Sisters of String and Glass, Part 124

Chapter Thirty – continued

The halls were busy, cluttered with the castle’s staff, soldiers, and wandering citizens. With a great deal of nodding and smiles, she finally made it to her rooms, the only place she felt safe speaking with her sister through the glass.

“Camille?” she said, clasping the glass close to her mouth.

“Something strange is going on with Muriel and Madeline.”

Abigail’s brows rose. “Isn’t there always something strange going on with them?”

“This is different,” Camille insisted, her words more forceful than Abigail expected.

Abigail sank down onto her bed, having retreated into the bedchamber for as much privacy as possible. Even though the royal wing was nearly empty, castle staff still worked to keep fires burning on the cooler days, sheets clean, and surfaces dusted.

“How, exactly?” Abigail asked wearily.

“I don’t think Muriel and Madeline are mother and daughter.”

“So you’ve told me.”

“I think Muriel has spent some time in the linked world.”

“That’s not a crime,” Abigail pointed out. “Grandfather did as well.”

“Muriel mentioned coming back here to get rid of her and Madeline’s mother and father.”

Abigail drew in a sharp breath. “Sisters, then.”

“Perhaps. It certainly sounded that way.”

Abigail couldn’t help the chill that ran down her spine. “Are you sure she said she got rid of their mother and father?”

“Absolutely.”

“Do you know how?” she asked, dread dripping through her voice.

“No,” Camille said quietly. “Abigail, you must be careful.”

“I’m in the castle. And you showed Adrian the door you came in through, so it’s guarded now.”

“Still. Be careful. Who knows what those two are capable of.”

Abigail took a deep breath, finally becoming aware of her nails digging into her palms with how tightly she was balling them. She could almost hear her mother gently admonish her for her unladylike behavior, but she was in the privacy of her own rooms, and she was the future Queen.

“Anything else?”

Camille hesitated, making Abigail’s heartbeat flutter. Involuntarily, she found herself holding her breath, afraid of what was going to come out of her sister’s mouth next.

“Is there someone called Ephraim in the castle?”

Abigail froze. Her tongue felt heavy as she asked, “Why?”

“Madeline received a note from an Ephraim. It said all was ready and, when Madeline was ready, to send a sign.”

“Do you have any idea what it referred to?”

“No,” Camille said slowly.

Abigail bit her lip. “It could be innocent. Maybe she and Muriel are trying to escape the Glass Kingdom. Perhaps they’re planning on going to the linked world.”

There was silence. Then, “Abigail, is there an Ephraim in the castle?”

“Yes,” Abigail said softly. “An elderly man. I believe he is a former councilor to the King.” She paused. “I just met him. He came by the kitchens. It was very odd. He didn’t say much; just looked me up and down, mostly.”

“If he’s the Ephraim who sent the message to Madeline, they must be working together for something and it can’t be good.” She paused. “Perhaps that’s why she was in the castle, and she just couldn’t resist seeking out Adrian.”

Abigail sighed. “I’ll be careful, Camille. I’ll let Adrian know I’m ready for the guards he’s been badgering me about taking on.”

“Good,” Camille said. “Go take care of that right away.”

Abigail sighed again. “Yes, Mother.”

Camille tsked. “The fact you’re going to be Queen one day must be getting to your head, Gail. Such flippancy!”

Abigail groaned. “I’m safer here than you are in that snake pit.”

“True, but Muriel and Madeline aren’t trying to get rid of me as hard as they’re trying to get rid of you. Madeline still wants Adrian and, to get to him, she has to get rid of you.”

“Yes, I know,” Abigail said quietly. “I’ll speak with Adrian as soon as he has a minute.”

“Or, better yet, Kyanan.”

“She’s just as busy these days.”

Abigail could hear the exasperation in her sister’s voice. “Just make sure you get those guards as quickly as you can.”

“I will,” Abigail promised.

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