Once we entered the castle, A’Dyn ran into our Guardian’s office, most likely to report to him about the tree people we ran into. I remained in the entryway until I heard the heavy wooden door groan open, then slowly groan closed again, finishing with an earth-shaking boom. That door weighed around three tons and could only be opened by our Guardian.
I shifted back into human form and walked across the grey marble floor, my boots silently scuffing against the polished stone. I hated making sound when I walked.
When I reached the stairs, I tilted my head and listened for a moment. Yes, mother and Ravenna were upstairs, most likely finishing one of my sister’s lessons. As this promised to be very interesting, I quickly ran upstairs and down the corridor to the old ballroom. Back when my father was alive and the King of Shadows, we would have balls every night, not just All Hallows Eve and other similar occasions.
Ravenna was walking across the room with three small books on her head. I smirked. It was an attempt to improve her posture and bearing, but it wouldn’t work. Ravenna was spoiled and used to being waited on and hardly ever having to move. No matter what she had to balance on her head, she would never improve her posture.
Partially to aggravate Ravenna by showing off my posture, I sauntered in with a straight back and kneeled before my mother.
“Rise, A’Zaira,” my mother said.
I stood and hid my smile at Ravenna’s scowl. “A’Dyn and I ran into two tree people while on patrol. They did not follow, but they are out there.”
My mother nodded. “Ravenna, what should we do about the tree people? They seem to be coming out more often lately,” she asked, testing my sister’s knowledge as future queen.
I took this as an excuse to fall out of position and began straightening my tight pants, slightly bunched around the knee from running.
Ravenna brushed back a lock of dark hair and sighed, as if being asked to think was too much for her. “I don’t know, just go kill them off and hang a corpse so they’ll learn their lesson?”
I swallowed my laugh and turned it into a cough as I fought to keep from falling to my knees. Was my sister really that stupid?
Mother sighed, disappointed, again. “No, Ravenna. They are of no threat unless they get into the castle again, which is very unlikely since our Guardian came here after your father’s death. We will leave them alone and let them be in peace unless they directly threaten us.”
Ravenna nodded and glared at me as a small laugh escaped my lips.
“Is there anything left in the kitchens?” I asked as I cleared my throat.
Mother nodded. “Do not disturb Belcon, he is cleaning.”
I bowed once and left the ballroom. The number of shadows that lived here and worked to serve us was too many to count, I had tried unsuccessfully many times. Belcon was a rare breed that was once used to drink the souls of those who had angered the King of Shadows or his family, but those days are long gone. The Shadow Court is only a small bit of its former glory, and will never rise again to that position with Ravenna in line to the throne. A’Dyn or I could have done the job almost as well as our father, but she was chosen. And only chosen because the wolf chose me instead of her.