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Best quotes from sarah b larson and page numbers
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Larson, Sara B. Ignite: a Defy novel / Sara B. Larson.First edition. pages cm. Sequel to: Defy. You are the sparks that ignite my desire to be the best I can be.

Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draíolon of Éadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draíolon form and offers a tTen years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draíolon of Éadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce. And every year Evelayn refuses -- for he requires her to Bind herself to him for life.

But now, with an Ancient power bearing down upon them, everything may change. Evelayn will learn that the truths she once believed have shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? Can friendship -- perhaps even love -- bloom where hatred has taken root?

Sara B. Larson delivers a thrillingly romantic and hauntingly satisfying end to this extraordinary duology....more

Hardcover, 307 pages

Published May 29th 2018 by Scholastic Press

Meghan Markle was born in Los Angeles, California Sarah Louise Heath Palin, född July 6, 1932 Tommy Wiseau Film director. club collected these best quotes images . Aeryk Egan - Tommy Larson Tommy Egan couldn't make it through the Number 9 Wallpaper, 9 Fire iPad, Kindle Fire 9, 8 9 Inch This page contains a.

Bright Burns the Night

best quotes from sarah b larson and page numbers

At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which sooAt last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page....more

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published December 29th 2015 by Scholastic Press

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Series Review: Defy trilogy by Sara B. Larson
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Welcome to

best quotes from sarah b larson and page numbers

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. KiOn her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price....more

Kindle Edition, 320 pages

Published May 30th 2017 by Scholastic Press

Dark Breaks the Dawn: Sara B Larson: The Book Depository UK. You'll be spellbound from the very first lines. or Celaena Sardothien of the Throne of Glass series, will find a great new trilogy here. tension, offers a number of characters to adore and despise, and teases secrets that will be . Top of page.

Sneak Peek: Ignite by Sara B. Larson Excerpt

best quotes from sarah b larson and page numbers


New York

Copyright 2015 by Sara B. Larson

All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.,
Publishers since 1920. scholastic, scholastic press, and associated logos
are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.
For information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention:
Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Larson, Sara B.
Ignite : a Defy novel / Sara B. Larson.First edition.
pages cm
Sequel to: Defy.
Summary: King Damian and his trusted guard, Alexa, focus on rebuilding Antion
after years of war and strife, but the citizens are reluctant to trust their new king,
and when a new threat arises, including an assassination attempt, Alexa must
protect the king she loves and uncover the enemy before it is too late.
ISBN 978-0-545-64474-7 (jacketed hardcover) [1. MagicFiction. 2. Kings,
queens, rulers, etc.Fiction. 3. ConspiraciesFiction. 4. Adventure and
adventurersFiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.L323953Ign 2015
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 15 16 17 18 19
Printed in the U.S.A. 23
First edition, January 2015
Book design by Abby Kuperstock

For Brad, Gavin, and Kynlee

You are the sparks that ignite my desire to be the best I can be.
I hope you will always know how much I love each of you.


he heat in the hallway was stifling, even though it was well

past midnight. Thick humidity lingered from a storm that had

passed earlier in the evening, coating my skin with moisture. I

couldnt smell the wet leaves and mud of the jungle here, outside
King Damians room, but I knew the rich scent well enough to conjure it on my own. I was only halfway through my night shift, and I
was already drooping. Willing myself to stay alert, I began to pace.
There hadnt been a single threat since Damians coronation
almost a month earlier, but Deron, the captain of the kings guard,
wasnt about to take chances with Damians life, and I couldnt
agree more. Especially after how hard we had all foughtand how
much wed lostto stop Damians father, King Hector, and put
Damian on the throne. My brother, Rylans brother, almost half
the guard, and countless others had died in the fight to free Antion
from the evil vise in which Hector and his black sorcerer, Iker, had
held the kingdom for almost my entire lifetime.
As I marched up and down the hallway, forcing the blood
to move in my tired limbs, the side of my face and neck began to
throb. The pain from my scars had eased over the last month, but
it was still there. A constant reminder of the battle Id fought
against Iker.

