Inside the cave…
The heels are clacking menacingly. “I thought you branded the girl successfully!”
The henchman flinches. “We did, Empress, but her residual Goodness and the fact that it was in a dream will make it nearly impossible to find her unless someone gets right next to her. Not even our agent at the School-“ The pale, crooked hand slams down on a table, nearly breaking it. “There is nothing that I can’t do, therefore there is nothing that my son can’t do. Understand?”
Nobody noticed me screaming. They were already doing it themselves. Everyone is out in the hallways, discussing why classes have been cancelled for the day. My wrist burns. I wince and look down. A faint red mark circles my wrist. It looks like the wounds a Spirick would create, but these don’t bleed. I rub my wrist. Still there. Jayde slams the door open and Morgan is right behind her. Both have disheveled hair and rumpled nightgowns, and both are breathing hard. “Jayde, Morgan, what…” I shove my hand under the covers. No reason to worry them. Jayde catches her breath. “From what I can gather, the teachers were sent a message from some henchman that a student had been marked for…” She gulps. “Murder. The marked student has two months until a mandatory Trial by Tale. They win, the student dies. We win… and I don’t know what happens.” My heart pounds. Risk a Trial by Tale…my friends could die…I could die… why do they want me so badly? Why in all of the Endless Woods does someone need to target me, right here, right now? Morgan runs forward and bounces on my bed in her hurrying to get on. “Top 5 Evers and top 5 Nevers are going in against the henchmen. At least, that’s the rumor. Oh, and Professor Dovey canceled classes today so they can maybe work out a negotiation with whoever sent the message. We’re supposed to…” She clears her throat in an imitation of Pollux “…not panic and work on your talents.” Her voice goes back to normal. “Because apparently learning how to sing to pigeons will save our lives.” She grins, but I see her eyes. They’re terrified. Her brother died in a Trial by Tale, under conditions similar to this one, before the Boy-Girl war. Is she wondering who will be next? How many people will have to die…for my sake?
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