Setha’s destiny lay in Monchellis. The three month trek on horseback from Abereth had proven difficult. The natural blue pallor of her skin hid a close brush with frostbite. Spring had taken hold, bringing daily storms and a treacherous channel crossing, but that wasn’t what she feared. Her delicate gossamer wings would mark her amongst the Averoigna, a ruddy race with feathered wings better-suited to flight in the tropical climate. Her own couldn’t withstand high winds or long distances.
Absently clutching the silver dagger holstered between her breasts, she patted Tona’s flank for the last time. A gilded mare, Tona would return to her rightful owner, but that wouldn’t lift the price from Setha’s head, certain death if she returned home.
“I have waited long for this day,” spoke a voice from behind.
It seemed Monchellis had come to her. “My liege,” she replied, kneeling before him. Gazing up at him, her heart skipped a beat. Unlike most of his people, his face was pure and boyish, his muscled chest untouched by manual labour. Lazy red curls disappeared beside the golden sword between his wings. This god could easily have flown the channel.
“Stand, child,” he said, gesturing her closer. “You are a beauty. Your arrival was foretold. I have come to carry you across to Averoigne.”
Setha cursed the weakness of her race. She could marry Monchellis as her father intended, bringing peace to the Islands, a conciliation that came at a cost. Their marriage would subjugate the northern provinces. “I come in peace, my liege,” she whispered, stepping forward.
Monchellis stooped to kiss her forehead, “Submit to me, bride.” No sooner had the words passed his lips than he slumped to the ground before her, Setha’s poisoned dagger in his heart.
Disgust had reawakened her resolve.