Glow (The Plated Prisoner #4) - Raven Kennedy

About The Book

Please Note: This book contains explicit content and dark elements that may be triggering to some. It includes explicit romance, mature language, violence, death, physical and emotional abuse, past trauma, and the process of recovering from emotional and physical manipulation. It is not intended for anyone under 18 years of age. This is book four in a series.

To those who stand on their own two feet despite their stumbles.

CHAPTER 1

QUEEN KAILA

The air is full of screams.

The entire front of Ranhold Castle is an ocean shore of people washed up on the courtyard. They ebb and flow, frothy cries making waves as they undulate in a shallow mob.

Behind me, Ranhold guards are trying to push out the subjects through the gate, with frenzied command that barely cuts through the chaos. Half the people are trying to come back in to see what’s going on, the other half fleeing for their lives.

Manu and my guards got us outside, but only just. My heartbeat is a hammer, and the breath that I’m sucking in is just as rushed as the adrenaline pumping through my veins. It’s the sort of harried vulnerability that makes me feel no better than a cornered animal. One who’s frozen in snow, unable to move. And yet, what’s really keeping me still are the sounds coming from the castle. Sloshing. Dripping. Clanging. Smashing. More screaming.

Another sharp slap of shrieks erupts when liquid gold suddenly bursts through the front doors. Everyone flinches back, gasping bodies caught in the swell of panic, shoving into the mass behind them as they try to get further away.

Manu and Keon stand in front of me, facing Ranhold Castle, and they both push me back protectively while our guards surround us. Not all of my guards made it out, yet I haven’t wanted to look around to see just how many I lost.

The gold spews from the doorway and curls around the castle walls, gushing down the front steps. Like outstretched hands, it nearly grabs hold of a man, but he gets yanked out of the way by some guards at the very last second.

The liquid metal slams down from its unsuccessful reach like a petulant child smashing fists in a fit against the ground and sending splatters flying. Mottled gashes of gold streak across the snow-covered steps, marring the stone. More of it drips like blood from the window sills, staining the glass and peeking past the frames.

We’re surrounded by the castle’s lantern-lit outer walls, and even though it’s supposed to make us feel protected, it’s only keeping everyone trapped out here together. I’m about to suggest to my brother that we get away in case the gold keeps pouring out and we become trapped with the crowd, but another loud crash happens somewhere inside, cutting me off.

My eyes wildly veer between my brother’s and Keon’s forms, wondering what else inside has been destroyed, who else has been killed. But then, as if that last noise was a signal for the end, the gold that’s gripping the front walls suddenly stops glinting, stops rippling.

It hardens in place as the castle goes suddenly quiet.

The screaming of the crowd cuts off too, everyone waiting with bated breath to see if it’s actually over. I’m not sure how long we all stand there, watching and listening, but the splotches of gold along the grayed, frozen stone are no longer moving, and despite the torches casting off firelight, everything seems darker. Colder.

The movement and sounds may have ceased, yet those things instead spring to life inside of me. My body begins to tremble, my mind a funnel of noisy thoughts swirling around.

What in the Divine just happened?

My shoes are soaked through as I stand here in the snow, my skin pebbled from the awful frigid night air. I wasn’t meant to be outside in this dress. I should be in the ballroom right now. I should be celebrating my engagement announcement and making plans for my control to now spread to Sixth Kingdom.

At the very least, I should be warmer.

When I look down, I see blotches of gold splashed onto my deep blue dress in a motley of gleaming spots. I don’t dare run my finger over it. Not after what I saw in that ballroom.

“Has it stopped?” I ask.

The question is overly simplified for what just happened in there. Has it stopped—it. The berserk gold that just rose up with furious motive. I already know my mind is going to be stuck with the memory of