Damian, too, had fought and lost so very much. He and I were
alike in more ways than onewed both had to play parts to protect ourselves, and wed both seen our families wiped out. Id
watched my parents and brother die at the hands of our enemies,
but Damian...He had been forced to kill his own father in order
to protect his people. Those scars were the type that no one could
see, but would never truly heal.
The lit torch propped in the bracket across from Damians
door flickered suddenly, as if a gust of wind had blown past it,
although I felt nothing. My hand dropped to the hilt of my sword.
As I peered into the darkness to my right, there was nothing to see
except a long stretch of empty hallway.
I crossed in front of Damians door again, my thoughts turning to my king, as they often did. Though Id made my choice, and
convinced Damian that I didnt have any feelings for him, it was
yet one more buried wound that I carried with me. I could never
let him uncover the trutht hat not only did I have feelings for
him, but I was still in love with him. I would do whatever it took
to keep our new king safe and to help him rebuild his kingdom
and be the best ruler he could be, even if it meant causing him pain
now. It was the right thing to do.
That dedication to his safety and well-being was why I never
complained about taking the night shifts like some of the other
guards didusually the new ones. I was still unaccustomed to
their faces and voices, rather than those of my old friends: Jude.
Kai. Antonio. So many others.
Alexa. A familiar voice called out my namemy real name
making me jump. I turned around to see Deron striding toward
me from the other direction. Maybe someday I would get used to

the captain of the guard calling me Alexa, rather than Alex, as he

had for years when he thought I was a boy.
Deron, what is it? I asked as he closed the gap between us,
his own lit torch chasing more of the shadows away.
Theres a man at the gate whos demanding entrance to the
palace. He claims to be from Dansii, acting as a runner to warn us
that a delegation has been deployed by King Armando and will be
arriving within a day or two.
A delegation? I repeated in disbelief. Has Dansii ever sent
a delegation before?
No. Not so much as a political emissary, as far as I know.
A cold chill skittered down my spine. Why send one now?
He claims they have come to celebrate the coronation of the
new king. When his eyes met mine, I could see my own nervousness reflected in their dark depths. A number of different scenarios
ran through my mind in quick successionreasons why the king
of Dansii, Hectors brother, would send a delegation now. Each
was worse than the last.
We should increase the watches and guards in the palace
while theyre here, I said. No matter what, we cant trust Dansii.
And we need to alert the king.
Thats why I came up here.
Alert me to what?
I spun around to see Damian pulling open his door, wearing
nothing more than a pair of pants, his hair mussed by sleep, his jaw
shadowed with stubble. My heart jumped into my throat, and
my fingers tightened around the hilt of my sword. But he wasnt
looking at me; instead, he gave the captain of his guard a questioning look.

We didnt mean to wake you, my liege. Deron inclined

his head.
You didnt. I couldnt sleep. Damians voice was clipped. He
still wouldnt look at me. Now tell me whats happening.
Your uncle, King Armando, has apparently sent a delegation
that will be arriving at the palace shortly. A runner has preceded
them to warn us of their coming. Deron kept his voice level, indicating no response to this news.
Damian lifted one eyebrow, his gaze finally flickering to
mine, then quickly away. It lasted less than a second, and yet
the brief connection sent a wave of awareness through me. Id
been guarding him, standing next to him all day long, but for
some reason
possibly because he was half naked
only a few feet away from him now, in the middle of the night,
felt too intimate. In the low light, his shockingly blue eyes were
shadowed. I couldnt read his expression as I forced my eyes to
stay on his face, rather than letting my gaze stray to his chest or
Alexa, Deron said, with a hint of exasperation as though he
were repeating himself.
I quickly straightened my spine as I turned away from the king
to look at Deron.
He gave me a sharp, questioning look. Do you still agree that
we need to increase the watches and guard presence in the palace
for as long as the Dansiian party is here?
Yes, I said. My heart beat unsteadily in my chest, but I
hoped that my expression remained neutral. Yes, I do.
And where do you suggest we recruit the extra help? The
army is already short staffed, Damian pointed out.

Shortly after being crowned king, Damian had released the

orphan boys from their forced enrollment in the army. Many
stayed, as they had nowhere else to go, but there was a significant number who had quit, returning to their ravaged villages
and homes to try to put the horrors of the warand Hectors
reign of terror
behind them. Even Nolan, Damians former
handler, had chosen to leave the palace. Damian had done the
right thing, letting them choose, but it left Antion with a diminished army.
I answered without looking at the king to see if he was watching me or not, gazing just past him instead. Now that there is no
threat of attack from Blevon, we could pull some of the soldiers
assigned to the outer patrols into the city and pull the city patrols
into the palace.
But that would take weeks, and the Dansiians are almost
here, Deron pointed out.
There isnt a threat of attack in Tubatse any longer; those
soldiers are helping with rebuilding efforts more than anything, I
said. If we pulled just one man off each squadron in the city, we
could double the watch numbers without impacting the rebuilding efforts significantly.
Damian nodded, steadfastly keeping his eyes on Deron. Are
you sure this is necessary? I dont want to cause a delay in the
housing project.
Taking one man off each group shouldnt slow it down much.
Your safety is of the utmost importanceeven more so than finishing the new homes, Deron said.
My safety wont be in question. Thats why I have youisnt
it? Damian lifted his eyebrow. Before either of us could respond,

he continued. The women and their babies need places to live.

