Faolan was the shadows. He was wrapped so tightly in them that they pervaded his every thought, his every movement. He was one with them and he couldn't remember a time he had ventured this deep into them. It was dangerous, going this deep, but he had a line to the surface – Vinaya. He wouldn't get lost in the shadows when he knew she was back in her cottage, sick with worry for him.

He followed behind Faillai as she strode confidently through the camp, in her civilian clothes. The others seemed to know exactly who she was, though, and she received a range of reactions, from awed looks to jeering calls. It all seemed like a blur to Faolan, as he was concentrating hard on bending and weaving with the shadows as they passed numerous torches. The only thing he noticed, though, was how foreign everything was. The people, the voices, the tents, the armour… he could go on, but he wasn't here to study their culture.

He was here to kill a God-King.

They reached the middle of the camp and arrived at a lavish looking tent, surrounded by guards. It was huge and Faolan didn't even want to think about the number of people it must've taken to erect it. However, Faillai didn't go into this one. There was a much smaller, dingier one attached to it on the side. Faillai nodded to the guards on either side of the doorway and strode through without any hesitation. Faolan slid in behind her, slipping through just before the carpet fell shut again. It was dimly lit inside, but Faolan could easily make out the darkly beautiful woman reclined in a chair. She was dressed strangely, in folds of some kind of iridescent, sheer material. She looked up when Faillai entered and stood up, a smile spreading across her face. It completely lit her face up, warding away the shadows and darkness on her face.

"Faillai, I thought I had lost you," she breathed, her voice lyrical and accent strange. "Please tell me you bring good news."

"My Queen," the woman said, dropping down onto her knee and bowing her head before standing. "And I do have good news. The foreign king has sent us a magical warrior."

Faillai looked around, her face beginning to show doubt that Faolan had even followed as planned. Faolan decided that this would be a good time to reveal himself. He dropped the shadows and then almost immediately ducked to the side as a knife went whistling past. He threw himself down behind one of the chairs as a few other knives went whizzing through the air.

"My Queen, calm down! That is him," he heard Faillai exclaim.

"This isn't exactly the welcome I was expecting," Faolan muttered.

"You've brought me an invisible warrior?" the queen asked. "Not what I was expecting, but I am happy nonetheless. Come out, invisible man, I will not hurt you."

Faolan grimaced slightly as he stood up – the woman wouldn't even be able to touch him, let alone hurt him.

"I have been sent by my people to assassinate your God-King. Faillai assured us that you could get me close enough."

The queen looked at him evenly, assessing him behind closed eyes. She turned to Faillai.

"I want you to get everyone ready for a quick departure. I will let this man in and then we must get back to Sardonia as quickly as possible." She turned to Faolan. "So yes, invisible man, I will help you kill that disgusting man."

Faolan smiled.

The queen walked past Faolan, her clothing trailing behind her elegantly, and picked up the several knives that she'd thrown at him earlier. They disappeared in various places around her body. Faillai bowed once more to her queen then disappeared out the door.

"Come," she said, before striding out of the door. Faolan again wrapped the shadows around him, hiding deep in them. He followed her as she went to the doorway of the larger tent. She raised an eyebrow to the guards in front of it and they let her through without comment. They must be used to her visiting at strange hours of the night, then. Faolan had been told that this woman was a captive but she looked pretty free at the moment. He sunk deeper into the shadows, just in case, as he slid through the doorway after her.

They then waited in some kind of outer room as a servant disappeared. The queen stood in the middle of the room, looking straight ahead blankly until the servant reappeared, gesturing for her to go through the carpet doorway.

The next room was ridiculously opulent, especially for a time of war. The carpet walls and floor were of rich reds and browns, looking unimaginably comfortable. Gold and jewels dripped everywhere, but the only occupant was a tall, built man, dressed in black clothes with golden accents. He had his back turned to them both but power still rolled off him. He had thick black hair that was braided and fell to the small of his black, gold ribbon weaved in with it. He turned around and smiled at the queen, but it sent an uncharacteristic shiver down his spine. The man oozed charisma and a strange, dark power. It had nothing to do with the shadows, yet it was still foreboding and pervasive, filling all corners of the tent.

