There are fates worse than death…
Welcome to the serialisation of Accidental Immortal. Chapters will be published four times a week so the serialisation will be completed at (roughly) the same time as on Wattpad, if not a little sooner!
If you would like to start from the beginning, please head over to chapter one. There is also a contents list at the bottom of each post.
Chapter 19 – Settling Down
Lynsey woke to find her dressing table littered with cards. She yawned and wandered over, hitching up her nightgown with her left hand and sipping from a glass of water she picked up from the side table on the way with the other. How did the staff get them in without waking her up? She didn’t like people being in her room while she was asleep.
There were so many of them. She scanned the pile off invitations. There were more invitations here than she had birthday cards at her 18th. She sat down, placing the water on an empty corner.
As she was sorting them into piles, Illyara wandered in.
“Listen to this,” Lynsey began to read. “I would be honoured to invite you to the Contee ball.” She grabbed another. “I am holding a small soiree, and I would like to invite you and your companion.” She picked up card after card. “There are dozens of them. I’m finally popular.” The last sentence was delivered with a sardonic twist of her mouth.
“Are you feeling alright?”
Lynsey thought back to yesterday’s conversation between Arkan and Luna. To be safe she had to stay in Ghinari but Arkan made it very clear he didn’t want her here. There was no way she could avoid him. If she stayed then Arkan would see her every time he visited Luna.
Lynsey stood up, reaching for the wardrobe beside the desk. She threw on a dress and tied her hair in a quick bun as she hurried out of the room.
“C’mon, we have to find Luna.”
They found the duchess reading in the Solar. A comfortable room, it had also been converted into a library. Scrolls were piled high on deep shelves that lined the longest wall. Sombre family portraits jostled together, hung wherever there was space along with landscapes between several tall windows which let the sun flood into the room.
Luna sat on a settee surrounded by opened invitations. She looked up as they entered the room.
“Do I have enough money to have my own house?”
“Good morning to you too.” Luna replied.
“Uh, Lynsey I don’t think this is wise yet.” Pico’s voice invaded her mind.
“Not now Pico.”
“Why yes.” Luna replied realising that a good morning was too much to ask. “You actually have more money than I do. Has someone done something to offend you?”
“Oh no, I just feel it is time to stop presuming on you.”
“Oh my dear, you are really not presuming. I delight in your company. I haven’t had such excitement in – well, forever. You are a tonic. Please do not feel that you have to leave. You are not taking advantage. In fact I have had more invitations this morning to balls and dances than I have had in months and I am really rather popular. It has all made me feel ten years younger.” She pointed at the sofa cushions littered with as many cards as Lynsey had received.
Lynsey exchanged looks with Illyara, giving Luna a second glance. She couldn’t be more than thirty. She tried again.
“It’s not that. It’s just that I have never really lived with anyone before. I like to be independent.”
Luna scanned the invitations with a sad expression for a moment and then looked up smiling.
“In that case, please allow me to help you find somewhere to live. I believe Lord Trekarik has recently vacated Trekarik Park. Confidentially,” Luna’s voice lowered, “I heard it was because he gambled his fortune away. Gambling is a fool’s occupation but you probably already know that already.” Luna sat up and grabbed a scroll that threatened to slide off her lap down on a nearby table.
“The Contee ball is tonight. I received an invitation this morning. They must have been curious about you to invite you at such short notice.” She shuffled the piles looking for it. “Here it is. The King will not be attending and the High Priest certainly won’t be there so it should be a fun evening all around. We can have a quick look around Trekarik Park before lunch and we will still have time to get ready for the ball.”
It took another hour before messages could be exchanged in order to visit the house. Lynsey paced the solar, unable to sit down while they waited for an answer. She could barely hold back her excitement. She’d wanted to buy a house for years. She suspected that eventually she could have afforded a flat in one of the seedier areas of a city that wasn’t London, but here she was not even twenty one and she was going to buy a stately home.
A sudden rap on the door made her look up. A butler dressed in a yellow silk uniform entered bringing a small folded slip of paper on a silver tray. He offered the tray to Luna with a bow. Luna rose and took the paper.
