Scouts spotted the Feymire forces slinking away into the Farbend before the King’s forces arrived to occupy the Fairy Circle. Their diplomats were abandoned, left in the capital to squirm. They were detained by the Knight Detectives for questioning.
“We’re going to have to redraw the maps,” Theodore said, leaning over the ramparts of the city walls. The Whirlwood was bigger now. The old spells around the Circle had died with bassoon, and space had unfolded. The Circle was no longer hidden. It was now a part of the valley just like it was hundreds of years ago. It stood out, with its palace of crysal, its shimmering lake, and sprawl of gnarled, verdant homes.
Prince Perceval joined Theodore. He seemed older now, dressed in his crown and robes. Together they stared at his changed Kingdom. “How did this happen?”
Fife stepped forward. “It’s all in the report I sent you. Forcing space to fold is costly magic. Bassoon must’ve taken a shortcut by tying the spells to her life force. It’s a common trick to save Fates. The tax payers will be furious when they hear about it.”
“No one cares!” Marla Whitesail said. Theodore had made sure the surviving knights from the investigation team were rescued and restored to human form. Though he was still worried about the spare Ranger Deputy uniform he had lost in the labyrinth which had not yet been recovered. “This was treason!” She prodded Fife in the chest. “You fairies secreted an enemy onto our doorstep! You plotted a coup! You killed Alex and Beverly! We need to teach the lot of you the Mother’s Justice! We should banish you, or lock you all up!”
Fife bristled. “Your Majesty, I implore you, do not do anything so rash. Things are volatile in the Circle now that the Fair Lady is dead. Our government is in shambles. The Titled are squabbling to take control. Seeing soldiers in our streets has everyone on edge. Fights have already broken out. My people are scared. If you enact a mass banishment, there will be panic, or revolt. We need the Fount to sustain a population of this size. We have nowhere to go.”
The prince grimaced at the situation. “Theodore, would you like to weigh in on this?”
Theodore adjusted his glasses, the spare set he didn’t like as much. “Bassoon was responsible for this, and she’s dead. With Fife’s help, we’ve secured a great deal of evidence to identify co-conspirators. The City Watch has captured all the spies we are aware of, and have disenchanted the teleportation spells they were working on. I think it would be abhorrent to punish the entire Circle for the actions of corrupt leadership. Their government is unstable. We need to install a new leader of integrity and step away once things are secure.”
“I agree,” Perceval said. Marla threw her arms up in disgust behind him. “I want you in charge of this. You have the most experience working with the Whirlwood creatures, and I know I can trust you to be even handed. Take care so our friends in the Circle stay friends.”
Theodore sighed internally. Every day this job got bigger. Nevertheless, he nodded.
“Fife,” Perceval said. “You’ve been instrumental to averting a disaster. It took bravery to do what you did. You put yourself at great risk, and I hear you are being called a traitor. I want to assure you that the crown will do everything in its power to keep you and your family safe.”
Fife’s smile was grim. He gave a proper bow. “Thank you, your majesty.”
“Theo, I’ll expect updates on your progress. This matter is a priority. Let me know anything you need to make this work,” the Prince said.
“I understand,” Theodore said. “I’ll get started as soon as I’m able. There’s just a couple things I need to take care of first.”