The Masked Fae (Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods 1) - Page 65


Ilisten to Brahm’s story in complete silence. Maybe it’s due to the evening’s events, but I feel numb.

Or maybe incredulous.

Yes, we believed Eleanor wandered into Faerie, or thought perhaps she’d been kidnapped by the Fae and stolen across the boundary, but it seems the chance of her ending up with Brahm’s family is too unlikely. West Faerie is a large territory.

“I don’t understand,” I say when he finishes. “If Eleanor is dead, why did you think I might be her?”

“No one knows for certain what happened to her. Mother decided to execute her, but she disappeared. Later that day, Mother learned my brother stole her out of Auvenridge. Her guards apprehended Drake near the eastern border, but they never found Eleanor. Since there is no way a human child could survive in Faerie alone, it’s always been assumed she died.”

Brahm watches me, looking as if he’s waiting for me to lose my composure. But I don’t know how I feel. I don’t remember Eleanor well. Over time, her existence was reduced to a name. She was the reason my parents were so often gone, the reason they died. I was five when she disappeared, not old enough to understand their anguish. I just knew they were rarely home. When I was older, it felt as if they were chasing a ghost. She didn’t seem real.

But one thing was certain in my young mind—they must have loved her the most. Why else would they abandon us for all those years?

Now that I’m older, I understand. But the shadow of my young resentment remains.

“How do you know this girl was Eleanor?” I ask. “You were young as well—your memory must not be much better than mine.”

“Eleanor didn’t leave us until she was eight. Drake was ten, and I was fourteen. Though I’ve spent the last ten years trying to forget, I remember her.”

I frown as an uncomfortable thought hits me. If Brahm is right, and this girl was my sister, he spent more time with her than I did—more than my parents, who feverishly searched for her.

“You said your family loved her—that she was far more than a pet. What happened to make your mother hate her to the point of wanting her dead?”

“Mother loved Eleanor as much as she is capable of loving anything, which is very little. When my father announced he wanted to give her his name and make her a true part of the family, Mother decided we were too attached and that Eleanor needed to go.”

“What did she do to your brother when she found out he tried to help Eleanor escape?”

Brahm doesn’t answer right away, but his face contorts with emotion. After a long few seconds, he says, “She executed our father.”

I gasp, unable to even imagine it. “To punish your brother, she killed your father?”

His face hardens. “She said it was Father’s fault her child betrayed her, that he put the ridiculous notion that humans could be our equals into Drake’s head. She declared it was treason and that he planned it to undermine her authority.” His eyes flash with memory. “As punishment for his crime, she made Drake watch.”

I stare at him, horrified, unable to imagine what kind of monster this woman must be.

“He was the first in her endless string of executions. The next was her younger sister, Regina’s mother, who told her she’d gone mad. That was only a day later.

“It’s gotten to the point that anyone who so much as looks at her the wrong way is accused of treason and murdered. West Faerie is awash in blood, and there’s no one who will dare put a stop to it.”

“That’s why you donned the mask—to save those you can, just as your brother did.”

“I wear the mask because I’m too gutless to confront my mother,” Brahm says bitterly. “I have too many I care about—Regina and Wallen, Drake and Sabine. I cannot imagine what she might do to them if I were to openly oppose her.”

Softly, I ask, “How did Drake and Eleanor escape?”

“Eleanor was only tethered until Mother decided to end the agreement.”


“It’s part of the illanté bargain. Eleanor couldn’t go much further than the castle grounds. The boundary was a garden where she and Drake used to play.”

“Are all tethers a certain length?”

“No, it depends on how far the owner will let their illanté travel. Once a human is tethered, they are moderately safe to go about Faerie. Many become messengers and stewards, attending to their Fae’s business.”

“What keeps them safe?”

Tags: Shari L. Tapscott Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods Fantasy
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