The Dawn of the End by Kristen Ashley

“They were not good enough,” True returned shortly.

“Do not do that,” she said softly, shocking him again with her tone before she jerked her head toward the men on their knees on the floor. “These arseholes are sneaky as hell. It’s going to take breaking one to know what we face. And further, it’s important you understand you will not be the only one who lives the rest of your life with their failure. They will too.”

They will too.

Was he talking to Prince Serena of the Nadirii?

He had no time to process what appeared to be a colossal change in her.

He simply lifted his chin and said, “Thank you. You tried to save my mother. And for that, I will forever be grateful to you.”

She blinked, now experiencing her own shock.

She then looked to Chu, as if he could translate a foreign tongue she’d never heard.

Chu shook his head once, an indication they’d speak later.

She accepted that readily, sheathed her dagger, hopped off the table and crossed her arms on her chest, ready for True to get on with it.

True turned to do just that only for Gal to speak.

“We have failed you too.”

He looked down at the gnome. “And how did you do that?”

“We did not discover the plot,” Gal replied.

“Neither did I, or any of my men, or my mother, all of whom were aware there possibly was one, even if we couldn’t imagine she’d be the target,” True pointed out.

“We’re better than all of you,” Brix returned, and he was not bragging.

This was true.

“And although I’d like to see what happens next to these bastards,” Brix jerked his head to the side, “I want more to get back to it. So you have our apologies for our failure. They are heartfelt. And now, we will help you seek vengeance.”

True dipped his chin.

Brix glowered at him.

Gal sighed.

Both gnomes then strode out.

True watched until they disappeared, then he turned back to the traitors, ready to see to this grim business, when he heard Serena make a noise in the back of her throat.

His gaze went her way to see she was quickly drawing her broadsword.

“What is it?” Chu asked her, drawing his.

True pulled his sword from his belt and turned to the door as a commotion sounded from there, nearly drowning out Serena’s answer of, “Magic.”

“Do not stand in our way!” Elena could be heard shouting.

“Oh fuck,” Cassius muttered, sounding harassed.

It then happened.

A great gust of wind swept from the hall, into and through the room.

Oh fuck was correct, for True had a feeling what was about to happen.

As it got stronger, True scabbarded his sword and braced his legs, and the indication he was correct came as Elena announced, “Do not forget, she is now Princess Royal!”

And then his very new wife came in.

And with her came the wind.


A storm.

His hair whipped around his head, his mantle about his body, just as her hair, skirts and cloak whipped around hers.

She didn’t even look at him.

Her one arm strapped to her chest from the opposite side, so the shoulder that had been pierced by an arrow did not have pressure, she brought the gale and her eyes shone like twin golden blazes.

He moved with difficulty against the tempest to try to get to her, starting to call her name, when she swung her free arm up in front of her and then to the side.

True’s head turned when she did this, and he watched twenty-one men lifted right off the ground and tossed like they were wisps of parchment across the room, slamming against the wall and each other.

Her emotion was getting the better of her.

And as such, she had no control of her magic.

“Farah!” he barked, now moving swiftly to her.

She swung her arm the other way and only the prisoners, crying out in shock and fear, sailed across the room and slammed into the opposite wall.

“Farah!” he roared, making it to her and catching her by her upper arms, carefully on one side, but definitely with the aim to get her attention.

Her eyes shifted up to him and he fancied he felt their burn.

“Darling, calm,” he whispered.

“We will have vengeance,” she whispered back, her voice one he’d never heard before, not even when her own mother perished not long ago.

“My love, we will,” he said. “But now you’re injured, and you need to calm.”