Authors: Heather Killough-Walden
The Unseelie King
Book 6 in the Big Bad Wolf spinoff series, The Kings
by Heather Killough-Walden
Copyright 2014 Heather Killough-Walden
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Heather Killough-Walden Reading List
The Lost Angels series:
Always Angel (eBook-only introductory novella)
Samael (release date August, 2015)
The October Trilogy:
Sam I Am
The Big Bad Wolf series:
The Heat (no longer available separately - purchase in the Big Bad Wolf Romance Compilation)
The Strip (no longer available separately - purchase in the Big Bad Wolf Romance Compilation)
The Big Bad Wolf Romance Compilation (all four books together, in proper chronological order)
The Kings - A Big Bad Wolf spinoff series:
The Vampire King
The Phantom King
The Warlock King
The Goblin King
The Seelie King
The Unseelie King
(future The Kings books TBA; at least 13 total)
The Chosen Soul Trilogy:
The Chosen Soul
Drake of Tanith
Queen of Abaddon (release date TBA)
A Sinister Game
The Third Kiss series:
Aleksei's Dream (Release date TBA)
(future The Third Kiss books TBA; open-ended series)
Note: The Lost Angels series (not including Always Angel) is available in print and eBook format. All other HKW books are currently eBook-only.
The Unseelie King
By Heather Killough-Walden
The Vampire King
The Phantom King
The Warlock King
The Goblin King,
The Seelie King
Book six in the BBW spinoff series,
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In light of -
That keeps us sane
In the madness of this reality
That makes us seek
The better –
So we don’t lose our ever-loving minds.
“Chess is infinite, and one has to make only one ill-considered move, and one`s opponent`s wildest dreams will become reality.”
- David Bronstein
They told the tales sometimes at gatherings. The Tuath Stories remembered the fates of the Wishers well.
Thousands of years ago, the sovereigns of the Fae lands issued a decree: The Wishers would die.
The Wish Fae had managed to hide their powers for eons. But all secrets were eventually told, and it was so for this one as well. When the sovereigns were made aware of the abilities of the Wishers, they grew frightened.
Powerful magicks were called forth, and in an act never before or since accomplished, both light and dark, both Seelie and Unseelie gathered together in their courts and combined their powers.
The Wishers were annihilated.
However... speculation caused rumors, which spread in whispers and eventually became legends that told how the strongest and most fortunate few managed to escape and hide themselves amongst humans in the mortal realm.
But thousands of years passed with no sign of these legendary Wishers.
In time, the sovereigns who had issued their massacre were overthrown. Under new rule, the truth of this terrible tragedy was well taught and lamented. The fae kingdoms had destroyed something precious.
The Wishers were declared extinct. And in its rareness, in its extinctness, the lost, most powerful class of the fae, in fact became sacred.
A little like a glass soda bottle exploding.
Some day, in her distant future, Minerva might liken this feeling to that – to being shaken up her entire life, to feeling the pressure build and build, painful and stretching and so, so full, but keeping that lid on tight minute after minute, day after day, year after year… until finally, in some blessed and horrible and all-consuming out-of-control moment, something grabbed her bottle of a body and soul and slammed it once and for all against a counter top.
She entered the bedroom and felt the death that was there even before her feet crossed the threshold. She paused in the entryway, her deep, midnight gaze sliding over the resting forms of her adoptive parents with grounded clarity. There was no doubt about what she was seeing. She never once wondered whether she might be dreaming.
She’d grown her whole life in the non-illusion that existence was pain. That
was so very wrong. That life, in and of itself, depended upon death. Nothing could survive without killing something else. It was the way of a messed up world.
So when she saw her parents dead, their lifeless hands clasped between them on that mattress in a final bucking of fate that allowed them to at least slip away together, she knew it was real.
And she turned around, left the room, left the house – and felt the most wondrous of changes break over her.
Minerva stood on the front doorstep and raised her arms at her sides. There was a strength inside her, fueled by the hatred of thirty-six years of trumping agony. It was a tornado, whirling through her, scooping up magic that only moments ago, she hadn’t been certain existed. And then Minerva was dropping back her head and closing her eyes.
Somewhere in the near distance, cars whizzed by. Horns honked and people walked in a packed crowd down an oblivious street. But up above, clouds were gathering, deep and dark and unnatural. A wind was building, a feeble attempt by nature at balancing out the normalcy of cruel, every-day life with what was about to be released into it by one little girl on the top step of a little house in a rural neighborhood right on the cusp of a busy little tourist trap city.