“There will be staff there this morning who can show us around. It is still open for offers.”
Lynsey twisted to look at Illyara sitting on a nearby armchair. Her smile slipped at her friend’s expression. Her forehead creased but Illyara shook her head slightly. She wasn’t going to say why in front of Luna then.
On their way back to the room, Illyara took Lynsey’s arm.
“You know this is not wise, Lynsey.”
“If we move we will lose the protection that Luna and Arkan afford.”
“Illyara, I have enough money to have a thousand guards. We don’t have to worry. We could have our own army if we needed to.”
“It is not just that. We are strangers here. We do not know the conventions that we must follow. We are strangers in a strange land.”
“Illyara, it will be fine. We’ll have the time of our lives.” She didn’t want to tell Illyara that the real reason she wanted to buy a house was because she didn’t want to bump into Arkan every five minutes.
Later that day, they swung into a wooded area from the main road that stretched through Ghinari. They were in the Duchess’ second carriage, which, while not as grand, had to Lynsey’s relief slightly more padding on the seats.
Tall trees with a distinctive red-violet bark grown in peculiar straight rows marked the beginning of Trekarik Park. They led the way down a well-maintained wide mud track. About a mile along, the path turned to cobbles and the smell of cut grass and a floral fragrance that reminded Lynsey of the King’s ball announced the approaching formal gardens.
It was one of the oldest houses in the city, Luna explained along the way and as the wheels of their carriage crunched up beside the front door, the house did not disappoint. Its sweeping driveway was large enough to accommodate two carriages and the house itself was sprawling.
A side door immediately opened and two servants greeted them. The first was dressed in a green and yellow dress and the second wore loose fitting trousers and a top of the same colours. They bowed first to the Duchess and then curtseyed to Lynsey and Illyara.
They pointed at the door and the small party followed them.
“They don’t talk much,” whispered Lynsey.
Luna leaned in between Lynsey and Illyara and whispered at the same level.
“It is alright, you cannot offend them. They are servants. Do I need to keep reminding you of this? I really don’t know if you are ready to live on your own.” She looked from one to the other and sighed. “They are of a tribe that has taken a vow of silence. They only communicate by gestures. They make great servants because they do not gossip. They are Lord Tekarik’s oldest servants.”
The pair waited patiently for the conversation to cease and then pointed forward again. Luna nodded.
“We don’t have long you know if we are to be ready for the ball tonight.”
From there, they were shown around at a brisk pace. There were two floors and ten bedrooms. Lynsey walked around in a daze. Gold leaf on the walls? A swimming pool around the back and a ballroom to rival the King’s. The more they were shown, the more the servants seemed almost tearful to be leaving.
“How many staff would you need to run this place?”
Luna answered. “To run it I would say at least thirty but there are only five of them here currently. The old Duke couldn’t afford to keep all the staff going.”
“This place would house about five tribes” was Illyara’s comment.
Luna ignored Illyara. “This place is impressively big but you would have to hire about fifty guards to make it safe. The park is no deterrent. If you built a wall to surround the house, it would be an improvement. Although it would ruin the look of the place. Even then Arkan could get over that in moments and he is not the only assassin in town.”
Why did she have to bring up Arkan all the time? Hang on, did she just say Assassin?
Luna’s mouth formed an o at her expression. “You didn’t realise? He’s not just an assassin he is the King’s Assassin.” Her mouth twitched in amusement. “I thought you knew.”
“You have assassins here. Why would you do that?”
“To protect yourself. Why else? The best defence is an offence after all.”
“What about police?”
“What are police?” It was Luna’s turn to look puzzled.
“You don’t have anyone who looks for criminals, enforces the laws?”
“Anyone can bring problems before the king. Why would we pay to sort out someone else’s problems? We hire guards to look after our own things and put the rest in the bank.”
