Apricum (Apricum Kingdom #1)

Orphaned and in charge of keeping her young brother alive, Helga survives by using her powers to kill for hire. But, when she is kidnapped by people wanting to exploit her, Helga's life changes drastically. No longer sure who to trust, she escapes and goes looking for her brother Finn. But she's been keeping secrets even from those closest to her, and secrets have a way of finding you, in the end... [PG-15 for violence and language - keep in mind that the protagonist kills for a living. Some references to sex.]

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7. Six

The letter wasn’t signed, but then that was kind of the point, I guessed. My best friend and my brother were in danger because of who I was, of who my family had been. Though what they planned on doing with their newly-acquired leverage if they wouldn’t even tell me who they were, was puzzling.

Apparently Freyja wasn’t the only one who had thoughts of revolution in her mind. But while my friend wanted me to instigate it, the sender of the letter wanted to prevent it at all costs. I sighed. I was fast developing a headache of epic proportions, and it wasn’t helping me to decide what to do next. I needed to find out who had written this - that would most likely lead me to Freyja and Finn. My first thought was of the people who had taken me two weeks ago. But, no. If they had wanted something from me, they would have told me while they had me there; plus, Freyja and Finn had been taken while I was still being held. The letter made it clear that they were meant to be leverage, to get me to do something, and I obviously couldn’t have done much from behind bars.

I had a pretty good hunch about who had kidnapped me, and while he was icky, Raul wasn’t stupid; he knew that roughing me up was one thing - he was probably trying to prove a point to me, mad that I had been stretching his requests for how victims should be found lately - but messing with my little brother… he knew I’d kill for Finn - in fact, he was very aware that Finn was the reason I had taken the job in the first place.

So if it hadn’t been the same people who’d taken me, that really only left one option.

But something was bothering me. I scanned the letter again.

 

Your Highness,

 

We have your acquaintances. We apologise for the state of the house; they did not want to come with us, you see. But they are very comfortable, and will continue to be so, as long as you do what we tell you to.

You are to leave the kingdom immediately and never return. We will keep your friends as insurance until you have left. 

If you ever return, they will be terminated.

 

My brow furrowed as I realised what was bothering me: why would a person who clearly knew who I was, and wanted me out of the way, unable to create trouble, allow Finn to stay? Surely he was as much of a liability to the current regime as I was? Perhaps even more so, since it was fairly obvious I was actively against reclaiming my throne. Finn was an unknown entity.

Unless…

King Vegard couldn’t have known if Finn had been born when he attacked. And even if he assumed that he had, it was perfectly reasonable to assume a young baby would have died in the invasion; so many people disappeared without a trace; the invading army used dissolved particles - miniature atomic bombs, concentrated in bullets. A missing baby could have easily been assumed dead by too much exposure. No one would question it. I was reported dead in the attack and no one questioned that too much, even though I’d been thirteen and perfectly able to run away.

But that meant…

I cursed. Whoever had taken Freyja hadn’t done their homework too well. They thought Finn was Thor. They had no idea that they were holding the kingdom’s rightful Prince hostage.

And, for my brother’s sake, I hoped they didn’t find out. I doubted they’d send him off on his merry way to meet me on the other side of the border.

 

Troubling as this discovery was, it also filled me with relief. If they didn’t know who Finn was, chances were that he’d be relatively safe.

It also told me who was behind this kidnapping. And that posed a much bigger problem. To get my friend and brother back, I had to find out where the King was keeping them, while still making it seem like I had left the kingdom.

I had some work to do.

I sighed as I watched the sun go down from my perch in the tree.

Looks like I was going back to Court, after all. But first, I had a visit to make.

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