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Release Blitz - The Winter Kissed Kings


๐“๐ก๐ž ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐Š๐ข๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐Š๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐‹๐ˆ๐•๐„! ๐˜๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜œ๐˜š๐˜ˆ ๐˜›๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜บ ๐˜‰๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ˆ๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜๐˜ท๐˜บ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜น ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ž๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜˜๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜‹๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต, ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜บ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜’๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ˆ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜บ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ. ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฒ. Subdue my would-be usurpers with a marriage proposal and guarantee my sovereignty. Little did I know that my reign should have been the least of my worries. Levi won my heart and carved his name inside it for all to see. Teodoro conquered my body, bending it to his will and calling it his own. But Atlasโ€ฆ Atlas wants my soulโ€”to conquer and destroy. He wants to ruin me. ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉโ€™๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ง๐™จ๐™šโ€ฆ ๐™„ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™๐™–๐™ก๐™› ๐™– ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ก๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™๐™ž๐™ข. *๐“๐ก๐ž ๐…๐ซ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐จ๐ฎ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ ๐๐ฎ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ฌ ๐š #๐ฐ๐ก๐ฒ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž, ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ฆ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ, ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐œ๐ž๐ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐ฑ๐ข๐ฆ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ, ๐ฆ๐ž๐๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ ๐ซ๐จ๐ฒ๐š๐ฅ ๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐œ๐ž. *๐“๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฅ๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐›๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐ข๐ง ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐๐ฎ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐๐ฎ๐ž๐ญ.



๐“๐ก๐ž ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐Š๐ข๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐Š๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฌ

๐’๐ง๐ž๐š๐ค ๐๐ž๐ž๐ค!

Chapter 1

Atlas

Itโ€™s the waiting thatโ€™s unnerving.

So much so that I find myself furiously pacing my castleโ€™s great hall in the early hours of the morning instead of enjoying the comfort of my warm bed.

Itโ€™s become such a common occurrence that my men have started to joke that their lord and liege has become a creature of the night, taking ghosts as paramours and fucking their spirits to the high heavens where the gods can finally welcome their souls home.

But while my men have kept themselves busy as they wait, even if only by being entertained by my sudden case of insomnia, Iโ€™m not as fortunate in finding such amusement to occupy my time.

Unfortunately, not being able to have a full nightโ€™s rest for the past month hasnโ€™t been the only thing that has been plaguing me of late. Anytime I sit down for a meal, food has a way of tasting sourly bitter on my lips. Even the usual quick fix of drinking myself blind with imported rum does nothing to tame my thoughtsโ€”not even the soothing melodic sound of crashing waves slamming against the cliffs beneath my fortress of a castle is able to brighten my tempest disposition.

There is no satisfaction to be had with such mundane things.

Not when true satisfaction is almost within my graspโ€”even if it does feel like itโ€™s coming at a snailโ€™s leisurely pace.

Argh.

Like I saidโ€ฆ itโ€™s the waiting that sets my teeth on edge.

With each passing day, I feel my blood slowly boil to a fevered pitch, threatening to spill over if it has to wait another hourโ€”nayโ€”another second, before its ardent craving is finally satiated.

This unnerving impatience of mine comes as a pesky surprise, though.

I should be accustomed to this tiresome waiting game by now.

After all, Iโ€™ve waited years for this.

Years biding my time in this wretched purgatory limbo, just waiting for the blessed day when the reckoning scales of justice would finally tip in my favor and grant me the one thing Iโ€™ve been obsessing over for most of my young adult lifeโ€”retribution.

Nothing will taste sweeter to me than getting revenge on those who had a hand in destroying my kingdom and ripping the very heart and soul out of it, ensuring its ruin.

Hmm.

Maybe it was my youth that had kept me patient back then.

Time had been my friend, so the tedious affair of waiting hadnโ€™t been so painstakingly aggravating to me as it is now, but rather a welcomed gift.

Even then, I knew I needed all the time I could get to prepare myself for the days aheadโ€”but most importantly, I needed time to become the king the west truly deserved.

Gods know my predecessor was anything but.

