In his mind’s eye, Vørst imagined his giant, ice-cold hand seizing that black canary at the throat and choking her voice down to a mere croak. The thought alone allowed him to maintain his stoic expression.
He waited, silent.
On the dream-screen at the foot of his bed, the visionary images distorted into a whorl of rings from which the face of the Bleak Queen emerged like a drop of black rain into an oil slick.
“Your majesty.” He reclined against the cool bed board, one bulky arm tucked behind his shoulder as a headrest. “To what do I owe this pleasure.” It was no more a question than it was a pleasure – and he was pretty sure he knew why she was scrying him.
“Montague…” her black lips curled. “I do hope that you’ve been well – it has caused us some worry, this late delivery of Drought.”
He almost let a smirk show itself at that. The Bleak Queen hated his stone-cold demeanor; it robbed her of insight into his thinking, set her off-guard. The fact was that he hadn’t shipped the Drought at all. It didn’t take her long to come inquiring, he noted with satisfaction.
“It is difficult to find good help these days.” He intoned, ice-blue eyes spiking a glance over at the veiled cage. The silver chain tinkled, as if sensing the discussion.
Hunllef did not rise to his bait this time, her soulless gaze frozen upon his form. “Is there a problem?”
“That’s up to your pet to tell me, now then, isn’t it.” His head rolled back toward the swirling screen.
“Her farsight is second to none.”
Now he sat up, his broad chest dominating the full center of the headboard. “She seems to have missed a robbery.”
“What robbery?” the Bleak Queen narrowed a scrupulous gaze at him.
Vørst shrugged, “Presumably the one in which your Drought disappeared.”
“Are you saying your messengers were beset upon by thieves??”
“No!” He roared flinging the snowy furs from his bed in a blast as he shot up to his full height. “I’m saying YOUR seer has failed to detect this band of rogue thieves who are targeting my demense!” The giant jammed an accusatory finger at the screen, storming up to it.
Although she did not recoil, he could see that he’d startled her. “What do you want?”
“I want them found and brought to me.”
“Send the Drought, and I will find them.”
Vørst’s face filled the Bleak Queen’s field of vision. “Don’t keep me waiting.”
Without another word, her image snapped out of his sight, replaced again with the nightmarish images that were being siphoned out of the heads of visionaries. On one side of the scry, the ice giant couldn’t have been more pleased with his own performance; on the other, an enraged sweep sent an armful of delicate glass bottles and trinkets crashing to the floor.
There was a jingle as the fae on the chain jumped. Maeve was bold where others whimpered in his presence. Whether it was because she hated him or he was growing on her was not known to him, but he found it refreshing and irritating at the same time.
Her words found his ears in her haunted voice, hoarse from years of abuse. "Angered with me or not, Montague, you should have killed her when you had the chance. I am not so great a prize to put up with that Hag for this long."
Montague looked at her and his face changed. He pulled at her chain and brought her up onto the bed, reaching out to touch her face, uncaring of how she cringed from it. "Your words are treasonous, Maeve."
She tried to pull away but the chain was held tight in his other hand. "If so, may my death be swift." His hand pulled her back and she expected a hit. Instead, the warmth of the furred blanket that he kept on his bed wrapped around her as the space between them closed.
"Your sight is precious enough to me that I would willingly deal with a dozen of that insane woman. Tonight, you will sleep in my bed. You will dream, and you will tell me where your kin is.” In contrast to the chilled room, his whispering words felt warm against her ear. “Show your loyalty to me and I will remove this chain, I will treat you so much better than before. Find these wayward fae."
Maeve's fingers reached to touch his face, then up, to the glamour-hidden horns on his head. "If I help you, Montague, I only ask one thing in return.”
He cocked his head, waiting.
“That you give me death, and keep it pure. I would like to die honestly than to be forced upon a hundred humans as a drug.”