Chapter 4 - Trouble

"Come on nan, just one more sip," Rhiannon forced the bitter medicine down the nan's mouth.

"That which! why do you go to her for such nasty stuff?" Nan complained, squinting her wrinkled face.

"This bitter medicine is making you well nan," Rhiannon chuckled.

"The Duchess wants to see you miss, she is waiting for you," one of the maids announced.

"The Duchess?" Rhiannon paled. The Duchess only conversed with her when she wanted to yell at her or humiliate her over something. As far as Rhiannon was concerned she had followed all her commands and kept a low profile during the king's visit.

There was no reason for the Duchess to get upset with her.

"Miss, you must not keep her waiting," the maid reminded her.

Rhiannon nodded, she wiped her hands in her apron and followed the maid.

The Duchess had the room with the best view of the castle. It had huge French windows overlooking the garden.

"Ah! Rhiannon," Catherine said with a smile.

Rhiannon looked at her terrified, what was wrong with the Duchess today? She was smiling at her. Perhaps, she had too much to drink during lunch with the king. Rhiannon thought.

"Come dear, have a seat," Catherine patted the chair next to her.

Rhiannon almost swooned at her unexpected welcome, but she nodded and took the seat cautiously.

"Well, dear I have got wonderful news for you. Count Belfort met your father today, such an honourable man. Son of a Baron with a huge estate. He is an upstanding man of honour."

Rhiannon felt disgusted. He was also 45, with grown-up children. And he looked at her in a way that made her skin crawl. She wondered why was Duchess talking about him

"Well the count has asked for your hand in marriage, isn't it wonderful? And he is most taken with you. It is the best offer you are ever likely to receive," she pointed out in stiff tones.

Rhiannon gasped in shock.

"But he is as old as the father! How can I marry him?" She blurted out?

Catherine's smile vanished, replaced by a cruel look. 

"You dare question your father's decision? You should consider yourself lucky that a respectable man, a count, has offered to marry you, despite you being....", she paused," what you are, no respectable man will ever consider marrying you. You have no honourable future.  It's high time you get married and repay our kindness. You will be a countess, which is a much better title than a bastard."

Anger surged through Rhiannon, she was never liked by anyone she was aware of it. But it broke her heart to know that her father loathed her so much that he was ready to throw her at anyone who offered to take him off his hands.

Even if he was a creepy old man.

"I don't want to marry the count, I don't like him, please, mother......." Rhiannon pleaded.

"Don't call me mother, you runt!" Catherine shouted.

She stood from her seat and started pacing.

"I have had enough of you, you will do as I say. Now listen. From now onwards, you are engaged in the count. Be courteous to him when he visits during the banquet. You will marry him as soon as the King leaves. Is that clear?"

Rhiannon looked at her defiantly.

"Don't give me that look, you have only two options. Either marry the count or remain locked in the tower without food or water until you starve to death." Catherine smirked.

Rhiannon looked down in silence. She would have preferred to die.

"You may leave," Cathrine commanded.

Tears sprang in Rhiannon's eyes, as she slowly walked out of the chamber. She had no idea how to get out of this circumstance.

Perhaps, she could run away? But where would she go? She had no one else in the world. She had not even travelled outside Allendale ever. Maybe she could join a monastery, and fester away behind the walls of a monastery and never know the touch of a man's hand than willingly become the wife of that lecher. But her savings were insufficient, they could barely sustain her for two days in any town or a village.

She ran into her tiny chamber and sobbed over her misfortune.


Vasilios was standing in front of his father presenting the report of his findings.

"Vampire! This is preposterous," Alpha king Rendall said," they have disregarded the treaty."

The rest of the council consisted of his beta and few other pack leaders.

"So what do you propose, your grace?" Asked Alpha Claude of Selene's crescent pack.

"I will have to talk to their coven leader, of course, however, there is a problem. They are disjointed with so many covens spread all over the realm that it's hard to pinpoint who did it."

"Perhaps, we should not waste time and nip them in the bud before they spread their fangs," Alpha Elios the duke of Cravenise, added.

King Rendall narrowed his eyes, " are you proposing war with the vampires Elios?"

"No your grace," Elios bowed, "we must induce fear in their hearts by attacking few covens."

There was complete silence as King and others stared at Elios.

"And what will that achieve Elios?" The King asked.

"It will give us an upper hand, we have been silent for too long. This is the third attack in two months. If we don't retaliate it would hurt our pride. Already the packs are agitated." He said pointedly.

King Rendall furrowed his brows, while Vasilios narrowed his eyes. Elios was indirectly implying that the king of Alphas was weak!

Already he could smell restlessness among the pack leaders. 

Rendall stiffened his spine and took a deep breath," I will ponder over your suggestions Elios. The meeting is now adjourned. We have another issue to discuss," he turned to face his Beta.

"Merlion, send the message to Lidio that we have demanded our tribute," he turned towards Vasilios, " as the crown prince it is your duty ro recover and escorts the tribute safely."

Vasilios nodded. He recalled his beautiful mate he has come upon in Lidio. His wolf jumped in happiness.

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