(Continues from Pinhole Princess)
The Queen of Air and Darkness’ palace sprawled. Corridors twisted, corkscrewed, dead-ended and split without regard to logic or gravity. Decorated in black and white, the design changed, reacting to the queen’s moods. And so did the tunnels. They shifted and moved the chambers radiating off them and their doors.
Today the Queen was frustrated. So every six step tilted the corridor and shuffled its place in time and space. All this twisting about irked the Pinhole Princess who was trying to reach her destination. She grimaced as the white walls blackened and the black stripes contracted into dots.
“How are can we find the door we need when everything keeps shifting?” She glanced at her brother plodding along in his icy armor.
“We’re getting close.”
“How can you tell?”
He held out his arm and his melting vambrace dripped on the fleur-de-lis blossoming on the carpet. The winter queen kept her piece of Faerie under layers of permafrost.
“I don’t feel any warmer.” The Pinhole Princess rubbed her bare arms feeling the gooseflesh. Under her silk gown, the layers of crinoline puffing out the skirt did nothing to warm her.
Distrusting her brother’s assessment, she extended needles from her fingertips and punched pinholes in the polka dot wall so her light, and her sight, could penetrate. She blinked at a glacier nestled in a lake. Mountains surrounded the water. Now to make a door instead of traipsing around searching for one. Before she could pull her hand down and allow her magic to slice open an exit, her brother caught her wrist. His ice gauntlet froze her skin on contact numbing her hand. And her magic recoiled, burrowing deep inside her offering her no warmth. There was none this deep in winter. Her pins retracted.
“Don’t. She’ll know. ” His pale eyes begged her to be reasonable from the slit in his frosty helm.
She nodded as her hand numbed in his grip. He released her.
“Come on. There’s a door here somewhere. Not even she can remove it, just hide it.”
He led the way. And the polka dots extruded arms, becoming stelliferous as the queen’s mood shifted. The corridor curved 180 degrees widdershins in a lazy arc to reveal the promised door. Her brother approached and glanced out the Judas window before opening it.
Cold air stung her bare arms and she shivered as she followed him. Their breath steamed in the air and froze, raining ice crystals in their wake. Hugging the jagged shoreline, she shuffled along wincing as her toes froze. Silk ballet slippers were a poor choice for trekking around a tundra. Out in the lake’s middle, the iceberg’s majestic profile glittered. And she felt eyes upon her. Was it the frigid home of the icedrake?
Apparently it was. Her brother commandeered a boat and rowed them out to it. She huddled hugging herself, cringing as the wind howled past her, stealing her warmth. Maybe the icedrake’s lair would be warmer. And maybe his price for the aid he’d lent would require a trip to somewhere tropical.
To be continued …