I woke up surprisingly without a pounding headache despite remembering I lost consciousness in the middle of a balcony—the so-called King’s balcony no less. I should have hit the ground, gained a concussion or maybe broken my spine, but I felt as healthy as I was before all this hullabaloo started. Either the balcony had seriously soft ground or my fall was cut—I couldn’t really remember what happened after I lost consciousness, but either way, it was to my advantage.
All memories of over the last few hours—or minutes? or days? I don’t really know—had returned to me like a flood the moment my eyes flitted open. My instant thought was, ’Yes, I’m actually inside a fantasy world, how great is that?!” But my sane mind interjected, reminding me that yeah, my head was under threat of dismemberment. That arrogant man who called himself King promised I’d be beheaded in the first light of day.
Quickly, I surveyed myself and the place I was in. I was on a bed with very soft mattress and pillows, wearing a rather silky short dress that was up to the knee. I scrunched up my nose. Clearly, I wasn’t on my own bed and in my pajamas, and that meant I wasn’t dreaming the events I remembered with those men.
The bed was a four-poster, its thick drapes were spread up to cover the mattress entirely. Darkness enveloped me inside. I had to extend my arm just so I could reach the cloth and check the outside environment.
My heart skipped a beat. It was daylight. Possibly even morning. Meaning, my time was up and I’d likely kiss my head goodbye soon.
A feeling of dread washed over me then.
“Oh no...” I muttered, shaking my head. “No, no, no, no, no! I have got to find a way out of this place!”
I scrambled to leave the bed, pushing myself out of the darkness and into the light. When my feet hit the cold, shiny floor, I saw two guards standing near an open door on the right, dressed in armors and helmets. They looked seriously like Mobile Legend wannabes with all the dangerous vibe and pointed, heavy-looking spears.
I placed a hand over my mouth to stifle my gasp. Despite their covered faces, I felt their eyes on me, but luckily, they didn’t move. Not an inch. Just like those guards in the Buckingham Palace. Good.
Turning around, I looked for another way out of the room. There was a second door on the left, near the bed, so slowly so as not to arouse suspicion, I neared it. Once inside, I groaned, feeling disappointed upon seeing the familiar set-up of a comfort room with glass walls and a huge, steaming pool.
“You’ll find the water very comforting on your skin once you dip in the pool. Try it, I insist,” a male voice suddenly stated behind me.
I whirled around to see my intruder and there he was, the man whom I remembered to be the King’s brother.
“I am Prince Elijah at your service, brother of King Aero of the Kingdom of Phanteon, Royal Adviser to His Majesty, and a self-confessed ladies' man. May I know your name, Beautiful Maiden?”
Instead of answering him, I furrowed my brows and said, “Pleasantries are useless when you are here to assist me to my doom.”
“Doom?” his brow arched up, and he looked confused. “What made you think of that?”
I scoffed. What was this man playing at?
“If I recall correctly, your cruel brother sentenced me to death by beheading for stupid reasons.”
“Oh, no, don’t worry about that,” he quickly shook his head. “He was just talking nonsense. Don’t take it personally.”
“He threatened me,” I placed a hand on my chest. “Of course, I’d take it personally.”
But my show of bravado was ignored. He just shrugged his shoulders and looked unconcerned.
“You’ll get used to it, promise. Plus, my brother doesn’t always have that acidic attitude. You’ll find that he has a caring side too.”
“What makes you think I want to know more about him?” I hissed. “I’m supposed to be at home. Where is this place anyway and why am I here?”
As much as I’m a fan of Fantasy, I didn’t think staying in this place would be healthy. First, I have no idea how to survive: I have no money, no shelter to call my own, no belongings even, and no Akita, my favorite Siberian husky pet to give me my daily dose of happy pill. Second, I’m not even sure where this place is. It seems like Earth to me, but I don’t know what food they eat or if they even eat at all. Them using English as a language was a bonus, but still, that advantage was outweighed by the many disadvantages.
The man named Prince Elijah didn’t seem offended by my authoritative tone of voice. He looked amused, even.
