Oboe followed her brother’s instructions, scurrying up and down hallways after the candles. Would this take her to the labyrinth? She should’ve asked him where she was going. The door ahead was flush to the ground, with no room for a mouse to squeeze through. She shifted back to normal when she thought no one was looking.
“You! Satyr! Come here!”
Oboe jolted at being called out. She whipped around and was confused to see a human barreling towards her.
“Yes, you!” He looked important, with loads of medals and badges all jangling off the front of his blue uniform. His mustache was familiar. This was that human Oboe had seen grandmother talking to the other day. He dressed weird for a human. His shoulders and hat were fuzzy, and he had a long skirt. Belts crossed his front with curved daggers in sheathes. “Where is your Fairy Queen? We grow sick of waiting all of the time! Yes, bring her now!”
“Um.” She looked in every direction, worried a guard might be nearby. “I don’t know where she is. Sorry.”
“That is the bull’s droppings!” He rattled a sword in its scabbard. “I know of you! Do not make pretend! Your queen said you are family, remember? Yet when I am asking where she is, you are not knowing, your harpies are not knowing, all of you are of no use! What are we to do, hmm?!”
“Who are you?” Why was there a human in the Circle? “What are you doing here?”
The fancy human sputtered in disbelief, and puffed out his chest. “You insult me, you insult all of Feymire country! I am High Sergeant Crantor of Brigade Five! The most glittering to serve the twin Empresses!”
“Oh!” Oboe said. “You’re from a faraway place. That’s so cool!”
Crantor ran a hand through his thick sideburns. “Yes. It is very cold in my country. I am missing it with all of my heart. Yet I am here, in the rain lands, waiting forever for the war. But why? You promise to take the Laien prince heir away. Yet he returns?!” He spat. “You make fools of us!”
“Wait, war?” This was the first thing Oboe had heard about this. “What are you talking about?”
The human ground his teeth and shook. “Empty headed fairy! I will show your eyes!” He took her by the shoulder and marched her through the door she meant to enter. Oboe wondered whether to run, or fight, but before she could decide she was pushed through an archway outside into the stadium that once held the Tournament of Titles. It was filled with hundreds, no, thousands of humans like Crantor. Humans with strange uniforms, who were sharpening swords and training to fight. Oboe gaped. It was a whole army.
“Ah, you remember now, yes? Seeing helped you. I know these things.” He let out a snort. “We have alliance. You help us to take Laien. Hide the soldiers so King Stonewall does not know until much too late. You take his son, we break his spirit. You magic us inside. Short war, quick. Then Feymire will have all the secrets and riches Laien hides from us, and you will rule here as servant to Empresses.”
Oboe couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “You are going to invade Laien.”
“She is getting it!” Crantor slapped her across the back. “Very good. Maybe you bring Queen Bassoon here, so she also remember? We are all of us sick of the waiting.” He pushed her back out the door. “Fetch her for me, little goat. That is a good child, yes.”