The servants were getting restless. They needed a reply. Lynsey took another look at the grand hallway with its sweeping staircase and high ceilings. She couldn’t have believed even visiting a place like this would have been possible a few weeks ago. This house could be hers. She thought about what Luna had said. She had been kidnapped but that was before the ball. Everyone knew about her now and she had the protection of Luna’s family name. Wasn’t that the whole point of going to the King’s ball in the first place? He wouldn’t go after her now. They were all exaggerating the danger. If she stayed in the public eye maybe she could be safe and if she had to build a private army then so be it. She chuckled. Who was exaggerating now?
“I’ll take it.” She replied at their questioning look. A small smile greeted her answer.
The rest was a formality. They visited the bank who transferred the amount needed to the Duke. She didn’t know what she expected but since everyone used the same bank, it was just a matter of transferring the money from one vault to another. In this case, the Duke was happy to accept jewels in payment. Lynsey suspected that he was getting a slighter better exchange rate than if she tried to sell the jewels herself but she wanted the house and she didn’t want to wait anymore.
They were back at Luna’s and readying for the ball with plenty of time to spare.
“Aren’t you excited about moving to our new place?” Lynsey asked Illyara.
Her friend smiled sadly. “I will miss Luna but I can only stay with you for a few more weeks. I should re-join my family.”
Lynsey rolled over on top of the bedspreads to face Illyara. “I thought you could stay for years, explore the world, find love.”
“I don’t think I will find it here Lynsey. They are all about money and status. These are not things my tribe value. I need to look elsewhere. You obviously want to make roots here and that is fine. I will always wish you well.”
“Have your family been outside the gates all this time?”
“Oh no, they will have gone to a town further up by the coast but they will be back here soon where I can join them again.” Illyara looked down and then straight into Lynsey’s eyes. “I am worried you will get lonely by yourself.”
Lynsey lowered her eyes to look at the pattern on the bedspread. It wouldn’t be right to keep Illyara away from her family and future.
“I’m never really alone now. Besides I like Luna too. She does annoy me sometimes but I think we can be friends. I just wish those two would either get together or not so I know when to avoid Arkan. “
“You think Luna and Arkan are sweethearts?”
“Yes, it’s a bit obvious. He’s always giving her doe-eyed looks.”
Illyara smiled. “I am pretty sure they are not doe-eyed looks!”
“I think…” Just then Megan and Tegan knocked on the door, bringing in their dresses for the night.
They arrived at the ball only twenty minutes after the time written on the invitation, much to Luna’s chagrin. She had huffed at that but Lynsey was still her guest so she acquiesced.
While the room was smaller than the other one, it was still elegant. There were light fixtures on the wall, but the Contee had chosen to use candles for their event instead of electric. The soft glow was a lot more flattering to the older ladies, Lynsey thought, but then given the age of the Contees – that was probably the plan.
Even though they were relatively early, there were a few men and women milling about the room. Lynsey sighed, she’d been right to come in earlier, she didn’t feel like such a specimen. People were still looking at her but they were also staring at their clothes not just her hair this time.
Luna looked gorgeous in a dark blue gown. The hemline trailed the floor and the neckline showed off her best asset. Illyara’s and Lynsey’s outfits were more demure but just as striking. Lynsey’s dress was again pink while Illyara’s was green. They both had long skirts but the cut accentuated their young bodies. The dresses were daring without revealing anything. “It is how I got my first husband, darling.” Luna had said. “Before you marry you need to tease – to draw the men to you. After your nuptials, you can do what you want.”
For two hours in their rooms Luna had gone over society’s niceties. You must never be alone with a man. You must be asked to dance. You should not fill your plate with food. A barb on Lynsey’s plate at the King’s feast.
“If you want to become part of society you will have to win over the other ladies. After all, what if one of them is married to the man who may ask you to be his wife?”
“Hang on, you can have more than one husband?”
“Hang on to what? No, a man may have two wives but a woman can only have one husband.”
“But your husband is only married to you?”
“I have the family and money that I can make sure he doesn’t look at another woman.”
Lynsey smiled to herself, there was more to Luna than family or money.
Lynsey pulled up a fan that hung from a belt around her waist. She flicked it open and vigorously pumped it to cool down her face. The room was getting full and the heat from the people and hundreds of candles was making it hot. Everyone seemed to be a little livelier than in the previous ball. People were smiling more and she noted the men felt free to touch the arms or shoulders of the women. A lull in the conversation around them made Lynsey look for the source.
