Sisters of String and Glass, Part 145

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Life was dizzying, but fascinating for my sister. Or so she said. The years she spent dressing in strange clothing and letting people take photos of her always seemed to leave her breathless as she described it all in detail. Fame came with it, but, eventually, she began to long for the quieter days, the days spent back here, so she headed back to Roderick Manor, only to find herself locked out.

The King passed the morning after he had been brought back to the castle. It had been a long night Adrian had spent by his side, his aunt’s nails digging into his hand as she also attempted to crush his bones. Her heartbroken sobs had broken his own heart, had made him long for Abigail, but she was dealing with her own grief.

Every hour, a serving girl quietly came to him to inform him of whether Abigail had awoken, whether Abigail had eaten. Until midnight, when a serving girl reported Abigail had requested some time in peace. It had been difficult to acquiesce to, but he did know Abigail, knew how much she needed time to herself.

So he’d curled his hand around his aunt’s and had stayed put, keeping vigil over his uncle.

In the early hours of the morning, his aunt had finally collapsed onto the bed, her sleep deep, but restless, her hand still clasped around her husband’s as he fought through the deadly poison. Adrian, too, had managed a couple of hours of fitful sleep, but, by the time the sun began to rise in all its glory, the King had begun to thrash.

His aunt had cried out, horrified and devastated. In a single moment of lucidity, Gray had looked at his wife, had calmed for just a moment, but hadn’t managed to get anything other than a strangled breath out. Then his hand had tightened around hers before it suddenly fell limp.

Adrian had only a moment’s notice before his aunt had collapsed into his arms, her wails deafening as fresh tears soaked through his shirt. He’d held tightly to her, numb and frozen.

Now Adrian clutched the back of the chair in his study. The golden morning light streamed in through windows that hadn’t felt sunlight in too long, but his head was bent and he didn’t care to notice.

His aunt had been clear: she was withdrawing and Adrian was King. His coronation would be that day, just as her husband had wanted in order to secure the crown and throne and for continuity of reign, especially in times of war.

An uneasy peace had fallen between the Glass Kingdom and the Pearl Kingdom in the space of a day. Reports had filtered onto his desk telling of the mer people doing little more than staring at the ships and the crew of those ships doing little more than staring back. News of the deaths of the mermaid princess and the Glass King had spread quickly as solemn bells tolled the losses for all across the waves to hear.

The Pearl Kingdom King and Queen were making their way to the Glass Kingdom, for retrieval of their daughter’s body and negotiations, and Adrian had commanded a royal escort. All other ships were to return to port and no mer were to be touched. He didn’t know what the Pearl King had commanded of his people, but he hoped the ships would be allowed to return without coming to any harm.

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