Keelan glared, hands clenched so tight they felt like wire strung over steel blades ready to spring loose and cut someone to ribbons.
Not someone. Father. Again. Always.
The battle for his and his siblings’ freedom never ended. Keelan couldn’t win, not when Father was trained and they weren’t.
Nothing changed until Keelan’s unwanted consort arrived, bringing hope along with a whirlwind of power.
By Meyari McFarland
His teeth ached. So did his jaw. His hands which were clenched so tight that they felt like wire strung over steel blades ready to spring loose and cut someone to ribbons.
Not someone. Father. Again. Always.
The sitting room was silent, not still. It could never be still, not with Father looming by the window, one finger idly tracing the grill’s graceful arcs as if he contemplated nothing more than a fresh coat of paint for the finely carved wood.
Outside there was noise, people training in the courtyard. A horse’s hooves. Voices raised, lowered, raised in shock. Stilled. Father smiled as if that sudden silence was his doing but no, it couldn’t be.
His power swirled through the room not outside of it. It silenced Keelan’s complaints about being forced to take a consort that he didn’t want. Padma’s tearful expression had collapsed like a burnt-out coal into sullen resignation over Father’s declaration that she would soon be married even though she was only twelve. Alex stood by the cold fireplace, arms wrapped around his chest because, yet again, he’d been denied the right to take holy vows as he’d wanted since he was tiny.
Even Morgan, the only one of them who had ever had the ability to stand up to Father and then only with the help of his wives who were not present this afternoon, was silent. Breathing hard, nostrils flaring and shoulders hunched as if he fought even in silence against the oppression of Father’s intent.
His magic. His Will, as Father preferred to call it. But it wasn’t some divine right granted to him and him alone. It was magic and nothing more, magic that he’d been trained to control and they’d been denied all knowledge of. Dangerous, Father claimed as he stole their ability to fight him. Forbidden, he mouthed as people danced like puppets on his strings at Court. Perhaps so but their learning magic would be a danger only to Father, not to anyone else.
Keelan knew that he was stronger than father, felt it in the way Father’s swirls of shadowy power touched against his mind and then skittered away like frightened cockroaches. But he couldn’t keep a grip on the power, the magic. It shimmered inside of him like water and Keelan couldn’t grip it. Couldn’t shape it. Couldn’t figure out how to craft a vessel that would allow him to use that magic in any useful way.
Father’s magic swept across the room, crashing against the door like a desert storm piling against the walls of the city. His distant expression turned cruel as he smiled, sneered, then straightened up to nod towards the door.
“Let him in, Keelan,” Father murmured. “Your consort is here.”
His Will stabbed at Keelan, prodding him to the door when Keelan raised his chin and glared, tried to grip the magic within him only to have it slide between his fingers yet again. He fought all the way to the door, fought against gripping the gilded crystal handle, fought not to open it but the pain of Father’s Will shattered his control and the door opened.
To a vision of beauty.
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