(The Lost Queen of Althea #1)
By Rachel Medhurst
Publication date: December 28th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Once a human. Now a fae princess, destined to be queen.
Layanna Fairling has never belonged to her village, and yet, when it’s threatened by a tyrant who wants her dead, she knows she has to protect it.
Three mysterious strangers who claim Layanna is a changeling and future ruler of the Seelie Court arrive to aid her. They also claim that the only way of saving her village is by overthrowing the Unseelie tyrant who inherited the throne from his evil father when he slayed her real parents, the Fae King and Queen of Althea.
The tyrant’s greed and violence threaten to tear apart the kingdom she never knew existed, leaving Layanna with a simple choice. Overthrow the handsome and powerful tyrant, or lose everyone and everything she loves.
“Come and sit down. The sooner we talk, the sooner you can decide what you want to do.”
She was right, of course. Although my brain was fuzzy from too much information, too fast, I still understood that something had changed. Life had changed.
Straightening my back, I took confident steps over to the fire and sat on a small log opposite them. The flames between us instantly warmed my chilled skin.
“There’s no smoke,” I muttered, looking up to the clear blue sky high above the trees.
Throwing another log onto the fire before he sat, Larnika chuckled to himself. Trenton rubbed his nose as he watched me, his eyes studying my face intently. The intensity of his stare made me draw my cloak tighter around me.
“It’s magic,” Sarsia said, “I’m a witch.”
Shooting to a stand, I backtracked away from the fire. No, witchcraft wasn’t real. Although, if I truly believed that, my heart wouldn’t be rushing like a galloping horse. Nor would I be retreating.
“You must have seen me perform magic when you watched our little battle with Jordeek.” Sarsia glanced at the other two.
So, she had known that I was there, hiding in the shrubbery. Was it all an act? Some sort of trick?
“Princess-” Trenton started.
“Don’t call me that.” When the chill of the air almost froze my cheeks, I went back to the fire and sat.
They might be rogues or thieves. Wait, they were thieves. “You stole from the bookshop.”
My accusation went over their heads as they shrugged. Trenton sat forward, rubbing his hands in front of the flames. “We don’t have much time, we had to get your attention.”
“So, if you’re a witch…” I looked pointedly at Sarsia. “…What are you?” My gaze went to the others.
Trenton ducked his head, but Larnika looked me right in the eye. “I’m Fae. Part of the Seelie Court.”
Seelie Court? What was that? And Fae? They’d mentioned that I was Fae, but I had no idea what that was.
“I’m a fairy,” Trenton muttered, his eyes cast to the leaf covered ground.
“A fairy? You can’t be, you’re too big.” The lore of fairies had been well known across the land, but usually they were depicted as tiny creatures. Not that I’d ever believed that the lore was true. They were just stories told to amuse children.
“Only in your realm. I have the power to change my size at will, although it takes a lot of magic, so I need to get home.” He finally looked into my face. Was he ashamed of being a fairy? No, he couldn’t be a fairy.
“Why are you telling me these stories? Everyone knows there’s no such thing as fairies and witches. I don’t even know what a fae person is.” Holding my hands out to the fire, I avoided eye contact with them.
For some reason, these strange people had decided to trick me out into the woods. What did they want from me? Maybe other people would jump out soon and do something unthinkable.
Without saying anything, Trenton stood up and stepped around the fire. Going further into the clearing, he held his arms out to the side and then promptly disappeared.
“What…!?” Frozen still, I stared at the spot he used to be.
A tiny bright light suddenly surged up from the ground. Coming closer, it flew near to my face. My breath was rapid now, my chest tight as I stared at the tiny man that hovered in front of me. Surely, that… it couldn’t be.
“That’s Trenton’s true size, although he has grown fond of being bigger, so even in Althea, you’ll often seen him as a man rather than a fairy.”
The light buzz of his wings were audible to my ears. His clothes had shrunk with him. Ah, that had been why he didn’t wear breeches. His legs were able to move freely in just his hose.
“I…” Had no words.
“It’s a shock, we understand. You’ve seen my magic and now Trenton’s.”
Fairy Trenton disappeared from in front of my face, reappearing as a full sized man in the clearing again. I couldn’t quite get my brain to form words in my mouth. What had I just seen?
Larnika stared at Sarsia as Trenton came back to his seat. His smile was broad as he wiggled his eyebrows at me.
“See, you thought I was small in this form, but I’m not.” It was almost as if he was proud of being a short human looking man. What a peculiar bunch of people.
Sarsia cleared her throat. “Larnika cannot show you his abilities. He was stripped of them.”
Her blunt explanation that wasn’t really an explanation made me swallow. The information was a little too much, I wasn’t sure if I could handle anymore.
“When I went against Jordeek, the current Seelie Court king, he took my magic away, forcing me to leave my family.”
The flash of pain that crossed his face made my chest squeeze. If I had to leave my parents, my village, I would probably die. Well, maybe not die, but it would seriously hurt me.
“So,” I breathed, blinking slowly. “Say that this is all true, why do you keep saying that I’m a changeling?”
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Rachel Medhurst grew up in Surrey, England. She writes to prove that no matter where you come from, you can be anything you want to be. Your past may shape you, but it doesn't define you. When Rachel isn't writing, she can be found reading and walking in nature.
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