Home > Antlered Crown (The Wild Hunt #18)(5)

Antlered Crown (The Wild Hunt #18)(5)
Author: Yasmine Galenorn

“My chair—you brought my chair over.” I tried to wipe my eyes but the tears wouldn’t stop, and I hung my head, feeling slightly ridiculous. “I feel so overwhelmed.”

With Herne and Angel watching, Morgana sat beside me, wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and patted me on the back like a mother might cuddle a child.

“It’s all right, Ember. It’s okay. Everyone who’s ever gone through the Gadawnoin goes through this. It takes time to sort everything out, especially when you have to transfer worlds as well as cross that mortal divide. You’ll be okay. I promise. Trust me?” She gave me a long look.

I sat back, sniffling and wiping my eyes. “I do trust you. Thank you for understanding.”

I focused on the merry fire that was crackling in the hearth. The fireplace wasn’t one of those great stone ones like Cernunnos had, but modest, like one I might find in my own home. Yet, for its size, the hearth emitted enough heat to warm the room.

Attached to our living room were the rest of our private quarters. We had two large bathrooms, both of which looked modern even though they ran on Elven magic. The kitchen was small but functional—and when I say small, it was as big as the first floor in my old house. There was a breakfast nook in the kitchen.

We also had a private dining room, with a table that could seat twenty. From there, we moved to our bedroom. A large chamber with a dressing room the size of a small bedroom, it was lovely—calming and quiet. The bed had four spiraling posters, but no canopy, for which I was grateful. I tended to have a touch of claustrophobia and I didn’t like sleeping under a bunch of material.

As Angel and I explored the rooms, I began to breathe easier. While it was still more formal and grand than I was used to, we could tweak it into a comfortable, cozy space. There wasn’t anything I overtly disliked. Morgana was spot-on when it came to picking décor she thought that I would enjoy, and I began to realize that I could settle in here and be comfortable.

“You like it here, don’t you?” Angel asked.

I thought about her question before answering.

“Actually, I do. Morgana brought over enough things from our house to make me feel comfortable. And of course there’s Mr. Rumblebutt.” We were going to confine him to our private quarters, and the guards and maids had all been thoroughly warned to take good care of him and keep him inside.

At that moment, Mr. Rumblebutt jumped on the bed and began to roll around on his back, purring. That seemed to be the final step. I relaxed, dropped on the bed, and cuddled him.

Morgana peeked in at that moment. “Ember, when you’ve settled in I need to have a word with you.”

“Will it keep till tomorrow, or is it urgent?” I asked.

“Tomorrow will do. Take your time. I’m going to talk to the head housekeeper. She’s an Elf and her name is Frida, by the way. You’ll be responsible for talking to her each week in your office. Your grand butler’s name is Tobias, and he’s one of the dark Fae. And your temporary lady’s maid will be in directly to prepare you for dinner.”

“Do I have to change clothes to eat? I thought that was only for formal dinners,” I said.

Morgana laughed. “Not in the privacy of your own quarters. It’s customary, but you and Herne will make your own traditions. However, if you have guests that are—I’m not going to say important, but who aren’t personal friends—you should dress and eat in the formal dining room of the castle. You’ll learn everything as you go. Elta will help you, and so will your other tutors. One thing I will caution you—your lady’s maid has been chosen with regards to loyalty, but I would still be cautious about what you say in front of her. No state secrets, so to speak.”

“What’s the maid’s name?” While I had had a maid in Cernunnos’s palace, in the end she had decided to stay there. She was young and not suitable for the position of a true lady’s maid.

“Trysken. She’s had experience in being a lady’s maid. In fact, she’s one of my devoted servants. So treat her well. She’ll stay with you until you can find your own.”

Before I could say anything, Morgana winked at me, waved, and left the room, closing the door behind her. I rolled over on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

“Honestly, Angel. This is so weird. I’m still trying to get used to it all.”

Angel laughed at me. “You’ll learn to accept it. Hell, I feel guilty about having a personal maid and servants and everything else that goes along with living this new life. But we’re here, we made the choice, and we have to adapt. I’ll be facing the same things you are, when I decide whether to go through the Gadawnoin.” She paused, then said, “I’m still uncertain about it, mostly because of DJ. He’s my brother, and he won’t live forever.”

“No, but he will live a lot longer than you since he has shifter blood.” I sat up and faced her square on. “Angel, there’s no guarantee people will stay in your life. But if you want to see DJ grow up, face facts. You’ll have to extend your life. That small percentage of magic-born blood you have in your veins won’t cut it.”

I crossed my legs on the bed. “I can’t force you or order you to go through the Gadawnoin, and I can’t offer you the incentive that Herne offered me. But I hope you’ll choose to stick around. I’m facing an eternity. I’d like my best friend to be at my side for that. Call me selfish, but I can’t imagine life without you. We’ve been through so much in the short time we’ve lived. And in our prior lives, we went through so much together. You’re my twin soul, Angel. We are two sides of a whole.”

Angel smiled. “I know. I feel it as strongly as you do. We were born from one spark. I don’t want to break the chain. Otherwise, next time, I’d be alone when I returned.”

I reached out and took her hands, squeezing them tightly. “Don’t let that happen.”

At that moment, a bell rang, startling both of us. I jumped up, looking around, trying to figure out what was going on. A servant knocked, peeking inside.

“The dinner bell has rung, milady.” She looked nervous.

“Thank you. We won’t be dressing for dinner tonight,” I said.

Angel followed me as the maid led us into our private dining room.

There, Herne sat at one end of the table. Talia, Viktor, Sheila, Yutani, and Morgana were there, all waiting. The maid led me to the other end of the table and a footman pulled out my chair. After I sat, he pulled out a chair for Angel.

When she sat down, another gong rang and the maids began carrying around the platters of food. Herne glanced at me from across the table, but there was no chance for any private discussion. As the buzz of conversation grew louder, I focused on my plate, eating my lamb chops and mashed potatoes, caught up in my own private little world.

We were through the main course and onto dessert when another footman entered the room and stood at attention by Herne’s chair.

“Yes?” Herne asked.

The footman gave a stiff bow, then said, “His lordship Kipa and Lady Raven are waiting in the hall. Should I show them in?”

“Raven!” I jumped up. “Raven and Kipa are here? Bring them in! And bring chairs for them and food.”

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