Authors: Marian Tee
THE ALPHA’S COURTSHIP:
A WEREWOLF ROMANCE
by Marian Tee
Copyright 2016 by Streak Digital Publishing
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
In the kingdom of Chalys
Women dazzle in corsets and petticoats while men swagger in coats and breeches.
Carriage rides, tea parties, and masquerade balls,
Flirtations between waltzes and sweet flowers for courtship,
These are but some of the pleasures offered in the brightness of day.
But when the sun sets, a deadly silence prevails---
To survive the darkness you must always remember:
Is a kingdom like no other.
Ruled by angels and coveted by demons,
Chalys is the hunting ground for Night’s children,
“A world where humans are but precious prey.
- A Chalysian legend
NOTICE TO TRAVELERS
The Kingdom of Chalys is pleased to welcome citizens of all nations.
Before you proceed to immigration, please be reminded of the following:
Only ASPHODEL is open to tourists. Access to other dukedoms of the kingdom is strictly by invitation only. Requests for entry may be submitted to the inter-dukedom consular office.
Technology as many of you are used to is available on a vastly limited basis in our kingdom.
We hope you see this as an opportunity for new experiences and explorations to enjoy.
Please observe proper decorum and attire during your stay. The customs and norms of our society are of great value to us. Your respect would be greatly appreciated.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS, NAMES, AND PLACES
Academia Nu Exista (ANEX) – A self-governing school that officially does not exist; it is dedicated to aiding human students with special abilities to develop their full potential. Its administration is known to disapprove of relationships between humans and demons.
Asphodel – The only territory in the kingdom of Chalys that is open to non-citizens. A technology ban has been implemented in the last 200 years or so to limits its carbon footprint. This prohibits the use of the Internet and mobile phones among others as well as making any modern mode of transportation unavailable. Generally speaking, citizens of Asphodel as well as the rest of the human population are unaware that inhabitants of the other territories in the kingdom are otherworlders.
Chalys – A kingdom secretly inhabited by otherworlders; only one of its territories is open to human travelers. Access to other territories, namely Aquarius, Brimstone, Ciel, Lunare, Sangre, and Sulphur, is severely restricted. Both the otherworlder and human citizens making up the kingdom live and dress according to the customs and times of the Regency period.
Charles Orpheline – A former soldier, Charles is now the Baron of Woodmere and father to three adopted daughters. All women have been saved from certain death, having been thrown away as infants because they were discovered to be ludifia.
Galere – The collective term used to refer to the three powerful half-demon marquises that had made a blood bond to devote their lives to protecting the Demon Duke of Brimstone. This consists of Mihail Gheorgiu of Sangre, Adrijan Vasilache of Aquarius, and Ilie Marcovici of Lunare.
Georgina McCartney – The human future duchess and heartkeeper of Silviu Draghici, the Demon Duke of Brimstone. She is also one of the fated potential heartkeepers for the Marquis of Lunare.
Heartkeeping – A union that enables a demon or part demon to share the soul of his or her heartkeeper, thus preventing him or her from being completely chained to the demands of Hell. There may be more than one fated heartkeeper for a demon, but it is also possible for a demon to forcibly create such unions. Little is known about heartkeeping as most of the information is guarded zealously in Sulphur, one of the ducal territories making up Chalys and inhabited mainly by land-dwelling demons.
Ilie Marcovici – The half-wolf, half-demon marquis who is second in line to rule the territory of Lunare, a land inhabited by shifters and governed by a demon duke, Ilie’s sire.
Ludifia – Considered freaks of nature, they’re born completely mortal despite being the product of a human – otherworlder pairing. They’re usually thrown away in the Woods of the Wraiths to be eaten alive.
Soleil Orpheline – The eldest daughter of Charles Orpheline, considered as one of society’s reigning belles and well-known for her remarkable sense of propriety. As part of the Trois Belle Lames, however, she is famous for her infallible pragmatism as well as having proven her mettle as a master tactician. She has been fighting since she was fifteen years of age.
Trois Belle Lames – The Three Lovely Blades, a code name for a trio of skilled human fighters tasked to defend Asphodel from otherworlder threats. This group consists of the three Orpheline sisters, with Soleil as its leader.
Woods of the Wraiths – The first line of defense of Chalys against humans, the Woods of the Wraiths is unchartered territory, inhabited by vengeful spirits living in the husks of its trees, ghosts of nymphs that had been massacred during one of the kingdom’s bloodiest wars. It is known to attack creatures, humans or otherwise, that venture into its land with the intention to harm the citizens of Brimstone and all those under the protection of Silviu Draghici.
The city of Asphodel glowed like a brilliant diamond in a sea of emerald fields, with the noblemen’s mansions and townhouses ablaze with lights. Everyone who was anyone had either thrown a ball or was attending one, and these were expected to last until dawn, much to the chagrin of the aristocrats’ sleepy and overworked coachmen.
Laughter and music played by the orchestra streamed out of the balconies, entertaining the peasants below. As they had no means to have parties themselves, they had taken to hanging outside the grandest mansions, doing their best to catch a glimpse of the well-dressed couples waltzing inside.
Past the main neighborhoods of Asphodel, the sound of gaiety faded, and the streets became emptier and narrower. At the edge of the city was an abandoned keep, its crumbling roofs crowned by low, stormy clouds and its grounds seemingly shrouded in a mysterious fog.