“Well, uhm, instead of bringing you to the dungeon as per the King’s wishes, I took you to this manor instead,” he answered. “This place is far from the castle, don’t worry. This is a safe place for you to stay while we sort your uhm...situation. You said so yourself you just touched a painting and then poof, you were suddenly transported to the King’s bed.”
I hesitantly nodded. “Yes, that’s a simple way to put it.” I couldn’t wrap my head around what had actually happened back in my room, but at least now, I had somebody who might have information, or at least that’s what I hoped he has.
“The King’s guess is as good as mine, you may have come from a different realm,” the prince stated. “Can you morph into a creature? Show fangs instead? Or drink blood? Maybe cast spells? Produce scales and horns? Or maybe you’re like those Fae people with their ethereal beauty and irresistible sensuality. You certainly are beautiful and sexy, definitely perfect for my bro—”
“What are you talking about?” I frowned. Whatever he was going with his conversation, I didn’t want any part in it. This man must have had his head deformed. If I’m right, he was certainly referring to cryptozoology stuff.
“Hmmm, judging from your answer and your odd reactions last night, I now know what you are,” he bobbed his head up and down as if sure with his guess. “You’re a human.”
I blinked many times when he said it and for a moment, I wanted to laugh.
“So are you,” I replied, tossing him a pointed look from head to foot. I mean come’on, it was a no brainer. He looked like human in my eyes. He had a normal-looking head, limbs and torso. And he even had a bulge—maybe not as visible as the King’s, but a bulge still—under his pants that housed that anatomical part for procreation and other purposes...
The prince then laughed a little. “Oh no, no, no. I’m different. I...uhm...well, this is difficult. How do I say this.” He scratched his head looking almost shy. “Since the realms were created, there never has been a report where a human trespassed worlds. We made sure humans were clueless of our existence and we kept that law sacred, even until now. You are the first in this Kingdom to appear.”
“Realms?” I parroted, almost choking up the word. “That’s quite a strong word to use. Let me guess, you are creatures that only exist in books.”
“Pft!” Now the man truly laughed out loud. I glared at him, taking offense on his action.
Luckily, a few seconds later he stopped.
“I’m sorry, that was wrong of me, but I can’t help it. We are real after all,” he declared. “We are not just characters in books. You are in the Kingdom of Phanteon. A world where only werewolves and lycans exist.”
That’s it. This prince really had a brain damage, but after all I experienced last night and these past few minutes, I certainly could tell he was telling the truth.
“Werewolves... Lycans...” I tested each word on my tongue. They felt rough and unusual, and totally bonkers, but another part of me was trying to make good sense of the words. “You mean like Teen Wolf and Underworld?”
Prince Elijah opened his mouth, looking dumb. “I don’t get what you’re saying. Is that a thing in the human world?”
‘Huh,’ my mind laughed at the irony.
“I’d already tag you as a certified nutjob if it wasn’t for this weird room I’m in or the guards flamboyantly dressed near the doorway. I remember what I saw last night too: a balcony view of a settlement that I’d only believe exist in the fantasy world, and I remember just how instantly I changed locations after touching the painting, like magic, so I’d say you are really telling the truth.”
“I like that you're dissecting information rather calmly,” he grinned.
“What would you have me do? Shout like a lunatic? Ask you to—what?—transform in front of me? No way that’s going to happen. I already passed out last night because of sudden surprise. I don’t want that to happen again.”
“May I know your name please?” he suddenly changed subject. This time, I could tell in his eyes he was being genuine.
“Serena McAllister,” I blurted out.
“Hmm, Vasílissa Serena. I like the sound of it.”
At that, I tossed him a confused and sharp look. What was he talking about? I’m pretty sure he used Greek language, but what did the word meant? And how does this man know how to speak English and Greek to begin with?
“Anyway, I know some people who might have an answer to your situation,” he walked past the door and into the interior of the bathroom, stood near the steaming pool and stared at me again. “Who could even bring you back to the human realm. I’ll help you, but in return, you must help me too.”
I hauled in a deep breath.
“I’m not sure if I should trust you,” I said without any hesitation.
He placed a fist right on his chest and briefly dipped his head towards me.
“I’m the King’s brother. I’m a royal and royals always keep their word. Plus, I just saved your life from execution haven’t I?”
