Oboe wondered how many hundreds of years had passed since she was first sealed away. There was no way to see the sun or the passage of seasons from inside her dim, dank cell. Every moment she spent contemplating her mistakes felt like an eternity. She kept wishing a rat or spider would come by so she could have someone to talk to. Any distraction from her guilt and loneliness would be wonderful.
She sighed, lying face down on the grimy floor. She told herself not to cry.
The gears and clockwork of her cell door spun to life. Was this real? She tried to rise on shaky legs, but her chains kept her from standing. They were alive with magic, draining her brute strength and stopping her from transforming. She watched as a familiar face stepped through the doorway.
Another human followed him inside and sealed the door behind them. It was the mean little knight that arrested her. Conrad was his name? He gave Theo a funny look.
“She seems to be familiar with you.”
Theo’s eyes darted between Oboe and Conrad. “I’ve worked with her in the past.”
“I see. So, she has a record.”
Theo clenched a hand in that way he did when he was scared. “She’s never caused trouble before. She’s been an asset to the community.”
Those words would’ve warmed Oboe’s heart if it weren’t sick with guilt.
The knight searched a pocket inside his coat. “A perfect record doesn’t mean much once it’s broken. Integrity is what makes a citizen.” He produced a vial from his belt. Something bright was trapped inside. He popped the cork and a will o’ wisp escaped, darting to the ceiling. It beamed a blinding light in Oboe’s eyes. “We’ll see how much she has.”
“Faun,” the knight intoned. He was obscured by the light. “Your trial is tomorrow. Enchantment of the royal family is a grave crime, punishable by death. I don’t want that for you. It took a great deal of character to come forward, more than I see in most fey. My offer still stands. Tell us how to find the prince and I can bargain for a stay of execution.”
“I don’t know!” she said, looking away. “He flew away!”
Theo’s face peeked through the light. “You need to remember. The direction he flew in, a land mark, something. Please Oboe. You need to give us something to narrow the search. They are going to kill you unless you help us find the Prince.”
Oboe was confused. Why was Theo helping them? “Percy doesn’t want to come back!” She said. “Theo, you can’t make him! You promised!”
The knight turned. “What does she mean by that?”
“I don’t know,” Theo said. Oboe realized her mistake.
“I’m the one who broke the law,” she said. “You’re not going to punish him just cause I’m bad!”
“That’s not what’s going to happen,” Theo said. “He just needs to go back to his duties, then everything can be okay.”
Oboe felt betrayed. This isn’t what Theo promised to do. “No! It’s not okay!” She pulled against her chains, growing angry. “He’ll be sad if he comes back! I won’t help you! I’d rather die!!”
Conrad whistled and the will o’ wisp returned to its bottle. “You seem to think you’re doing something good by helping the prince escape. Let me give you a reality check.”
The knight fit a chainmail glove over his right hand. Reaching into a coat pocket, he produced a small ivory box. He opened it with care. Inside there was a crystal egg with a dream burning bright inside.