At the hospital, Fosch paced back and forth. He wanted to take her to someone with more experience with the preternatural world, but there wasn’t any time for that, even if flashing through dimensions would have made it faster.
There was internal hemorrhaging, the doctor had said before ushering Bella to an operating room. And like it or not, he thought, at the moment she was human.
Fosch clenched his jaws, felt a welcoming ache, clenched his fists to ad up on the pressure. He spun around when Oberon entered the waiting room.
“What are you doing here?” He demanded, almost feral now.
Oberon eyed the eyes that were flashing between black and yellow, crossed his arms over his chest. “I have Benty watching over the procedure. She will report soon.”
Fosch felt the fight abandon him, felt his knees weaken.
Tone conversational, Oberon tried to keep his posture non-threatening. “A Seelie healer would make the process easier. I took the liberty to send for Hiendrich.”
Hiendrich, the best healer in the entire sidhe land.
A Seelie, a powerful one, considered only one step below Queen Titania herself.
No. no. but Fosch didn’t voice the protest. He would give anything right now, even an open favor to Oberon, in exchange for his mate’s safety.
Oberon watched Fosch fight with himself, watched as Fosch’s eyes flashed yellow, once, twice. Under any other circumstances he would have never interfered, but this was an emergency, one Oberon himself cared greatly about its outcome.
Suddenly, Oberon stiffened, turned around to face the door.
“What? What?” Fosch jumped beside him in an instant, grabbed Oberon by the arm, whirled him around. “Tell me!”
Oberon snarled at him, and Fosch watched for the first time in his entire existence anger darken the expression of the Seelie – and couldn’t care less.
Benty popped into existence in front of Oberon, just as Fosch was about to shake him. The pixie spoke agitatedly, in the tiny high pitched tone that Fosch couldn’t understand. He had an urge to pick up the pixie out of the air and start squeezing it for information, so Fosch fisted his hands.
Oberon listened, looked at Fosch, his expression blank. Benty popped away, disappearing just as a doctor, white faced and eyes wild turned into the room. There was blood on his green scrubs, the gloves he still wore. Fosch was pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to be there. Not when the doctor came to visit an expecting father and delivered the good news.
“Sir . . . Sir . . . the baby . . .” The doctor swallowed once, and Fosch recognized the tone of hysteria in the man’s voice. Fosch took a step forward. “Sir – she got …” He swallowed once, twice. “…talons.” He whispered, his eyes wild with maniacal hysteria before they rolled back and he fainted. Fosch didn’t catch him. Instead, he watched as the man smacked his nose on the floor tiles, as blood began oozing.
With a calmness he didn’t feel, Fosch stepped over the prone doctor, moved toward the operating room, toward the hysterical screams he could tell were coming from Bella’s room.
Fosch stood in the middle of the stone circle, surrounded by his kin and Seelie alike.
To his right stood his people, the council of the unseelie Dhiultadh on the middle. To his left the Seelie courtiers, queen Titania and Oberon on the front and slightly apart.
In all his years of existence, Fosch had witnessed this type of execution only once, though they had been common during his grandfather’s reign.
“Dhiultadh Yoncey Fosch,” Leon spoke in a clear voice that rang inside the circle, “You have made a bargain with the Seelie consort, Oberon. Do you deny?”
“I do not.”
“This bargain entails a human hybrid, the offspring of a human female and you, do you deny?”
“I do not.”
Leon turned around, facing the crowd. “We have gathered today to witness the execution of Dhiultadh Yoncey Fosch, son of Dhiultadh Bran Fosch, for denying the Seelie consort his rightful prize.”
Oberon stepped forward, his steps unhurried, his posture relaxed, his jeweled sword by his side. He met Fosch’s eyes, showed none of the regret he felt. “Dhiultadh Yoncey Fosch, I hereby give you this one last chance. Do you die like a coward, or do you fulfill our bargain?”
Fosch met Oberon’s eyes unflinchingly. “My daughter will not be raised as a Seelie whore.”
Oberon stepped back, inclining his head one last time to Fosch.
“You confirm that you forfeit your own life then, your own existence, Dhiultadh Yoncey Fosch?”
“I do.” Was Fosch’s calm reply. Fosch heard Archer’s murmured protest, didn’t glance toward him.
“Let it be known,” Leon called above the murmuring fee and Dhiultadh alike, “that Dhiultadh Fosch has been given one more chance for repenting and has refused.”
Fosch looked at Oberon; saw no traces of triumph, mockery or glee. On the contrary, the Seelie consort looked somber, grim even.
Leon turned to the assembled crowd, addressed both parties. “Dhiultadh Fosch has been sentenced for a coward’s death, by the claws of the jubada, and we all bear witness today.”
He already felt dead inside, detached from the man he had been once. Like a shell, an empty one. Hard on the outside, empty on the inside. The only reason he had held on this long was to save his daughter from a horrible fate, to honor his mate’s sacrifice.
He had felt his daughter’s strength when he held her in the hospital, had helped her retract her tiny talons. He had known from the moment he held her she would be strong, a powerful being. Her aura, despite looking plain and human, had blazed full of power, and Fosch had then and there performed a ritual of containment to keep his daughter’s strength bound until her first shift, which only happened at the cusp of the scion’s puberty cycle, and only at the presence of the clan’s leader. He trusted his brother to seek help if his daughter exhibited more power than Archer was accustomed dealing with.
Fosch turned, met Archer’s eyes. “My daughter’s name is Roxanne. I trust you with her life.” He looked away before his brother could voice the denial and strolled to the pit that had been prepared.
He would have rather died by the sword, but for his daughter’s sake accepted the coward’s death.
In reality, any death would be preferable to a life without his mate. As he knelt, he recited in his mind all the joyful and wonderful times he had spent with his mate.
He closed his eyes, but not before he saw Oberon clenching his fist, Queen Titania’s jaws tighten. He heard the hoofs of the jubada approaching at a gallop, heard Bella’s laughter, saw his daughter’s dark eyes looking up at him, new she was destined for a great future.
… … …
Check out the previous chapters:
And don’t forget to drop by tomorrow for the epilogue and a brief blurb for HEIR OF ASHES, the first book in the ROXANNE FOSCH series, coming soon.
- Chapter 1 – The Secret: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/chapter-1-the-secret/
- Chapter 2 – The Ritual: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/chapter-2-the-ritual/
- Chapter 3 – The Bargain: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/chapter-3-the-bargain/
- Chapter 4 – The Awareness: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/chapter-4-the-awareness/
- Chapter 5 – The Grieving: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/chapter-5-the-grieving/
- Chapter 6 – The Plan: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/chapter-6-the-plan/
- Chapter 7 – The Second-chance: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/chapter-7-the-second-chance/
- Chapter 8 – The Vigil: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/chapter-8-the-vigil/
- Chapter 9 – The Pay-off: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/chapter-9-the-pay-off/