Some would say following the person who is the most loyal to your tyrant mother and the biggest bitch in the universe would be foolish and that they were most likely lying.
That would be true. Is true. But Estelle could tell when someone was lying despite how convincin the person is. And she knows if they lie out of hate, necessity, or desperation. If they're trying to convince themselves that the lie was the truth as to not cause suspicion.
She didn't find any of it in Ashton at that moment. And not in any moment after that. Especially when he told her what her mother did. She wanted to go on a rampage then. What was with her mother and killing siblings? And she had told Ashton he would come to her one day. And true to her own promise, she would help him if he helped her.
This was him helping her. Helping her find something that has been taken from her long ago. Taken right in front of her.
And apparently, being someones loyal servant also gives a free pass for learning all their secrets. By what means, she did not want to know. But she was thankful Ashton was the one who knew. Being her old friend before joining her mother and causing this whole rivalry between, she had to upper hand. Kind of. Then again, she traded in words. That can have more value than money.
And she kept her promises. Most of them involving either her friends and family or her mother. She'd keep them all.
Right now, she had to focus on her current situation. In which they were in a wholly different world, not that that was anything new to her. To either of them.
"Interesting murder location," Echo drawled. Ashton gave her a look to which she simply smiled inncently.
"We're a little far off," he said. No shit. They stood on a hill, a town below, then the endless expanse of a forests ahead. "There's a Island ahead. In the middle of that Island is a fort." He looked at Estelle. "That's where they are." She nodded.
"What are we talking about again?" Caius asked as she began walking down the hill. She's not wasting time right now.
Ashton hesitated to answer but she just said, "Something my mother had the audacity to take away from me knowing how much I loved them." She gave them a moment to guess.
Echo got it first. And cursed. "Your kidding," she deadpanned, looking between her and Ashton.
Caius got it then and said, "Your-"
"Yes." She looked at the two of them and smiled, asking, "Wanna help now?"
Their grins would have sent people running for their lives. Ashton certainly cringed a little. Though he would never admit it later.
"Right," Estelle said upon reaching the foot of the hill. "Indulge me Ashton, of why you didn't just land right in the fort? Or outside it at least."
"My question exactly," Echo murmmured.
Ashton just raised a brow but then shook his head. "Because, the fort has so many wards you can't just winnow right in there. There's to many triggers and most of them go off when someone uninvited goes in. And alert your mother while they're at it."
"So, just disable the wards," Echo said, turning to Estelle. "You can do that."
"If I haven't been able to find them yet," she said, "It means those wards are hella good much to my annoyance. Disabling them will be twice as tricky and take to much time." She looked at the two of them, "You saw how much time it took to make a crack to Egenica. Even of those were the most secure anyone can make them."
Ashton's eyes widened, "Wait that was you-Oh, who am I kidding. Of course it was you." He thought for a moment. "You threw your mother in a raging fit." He grinned, as if recalling the memory, "It was hilarious."
Estelle smirked. "So, we need to be invited to the fort."
He shrugged. "Or have someone who knows their way around the fort."
Estelle raised a brow and looked towards the small town before them. "I'm guessing that someone here does."
"Actually, someone here has a brother who used to work at the fort but got kicked out for some unjust reason, not that I'm complaining. I don't know where the guy is but his sister might as well help."
Caius said, "I'm going to take a wild guess and say you know the sister." Again, Ashton shrugged and began walking to the town.
"A little warnning," he started.
"Oh we love warning's," Echo interuppted. "Not that we ever listen to warnings but we love them." That got a small laugh from Estelle.
"Oh I know," Ashton said. "Just to tell you, I don't trust her. She has information we need is all."
"Why don't you trust her?"
"I think she's one of your mothers spies. I might have seen her in the palace once or twice but I can't be sure. Just be on your guard."
"Not to worry," Echo said. "We have a one women army right here who can also obliberate an army in one blow. Literally."
Ashton rolled his eyes, "I know, Miss...." He looked her over. "Is it Genevote or Reinfrid since you married him?"
Echo gave him a look that said, Seriously? Estelle held in her laugh. But it was a given. Their system of marrige in Egenica was different than the other worlds. They didn't change their surnames after getting married but were still used the males surname. Confusing but she didn't have to deal with it. That didn't apply to royalty so she was still Nightshade.
"Just call me Echo," Echo said, waving a hand.
"Fine," he said rolling his eyes. "As I was saying, I know what she can do to armies, Echo because I was well off present at the time." The War. She didn't want to talk about that. At all. Under no circumstances.
Caius thankfully cut in before they could linger on the topic, "So where do we go?"
Ashton realized what Caius was trying to do. With an apologetic glance at Estelle he led the way.
Did she forget her mate was an impatient one? Yes. No. Maybe. Then again it wasn't her fault since he went on and off when it came to patiece. It sorely depended on the situation and how long he had been patient.
Which she guessed was a lot in this situation because by the time she made it to the door of her chambers, he was there. Waiting. And scared the living daylights out of her. She loosed a breath, closing the door.
