Fable Page 42

Mina couldn’t help but raise her chin and smile.

“But obviously it wasn’t enough, because I don’t see Jared.” Teague sighed. “He is such a coward.”

“He’s not a coward. You’re the coward. Kidnapping young innocent boys, burning my home down because you’re scared of me. You’re scared of what I’m going to do to you.”

“He’s not an innocent,” Teague said stiffly.

“He’s a child, a nine-year-old boy.”

“He’s a Grimm.” Teague gave her a look, daring her to argue that point with her.

“I’m a Grimm! If you have a problem, come after me, not my brother.”

“Oh, Mina, you are so fun to play with. I tried to get you to play, but you ignored the quests, and you know that’s not how we play nice. So I need to get you interested in the game again.”

She was about to say something when the servant appeared with clothes for her to change into. There was a dress of deep red, and what looked like stockings and slippers. Mina picked up the dress and unconsciously made a face in disgust at the color choice.

Teague laughed hard at her expression. “Oh, that was a good one. I remember turning all of your clothes red for the Riding Hood Tale. To this day you still don’t wear the color red, do you?” He continued to laugh so hard that he wiped a tear away from the corner of his eye. “Oh, yes, that has been my favorite quest to date.”

She stared daggers at Teague, and finally he calmed down and walked over to the dress. “All right, what would you like it to be?” He snapped his fingers. “Blue, emerald, white.” With each color he named, the dress turned the matching color. “Or how about your newest favorite—gold.” He left off on that color and watched Mina closely to see her reaction.

She flinched but refused to make a sound. Teague left the dress a pale shimmering gold, and pointed to a delicate screen for her to change behind. This was stupid, she thought. Even though she was freezing and dripping wet, the outfit she had on was much more suited to escaping than a dress.

“Thank you, but no.” She stepped away from him and dropped the dress on a chair.

Teague wasn’t amused. “You should be beheaded for trespassing. I still could have you killed, but instead I thought it would be fitting to try to be nice. The least you can do is not insult your host,” His words were soft-spoken, befitting his royal status, but every word dripped with his wrath.

She could feel the full force of his ire, and her hands shook with trepidation. She picked up the dress, stockings, and slippers, and ducked behind the screen. By the time she was getting into the dress, she was no longer scared but furious. How dare he play with her like she was a pawn in a game. Does he not know that even a pawn can take down the queen? Thought after thought plagued Mina, and she was slowly building up enough anger that she could feel her body trembling, but this time it was with power. There was a full-length mirror behind the screen, and she could see herself in it. Her hair, a wet tangled mess, fell over one shoulder. Her skin looked pale, and her eyes burned with anger. The dress was frilly, stupid frilly and too long, and rubbed against her bandaged leg. The slippers were impractical, with silk on the soles. She was dressed up like a doll, and she felt like she was ten years old. It was then that she realized this wasn’t to help her but to make her feel demoralized, weak. And she wasn’t that. Never that.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. This dress and shoes have got to go,” she grumbled as she tried to brush out her hair. The power that had gathered around her flowed to her almost excitedly and answered her deepest desire. The dress shimmered and glowed, the long skirts shrinking away to become formfitting pants in a soft tan color. The top of the gown became a long-sleeved shirt of the palest white, and a brown belt appeared around her hips. She was doing it again, unconsciously controlling Fae magic. The slippers grew longer and ran up her calves until she was wearing knee-high boots. Even her hair had dried and was plaited in a braid over her shoulder.

She smiled at her reflection and whispered, Thank you, to the unseen magic. She really needed to work at becoming more attuned to calling it, and feeling when it was near. Feeling confident, Mina walked around the screen, only to find Teague confused and speechless.

“Wha…how? I didn’t give you those clothes.”

“Yes, you did. I just changed them to suit my needs,” Mina quipped.

“But how?” He stared at her in disbelief, and then his expression changed to one of joy. And not the happy joy, either. He turned, and she could see him become even more excited. “I knew you were the right one. I just knew.” He held out his arm and waited for her to join him. “Come, I think there is someone you are dying to meet.”

Mina didn’t need any more prompting but hurried after Teague, afraid that he would change his mind and decide to not take her to Charlie.

He didn’t. They walked through three different-colored corridors, a sky blue, a golden yellow, and a soft lavender, before they entered what appeared to be the north wing of the palace. The hall was a dismal gray, the colors on the tapestries faded and drab, and even the rugs looked neglected, as if this was the wing that life had forgotten. In a palace of sun and moon and light, this wing reeked of darkness and death.

Teague came to a set of black double doors with a dead tree burned into the wood grain. Teague raised his right hand over a round metal sphere, and Mina knew it was another magical seal. A bright buzzing glow, a pop, and the sound of a lever clicking unlocked the seal. The doors opened inward, and they entered the room.

It was dark, with a pale hint of the moons’ glow coming in through the glass ceiling. It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust. The room was as big as her high school auditorium; the walls were lined with tall pillars of white marble. In the middle of the room on a golden pedestal illuminated by the moon was a book. She didn’t need any explanation to know that this was the Fae’s book.

It was large and old, and there was a resonant hum that seemed to be coming from the book, or maybe it was her imagination. As soon as she stepped into the room, the large double doors shut behind her, and a huge crossbeam slid into place, locking it. A faint purple glow appeared around the doors, and Mina knew that Teague had magically as well as physically sealed them in the room.

Teague went right up to the Fae book and placed his hand on it lovingly. He closed his eyes, and his hair began to blow around the room. It looked like he had just become stronger from touching the book. There was a large stone fireplace at one end of the room, with two wooden throne-like chairs on the other. Another fountain trickled soothingly by a wall of large glass windows. It looked like the room at one time had been a ballroom.

“So here it is, Mina. The book. I know about the Stiltskin’s backhanded deal with you to steal this book for your brother. But let me just tell you, stealing the book for him won’t complete the quest.”

Mina barely listened to Teague’s monologue as she scanned the room. There in the corner she saw it. A golden cage.

“Charlie!” she screamed, and ran to the prison. Charlie was cuddled up in the blankets just like in her dream, and he awoke to the sound of her voice. He flung off the blanket and reached his hands through the bars toward his sister.

“Oh, Charlie, sweetie. I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you. I’ll get you out of here, I promise.” Mina’s hands touched his face, his head, and then his arms, checking to see if he was hurt.

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