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The Wyth Courts Ebook Bundle

The Wyth Courts Ebook Bundle

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Over 1200 pages of action and adventure, dark destinies, fated mates, and steamy romance!

Join Cade and Amber, Ashton and Hayley, Varian and Layla, Red and Blair as they fight against the odds that keep them apart in a magical land!

Includes:
Winter King (Book 1)
Spring Warrior (Book 2)
Summer Prince (Book 3)
Autumn Rebel (Book 4)

Synopsis Winter King (Book 1)

His court is dying, and she’s his only hope …

Monsters of the Tywyll Forest have poisoned the Winter Court, unleashing a prophecy that demands a human sacrifice to save the withering land. Willing to do whatever it takes to save his people, King Cadewyn of the Winter Court ventures to the human world in search of one insignificant life to claim...

Amber was used to her life being in shambles, but getting kidnapped and whisked off to a magical fae realm was a new low, even for her. While feeling drawn to the fae King by a sizzling attraction, her apprehension builds to a panic over why he brought her there.

When Cade discovers that Amber is his mate, can he still carry out his plan to sacrifice her? Or will the malicious plotting of others within the court leave Amber trapped in the mystical realm with nowhere to run?

Winter King is a standalone steamy paranormal romance with a HEA. Each book in the Wyth Courts series will feature a different couple, with a complete story, and a HEA.

Suited for readers 18+ due to language and sex scenes.

Chapter One Winter King (Book 1)

Chapter One

The report I got this morning was nothing like I expected.

“Have you seen this?” I asked Kei, my most trusted general, as I reread the words scribbled on the paper.

They couldn’t be right.

“I have, Cade,” Kei said, his voice strained. “It’s even worse than they described. I think you should come with me and see it for yourself.”

“Snow above,” I muttered under my breath as I rolled the paper back up and dropped it on the long table in my study alongside many other reports and scriptures. I had so much to do, but this…if this was true, it couldn’t wait. I gestured to Kei. “Lead the way.”

Kei’s long body shimmered and changed. His white and silver armor disappeared, giving way to light gray fur as he hunkered down and shook his tail behind him. As a wolf, he let out a short yelp, letting me know he was ready.

I changed too, but as the king of the Winter Court, my wolf was pure white and much bigger than Kei’s.

I’m ready, I told him through the link we shared when in our wolf forms.

Without another second to waste, Kei dashed away, and I followed. We ran through the hallways and down the stairs of the White Palace, dodging servants and guards who were going about their days.

The moment I stepped out of the palace, the six White Knights, who had been standing there and waiting, shifted into their wolf forms and followed us. Kei was the general of my army, but the White Knights were my personal bodyguards. I liked to think I didn’t need them, so I kept them outside the palace. But since we didn’t know much about the threat mentioned in this morning’s report, I had them come with us.

The eight of us ran out of the palace grounds, through the White City, and into the forest, where we could stretch our legs and use our full speed. We zoomed through the snow, past leafless trees and broken branches.

What would take eight hours by horse took us two hours in our wolf forms.

We’re almost there, Kei said into our minds.

He slowed down, and we followed suit. The trees gave way to a valley, where one of the border towers was located, but instead of being covered in snow, the ground was pitch-black.

I shifted into my fae form. “What in the frost is this?”

The guards who usually stayed at the tower appeared before me.

“It started overnight, my king,” Aimon said, his head low. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It started right at the border, and like a wave, it has been spreading over the land.”

“It took over the tower,” Birch said, pointing to the once-white tower, now a mass of dark gray crumbles. “We tried to fight it with our powers, to push it back, but it didn’t budge. Whatever this is, we can’t stop it.”

As we watched, the darkness spread some more. It was slow, but every five minutes or so, it advanced half an inch, melting the snow and killing the land underneath, turning everything black.

My brow furrowed. What could this be? With steady steps, I advanced toward it.

“My king, be careful,” Kei said, using formal speech. He only called me by my name when we were alone.

I heard him, but I had to know what in the frost was this. I crouched down, stretched my arm, and slid my index and middle fingers from the snow to the darkness.

