(Continues from His Regret)
She punched pinholes in Faerie’s dark film to let the light shine through. And sometimes she peered through the holes her pins made. Sitting cross-legged the girl with the thistle-down hair put her eye to a tiny hole. It was a mere pinprick and shouldn’t even register to the vicious creatures dancing below.
She was no femme fatale, not cropped and framed as she was in layers of crinoline and lace. Squatting in the corner behind the divan, she felt filthy from spying on the Court. But she had to do it. The groaning, fevered heap on the snowy velvet behind her required it. Her visitor was a human plucked from a plantation to receive care for his wounds. Hurts he’d taken in her stead when he’d helped her escape his masters.
Why had he interfered? She shook her head. That part didn’t make sense. Nothing those addlepated fools could have done would have harmed her. Not once she’d crossed back over to Faerie. She was Fae, and no mere mortal could harm her, but they could try.
The pinhole she looked though started to close up, so she poked another one. Her new aperture framed the Cutaneous Court and she shuddered. That queer lot cavorted about clad in the skins of their adversaries. Today’s fashion choice included the stippled skins of the were-snow leopards and two trolls. All sewn into ridiculous costumes that delighted the Neolithic Queen of Air and Darkness.
That evil creature slumped on her onyx throne like a beached whale nibbling bonbons. The Queen’s darkness stained the ballroom and seeped through the pinhole into her eye. She blinked but the taint remained, inking her traitorous eye. Falling backward, she screamed and thrashed on the ground. Cold infiltrated the affected spot.
Her brother, an Ice Knight to the Queen of all that was vile, removed his finger, and she blinked at the hand he extended. “Don’t spy anymore.”
“Why not? That bitch makes me want to shine my pinhole lights at her and stab them in her eyes.” She raised hands crooked into claws and radiant pins extended from them. If she could just get close enough to that bloated worm, she’d scratch out that bitch’s eyes. Erasing Queen Noir would excise her evil and all her ilk from Faerie. Breathing hard, she retracted her pins and felt them slide back into their warm slots in her wrists.
“I know,” he said, his gray eyes caught and held hers. “And I’d help you, but right now we have larger problems.”
She accepted the hand he extended to her, and he pulled her up. “What problems?”
“The ice-drake we used to rescue him wants a bribe.” Her brother jerked his thumb at their suffering patient.
Sweat beaded the black human’s brow; it slid in glistening streams down his ebony face. Against the snowy silk, his lustrous skin was as rich as the most decadent of chocolates. She sighed. Acquiring that confection had been her plan until she’d gotten caught. Damn those humans and their monopoly on chocolate. A pox on those blasted cocoa beans which refused to grow in Faerie. But the court was addicted to that candy, and she needed it for bribes.
Seeing the man who’d helped her brought so low ignited her temper. She owed his whip-happy foreman a visit, but that would have to wait. “What bribe do we owe that foul-breathed sneak?”
“Something that must be harvested only on the shortest night of the year.” He blew out a breath already exasperated by the whole affair. “It wouldn’t tell me what, though. You’ll have to pay it a visit and ask.”
Dusting herself off, she straightened her skirts and headed for the door. “Then I’ll go to the stables and inquire now. Best not to put this off since we may need that creature’s help again.”
Pausing at the keyhole-shaped door, she glanced at their patient. He’d just have to be alright until she returned.
“I’m coming with you. I can’t have that beast eat the only family I have left.”
She whirled around in sudden fear. Her brilliant pins wouldn’t even penetrate an ice-drake’s hide. “You think it’ll come to that?” Her voice didn’t waver. Inside she quaked with fear at the idea of becoming dinner for something.
In answer, her brother touched a jeweled bracelet around his wrist and ice armored him. Before her stood a knight of Air and Darkness. But through the frosted slits of his helm, her brother’s soft gray eyes regarded her. His gauntleted hand clasped hers applying gentle pressure as he pulled the door open.
She turned as the door settled into its jamb. “Door, let no one enter.”
Sealant wept out of the jamb and filled the crack in between. Extending her pins again, she poked discreet holes in the sealant and her light filled them. Waving a hand over her work, she disguised both the holes and the radiant pins she’d left. If that seal deformed to let anyone inside, she’d know. Nodding at her work, she turned to follow where her brother led. Let no one disturb their guest.
to be continued…