“Don’t do it, Minerva.”
A voice sliced through the whirlwind, spiked through Minerva’s drifting concentration, and slammed her focus right back into her brain, where it did not want to be. Minerva opened her eyes and looked down.
At the base of the stairs stood a man. He was beautiful.
And at once, Minerva knew exactly who and what he was. It was a knowledge infusion that came immediately and uninvited. It was because of who she was, who she
realized she was, and what she finally realized she could do.
She knew so much in that moment, it was impossible. But it happened anyway.
So she knew who
was – the beautiful man with the amethyst eyes and the raven black hair who stood tall and imposing at the base of the stairs. She knew
he was, dressed in his perfectly tailored suit, his hands in his pockets, his gaze piercing. Wrapped in darkness.
He was wickedness incarnate.
He was all of the magic and release and wonder and
that she had craved her entire fucking life, but that had always been just out of reach, leaving her lurching and yearning in this terrible reality she so desperately desired to escape. He was her dream lover, her mystery mate, the face and body she placed into every lead character of every romance novel she had ever read in her attempt to leave this world.
And there he was –
– when she wanted him least of all. There he was, staring up at her, when it was too damn late. When all he could possibly do any longer was interrupt her.
And keep her from getting the revenge she was due.
“Why shouldn’t I?” she asked. “What is there to save? And why the hell would you care,
The man’s chin raised, and his beautiful, piercing gaze narrowed thoughtfully. She knew then, as she knew everything else, that he was realizing what he was up against. She knew he was feeling her wrath, and he was unsure whether he was going to win this battle – or even leave this doorstep alive.
care, Minerva. More than anyone else on the planet. You don’t want to hurt anyone.” He opened his hands beseechingly, and Minerva’s gaze moved to his shiny black shoes, because she just knew he was going to try to take a step toward her. If he did, she was going to lay into him like a nightmare.
“You hate the violence that dominates this world,” he continued. “The last thing you want to do is add to it.” He spoke to her in the calmest, gentlest of tones.
Like a frightened man to a ticking time bomb.
He placed his hands on the metal railing of the back steps, and Minerva smiled. It was a detached gesture, one she barely felt, and one that seemed slightly alien to her. “You’re right and you’re wrong,” she told him calmly. “I
care. I always have.” She shook her head. “Far too much.” She paused for effect. “And so I want to hurt
.” She hissed the word through a grin. “Starting with
She was aware that the ring on his finger protected him from the iron in this world. Every fae knew that, therefore now she did too. It was part of the incredible, impossible knowledge that had come slamming into her the moment she’d grown aware of who and what she was – the moment the pain inside of her had become unbalanced and too great compared to the pain
The ring gave him strength, so that was what she went for first. She looked at his hand, and her gaze narrowed. “I wish your ring didn’t protect you anymore.”
The beautiful man’s unworldly eyes widened, almost imperceptibly. He hadn’t been expecting that. He hadn’t expected her to know quite as much as she did, especially about him.
But she was sure proving him wrong.
The man’s hands on the railing began to smoke. His brow furrowed, and he looked down. His movements were slow, as if he were literally stunned by what he was experiencing. No doubt, he
. And then, quite suddenly, he was yanking his hands away. At the same time, he began speaking arcane words in a voice that seemed as alien to this world as was the smile on Minerva’s face.
He was casting a spell at her.
Minerva’s already galactic anger spiked even more.
She exploded into the world around her like so much soda spray and shards of glass. The bottle had at last been shattered.
Everything was free now. And for once, for one blessed, well-deserved moment, she truly didn’t care.
The night was all-silent. It was a kind of silence the mortal world would never know. There was too much buzzing there, either from insects, or now from technology – ever running, always on. But here, in this strange and foreign land, there was nothing to make noise but the fire.
“Moonbeams.” His voice was merely more than a whisper, a softly spoken word to break through the quiet like an intruder.
There was no response from her but a slight fluttering of her long, thick eyelashes, as if the word had struck her and she were flinching. She was pretending not to pay attention to what he was saying. But he knew she was hearing him loud and clear. He also knew that she was not only seething, but
behind her bonds and that calm, beautiful exterior.
“That’s what my brother and I called the Wishers when we were little,” he continued, using a stick to stoke the fire. It sent rainbow-colored sparks rising into the night, which swallowed them up and turned them into rainbow-colored stars. “The Wishers were said to be made of them.” He watched her carefully. “Rays of moonlight, blue and bright.”