The moment the darkness touched my skin, it burned worse than the Summer Court’s sun.

“Snow above,” I hissed, pulling back.

Kei and the six White Knights were all over me in a flash, but I pushed them away. Staring at the advancing darkness, I took several steps back. I didn’t care about the pain in my fingertips. That would pass, and with the magic in my veins, I would soon heal.

But what about my land?

I glanced around. “Who did this?” From here, all I could see was the valley in front of us, now black because of the darkness, and beyond the dried Triad River and the Tywyll Forest.

A land of monsters.

“We don’t know, my king,” Aimon said. “But we have reason to believe it was the Tabred.”

A wave of rage coursed through me, and I suppressed a growl. The Tywyll Forest was a land without a ruler, but that only meant many groups existed and fought against each other and against the Wyth courts. One of these groups, the Tabred, had been at war with my court for centuries.

After I killed their leader years ago, the group had been oddly quiet.

Until now.

This freezing thing happened. I inhaled deeply and channeled my magic. It filled my veins. Ice, snow, frost, wind—it was all part of me, part of my court. It was who I was, what I lived and breathed for.

“Stand back,” I rasped.

Kei, the White Knights, and the border guards took many steps back.

And I let out my magic. It blew like an avalanche, relentless in its path. If a lesser fae had stood there, it would have been obliterated in less than a second. A higher fae would be able to withstand it for a minute or two, but it would weaken him and eventually kill him.

The Winter Court was me, and I was the Winter Court. There was nothing stronger, faster, more powerful than me, not in this land. Not in my kingdom. And anyone who threatened my people, my court, would suffer the consequences.

I sent all my magic, all its vast power, to the darkness, sure I could revert it. Sure I could make it disappear.

But minutes later when I pulled back, breathing hard from the effort, I was dumbfounded to find the darkness hadn’t moved back one inch. In fact, it only advanced a little more.

“What in the frost?” I had no words, no idea, no action.

Nothing had ever resisted the full power of my magic before.

“What should we do, my king?” Kei asked, his tone guarded, as if afraid of my answer.

I opened my mouth, but no freezing word came out, because I didn’t know.

“It’s a curse,” a new voice said.

I turned and saw her.

Mahaera, the kind and gentle goddess of Wyth. Her long, white hair moved behind her as if she were underwater, and her long, white dress hugged her voluptuous form.

“A curse?” I asked her. If someone could tell me what this was and how to fix it, it was one of the three sister goddesses.

Mahaera offered me a tight smile, but her dark eyes remained serene. “The Tabred has put a curse on your land.”

“This is….” I pressed my lips tight. Unacceptable? Insane? Many colorful words flew through my mind.

“Tell us what to do, my king,” Kei said, bowing his head low. “If you want me to gather our forces and attack them full force, I’ll do so.”

Mahaera tsked, her dark eyes fixed on the dying land. “Reigniting the war, which has been dormant for years, won’t break this curse.”

“What will?” I asked, taking a couple of steps toward her. “What will break this curse?”

She turned, fixing those wise eyes on mine. This version of her was calm and gentle, but she still always said the truth and impacted our lives more than we expected it in any of her versions. “Here’s what you need to do….”

Synopsis Spring Warrior (Book 2)

He thought all was lost ... until he found her.

Civil war sliced through the Spring Court, leaving the royal family assassinated and General Ashton imprisoned. Torturous years later, Ash finally escapes and embarks on a mission to complete the last order he was given by the late King—to locate his lost princess. In a small flower shop, living a rather mundane existence, he finds a rare beauty named Hayley—who happens to be the rightful heir to the throne.

It falls to Ash to convince her to accompany him back to the Spring Court and challenge the faux king for the crown. Hayley’s only chance at survival is to stay close to the chiseled warrior’s side, even as they reignite the flames of war.

Can Ash help her tap into the strength of her royal blood and awaken the queen within before the faux king tears them, and what’s left of their kingdom, apart?

Spring Warrior is a standalone steamy paranormal romance with a HEA. Each book in the Wyth Courts series will feature a different couple, with a complete story, and a HEA.

Suited for readers 18+ due to language and sex scenes.

