I stood outside of Wren's house. I gulped, my mind confused. When had these feelings started? I didn't know but I did know they wouldn't go away. Finally, I took a deep breath and knocked. It took a few moments but he opened. His face was blank.
"I thought you were leaving."
I looked down. "I wanted to say goodbye."
"Why?" he demanded.
"Because... you are my friend."
I looked at him. He had a brow lifted and a skeptical look on his face. He crossed his arms.
"Your friend?" he repeated and I nodded. "No I'm not." I frowned. "You're just an abomination, girl. Go home with your traitor of a mother and filthy father."
"Wren," I breathed, tears jumping to my eyes. "Why do you say such terrible things?"
He glared at me. "Just leave. You don't belong here."
He slammed the door in my face.
I couldn't stand to see her cry. I heard her sob and run off. I sighed and leaned my head on the door, trying to get my breathing under control. The guilt was starting to bubble in my stomach. But it was best. I knew why she really came. She couldn't stay here and there was no way they would let me stay with her.
My door was pushed open and I went flying into the wall behind it. I grunted in pain as I fell to the floor.
"What did you do?" Ryllae yelled, standing over me.
"I had to do it, Ryllae," I mumbled, standing back up. "Just leave me alone."
"Why? You finally had a friend and-"
"She's not my friend!" I yelled back, balling my hands into fists. "How dense are you, Ryllae!? Don't you see what is happening!?"
"What are you talking about?" she demanded.
I pointed at the closed door. "She is my mate, you fool!" I yelled and her eyes widened.
"But- I thought you didn't like her. I thought it was Sally that you-"
I threw my hands up in the air. "Why do you think I've been trying to push her away from me since she arrived?" I demanded. "She can't stay with me! Why do you think I would sneak into the forest?"
"You were going for her," she whispered and I tossed myself onto my bed.
"It was the best I could do," I mumbled.
"You never spoke to me about her," she said.
"I was breaking almost every law we have," I snapped. "Would you have talked to me about it?"
"I suppose not. You are certain she loves you, though?"
"Of course I am," I spat. "She's just now starting to realize it, but she does."
"Wren, you can't just let her go!" she yelled.
"Yes I can," I said stubbornly. "Just go, Ryllae. I'm tired and it is my task to interrogate the creature tomorrow."
"Go Ryllae!" I shouted.
She sighed but did as I said. When the door closed, I put my head in my hands and cried for the first time since my mother disappeared.
I threw all of my dresses and gifts into my bag, shaking in anger and still crying. Someone knocked on my door but I ignored them.
"Can I come in?" Ryllae asked.
"Fine," I said and she walked in.
"So you're really leaving," she whispered.
"Why not? I'm not welcome here. Besides, something is wrong at the castle. I have to go and make sure my family is okay."
"Look, about Wren-"
"Don't," I snapped, putting my bag on my shoulder and glaring at her.
"Corstelis, he's just-"
"Stop, Ryllae," I said. "It was a mistake for me to even speak with him. I have to go."
I hugged her and she sighed.
"Stay safe," she whispered.
The Queen Mother was waiting for me by the Bridge. She looked incredibly upset.
"You may come back whenever you desire," she whispered.
I glared at the realm. "They don't want me here." My eyes traveled to Wren's home where I could see smoke coming from his chimney. "None of them do."
"You'll find that isn't true," she said quietly.
She hugged me and whispered something in her native language.
"What did you say?" I asked.
"It is a blessing," she answered. "A blessing of safety."
I sighed. "Goodbye, Grandmother."
Mother and Father were waiting on the other side of the Bridge. Father was holding her hand and reached for mine as well.
"Are you two ready?" he asked, letting us go and stretching.
I recognized the act for when he was about to transform.
"Ready for what? Aren't we walking?"
"It's too dangerous," he said, shaking his head. "I'm going to transform. When I have, get on my back. I will get us there within the hour.
He cracked his neck and rolled his shoulder. I watched as he transformed and the two elves guarding the Bridge backed up. When he was in his wolf form, my mother got onto his back immediately and pulled me on behind her. I took one last look at the realm before wrapping my arms around her waist tightly. Father made sure we were both safe and bounded through the forest.
It sped by. He was fast; faster than even Wren. The thought of the elf brought tears to my eyes and I hid my face in my mother's hair. We made it out of the forest without incident. When we got to the castle gates, my father stopped and we got off. I handed him a cloak to wrap his body and turned to give him some privacy. What I saw made my jaw drop.
Green fog hovered over the castle. My father sighed.
"It's... it's bad in there. Rosebud, you will speak to Angel. I will speak to David and you will talk to Christina, Corstelis."
"Yes, Father," I whispered and we walked in.
I shuddered. The first thing I heard was David and Angel. I knew they were in one of the upper floors but their screams of rage were filling the castle. David was swearing and Angel was obviously throwing things at her door. I shook in fear as my father led me to Christina's room.
I knocked on the door and entered.
Christina's room was dark but the fog outside cast a green glow on everything. The woman herself was by the fireplace, sitting down and rocking herself. When she saw me, she scrambled to her feet and gripped the front of my gown.
"Cori," she panted. "Cori, you have to talk to them for me! Bryan is alive! I know he is! David's father didn't kill him!"
"Christina, calm down," I said, holding her hands and sitting her down. "Something is happening," I explained. "The forest is affecting the palace somehow." I swallowed and shook my head sadly. "I'm sorry, Christina, but Bryan, Sr. is dead."
She slapped me and I sighed. "Don't you lie to me, Corstelis! He is alive!"
"Calm down," I repeated. "He is not alive. You are married to Tiberius now and-"
"I don't want to be married to that liar!" she yelled. "Why is everyone so convinced that Bryan is dead!?"
I looked around. I got up and remembered the letter in her bedside table. I went into it and rooted through until I found the letter and their wedding rings.
"Stop going through my things!" she snapped.
I sat her back down. "Read this letter, Christina," I said.
She glared but snatched it from me and started to read. As her eyes slid further down the page, she started crying again. I didn't know what was in the letter, but it must have been important. I got on my knees beside her chair and she turned her head to me.
"And there's this, too," I said. "You love Bryan, Christina, and you always will. He loved you." I held out their rings. "Would he have taken his ring off?"
She took them with shaking hands. "N-No. Of course he wouldn't. The only reason he would is if-"
She trailed off and started to wail. I sighed and held her.
"He's gone!" she sobbed. "Oh, Bryan is gone! I want Tiberius."
"Okay," I whispered. "I'll go find him."
I didn't need to, though. As soon as I opened the door, Tiberius ran to his wife. I left and shut the door, leaving him to take care of her. I could hear the king and queen screaming so I followed the noises to let my father know what I discovered.