At this point in my life, I didn’t think trusting him would harm me. Considering the situation, I didn’t have much advantage to begin with. I’m vulnerable in this kingdom he called Phanteon and as much as I hated it, he was my only hope for survival and returning to my home.
I hissed. “Okay, point taken. What do you want me to do?”
“Oh well, nothing,” he was for a moment a little hesitant to continue. “I just...well..I want you to rid of the King’s hate of women.”
“Your brother hates women?” I asked, taken aback. No wonder the prick looked at me like a pest last night. Does he actually have gynophobia? That’s tough.
“Yeah,” the prince trailed off, “it’s an issue the Kingdom has for many years now and because of it, we are having difficulties getting an heir.”
My jaw tensed. “If you’re saying I carry his children then I’m out.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love children. I even volunteered to work in a nearby orphanage house to take care of the orphans once a week after my day job. I just didn’t like the idea of spreading my legs in exchange for a favor. That’s just downright immoral. I wouldn’t stoop that low even if it meant I wouldn’t be able to return to my world and be stranded in this God-damned realm.
“No,” the prince quickly answered, but then he diverted his eyes from me to the pool and trailed off once again. “No... I just want you to gradually desensitize him using your presence—just your presence and maybe establish conversation too? One that will not lead to an argument? My brother is very blunt with his words.”
I groaned inwardly. “I’m aware. I got a taste of it last night.”
“Well, good,” he flashed a grin. “You have a head start. Is it a deal then?”
“If you promise I could return home, then it’s a deal,” I boomeranged.
“Promise...” He trailed off the third time. It was getting on my nerves. I shouldn’t trust this man completely.
“When will we start?” I asked.
He smiled at me and answered, “Now, actually. This manor is the King’s sanctum. He always comes here everyday.” He looked up at the giant glass dome directly above the pool, stared at it for a couple of seconds and then continued, “Right about now actually. He is on his way here, so that means I probably should get going. I certainly don’t want to receive his ire early in the morning. He’d likely put two and two together and will immediately blame me for your presence here.”
“What?!” I gasped, surprised by his words. I didn’t think I’d be seeing the King so soon and here in this place no less. “I thought I’d only meet the King in court and royal gatherings,” I voiced out as he walked past me and into the bedroom. “That’s usually the case in my world, not unless I’m family or the...mistress of the King, but I’m not. Don’t you think I’d be sentencing my head again when he sees me here? He certainly didn’t approve when I appeared in his chamber last night.”
Prince Elijah paused from walking and gave me a thumbs up, “You’ll be fine. I have great faith in you.”
“That’s not very assuring, Your High—ness,” I frowned at him.
“I’ll see you in the castle soon.” He winked at me and without a wave goodbye, waltzed out of the room leaving me to defend myself against the biggest, baddest wolf in this Kingdom.
< Aero >The Kingdom of Phanteon is vast and grand. Naturally, I would place watch towers in every boundary to make sure our land was well-guarded. In addition, I ordered guards to make rounds every hour day and night. The realms have had nothing but peace ever since it was created, but it pays to be vigilant sometimes.My men were doing well with their duties, but being the King that I am, I also preferred to check the lands from time to time, be outside the castle and see if everything was in order.Evenings were my best times to shift into my lycan form. I’d run all over the kingdom, sometimes not stopping for hours until dawn hits the horizon. It was my way of keeping up with my form and stamina. I found running exhilarating and I found it a good way to de-stress from the dramas of my court.Like for example, in this very night where I just found out my crown was under threat.
