Release Blitz - The Winter Kissed Kings
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐊𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐊𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐋𝐈𝐕𝐄! 𝘍𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘚𝘈 𝘛𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘉𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳 𝘐𝘷𝘺 𝘍𝘰𝘹 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘘𝘶𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘋𝘶𝘦𝘵, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘒𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘥𝘰𝘮 𝘰𝘧 𝘈𝘪𝘬𝘺𝘢𝘮. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲. 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 Atlas… Atlas wants my soul—to conquer and destroy. He wants to ruin me. 𝘼𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩’𝙨 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙨𝙚… 𝙄 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙛 𝙖 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙡𝙚𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙢. *𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐓𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐐𝐮𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 #𝐰𝐡𝐲𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞, 𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐱𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐲, 𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐨𝐲𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞. *𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐐𝐮𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐝𝐮𝐞𝐭.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐊𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐊𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬
It’s the waiting that’s unnerving.
So much so that I find myself furiously pacing my castle’s great hall in the early hours of the morning instead of enjoying the comfort of my warm bed.
It’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, I’m not as fortunate in finding such amusement to occupy my time.
Unfortunately, not being able to have a full night’s rest for the past month hasn’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 thoughts—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 grasp—even if it does feel like it’s coming at a snail’s leisurely pace.
Like I said… it’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 hour—nay—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, I’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 I’ve been obsessing over for most of my young adult life—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.
Maybe it was my youth that had kept me patient back then.
Time had been my friend, so the tedious affair of waiting hadn’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 ahead—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 destiny’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 it’s all because of her—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. It’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 children’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 finest… 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.
All that these memories do is serve to remind me how naïve I was.
How fucking frail and powerless.
And how foolish I had been in believing her traitorous lies by calling them the gods’ holy truth.
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 me—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 of—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.
It’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.
“Your Grace! Your Grace!” he shouts, still halfway from where I’m standing.
I keep rooted to my spot, impatiently waiting for him to reach me and eager to learn the news he brings.
“Your… High… ness,” he belts breathlessly when he’s finally within arm’s reach. “She’s… here! She’s… here!”
“Breathe, boy,” I urge, sounding just as frantic as he is. I grab his shoulders, giving them a little shake, and ask, “Who’s here?”
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 future—the winter queen’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.
“And so it begins.”