When Darkness Ends(Guardians of Eternity,book 12)(10) by Alexandra Ivy
It was precisely the type of home one would expect for an aristocratic member of the Irish Parliament. And Sir Anthony Benson was exactly the sort of man that one would expect to be the owner.
Seated in a wing chair in the Green Drawing Room, Anthony was dressed in an emerald smoking jacket the precise shade of the curtains and a formal cravat that had gone out of fashion a couple centuries ago. His face was rounded and his pale brown hair had thinned until it was little more than a fringe around the edges. At a glance he looked like a comfortable, middle-aged man with a kind smile.
It took a much closer look to see that the clear gray eyes were as flat and cold as a snake.
Sipping his aged whiskey, Anthony studied the fairy prince who stood in the center of the room.
Yiant tried to appear indifferent to Anthony’s basilisk stare, but his too-pretty face was damp with sweat and the slender hands that smoothed the silk robe covering his tall, reed-thin body weren’t quite steady.
“You summoned me?”
“I did,” Anthony said, his tone gentle as he pointed toward the ceramic pots that were arranged on a priceless pier table that had been in his family for six hundred years. “After examining your latest delivery I realized there was something missing.”
The scent of freshly mowed grass filled the air as Yiant pushed back his thick mane of golden hair.
“I provided the phi potion,” he said, referring to the potent mixture of rare herbs that Anthony needed to defy his mortality. The herbs could only be grown with fey magic. “As well as your favorite fey wine.”
“You know what I want.”
“We have no more of the potion,” the fairy insisted, the pale green eyes wary. “I told you, it was very rare.”
“Then create more.”
“It is forbidden.”
Anthony set aside his whiskey.
His family had held a treaty with the fairies for countless centuries. It had started when a distant ancestor had joined the clan of mystic druids.
It was a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The druids helped to protect the traditional lands of the fey from human development and the fairies offered them extended life.
For his ancestors it’d been a religious duty. The land and the fey were a part of the magic that allowed the druids to thrive. It was in their self-interest to protect them both.
Anthony, however, wasn’t content with being a lesser partner to a bunch of fairies. Especially not after discovering that there were far more dangerous creatures out there than just the fey.
He’d been forced to accept that humans were truly stupid. They blindly believed they were the lucky winners in the evolution lottery when they were surrounded by monsters that could destroy them.
Well, Anthony wasn’t going to stand aside and allow it to happen.
If someone was going to rule the world, it wasn’t going to be some damned demon.
It was going to be him.
Wisely he’d started slow. Patience was a powerful weapon that he wielded with a skill few other humans could master.
First he’d taken command of the druids.
Most of them continued to live in the past, barely understanding technology as they instead clung to worthless traditions.
Once he had a firm grip on the aging fools, he’d returned to Haven and established his position as head of the Benson family. Again.
It was always tricky when a human lived longer than was reasonably expected. It meant he had to leave and return as his own son. He’d done it three times in the past century.
Once he’d earned his place in the local society and worked his way back up the political ladder, he’d been able to turn his attention to his connection to the fairies.
At first they’d only seen him as a benevolent friend.
He’d offered to extend their homelands by using his influence in the government to reclaim farmland as a sanctuary for . . . hell, what had he insisted was endangered? A pygmy shrew? Some sort of bat?
It didn’t matter. The extra acres of land had allowed the Irish fairies to gather their tribe in one place. A rare occurrence in the modern age that not only consolidated their magic, but had given their prince a position of power among his people.
The fools had been gushingly grateful.
So grateful that they didn’t realize that his generosity came at a price. Even after he’d gently requested that they share with him a rare Compulsion spell that had been forbidden by Sariel, the King of Fey.
They didn’t know that he could make the potion even more powerful with his own skill with magic, weaving vast webs of compulsion that could trap even the most wary.
Then all he had to do was sit back and manipulate those in his command. Like a puppet master, tugging on the strings.
Or at least, he’d assumed they hadn’t been aware of his secret efforts.
Now he had to wonder if the prince had started to suspect that Anthony was using the potion for more than swaying his fellow members of Parliament to vote in his favor.
“I understand, Yiant,” he murmured, his tone still gentle. “And I truly admire your reluctance to break fey law. Your people will be proud to know that you kept your honor even if they are forced to abandon their homes.”
The fairy licked his lips. Duty might tell him to sever his connection to Anthony, but it was obvious that he was reluctant to jeopardize his own power among his people.
“There has to be another price I can pay,” he said, his ambition a tangible force in the air.
“I fear not.” Anthony rose to his feet, his smile one of regret. “Please give my regards to your mother, the queen, and tell her that I’m deeply sorry that we could not come to an agreement—”
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