Shadowborn Queen - G. Bailey
Eighteen Years Ago
It has been nine months since I celebrated the Night of Light and danced with my king in Vasili. I knew this moment would come and I would have to let him go, but as I hold our newborn daughter in my exhausted arms, I'm filled with a sense of loss I never expected to feel. From this moment on, I will never see my king again.
I will never feel his arms wrapped around me as I listen to his heartbeat in the near darkness of his chamber. We will never share those beautiful moments stolen in his kingdom.
No longer will I have him, nor will he have me, for that is the path the Zorya Sisters have woven for us. Tears sting my eyes as I look down at my daughter and gently rock her back to sleep. At least I have something to remember my Ulric by—something no one will ever take from me. With Selena as my witness, I will protect our daughter. There is nothing I won't do to ensure she lives the best, fullest life in the Enchanted Forest.
The dawn sunlight filtering through the balcony doors shines upon Izora's small face. As if the gods timed it themselves, a light breeze drifts through my chamber as my love steps through a portal.
My name whispered from his lips is deep and pained, causing my heart to stutter in my chest. I try not to think about how badly I will mourn his voice when he leaves. Instead, I look back at our daughter as a solitary tear slips from my lashes onto her cheek.
Wordlessly, the king moves to my side and gazes upon our daughter bundled in her woolen blanket. He slides his eyes over her tiny hands and face, her little button nose and dimpled cheeks, her small tufts of silver hair.
"She was born at first light," I say, my cheeks hurting from smiling at her so much. "She's only been in this world for an hour and already I will do anything for her. This is our daughter."
I hold her out to him, and he takes her into his arms gently. For a long while, he cradles and looks at her, no doubt committing her to his memory since he'll never see her again. My heart sinks to the pit of my stomach and it takes everything not to cry. In some regards, the gods are never fair to those who live within the Enchanted Forest.
"I wish not to release her," the king whispers, a crease etching between his brows. "But I know that I must if we're to protect her life. Our babe will not be safe in the kingdoms of fae. I want to spare her of our ways and for her to live freely and happily." He looks at me, his eyes glazed with unshed tears. "I shall always protect you, my love, as I have vowed to you in the name of Danica. You will want for nothing. Our daughter, above all, will remain safe so long as you keep her birthright hidden."
I puncture my teeth into my quivering lips, afraid if I speak I'll beg him to stay again.
Don't do this. We can hide and raise her together. Please don’t leave me.
It's so foolish to think this. I know that. And yet I pleaded and begged the gods to make it so. Over the past several months, they have continuously made me aware that it will never happen.
"Thank you for everything, Ulric, I’m so forever…" I trail off, my voice breaking.
He looks at me, his expression kind and warm. "It is I who thanks you, my love. You’ve given me the greatest gift life has to offer. A daughter born on dawn’s first light!" Smiling down at our babe now wriggling in his arms, he says, "Izora is and always be from the House of Dawn."
"Always," I echo, tears sliding down my cheeks. "Our Izora Dawn."
My thrashing heart is echoed by the heavy footfalls of my captor as he drags me to my doom. Well, I suppose doom wouldn't be quite the right word. Eva has made it quite clear that I'm still of use to her, so wherever I'm going, I'm not going to die. Which is good because I need to save my guys and then protect my kingdom. Seeing the Light Fae King, my father, die in my arms like that has shocked me to my core.
I’m not just Izora Dawn, a shadowborn who