Locals thought it haunted, and so it was…as of ten minutes ago.
In the keep’s basement, a squad of less than twenty of the city’s human defenders had just finished barricading the main doors of the dungeons, thus trapping the imps that they had seen crawling out of a hellhole.
But the danger wasn’t over, and no one knew this better than Soleil Orpheline, the squad leader.
Not wanting her soldiers to witness her disquiet, she turned her back on her soldiers and faced the doors of the dungeon once more.
Let’s consider the facts,
she told herself.
Tonight was supposed to be a simple cleanup operation, meant to teach rookies about getting rid of pranks left by otherworlders. They ranged from a witch’s spell for diarrhea to a wizard’s one-day curse of selfie madness, in which a human being would find himself addicted to taking as much selfies as a celebrity. They were frequently irritating, moderately harmful at times, but that was it.
The mission wasn’t supposed to put her recruits’ lives in danger.
And yet here they were, about to go against the forces of Hell, literally.
Granted, imps were the lowest forms of demons, with sub-zero IQ. But they were still demons and thus inhumanly strong and, worse, soulless.
Another loud, powerful thud hit the basement’s walls, the sound underscoring the peril they were in. It had no effect on Soleil, but the squeak of terror from one of her rookies made her mentally flinch.
Dear God, I hate asking You for anything, but I think I’m going to need a miracle right now.
The imps were head-butting the doors, literally throwing their lives against it. At the rate they were going, she would have less than three minutes before confrontation, and that was putting it lightly.
Panic clawed at Soleil’s throat, but her concerns were all for her team. The youngest of her squad was just fifteen years old – the same age she and the others had been when they first had their field assignment.
they had only gone against possessed humans, and they had still come back bloodied and bruised.
But kids pitted against imps?
It would be a massacre, and their blood would be on Soleil’s hands.
Another thud resounded through the basement, running through the walls of the keep, and a rookie cried out, “I don’t think the doors are going to hold that much longer.”
She turned to her squad immediately, saying, “It’s okay.” Soleil managed to keep her voice calm even as whips of her terror flayed her body. She was ready to die, had been so for quite some time. But what she would never be ready for, never take lying down, was letting her team die without a fight.
She reached into her pocket, digging out her Bluetooth earpieces, and only sheer experience enabled Soleil to keep her hands from shaking as she plugged her ears. The shock of her young soldiers was palpable, and one of them blurted out, “Is s-she doing what I think she’s doing?”
When Soleil didn’t seem to notice them, the rookies turned in unison to the slim, brown-eyed redhead standing next to their commander.
Seeing all eyes on her, Aurora deadpanned, “Nope. She’s just cleaning her ears.”
The rookies didn’t laugh at all.
As second-in-command, Aurora knew she had to do a better job at keeping the rookies from pissing in fear. So she tried again, this time with the truth. “Commander Soleil is most likely listening to La Vie En Rose,” Aurora relayed. “The
How I Met Your Mother
version, just in case you’re wondering.”
The rookies looked at her like she was crazy.
“It means we’re in Code TARFU territory,” she explained. Fighting under Soleil’s command for almost a decade had made Aurora familiar with all the telltale signs concerning their leader. Listening to the nostalgic, bittersweet notes of her favorite song was Soleil’s last-minute aid for strategy planning, which meant it was
job to keep the rookies distracted.
“What’s TARFU?” another rookie asked.
‘Things Are Really Fucked Up’
,” Fleur, the third-in-command, answered as she ran back to rejoin the squad, having finished sending out a message to her network of spies. Or at least she had tried sending it. Everything was really TARFU right now, so there was no telling if her SOS call would push through.
“It could also mean,” the curvy brunette continued thoughtfully, “Totally And Royally Fucked Up---” She looked up, saw the rookies gazing at her in horror, and behind them, Aurora was hastily shaking her head and drawing an imaginary line across her throat.
“Just joking,” Fleur said quickly. “Actually, let Aurora tell you guys the real meaning of TARFU.” As the rookies then turned to Aurora, she mouthed,
before coughing, “Sesquipedalian.”
Aurora mentally let out an unladylike swear. Basically, Fleur wanted her to confuse the rookies with long, complicated words. Clearing her throat, she said slowly, “TARFU means…Tacent Auxiliary Request for Ultion.”
That could work
, she thought, considering their probabilities of surviving tonight was 22.4%.
Fleur blinked. “Exactly.”
What did that even mean?
The rookies nodded uncertainly, none of them having the courage to ask for a clearer explanation. But they forgot all about it soon enough, seeing their commander opening her eyes and putting away her earpieces.
Soleil smiled at them, her dimples flashing, and the rookies relaxed.
“That’s enough with the joking,” Soleil censured them.
The rookies happily murmured their assent, a combination of wishful thinking and awe allowing them to take comfort in the gracious, dulcet tones of their squad leader.
This was the famous
they assured themselves. A stunning, voluptuous, blue-eyed blonde, she was society’s reigning belle during the day and the dangerously skilled leader of
Trois Belle Lames
If Commander Soleil wasn’t nervous about the imps, then they, too, had nothing to worry about.
Behind Soleil, the walls continued to shudder and crack.
Soleil continued to smile, and Fleur and Aurora, taking their cues from her, kept smiles pinned to their lips. Unlike the kids, they knew they were in a life-and-death situation, but if Soleil wanted the kids kept in the dark, then it would be so.