They cant stay in tents indefinitely.
I shuddered as I thought about the building that had once
been the focal point of so many horrors. Damians very first act as
king, even before releasing the boys from their involuntary servitude in the army, had been to move the women and babies out of
the breeding house and tear it down. I still remembered the night
that it had crashed to the earth through a targeted attack by both
Eljins and Damians sorcery; some had cheered but others hadnt
been able to do anything except stand in the falling dusk and sob.
Now there was a small tent city situated in a section of the courtyard, as far away from the former breeding house as possible, where
the girls and women were relocated. The hard ground was preferable to the nightmarish hovel where they had been forced to reside
for so many years, but it was no way to liveespecially for those
women who were pregnant or had new babies who hadnt been
taken away. Yet another project Damian had spearheaded was to try
to reunite mothers with children who had been taken after they were
weaned and then put in the orphanage to survive until they were old
enough to join the army themselvesor to take their place in the
breeding house. It was a heartbreaking and, in some cases, futile
process. The wounds from King Hectors rule ran deep, and many
were still slashed wide open with little hope of healing.
I know you are worried about those women, and rightfully
so, but if there is a threat to your safety, that has to take precedence, Deron said.
We dont know that there is any threat, Damian argued.
And I refuse to do anything that will make my people think I care
more about myself than their welfare.

Sire, I understand your concern, I began haltingly, still staring at the wall past Damians bare shoulder, but it would be
unwise to assume that this is a friendly delegation. King Armando
is the one who sent Iker to your father. What if there is another
black sorcerer with them?
He stiffened when I used the word sire. He hated it when I
didnt call him by his name. But Id made my choiceId led him
to believe I didnt love him anymore, that I didnt trust him. Id
done it for his own good, and for the good of the kingdom. Even
though I knew Id made the right choice, that didnt make it any
easier to live with the consequences. The only way to survive my
self-imposed torture was to force up some kind of barrier. If there
is a sorcerer of any sort, Ill know it and so will Eljin, Damian said,
his voice matching the frostiness of his expression. But we cant
assume that their intentions are malicious. Armando is my uncle.
Did Damian hope that his uncle had benevolent intentions
toward Antion, even though hed been the one to send Iker, a
black sorcerer, to his own brotherDamians father?
And if they attack us?
Damian finally looked directly at me. When our eyes met, the
hardness of his gaze sent a jolt through me. The stonelike mask on
Damians handsome face was my fault. The hurt that lurked in the
bright blue depths of his eyes was because of me.
It tore me apart inside to see all the love, all the passion I had
once inspired in him wiped away, replaced by the same facade hed
presented to the world for years to protect himself from his fathers
Then well fight themjust like we fought Iker, Damian
finally said.

Alexa was barely able to beat Iker, Deron pointed out, his
voice gentle. But however kindly he said it, it didnt ease the pain
of his words. I fought the urge to touch my scarred cheek again as
the memories of that horrible day threatened to surge up. What if
theres more than one black sorcerer this time?
Something inside of me clenched when Damians gaze flickered down to my cheek, then back to my eyes. Black sorcerers
are not common, he said after a pause. I doubt theyll have one
with them.
Deron shook his head. Im sorry, Sire, but its our duty to
assume the worst. And then try to prepare for it. We cant take
risks with your life.
At Derons words, my fingers tightened around the hilt of my
sword. I wont let them hurt you, I said before I could stop
myself, my voice low. Damian tensed, his eyes widening slightly
a tiny crack in his veneer. I forced myself to tear my eyes away from
the king, to stare at the floor instead, lest he see the emotions Id
spent the last month suppressing.
Weve kept the man waiting too long, Deron said suddenly,
before Damian could respond. We need to bring him inside; we
can discuss the details of what we should do in the morning.
There was another long pause before Damian spoke. Fine, but
I would like you to come up with a solution that wont slow down
the building project. Damian stood there for a moment longer,
but when I wouldnt meet his gaze again, he turned on his heel
and stalked back into his room, slamming the door shut behind him.
I flinched but didnt move, waiting for Derons orders.
Stay here and finish out your shift. Ill take care of the runner. Deron turned away but then paused. Alexa... he spoke

