- Crystal Kingdom
I’ve been thinking that you might be the lucky one because you’re not here. The town is on lockdown. No one can leave or come back. There’s a curfew. (But that worked to my advantage last night, because Delilah couldn’t go home or she’d risk getting brought in for questioning, so she spent the night with me.)
You would be going crazy if you were here. That’s something that you can take comfort in, at least. You’re avoiding all the madness.
Today, the Queen appointed a new Chancellor to take your father’s place. She said this isn’t the proper time for an election, but with everything that’s happening, they need someone doing the job.
There should’ve been an uproar. The Queen removed the people’s only voice in our political process by cutting out the election. But nobody made a peep. We’ve all just accepted our fate.
In slightly better news, your parents are fine—they’re making do with your father’s pension, which the kingdom is apparently still paying. For now. Tilda is holding up okay. Or as well as one would expect given the circumstances.
Oh! I do have good news for you!
Tilda and I were walking through the town square this morning to get breakfast. (I try to get her out of her apartment at least once a day.) I saw Ridley on the other side of the square, walking through a crowd.
He didn’t look well, I’ll be honest with you, but he was free. He was walking without guards. I called his name and waved to him, but he never looked my way. I wanted to run over to him, but Tilda stopped me.
“He heard you, Ember. I don’t think he wants to be noticed right now,” she said.
But she promised me that she would stop by his place tonight.
I just can’t wait for this all to be over.
The snow has been melting, and it’s been doing this weird cold drizzle thing all day. All the posters they’d had up were getting destroyed by the elements, so the Högdragen were out replacing them. The good news is that they took down the WANTED posters of you.
The bad news is that they replaced them with a reward being offered for anyone who knows anything in connection to the King’s death. With the King being dead, he can’t always be watching us anymore, so they replaced those with black and white posters of Queen Mina, looking twice as severe as Evert ever did.
The only thing it says is I AM ALWAYS WATCHING YOU, but somehow I believe it more than I did the King.
Your friend (no matter what),
For a moment, there was only the shock of hearing that the King was dead.
To someone outside of the troll community, it would be hard to explain what it felt like to learn that the King was dead. The best I can come up with is to find out that the President and your favorite pop star had been killed at the same time, along with the Pope and the Queen of England.
It’s this mixture of impossibility—even though Kings die all the time, they still have this bizarre sense of immortality to them. Then there’s the reverence and loyalty. Despite our differences, Evert was my King, and I had sworn to protect him.
The wind felt like it had been knocked out of me, and I actually had to hold on to the dresser for support.
“Bryn?” Konstantin asked, moving closer to catch me if I needed it. “Are you okay?”
And that was enough to snap me out of it. I glared up at him, and there must’ve been something harsh in my eyes because Konstantin took a step back.
“Why is Viktor still calling you?” I asked, my voice a low hiss. “Why did he think you’d want to know that the King was dead?”
“I told you that I’d defected, and that’s true.” He hesitated. “But they don’t know it yet.”
“You lying asshole!” I shouted at him. “How could I have been stupid enough to trust you?”
“Bryn, it’s not like that.”
I turned away from him to start packing my bag. “Don’t try to sell me your shit anymore, Konstantin. I’m not buying it.”
“I did it to protect you!” he insisted.
I looked back at him in disbelief. “Fuck you.” And then I couldn’t control my rage anymore, so I lunged at him.
He grabbed my wrist before I could hit, and when I tried to kick him, he grabbed my other wrist and pushed me back, slamming me into the wall harder than he needed to. He held me there like that, pinning my wrists beside my head, and his body pressed against me, still wet from the shower.
“Let go of me,” I growled, too angry to think properly about how to get out of the hold. I just wanted to hit something, preferably his handsome face.
“No! You have to calm down and listen to me!”
“I don’t have to do anything you tell me!” I shot back.
“Bryn!” Konstantin yelled in exasperation. “Just listen to me for five minutes, and I’ll let you go, and then you can do whatever the hell you want.”
I grimaced and fought against his grip. His legs were pressed against mine in a way that made it impossible for me to kick. So I finally relented, since I didn’t have a choice.
“Viktor sent me to find you and kill you,” Konstantin explained. “He thinks you know too much about what’s going on, and if you find someone that might believe you, he and Mina are screwed.”
“So when are you planning on killing me?” I asked.
“I already told you—if I was going to kill you, I would’ve done it by now,” he said, meeting my gaze evenly. “I went after you to keep you safe and because I didn’t want to keep doing what they were doing. I’m done with Viktor and his men, but if I tell them that, he’ll send people after us both and kill us. You can’t just quit Viktor’s army.”