"Chantilly," he murmured. "You come of your own volition now – I am impressed."

Faolan moved now, whispering across the carpet at the edges of the tent. He had to move slowly, carefully, or they'd notice a change in the air.

"I have grown weary of being dragged from my tent by your men," the queen replied disdainfully. Faolan was impressed that she didn't give any hints that he was here. Slowly, slowly, he crept closer.

"Always so critical, darling," he mused. The God-King closed the distance between them and trailed a finger down the sound of Chantilly's face. She twisted her head away, making the man chuckle. "This is one of the things I find so fascinating about you. Always so defiant, even in defeat."

"I wish you wouldn't find me so fascinating," she said, head still tilted away.

Faolan was close. His heartbeat began to speed up but he kept his breathing silent and even.

"I don't think that's true," he chuckled. "You see, once I grow bored of you, I will give you to my soldiers. A prize, if you will."

Faolan's hand twitched and a dagger slid into his palm.
"You disgust me."
"And you enchant me." He gripped onto Chantilly's arm tightly and from Faolan's close vantage point, he could see how tight his grip was. "Now, undress."

Chantilly glared at him, hatred swirling in her dark eyes.

Faolan took a deep breath. Dropped the shadows. Quick as a viper, he plunged the dagger up and in.

The God-King moved incredibly fast. Almost as soon as his shadows disappeared, the God-King whipped around, his arm flying up to punch Faolan and throw him to the ground. Faolan hit the ground hard, could feel the side of his face shatter, but he threw himself into a roll and sprung up.

How had the God-King moved so fast?! Faolan knew that he moved fast, faster than every other warrior he'd ever met – except for now. The God-King had blurred.

He'd still managed to get the dagger into his chest, but he'd missed his heart and hit his shoulder, instead.

"An assassin, Chantilly?" the God-King laughed. "You think an assassin could kill me?" Then, to Faolan's horror, the man reached around to this back and pulled the knife out of his chest. It made a sickening sound but the God-King didn't even wince, even when blood began dripping out of the hole, mixing in with his black robes. He threw the bloody dagger away carelessly. It didn't even make a sound as it bounced along the plush carpet to stop at the wall. "You'll regret this, Chantilly, when your darling daughter is being handed to by Apostles."

He took two steps and backhanded Chantilly across the face, so fast that he was a blur again. Faolan could barely follow it with his eyes, but it looked like the man had used two arms: one shadowy, the other corporeal.

Then he turned on Faolan.

The charismatic God-King was long gone. Faolan could definitely see the reasons why the God-King would be feared. He looked deadly, like something right out of afterlife, especially with the black mist that was beginning to drift up from his body. He seemed to grow larger, the black mist mimicking and expanding his body in strange ways.

"You were close, though, closer than any other assassin has ever come," he said to Faolan, stalking closer slowly despite the dripping hole in his chest. "But you missed my heart."

"How are you still alive?" Faolan couldn't help but ask, his voice slightly distorted from his healing jaw. The God-King didn't even looked affected from being stabbed in the chest.

Two more daggers appeared in his hands and he circled around the tent, keeping the same distance between the two of them. He spread his arms out with a grin. "I am the God-King. You can't kill me because death is part of me." And Faolan believed that. "I already have a foot into the realm of the dead, assassin."

The God-King reached to his hip and pulled out a huge, black sword that seemed to suck in the light around it. Just looking at it made Faolan feel sick with fear. Faolan threw the two knives in his hands in quick succession but the God-King swerved in a blur. His body moved unnaturally – his legs kept walking straight but his upper body blurred to the side to avoid the flying daggers. Faolan began to backpedal, grabbing more daggers and flinging them at him to the same effect.

Suddenly, the God-King stopped. His face went slack. Faolan frowned, wondering what was going on – none of his daggers had even grazed him.

"You…" the God-King said, grabbing the bloody wound on his chest. His sword clattered to the ground.

Suddenly, Faolan realised what was happening. He smiled.

