"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.
Rhiannon stood patiently as the seamstress measured her body. It was probably the first time in her life when she was getting a new outfit that would fit her.Since she was was officially"engaged" to count Belfort. She was required to appear more respectable, and attend the banquet. It was no surprise that her protests went in vain. Dejected she just allowed the seamstress to do her work while she planned her escape."I want a pink dress mother!" Margaret squealed."Of course dear, " Catherine replied."Pink would look horrible on Margaret because she is a redhead but who cares," thought Rhiannon.She was not even interested in any of this."Alright! That should be enough, by when can we expect the dresses to be ready?" Catherine asked the seamstress.
Rhiannon closed her eyes and held in her breath. This was much better than walking. Of course, her father would have had her hide if she attempted to borrow a horse. She wasn't even given a proper riding lesson. However, the stable boy was kind to her and so was Alfred. He used to let her ride in secret.Their group made their way towards the grassy fields. Rhiannon felt the cool wind on her face. Why not enjoy the moment while it lasted. She thought."I haven't seen you around, why is it so?" Matthew asked Rhiannon startling her.She didn't realize when he arrived right next to her."I...I don't like socializing much, your grace, I like being indoors on my own, usually," she lied."Oh! So you are a homebody, what do you like to do?"Rhiannon looked aroun
Rhiannon shivered and wrapped her hands around herself. Her wet clothes clung to her."Rhiannon!" Alfred ran towards her.Ignoring the dishevelled state he hugged her."Thank God! You are safe sister, you frightened me."Rhiannon felt genuinely grateful, "I am ok Alfred, I was saved....by a wolf," she said."What?" He peered at her as if she had grown horns."When I woke up a wolf was staring at me.""Maybe he was contemplating lunch," Alfred commented," anyway let's go. The prince is worried about you."Alfred wrapped his cloak around Rhiannon which she accepted gratefully."I am relieved to see you safe, my lady," Prince Matthew said as Rhiannon
Damius smiled then took a sip of wine from his goblet."There is nothing special to know about mate bonds, which you already don't know, Vasilios,"Vasilios looked at his goblet and glanced back at his tutor."Perhaps, I was not specific, I understand the concept of soul mates and it's strengths, I want to know why most Alphas shun it, specifically with humans?"Damuis kept his drink on the table and stared at his wife's portrait."Let me tell you a story, it was long ago, I was around your age. One day I went to a nearby village for the summer festival of Venus, oh ! what fun it was, they don't do festivals like that anymore," he paused," anyway, there she was dancing in the ring, I was mesmerized, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. My wolf was uncontrollable, that was it, I had found my mate."He stopped a silly smile played on his lips as he remembered t
Rhiannon sat in her room, idly brushing her long, dark curls, wishing she was anywhere else but in this room, in this castle, on this day. She glanced over her shoulder at the stiff folds of shining fabric covering her narrow bed.Her dress was delivered to her room and she was ordered to be excited about this banquet? It was sure to be overpopulated with arrogant nobles, she was supposed to play the demure bride of the old count.As a bastard, she was not quite a noble, but not quite a servant, therefore fitting in nowhere. The servant girls instantly ceased their gossiping when she approached. The girls of noble birth snubbed her as beneath their station as if she wanted to spend her time in their stiflingly dull company in any fashion. They bonded with Margaret though.She sighed. On the brighter side, she was finally allowed to be out of the room.
"Rhiannon, you are so lucky to marry me," the count said in a slurred voice."Perhaps, you should slow down sir," Rhiannon said putting the glass away."Let's dance," the count stood up pulling Rhiannon along with him. Startled, Rhiannon whimpered, but his clasp was so rigid. She could not resist.Vasilios gripped his goblet in anger. It put a slight dent in the golden cup. He could have easily crushed the ware like wax but it would have resulted in questions. He was here to get the tribute.But the moment he entered the Castle he could smell her. Her scent was everywhere, this was her home. He knew it right away. His keen senses soon picked up the details about her. She was the bastard daughter of the duke.Not that it mattered to him. His wolf didn't care about societal reputations but his mother wou
The count and Rhiannon were walking quietly through the forest near the lake, his low voice talking of his estates and his fortune that would be hers once they were married.The count had suddenly turned up the next morning. Apologising for leaving early during the banquet. Then he insisted on her going riding with him. Now here she was along the lake. Taking a walk and thinking about Vasilios.She replied sparingly to his questions, as something about him made her stomach ill at ease."So as I was saying, my castle has 100 rooms, maybe you should visit me sometime, I would love to show them to you," he held her hand in a romantic gesture.She pulled her hand away from his grasp. "Thanks for the ride sir, I am tired now, I want to go back," she said, increasing her steps.<
"Will you care to explain, what is going on and why do you look so dishevelled?" Areos were hammering Vasilios with questions, the moments he had returned to the guest wing.Although he had taken a dip in the lake to wash off the blood, he still looked dishevelled.Vasilios sighed," I killed him.""Yes I know, and it's going to get out of hand unless you explain to me why?""He touched her, he was trying to hurt her," Vasilios gritted his teeth in anger.Arios looked confused," wait what?""That count was forcing himself on a lady, in the forest. I did what he deserved."Arios raised an eyebrow," right, but we don't get involved in human affairs, also you could have just scared him off, what was the need to kill him?""I lost control, she is my mate," Vasilios said quietly.Arios stared at him dumbfo