Synopsis Summer Prince (Book 3)

He’s trapped in a dark land, and she’s his only hope of escape.

Locked in a vicious battle with the tyrant king, a spell is cast on Prince Varian of the Summer Court that transports him to a realm of ghastly monsters and unspeakable horrors. There, he is imprisoned by ogres and learns of a powerful witch who may hold the key to his return to Summer Court.

But this magical enchantress is far more than she appears...

After living in the beastly land for ten years, Layla holds no hope of ever returning home—until she hears whispers of the ogres’ fae captive. Desperate to leave the torturous realm behind, she ventures out in hopes of achieving the impossible.

Brought together by their mutual goal of escape, Varian and Layla embark on a race against time to return to Summer Court. Battling their way through treacherous terrain, they find themselves fighting a reignited war and their growing desire for each other. Can they make it back before Varian’s kingdom falls? Or will they have nothing to hold but each other has their world comes crumbling down?

Summer Prince is a standalone steamy paranormal romance with a HEA. Each book in the Wyth Courts series will feature a different couple, with a complete story, and a HEA. Suited for readers 18+ due to language and sex scenes.

Chapter One Summer Prince (Book 3)

Chapter One

If this place were called purgatory, it would have been a compliment.

At the sound of heavy footsteps and dragging metal, I quickly wrapped myself in a glamour and climbed to the highest tree branch that would support my weight. I flatted my back against the rough trunk and tried to keep my breathing slow and steady.

No sudden movements, no sounds.

It didn’t take three seconds for the monsters to show up. Five creatures almost twice as tall as I was, broad and strong, with thick, rough, greenish skin. Muscles and dark veins corded their long arms and legs. Most were bald, but these five had a few patches of black hair on their large heads. Their dark eyes were sunk in, their noses too large, and their mouths crooked. Their long and sharp teeth could easily cut through flesh—I knew that from experience. They walked with a drunken gait, but they weren’t drunk. And they were more agile than it seemed—yeah, experience.

I rubbed my shoulder, where a scar marked my skin. I didn’t know how I hadn’t died of infection, but somehow, I had survived.

Sometimes I wished I hadn't.

The monsters trudged forward, carrying their steel maces, dragging them on the earth, and leaving dents in the soft ground.

When they were about thirty yards past my hiding spot, I exhaled a deep breath.

One of the creatures stopped.

I stilled and checked my glamour. I was mostly sure my fae glamours worked on them. But right now, as the creature’s eyes scanned the trees, the dark bushes, the ground, I wondered if it would find me. He sniffed the air.

That I had learned quickly. These monsters had a superior sense of smell; most of the monsters here did. I often spread mud over my arms, legs, neck, and face, hoping it would be enough to disguise my scent.

After six tense seconds, the monster huffed and lumbered after its companions.

I didn’t dare move for another full minute.

When they were out of sight, I jumped from the tree branch and landed on the wet ground, burying my boots to the ankle in mud. I let out a long sigh. From nearby bushes, I fished out the rabbit I had killed moments before the creatures appeared, and then made my way back to my camp.

My camp was a hollowed-out tree trunk. There was only one entrance, which I covered at night with a panel I had made of thick pine branches.

Most nights, I slept seated against the panel, keeping it in place against the many creatures that prowled the night, creatures I had never seen before in my entire life, and that would tear off my head in three seconds flat.

I set up the few branches I had tied together to make up a kind of grill, and bunched up some firewood underneath it. I tied the rabbit—it wasn’t really a rabbit and it certainly didn’t taste like one, but I had no idea what to call it—to a sturdier branch and placed it over the firewood. Then, I pointed my finger at it and a jet of flames flew from my fingertip, igniting the firewood.

I sat in front of my dinner and stared at the fire.

I had been sent here through that blazing portal by that scorching witch over three weeks ago. I thought I lost a day or two, trying to situate myself and running and hiding from the monsters who plagued this strange and dark land, but after that, I started counting the days. I wanted to know how long I was here.

I refused, though, to believe I would stay here forever. Just because I had already roamed this swamp for days on end, and never found anything, didn’t mean there wasn’t some kind of civilization out there. Intelligent beings, capable beings, beings who would help me get back to my realm.

