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“Yes, Your Majesty.” Duncan hurried over to help her, but as he dashed past me, he shot me an apologetic smile.

I just shook my head. I don’t know what else he could’ve done. The Vittra had tried to kill me, Finn, Tove, my brother, pretty much every person I cared about, and Loki was one of them. I shouldn’t be defending the Vittra at all, but Loki was different.

While I agreed that him turning up here did seem suspicious, he’d done nothing to justify torture. I wasn’t for letting him run wild, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to find out what he was doing here before I locked him up and threw away the key.

When Elora left, I took a deep breath and shook my head. I knew I’d gotten myself a top spot on her shitlist, and that couldn’t help matters at all.

“That was good,” Tove said, and I’d almost forgotten he was there. I turned to see him grinning at me with an odd look of pride.

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “I made everything worse. Elora’s mad at me, so she’ll take it out on Loki. And I don’t even know why he’s here or why he came alone. I’m trying to rescue him, and I’m not even sure what his motives are.”

“No, that went really bad,” Tove agreed. “But I was talking about the door and the chandelier.”

“What?” I asked.

“When Elora was tormenting him, you made the door slam and the chandelier shake.” Tove gestured to both of them as if that would mean something to me.

“That was the wind or something.”

“No, you did that,” Tove assured me. “It was involuntary, but you did it. And that’s progress.”

“So anytime I want to shut a door, I just have to get Elora to torture somebody,” I said. “Sounds easy enough.”

“Knowing your mother, it would be easy.” He grinned.

We went back to train more, but I was distracted and couldn’t make anything move for the remainder of the day. After Tove had gone, I headed up to my room. I thought I’d check on Matt first, since the alarm going off had to have freaked him out, and Rhys was at school. I knocked on Matt’s door, and when he didn’t answer, I ventured inside, but he wasn’t there.

With the Vittra breaking in, I felt a little freaked about not knowing where Matt was. Before I decided on an all-out search of the premises, I went to my room to grab a sweater, and I found a note from Matt pinned to the door.

Gone over to Willa’s. Be back later.


Great. I ripped the note down and went into my room. But I’d told him I’d be training all day, so he didn’t need to wait around for me. I could have really used some time to talk to him, since everything felt like absolute chaos, and he was hanging out with Willa, which didn’t even make sense. I couldn’t imagine what the two of them would be doing, spending all that time together. They should be hating each other.

I flopped on my bed and fell asleep pretty quickly. I didn’t realize I’d been that tired, but I guess using my abilities took a lot out of me.


stockholm syndrome

I’d gotten used to the defense meetings after the big Vittra break-in during my christening ceremony.

We met in the War Room in the south wing. The walls were plastered with maps. Red and green patches speckled them, indicating other tribes of trolls.

A huge mahogany table stood at one end, a drawing board behind it. Elora and Aurora, Tove’s mother, stood at the far side of the table. For some reason, they always led the defense meetings together. Aurora didn’t trust Elora to run the kingdom, but I still didn’t know why Elora tolerated Aurora taking any amount of control.

Chairs littered the rest of the room, most of them mismatched because they’d been pulled from other rooms to fill the space. Our mothers commanded the meetings, so Tove and I were always the first people in attendance. It worked to our advantage, and we hid in the back.

The usual twenty or so attendees were here: Garrett Strom, Willa’s father and my mother’s possible boyfriend; the Chancellor, a pasty, overweight man who stared at me in a way that made my skin crawl; Noah Kroner, Tove’s ever-silent father; and a few other Markis, Marksinna, and trackers.

Soon the room started filling up more than normal. People I’d never seen before filtered in, including a lot more trackers. None of the trackers took a seat, because that would have been impolite with limited seating. Duncan stood behind me, despite the fact that I told him to sit down three times.

Willa burst in a few minutes before the meeting was set to start, and she pushed her way through the crowded room. Her bracelets jangled as she stepped over a tracker, smiling brightly at me before flopping into the chair next to mine.

“Sorry I’m late.” Willa readjusted her skirt, pulling it down so it hit her knees. She brushed her hair from her eyes and smiled at us. “Did I miss anything?”

“Nothing’s happened yet,” I said.

“There are a lot of people here, aren’t there?” Willa glanced around the room. Her father looked at us, and she waved at him.

“Sure are,” I agreed.

The chair directly in front of me was empty, so Tove slid it back and forth with his abilities.

Crowds tended to overwhelm him. It was too much noise inside his head. When he drained some of his power by moving objects, it weakened his capacity to hear things and helped silence the static.

“Is it really a big deal, then?” Willa asked me and lowered her voice. “I heard you knew the Vittra that they caught.”