Verre is probably my favorite character in Crown of Roses. She’s someone who is dark, violent, but also has a human side that is surprising to some. This chapter is in her POV, so hopefully you enjoy!
It was time. While the planning had taken two weeks, the royal ball had offered the perfect occasion. Verre smoothed the shimmering silver folds of her gown, the movement allowing her a peek at her sparkling glass slippers. Glass. The word always brought a smile to her face. It was so deceptively deadly. Much like herself.
The rich sound of a horn rippled through the silence, causing all those waiting with Verre to glance up. The prince was arriving. Verre looked up as well, not wishing her disgust of the prince to be known. Cool and calculating; she could do this.
There he was, descending the staircase. His unicorn-fur robe alone could pay for an entire city’s meals for one whole moon cycle! That, coupled with the fact that it was illegal to hunt unicorns, caused a flame to burn deep inside Verre. Did no one care about the injustice of it all?
She had heard rumors that the king had sired another child, a daughter. One that believed that magic was beneficial to Allegora. Of course, it was merely speculation, but perhaps if the rumors were true, Allegora might regain some of its former glory.
A hand slithered along Verre’s shoulder, pulling her from her thoughts. “And who might you be?” The slippery smoothness of the prince’s voice made Verre want to vomit, but she retained her composure.
“Prince Jonad.” She gave a curt nod and pulled away. “I am Lady Rira, the daughter of one of the eastern lords.” The prince gave her a curious look, and Verre wondered for a moment if he recognized her, but then she remembered her enchantment. Until the clock struck twelve, she would be undetectable. Even if someone were to try and find Lady Rira, they would be disappointed to know she didn’t even exist.
If one were to go only on looks, Prince Jonad seemed like a pleasant enough man, especially with his splendid physique, deep brown eyes, and charming grin. But while his eyes were pretty–in their own way–they had the look of a predator about them, as one could tell by the way they raked over the other women at the ball.
“Are you enjoying yourself tonight?” At her brief nod, he continued, “Have you had a chance to see the palace gardens? They are unparalleled.”
Fear wormed its way through Verre, though she tried to placate it. He could do nothing to her. She was practically his height and just as strong. Still, the intensity with which he stared at her–his gaze occasionally drifting to the rest of her body–spoke volumes. Now Verre understood to a small extent the terror Lora had been forced to experience.
She plastered a coy grin on her face and placed a hand on his arm. “I would be honored, my prince.”
“Then let us head there right away! I’ll order some of the servants to bring food and drink there for us.” The pleased expression on his face sent a shudder rushing down her spine. He guided her towards the garden, his hand resting confidently on her hip.
“What is your favorite flower, Prince Jonad?” Verre asked, inspecting them closely, knowing that she’d never have another opportunity to see the rare beauties the palace was famous for. There was the dragon’s heart, deep red flowers that bled in autumn; the moon blossoms, which were bright enough to be used as a source of light; but Verre’s favorite was the angel’s death, an innocent-looking white flower that had enough poison to kill even the most powerful of beings.
This simple thought helped relax her. She was a trained and conditioned killer. He could do nothing to her that she didn’t allow.
“Unicorn tear has always been a personal favorite of mine.” Prince Jonad glanced at the cluster of glowing, purple buds that were surrounded by a shimmering gold shield. Of course, it would be unicorn tear. The flower was incredibly rare, only growing when a unicorn tear fell on fertile soil. Unicorns rarely shed tears, and the conditions had to be just right in order for the plant to thrive. Because of their ability to grant one wish, the unicorn tear was vainly sought after.
Verre had heard rumors of how the royal family had managed to grow an entire cluster of unicorn tear, of the unicorns they had tortured, and the mages they had forced to create the perfect conditions for it to thrive.
“Unicorn tear? How incredibly rare. One hasn’t been found in the wild in over a millennium.” Verre turned from inspecting the angel’s death to smile sweetly at Prince Jonad.
“I’m surprised you were able to grow such a large amount, especially with the decrease in the unicorn population.” She hoped the question seemed like one a dumb noblewoman would ask, though she was curious if he’d actually confess to any of the atrocious acts his family was known for.
“Ah, sly, aren’t we?” He smiled thinly. “I must say I’m hurt you wouldn’t just come clean. Honestly, do you find me a fool?”
Verre frowned. “I can’t begin to understand what you’re trying to imply, my prince. Me? Sly? Never!” If he had discovered her deception, this mission might have to be messier than she wished.
He grinned, though it never reached his eyes. “Lady Rira! Do you mean to tell me that you didn’t jump at the opportunity to see my gardens for the sole purpose of requesting a unicorn tear bud?”
“You’re indeed correct, my Prince. I wanted the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the famed unicorn tear. Who wouldn’t?”
Searching her eyes, as if he didn’t quite believe her, he nodded. “Of course.” His hand trailed up her arm, his eyes never leaving hers. “Has this night been enjoyable?”
Gulping back nausea, she let his hand rest there. “Very much so. I had no idea the palace could host such elaborate parties.” Her eyes left his to inspect the smooth marble of the palace itself, glowing flowers casting odd shadows. The guests cast their own, twisting and swaying to the gentle music that flowed sweetly through the courtyards.
“Well, for being such pleasant company, Lady Rira, I’d like to offer you a room in the palace for the night. It would not do to have you sleeping in some inn.”
This was perfect. The prince could not have planned his own death any better. “Thank you for your kind offer, my dear prince. I am humbled.” She bowed low, not even having to hide her delighted smile.
If you enjoyed this excerpt and want to find out what happens next, feel free to click this link here. Depending on how well they are received, I may or may not make them a regular thing.
Till next time,