Chapter 2


Ice whined as yet another jolt from the creaking carriage awakened her from slumber. Wolf gave her a reassuring pat but he felt her frustration. Why would anyone choose to travel in such an infernal contraption? It was slow, noisy and had a disconcerting smell of fish. It had been a long and rocky road from Nightspark where the Ballandari escort had picked him up. The Ballandari had all been very nervous whilst they were in Lunari lands. They jumped at any sound or shadow. Except for the knight who had led the escort, Sir Robert Alfoyle the sixth, Baron of some dingy castle somewhere in the lowlands. Unlike the coach driver and the attendants he appeared to have no fear of anything. If it hadn't been for the King of Shadows plan he would have been dead within minutes of stepping into the great hall for the disrespect he had shown to the King.

The long journey had given Wolf a lot of time to think and brood. How could he get out of this? How could he avoid his father's wrath? Were they there yet? Would it be so bad to marry a Ballandari girl if it meant saving Amethyst's life? Perhaps they might even hit it off? Hadn't he always wanted to defeat the cursed Ballandari? Were they there yet? The questions circled through his mind like vultures, giving no answers, merely taunting him.

The carriage jolted yet again and then squealed to a halt and Wolf was almost thrown from his seat. Outside he heard a string of curses and shouts from Sir Robert berating the carriage driver and questioning his parentage. Wolf had suffered enough. He grasped the ornate door handle and slowly opened it. Ice immediately pricked up her ears and rose to her feet. She was so big she hardly fitted in the carriage and was glad to jump out. Wolf stepped out into the fresh air and warm sunshine and immediately felt much better. Fortunately Sir Robert was on the other side of the carriage and couldn't see him so Wolf gently closed the door behind him and lightly stepped into the adjacent woods. Within a few minutes' walk Sir Robert's nasal voice could no longer be heard and there was just the pleasant sound of birds singing.


A princess is never late. The time she arrives is the correct time. Emily told herself as she walked down the hallways a good two hours after she had been summoned to attend an introductory banquet with the Lunari prince. It was her maids fault of course. They had been completely indecisive over which dress she should wear to the banquet. Ok, so maybe that wasn't completely true. Her maids might have been horrified with every second that passed while she stood in her wardrobe and considered whether to wear a light blue or dark blue dress. Still this would show that the negotiations would be on her terms not her fathers.

She reached the doors of the great hall and paused. She went to take a deep breath and then remembered she was wearing a corset. She would be lying if she said she wasn't a little bit interested in what this prince might look like. No, that wouldn't do at all. He wasn't a prince. He was a peasant and a barbarian. He probably had the brains of a horse but then possibly the muscles of one too. She shook her head trying to dispel these thoughts. Enough. There would be no marriage. She would walk in and tell everyone that.

She opened the ancient, wooden doors.

There was no one inside.