“A Warlock King, a Fae, and a human walk into a bar…no really, it’s not the beginning to a bad joke, or maybe it is, but they really did go into a bar; the question is would we all come back out?” ~Lilly
Lilly followed the Warlock King, Cypher, into a seedy looking bar at the very edge of the forest in the Balkan Mountains, where most of the Warlocks lived. Cypher was her mate, according to him, but the jury was still out on her end. A Fae named Cyn, who had been sent to them by Perizada of the Fae, whoever that was, walked in with them. That’s all she and Cypher knew about her, because that’s all Cyn had said when she arrived.
Cyn had appeared in the forest, knowing that it would alert Cypher to her presence. Then she had waited until he arrived. When Cypher arrived with Lilly in tow, Cyn spoke imply. “Perizada of the Fae has sent me to you. I am Cyn, guard of the council.”
That was it. No elaboration, no, hey I’m here to lend a hand, just, here I am, deal with it.
Cypher had narrowed his eyes at the Fae guard but didn’t question her. Lilly, however, hadn’t been quite so trusting; and though she had thrown the Spanish inquisition at her, Cyn had simply ignored her.
So here they were now, walking into this bar full of shady looking characters. According to Cypher there was a guy here who knew a guy, that might know another guy that could help.
“Do you really think that this is a good idea?” Lilly whispered up to Cypher. “I mean, seriously Cypher, a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy, do you honestly believe it’s going to be worth all the work to find the guy at the end of the rabbit hole?”
Cypher looked mildly amused at her questioning, which made her want to stomp on his foot; she didn’t, which took every bit of her restraint.
“We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Little One. You are going to see some things, hear some things and…”
“If you finish that with do some things I might just slap you, Warlock King or not, and how the heck do you know a reference to The Wizard of Oz?” Lilly questioned him, waiting for whatever possible explanation he could have for that one.
Cypher winked at her, which did strange things to her stomach that she didn’t want to think about.
“As I was saying, things are different here and information is found in the most unlikely places because the people who have that information usually do not want to be found. And I like human movies; I’m not a total recluse.”
“That really isn’t comforting or encouraging in any way you know? Not the recluse part but the people who don’t want to be found bit, that’s a little unsettling.”
Cypher shrugged at her annoyed look and turned back to the bar when the bartender finally acknowledged them. The two exchanged words in a tongue that Lilly couldn’t understand, but she was pretty sure that the dialect wasn’t a form of any human language.
Even in this strange language Cypher still sounded commanding and sure. It didn’t dawn on him to think that someone might not jump up to do his bidding, but then again maybe no one had ever told him no. Lilly smiled to herself, there’s a first time for everything oh King of mine.
Finally, after several more minutes of the back and forth between King and bartender, Cypher turned and walked out of the bar. Lilly started to say something but then realized that Cypher had taken her hand and was tugging her along with him. She quickly caught her footing as she stumbled behind him and looked over her shoulder to see that Cyn was pulling up the rear. Once out in the cool night air she pulled her hand from his and threw them up in the air in exasperation.
“So?” She asked. “That was it? That really seemed a little anticlimactic.”
Cypher shook his head at her and motioned towards the forest. She followed him into the dark foliage and was quickly swallowed up by the trees.
After walking in silence for several minutes Cypher stopped abruptly and turned around. Lilly expected him to answer her question but instead he glared at Cyn.
“Why did Peri send you to me?”
Lilly rolled her eyes, oh now he asks.
Cyn looked around the forest, causing Lilly to look as well.
“You may speak freely, I’ve taken care that no one will hear,” Cypher told the Fae.
“She has heard that the witch has come to you with a proposition for your help. She has also heard that you were in possession of a certain human.”
Lilly’s mouth dropped open and a sound of indignation slipped out. “In possession? Are you kidding me?”
Cypher held up his hand to stop her but never took his eyes from Cyn’s face.
“Lilly is my mate.”
“So says the barbarian Warlock King,” Lilly muttered.
Cypher looked at her from the corner of his eye. “I don’t recall you complaining about the intimacy between us earlier and as I told you I have never shared such intimacy with any female.”