"I may have missed your heart," he said. "But you're not immune to poison." The God-King dropped to his knees. "That's Devils Foley going through your blood right now. Quick acting and excruciating."

"Guards!" the God-King yelled and Faolan immediately drew the shadows around him just as the guards came in. The God-King looked around frantically for Faolan but he was already enshrouded by darkness. Faolan moved fast, lunging for Chantilly and pulling her into the shadows with him before the guards reached her. They cried out in shock and the God-King swore loudly, but Faolan was already dashing towards the door with the unconscious woman in his arms. There was no chance he was getting any closer to the God-King now. He just had to hope that the poison would be enough.

The guards rushed to the God-King, helping him to stand. Faolan ran into the adjoining tent to see Faillai and others standing around, looking worried.

Next door, he heard the God-King yell, "Prepare my ship! I'm going to strangle that Medeoan brat with my own hands!"

"But sir," some brave person said, "what about the invasion—"

"I don't give a shit," he hissed. "Bring me my Apostles, we are leaving."

Faolan threw the shadows off and placed Chantilly on the ground. Faillai was the only one who didn't jump and draw a weapon.

"She is just unconscious, I think," Faolan murmured. Faillai's face was pale but she nodded.

"We must leave immediately and beat the God-King back to our country," she said.

"He has been poisoned and it would normally be deadly, but I can't be sure," Faolan said lowly as the other in the tent lowered their weapons. "He has been affected but I can't know to what extent."

"You have done more than anyone else, shadow man," Faillai said, touching him on the arm. "We thank you. I wish you and your country well."

Faolan nodded and drew the shadows around himself, darting out of the tent once again. The God-King's tent next door was a hive of uproarious activity, guards and men in red rushing in and out.

Faolan gave it one last regretful look, his injured jaw pulsing in sympathy, before he disappeared into the night.


My jaw ached and I couldn't stop shivering. Isis sat on my shoulder, rubbing her head onto mine, but I couldn't gain any comfort from it. All I kept thinking of was Faolan with a sword through his chest, abandoned in some ditch somewhere. But I knew he was still alive, thankfully, even if something had happened to his jaw. What if he'd been hurt more and his strange powers had blocked it from her feeling it through the Bond?

"I made you some tea," Ramona said awkwardly, holding out a steaming cup. I accepted it gratefully, mustering up a small smile.

"I just can't help but think of all the things that could go wrong," I said, blowing on the hot water. Ramona sat down next to me on the window seat but my eyes were glued to outside, searching for any sign of my mate.

"He'll be alright, princess, I'm sure. He promised to come back to you, after all."

The sun was beginning to rise as the grounds outside turned an eerie grey colour.

"I just can't…" I sighed in frustration. "I just can't stop worrying."

Ramona placed a comforting hand on my leg but stayed silent. We sat together and watched as the sun slowly appeared above the horizon. I was close to dozing off when I noticed a strange rippling in the air close to the door outside. Immediately, I was awake as I leapt up and threw open the door. I startled Ramona so much that she toppled off the seat whereas Isis took off with an indignant squawk.

"Faolan," I breathed, just as the man himself dropped the shadows and appeared in front of me. His jaw was covered in blood but it was mostly healed, black shadows dancing around in the small cuts that were left. But I didn't care. I threw myself at him, almost sobbing in relief as I felt his warm arms come up around me. He was here, with me, and he was alive.

When I felt the blood began to seep through my clothing, I pulled away with a gasp.

"We need to get you cleaned up!"

Faolan chuckled reluctantly.

"I don't need you to help clean me up," he said, but was dragged in regardless. Ramona smiled and quietly left.

I dragged him over to the kitchen and wet a rag, before sitting him down.

"You're not hurt anywhere else, are you?" I worried, checking him over. "Do you want me to get a Healer or—"

"I'm fine, princess," he said. He gently took the wet rag from my tightly clenched hand and wiped his own jaw with it, wincing slightly.

I forced myself to calm down a bit and sat down, clenching my hands together in front of me.

"What happened?" I breathed.

"He's… he's not dead," Faolan said and I felt myself deflate. "But he's leaving – or he was when I got out of there."

