Frost Bitten Epilogue 7

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Ryan and Unna got married around a month later. The wedding was held in Wyoming, in the small chapel in the middle of town. Aiko, Snowflake and I all attended. We dressed up for the occasion, of course, which in our case was something of a statement. The mansion had come with fully stocked closets, and whoever stocked them wasn’t on a budget.


The wedding itself was fairly extravagant. Not ridiculously so—which was good, because between Edward’s casual wealth and Kyra’s newfound riches they could have gone obscenely over the top if they wanted to—but there was a surplus of food, which was saying something when an entire pack of werewolves was in attendance, and they’d hired a live band. I didn’t recognize them, but they were pretty good, and I doubted they’d come cheap.


The ceremony itself was more or less standard. Kyra was the best man, which struck me as bizarrely amusing. I didn’t recognize the priest (if it was a priest; the fact that the wedding was being held in a church suggested that selkies didn’t have problems with holy ground, but that didn’t mean they were fond of human religions), but he did an admirable job of talking a whole lot without actually saying anything. No mention was made of any deities, and the vows were so blandly generic that it was easy to miss the fact that nothing was actually sworn.


Ryan wore a tuxedo (I was a little surprised by that; Ryan was the kind of guy you expected to wear a dress uniform) and Unna went with the traditional white dress and veil. She practically radiated happiness, which was some comfort. It still seemed weird as hell, but as far as I could tell they genuinely loved each other. Besides, I couldn’t really talk.


This being a rather unusual case, there were actually two wedding receptions. The first one was pretty normal, a casual party held in a large, open building that used to be a barn. It had been empty for a long time, but the scent of animals is distinctive, and it lingers. Aiko and I sat at the edge of the room, went through large amounts of food, and made crass comments about the other guests. Snowflake, being a dog, could get away with waiting outside.


The reception ended earlier than I think is normal, just before sunset. That was kind of necessary. The next part of the event was oriented toward the couple’s more exotic qualities, and differed from the more traditional event in several important ways. The food is customarily dead before the wedding reception starts, for example, and that wasn’t the case here. Not for nothing had the wedding been scheduled the day of the full moon.


Aiko left when the human guests did. She doesn’t care for hunting. Neither do I, actually, except for full-moon nights. Then, well, it isn’t really optional. The hunt is in my blood, and when the moon is out I enjoy it, like it or not.


There was a brief interval between the two events, though, during which time I managed to corner Unna alone. She was sitting at a shadowed table in the corner of the room, eating a plate of salmon in quick, small bites. I slid into the chair opposite her, checking that no one was in earshot. Nobody was. “Congratulations,” I said.


The selkie looked at me, her face oddly blank, and then nodded quickly, the motion reminding me of a bird. “Thank you.”


“So,” I said, leaning back casually. “I don’t mean to spoil your evening, but there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”


“What is that?” she said, not pausing in her eating.


“Well, it seems to me that in all the excitement, everyone’s forgotten one key question.” I smiled at her. It was not a friendly smile. “Who, exactly, killed Morgenstern?”


“What do you mean?” she said. Such slippery things, questions are. Asking a question says nothing about whether you know the answer.


“Well,” I drawled, “it wasn’t Zhang. There was no reason for him to do it. Why would he kill one of his own suppliers? Even if he decided to do it, why in hell would he do it in his own establishment, where it would be certain to draw all kinds of attention to things he didn’t want anyone looking at? He wasn’t an idiot.”


The selkie made an impatient sound. “Does it matter? He deserved death, did he not?”


“Sure, sure. But, see, that begs the question: if he didn’t do it, who did?” I shrugged. “It wasn’t Ryan. I believe that. There was no reason for him to do it, either. But it was still an incredible coincidence that he was there that night. What I don’t think anyone’s considered is that he wasn’t there alone.” I smiled at her and ticked points off on my fingers. “You were present with him. You were the only one present for the start of the confrontation with Morgenstern. You would have had ample opportunity, in the confusion, to kill him without Ryan noticing. And, strangely, you’ve avoided saying anything about the topic, which is slightly suspicious.”