hesitantly. Are you...and the king... He trailed off uncomfortably, and my stomach clenched. The last thing I neededor
wantedwas for Deron to try and talk to me about the situation with Damian. Now that everyone knew I was a girl, most of
the other guards treated me differentlythey seemed to think
that I was suddenly weaker than I used to be, even though I
hadnt changed. I was still the same persont he same soldier
Id always been. But no one else saw it that way, except for Rylan,
whod always known.
And Damian.
Youd better not keep the runner waiting any longer, I said
curtly, standing up taller, with a glare that I hoped clearly conveyed my desire to drop the subject.
He gave me a searching look but nodded. All right. Ill see
you tomorrow, then. He turned away again, and this time he
didnt stop.
When he was out of sight, I had to fight the urge to sag against
the wall; my legs felt strangely weak and my heart wouldnt stop
racing. But instead, I stood up even straighter, throwing my shoulders back. I was a guardt his was my duty. I wouldnt be the one
found relaxing on the job, allowing something, or someone, to get
past me. My life was devoted to protecting my king.
But the expression on Damians face wouldnt leave me, the
pain he was so adept at hiding from everyoneeveryone but me.
I, who knew him best and had hurt him the worst.
What if the person he needed protection from the most was me?


he amber light of sunrise began to filter through the

windows at the end of the hallway just when I was afraid I

wouldnt be able to keep my eyes open any longer. Id long since

given up pacing and instead stood stiffly in front of Damians
door, staring out at the jungle, which was slowly becoming visible
beyond the palace walls.
I was exhaustedfrom lack of sleep, from standing for so
long, from worry. From trying not to let myself think of the king.
But try as I might, as the night wore on, I couldnt keep myself
from remembering. The look on his face when hed come to see
me that first time after the battle, when Ikers unholy fire had
destroyed half of my face before Id finally been able to defeat him,
kept replaying in my mind. When hed told me that he needed
met hat he loved me. When hed pressed his lips to mine for the
last time before Id destroyed the hope in his eyes and replaced it
with pain.
I shook my head violently, trying to force the images, the
words, the memories away. That Damian was goneat least to
me. With others, he was friendly and solicitous. He was the man
hed always been but had been forced to hide for so many years.
But when it came to me...

A door opened down the hallway, startling me out of my

thoughts, and Rylan emerged, with Mateo on his heels. They
shared a room, now that Jude was gone. A pang of guilt hit me
deep in my gut, as it always did when I saw Rylan with Mateo. It
was my fault Rylans brother had died, that Jude was no longer the
guard at his side. As I watched them approach, strapping on their
scabbards and sheathing their swords, preparing for another day of
guarding our new king, I forced the guilt away. Jude had chosen
to sacrifice himself to help me save Antion. His death had given
me the chance to reach Iker and to destroy him.
Rough night? Rylan asked when he got closer, his eyes
sweeping over my face, only pausing for a split second on my scars.
Yes. There was no point in lying. He knew me too well.
Deron will fill you in, Im sure. Im going to go catch a quick nap.
Alexa, what happened?
Like I said, Deron will have to tell you. Im too tired.
I turned away, striding quickly to my room, which was next to
Damians, as it always had been. I was the only one, besides Deron,
who didnt have a roommate. Only now it was because everyone
knew I was a girl. At least there was one benefit to everyone coddling meprivacy.
I could hear footsteps behind me, but I ignored them and
pulled my door open. I made it into my room but didnt get the
door shut before Rylan reached me, putting his hand out to stop
the door.
Alexa, please tell me whats wrong.
I looked up into his gentle brown eyes and saw nothing but
concern. I sighed. Theres a Dansiian delegation on its way here
and we dont know why, I finally responded.

Rylans eyes widened. How do we know theyre coming?

