I visited Roderick Manor once. My husband and children were tired of the days I spent staring out the windows, playing with the glass hanging around my neck. Every day, every night, I reached out to my sister. Every day, every night, it only spit back silence. So I went to The Spindle, only to find Roderick Manor locked up. The fae had no clue what had happened or where the Rodericks had gone. One day, fae were traveling back and forth. The next day, the gates were locked.
Her mother would have admonished her, but still Abigail pressed her nose to thin air. Her breath had caught in her throat as the storm had ravaged the clearing. The Pearl King and Queen were powerful. It had been centered over the tower, but she had seen the surrounding forest was whipped around, leaves and branches torn and shredded.
The people and fae that had gathered to try to rescue her had dropped down to the ground when Camile had yelled. Camille had thrown herself to the ground. Kyanan had curled herself into a ball, protecting the glass shoe cradled in her arms. It had taken the men with swords by surprise. Many had yelped and lost their swords to the wind. But the Pearl King and Queen were skilled; the wind had plucked those swords and flown them off without harming anyone. She didn’t want to think of where they had ended up.
But her eyes had been drawn to Adrian, the Pearl King’s hand on his shoulder, and Madeline. She’d watched with horror as Madeline drew her sword just as the wind had started. But Adrian was quick and had whipped his own out to meet hers just in time. Still, Abigail refused to breathe, watching as they held like that. Terror climbed in her throat, clogging, stoppering, making it difficult to breathe.
The rain was Madeline’s downfall. With the water dripping heavily over her head and into her eyes, Abigail was certain the other woman’s sight had begun to blur. Her sword wavered and Adrian had pressed his advantage, quickly knocking it from her grasp, the magic from the Pearl Kingdom keeping the wind and rain from him.
She hadn’t breathed until Madeline was kneeling with Adrian’s sword under her chin. She couldn’t hear what Adrian had said to Camille, but she saw Camille and Kyanan head for her window.
Kyanan gestured to another woman, a fae with bright orange hair tumbling down her back in wild curls. The three women came to stand below her window and she watched with interest as Kyanan spoke a few words to the other fae and handed over the shoe.
The voice coming through her sea glass made her jump. Her cold fingers fumbled with it, and she clutched it, barely feeling the smooth planes of it as she grasped it tight.
“I’m here,” she whispered back, her voice hoarse and her mouth parched. She wasn’t quite sure how far she ought to trust the food and water that had been left with her, so hadn’t touched it.
“We’re sending a glass shoe up to you,” Camille said, her voice clipped. “It’s spelled to lock and unlock the tower. It should float in through the window and you can go down to the bottom of the tower to unlock the door.”
Abigail arched a brow, not that her sister could see. “Are you certain?”
“As certain as we can be. Give it a try.”
Abigail felt her body tremble. She was hungry, thirsty, and tired. She wanted out of the tower as quickly as possible, but, if she went down those stairs and the shoe didn’t open the door that wasn’t there, she knew she wasn’t going to make it back up.
But the shoe was already slowly levitating up to her. The clouds the Pearl King and Queen had brought had finally started to dissipate and bright sunshine caught on the glass, casting glimmers and rainbows. Abigail squinted against the bright lights and watched through narrowed eyes, her breath held, as the shoe approached the window.
It floated through effortlessly. A soft gasp escaped her as she reached out and snatched the glass shoe out of the air. She held it close to her chest, cradling it carefully so her freezing fingers wouldn’t be tempted to drop it. She had no idea how the magic worked, but, at that point, didn’t care.
She was too weak to take a moment to let her sister know she had the shoe, but she figured Camille would figure it out when she vanished from the window. Slowly, her legs trembling, she headed for the stairs she had staggered up just the night before, wishing she’d eaten more than a few bites last night.
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