Episode 6 Chapter 21

Oboe hurried through candlelit corridors, glancing over her shoulder as she hurried back the way she came. There was a whole army in the Fairy Circle. All the humans in the city were going to get hurt if she didn’t do something. She had to tell Theo.

Rounding the corner, she hit a dead end. “Auugh!” She balled her fists. This was the way she came, she knew it was. Why didn’t this place make any sense?

Doubling back, the hallway had changed. The candles were gone. Tapestries of the Woodwind family crest hung where they weren’t before. Something was wrong. It wasn’t until Oboe stopped to focus that she realized what.

She pressed a hand to the cold stone wall. Space was folding around her. Magic was flowing along the walls like an icy wind, knotting the halls of the palace like a tangle of threads. The halls were changing, forcing her down a certain path.

Oboe was scared. She had no idea where she was being taken but there was nowhere else to go. Dreading what was coming, she pushed on.

Twilight pooled on the floor of the chamber, pouring through a skylight at the tip of the tower. In the shadows, there was movement. Perched along rails all along the tower walls were ravens, black as the coming dark.

“How very peculiar to find you here, my daughter.” Grandmother’s hooves clacked against the marble floor, echoing off the walls. “Creeping naked through my private affairs. It leads one to worry, just what are you thinking?” She stepped into the light. A soft smile that did not match her eyes, watching Oboe through narrow slits. “Did you believe you could use your magic here, of all places, without my noticing?”

The door behind her sealed itself. Oboe was trapped. Grandmother loomed over her. Her heart raced, wondering what Bassoon would do. Oboe didn’t want to die. Not anymore. She clenched her teeth and looked the Fairy Queen in the eye.

“You have a whole army of humans here,” Oboe said. “Why?”

Bassoon raised her brow. “What reason has a fairy to do anything?”

Oboe had her suspicions. “You’re… trying to get Fates. You’re trying to change the lives of humans.”

The only reply was a deepening smile.

“But you’re allies with Laien,” Oboe said. The Whispers rustled around them.

“The Stonewall dynasty has worn out its usefulness. Complacent from its prosperity. Dull in its stability.” Bassoon shrugged with open palms. “Harvest time has come. I must steer the course of history to earn the Fates I need to live. Once more I will put a new regime on the throne, and in so doing, live to see the one to come after that.”

It made Oboe angry that this was how Bassoon treated a friend of the Fairy Circle. She wanted to tell The Fair Lady that she was selfish, that she was awful, but Oboe held her tongue.

Bassoon’s fingers fluttered under Oboe’s chin, her eyes wild. “I have answered your questions, but you have not paid the favor in kind. Why…” She grabbed Oboe by the throat. “Are you here?”

Oboe tried to struggle, but Bassoon’s grip was like a closing vice. She had to say something or else be choked. The truth meant death. Bassoon would never let her leave if she knew Oboe wanted to tell the humans about her plan. Her mind swam. Thistle said Bassoon always expected the worst of others.

“I want those Fates!” Oboe said, gagging. “I wanted to take them for myself!”

“You admit it!” Bassoon hurled Oboe to the floor, and laughed. “You wicked little weed! You think you can steal from me? I am your Queen!”

Oboe gasped for breath, and winced at her bruises. Bassoon circled like a vulture. Oboe stayed down. She knew Bassoon would like to see her stay down.

“I have lived for a thousand years.” Bassoon’s tone was furious, but her face was amused. “You think you have the cunning to take anything from me? I saw through you the moment I sensed your magic.”

“I’m sorry!” Oboe said, groveling. She kept her face to the floor, knowing she was a bad liar. “I’ve been nameless so long! I just want Fates!! I can’t stand it! Please, let me help! Let me have a cut! I just want to taste them again!”

The Whispers broke into a chorus of caws and screams. “And why should I give you anything? You wretched little would-be thief.”

“I’m wicked! Just like you said! But I can serve you! Like you wanted! Just give me a chance! I beg of you!”

Oboe peeked. Just enough to see Bassoon’s smug satisfaction.

“You know your place. Good.” She strutted closer, leering down. “Very well. I shall give you one more chance to serve. It would be a waste to squander your potential so soon. But know this, you have exhausted my mercy. Cross me again and I shall strip you of more than your name. Do you understand me?”

Oboe couldn’t believe this was working. “Yes, my queen.”

“Then get on your hooves.” She said. “I have work for you.”

Oboe obeyed. All she needed to do was play along until she could get away. If she could talk to Theo, he could come up with a plan to fix this.

“It is time we cashed in the Ranger Deputy’s trust in you,” Bassoon said. “He is coming here with a platoon of knights. You will work with my spriggan to deliver him to his death.”

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