Author's Note: Ummmm. I guess I can say sorry…haha. Again. Every time I update this story, I'm apologizing. Sometimes, I decide to quite it, and work on my own stuff. But then I get reviews and favorite story alerts, and once again, I feel like I'm letting everyone down. And I really do love this story. When I set out to right it, I set out to finish it, and DAMN IT ALL I will. You can all thank StoryOfATeenageAuthor for her review—it basically kicked my ass into action.
Kaye felt the wind stir around her. She hadn't looked away from Ethine's gaze. It was like they were having a staring contest— whoever looked away first would lose. The consequences of losing such a contest were unclear at the moment, but one thing was certain. She couldn't afford a loss. Not when Ethine apparently knew her name. The wind died down after barely moving the leaves on the trees. An eerie sense of foreboding crept over her, and she knew that everything was different now.
"No you don't." she breathed after the pause, her eyes still glued to the other faerie's.
"Look away from me." Ethine replied, just as quietly.
Horrified, Kaye felt her eyes tear away from Ethine's gaze. The pain it caused her to try and look back made her head spin. A few curse words dribbled out of her mouth, and she could only stare at the ground. The other faerie laughed triumphantly, and put a small hand on Kaye's shoulder, patting it soothingly. "You can look up again." She said, her voice holding a shade of victory.
"What is my name?" Kaye asked. She wanted to know. Oh, more than anything, especially if Ethine knew it too.
Ethine leaned in very close, and Kaye shivered at the breath on her ear. The name was whispered to her, and instantly, she knew it was true. How could it not be? Her whole body went stiff as the words fell from the other faerie's lips…there was no way it could be false. "Corvina Chryseis Clarinda."
A shiver went down her spine. Ethine whispered something else in her ear: "You are to tell Roiben nothing of this. You may not tell him or anyone your real name. And you may not tell Val about Ravus. Now go."
Kaye nodded helplessly. She remembered how angry Roiben had been with her for using his name against him once. Rath Roiben Rye. The words stung her now. Feeling his pain exactly as he had described it, she left the false court. She didn't miss Ethine's smirk— the image was burned into her mind. Her name seemed to be whispered in her ear with every beat of her heart. It was a terrible burden. Once again, she wished she had remained ignorant of this whole world.
When she returned to Roiben, she realized she hadn't even seen Kate. Disgusted with herself, she allowed herself to be held against Roiben's chest as they left the realm of fey. Silently, she vowed to return for her sister, even if she had to die to do so. After all, she was the pixie who had solved the impossible quest, right? How could she now also solve the impossible-to-get-around rule?
Val was officially freaking out. Ravus still hadn't contacted her. Five times she had gone to the bridge and knocked on the tree, only to get no answer. She had asked around, talking to every fey she knew— none of them knew anything. She was beginning to think that Kaye was her only hope. Kaye was the only one who travelled back and forth between Ironside and the fey realms, so she had to know what the troll was up to…
"Look, I don't know why you're so worried. He's probably just busy." Ruth told her as they sat in Kaye's coffee shop.
Lifting her drink to her lips, Val took a quick drink, burning her tongue, and said, "Ruth, do you realize how long it's been? Something has to be wrong with him. I'm scared."
Her best friend's eyes softened. "You don't have to be scared for him. He's a fairly big guy. I think he can protect himself."
"He couldn't protect himself from Mabry." Val mumbled, even though she knew that wasn't entirely true.
She was getting sick because of all the worrying. Yesterday, she hadn't gotten up until afternoon, much to her mother's dismay. Of course, her mother barely talked to her. She was too afraid that something she said would offend her daughter, and she would run away again. Val thought fondly of her time in the city. She wondered for a moment what had ever happened to Lolli, but shoved those thoughts out of her mind, refocusing on her problem with Ravus. "You don't think he's just trying to tell me he hates me, do you?" she asked softly, eyes on the black table in front of her.
"Val, are you serious?" Ruth asked, her eyebrows shooting upward.
"I think your boyfriend has a higher standard of ethics than that, and you know it. Look, as soon as Kaye and Roiben show up, we'll figure it out. One of them in sure to know what's going on."
The words were comforting. Of course Roiben would know— he was friends with Ravus. And if Roiben didn't show up, Kaye would. As if in answer to her silent prayer, the door jingled open. Val looked over, and felt her whole face light up with a smile as a bedraggled Asian girl with green hair made her way over to the table. Kaye appeared to be worried about something, and her eyes were panicked when they met Val's. The smile slid off her face.
"What happened?" she asked quickly.
"Nothing." Kaye replied just as fast.
"Have you heard from Ravus?" Val asked hopefully.
A small flicker of pain crossed Kaye's face, one that Val couldn't place. Then came the disheartening reply: "No. But Roiben might know something. He's planning on coming Ironside tomorrow." The words were sad. Sad perhaps, because she couldn't provide the information Val so desperately needed? Maybe.
"It's fine." Val answered after a silence. "I guess…um, maybe he just…hasn't had time."
"Kaye, tell her to stop worrying." Ruth said with a sigh. "I told her the guy probably just has important shit to be doing, but she won't listen. Tell her it's fine."
Kaye half turned away, as if to go to the counter, before whispering, "It's…it's fine."
Ethine sat luxuriously on the throne, eating a grape. Talathain stood by her side. When her messenger returned with news that she had visitors, a pleasant grin spread across her face. She had been waiting for these visitors for a long while. As long as they met in secret, everything would work out perfectly.
"Let them in." she replied.
A man and a woman entered the tented throne room, every inch as beautiful as the splendor surrounding them. The man had black hair and black eyes like Kaye's. The woman had white hair and piercing blue eyes that made even Ethine a little uncomfortable. However, they greeted her with smiles, though the expression didn't reach their eyes. Ethine bowed her head a little in acknowledgement.
"Oberon, Titania." She said. "I trust that your mission has been fulfilled?"
"Of course," replied Titania, giving Ethine a feral grin. "Since you obtained your brother's saliva—"
"In an unorthodox way, I might add." Oberon interrupted, while rummaging in his bag for something.
"—we were able to create a weapon for you that is unable to harm him. That way, you will have your brother alive and well, no matter how the fighting goes. For a price, we will make duplicates for your army." Titania finished with an irritated look in Oberon's direction.
"My thanks. Please, name your price." Ethine responded. She was absolutely delighted. Roiben would be with her again, like they had been as children.
"The servitude of the pixie who calls herself Kaye." Oberon responded.
Even Ethine was above just handing out another faerie's name. "When I see the quality of the original weapon, I will consider your offer. Until you return with said weapon, consider it in the air." She replied, her voice taking on an air of command, like it had habit to do lately.
"Of course, my lady." They responded in unison.