Cicely, Queen of Snow and Ice, is slowly getting used to her new role in life. The Vampiric Fae have been conquered and Myst is gone, but now something new is unsettling her kingdom. A ship sails across the Crashing Sea from the Golden Isle with new members for her kingdom, but all of the Sidhe aboard are missing. And the Wilding Fae are appealing to the Fae Queen. Several of their members have vanished, and a large shadowy wolf has been seen on the outskirts of their village. It seems Fenrick, a wolf-shifter and priest of Hel, the frozen goddess of the underworld, is on the loose, trying to usurp control of the Realm of Snow and Ice. Now, Cicely and her friends must face down the monster before he can marshal the ice giants, and destroy the new Queen and her rule.

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The new Courts had risen to power, the Queen of Snow and Ice on her frozen throne, and the Queen of Rivers and Rushes in her fiery realm. The time of the Vampiric Fae had passed, and what few were still alive hid themselves, cloaking against discovery. A time of truce between factions was growing—the true vampires of the Crimson Court, the Fae, and the Consortium. Together, the three powers negotiated peace, and looked to creating a world that all could enjoy—including the yummanii—the human-born. But there are always enemies, and there will always be war. And so, a year after Queen Cicely accepted the crown of Snow and Ice, there came to her door the first hint of a new threat—perhaps an even greater one than Myst had presented… 

From: The New Courts of Fae

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Chapter 1

A STORM WAS racing in off the distant ice fields. As I stood at the crest of the hill, I could feel it riding the winds, hard, like a Wind Elemental on an overdose of steroids. The gusts were strong with this one, and the blizzard would be harsh and fierce. I could almost feel a sentience to the storm, as though it were a creature. Hunger drove it. That, and the desire to cover the land in a cloak of white.

I brushed my hair from my face as the wind whipped through, catching up the strands that had strayed from my ponytail. My crown fit snuggly, but it could only do so much in keeping me presentable. At least I don’t have helmet hair, I thought.

But out here—on the Western Floes by the Crashing Sea—looks didn’t matter. Out here, where the ice stretched out over deep oceans of freezing water, survival was the name of the game. And stray hairs were the last thing I was worried about. I was dressed in a thick pair of black jeans. For this journey, I had refused Druise’s attempt to get me into my traditional corset top, insisting instead on a heavy layered sweatshirt. The cold wouldn’t bother me too much, but I needed to be able to move. Even though I was essentially immortal, if I fell into the azure depths, I could still drown.

Grieve was standing by the edge of the ice sheet we were on, his hand shading his eyes from the gleam of late afternoon light. The sky was silver, with strands of blue streaking through it. The sun never rose, nor shone down with its brilliant beams. The realm of Snow and Ice was illuminated by silver hues, accentuated with pale blue in the morning. At dusk, they faded into a velvety aubergine and then into deep black.

“Do you see anything?” I cautiously skirted the jutting blocks of ice that littered the floe, coming to stand by his side.

He shook his head. “Not yet. I know The Wave Catcher was supposed to be arriving at our harbor today.”

“Harbor” was a kind word for the makeshift piers we stood next to. The Crashing Sea was as violent as its name, and very few ships ever came over the horizon to dock by our shores. For one thing, most of the ships would have to launch from another realm, coming through a dangerous portal.

“Do you think…will they be on it?” I could barely breathe, hoping against hope, but my love softly turned and took my hands in his. His hair hung down his back, spun platinum against his olive skin. His eyes were the black of night, with a thousand stars circling in them.

My love. My Prince. My King. Grieve, my chosen consort.

“Cicely, you know they can’t return here. Wrath and Lainule are forever gone from these realms. The minute they crossed into the realm of Snow and Ice they would begin to age and die. They must remain on the Golden Isle, where they will live until they are ready to let go and walk into the mists.” He lifted one of my hands and kissed it gently, his razor-sharp teeth grazing my skin. I shivered at his touch.

“I know, but I keep hoping. I miss them.” Miss was putting it mildly. Every day, I thought about my father, and the former Queen of Rivers and Rushes. They had not only changed my life forever, but had been instrumental to my very existence.

