- Crystal Kingdom
Bain leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees. “So you think Kennet was behind everything in Storvatten? What about when you arrested Konstantin Black and Bent Stum for the crimes against the Skojare kingdom?”
“Kennet admitted to hiring them to do his dirty work,” I said, lying a little. “He wanted to be King himself, instead of his brother.”
Kennet had confirmed that he’d hired someone—he just never talked to Konstantin himself. Mina had been the intermediary, but I thought if I accused Mina of anything without substantial evidence, Queen Wendy would question everything I was saying.
I didn’t thinking aligning myself with Konstantin right now would help my case, and he was the only way I had been able to put all the pieces together. That meant that I had to leave out a few things and twist a few facts.
“But why wouldn’t Queen Mina hear you out?” Wendy asked.
“Her reasons were never made clear to me, Your Highness,” I said. “You’d have to ask her that yourself.”
Wendy leaned back in her throne and exhaled. “I don’t know what I should do with you.” She considered for a moment. “I know the Kanin would want me to return you to them so they could devise a punishment for themselves.”
“With all due respect, My Queen, if you send Bryn back to the Kanin, they will execute her,” Finn interjected. “Do you really think anything she’s done deserves execution?”
“And you have granted amnesty before,” Loki said with a sly smile, and Wendy cast him a look.
“Those were under vastly different circumstances,” she said, almost whispering.
“I am inclined to agree with Finn,” Bain said. He’d settled back in his seat and crossed his leg over his knee. “I worked with Bryn in Storvatten, and she seemed intent on serving her kingdom, not destroying it.”
“Since both Finn and the Chancellor are vouching for you, and my husband seems to think it’s a good idea, then we will grant you amnesty. For now,” Wendy said, emphasizing the fact that it could be revoked if she decided it should be. “Under one condition.”
“And what’s that?” I asked, feeling so relieved that I would’ve agreed to nearly anything at that point.
“Finn must keep an eye on you as long as you reside within the Kingdom of the Trylle.” She turned her hard gaze to him. “Any trouble that Bryn gets herself into falls on you.”
He nodded. “I understand.”
The Queen looked back at me. “The King, the Chancellor, and I will continue discussing these matters. But for the time being, you are safe and you’re free to stay here.” She smiled. “Welcome to Förening, Bryn.”
As soon as Finn opened the door to his squat cottage tucked away inside the bluffs, children dove at him—two squealing balls of delight with mops of curly hair. Both of them had mud smeared on their clothes, probably from a day spent out in the yard on the warm spring day.
Finn scooped up both of the kids with ease, holding one in each arm. I’d met them before, at Ember’s house, since Finn tried to visit his family whenever he had a chance. Hanna, the little girl, was about five years old, and she was babbling excitedly about the adventures she’d had that day with her mom and her brother.
The younger boy, on the other hand, was much more observant than his older sister. Liam couldn’t have been more than two, with chubby cheeks and dark brown eyes the size of saucers. He stared back at me over his dad’s shoulder, studying me intently.
Finn’s wife Mia came out from a back bedroom, shaking her head and making her ponytail bob. The long sundress she wore fell over the rapidly growing belly. It had only been a little over a month since I’d last seen her at Ember’s birthday party, but by the way she looked now, it seemed like the baby must be due soon.
“Sorry about the kids,” Mia said, offering me an embarrassed smile as she walked over to Finn and the kids.
“No, it’s fine,” Finn assured her, and gave her a quick peck on the lips.
“Since Bryn is here, I take it that the meeting went well?” Mia asked.
Finn nodded. “She’ll be staying with us for a while, but that’s what we’d planned anyway.”
“I hope it’s not too much trouble having me here,” I said.
“It’s no trouble at all.” Mia smiled. “I’ll take the kids to Liam’s room to play, and let you get settled in.” Liam allowed his mom to pick him up, but he turned his head, unwilling to take his eyes off me for a second.
And then suddenly it hit me, watching Mia and Finn with their children like that—this would’ve been Tilda’s life. This should’ve been her and Kasper, and their unborn child, but now it never would be.
Because I had failed to act fast enough, Kasper had been killed, and this whole life was ripped away from Tilda and their baby. And now I couldn’t even be with her. I couldn’t even apologize for what had happened.
It all fell on me so hard, I was afraid my knees would give way for a moment. I wanted nothing more than to collapse on the cool dirt floor and let the sadness overtake me, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t let it.
“Bryn?” Mia’s eyes widened with concern. “Are you okay?” Then she turned to her husband, sounding panicked. “Finn, I think she’s gonna pass out.”
Finn dropped Hanna quickly but safely on the floor, then hurried over to me. “Bryn?”