We were all in the throne room, talking amongst ourselves, when the Sword started to vibrate gently.
"Summon William," I said to the nearest guard and they all looked at me. "Something is coming. When a werewolf is nearby, the Sword reacts. It's been vibrating on and off since William is now in the castle, but it's... different this time."
Angel gripped her throne as William was escorted in. He got on his knee.
"You called for me?"
"Yes. Can you sense the clan?" I asked and he lifted his head, his eyes closed.
He frowned. "They are very far off. I don't know what's taking them so long. Why do you ask?"
"The Sword," I said. "It's vibrating."
William shook his head. "It does not just detect werewolves, David," he said. "It can sense any kind of supernatural being."
"So something else is near," Angel said in a shaking voice. "Oh God. What else could be out there?"
"Calm down, my love," I said, putting a hand on hers. I turned to William again. "Can you sense anything else?"
"No. I can only sense my kind."
"Do you know what else is out there? Vampires? Ghouls?"
He nodded. "Among other things. In this area, with the kingdom being in peace for as long as it has, I wouldn't be surprised if a nymph has come calling."
"A nymph?" Roland repeated. "But they dwell in mountains and forests."
"Most of the time, yes. But... there are a few who travel from those lands to seek life elsewhere."
The Sword began to vibrate more and I stood, gripping the cane as I descended the stairs.
"Come with me," I said. "Whatever it is, it's here."
They hurried after me and we were in the foyer just as someone knocked on the door. I hesitated before nodding to the servant. She opened the door and William's suspicions were confirmed.
A tall, beautiful woman walked in. She wore a gown made of leaves and silk. Her hair was long, brown, and curly. Her eyes were the color of the midnight sky. Pale pink lips smiled as she curtsied to us.
"Your highnesses," she said in a voice that seemed to sing.
I placed my hand on the Sword hilt and it stopped vibrating. I didn't know how to react to the creature in front of me. I did notice that Angel and Miranda were standing closer than normal to me and Roland. Running footsteps announced the arrival of Tiberius. When he saw the nymph, he stopped short and his mouth dropped open.
"You have a beautiful castle," the nymph said.
"Thank you," I said slowly. "What is your name?"
"I am Rosebud, Prince David." She curtsied again. "I hope I am not intruding."
I looked at Angel. She was glaring at Rosebud and gripping my arm. I tried not to laugh and leaned to kiss her cheek.
"I am not tempted, my love," I whispered.
She looked doubtful but loosened her grip. Roland passed the same message to Miranda. I looked over at Tiberius. He looked confused.
"What brings you here?" I asked.
She gave me a beautiful smile. "Why, the Sword on your hip, of course."
"How did you know I had it?"
She stared longingly at it. "It was my mother who enchanted it," she said, reaching for it. I put my hand on it protectively and she pulled her hand back. "Shortly after, she sent me away," she added with a cute little pout.
"Are nymphs and elves related?"
"No. I was married to a man of the forest." She tossed her hair over her shoulder. "It was his foolish desire that turned me into this."
"So you've come to take the Sword?"
She looked insulted. "Of course not! I have come to serve its master."
"We have plenty of people serving us," Angel said, her voice cold.
Rosebud smiled at her but it didn't reach her eyes.
"You don't know what you speak of, woman," she said.
"Show some respect," I snapped.
"My apologies, your highness. If you think the werewolves will bend to you through fear of your blade, I'm afraid you are mistaken."
I put my arm around Angel's waist and nodded to the guard by the door.
"Escort Rosebud to a room on the first floor, please," I said. "And make sure someone is outside her room at all times."
Rosebud gasped and looked even more insulted but I trusted her about as much as I trusted the wolves. I turned and saw a strange look on William's face. He saw me and his face quickly went blank. No one spoke for a long time. Then Tiberius started following the guard and Rosebud.
"Tiberius," I said sharply and he turned, his eyes glazed over. He tried to follow again and I grabbed his arm. "Tiberius, look at me."
"She needs someone to comfort her," he said in a dreamy voice.
"I'm sorry, my friend," I said and punched his jaw.
He stumbled back and glared. "What was that for!?"
I looked into his eyes and nodded in satisfaction.
"Perhaps we should keep you away from Rosebud."
"What are you talking about?" he asked, annoyed. "Who is Rosebud?"
"The nymph you were about to chase after," Angel said, her voice amused.
"A nymph?" He frowned. "Wait. That wasn't a nymph! That was Christina!"
William snorted and I glared at him.
"Have William sent to his room as well, please."
William glared back but allowed himself to be escorted back. Tiberius still looked incredibly confused and it didn't help that, at that moment, Christina came down the stairs with the children. She saw Tiberius, blushed, and hurried into the dining hall for lunch.
"I am so confused," he said, turning to me.
"Nymphs can change their appearance," the king explained. "If they want to draw in a man, they can take on the form of that which the man cares for the most." Tiberius went as red as an apple. "Think of it like a siren."
"Right," he mumbled, looking mortified.
I smiled kindly at him. "Let's eat."
After lunch, we all gathered in the parlor.
"What do you think about our new guest?" I asked everyone.
"Despicable woman," Tiberius spat and I tried to hide my smile.
"I don't trust her," Roland sighed. "It doesn't feel like coincidence that she has arrived. Could it be a trick by the werewolves?"
"If I am their alpha, then it's foolish of them to do that," I said firmly. "I will punish them."
"Perhaps she was a gift," Miranda said slowly.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"If they don't know about your marriage to Angel, then they would think you're without a woman."
"She would know about me being the alpha then," I pointed out.
"She did mention the wolves, though," Roland said. "Remember? She said that if we thought the wolves would fear the blade, we were wrong."
I frowned and turned to Angel. "What do you think?"
"I want to speak to her," she said finally.
"I don't believe her story," she answered. She was frowning. "I think there's more to it and she won't share it with a man." She stood. "You wait here," she told me. "Do not come near that room."
"Tiberius, I am ordering you as your princess to keep David as far away from that room as possible."
Tiberius bowed. "Yes, your highness."
My jaw dropped as she swept out of the room. I looked at Roland and Miranda.
"Did she just try to tell me what to do!?" I asked indignantly.
Roland laughed, standing. "I do believe she did. And it is in your best interest to obey."
I glowered. "Fine. Tiberius, let's go to the painting room. I might as well do something other than sit around while I wait to hear if my wife has committed murder."