"Patience wearing thin?" she asked, walking to the vanity to take of her headpiece. Then her earings.
"Perhaps," he said, sitting on the bed. "Or maybe it already has and I'm on a tight leash."
"I wouldn't doubt it," she said. Then sighed, turning around, leaning against the vanity. Amber met deep pink. "Just tell me," she whispered. Neither of them moved.
Eventually he said, "Estelle called me when she found out we'd been set up. Someone sent both of us letters saying.....well you know what it said." She nodded. He ran a hand through his hair, looking down. "Bryce," he said, his voice pleading, "I promise you, I swear to you, I would never do anything of the sort to you. Ever. I know you wouldn't either, that's why I didn't believe anything at first."
He sighed and continued, his voice shaking, "But you didn't answer and I thought....I just lost it." He looked up at her, eyes pleading. "Bryce," he said softly. "You have to believe me, it wasn't me."
She regarded him for a moment whilst processing all that he just said. She might have guessed. Should have guessed something was off. Because non of it had made sense even then. She knew if anything were to have happened, it would have happened long before then. And he wouldn't lie about Estelle. He knew she would just ask her anyway so there was no point.
She swallowed. Working up her nerve, she slowly walked towards him, eyes never leaving each others for a second. He looked up at her as she stood in front of him, gently, hesitantly moving a hand to his face, caressing his cheek before cupping it in her hand.
She loosed a shaky breath and whispered, "And you have to believe me," he looked at her, "that it wasn't me either." Her voice was shaking now but she went on. "That I was mess when I got it and only thought about what I was going to do with my life without you."
He placed a hand atop hers that was resting on his cheek. Turned his face to place a light kiss to her palm. Barely a touch of his lips against hers but it sent sparks shooting through her. "I do. Bryce I believed you every moment since I first saw you." He placed another kiss. "That nine year old girl sneaking out to the woods one night," she laughed lightly at the memory. He smiled, "Only to find a ten year old crying alone."
"Who knew," she said, "That that ten year old would have the power to change her life like so," she said grabbign his other hand in hers, giving it a quick squeeze.
"I think everyone knew. Especially since you snuck out every night since just to see my pretty face," he grinned. She chuckled.
"Don't pretend you didn't want to see my pretty face each time either," she fired back. "I know you did because the one day I didn't you came to me."
He gave a breathy laugh, "So I did," he said, locking his eyes with hers once more. Then took her other hand in his, away from his face. Stood up. She tipped her hea dback slightly to meet his gaze and leaned close. He took her hands, gently placing them on his shoulders.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close. He grinned and wrapped his arms around her waist. She grinned then too, whispering, "Miss me, prince?"
"Miss me, Starlight?" he fired back. She chuckled and he tugged her closer, resting his forehead against hers. She closed her eyes, their lips a breath away and-
They heard the door downstairs open. She hissed in annoyance, whipping her head at the door. Aaron groaned in annoyance, pulling away, glaring at the door.
She huffed and walked outside and down to see who the fuck had the audacity to-
"What is it Tharion?" she said, looking at the merman standing at the door. He gave an apologetic smile.
"Sorry if I bothered you but Athalar would have come here himself. Just came to check on you."
She sighed in frustration. She was grateful it was him and not Athalar of all people but the timing-
Right when things were about to get good, Tharion. Not that he knew. So she gave him a smile. "I was going to bed anyways. You can go back if you want. I'll be fine."
He smiled. "Well in that case, goodnight legs." And then he left. She might have sagged against the wall in relief.
Aaron had come out of the room and asked, "Legs?"
She chuckled and made her way back to him, "Nickname is all."
He shrugged. "Can we move to my tower." He glared at the door, "Certainly no interuptions."
She smiled, leaning in to bit his lip. "Why didn't you do so sooner, Prince."
"Because," he said, as if it were obvious, "Impatience." And then he winnowed them into his tower. There were seven towers, one for each prince. Aaron's tower was still the same as she remembered it to be. Dark blue and gold decor.
But she didn't waste time looking around. And Aaron had the same thing in mind.
The moment they were in the room, she grabbed by the collar, pulling him down and crashing her lips to his. He took no time kissing her back. She tugged him closer, wrapping her arms around his neck, runnign her hands through his hair. His hands travelled down to her waist, pulling her closer to him. She might have smiled into the kiss then.
They pulled away, his lips trailing kisses down her neck and she tipped her head back. She felt him smile against her skin. Pulled away. then moved his hands to her back and swiftly undid the back of her dress. Then pulled her in for another kiss while their hands worked in undressing each other.
This. This wild kind of love was what she lived for. Sharing it with him. She didn't how she lived without him for so long, how she came to even think she could move on from this.
She couldn't. Never, she decided the moment their clothes hit the floor. As he kissed her, hard while lifting her up. As she wrapped her legs around his waist and led them to the bed.
There was no moving on from this. And she loved it. More than she ever realized.