Chapter Forty – continued
Camille clenched her hands, unmindful of the fact her mother would have called it unladylike. After all, this was a very unladylike position and situation she had found herself in. She was also very far from dressing like a lady; Madeline had done a better job than she had, though Camille would never admit it. She also hated having to defer to Adrian, hated not being able to rescue her sister right away.
A soft touch to her shoulder startled her and she whipped her head around, only to find herself staring in the Pearl Queen’s eyes. They were a light aquamarine, intense and swirling with power.
“We can help,” she said, the sound of waves crashing in her voice. Overhead, dark clouds scuttled and gathered, dimming the light. “Count to three and then yell for your people to get down.”
Camille creased her brow, one ear still listening to Adrian and Madeline, but the sound of steel clearing a sheath had fear spiking through her. She quickly nodded, and the Queen held up one finger.
Silently, Camille counted, turning back to the scene before her. Madeline had unsheathed her sword, but Adrian was just as quick and the ring of steel meeting steel rang through the clearing. Cold air began to gather, stirring a softly growing wind, but everyone’s attention was on Madeline and Adrian.
Quickly, Camille shifted her eyes and met Violet’s. “Get down!” she yelled, falling to the ground herself.
A wind howled through the clearing. A sudden, whipping downpour drenched all of them, falling at a deep slant with the wind. Screams filled the air as branches snapped and flew through the air. Camille covered her head, her nose in the thick grass that had grown up around the tower. She only hoped Adrian was safe as she heard Madeline scream, before the gale carried her voice far away.
She wasn’t sure how long it lasted. Seconds. Minutes. Days. All she knew was that she was soaked through and shivering. It was, after all, still winter, even if spring was working hard to poke through. Her body trembled and she clenched her teeth closed to keep them from clattering together as she waited for the wind and rain to abate.
A hand to the top of her head drew her attention. Slowly, she unwrapped herself and peered around. The water that had come with the rain had drained away, leaving a soft blanket of wetness on everything and everyone. Shaking slightly, she slowly pushed herself into a sitting position, not quite sure yet if her legs would hold her up.
It was the Queen who had tapped her. “I am sorry,” she said quietly, her voice like a gentle rolling tide. “The water had to go somewhere.”
It took Camille a few moments to understand, but, when she did, she nodded grimly. Of course the water flowed back to the ocean. Through the city. She decided to not think of what kind of destruction that had brought.
Camille looked around and saw the staff and fae she had called to the tower were wet, but otherwise fine. Several of the women were wringing out their hair and skirts while the men roughly shoved Madeline’s soldiers together now that the water had weighed down their cloaks and the wind had torn their swords and daggers right from their hands, magically managing to not hurt anyone in the process.
As for Madeline, Adrian had her at sword point, the Pearl King’s hand on his shoulder. Of them all, only the Pearl King and Queen and Adrian remained dry. Satisfaction rooted in her chest as she saw beads of water stream off Madeline, dripping into her eyes and making her blink rapidly. She was kneeling on the ground, one hand reached out towards her fallen sword, her head tilted up by the end of Adrian’s sword.
“How did you get Abigail into the tower?” Adrian demanded, his voice low and menacing.
“The shoe, Your Majesty,” Ephraim said quickly, clearly seeing a way to absolve himself of guilt.
Camille watched with fascination as Adrian leveled his gaze at the former councilor. It wasn’t just the King who took glee in watching the elderly man swallow hard.
“The late Count Olidan was correct,” Adrian said softly. “The old court is hereby dismissed.” He gazed up at the tower, where they could clearly see a pale Abigail standing at the window, her hands pressed to empty air. “My future Queen and I will form a new one.”
With trembling legs unsteady beneath her, Camille finally pushed herself to her feet and staggered over to Adrian. The Pearl King quickly shifted to support her and she smiled gratefully at him.
“How did you know about the shoe?” Camille asked.
The old man’s shoulders had slumped, seeing Madeline at sword point and his men surrounded by angry men and women.
“The story of the fae towers has been handed down through my family,” Ephraim finally said. “Not many remember them. When Madeline came to me, seeking help in securing a noble future for herself, I…couldn’t turn her down. She, ah, caught me in a compromising position, and I owed her for keeping quiet. I told her about the tower, about the shoe.”
“I will deal with you soon,” Adrian said, his voice quiet. He turned to Kyanan, who had managed to protect the shoe during the sudden storm. “How will the shoe get Abigail out?”
“It was magicked by the fae who escaped,” Kyanan said, coming forward. “The fae created keys to get themselves out, and back in. The castle has held this key for this tower since then. All we have to do is get it to Abigail and she can use it to open the door.”
Camille watched as Adrian appeared to heave a sigh. Then he turned to her, moving the sword point slightly. A wicked streak of glee struck her as she caught sight of the widening of Madeline’s eyes and the sudden fear slipping over her face.
“Camille, you and Kyanan get Abigail out of that thing,” Adrian said, his voice sharp and hard. “I have these two to deal with.”
“Don’t forget Muriel locked in Olidan Manor,” Camille chirped.
There was a gleam in Adrian’s eyes, one she had never seen before, one she was certain Abigail hadn’t seen before. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but he was King and his word was law.
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