Oboe spent all night screaming inside her head because she couldn’t do it the normal way. She needed a chance to get away, a chance to get word to Theo. Grandmother didn’t give her that chance. Guards kept watch hover Oboe while Bassoon prepared her trap.
The marketplace was empty. She stood alongside a troop of Spriggan waiting for Theo and his knights to enter the Circle. The scouts said he was coming any moment now.
Épée gave Oboe a side eye glare. “You know what you need to do?”
“Yeah, I do!” Oboe said, angry about it. “Grandmother told me herself!” Her voice took a mocking tone. “Take the humans to the gazebo, my sweet pet! But oh, don’t you ever be friends with them! Humans are our play things! Blah, blah, blah!”
The fury sniggered. “Good impression. Foxglove can do her laugh perfect. Or she did, anyway.” Her face sobered. “She got caught, and our Lady had all her feathers ripped out. Bottom line, don’t get caught.”
Oboe scanned the rooftops, wondering if a Whisper was nearby. “Oh.”
Épée spread her wings. “We’ll get into position. Do not let the humans know what we’re up to.” The spriggans scattered, hiding by magic or by flight. Oboe sat by the well, dreading what would happen next. She wracked her brains, wondering what to do, but all too soon Theo arrived with a bunch of tired looking knights.
“Oboe?” His eyes lit up at the sight of her. He holstered a weird human doohickey to his belt. “I didn’t expect to see you here!”
She forced the biggest, most unnatural smile she could. “The fair lady got your letter!” Her eyes darted toward the furies on the roof top, trying not to look at them. “She sure did like it! She wants me to take you to the gazebo to meet her!”
“The Fair Lady is going to help us?” Theo said. “That’s fantastic!”
Oboe tried to shake her head without moving it, managing only to vibrate in terror. She spotted a Whisper watching them from atop the rooftop behind Theo.
He raised an eyebrow. “Is something wrong?”
Oboe resumed screaming internally. “I’m fine! Please follow me!!”
Theo signaled for the knights to proceed. They walked a short distance to a small garden park where they all entered the gazebo, which was rigged so thick with runes she hoped the humans could smell it.
“I’m sorry about arguing with you at the fountain,” Theo said. His face was pained. “Do we have time? We should talk. A lot has happened.”
“Now!!” Épée shrieked. A gnome in the bushes leapt out and set off the trap. Swirls of shifting magic coiled around the gazebo.
“What’s going on?!” The humans were freaking out. “What is this?!”
It was too late. Oboe hadn’t figured out a way to stop this from happening but she had to do something. Bassoon wanted them all dead. Without thinking, she jumped inside the gazebo while the spell was unfurling.
Space unfolded and refolded around them, throttling them and churning their stomachs. Oboe imagined this was how an accordion felt when it was played. When the world felt normal again, everything had changed. The marketplace was gone. The spell had cut the whole gazebo out of space and planted it in the labyrinth.
“What just happened?!” Theo said, dazed.
“Where are we?” One of the knights shouted.
Spriggan leapt out from the shadows; Nymphs and furies armed with bronze daggers. The knights on their feet made to unsheathe their swords. One managed to dodge an incoming stab, but was grabbed from behind. There was a pop of magic, and the knight shrank away. His armor collapsed into a heap and a rabbit crawled out from the mess.
“Don’t let them touch you!” The knight leader said, swinging her sword to keep the spriggans at bay. There were too many of them. Her sword was knocked out of her hand and a pooka managed to sneak up and touch her. Her body froze in place, elf shot. The spriggan fell on the humans like a pack of wolves.
Theo backed away from the brawl, eyes wide, staring at Oboe. “Why?!”
Oboe’s face hung long. Theo was going to die. She grabbed him by the shoulders, eyes filled with tears.
Her magic pulsed through her hands. A sick, guilty convulsion of pleasure hit her as Theo vanished. His uniform fell to the floor in a heap.