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Konstantin and I followed Bekkup the muddy bank toward a massive iron door. Rust left it looking dark brown, and it creaked loudly when an ogre opened it, causing a nearby bearded vulture to squawk in protest.

Inside the palace, it was just as humid as it was outside, and moss grew on the interior walls. Slugs and snails seemed to have made themselves at home in here, and a giant spider had spun a web in the corner of a doorway.

Bekk said nothing as she led us through. Iron chandeliers dimly lit the way through the smallest palace I had been to. It reminded me more of the ruins of a castle in Ireland I’d seen in textbooks than of an active palace where trolls lived and worked.

A set of stairs ran along the side of the wall, jutting out from the stone with no railing or wall to keep one from falling over the other side. Bekk went up them, so Konstantin and I followed her.

At the top of the landing there were three heavy wooden doors, and Bekk pushed one of them open. It was a small room, with a dingy-looking bed, a metal toilet and sink in one corner. There were bars on the only window to prevent an escape, though bugs and birds could come and go as they pleased.

“You will wait here until I come get you,” Bekk instructed us.

“Will that be soon?” I asked.

“It will be whenever the Queen decides,” Bekk replied curtly.

Since we had no other choice, Konstantin and I went into the room. As soon as we did, Bekk shut the door loudly behind us, and we heard the sound of locks sliding into place. Just to be sure, Konstantin tested the door, and it didn’t budge. We were trapped inside.

“Does this make us prisoners, then?” I asked.

Konstantin sighed. “It does seem that way.”



There was blackness, and then strong hands were on me, closing in, crushing me. I didn’t remember anything before that, but all I knew was that I had to fight if I wanted to survive. I lashed out, hitting everything I could until I registered Konstantin’s voice, crying out in pain.

“Bryn!” he shouted.

And slowly, the world came into focus. Early morning sunlight streamed in through the open window of our cell. Konstantin stood with his back pressed against the wall, wedged in the constricted spot between where I knelt on the bed and the mossy stone behind him.

I blinked at Konstantin, trying to understand what was happening, and without warning he lunged at me, grabbing my wrists and pinning me back on the bed.

“What are you doing?” I growled and tried to push him back with my legs.

“What are you doing?” he shot back, his face hovering just above mine as he stared down at me. “You started attacking me.”

“I did not,” I replied instantly, but then realized that I actually did remember hitting at something. So I corrected myself. “If I did, I was just protecting myself. What did you do?”

“You were moaning and freaking out, twitching your legs like a dog having a bad dream,” he explained, his expression softening from accusatory to concerned. “I thought something might be wrong, so I put my hand on your arm—just to check on you—and you went ballistic.”

I lowered my eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.” He let go of my wrists and moved over so he was sitting next to me. “Are you okay now?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I sat up more slowly and ran my hand through my tangles of hair.

Since there was only the one bed—a narrow, lumpy double mattress on a rusted iron bed frame—Konstantin and I had decided to share it last night. I’d honestly considered the floor, but there were centipedes and bugs of all kinds crawling all over it, and while the bed probably wasn’t a much safer bet, I knew I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep on the floor.

I’d slept as near to the edge as possible, rigidly on my side, and I was acutely aware of every breath he took and every time he shifted. Five years ago, if someone had told me that I’d share a bed with Konstantin Black, I would’ve been too excited to believe it, but now I had no idea what to think about any of this.

“What was the bad dream about?” Konstantin asked.

“I don’t remember,” I said honestly, but most of my nightmares were variations of Kasper dying, or of Kennet dying, or of me killing Cyrano, or of Ridley being ripped from my arms. None of them were pleasant to recall.

I got up and slid between Konstantin and the wall to the larger area of the room. My hair tie was around my wrist, and I pulled back my hair into a ponytail. My stomach rumbled, reminding me that it had been nearly twenty-four hours since the last time I’d eaten, and I had no idea when I’d eat again.

So, without anything better to do, I dropped to the floor and began doing push-ups. My jeans and tank top were both splattered with mud that had dried and become stiff, but I was hoping the more I moved, the more mud I’d lose.

“What are you doing?” Konstantin asked.

“I’m not just gonna sit and wait for the Queen to summon us. Assuming she ever does summon us.” I looked up at him as I worked out. “Besides, we might have to fight our way out of here.”

“And you think those extra twenty push-ups will help you fight off an ogre like that Torun guy?” he asked with a smirk.

“I’m doing a hundred,” I grunted but didn’t argue with him.

In truth, I had no idea how we could possibly escape from here. The Omte were much too strong for us to fight hand-to-hand. If they wanted us trapped in this tower forever, then that was what would probably happen.