Night sat before the king. His brother, Draxon, sat by his side. Scattered around the table sat the various Lords and Lady of the country. None of them looked very comfortable, save for Lady Valorie, who had never had her mind in the right place anyway.
The king, King Romanulous, looked displeased, to say the least. He kept his hands folded together, his razor sharp claws on display for all to see. They served as a warning to keep from setting the man off into a less optimal mood.
"So none of you have found anything," his words were more a condemning statement than a question.
None of them replied. They didn't know what could be said, as they all wished to keep their heads.
"Yes, my liege?" a dark amber demon lifted his head.
"I have found nothing, my king. There have been no additional clues," he said, dipping his head.
The king gritted his teeth. "Night."
"Yes, your majesty?" he instantly responded.
"How is the eleventh?" he questioned.
"You know, he's technically the ninth," Valorie said as casually as one would when speaking to a friend.
She sprawled out over her chair, twirling a knife. Her crazed eyes remained fixed on the blade, her other hand clutching her trembling husband's.
Her husband, Rapier, immediately hushed her. She frowned, but she went silent.
"Night," the king repeated.
"Broken," he replied.
"And your other worthless wrong winged child?" he questioned.
Night gritted his teeth. He forced himself to reply, no matter that his words tasted like poison, "She's obedient."
"And yours, Draxon?" the king questioned.
"I haven't seen her in a month. I don't know," he replied, "And the last time I did, she wouldn't look at me."
The king's frown deepened.
Draxon flinched away from the man, biting down a yelp. Night took his brother's hand, hoping to give him some sort of comfort. The king's gaze rested on the two of them long enough to unnerve them before it shifted away.
"Valorie," Romanulous said.
"She's fine. A little thinner, but she's fine," Valorie replied.
Draxon stiffened. Night bit his tongue to keep from snapping at his sister in law.
The last time Night had seen his niece, the girl had been so thin that a gust of wind could have knocked her over. Death should have taken the girl, had she gotten any thinner. Hearing that she still lived...
Night wondered if death would be a mercy for the girl.
"And the others?" Romanulous questioned.
"Fine. Your son is getting a little out of hand, although," Valorie replied, "I'm starting to think we should separate him and his mate. He's getting too protective."
"You will do nothing without my permission," the king growled back.
Valorie shrugged and went back to twirling her knife.
"Is his mate pregnant yet?" the king inquired, glancing to Zev.
He shook his head, "She refuses to eat properly. She may not be capable of sustaining a child right now."
The king gritted his teeth, thinking it over. Then he growled, "Take her to his next beating and keep her youngest for a week. Get her eating properly."
Zev nodded. Valorie snorted, "I told you we need to separate the two."
The king did not speak. His scarlet eyes flashed, and he clenched his jaw.
"How many search parties have you sent out?" the king spoke to no one in particular.
Again, no one answered. Truthfully, they'd given up on finding the king's daughter. The girl had likely died, as young and vulnerable as she had been when she'd disappeared. None of them had bothered to look for her in months. None of them wished to waste their time, and none of them had the guts to tell the king.
"Well?" he snarled.
Valorie snorted, "Calm down, Roman. She'll turn up."
"That is not what I asked," he growled.
"Look, I send them out every day. Nothing has shown up," she said, "If you really want to find her, you should be looking on other continents. Or maybe you should start looking for the others. For all we know, she's with one of them," Valorie said.
Night sighed as Valorie continued rambling.
"If I was her and I wanted to stay away from my papa- which I wouldn't do anyway because, you know, I would have killed him, like I did- I'd have left the continent. I'd have gotten as far away from my papa as possible so that he couldn't find me. I wouldn't be dumb enough to stick around."
The king snarled.
"Or maybe you should just accept the fact that she's dead," Valorie went on.
"My daughter is not dead," growled the king.
"Then why do we have an eleventh wrong winged, especially one the same age as your daughter?" Valorie questioned.
"I don't- I don't know," the king flopped his head into his hands.
The king had rare moments of weakness. They'd become more and more frequent since his daughter had gone missing three years ago, and the king's temper had become much more volatile, but these moments did not often happen. He'd become desperate to find his child, and times like these brought out that desperation.
He took in a deep breath and lifted his head.
"Find her. Do whatever you have to, but find my daughter," he ordered.
Each Lord dipped their head. Valorie kept hers held high, uncaring. She just tucked her knife into its holster at her side and questioned, "If that's all, I'm going to leave now."
The king bit down a growl. "By all means."
"Good," she said and hopped out of her chair.
She held a hand out to Rapier, who obediently placed his hand in her own. The mated pair left a moment later.
"The rest of you, I want parties searching in every crevice, under every single rock, in every single cave until she is found," the king ordered.
Again, they all dipped their heads.
"Now, go," the king ordered.
They did not have to be told twice before they fled. Night kept ahold of his brother's hand as he stood, finding himself too afraid to let go.
"Oh, and Night?"
He stopped in his tracks. His brother met his panicked eyes, neither of them finding the strength to move.
"Schedule the next meeting, would you?"
Night nearly let out a cry of relief.
"Two weeks. You can pick the time," he ordered.
"Of course, your majesty," he dipped his head in submission.
"And fix whatever is wrong with the eleventh. The boy snapped at me the last time I went to visit," the king said.
"Yes, your majesty," he kept his head lowered.
"Oh, and do hurry up with that. I've been informed that your wife is again expecting," said the king.
Night stiffened, bracing himself for the threat that was sure to follow. Draxon looked to his brother, squeezing his hand.
"Do not fail me, or she won't be," the king steadily raised his eyes to the brother's, "Am I understood?"
"Yes, your majesty," Night replied, dipping his head further.
"Good. Now, go."
The brothers did not hesitate to leave.