Fable Page 41


First off, she needed to get out of her wet clothes and tend to her leg wound from the sea witch. Second, well, second, she needed to think of a better plan than getting dry clothes. She swam to the edge of the bathing pool, which was barely deep enough for her to stand up in, and crawled over the ledge by the side closest to the waterfall and ducked behind a large potted fern. She was right. Water puddled down her feet and ran across the floor. It was a good thing she wasn’t wearing shoes, or she might have been making squeaky noises as she walked. Mina did the best she could to wring out her wet shirt into the fern. It started to move and sway at her watery offering.

“Psst, no,” she shushed the plant. But its fronds tried to reach for her as if giving her a hug. “Gah, no! You don’t have to say thank you.” She stepped away, and the fern wilted a little, as if she’d hurt its feelings. “Are you going to be nice and stay still this time?” The plant wiggled in anticipation, but it looked like it said yes. “Then be good.” Mina finished wringing out her shirt and hair, and did the best she could with her pants. There was still a puddle forming whenever she walked, but at least it was a small one.

Someone was coming from down the hall, and Mina ducked behind the fern once more. This time the plant wrapped its large fronds around her, not to hug her but to help hide her.

It was a guard, in full white leather armor, unlike the giants and the trolls outside. This one was covered in head-to-toe steel with emblems of the sun and moon etched across his breastplate. He was running toward the end of the hall, where two huge double doors opened before he even got there. Her heart leapt for joy when she saw Jared step out and confront the soldier. No, wait, she had to remember that they only looked similar. It wasn’t Jared—it was his brother Teague, dressed all in black.

“What is it, Captain Plaith?” Teague demanded angrily.

“Something has agitated the trolls and giants, my prince. Even the siren went off.”

Teague froze at the words of his captain and glared at him. “And…”

“And kelpies, sire. They were seen causing a ruckus near the palace.” The guard fidgeted but was careful to stare at a spot to the left of the prince.”

“Kelpies? That’s it? Those stupid water horses are always causing a ruckus. Anything else?”

“No, sire. Just that there were two kelpies seen outside in the lake.”

Teague sighed and rubbed his forehead. “There are always kelpies in the lake. Tell your men to get back to your stations.” Teague shooed off his captain and headed down a long hall, but then he stopped and turned around, and called back his captain.

“Plaith?”

“Yes, my prince.” The tall man shuffled forward once more.

“Did you say that there were only two kelpies?”

“Yes, two. One on land and one in the water.”

Teague stared toward the waterfall and then the fountain in thought. His dark eyes missed nothing as he scanned the room, and spent an awful lot of time staring directly at the planter she was hiding behind. Her legs started to shake from fear. Even the fern began to quiver.

“There are never just two kelpies. They travel in herds,” Teague said thoughtfully. “Where’s the rest of the herd? You also said the underwater siren went off?”

The soldier nodded.

Teague looked pleased with himself. “Double the giants and the trolls at the gates, and bring more guards to each of the walls just in case. I believe we have company.”

“But sire, if there is something in the castle that is a threat to the Fates, shouldn’t we notify—”

Teague’s blue eyes blazed with fury. His hand lifted to strike the soldier, but Plaith flinched and Teague restrained himself. “Don’t question my authority again. The Fates are at the Twilight Festival and won’t be back till later. There is nothing here that could possibly be a threat to the Fates. Now go!” He pointed, and Plaith fled. But Teague didn’t leave; he stood, frozen, looking back at the potted fern.

“There’s nothing or no one here that could possibly hurt the Fates—right, Mina?”

Chapter 25

She froze and let his voice echo in the empty hall. Maybe if she held her breath and closed her eyes, he would disappear like a bad dream. He didn’t. The plant began to shake even more, as if it was afraid of the prince, and she put a hand on its fronds to calm it down. This was ridiculous. She shouldn’t be afraid of Teague—she wasn’t before. This time she had nothing—no Grimoire, no phoenix feather, and no shard of magic glass—to defend herself with. Only her wits.

“Come, Mina, you must be freezing. Let’s get you warmed up, and then we will talk.” Teague gestured down the hall, and she still stood rooted to the spot. His eyes turned dark, and his voice dripped with venom. “I said, come here.”

He whipped his finger in her direction, and the large potted fern she was hiding behind was flung across the room and smashed into pieces on the stone wall. She cried out when the plant struggled once and then quit moving. Whatever magic was within it quickly died, and the plant just became a plant. In that one moment she understood a little bit more about the Fae magic and how it worked.

“It’s not like you to hide.”

“It’s not like you to steal and lie, no, wait—it is.” She smirked, filling her voice with false bravado.

Teague shook his head and let his dark hair settle over his forehead. He was handsome—not as handsome as Jared, because she could see it now, more so since she was on the Fae plane. He was able to hide it whenever he visited the physical plane, but here, Teague couldn’t hide the darkness that was attached to his soul, put there by the splitting of the books. One brother good, the other evil. Granted, there were a few times that she thought Jared could be the evil one, but standing here, face to face, with no cloaking, glamour or magic, she could see the true Story. And it scared her to her very core.

“I want what is mine,” she demanded. “I want my brother.”

“Oh, Mina, you can’t have him. You haven’t completed your quest. You know the rules as well as I. You must complete the Story. Only then can you have what you so desire.” He walked away from her, down the darkened hall.

How dare he walk away from her! She took off running after him, but stopped when she came to the broken plant. It was silly of her, and she knew it, but she couldn’t help but want to touch it and thank it for trying to help her. Her hands stroked its large fronds, and she whispered, “I’m sorry. It’s not fair! But thank you for giving your life for me.” She stood to leave, and didn’t notice that after she walked away, the plant began to grow again. It slowly reached one frond after her, and then she was gone.

Teague walked out of the bathing room and into a large sitting room that looked to be connected to another larger suite of rooms. He pulled the leaf of a small blue bell, and a chiming sound could be heard in the distance. A few moments later a small Fae scurried in wearing a pale blue dress and a silver moon on a sash.

“Bring the girl some clothes and bandages,” Teague ordered, and then walked to a small table and poured himself a drink and offered Mina some.

She shook her head and he smiled, but the smile didn’t reach his lips. “Someone has taught you well.”

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