I had to hope there was a way, that I would find a way …

My chest tightened and I pressed a hand over my heart. I took a deep breath and focused. I wouldn’t fall into despair now. I had survived three weeks here, I would survive more, and I would find a way home. I had to, because the last time I had seen my mother, the queen of the Summer Court, she had been hit with magic by the witch Sanna, and it didn’t look good.

I had no idea if Sanna had killed everyone, if Vasant had won that battle, or if my mother was alive.

I hurt for her and my kingdom. If my mother died and I wasn’t there … there was no one else to rule the Summer Court. Mahaeru was sure to interfere and appoint someone else, but would that be enough? I feared rebels would rise up and a civil war would erupt.

Anything could happen, and I wasn’t there to help. To fix it.

Time passed while my thoughts took me away from this terrible land and filled me with anxiety over the situation I was in. The rabbit roasted, its smell reaching my nose. The first time I cooked it, the poignant scent of rubber had turned me off and I hadn’t eaten it. But the next day, I was too famished to care. Now, I didn’t even notice it anymore.

With a piece of wood I had sharpened against a rock, I cut a piece of meat from its leg and shoved it in my mouth.

The snap of a twig sounded in the distance and I stilled. What the blazes was that? Few monsters came this way, not at this time of the day at least. I glanced to the sky, trying to see the suns from between the sparse copse of trees; they burned high in the sky, which meant it was around midday.

The crunch of feet in the dried grass reached my ears. I swallowed the meat and with a wave of my hand put the fire away. I picked up the branches that made up my grill and pushed everything inside my tree trunk.

Then, I glamoured myself and hid. I hadn’t had time to put the panel over the hole in the trunk, but I scooted to the back and held my breath, hoping they wouldn’t hear or smell me.

The monsters stepped into my small corner of trees and stopped. I spied them through a tiny crack in the tree trunk, praying to the gods of Wyth to help me once more.

One of them said something in a language I couldn’t understand, his voice deep and rough. He pointed to the smoking firewood on the ground.

Blaze, I had forgotten to clean that up too.

They sniffed the air. A second later, one of them pointed to my tree and said something. The others responded.

Three of the seven monsters advanced on the tree’s hole.

I clenched my fist and called to my fire, knowing there was no way out of this other than fighting. Me against seven of them? It wouldn’t be pretty, but I wouldn’t go down without a fight.

One of the monsters knelt in front of the trunk’s entrance and looked inside. A nasty scar cut from his forehead to his cheek, and that eye was all white, giving me a ghostly vibe. Even so, he looked around, reaching in with his big, clumsy hand and sharp nails since he was too big to come inside.

I sucked in my stomach, trying to make myself smaller, but I knew this was a lost cause.

When his hand, in the shape of a claw, scratched against the sack containing my stuff, I dropped all pretense. I let my glamour fade and threw my hands out, sending a powerful jet of fire to him.

The monster howled and clambered back.

But then the others came forward.

I stood in the tight hollow trunk, my legs apart and my arms raised, and sent my fire to the monsters, maiming them as best as I could. Until the ground started shaking and a loud groaning filled the air. In seconds, the tree was ripped from its roots, and I fell forward, faceplanting on the wet ground.

One of the monsters closed its hand around my arms and torso and lifted me in the air as if I was a bug.

He said something, followed by a hoarse sound that seemed like laughter. The others followed suit.

I jerked against his hold, but nothing budged. I tried summoning my magic, but when the monster tightened his grip around me, making me dizzy and breathless, it was hard to focus. I lost the hold on my magic.

And soon, I lost the hold on my consciousness.

Synopsis Autumn Rebel (Book 4)

All he wanted was to stay away … until she needed his help.

Prince Redlen isn’t called the rebel prince for nothing. Since a youngling, he would rather spend time with the soldiers on the outskirts of the Autumn Court, or train with neighboring kingdoms, than visit his own family at the Oren Palace. But when their worst enemy shows up at their shores and threatens his kingdom, he has no choice but to go back.

