Story in the Round — Part 9

Hello! I’m excited to be joining the Scribes, and a little nervous that I’ve got the ending of the Story in the Round. See you soon and enjoy the end!

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The King of Neráida stepped from his dais, sweeping Danny to the side as if he meant nothing. I leaned forward, prepared to grab my cousin and put him out of harm’s way. Yuko’s grip around my arm stopped me, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a silent promise that we’d get out of there alive and with Danny spoken through his eyes. I didn’t want to trust him, but I didn’t have many choices.

“I have a proposition for you, young one.” Kian, the king, stood before me. I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked at him with what I hoped was a face void of emotion. If we were going to get out unscathed he couldn’t know just how scared I was. With Yuko at my back or not, I wasn’t convinced we could go.

“A proposition?” I asked.

“You for your little human here. He is of no use to me. You are the one I want. The reason I sent Alek and Aria to you.”

“And if I refuse?”

“Then you all die.” The king shrugged then returned to his throne.

I would not exchange Danny, nor would I accept death. From behind me, Yuko whispered, “Their magic is blocked, the king is unaware. Agree to trade Danny. When he is out of reach, take Kian.” A solid weapon pressed against my back as Yuko slid it beneath the waist of my pants. “I will dispose of the others. You can do this, Aideen. Use the gifts you have denied. It is time.”

He was right, I knew it in my soul. I’d denied my true self for far too long.

“If I agree to the exchange, you will give me Danny first. When he is safe I will come to you. Alek and Aria will not touch any of us.”

Kian studied Yuko and I for what felt like forever. The dampness of Neráida seeped into my skin. As the forest lightened my worry grew. If we didn’t leave before the sun rose, we’d never get out. Silently I begged the king to get a move on. Finally he nodded once.

“Agreed. Release the boy.”

None too gently, Alek shoved Danny across the open space. I rushed forward and pulled him into a hug. “Go to Yuko. Do what he says, don’t argue,” I spoke into Danny’s ear. He didn’t acknowledge my orders, but did as I’d commanded.

Kian stood to come for me, but I held up my hand and shook my head. “No. I will come to you.”

This was it. Time to see what I could do. I sucked into a deep breath and began the spell to shield myself from anything Alek or Aria might try. With my arms locked behind my back, one hand wrapped around the hilt of the dagger from Yuko, I took a step forward. Then another. King Kian stayed on his throne looking bored. Cocky. That was fine with me.

The moment I reached the dais I knew I’d have one shot. If I didn’t kill him the first time our mission to save Danny and avenge my mother would be done. A failure.

I closed my eyes and made the last step. Kian wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me to him. No time to hesitate, I whipped my arm from behind my hand and slammed the dagger into his chest.

Seconds later the world of Neráida collapsed around us. Danny, Yuko, and I were pushed back through the portal. The bonfire simmered beside us. We’d made it out. Alive. I breathed a sigh of relief and pulled Danny into a tight embrace.

No longer would I deny who I was or what I could do.

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