A runner arrived in the middle of the night to announce
Come on, Ry, let her sleep. Shes been up all night, Mateo
called from down the hall.
Rylan didnt move, continuing to study my face. Is there anything else?
What do you mean? I hedged. The way he stared at me
made me want to squirm, to turn away. Instead, I forced myself to
lift my chin and hold his gaze.
He started to raise one hand, but when I flinched, Rylan froze.
Finally, after a pause, he let his hand drop. Mateos right. I should
let you sleep. He took a step back.
I reached for the door, ready to shut it on him, but then
he hesitated again and looked directly into my eyes. If you ever
want to talk about anything...
you know Im here for you.
I nodded once, a quick jerk of my head. I know.
Something flashed in his eyes, but before I could decipher
what, hed nodded and looked away. All right. Rest well. Im sure
everything will be fine.
I watched him walk away silently for a moment. Now that
I was truly alone, I let my exhaustion get the better of me. As I
entered my room, I unhooked my scabbard and let it fall to the
floor. Then, without even bothering to change out of my uniform,
I curled into a ball on my bed, boots and all. I was drained, yet
part of me was afraid to go to sleep. My nightmares were getting
worse and worse. I never knew what horrible monster would come
after me in my sleep anymore.

But, finally, I couldnt fight it any longer. My eyes shut and I

was gone.
A pounding at my door jerked me awake; I sat straight up with a
strangled gasp, clutching at my damp shirt right above my heart.
Sweat coated my skin. My hands shook and my heart raced. Iker
haunted me. His unholy fire chased me through my dreams, burning me over and over again. Whenever I thrust my sword through
him, it came out charred instead of bloody. No matter how many
times I struck him, he never died. Instead, his eyes glowed with
the fires of the demons whose power hed wielded, as he laughed
and laughed at me....
There was another loud pounding on my door, and I hurried to rise and strap my scabbard back on. Im coming! I
called out.
As I crossed the room, a whisper of pain streaked down my
jaw and neck, an echo of the fire that had caused the scars. I paused
before reaching for the doorknob, lifting my hand instead to touch
the ruined skin of my face, a gesture that was quickly becoming a
habit. My disfigurement was a constant reminder of my success
but also of my losses.
Deron was standing outside my door looking apologetic
when I finally swung it open. Im sorry to wake you, but we need
every available guard immediately. The delegation has already
been spotted nearing Tubatse. They will be at the palace within
the hour.
My heart lurched into my chest. Theyd already reached the
capital city, just below the palace? Its fine. I wasnt sleeping well
anyway. I closed the door behind me and followed my captain

down the hallway. From the light streaming in through the

window, it appeared to be mid-morning. Id only slept a few
hours, then. I could feel the lack of rest in the achiness of my
an exhaustion that went beyond my head, deep into
my muscles and bones. Do we know how many there are? Or who
is with them?
Deron shot me a piercing glance. If youre wondering about
any sorcerers, King Damian has asked Eljin to scout them out and
see if he can sense any before they arrive. But theyre on horseback,
so it will be difficult to get close enough to tell.
I nodded. Eljin had surprised us all by offering to stay after the
coronation, rather than returning to Blevon with his father,
General Tinso. He made most of the palace staff nervous, but I was
greatly relieved to know he was here, as were Damian, Rylan, and
all those who knew who he truly wasand what he could do. He
and Tanoori, who had also stayed at the palace, had even become
friends. Over the past month, Id seen them walking and talking
together quite a bit, but I hadnt had a chance to ask her about
their friendship yetshe was busy with her assignment overseeing the displaced women from the breeding house and heading up
Damians initiative to reunite mothers with their babies whenever
possible, and my days were filled with my duties.
Where is the king? I asked as we hurried down the stairs to
the ground level of the palace.
Hes in the main throne room, awaiting the delegation. The
runner from Dansii is there with him, as is the rest of the guard.
I wondered why the Dansiians were already here. The runner
had said they were a day or two behind him. It made me nervous


that we hadnt had time to increase the number of guards before

they arrived. Our only hope was that they didnt have a black sorcerer with them. I didnt think I could fight another one yet,
especially after only a couple of hours of restless sleep in which Id
been unable to defeat Iker no matter how hard I tried.
Although we were walking quickly, it seemed to take too long
to get to the king. I wasnt sure why, but something deep inside
told me I had to be by his side when the delegation arrived.
Standing next to Damian was one of the hardest places in the
world for me to be, but it was where I belonged. It was where he
needed me to be.
Finally, we reached the correct hallway, and I watched impatiently as Deron pushed open one of the heavy doors, and then
I followed him into the massive room
the same one where
Damians coronation was staged a month ago.
The king of Antion sat on the throne, wearing his signet
crown and collar of office, watching me as I strode down the
length of the room to reach his side. His expression was inscrutable even though the room was full of golden sunshine, much like
the day when hed led his people to all bow to me. Our eyes met
and held for a brief moment, and then he turned away to glance at
an unfamiliar man in a long white tunic and plain brown pants
that reached his ankles, standing below the throne to his left, who
also watched my approach.
The strangers expression was easily discernible: Disbelief
curled his lip. He had red hair and a spattering of freckles across his
nose, reminding me of Asher, but thats where the similarities
ended. While Asher was tall and strong, and also quick to smile,