“Why has everyone gone quiet?” She craned her neck to look around the room but she couldn’t see anything which would explain it.
“The king is coming!” A lady dressed next to them said in an over-loud whisper. “A footman saw his coach coming down the drive. The Contee have been trying to get him to come to one of their balls for years! They have finally made it. I’m hoping Arkan will be with him.”
“Why would the king suddenly decide to come?”
The girl looked at Lynsey with pity. “You of course. Everyone saw how he looked at you. He even danced with you.”
Illyara was talking with a matron further into the room. Lynsey made her way through the crowd to her.
“The king is coming.”
Illyara turned to her friend. “It’s okay he can’t harm you here. This lady was saying that Arkan will probably be coming as well.
“All we need is Baserius and we have a trifecta of my nemeses.”
“Don’t be silly, besides Arkan likes you.”
“He just doesn’t want me around.”
“Whatever gave you that idea?”
“I heard him!”
Illyara’s perplexed look made Lynsey doubt for a second but she had heard him herself.
“I need to go out for some air.”
The matron was taking it all in eagerly. You should use the balcony of the hallway on the second floor. There is a beautiful view from up there. “
“Thank you, I will.” Lynsey picked up her skirt and made her way past the crowd. The room seemed to get darker. Everyone was watching her, their beady eyes boring into her back. She hated being the only blond person. She stood out like a frickin, sore thumb. If she stayed here she would be stared at for her whole life and judging from what Pico said that would be forever. She wouldn’t be able to hide. Her hair would give her away. Lynsey paused on a step. How long before they would try to work out why she lived so long without aging?
The hallway on the second floor was lined with dark wood panels engraved with scenes from a past battle. She hardly gave them a glance until she saw a pyramid. She felt Pico’s interest flare in her consciousness.
“Can you see that?” Lynsey whispered.
“I can. The pictures seem to say that a dragon escaped from a pyramid. For all these people say they want to forget those that brought them here, they find ways of reminding themselves. The pyramid was in the Temple as well. That next painting shows that the Egyptians all had to leave. How much of this is myth?“
“I don’t know but this is fascinating.”
“It is indeed.” The voice was behind her but she knew from the goose pimples rising in her arms who it was.
“At your service.”
She could feel the heat from his body. She turned to find him inches from her. His fingertips grazed her arm sending shivers of pleasure through her. This wasn’t right. She looked into his eyes and found herself melting into his arms. He brought his lips down onto hers while she lost herself in the depths of his eyes. Some last shred of her sanity took hold. No! This was not going to happen. She wouldn’t share with anyone, not even with someone she liked and respected like Luna. She tore herself from his arms and ran, her shoes clattered down the narrow stairs. She looked back up but he wasn’t following, she twisted back to find herself bumping into a man standing at the foot of the stairs.
Lynsey bounced off the king to stand inches from him. Her breaths came in quick gasps and her cheeks were bright pink, almost matching her dress. He stepped forward and took a stray tendril of hair and gently placed it over her ear.
Lynsey froze at his touch. He was handsome but she disguised a shudder when his finger lowered to stroke her cheek. Why did the King’s hand disgust her when Arkan made her breathless? She almost didn’t hear the King’s next words.
“For you I would get rid of my wives.”
Her lips parted in horror. This man was a monster. She backed away and headed to the ballroom and relative safety. She looked back and he was still there, looking into space as if lost in a daydream.
Chapter 1 - Duat Chapter 2 - London - Present Day Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat Chapter 4 - Nomads Chapter 5 - Scorpion Chapter 6 - The Dragon Temple Chapter 7 - Assassin Chapter 8 - The Luscious Luna Chapter 9 - Arkan Blade Chapter 10 - Kidnapped Chapter 11 - Rescue Chapter 12 - Modesty Chapter 13 - Banquet Chapter 14 - Arkan Chapter 15 - Dancing with the King Chapter 16 - Dragon Brotherhood Chapter 17 - Pico Chapter 18 – The Dragon