While Titania is visiting her relatives, Oberon is left to govern the fairy court in her absence, with Puck, his lover and adviser, at his side. Despite Puck’s efforts to drag the king away from his duties and towards more salacious pursuits, Oberon remains loved and respected by the majority of his people. But trouble looms on the horizon; Oberon’s rumoured perversity and failure to produce an heir have earned him a handful of political enemies. When disaster strikes the court at the solstice feast, they are quick to point the finger of blame at the one they hold responsible for Oberon’s weaknesses—Puck himself.
Author: T.J. Land
Series: Bad Fairies
Release Date: May 23, 2016
Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Word Count: 15600*
Sex Content: Explicit
T.J. Land © 2016
All Rights Reserved
“And what do you want?” Oberon demanded of the next supplicant.
In Puck’s opinion, she didn’t look as cowed as she should have, standing in the presence of her king. Few of them did. Oh, they went through the motions—approaching the throne with their wings down and their shoulders hunched, bowing obsequiously before presenting Oberon with their pleas. But there was a reason that whenever Titania went abroad to visit her relatives in the East, the throne room found itself knee deep in people who wanted things.
The reason, Puck thought, was nothing more or less than the fact that his master was known to be the softer of the court’s reigning monarchs. Not that many would have thought so to look at him, seated in his throne of fox bones, his onyx-encrusted diadem and the black jewels on his fingers making him appear menacingly regal. Puck had chosen Oberon’s adornments for exactly this purpose. He had noticed a disturbing trend of supplicants trying to flirt their way into the king’s good graces and wanted to give them reason to think twice.
“Please, Your Majesty,” the fairy maiden quavered on her knees before the throne. “I apologise for bothering you. My family has fallen on hard times, and I find I must, in humility and shame, request a loan.”
“I see,” said Oberon, his eyebrows arching severely. “What sort of loan are you in need of?”
“Only a small one, sire. Some nuts, a bit of dried meat, anything you might have to spare. Enough to last me until the baby’s weaned. Then I’ll be able to get back to foraging myself.”
“You are married, I understand? To…what’s his name…Mustardseed? He’s a competent hunter. Why isn’t he keeping your larder stocked while you contend with the child?”
“He’s run off, sire. Found himself a goblin girl half his age. I’m all alone now, except for my sister.”
Puck sat at the foot of Oberon’s throne, playing cat’s cradle and humming to himself. As one of Oberon’s advisors, his proper place would have been standing behind the throne with his hands clasped and his expression blank. He’d done his best for the first hour; then boredom had overcome him. He’d started to fidget and then to make rude faces at the supplicants before finally sitting down and nestling against Oberon’s left calf. At least the reprimanding looks and occasional prods from Oberon’s boot served to break up the monotony. By all the gods, governance was a tedious business when you got right down to it.
He listened as the maiden gave Oberon her story in more detail, a story which had much in common with those that had been offered up by the twelve supplicants who had preceded her. Beyond an errant partner, there was also the problem of a sister who gambled and a sickness in the child’s stomach which was taking up all her time. Puck did not doubt that it was all true. He also did not doubt that had Titania been the one to receive her, the supplicant would not have sniffled and sighed half so often. It was well known that the queen had no patience for emotional excesses. Oberon, however… Oberon was a dear. Puck could see sympathy beginning to well up in the corners of his master’s eyes, his expression softening as the list of her woes grew ever more heartrending.
When she was finished, Oberon sat with his thumb resting against his chin and his brow furrowed in thought, as though he hadn’t already made his decision. Then: “Very well. Given that the circumstances you describe were beyond your control, the throne will loan you enough food to see your family through the next six months. You will meet tomorrow with one of my advisors so that together you may plan for winter and ensure that you do not find yourself in such a position again. As for your husband, I will send word to the goblin prince and have him retrieved. Upon his return, you may do what you like with him.”
The supplicant burst into messy tears and departed, praising him to the heavens and back again.
Putting aside his string and tapping Oberon’s leg, Puck whispered, “Master, that is the eighth loan you have granted today.”
Oberon scowled at him. “What is your point?”
That if you keep going at this rate the throne will be bankrupt by the end of the week, Puck thought. Of course, he wouldn’t dream of addressing Oberon thusly in front of the gathered supplicants and courtiers, and he had no wish to provoke a public quarrel. “No point, my liege, other than the observation that you are doing sterling work.”