Feel the Burn Page 6

“They did it again,” the queen growled, patting the dogs that had, moments ago, been ready to tear her into pieces. Unlike Dagmar’s assistant, Annwyl loved dogs. All kinds. Even the useless ones.

“Who did what again?” Dagmar asked, not looking up from her work.

“That stupid cult destroyed another one of my temples.”

“It’s not your temple. You don’t even like the gods. And you refuse to worship them.”

“It was my temple because it was on my lands.”

Dagmar leaned back in her chair, placing her quill down on the desk and massaging her tired fingers. “So what do you want to do, my queen?”

“What?” Annwyl glared at her. “I’m asking you!”

Dagmar shrugged. “I have no opinion. I’d hate to get in the way of your big decision making.”

Annwyl frowned in confusion. “What the battle-fuck are you talking about? I don’t understand you lately. For months, you’ve been acting like a total dick!”

“I know my place, Annwyl. I wouldn’t want to step on any toes.”

Leaning down, Annwyl looked into Dagmar’s face through all that hair she insisted on not combing off her face. “What is wrong with you?” she asked.

“Nothing, my liege. Do you find something wrong with me?” Dagmar blinked a few times. “Perhaps with my eyes?”

Annwyl reared back. “What? What’s wrong with your . . . ? What are you going on about?”

Dagmar began to say something, but Annwyl cut her off. “Forget it! I’ll figure it out myself!”

She turned on her heel and stormed out, slamming the door behind her.

“Why do you torture her, Mum?”

Dagmar glanced behind her. The youngest five of her seven children were sitting on the floor behind her. No. Dagmar hadn’t missed their presence in the room. Instead, her daughters had come through the wall. They, Dagmar had discovered, could do that easily.

One second they weren’t there . . . and the next second they were.

Something that was getting harder and harder to hide from the rest of the family.

“I’m not torturing your aunt Annwyl.”

“You are,” insisted the eldest of Gwenvael’s Five, as they were now called by their own ridiculous father. “Ever since she threatened to rip your eyes out. But she didn’t mean it the way you think she did.”

“These are adult issues that I am not discussing with you.”

“Except that Grandmum would say you’re not acting like an adult.”

“Well, your Grandmum can suck my . . . wait.” Dagmar turned in the chair at the mention of their grandmother, the Dragon Queen Rhiannon the White, so she could see her daughters clearly. “How often are you talking to your Grandmum when I’m not around?”

The youngest of the five began to speak, but three different hands slapped over her mouth to silence her and, without another word, the girls were gone.

Dagmar faced forward again, placing her hands on her desk and softly noted, “That simply does not bode well, now does it?”

Elina’s suggestion that they play a game was not helping Kachka’s current emotional state. If anything, it just made her feel even more useless.

Elina studied the game board with her one good eye, debating her next move.

This was the life of the Shestakova sisters now.

Decadent. Lazy. Spoiled. Sitting around. Playing board games like children.

It amazed Kachka that adults played these games. Daughters of the Steppes had their three-year-olds playing these games to help them understand the concept of “divide, conquer, and destroy so that the next city or town over just gives us what we ask for.”

So for the two sisters to be playing these games again appalled Kachka on a visceral level. How far she’d fallen back. Would it never get better?

Finally, after much thought, Elina went to make her move . . . and her hand missed the piece by a few inches. Although, based on Elina’s reaction, it might as well have been a mile.

Kachka’s sister growled, then she swiped her hand at the board . . . which she also missed.

That’s when the entire board went flying, her sister’s bellow of rage startling the weak, delusional servants who worked for these rich, decadent royals.

Kachka sighed. “You were winning.”

“Shut up!”

Kachka leaned back in her chair. “Such whining. Like baby, you whine!”

“I am still weak!”

“You took down bear last week.”

“Took me three shots!”

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