We all know the stories of The Wilds. There are areas that look untouched by time and others that might once have been populated but now stand deserted. There are tales of fierce creatures and even fiercer savage humans. They say the fae sends the dark ones into The Wilds, but they also say some of the most gifted fae have marched in to try to tame it. But, they are The Wilds. You may enter one day and come out three years from now even if only a Wild day has passed. Or perhaps you’ll emerge before you were even born, before your mother was even an idea. The Wilds are dangerous, but, to my sister, the absolute perfect place to begin her adventures.
Camille bristled all the way to the front doors. After her sister had breezed in to the kitchens, right past her, with hardly a word and two ducks nearly falling out of her basket, she’d felt a little resentful of that Madeline. Their stepsister was getting more of Abigail than Camille was, and she thought her sister was with her in standing against Muriel. But she’d simply gone back to scrubbing the walls. Just perhaps a tad harder than she should have.
And then Muriel had had the gall to call her to the great hall like some kind of servant. Her father would definitely be hearing about this.
Camille took a deep breath in the shadows of the narrow side hallway before stepping out into the great hall, the chandelier lit and glistening, turning the walls gold and making the floor sparkle. Muriel couldn’t possibly want Camille to do the floor or the chandelier or both again. Could she?
Muriel was standing by the door, a frown on her lips and a thoughtful look in her eyes. As always she was unfashionably attired in a number of voluminous skirts and the tightest bodice she’d worn yet. There was lace at her low neckline and at the cuffs of her sleeves and pearls sewn along the waistline. The one appealing thing was the single color: a pale blue that was actually pleasing to the eye. But her hair, twisted into a heavy braid resting over one shoulder, was still heavily powdered and her face bore almost too many layers of cosmetics.
In her hand, though, rhythmically tapping against the palm of her other hand, was a small cream card. There was writing on it, but Camille wasn’t close enough to read it.
She strode out into the bright lights of the chandelier, her head high. Her slippers whispered over the floor, so Muriel didn’t notice her until she was practically breathing down her neck, trying not to crane around all the material her stepmother was swathed in to read the card.
“Don’t do that,” Muriel snapped, turning and nearly smacking Camille with the card.
Camille only gave her a bored look and raised an eyebrow. “I take it the floors are not shiny enough or the chandelier isn’t bright enough? Or perhaps the walls are not gold enough. I suppose the markets might have some gold flecks.”
Muriel scowled for a split second before she hastily smoothed it away, still tapping away with the card.
“There’s a request for you,” Muriel said, practically spitting the words out. Camille briefly regretted her decision to get so uncomfortably close to Muriel. “From the Duchess Murant.”
Camille only blinked, bored, at Muriel while the other woman narrowed her eyes as she continued to wait for a response.
“Well?” Muriel snapped.
“Well what?” Camille asked in her best off hand manner. If she thought she could get away with it, she would have studied the nails of one hand. But she wasn’t interested in pushing Muriel too much. No need to accidentally draw attention to Abigail. “You will have to tell me what the Duchess wants of me.”
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