Episode 6 Chapter 27

“That’s her!” the fury said, her arm wrapped in bandages. “She’s the one that turned on us!”

Oboe made a break for the door, but was cut off by rows of pointed spears. She readied her sword, eyeing for another way out.

“I don’t think so.” Bassoon flicked her wrist, and the conjured sword evaporated in Oboe’s hands. Her arms were wrenched back as spriggans piled on her. Oboe swung to throw them off, but more piled on until she was pinned down. She thrashed on her knees, grunting and growling, unable to pull herself free. Iron shackles were forced onto her wrists, and Oboe felt the magic inside her fall silent.

“The human too,” Bassoon said. “No more mistakes!”

Oboe felt Theo crawl deeper into her hair. He was smart enough to keep quiet. “He’s not here!” She said. “He’s already gone! He’s going to tell everyone your awful plans!”

The Fair Lady rolled her eyes. She snapped her fingers and Oboe felt Theo shoot out of her mane. He spun, floating and squirming through the air until he hung in front of Bassoon. With a tap, Theo fell naked to the floor in his true body. It startled Oboe to see him without his clothes. He was so slender, pale and hairless. The scars across his chest reminded her how easy it would be for him to die.

He groaned. “…Oboe?” The spriggan seized him before he could come to his senses.

“Don’t hurt him!” Oboe said. She lurched as Bassoon yanked her chains.

“What am I to do with you?” Bassoon sidled along the length of the chain to peer down at her granddaughter. “I offer you your name, a place at my feet, and still I catch you conspiring against me.” She sighed, and handed the chain to her spriggan. “My mercy is wasted on you. It seems the old wisdom is still best. No good can come from a bad seed.”

“Let us go!!” Oboe shouted as she was dragged out into the grand hall of the palace alongside Theo. She wrestled with her shackles, but it was no use.

Bassoon smirked. “Why should I, when I can make examples of you?” She gestured toward the upper floors overlooking them. Crowds of Titled fairies watched with mixed emotions from the balconies above. Fife was among them.

“My fair folk.” Bassoon spread her arms wide. Oboe and Theo were forced onto their knees on either side of her. “There is no more need for alarm. The intruders, and the traitor, have been captured. It is time to decide how their stories end.”

“You’re the traitor!” Theo said. “We have been allies for a thousand years, but you mean to stage a coup!”

Bassoon struck Theo across the face, knocking him down. Oboe winced as he rolled across the marble floor, trailing a trickle of blood. “Do not presume to speak, human. You kneel in the Court of the Fey. We are the Third Born! The Mother’s last and perfect children. Made to punish humanity. You are our prey, and nothing more.”

“No!” Oboe stood up. “Shut up! I’m sick of you!” Their lives were in danger. She needed to stop, but she couldn’t. “Humans are creatures, just like us! You don’t get to hurt them just because you want to! I never should’ve listened to you! You’re wicked, and you made me wicked too! The sort of wicked all the humans are scared of! We could all be friends, REAL friends! But we can’t because of terrible, rotten people like you!!” Oboe looked up toward the Titled. “Bassoon wants to invade the capital! There’s a whole army waiting! You need to stop her!”

The Titled did not so much as murmur. Bassoon chuckled.

“Please!” Oboe searched their faces, but found no concern. “We don’t have to be like her! We can’t let this happen!”

“What is this prattle?” Bassoon wrapped her hands around Oboe’s shoulders, nails biting into her shoulders. “Do you think you can turn a single one of them against me? Look at them. Every one of them owes me their comfort, their luxury. They will do nothing.”

Oboe’s eyes found Fife’s. She begged him without words. He held her gaze, and then turned away. Her heart broke.

“They are better than loyal,” Bassoon said. “They are afraid.”

Her fingers twisted, and ripped Oboe’s mantle off her body. The crowd recoiled in disgust, and all the shame of being nameless flooded back.

“This fairy has no name!” Bassoon spoke to the nobles. “She is no fey, but a curse! There is no place in the Circle for this one! May she only know scorn and suffering!”

It was no easier hearing the words a second time. She shouldn’t care. It shouldn’t have stung, but it did. Oboe let out a shaky breath. Bassoon strutted out in front of her, and Theo was forced onto his knees.

“I will pass my judgment.” Bassoon said. “A clean death is too good for them. They will be tortured until their bodies give out. Then their bodies will be hung in this hall, to serve as reminder of why no one may cross the Queen of the Fairies.”

“My lady.” Épée crept closer. “It will take time to stitch the hole in the labyrinth. Do you want a guard posted to prevent another escape?”

Bassoon waved the spriggan Captain away. “There is no need of that. Have them taken to my chambers.” She ran a finger along Theo’s bleeding cheek. “I’d like to savor this.”

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