Episode 4 Chapter 14

Time was precious. There was no telling where the prince had gone but the longer they waited the greater the risk they wouldn’t find him again. Theodore tried to keep up with Oboe as she rushed down the trail.

“I can’t believe I did this,” she said. “I promised grandmother I wouldn’t. I promised! I’m terrible. Wicked! Awful and wicked! This is all my fault!”

“You’re not wicked,” Theodore repeated. Keeping her calm was the only thing keeping him calm. “We’ll make it right. It’s going to be okay.”

She stopped. There was something in the middle of the road blocking their path. A strange, pointy iron sculpture covered in runes.

“What?” Oboe said. “What in the world is that thing?”

Theodore realized too late it was a trap. The runes lit up and the machine let out a high-pitched shriek. A translucent wall sprang up and formed around the clearing. A dome of gridded magic light closed over their heads, sealing them inside.

“It won’t stop screaming!” Oboe said, plugging her ears.

 Theodore spun, looking for a way out. He took a stone from the ground and tossed it into the barrier. The rock burst in a shower of sparks.

Knights charged out from hiding, drawn by the sound of the alarm. Each of the knights aimed a crossbow loaded with magic infused iron bolts. One shot from one of those could kill all but the most powerful of fairy.

“Turn it off!” Someone shouted, and the alarm faded. “What have we found?”

Knight Detective Conrad Whitechain marched onto the scene. He waved a runed baton in front of the barrier and a gap opened up for a moment, just wide enough for him to pass. 

“Ranger Deputy Grayweather…? And our target?” Conrad was startled to see them together. “What’s going on here?”

Theodore itched with panic. They were in serious trouble. How could he explain this without incriminating them both? He wracked his brain, but before he could think of something Oboe spoke up.

“He caught me,” she said. “The deputy was bringing me to you for punishment.”

Theodore’s eyes went wide. What was she doing?

“Is this true?” Conrad said. “You found the faun on your own?”

“I…” Theodore felt things spinning out of control. “She matched the description you gave me. I meant to bring her in for questioning. There’s no evidence yet that she’s the culprit. We should not jump to conclusions.”

“No.” Oboe said. “I used my magic on the prince. I turned him into a bird and he flew away. I’m the one you want.”

Theodore wanted to scream at her to stop. It was too late. He couldn’t say anything without making himself an accomplice.

“You admit this?” Conrad said, surprised. “Freely?”

“I did a bad thing,” Oboe said, hanging her head. “What’s the point in denying it?”

“I see,” Conrad said. “Your contrition may yet save your life, faun. Surrender yourself to the crown’s forces and there may be mercy.”

Oboe held out her arms. Conrad clasped a pair of iron shackles around her wrists. He struck the machine with his baton and the barrier evaporated. The Knights of the Hunter took hold of Oboe. She looked back at Theodore and offered a wilting smile before they hauled her away.

“I’m impressed, Grayweather,” Conrad said, as they both watched Oboe being marched off. “We received a tip that the faun was seen in this area, but you beat an entire search team to the punch.”

“What will you do with her?” He was afraid of the answer.

“We will detain her for questioning. There will be a trial, and likely an execution, but if she discloses information leading to the prince being returned, we can bargain for a deferred sentence.”

Theodore’s voice dried up. What could he do? Conrad clasped a hand on his shoulder.

“Good work. You are living up to your family‚Äôs name. I shall see that you are rewarded.”

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