuries from cold exposure, and they were healing faster. He hoped never to find himself in an altercation with high-powered Silverfae ever again.
Laec sat in an alcove outside the Koi Library, a half-full glass of apricot wine at his elbow as he penned a letter to Queen Elphame. The library itself was quiet but the alcoves lining the hall just outside the entrance were busy; the alcoves had not been damaged in the battle and Laec guessed that was the reason for their resurgence in popularity: a place to escape the ongoing renovations.
Mistik waited, sitting on the thick golden rope keeping the curtain drawn to one side. She cocked her head, watching him through an eye encircled by a patch of bright green feathers.
“I’m going, I’m going,” he muttered, feeling judged. “Writing these letters has gotten complicated. Not that I’d expect you to understand.”
Picking up his quill, Laec bent to his letter. He’d written to Elphame the day after the battle, a rushed and bluntly worded message that was sorely lacking in detail. There’d been so much to do, and Laec was in such shock at the time, that he hardly knew what words to use. He’d promised to write again soon, but that promise was only being fulfilled now. He felt guilty that it had taken so long, but only with the passage of time did Laec now feel competent to compile the information Elphame was waiting for.
Princess Isabey and her lover—who recently reappeared after having been feared dead—have sequestered themselves in her suite. Shade arrived injured and malnourished, but has recovered almost completely.
The majority in the palace seemed to credit it to the reunification with his soul mate, more than the nutritious food and warm bed Solana had provided. He’d discarded his crutch for a cane and the only remaining evidence that he’d suffered a broken leg was a slight limp. The secretive couple had helped put the palace back to rights, but since most of what they’d been capable of helping with was now completed, they’d been out of the public eye. While it was easy to guess what they might be spending their time doing, it was much less easy to guess at what Isabey was thinking about the state of her kingdom.
Solana still waits to see if the princess will hold true to her threat to go south, or— now that Shade has returned to her—if he might fortify her with the courage to challenge her brother. If she does not soon make her intentions known, King Agir and Queen Esha will command an audience with her. They’ve been faithful to provide her with shelter, security, and—most importantly—secrecy. As far as anyone knows, Prince Faraçek still believes Isabey to be dead.
Laec glanced up at Mistik, tapping the end of his quill against his lips as the Rahamlarin prince came to mind. He bent to the page again.
As for Faraçek himself, we await the announcement of the date of his self-coronation. As you know, our spies have discovered the existence of a son. Faraçek plans to hand the entirety of the ancient kingdom of Rahamlar over to his boy one day, as whole as it was before Solana’s existence.
Solana’s losses in the battle with Silverfall were not insubstantial. We buried 138 citizens and soldiers. Lady Çifta...
Laec’s hand stilled, his gaze returning to her name. He put a single stroke through Lady and wrote above it: Queen. He stared at the title combined with her name, feeling too paralyzed to continue.
The woman he loved above all else was now a queen. Like a wound that was continuously reopened, the realization was as painful now as it had been the morning after Sylifke’s execution. Prior to that morning, he’d been too relieved and euphoric that Çifta had survived the ice to think about what her new position really meant: that she belonged to the northern kingdom more completely than she had ever belonged to Kazery.
Kazery could no longer dictate who Çifta married, but what might the hundreds of thousands of Silverfall citizens—eager to receive their benevolent queen in place of a long-endured malevolent one—have to say about who their queen chose for a mate?
The morning after Sylifke’s death, Laec had woken with a start, alone in his room, as the new thoughts rushed in with bared teeth. The exhilarating recollection that Çifta was alive and safe in her quarters was suddenly crushed by the realization that he might yet lose her… again, and so quickly after having regained her. It was too painful to contemplate.
While he and Çifta did their parts in returning Solana to rights they’d had no time to themselves to discuss anything. Now that she was a queen, he no longer had the right to approach her for spontaneous conversation, not only because she was truly a royal but also because she was constantly surrounded by Silverfae guards. It was apparent they were eager to get her away to their own land. Laec had come to resent their presence with an intensity he’d not realized he was capable of.
Worse than all that, Çifta had not made any attempt to reach out to him, which left him feeling confused (an emotion he disliked) and insecure (an emotion he despised with every fiber of his being). What was she thinking? What did she want? Did she even know anymore? Had she been given advice by someone from Silverfall? Rayven Sabran, perhaps, before the former prosecutor took the majority of the Silverfae home to prepare Silverfall for the new queen's arrival? Did Çifta feel as paralyzed as he did?
Laec put none of this into his letter to Elphame, it was too personal, and even if it wasn’t, he wouldn’t dare include it without Çifta’s permission. Çifta and Elphame were now contemporaries, as close to equals as any sovereign could be with Elphame. The sensation of being socially lower than his love interest was new for Laec, and he had no clue how to handle it, so he had told himself to wait. Çifta was sensitive and intelligent; he knew that she loved him because love poured from her whenever they were close. But she was entangled in a new and complicated situation, and the next step was up to her. He would just have to be patient.
Laec concluded the letter to Elphame by outlining the battle with more specifics, ending with the remarkable events that had taken place in the foyer.
He wrote the final lines with mixed feelings:
The problem with Rahamlar is for Isabey, Agir, and Esha to resolve. The darkness you foresaw is most likely now fulfilled. With your permission, may I journey home?
If Çifta was no longer in Solana, Laec did not wish to be there either, he’d be closer to her if he returned to Stavarjak. He cared for his friends here, but with the darkness presumably now over, surely his commission was complete. He stared at the word “home” for a long time. The shadows had grown short by the time he roused himself to sign the letter.
Laec sealed the scroll, slipped it inside the tiny cylinder and strapped it to Mistik’s twig-thin ankle. Opening the window, he watched the fae-Terran hybrid flutter into the evening sky. The air was fresh and moist with a promise of spring. She gave a single caw as she swooped over the gardens, then disappeared from sight.
Where was home? He didn’t know anymore. He would have said it was by Çifta’s side, had she come out of the ice without any change of station, and they could have dealt with Kazery’s wrath together. But she had come out a queen, with the memories of the fearsome queen before her. Not just Karinya’s memories, but her magic as well. Çifta was not simply a merchant’s daughter anymore but Laec was still just a courtier of the spring court, still Elphame’s eyes and ears, and—he drained his goblet and set it down with a clack—still a drunkard.
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