“Could we please refrain from discussing our intimacy in front of others?” The blush that stained Lilly’s cheeks made Cypher smile and he reached out and gently brushed a finger across her face.
“You are such a breath of fresh air, Little One.”
Lilly let out an unlady like snort as she crossed her arms across her chest giving him her best, I am not affected stare, which was the biggest load of crap she had ever fed herself.
Cypher looked back at Cyn.
“As I was saying, Lilly is my mate and therefore not a prisoner if that is what Perizada is thinking. As for the witch…” Cypher stepped back until his back was leaning against a large tree. Lilly could tell that he was trying to pick his words carefully indicating to her that he did not fully trust Cyn. “She did come to me and there was an offer presented. At this point she believes that I am going to help her. I have to tread carefully because I have sworn a blood oath to her.”
The Fae took a step back and, for the first time, Lilly saw emotion cross her face.
Lilly turned to Cypher with a frown on her face. “You haven’t mentioned a blood oath to me. What exactly does that mean?”
Cypher shook his head. “It’s not important right now.”
Lilly rolled her eyes at the warlock King. “You have got to be kidding me. You just told this Fairy…”
“Fae,” Cyn interjected.
Lilly slid the Fae a sideways glance. “A technicality,” she growled. She looked back at Cypher as she continued. “You just told her that you swore a blood oath and the stoic Fae actually showed some human emotion, and it looked an awful lot like fear. So forgive me if I kind of think it is freaking important.”
A flirty smile turned up on Cypher’s lips. “So you are worried about your mate?”
Lilly let out a frustrated huff, throwing her hands up in the air. “I told you that I care for you. I don’t understand it, but there it is. So yes, I’m worried about you.”
Cypher stared silently at Lilly for a few tense moments and then finally relented.
“A blood oath is a contract that binds my word to the one asking for a deed. It prevents the one accepting the contract from backing out.”
“So what happens if you do back out since you’ve done this blood oath thing?”
“The witch can put myself or any of my race in the In-Between and she could possibly kill you. I’m not real sure on the whole you part because, again, I don’t know the ramifications of you being my mate.”
Lilly pinched the bridge of her nose as she felt a headache coming on. “And you didn’t think that maybe I needed to know this?”
Cypher shrugged. “There isn’t anything you can do about it so why worry about it?”
Lilly shook her head at the warlock King. She felt compelled to share the King’s burdens. Even in the brief time that she’d known him, she could tell the responsibility of leading his people for so many years was wearing on him. But Lilly wasn’t sure how to explain this compulsion to Cypher. It was a lot, even for one with shoulders as broad as his, to bear for so long. Her heart broke for him. Wasn’t that what a mate was for? Okay yes, she was still on the fence about the mate thing, but she knew that she cared about him and she didn’t want to see him come to any harm. She would figure out the whole mate thing when the time came to make a decision.
“Fine, I won’t worry about it,” she finally told him.
“That’s it? You aren’t going to growl and snarl at me?” He asked.
“I’m not a wolf you know,” she purposely added a slight growl to her voice in hopes that it would bring about that devastating smile; she wasn’t disappointed.
Cyn made an impatient shuffle with her feet, reminding them of her presence.
Cypher looked back to the Fae. “I have no intention of helping the witch, but I may not have a choice. If it comes to opening the Veil or Lilly’s life then I will have to open the Veil and hopefully get it closed before too many demons escape.”
“Nope, not gonna happen,” Lilly butted in. “You aren’t going to sacrifice the safety of the world, or my daughter, for my life. My daughter is grown and married and I know she will be taken care of. I’ve had a great life, though not a very long one, but that’s okay. I won’t let you choose me over the safety of the people of this world.”
Cypher barely acknowledged her when he responded. “Well it’s a good thing it isn’t up to you then.”
Cyn spoke before Lilly could respond. “Peri wants you to open the Veil.”
Cypher pushed off from the tree and suddenly, standing before them was the warlock King, in all his Kingly glory. He towered over the Fae guard who looked rather small when compared to Cypher.
“What did you say?” Cypher’s voice was low and threatening.
Cyn didn’t blink, didn’t step back, or shrink back the way most smart people who valued their lives would have. She simply answered his question.
“She wants you to open the Veil.”