Excerpt | The Stolen Throne

Fear spikes my blood so hard it makes my skin crawl.

Another boom rattles the tent, followed by shouting.

Eidolon must have found us. Found the zariphate. Has he been following us the entire time? We probably led that bastard right to the camp.

To Tabra.

Goddess, my sister is senselessly vulnerable in this tent so far from the rest of the camp. She needs more protection. I whirl on Achlys. “Keep her safe. The guards will help you until I can send more.”

I’m up and out of the tent before she can say anything, ignoring the cries of surprise from the two guards. I run right at the sound of fighting only to collide with Reven one row of tents in.

“I knew you’d be headed straight for trouble.” But instead of stopping me, he marches directly toward the sound of chaos.

I don’t follow. “I need you to protect Tabra.”

He goes ominously cold. “I’m not leaving you.”

“Please.” I’m begging, pushing at his shoulder, shoving him in the direction of Tabra’s tent. “Please. You have to. They’ll take her or kill her. And I can’t—”

“Hellfires,” he mutters. Then gets in my face. “Okay. I’ll go.”

He’s not fighting me on this?

“Just do not—”

I know what he’s going to say.

“I have to protect my people. I’m an Imperium, and I’m the queen for now.”

He grips my shoulders so hard I cringe.

“Get your hands off her,” Cain snaps.

I turn my head to find him standing to the side, chest heaving like he’s been sprinting. He probably has. His expression is a combination of accusation and confusion that is becoming painfully familiar.

Reven ignores him. “I mean it, Meren. I’ll protect Tabra, but promise me you’ll keep yourself safe.”

Courage burrows a hole through my fear. There it is again. This isn’t him holding me back or trying to protect me. This is him supporting me. Believing in me.

“She bloody well isn’t going anywhere near that—” Cain bites off his protest as both Reven and I swing glares his way.

“Actually, I have a better idea,” Reven says without looking away from Cain. “He protects Tabra. I go with you.”

Cain’s lips draw back in a sneer. “What, so you can lose control again? Wipe out the entire zariphate this time? Not a chance.”

He did what? I swing around sharply to stare at Reven. “Wait. You—”

The sand shifts under me a heartbeat before shooting into the air across the camp, followed by even more shouting.

After what Cain just said, maybe I should rethink sending Reven to my sister. But of the two situations, he’s less likely to snap there, where he can’t see what I’m doing. Right?

“Go.” I give Reven a shove toward Tabra’s tent. And, after a look that I feel to the deepest part of me, he goes.


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