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As soon as His Majesty, King Elric V of Thule, let out the first telltale snore, his mistress slipped out of the bed and crept back to her own chambers. The two guards posted outside the king's door traded wary looks as she passed, dressed only in her thin nightgown and silk wrapper, but they knew better than to comment on her comings and goings. The king's whore, they had called her at first. No one dared called her that now. Elric would have their heads.

Despite the late hour, a freshly warmed bath awaited her, scented with roses and a hint of jasmine. She removed her nightgown and wrapper, tossing them aside in a heap of fabric, and stepped into the water. With methodical thoroughness, she washed her body clean, scrubbing his seed from between her legs and his smell from her skin so that no part of him remained. Only then did she relax, sinking back into the water with a sigh.

"Hello, Briar."

Her eyes flew open, her hands instinctively moving to cover herself. "What are you doing here?"

"I have a new task for you."

"It's half past midnight. Couldn't you have waited til morning?"

He frowned at her. "You've grown too comfortable here. It's time for you to leave."

She let out a startled laugh. "Leave? And what will you tell the king when his favorite mistress disappears into thin air?"

He raised an eyebrow. "I would have thought you'd be happy to leave. You never tire of telling me how much you hate Elric."

She did hate Elric...hated the way he fawned and obsessed over her, hated his fits of jealousy and the way he paraded her around like his most prized trinket, hated the way he mauled her with his big, clumsy paws and then rutted on top of her like some barnyard animal. But as much as she hated him, she enjoyed her position as the king's mistress. He might own her body, but she owned his mind. A whispered suggestion in his ear, a promise of pleasure to come if he pleased her, and Elric was hers to control. She would not relish giving up that kind of power, even if it came with strings. "Why now?" she asked. "Are you so confident he will do your bidding without my influence?"

"I have greater need for you elsewhere. You can only glean so much from your allies."

The bath water suddenly felt cold. "Where am I to go?"

He chuckled, a musical trill that sent shivers down her spine. "Haywood," he said. "You're to go to Haywood."

Briar turned her face from his. "The Uriel are in Haywood."

He crouched beside the tub, smiling at her. "Clever girl," he said, reaching for her hand. His fingers traced over the raised lines of the complicated glyphs that curled around her wrist. "You will make me proud."

Briar bowed her head. "Aye, Master," she said. "I will make you proud."

A/N: So this is a very, very rough draft (i.e., I'm posting as I write chapters, similar to what I did with Paladin. Stuff will most definitely change significantly when I publish this next year). Not sure yet how much I can share of the sequel on Wattpad, but I do write better with you guys as my audience.

Also note that this sequel is written as a continuation to the published version of Paladin, so there may be some discontinuities from Paladin on Wattpad. If you haven't had a chance to read the published version, you can get a digital copy for $2.99 on Amazon (click on the external link) or grab a physical copy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Book Depository.

As always, open to all feedback and comments. And please vote if you enjoyed this little teaser chapter! Don't worry, Sam, Braeden and Tristan will make a reappearance very soon (Sam and Braeden star in the first chapter).

Gratuitous pic of silver-haired bishounen that looks a little like what I imagine Braeden to look like, credited to LAS-T. Cover by the awesome prisim.

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