Blair’s life has been laid bare in front of her eyes since she was a young fae. As the future queen of the Autumn Court, the weight of her responsibilities is almost too much for her, and it only increases when the unthinkable happens—the crown prince falls by the hands of their enemy.

Now without a ruler and with their enemy advancing fast, Blair and Red must forget their many differences—and the mistakes from the past—and unite against a common goal.

Though, the enemy is proving to have grown smarter, stronger. This time, they have a ruthless plan to destroy the Autumn Court, a plan no one saw coming. Will Red and Blair put their differences aside and stop arguing long enough to come up with a plan of their own and save their kingdom?

Autumn Rebel is a standalone steamy paranormal romance with a HEA. Each book in the Wyth Courts series will feature a different couple, with a complete story, and a HEA. Suited for readers 18+ due to language and sex scenes.

Chapter One Autumn Rebel (Book 4)

Chapter One

Even though the night was cold, the spiced wine was warm, and that kept the male fae going. I brought my cup to my lips, but stopped midway when the Winter fae clipped the chin of the Autumn fae with his fist.

The Winter fae cheered.

I groaned, drank the rest of the wine in my cup, and discarded it on the snow. “Come on, Lennox!” I yelled over the cheering.

Lennox threw me a heated glared before ducking under the Winter fae’s arm and landing a hard elbow on the fae’s back. His opponent lost his footing and landed face-first in the snow.

“Is this better?” Lennox asked, his voice high pitched.

I didn’t have time to answer him as the other fae shot up and charged him, resuming the fight.

I looked around, searching for the young page who was serving drinks. I caught sight of him on the other side of the improvised ring, filling the cups of the other fae. Eventually, he would return this way. Meanwhile, I clutched the fur-lined cloak I had brought and tried to stay warm.

Whose idea was it to go traveling to other courts and offer them my services? Oh, yeah, mine. If I was here, suffering in the cold air of the Winter Court, it was my rusting fault.

But I couldn’t deny that after a handful of days here, it was easy to get used to the cold and the snow. And the fae. The soldiers welcomed Lennox and me, and even invited us to two of these games. Every few days, they constructed a makeshift ring behind the barracks, where the noise wouldn’t be heard from the castle, and fought among themselves. The only rule was no magic or weapons, only fists and your own strength. Bets ran freely with each match, but the money didn’t seem to matter. The main thing was the camaraderie and the fun.

Things I hadn’t encountered in a long time.

The first night they invited Lennox and me for the fights, I was skeptical. We were here as guests of the Winter King. I didn’t want to sneak around and do something we shouldn’t. But they assured me King Cadewyn—or Cade to his friends—knew about the fights, and even showed up once in a while to fight too.

I couldn’t tell if that was true or not, but I chose to believe it was.

Lennox stopped playing and landed a rapid sequence of front kicks in the castle guard’s chest that made him stumble back and lose his footing. Lennox advanced and brought up his fist in a beautiful uppercut. The guard went down.

Lennox lifted both fists to the air. “Yes!”

The soldiers around the ring groaned and exchanged coins. Only a few had bet on Lennox.

Sweaty but wearing a big grin, Lennox trudged to my side. The young page appeared and Lennox grabbed two cups of spiced wine. He offered one to me and brought the other to his lips, drinking it all in two big gulps. 

When he was done, I handed my cup back to him. “It looks like you need this more than I do, captain.”

Lennox didn’t hesitate. He took my cup and emptied its contents. Then he reached to the side and fished his cloak from a bench lining the stone path—now mostly buried under the snow. He patted a hand over it, sweeping away the ice and snow that had clung to the fabric. He wrapped the cloak around his body and shivered.

“It was a good fight,” he said. “This might be for sport, but it’s different from the formal training.”

“Different is good,” I observed.

“Yes,” he agreed. “The more we train with different styles and patterns, the better our fighting will be.”

I nodded, but deep down, I wondered why we bothered. The last big fight in Wyth had been almost a year ago, when the witch Sanna had invaded the Sun City in the Summer Court. If it had depended on Crown Prince Lugh, we would have stayed away from that fight too, just like we stayed away when Cade had to deal with the Tabred invading and cursing his lands, and then when the Spring Court had to fight their tyrant fake king, Vasant—alongside the witch, Sanna.

