Title: Twin Elements
Author: Mell Eight
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 10/17/2023
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Fantasy, Royalty, twins, herbologist, conspiracy, poisons, romance, HEA
When Rhory’s identical twin, King Tycen, is poisoned, Rhory is forced to take his place to cover up the disaster. With the help of their healer, he desperately searches for a cure while keeping the kingdom running. Even so, Rhory isn’t certain he’ll be able to keep up until the arrival of Prince Maya, who is not only ready to help with his specialized knowledge of plants, but is so very distracting.
Saving Tycen is only the beginning, however, as the political intrigue that put Tycen in the healer’s wing must still be unraveled. Even with Prince Maya’s help, Rhory isn’t certain the throne, or the kingdom itself, will survive the erupting turmoil.
Mell Eight © 2023
All Rights Reserved
“I’ve been invited to some drinking party tonight,” Rhory said with a sigh of disgust. “Don’t they realize I want to spend my evening relaxing with a book, not drinking and schmoozing for some sort of political claptrap?”
Tycen laughed. “That’s what happens when you’re the younger brother of the king.”
“By only ten minutes,” Rhory muttered angrily. “How do I tell them to leave me alone?”
“Dearest brother, why would you ever turn down an opportunity to drink to your heart’s content?” Tycen vanished into the dressing room, but his voice was still clear. “If you won’t go, then I will.”
Tycen returned to the main room and twirled around, grinning cheekily at Rhory. He had changed out of the red and gold lightweight linen robes that marked him as king, and into the deep purple and blue that marked Rhory as honored prince. The different robes were the only visual indication that designated them as two separate people. They were completely identical otherwise.
Tycen’s wide blue eyes were shining with mischief, whereas Rhory knew his were currently cold with disdain. They both had the deep blue-black hair common among the people of their country. Tycen had pulled his into two thin braids, each running from his temple to behind his ear, which kept his hair out of his face and out of the ink of the documents he worked on every day. Rhory usually used one of the ornate, jeweled clasps Mother had left him to pull his hair back into a thick bun at the back of his head.
“You realize as long as you continue to attend these blasted parties pretending to be me, I’m going to keep getting invited?” Rhory sighed, but he was already carefully detangling the clasp from his hair and holding it out for Tycen to take.
Tycen swiftly unraveled his braids. A few quick twists had his hair up in a bun, and he jabbed the clasp through to hold it all in place.
“That’s the point, brother dear. No one ever dares invite the king to little get-togethers. It’s always formal balls or meetings. You get invited to the fun things all the time!”
Rhory couldn’t refute that, but he had to add in a reminder. “Don’t forget tomorrow is Sunsday. We have the prayer session at dawn.”
Tycen nodded. “I won’t forget. I probably won’t have gotten to sleep yet by then, but I promise I’ll be there.” He twirled one last time, grinning cheekily, before heading out the door.
Rhory sighed and tucked a loose bit of hair behind one ear. He settled back on the couch with his book, glad to have the rest of the evening to himself. Unfortunately, duty called, so he only relaxed an hour before heading to bed. Still, even snatching an hour after a long day was better than normal. Rhory was feeling relaxed and happy as he slid into bed, and he fell asleep quickly.
The good feelings were still there in the morning when the servant knocked on his door an hour before dawn. Rhory stretched, warm under his blankets, and let out a yawn. As much as he wanted to stay in bed, he knew if he didn’t get moving now, he would run out of time. He rolled out of bed and padded into the bathing room. Once he felt clean, he went into the dressing room, which was shared between his room and Tycen’s.
The suite of two rooms they used was actually the king’s private residence. Rhory occupied the queen’s room, the room their mother had once used before she and father passed when the cold-fire fever rampaged through the kingdom five years back. When Tycen had been forced to take Father’s room, he had asked if Rhory would take Mother’s. They had never been separated for very long, so Rhory had agreed. He knew one day Tycen would marry and Rhory would need to find other quarters, but for now they shared the space.
Except Tycen wasn’t in the dressing room, fumbling through the shelves, looking for a clean set of robes, still partially drunk. Rhory frowned and abandoned the purple set he had been holding, then headed through the other door and into Tycen’s bedroom.
The room was dark, but the bed was empty and neatly made. There was no sign Tycen had been back. Rhory pushed through the main door, his heart starting to thump loudly, hoping to see Tycen passed out on one of the couches. He wasn’t there.
Rhory swallowed hard. If Tycen had promised to be back in time for the morning ceremony, he would have kept that promise. He should have been back by now.
Rhory rushed to the suite’s main door, but then froze with his hand on the handle. No one could know Tycen was missing. The king vanishing would cause widespread panic, but his younger brother going missing wouldn’t be nearly as bad. Well, Rhory had pretended to be Tycen before, and he could do it now until Tycen was found.
Decided, Rhory took in, then let out two deep breaths. He smoothed his expression, and once he was certain he appeared outwardly calm, he pulled open the door.
The usual two guards standing there immediately straightened to attention.
“Have Captain Adda report to me at once. I have some concerns about the security of this morning’s ceremony.”
“At once, Your Majesty,” one of the guards said, bowing before turning and trotting off. Rhory nodded to the remaining guard before closing the door.
Captain Adda would arrive in a few minutes, which didn’t give Rhory a lot of time. He sprinted into his own bedroom and quickly tugged the sheets and blankets into place, trying to make it look like his bed was the one that had not been slept in. Then he rushed into the dressing room, where he yanked on a set of Tycen’s red robes. The bed in Tycen’s room took only a few moments to rumple. Rhory was standing in front of the mirror in the main sitting room, carefully braiding his hair, his breathing back to normal after the rush to set things up, when the knock came at the door.
“Enter!” Rhory called.
Captain Adda stepped inside. He bowed and waited.
“Captain, come in and close the door,” Rhory said. Adda obeyed. Once the door was firmly shut, Rhory continued. “My brother Rhory went out drinking last night. He was invited to the Blue Blaze Tavern by three minor nobles. The invitation is on the sideboard to your left,” Rhory added. He finished the first braid, tied it off, and turned to look at Adda directly. “Rhory has not returned, which is incredibly unusual. I need you to mount a discreet search party. I want him located and brought back to the palace before the end of the Sunsday ceremony.”
“At once, Your Majesty.” Captain Adda bowed, and when Rhory nodded, he turned and left the room.
Rhory hurried to finish getting ready. He couldn’t be late for the Sunsday ceremony, especially since he was going to be impersonating Tycen. Rhory schooled his face to peaceful blankness before he left the room, hoping the coming ceremony would help him push aside the worried churning in his stomach.
Meet the Author
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.
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