“I know you do. But focus on the positive. The ship is bringing new members for our Court—and for the Court of Rivers and Rushes. New immigrants.”

Grieve seemed genuinely excited, and I tried to match his enthusiasm. But the thought of newcomers entering our halls scared the crap out of me. Would they accept me as their queen, given my heritage? I was only half Cambyra Fae—the rest of me was magic-born, regardless of the fact that I had been through a magical transformation.

I was still unsure of my place, and each day brought its own series of accomplishments and setbacks. At least I could speak Cambyra fairly well. I had immersed myself in it, forced Grieve to spend at least an hour a day talking to me in the dialect of the Winter Fae, and though I wasn’t entirely skilled, I finally had managed a rudimentary grasp of how the language worked.

An owl hovered overhead, then settled down near us. Shifting—like a blur on the ice—my grandfather straightened up. I flashed him a grateful smile. He knew how nervous I was.

“Hunter, I’m glad you made it.”

“To see new blood come to our land? I wouldn’t miss it, my girl.”

“There! I see the ship!” Check, one of my personal bodyguards, pointed out a dark shape riding the swells of the Crashing Sea. As it grew closer, the ship came into focus, ghostly in the mists that boiled along the water. A massive galleon with three masts, the sails were fully unfurled, the wind driving against them with a hard, steady breeze. The wood of The Wave Catcher gleamed in the late afternoon, carved from ancient white oaks back on the Golden Isle, the birthplace of the Sidhe.

I strained my eyes, trying to see anyone who might be watching over the railing, but could see no one. There were no figures rushing about, no shouts from the deck. In fact, the silence was downright eerie as the ship slowly approached the edge of the floe. I cocked my head, wondering why the ship was sparkling so brightly.

“Something’s wrong. Look at the ice.” Grieve leaned toward me, and pointed to the masts. I squinted, realizing he was right. The masts—the railings, the entire ship seemed encased in a layer of ice.

“Reminds me of when the men are out on the Bering Sea on The Deadliest Catch.” I shook my head. “There’s something odd about that ice, but I can’t put my finger on what.”

“ ‘Deadliest Catch’? What are you talking about?”

“Television show. I used to watch it all the time. I can’t now that we live here.” But I remembered all too well what the ships had looked like, icing up during the freezing storms that hit them. The storms knocked them around like spinning tops, and the men had to get out on the decks and break the ice off before it overloaded the ships and sent them to the bottom of the sea.

“The ice should have capsized her by now, shouldn’t it?” I didn’t know much about ships, but I did know that this wasn’t normal.

Grieve shook his head. “No, it shouldn’t. The ship came through the mists into our realm. When you really think about it, I doubt if it’s been on the waters long enough to become so iced over. The crew should have taken care of it, even so.” He motioned to Check. “Take the Queen back a safe distance. The ship is traveling at a good clip and they are showing no signs of slowing down, even though they’re almost to the docks.”

Check nodded. As usual, I was forced to retreat to the top of the cliff, away from the length of ice that stretched out to form a natural pier. Posts had been frozen into it, with strong ropes to tie down the ships as they eased into the harbor.

As I struggled to see what they were doing, the ship kept its heading: straight at the ice.

My men hesitated at first, then began to back away. Then, as the galleon lurched into port, they turned to run. The ship rammed itself into the edge of the floe. As the two forces met, the scream of wood against ice was excruciating. The ship shrieked, the wood splintering like toothpicks, as the ice—hundreds of meters deep—won the battle, driving like a wedge into the hull of the boat. The destruction echoed around us as the ship shuddered to a halt and then the water began to flow in through the holes in the hull.

My men sprang into action, racing across the ice as the boat began to flounder. Three of them—owl shifters—transformed and flew up to the deck, shifting back as they landed. It was easier and safer than scaling the ropes, which were swinging from the sides of the hull.

I watched, waiting. We had to get the Sidhe who were aboard safely off the ship. Some were Cambyra—the Shifting Fae. Others were the Sidhe of the Old World, but they were all our kinsmen. Fretting, I planned out what we would need. Blankets, food, medical care…but until I knew how many reserves we would need, all I could do was wait and hope that we got everyone off. That nobody would be dragged to the bottom as the ship slowly sank.

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Night Shivers