My eyes widened and I slapped him on the shoulder.

"That's great news! Why did you lead with that horrible news and make me think you had failed? For Creator's sake, Faolan, way to give me a heart attack!"

Faolan grinned and it made my heart clench.

He finished wiping all the blood off and threw the rag into the sink. He smiled slowly at me, his eyes darkening and leaned forward—

And then Leo burst into the cottage.

"The God-King has left!" he cried. "Their camp is in complete disarray! You did it, Faolan!"

Nothing ruined a moment like your twin bursting in.

I couldn't help but laugh, though, at the annoyed expression on his face.

"I know," he said shortly.

"Why didn't you come up to the castle?"

Faolan frowned at Leo.

"Because I knew my mate would be worried, so I came straight here to tell her the news. And celebrate," he added, which made me wince. Leo frowned for a moment before understanding dawned and his eyes widened.

"No," he blurted. "No celebrating, Vinaya needs to… she needs to come up to the palace! And tell everyone herself!"

I rolled my eyes and stood up, grabbing Leo by his arm and dragging him out of my cottage.

"I'll leave that up to you," I said dryly, before slamming the door in his face. I blew out a breath and leant against the door as Faolan came out of the kitchen.

"Well that was unexpected," he said with a sardonic smile. "And served to completely ruin the mood."

I laughed, feeling all the stress drain out of me. I was completely relaxed for the first time in a long time and it felt amazing. In a fit of impulsiveness, I ran and jumped at Faolan. He grunted in surprise but his arms came around to support me as I wrapped my legs around him.

"We're free! It's over!" I yelled.

Faolan's eyes were wide and honestly, he was looking a little bit scared. I ignored that.

"The army hasn't actually left yet…"

"But we cut off the head of the snake! You cut off the head of the snake! The God-King has gone and surely his army will follow afterwards, right? No more war – no more invasion. We're free to stay here or, you know, go back to your camp, whatever you want!"

I wiggled and Faolan obligingly let me go. When my feet were on the ground I grabbed his hands.

"My people are free now," he said slowly. "With the Duke and Mistica gone, they don't need me anymore."

He looked a bit lost by this, which I could understand. He'd dedicated years of his life to protecting his people and now, they didn't need him anymore.

"That doesn't mean you can't go back," I said softly, placing a soft hand on his jaw. "They love you there and your men would miss you."

Faolan frowned.

"But your family is here…"

"Honestly, Faolan," I said with a smile. "We just won a war and you're acting all glum. I can go wherever you want to go; I've spent over two decades with my family, anyway. Lighten up!"

"You would move back to Gurneiah with me?"

I rolled my eyes. "You are so dense, Faolan. What part of 'I love you, we're mates' didn't you understand? I will go anywhere you want with you. You're all I need." Isis chose this to make a reappearance, cawing loudly from her perch. "And Isis, of course."

A reluctant smile spread across Faolan's handsome face. "Is it wrong to be jealous of a bird?"

"Just a little," I breathed, leaning in and kissing him. His lips moved gently against mine, starting a fire in my belly. I forgot all about moving and jealousy and birds as Faolan's hands slid up my back and one buried itself into my hair. The only thing I could think of was Faolan, my beautiful mate, who I now had to myself with no distractions. No war, no God-King, no Mistica, no Leo.

It was just him and I, and that was exactly the way I wanted.


A/N: So I've gotten my steam back for writing, thanks to NaNo! I won, too, which is just fantastic!

I'm really unsure about this chapter and hesitant to post it, but it's been too long since I last updated this story.

To my lovely reviewers, thank you for getting this story past the 1k mark!: .trees , Timeless City , singerchick , Alaeryel , Mia the Potterhead , bandgeek1688 , swanneckforceps , FamishedNight , Midnight113 , waterbluewings , Twishy04 , Mechagirl1415 , Hige Dragon , Hole cmo ests , AirForceWife1230 , chewy-chocolate-cookie , HoneyBuns , fnksd , and guest

This story has only one tiny chapter left! We're pretty much at the end, sadly… but, as I've said before, there's a sequel about Amarilla that I'm so excited to start.