Fable Page 26

“Yes and no,” she replied grudgingly. “Can a Fae ever say anything outright without hiding it behind innuendos and half-truths? Sometimes I’m not even sure I should trust him.”

“You’re absolutely right—you can’t fully trust him. But never mind that for now. The Grimoire came to you. You have an even bigger chance of beating this because you have figured out the Grimoire’s secret. You’re stronger than the rest.”

Mina had to close her eyes and calm her heart and listen to them. She came here for help. She was probably the first mortal to ever step foot in the GM’s headquarters.

“Okay, tell me about the Grimm curse, from your side.”

Constance leaned forward and let her hands rest on the table in front of her. “Well, you already know that the Story prefers males. We believe this is because he thinks they’re the stronger adversary. And the Story tends to choose the next Grimm from the closest living male relative, which is why it went from your grandfather to your uncle to your father. After your father died, the Story would have to pick another male Grimm, so Sara thought it would go after some distant second or third cousin, and that you two would be free from the curse. But you know as well as I that a few weeks after your father’s funeral, your mother found out that she was pregnant.

“Sara was extremely frightened and worried, and told Terry all of her worst fears of it being a boy, and the curse never leaving her family alone. Terry, using magic, was able to determine the sex of her unborn child. When your mother learned that she was carrying the next boy Grimm, she became hysterical, refusing to eat, sleep, and work. Finally, Terry, tired of watching and being unable to help her charge, begged us to intercede, and we did. We did something we promised we never would do. We intervened on an unborn Grimm. We cast a spell to make him invisible to the Story, to make the Story look elsewhere for his next Grimm.”

“That’s why Charlie is the way he is?” Mina gasped, and started to cry in relief. “I knew he was special, I knew he…” she sobbed, and Mei came over and hugged Mina and let her cry out all of her worries and frustrations.

“Yes, it is our fault that Charlie is different. He is harmless and of no interest to the Story, but the Story knew he had been duped. He always came back year after year to see if there had been a change. To see what had happened to his next Grimm. I think that is when he became interested in you, Mina,” Constance said sadly.

Mei joined in excitedly. “He kept testing you when you were growing up, and your mom saw it and became frightened, and moved a lot. But I knew. I knew it would choose you.”

“What about the house?” Mina asked.

“What about it?” Constance didn’t seem worried.

“Where did that come from?”

“It’s the same house the Grimm Brothers lived in hundreds of years ago. It’s been invisible, hidden for years until the next Grimm needed it. We had to gather enough fairies and convince them to use a fairy circle to move it here, and each time it’s moved it changes a little to fit the new surroundings. Your grandfather lived there, but your father just used it as his office. He refused to move your family there. He wanted to try to keep as normal a life as possible. And now it belongs to you.”

Mina meditated on what she’d just been told. She had a house that was protected from Fae, a whole Guild of Godmothers that were of no help to her because they wouldn’t fight, and a blank spot on their wall for when she died.

“What about the Grimoire? How did Jared and Teague get involved with the quests that originally started out between the Fates and the Grimm Brothers? Jared already told me that a sprite split the Fae book in two, creating the original Story and its doppelganger, the Grimoire, and that one is evil, the other good. But how do Jared and Teague fit in? When did they become so…attached?” Mina couldn’t help but smile at her own joke.

Mei blushed and refused to look at Mina. “Well, that is a tender subject.”

Mina could easily read between the lines. “It has to do with a girl, doesn’t it?”

Constance interjected, “There’s not a whole lot known about the Royals. A very secretive family, but there are always rumors. That something happened and someone cursed the princes into servitude to these books, and over the many years their personalities have changed and merged. One prince struggling to not become a slave to the book, while the other succumbed faster and became darker and more obsessed with power and the role of the tales.”

It made so much sense now that she had more puzzle pieces and could finally see the whole picture. She began to feel sorry for Jared and his brother. “Is there nothing to be done to break their curse?” she asked.

“Oh, Mina. No wonder he chose to come to you. Only you would be worried about breaking someone else’s curse over your own.”

Mina sat down at the table and felt something brush against her calves before scrambling back into her lap. She didn’t have the energy to push the Baldander off, and in fact was finding comfort in his nearness. It was soothing stroking his fur and thinking through all the new information she just learned.

Constance cleared her throat to get Mina’s attention. “But we need to focus on your problem, not theirs. So back to the problem at hand. What kind of Stiltskin were they?”

“One was young, a teenager like me. The other was older. He looked like he just walked out of a comic convention.”

“No, Mina, not what were they wearing—what was their element? What form did they work in? Was it tin, iron, bronze, silver?”

“Oh! Uh, copper. Reid kept changing everything to copper.”

Mei looked relieved. “Copper means he was probably the youngest-born sibling. The one who you made a deal with…?”

“Gold,” she answered excitedly. “Everything he touched turned to gold.”

Constance let out a long sigh and rubbed her forehead wearily. “That’s what I was afraid of. He’s the oldest son, then, probably from the original family. If only you had met a nickel or bronze. We could have handled one of those—but gold? That goes back to the original Stiltskin family, to Rumple himself.”

“Well, in that tale all the princess had to do to save her child was guess his name, so shouldn’t it work the same way? He already told me his name. It’s Temple.”

“They’ve wised up, changed their bargains and deals. Names used to hold a great deal more power. I think our best bet is to try to do what he wants, although he will more than likely try to trick you into becoming his slave either way. So the first order of business is, what did he want?”

All of a sudden, something told her not to tell them. A small voice warned her away from the GMs. If she told them she was going after the Fae book, they might refuse to help her, just like Jared. So, out of self-preservation for her quest, she lied. “He didn’t say yet. He wanted me to cross over to the Fae world first, and then he would find me and tell me what my task is.”

“Are you kidding me? There can only be one reason he wants a Grimm to cross over. He’s going to send you after the Royal Family,” Mei said nervously.

“You’re right. You can’t do it. I doubt you could get to the palace without getting killed. So you only have one other choice. You have to kill Temple first,” Constance said.

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