Finally made it to the end! It only took about a year and a month and, apparently 161 parts to tell the story, but Sisters of String and Glass is finally finished. The first draft, at least. I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for reading and coming on this journey with me. It means everything to me.
One day, I went back to Olidan Manor. It was still referred to as such, but the sign on the front now declared it as the Thomas Marksworth Safe Home, dedicated specifically to those who would have once been cast out onto the streets. They had made good use of the house and land, and it was always a pleasure to see Thomas hard at work at what gave him happiness, a handsome man by his side. But, on my request, Camille’s rooms were not touched. I still hoped she would come home one day. It was there, on the bed she used to sleep in, that I tried again. I lifted the sea glass to my lips and sighed, “Camille? It’s been years, but I still hope to hear your voice. Please answer me.” I, of course, didn’t expect an answer, but then I heard it. My sister’s voice called out, “Abigail, I’m here. Well, I’m still there, but I’m coming home.”
It was, Abigail had to admit, the perfect day for her sister to take her leave of the Glass Kingdom. Or, at least, the city. Not even Camille knew where she was headed, but it wasn’t to return to the city, to the markets, to the bookstore they had loved going to with their mother, to the pink sands of the beach where they used to stand to say farewell at dawn to their late father.
The sun was warm and shining brightly as it crawled up the sky. Summer would be swiftly approaching, and Abigail could not coerce her sister to stay any longer.
After all, Abigail had married Adrian just a few short weeks before, had been crowned Queen, after the late King and Queen and the Count Olidan had been laid to rest. It had been a somber time full of grief and rebuilding, of calling back as many city residents as they could. At first, they had come in trickles, apprehensive about what they would find. But, once they learned the estates of a certain councilor and a certain general, who had reluctantly admitted to being the one who had poisoned the King and for conspiring with Madeline, had been sold off to pay for all the rebuilding, they had returned in droves.
The city was still being repaired and rebuilt. There wasn’t much actual commerce happening again just yet, but the men and women who had taken it upon themselves to help rebuild the city were doing incredible business. It was very satisfying to Abigail and Adrian when they took their weekly walks through the city.
As for Olidan Manor, after Muriel had been extracted and imprisoned, Camille had declared she was not interested in becoming the Countess Olidan. Abigail had to admit, to herself if to no one else, that it broke her heart to see their line, their home, end. After all, Camille was giving it up and Abigail was Queen, ready to start a new royal line. But Adrian had taken Abigail’s hand, had told her about a man named Thomas Marksworth, had told her their plans. At that, Abigail had been more than happy to agree.
But her heart still ached. The kitchens, which had taken in much of the kitchen staff from Olidan Manor, were buzzing with activity, preparing to send as much food as possible with Camille. The stables were preparing a lovely mare for Camille to travel with. The seamstresses, sans Clarice as she had gone to the linked world, were preparing a travel wardrobe fit for a queen.
Camille said it was too much, complained Abigail was trying to turn her solitary adventuring into a royal caravan. Abigail had giggled nervously, not sure what had given her away. She did not want to see her older sister wander off into the world without everything she could provide to make it as comfortable as possible.
“It’s not supposed to be comfortable,” Camille had complained, throwing herself across the bed in the royal chambers that Abigail had once been kidnapped from. Abigail had been glad to move from it into the Queen’s chambers, and had been nervous when Camille had been assigned to these dreadful, haunted rooms. “I’m going on an adventure, Gail. I want to explore the world. My pockets are full of Olidan coin. I’ll want for nothing.”
“Please just humor me,” Abigail had pled. “I’ve already lost everyone else. I don’t want to lose my sister, too, if I can’t provide everything she might need.”
Camille had waved her hand. “Don’t worry. The armory is preparing a very nice sword and dagger set for me.”
Abigail had rolled her eyes. “Yes, because that’s all you need,” she’d said drily.
“For adventuring, yes.”
Abigail had sighed. “At least the Murants talked Andalissa out of going with you.”
Camille had giggled. “Oh, she wasn’t happy about that! But she’s the only one set to inherit Murant Holdings, so she can’t. Duty and responsibility and all that.”
Yes, duty and responsibility. Camille had shirked all of that, but Murant Holdings was another matter. Abigail had tried the same line of reasoning, but Camille had signed the papers before telling her. Besides, Murant Holdings was the historical home of the royal line; it could not be given up, nor could Andalissa, in good faith, give it up to a cousin who would take care of it (they all knew how dreadful the royal line was between her and the Olidans).
Now she stood in the sunshine, Adrian on one side and Kyanan on the other, watching Camille look over her mare and secure the straps keeping her supplies tied down tight. A sheath swing from her waist as she walked around her horse, sturdy boots stepping quietly on the cobblestones.
Abigail couldn’t take it anymore. “Are you sure you’re ready?” she blurted out. “You can stay longer.”
Camille smiled and walked over, placing her hands on her sister’s arms. “I know you’ll worry, but I’m ready for an adventure, just like I’ve always wanted. You know that. If I keep putting it off, you’ll have your first child, and then your second, and your third, and I’ll never get out of here.”
Abigail bit her lip. Her sister wasn’t wrong. Nor was she wrong on the number of children she and Adrian had planned: the heir, the spare, and the one just in case the first two ran away. There was precedent for that, and they were trying hard to cover their bases without exhausting Abigail with childbirth.
Tears pricking her eyes, Abigail threw her arms around Camille. “I’ll miss you. Keep in touch with the glass.”
“Already ahead of you,” Camille whispered. “I went this morning to hunt down a whole stash of sea glass and raided a seamstress’s basket for too many yards of string. You’ll be coming on this adventure with me, just from the safety of a castle.”
Abigail laughed, but it was a little watery. “Sisters of string and glass?”
“Always,” Camille said with a smile. “They’ve helped us out more than once.”
“I will miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too. But I need to go now. Before the sun goes down.”
Abigail laughed and swiped the tears from her eyes. “Go, then. Be safe, Camille.”
Camille touched the sea glass hanging proudly around her neck, bared for all to see. “Always. You’ll hear from me tonight, and every night.”
“I’d better. Go have your adventures, Camille, but come home one day.”
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