I had been fighting in the Autumn Court’s army since I could hold a sword, and I would do anything for my kingdom, but I had grown tired of watching the disparities of Wyth from afar. Most of the other courts had united to fight together. Why couldn’t we? Just because the former king thought our kingdom didn’t need to depend on others? That we should be strong and efficient independently? Because he didn’t want to have any debts to pay?

That had been many years ago. I had urged the crown prince to change his stance on the matter, but he wanted to follow his father's example. So, I remained quiet.

But at some point, I couldn’t sit on my ass and watch anymore. Disobeying direct orders to stand down, I marched out of the Autumn Court and faced Sanna and the trolls with the other courts. And since then, I had barely stepped foot in my kingdom.

After helping at the Summer Court, I had gone to the Night Court and helped Prince Nix and Princess Amaya train a new crop of soldiers, and now here I was, at the Winter Court, helping General Kei with his soldiers. He wanted to train them in different styles and tactics than they were used to, and I was happy to oblige.

In the handful of days Lennox and I had been here, we had received many compliments from the generals and the king. I tried not letting that go to my head, but it felt great to be useful again.

Not that there wasn’t much to do in the Autumn Court, but I had always wanted—needed—a change of scenery. Now, I was finally getting one.

The fighting went on for two more rounds while the coins flowed, along with the wine and ale. 

Then Xitan, one of the White Knights, walked to the middle of the makeshift ring and pointed his finger at me. “I challenge Prince Redlen for a fight.”

A cheer erupted around the fae, and Lennox patted my shoulder. “I don’t think you can get out of this one, Red.”

Who said I wanted to?

I unclasped my cloak and pushed it into Lennox’s arms. My sword had stayed back in my room, but I never left my dagger behind—I unfastened it from my belt and handed it to Lennox too. As I walked toward the ring, I rolled my shoulders and flexed my bare arms—I had been ready to fight. The soldiers whistled and cheered, eager to see a foreign prince getting his ass kicked.

As if I would allow that to happen.

I stepped into the ring and faced Xitan as he said, “Remember, my lord, no magic.”

I nodded. When fighting, my instinct was to reach for my magic first—my power of the Autumn elements or shapeshifting into my fox form—but since arriving in the Winter Court, we had trained without any of it. It was a nice change of pace.

We positioned ourselves in combat stances—feet apart, fists raised, eyes locked in a defiant glare.

For a minute, we just stayed like that, facing each other, while the crowd around us exchanged bets. From the corner of my eye, I saw Lennox exchanging coins. He better be betting on me, or I would demote him to a castle guard when we got back to the Autumn Court.

If we got back to the Autumn Court.

When the chatting and movement reduced around us, someone yelled, “Fight!”

Xitan didn’t waste time and came at me, his arms throwing punches left and right, forcing me to retreat backward and dodge in rapid succession. The worst part of fighting in this court wasn’t how skilled the soldiers were; it was the rusting snow and ice. Even though the ring had been cleared of snow, a thin layer of sleet and ice remained, making it difficult to find footing. During the fights, I had seen many able fae fall because they slipped on the ice, and that had given their opponents an opening.

And they were all used to battling in these conditions. I wasn’t.

I ground my heels on the ice as best as I could and held my ground when Xitan swiped a hook at my head. I ducked and landed a pretty uppercut to his stomach. The soldier gasped and stumbled back, losing his balance and almost falling back. He pressed a hand over his chest, inhaling deeply, but I didn’t give him a chance to recover and come at me again. I charged headfirst and wrapped my arms around his midriff, taking him down. Again, he gasped for air. I allowed him two seconds to recover before straddling and raising my fist to his face.

“Surrender?” I asked.

One corner of his lips tugged up. “Never.” In a flash, he scooped some of the snow accumulated at the edge of the ring and threw it at my eyes. I blinked, but in that one second, he acted. Taking advantage of my disorientation, Xitan flipped us and pressed my back on the cold ice. “Use your surroundings, prince.” I groaned from the chill spreading through my body and from not being used to this scenery. Of course, the snow. “Surrender?” he asked, his fist lined with my head.

