Home > Queen Heir (NYC Mecca #1)(11)

Queen Heir (NYC Mecca #1)(11)
Author: Jaymin Eve, Leia Stone

Despite the tremor of my muscles, and the churning deep in my gut, I held on to the confidence that I could do this. For my pack and late queen.

There was nothing worse than losing and going back to your pack as a failure and living the rest of your life as a failed heir. The only honorable thing an heir kicked out of a Summit could do was produce more heirs. And who would want that as a destiny? Not this shifter, that was for sure.

My pack didn’t need the gold from winning. We were one of the richer boroughs, but I had to get some of those spell books. Violet would be so overjoyed. It always annoyed me that the council was so reluctant to share with the packs, but I also understood their reasoning. This magic was far beyond our knowledge and abilities. We didn’t want our magic born killing themselves or anyone else in failed spells. So they exercised caution in allowing this information out into the packs. Clearly the Summit was the one place they thought worthy to give the extra awesome prizes.

Greggor gestured that we should approach the board. I unbuttoned my sleeves and rolled them up and a few of my wolves started chanting my name softly. One look from Torine shut them up. I took a second to give them a wink and small grin as I passed close to them. They wanted reassurance from me, to see my confidence. I couldn’t give them much, but I could give that small gesture before again focusing on the task.

The mecca chess board was nothing like real chess. It was similar in that you had two players and the ultimate goal was to guard your queen, but this was a specially designed board that represented the five boroughs of New York. There were vortexes that would transport your character just like ours in real life, and even a small, grotesque-looking bear king holding dominion over their two boroughs. The point was to protect the territory of the three boroughs at all cost while also protecting the queen.

A council member, Lucille of the yellow clan, took a seat then at the head of the bear king’s boroughs. Crap! That meant I would be playing against an extremely wise council member and not one of the other heirs like I thought.

Torine locked eyes with me and said: “You’ll each get a chance to play, but Arianna, since you’re the Red Queen’s descendent I’ll allow you to choose if you want to go first or last.”

This was a test. I knew it. I felt it in the way he asked the question like he was shrewdly choosing each word. These bastards would be adding up points throughout this entire thing and weighing how we did, deciding where we stood. If I said last it might make me seem weak, but I would also be able to see how the other council members played, get clues on their faults and weaknesses. If I said first, was I being too cocky or hasty?

I met Finn’s gaze, and he gave me a nod, but there was no voice from him. He was letting me make this decision with no influence.

The answer came from my wolf inside … her instinct. “First,” I said clearly, and was rewarded with a head nod from Calista. Two councilwomen came across then and escorted Selene and Breanna from the room. Ah, excellent, they would not allow us to watch each heir. I had made the right choice then. Torine gestured for me to sit and I took a steadying breath and joined Lucille at the board.

Finn settled his huge weight close to my feet, on constant alert to the shifters around me. He was in guard mode. Like the rest of us he was unhappy with all the attacks. He wanted justice for our fallen.

It will be done, my friend, I assured him.

I know. Now win us this Summit.

Ah, my old friend, always big with the pep talks.

As I focused on the board, my fingers itched to touch the pieces. This game calmed my mind for some reason. Even sitting here, I felt slivers of tranquility washing over me. This was my usual spot when I played, that of the queen, and Calista usually played the bear king. Unable to hold back any longer, I ran my finger along the Red Queen figurine.

The board was about three feet by four, in the exact shape of the five boroughs. The Hudson River ran right along Manhattan and was represented with tiny bits of blue shimmering glass beads. There was a whole network of dials and compartments underneath the game that would take your pieces and move them or keep them if your character died. Each side had a control panel so we could type in our instructions. The small replica buildings stood tall, and I recognized my own apartment building as I gazed at the Bronx.

“Ten minutes on the clock,” Torine said as he tapped into his keyboard; the clock immediately began to count down. The person in the strongest position at the end would win.

“Your Majesty, Queen Heir, has first move,” Torine added, before taking his seat on the side. He held the position of official overseer of this trial. Without hesitation, I placed ten of my fifty fighters in kayaks along the waterway separating Manhattan and Brooklyn. They spanned out to also protect parts of the water from Staten Island. These waterways were a large vulnerability for the queen and by placing warriors there, it would hopefully force the bears to stick to the vortexes for travel.

Lucille’s turn. She sent ten bear warriors to her vortex point on Staten Island. It was a good strategic move because all the vortexes were connected and from there they could travel to any of my boroughs. If I wasted men at each vortex point and she had a larger attack in mind, I would leave the queen vulnerable. I had to protect Manhattan at all costs. The queen was the most important person and her borough must be an iron shield for our people. I decided to send ten guards to the Manhattan vortex, leaving my remaining thirty in the royal house. If the bear king sent his men there, I would strike them down.

My stomach turned as Lucille sent thirty bear warriors on foot to the Brooklyn Bridge, giving the bears a direct connection to our Manhattan territory. That was more than half of her warriors, and I only had ten in the water to fend them off. Was this her attack, or a distraction? Should I go after the bears at my border or the bear king? I had my warriors at the vortex; I could send them through, but then there’d still be thirty of the bears at the queen’s feet waiting to pounce on Manhattan.

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