However, now that I finally find myself at destinyโ€™s gates, so close to avenging the innocent blood spilled and sold in the name of power and greed, my usual controlled demeanor is starting to show its first cracks.

And itโ€™s all because of herโ€”the winter queen.

Damn her to hell.

The memories of our misspent youth have somehow managed to creep into my thoughts lately. Every day I can feel them sink their claws into my subconscious without my consent and take purchase at the very center of my mind instead of staying in the shadows to where I had banished them a long time ago. Every time I swat one of these nettlesome thoughts away, the more assault me like flies to shit. Itโ€™s not like I will them into being either. No matter what measures I take to prevent them from crossing my mind, the smallest things trigger them into existence.

A cool breeze brings a faint melody of childrenโ€™s joyful laughter into my ear.

The sound of crushing leaves at my feet feels reminiscent of boots treading over pale, white snow.

Even now, the flickering flames in the fireplace that dance in my sight, remind me of four stupid-ass kids who would howl at the moon and dance around a firepit, with a dark blue sky and twinkling stars above them as their only accomplices to such childish shenanigans.

Innocence at its finestโ€ฆ and its cruelest.

Someone like Levi might look back at these memories with a hue of fondness.

Teo would probably smirk with pride at his mischievous ways, even at such a young age.

But me?

All that these memories do is serve to remind me how naรฏve I was.

How fucking frail and powerless.

And how foolish I had been in believing her traitorous lies by calling them the godsโ€™ holy truth.

Argh.

No matter.

Those memories can haunt me all they want, for they hold no power over me now.

They can no longer touch me, much less hurt me.

Instead, I can take comfort in knowing that the young lovesick prince that once lived to follow and worship her very shadow is long dead.

All that is left of him is meโ€”a king. The very one that will bring fire and brimstone to the north and turn pure white snow into ash and soot.

The north will no longer rule over Aikyam, for there will be no north to speak ofโ€”only a wasteland where that vile kingdom once stood.

And as the years cleanse the memories of all the horrors that the north brought to the west, so shall the memory of its very existence be wiped clean.

Itโ€™s with this thought that I find peace. Envisioning the destruction of the northern reign of terror feels like a soothing balm that eases my black soul and breathes life into my lungs.

My mother always said that the gods have a purpose for us all.

I found mine the day she left her mortal coil.

I shall be judge, jury, and executioner of the north.

They will all pay for their crimes.

Starting with their soulless queen.

A trace of a smile starts to tug at my lips, but before it has a chance to fully form, I hear hurried footsteps running in my direction.

I turn away from the fireplace mantle and see one of my young squires dash toward me.

โ€œYour Grace! Your Grace!โ€ he shouts, still halfway from where Iโ€™m standing.

I keep rooted to my spot, impatiently waiting for him to reach me and eager to learn the news he brings.

โ€œYourโ€ฆ Highโ€ฆ ness,โ€ he belts breathlessly when heโ€™s finally within armโ€™s reach. โ€œSheโ€™sโ€ฆ here! Sheโ€™sโ€ฆ here!โ€

โ€œBreathe, boy,โ€ I urge, sounding just as frantic as he is. I grab his shoulders, giving them a little shake, and ask, โ€œWhoโ€™s here?โ€

Still incapable of speaking coherently, he points to the windows of my hall.

I release my grip on him, leaving him where he stands to regain his breath, and rush to the closest window.

My heart instantly stops at the scenery before me.

Beyond the horizon, black smoke rises to the high heavens, tainting the soft tones of an early dawn sky. On a faraway hill, a burning pyre signals that the day of reckoning has come at last.

Suddenly, all the tension brought on by waiting so long for this day to arrive dissipates, sliding off my shoulders and back like water. As if baptized anew, my body is now rejuvenated, and my mind is clear with razor-sharp focus.

The time for reminiscing on the past is over.

All memories of the dead prince and his so-called friends cease to exist.

There is only one image that persists.

A premonition of the futureโ€”the winter queenโ€™s slender neck broken at the end of my noose.

The smile that had eluded me is now stretched wide on my face, unable to contain the excitement.

โ€œAnd so it begins.โ€

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