< Aero >My muscles tensed when I straightened up, standing proud and mighty with all my glory and nakedness. I looked at her. She was still not facing me, acting as if the pool’s bleach-white tiles were interesting.I scoffed at her inattention.All two hundred and twenty pounds of my weight submerged under water when I entered the pool. I choose to sit on the lowest platform. My favorite spot. It had enough height for me to rest my head against the tiles and an enough depth to soak the lower half of my body.“Tell me, woman, what is my brother up to?” I asked, breaking the terse silence enveloping us.She cautiously glanced towards my way and when she noticed my decent-enough look, she fully turned her face to me and answered, “He is hiring me to straighten you up. Desensitize you from your fear of women.”“I don’t fear women. I hate them. Those two words ar
< Serena >Lesson number one duly noted. Don’t assume or miscalculate anything when it came to this realm’s creatures of the night.Right when the prince hightailed out of the room, I remained dumbstruck, thinking of how fast the events were happening. He made a deal. I accepted. And now I couldn’t leave this manor despite the looming arrival of the King.Truth be told I didn’t want to meet him again, but my desire to return to the ‘human realm’—as what they called it—outweighed my dislike of this guy. I only needed to talk to him in a civil manner, keep my presence constant until he learns to respect women.Or...until Elijah brings me back to my realm.Never mind the King respecting women. With that ogre-like attitude, I highly doubt he’d change. Ever.Blinking fast, I gathered back my composure and looked around. Out of all the things that
< Serena >The cheers of the people around me were deafening. I wanted to cover my ears but I knew I couldn't. Standing tall on a raised platform near the King's throne, I realized I had to comport myself well in front of them as I was now their queen.Me a queen...Their queen...A queen.The word rang in my head over and over again.How did it come to this again? I asked myself.With a muddled head, I recollected everything that went down when I woke up that specific morning two days ago...***"Sleep well?" the King asked, his sharp voice cutting through the beautiful chirping of the birds outside my window.My drowsy state vanished in an instant He was wearing a loose white shirt and partnered it with black trousers and black boots. His dark hair was messy in a sexy w
< Aero >I knew she would accept my offer. It was too good an opportunity to pass. I was so pleased with how well everything was going that a small smile broke from the corner of my lips when I left her chamber.Oddly enough, my beast side was howling with delight. I didn’t understand why it was behaving that way but I assumed it was happy to be in control with my throne once again.The council will have a hell of a time when they find out I’ll marry in two days. They’ll bombard me surely with talks of pups and heirs. I’ll indulge them for now, until the day I’ll kick that woman out of my castle door.I didn’t have the intention to spend the next two days with her. It was unnecessary even if she would become my wife and queen. I stayed inside the castle and did what I usually do as king.Elijah was helping me on the preparations, or to speak frankly, he did all the preparations. I care not a d
< Aero >My jaw tensed at the temper simmering inside me. I had no desire to hold a woman’s hand, but I didn’t have a choice. I had to keep up appearances.The bride, however, lifted her hands up without a second thought and waited for me to hold it.When the high priest cleared his throat, that was when I realized I hadn’t actually moved yet.With a deep breath to settle my developing temper, I accepted her hands, enveloping them with my large palm.“Your Majesty, you may now say your vows,” the old man stated. I gave him an arched brow. What did he say again?“Start with your bride’s name, Your Majesty, and say your vows loudly for all to hear,” he reminded.I had to take another deep breath to control the growing turmoil inside me. Fuck! Why must there be
< Serena >I sat stiffly on my seat whilst looking down on the celebration in front of me. Every guest were laughing and lively and really enjoying the moment. I envied them. This was exactly what I envisioned my wedding reception to be, but unfortunately, I married the wrong man.That aforementioned wrong man sat next to me, on his throne that looked very striking. It was literally an enormous head of an animal—a wolf most likely—with its mouth filled with serrated teeth and opened wide to accommodate my husband's royal butt.Ever since the wedding ceremony ended, he had been sporting a rather unreadable expression on his face. It was not a scowl or a frown. Just a blank face. He would show a smile when needed, but I knew he was just faking it like I was.I clearly remembered everything that went down on that ceremony. I remembered the bright light in the form of chains and how it left a
< Aero >I didn’t wait for tomorrow. I had to know now, so I called for an emergency meeting with all of my council including the high priest that presided my wedding and the royal augur of my father, Sedsah. As one of the best augur in the realms, I needed to seek his thoughts regarding the magical event that happened earlier. I was that desperate.As I sat on my seat impatiently, I stared at them when they entered the conference room. I could see the look of confusion in their eyes and saw the unexpressed question swirling in their heads. Why would I want to be with them when I was just married? I should have been on top of my new wife right now pounding her ass off.I grumbled in my thoughts. Huh. They should know better.Elijah who had been standing next to me remarked inside my head, ‘Look at that. They are quite pissed off with your sudden call for