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King’s Game


Chapter 39

Three Years Later

Khalid stood at the gate to the palace, dressed in his finest. Almyra’s crown rested upon his brow, and he held another in his hands. The avenue before him was strewn with flower petals and lined with people. Brass instruments blared a triumphant tune.

Three years. Three years for this moment, for his life to become whole again. He scanned the distance for any sign of the procession but found nothing other than the cheering masses.

Everyone save a select group was surprised when he announced his choice of queen. Another queen from Fódlan? Some were offended. Some were curious. A few were even excited. Her maids, at least, still remembered her and looked forward to her return. Even his brother Bakur admitted that the new queen might be acceptable. Speaking of which, Nader owed him money for that bet.

A sparkle of gold caught his eye. The procession turned a corner, and there she was. Hilda waved at the crowd from atop her litter, perfectly elegant in her traditional Almyran dress. If anything, she’d grown more beautiful in the last three years.

Now she was here, and they’d never be apart again.

Khalid’s hands grew sweaty as she neared. Would they be able to live in close quarters, after so much time apart? Then their eyes met, and his worries vanished. They were happy together. Nothing else mattered.

The spectators screamed and the instruments blared as Hilda stepped down from the litter, as delicate as a cherry blossom and as strong as steel. She knelt before Khalid and bowed her head. He placed the crown upon her brow. She looked up at him, eyes shining, and he grinned.

“Good citizens of Almyra,” Khalid shouted, “show your new queen how we greet family!”

The crowd went even more insane, and people began to dance in the streets. And the celebration was just getting started. They’d held their wedding ceremony and feast yesterday—Hilda said it was more lavish than she’d ever expected—and they had her coronation feast tonight. If Khalid had his way, they’d find a reason to feast tomorrow, and the day after that. Was Hilda smiling at him a good enough excuse to hold a feast? He certainly hoped so.

“Excited?” he asked as he took her hand.

She smiled. “Relieved. I’m tired of being apart. Ten years together, and eight of them we hardly saw each other.”

Khalid couldn’t help it. He stopped and kissed her in front of everyone. He might have even used tongue.

Hilda purred and stroked the front of his jacket. “Mmm. I guess we should get started on making those babies we talked about?”

“That sounds like a fantastic idea. Let’s work on that right after the feast.”

“Our first act as royal couple.”

Khalid laughed. Her subtle wit was just one of the many, many reasons he adored her.

“You are going to be a fantastic queen,” he said as they passed beneath the enormous entrance arch to the palace. “Wait until you see our royal quarters.”

“And you are going to be a fantastic king. Wait until you see what I’m wearing under these clothes.”

Khalid grinned. With her at his side, he was complete. He was king, and the game was over.

Even better, he had won.



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