“I am going to go into this world, and I don't care if you and your narrow mind cannot be a part of it.”
“I want a place you hardly dare to even whisper. I want the bravery to not only read, but to do. I want a man, not a library boy. A man who is tall and witty and knows more about the world than you would ever dare dream.”
“Reading the books, I’ve always loved reading. It was easier than talking. Like a child playing games.”
“You can read all the books in this library, be wiser than the master himself someday, and then you will die having never really done anything. You will have only ever lived through everyone else’s experiences.”
“They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”
“You bastard.” The words were out before she even had time to consider them, but after spoken she hardly regretted them.
“What did you say?” Prince Aldrik snarled.
“You, my prince ,” she sneered in kind. “You are a self-centered, egotistical, self-absorbed, narrow-sighted, vain, self-important,” she felt her anger finally reach its boiling point, “conceited bastard !” Vhalla cried out.”
“They were sending her to war, so she would go and become something they had every right to fear.”
“Vhalla wasn’t exactly good at relationships as she preferred to spend more time with books than people.”
“You have to earn it.' Vhalla didn't know what else to say. She had trusted him, to lead her, to teach her, and he broke that trust. It wasn't as though it was something she could simply start again on command.”
“Fire needs sure to live. Sure field fire, strikes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it are could alone. But too much air will sniff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air.They are far greater that the Sun of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other's existence.”
“What is wrong is that you cannot learn how to do things from books...They are starting points for principle, theory, and concept. Your mind understands, but your body does not know until you perform the act yourself. Without action and practice, your hands will not oblige. Experience is a far greater teacher.”
“Nothing about him was traditionally handsome, and for it all, he was astonishingly striking.”
“I was fine before,” Vhalla protested.
“You were boring. You were worse than boring. You were normal and content. I gave you a chance for greatness.” He looked at her harshly.”
“My brother played with spell-books, I played with swords. One gives you paper cuts, the other removes your fingers.”
“Vhalla,” he whispered with a voice as dark as midnight. His nose was almost touching hers.
“Aldrik,” she breathed faintly, as though it was a prayer. No word had ever tasted sweeter on her tongue.”
“For all his orders and sneers, his commanding presence, and his intimidating always all-black ensemble, Vhalla saw something different. She simply saw someone who was lonely, someone who could likely count their friends on one hand, and perhaps wanted to one day use two hands. He was nothing like the man she first met, the man who wore a mask to meet palace expectations.”
“Aldrik laughed darkly. “What did you think I was?” he snarled. “Did you think I went to war and read books?” Vhalla took another step back. “You ran head-first into my daily hell. Would it not be more convenient if weapons of death and torture could not talk back?” Vhalla forced herself not to tremble as she looked at him. He glared at her; the orange of the fire reflecting in the black mirrors of his eyes.
With all the bravery she possessed, Vhalla crossed the distance between them; he straightened and looked down at her, imposing. Vhalla swallowed hard and tried to muster her last scrap of confidence. There would be time later to ask him about the real reasons behind the war. For now, they needed to go home.
She grabbed his hand, praying it didn’t burst into flames at her touch. It didn’t.
“Quit being stupid, Aldrik. Let’s go.” His features barely softened, but it was more than enough to know she had made herself clear. Whatever this man was, he wasn’t a monster.”
“Vhalla wanted to blame him. Had it not been for him, none of this would have happened. If it wasn’t for him, her magical powers would’ve never Manifested, she would’ve never been involved with the Tower, and she would still be blissfully unaware of one senator’s name.
But Vhalla couldn’t blame him because she had been happy.”
“The wind bent to her will. She spun in place, starting for the door. She had to find Aldrik and tell him.”
“She would cut it away. She would cut away the anger, the pain, and the frustration. She’d cut and cut until she was sculpted into something better, something stronger. They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”
“Tell me, Vhalla, have you ever made love to a man?” He closed the distance between them as he spoke. With a single step, the crown prince was painfully close after asking such a question. “Tell me, have you ever pleasured yourself ?”<...>“Whatever it was, I doubt it was very good,” he sneered down at her. She wanted to hit him. “I will tell you why it was not. Because, Vhalla, you think and you watch, but you never do. You can read all the books in this library, be wiser than the master himself someday, and then you will die having never really done anything. You will have only ever lived through everyone else’s experiences.”
“Vhalla stared up at him, at those cold judgmental eyes that threatened to pick her apart and lick her bones clean.”
“You’re not like most of them, are you?” Prince Baldair’s voice was softer than she had heard it before, the jest and levity absent. “Most of them?” she repeated, bracing herself for a parrot comment. “You’re not the first low-born I have invited to lunch.” He leaned back in his chair, food forgotten. “They come in, swoon over my chambers, prattle about the food endlessly, try everything they can to make eyes at me. By the end of it all, they’re belly up and bare on the bed.”
“After that, the Heartbreaker Prince began to have an easier time earning smiles from her. If she did well, he would squeeze her hand. When her eyes finally lifted away from her haphazard movements, she was rewarded with a wink. Slowly, under the prince’s hand and earnest encouragement, Vhalla began to enjoy herself.”
“Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.”
“The man’s words were as deep and dark as midnight”
“Then I realized I just wanted you around. My days were better when they involved you. I enjoyed your thoughts. It was thrilling to see you discover magic. You had a mad hopefulness about sorcery that I have not felt in almost a decade. I started finding excuses to take you away, not because you needed my teaching but because, because I wanted to see you. I looked forward to our meetings and—like that, Vhalla—your opinion mattered to the crown prince of the Empire. You mattered for who you were, not for your magic and what some dusty texts say Windwalkers may or may not be able to do.”
“She simply saw someone who was lonely, someone who could likely count their friends on one hand, and perhaps wanted to one day use two hands. He was nothing like the man she first met; the”
“I wanted your forgiveness, as though that innocent acceptance would absolve me of all the blood on my hands. I wanted to see you well and happy. I wanted to see you flourish, and I wanted only a small piece. To know that, in you, I had made something good. And I truly wanted to keep you from pain.”
“I didn't come for him," Vhalla whispered softly. The gardens were surrounded by a tall palace wall that blocked most of the mountain winds. The prince heard her with little problem, his retreat stalled. "I came to see you."
"Me?" He looked back in disbelief.
"Yes, you," Vhalla laughed softly.”
“Good sex is one-percent of the relationship. bad sex is 99%.”
“He called me "love". I liked that. A lot.”
“The next three days I was very busy. My table was placed in the front room of the new house. All my papers and books were arranged neatly. My clothes hung on a peg. The rest of the house was swept and cleaned.”
“KNOWLEDGE NOT SHARED REMAINS UNKNOWN. —LUIGI L. LEMONCELLO”
“When the sun begins to set, we do exactly as we did the night before. Caroline fusses over Dink. Jaxon ogles Harper. The boys gather desert debris for our beds. Guy watches me undress. I imagine our wedding.”
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