“Why would I do this?” Her voice was level, but her shoulder were tense, giving the lie to her act.


“‘Favors aren’t free,'” I said quietly. “Your family’s a part of the Midnight Court. You, however, are not. The Sidhe don’t give anything away for free, ever. You didn’t get out without paying a price. I think that your family is in service to Scáthach. I think that when you wanted to leave her service, the price she asked was a debt, a favor to be paid later. I think that she’d gotten all the use she was going to out of Morgenstern. I think that she asked you to kill him, knowing that Ryan would be blamed, knowing that would eventually lead to my being drawn into this. I think everything that’s happened, all of it, was a scheme on her part to get me to take down Zhang’s smuggling ring for her.”


Unna was looking a little wide around the eyes now. I saw her consider going for a weapon, or running. “Calm down,” I said. “I’m not going to tell anyone.”


“Why not?” she asked, clearly confused.


I shrugged. “Honestly? It really doesn’t matter to me. Morgenstern, by all accounts, deserved to get got. I don’t give a damn who did it, not when it was obviously a small part of a big plan. No, I’m pretty much just here to tell you a few things.”


“What?” she said suspiciously. I think she expected me to blackmail her.


“Your mother’s a traitor,” I said instead. “Don’t know the details, but I’m pretty confident of it. She sold out Scáthach, and Scáthach knows it. Do with that what you will.”


Unna looked shocked. A moment later, though, she nodded, and started to stand up.


I let her get three steps in before I spoke again. “Unna?” I said quietly. She turned to face me, looking like she was ready to bolt. “I don’t care that much about Ryan,” I said quietly. “I like him, but he’s not one of mine. Kyra? Is.” I was silent for a moment, letting that sink in. “She likes your husband. She’d be upset if anything bad were to happen to him. So I’m telling you this as a fair warning. You treat him right, or we’re going to have words.”


She nodded again and left.


I went outside and got changed before the moon rose. Snowflake came with me, her eye bright with excitement. Snowflake does enjoy hunting.


That night I hunted beside Edward for the first time ever. It was an interesting experience, in large part because of how natural it felt. Snowflake, Kyra and I moved as a single unit, of course, but we also moved in instinctive harmony with the rest of the pack, full of joy and hunger and moonlight.


Ryan and Unna left the pack first, appropriately enough, after less than an hour of hunting. Other wolves continued to drop out over the next several hours, gone to sleep or pursue less social pleasures. Finally, by coincidence or design, the only ones still hunting were me, Snowflake, Kyra, and Anna. Anna took down a buck, the first we’d seen that night. She tore his throat and feasted on the blood, while the rest of us crowded in beside her and ripped at the meat. I didn’t think I’d ever seen her so happy.

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5 Responses to Frost Bitten Epilogue 7

  1. Emrys

    With the end of book 7, we’ve just about finished the material I have written. The good news: This means that there’s a significant piece of the story online. The bad news: I can’t really maintain this pace of updates indefinitely.

    I could keep posting a chapter every day, but either the length or the quality would have to drop considerably, and I would rather write the best story I can than keep updating daily. So, starting with the next chapter, it’s going to be slowing down a little. A regular chapter will be posted each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at midnight UTC, and an interlude chapter will be posted on Saturday.

    I apologize to anyone who’s disappointed by this change, but I think this schedule is the best way to keep providing a reasonably decent story moving forward.

  2. Terra

    Well, Mr. Vaughn, I admit I am sad about this but very pleased that you will continue to write for us. My favorite parts have to do with the personas of the characters and the inter workings of the diverse beings. My least favorites are the battles as they seem to be so frequent; and how often I personally can deal with such things. It is the mysteries that engage me the most and you do weave an intricate tale. I look forward to each writing. Thank you for entertaining me.

  3. Terra

    I would enjoy hearing Snowflakes’ thoughts on most anything. Her loyalty to Winter is beyond question though I bet she has her own thoughts about many things.

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