“Prince Redlen!” a voice echoed through the night.

The soldiers turned to the voice and stood at attention. Xitan clasped my arm and shot up, helping me stand beside him.

General Kei strode among the fae, coming toward me.

“Good evening, general.” I ran a hand over my pants, patting off the ice and snow. “Were you looking for me?”

General Kei stopped at the edge of the makeshift ring. “Not me. King Cadewyn is asking for you.”

I frowned. At this time of the night? “What is it?”

General Kei glanced around and as if he had issued an order, the soldiers dispersed and walked away. When no one else but Lennox and Xitan were within earshot, the general continued, “There’s trouble at the border.”


* * *


When Kei said there was trouble at the border, I imagined it was the border with the Day Court or maybe the Dusk Court. I hadn’t thought he meant south, where the Winter Court met the Triad River, and beyond it, the Tywyll Forest.

The last I heard, Cade had joined forces with his mate, Amber, and the king of the Day Court. Together, they had conjured a magical barrier to keep the Tywyll Forest isolated forever. How could there be trouble now?

I met with the king in front of the White Castle, where he waited for me with a handful of his White Knights. The king and his knights shapeshifted into their wolf forms. General Kei and Xitan did the same. I glanced at Lennox and we shifted into our fox forms.

My fox was dark red, like my hair, and almost twice the size of Lennox’s burnt-orange fox. Beside Cade’s white wolf, my fox looked small, but what I lacked in size, I compensated for in agility and speed.

We rushed through the forest, our paws pounding the snow and ice covering the ground. I couldn’t deny the Winter Court was a beautiful place, with all the eerie whiteness blanketing the earth and the ice wrapping around the trees, giving them a crystal-like shine. Shame it was a little too cold for my taste.

We slowed down when we arrived at one of the border outposts. Two guards emerged from it, and we shifted back to our fae form to talk to them.

The two guards bowed to their king.

“What’s going on?” Cade asked. He had his long white hair falling down his back, and wore a fancy white fur cloak over his broad shoulders. “The report said there was movement outside the barrier.”

“Yes, my king,” one of the soldiers said. His name was Aimon. The other was Birch. I had seen them both before during training. “Right where the river narrows and becomes shallow. We saw shadows behind the magical barrier.”

Cade glanced at me. “How about you and I go investigate?”

Before meeting Cade in front of the castle, I had made a quick stop at my room in the barracks—I had been offered a fancy guest chamber in the castle, but I had refused—to grab my armor and my sword.

Now, I placed a hand on the hilt of my sword, hanging from its scabbard at my hip, and nodded at the king. “I’m ready.”

Lennox’s brow slammed down and I knew what was going through his head. He had been my best friend since we were little kids. We had joined the army together, trained all our lives together, and when I advanced in rank, I arranged for him to serve with me. Most of our missions, most of our fights had been together, and he always got anxious when I left him behind. He had made a vow to protect me, and he couldn’t keep that vow when he wasn’t with me.

I looked at him and gave him a brief nod, assuring him that everything would be all right. Lennox pressed his lips in a tight line but didn’t say anything.

Cade took the lead, and I followed. The two of us marched through the snow until it stopped at the river’s bed.

“There,” he said, pointing to a soft bend in the river, where it became a thin and shallow strip.

We approached the bend. I couldn’t see the barrier, other than a murky glare in the distance, but I could feel its powerful magic brushing against me like a gentle wind.

I watched for movement or shadows behind the barrier but didn’t see anything.

“Even if we see something, it’s not like they can cross it, right?” I asked. “I mean, there’s no way to break the barrier’s magic.”

Cade’s brow was furrowed as he assessed the barrier for any weakness. “I don’t know. How many times have we seen magic that was seemingly indestructible, and then something came and undid it?”

True. I hoped this wasn’t the case.

“But—“

A shadow loomed behind the barrier and jumped through it. Cade lifted his hands and sent out a wave of ice, and I brought the wind, but it was too late.

The shadow caught us.

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