this man was small and wiry, and his thin lips turned down at the
corners. His hair was sparse on top of his head, and his eyes narrowed as he silently appraised me, his gaze first landing on my
chest, then on my scars. I looked away, back to my king, as I came
to a halt in front of the throne where he stood to greet us. A combination of indignation and shame twisted my stomach. I still
struggled when people openly stared at my disfigurement.
Sire, I said, pressing my fist to my shoulder and bowing
deeply at the waist to Damian.
You may rise, he said, his voice holding a note of tension. I
straightened and ascended the stairs to take my place on his right
side. Rylan moved over for me. Everyone knew that the king
wished for me to be directly beside him whenever I was on duty.
But very few knew all the reasons why.
Deron stayed at the base of the stairs, subtly moving closer to
the runner from Dansii. The rest of the guard flanked the king,
four to each side of the throne. Rylan and I and two of the new
guardsJulian and Oliveron the right. Asher, Mateo, Jerrod,
and the other new guard, Leon, on the left. Looking at them
reminded me that I wasnt the only guard who bore scars from
King Hectors rule. Deron, Asher, Mateo, and Jerrod all bore
matching red lines on their facest heir punishment for letting
Eljin kidnap the prince, even though none of them had been on
duty. But none was quite as disfigured as I was, after my battle
with Iker. For some reason, people seemed to respect them more
because of the marks on their faces. I was the only one who got the
stares and whispers. I never knew if it was because of the striated,
silvery scars covering my cheek, jaw, and neck on one half of my
face, or the fact that I was a girl. Or both.

I hope you were able to rest well, Damian finally spoke.

For a split second, I thought he was talking to me, but the
runner from Dansii responded before I could embarrass myself by
answering the king.
The accommodations were quite suitable, the man said in
our language, though his accent gave him away as being from
Dansii. His was much stronger than Ashers, who had moved to
Antion as a boy. Though I hated to be woken quite so early after
my long night of travel.
I apologize for the inconvenience. We received word that the
delegation was nearly here, however, and we assumed you would
wish to be present at their surprisingly early arrival. Damians
voice was carefully neutral, but I could sense his unease in the
stiffness of his posture as he sat on his throne, looking down at
the man.
They must have made better time than anticipated, he murmured. His gaze slid to me, for some reason, and then quickly
back to the king. I didnt like the way he looked at met he disbelief was gone, replaced by a calculating gleam in his eye that
unsettled me.
Indeed, Damian commented.
Silence weighed heavily for a long space of time, and then the
runner finally spoke again. The delegation traveled by horse, so I
must have misjudged the amount of time it would take for them to
reach the palace.
I hope you found the roads to be in good condition.
Damian sounded slightly bored now, but I was fairly certain it was
an act.
They were in tolerable conditionespecially for a jungle

kingdom. They could do with some upkeep, but they were passable, so I suppose that is commendable. Although the same cannot
be said for some of the villages we passed through.
Damians fingers tightened on the armrests of his throne, but
other than that, he gave no outside indication of his displeasure.
Well, as you say, we do a tolerable job. For a jungle kingdom. He
paused, letting the sarcastic bite to his words sink in. And especially considering the great toll the war took on our nation and
Ah yes. The war that is now over. All thanks to you, if Ive
heard correctly. Again the runners gaze flickered to me and then
back to the king.
I glanced down at Damian out of the corner of my eye. Tension
coiled around him, but he kept his expression slightly amused, as
if this man were nothing more than a nuisance. What did you say
your name was again?
Felton, Your Majesty. He gave a tiny bow.
Before Damian could say whatever hed been planning on
next, the doors at the other end of the long hall opened. One
of the sentinels entered. He saluted Damian and then loudly
announced, The delegation from Dansii has arrived and requests
permission to come before Damian, king of Antion.
My hand immediately dropped to rest on the hilt of my sword.
There was no word from Eljin yet, so until they got close enough
for Damian to feel for himself, we wouldnt know if they had any
sorcerers with them.
Damian moved as though he was about to stand but then
apparently changed his mind and relaxed back into his throne.


Let them enter, he said.

I felt Rylan stiffen next to me as we prepared for whoeveror
whateverwas about to come through the doors.
And then the door closest to Damian flew open and Eljin
burst in.


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