She couldn’t respond to him, of course, so even if she’d had something to say to that, she kept it to herself. The gag spell he’d cast upon her made certain of that. No sound would emit from her mouth until he lifted it… or she figured out a way to use her Wisher powers around it.
It wasn’t an uncomfortable spell; he’d used much worse on others. In fact, he’d gone to some extent to see to her comfort.
The material he’d tied tightly but carefully around her was fae silk. It was woven by daenids, large, pure white butterflies that spun the silk using inherent magic, creating it out of the pedals of the flowers they landed upon. It was so soft to the touch, it was said to soothe whoever wore it. That same material adorned Minerva’s wrists and ankles.
It was a necessary measure. Strictly, so.
Caliban’s purple-green eyes, shot through like a double-colored tourmaline, shifted from the woman across from him to the space of land outside the shield he’d erected over and around them. The field had once been filled with fae grasses and wildflowers, and a small stream had wound picturesquely through it, with banks of thick six-leaved crystal clover.
Now, however, the grass was burned, the wildflowers were dead, and the stream was dammed. Caliban’s gemstone eyes turned cold and hard when he saw what was damming it. He shifted his gaze once more to Minerva.
“Like the moon, the Wishers could turn the very tides,” he said softly. “With no more than a thought.”
Minerva’s dark, dark gaze suddenly lifted from the fire she had been staring into and met his head-on. At once, Caliban realized his mistake.
No more than a thought.
She closed those large, dark eyes of hers, and Caliban braced himself. Something was coming, and he had no idea how to prepare for it. There was no defense against a Wisher. It was why most of their kind had been destroyed at birth eons ago.
The fire he’d built for them suddenly flared – and then went out.
Caliban took a slow, calming breath. He cleared his mind, preparing his magic to be used at a heartbeat’s notice.
The ground began to tremble beneath his boots. He stood up. His gaze skirted to the fire. Its logs shifted, cracked, and sparked. The space beneath them split apart, and at once, the logs were gone, dropped into a black hole that was yawning open at the center of the clearing.
Caliban waited no longer. He lifted his right hand and spoke a powerful enchantment.
Minerva’s eyes flew open. Their dark, dark blue had gone black, and a flickering blue flame had sparked to life at their centers, ominous and telling. He felt her will buffet against his, a nearly physical force as her mind hastily whispered the words to some foul and powerful wish – and then his spell forced itself past her defenses to strike hard and fast.
Her head flew back, her long silver hair flying around her. She swayed for a moment, her blue fire eyes slipping shut once more. And then she slumped against the log behind her, unconscious.
Caliban’s chest felt strange. Empty, yet full. His gaze trailed over the curve of her chin, the slim line of her throat, to the collarbone that peeked from beneath her hooded zip-up jacket. After a moment, he realized his hands felt strange. He glanced down to find them trembling, and he curled them into fists.
The ache in his chest spread outward, reminding him of the wounds he’d sustained. He grimaced, dropped to the boulder beside him, and pulled his shirt over his head, exposing broad shoulders, sculpted muscles, and half a dozen bleeding wounds that would leave a variety of scars upon flesh that had never so much as been marred. Not in thousands of years.
He gingerly touched one of these wounds, sucked air through gritted teeth, and vowed to replenish his strength as soon as possible. He could at least close the open injuries, then. The scars would remain for much longer.
He turned his hand over and looked at the ring on his middle finger. For millennia, it had protected him from the one element in the realms that could bring him more damage than any other: iron. Now, however, it rested dull and useless upon his finger.
Caliban sighed, pulled the worthless trinket off, and tossed it into the hole where the fire had once been. He would need a new one – and they were very hard to come by.
Before he’d brought her here to the Twixt, this realm between realms, Minerva had faced off with him in the streets of Oxford, England. She’d been out of control, enraged by her parents’ death, and glowing with more vengeful power than any magical creature could handle. She’d lashed out at him, instantly knowing who he was and what his weaknesses were. She’d glanced at his ring and made it inert with no more than a muttered wish, a single venomous phrase hissed with fury that had made him vulnerable to an attack he had not, in the least, been expecting. Then she’d thrown everything at him – cars, street signs, barbed wire, you name it. And he’d never had to dodge or duck or speak his own magic so fast in his very long life.
He’d barely managed to get her through his portal and out of human sight in time to prevent her from inadvertently murdering the lot of them. For the life of him, he couldn’t believe he, himself, was still breathing.
There had been moments over the course of the last few hours that he had been frightened she’d not only learned his weaknesses, but his very
. All she would have had to do was speak it aloud, just once. And she would have had absolute control over him. All would have been lost.