Elwin took my hand and we ran back towards the posts. He climbed the ladder quicker than I ever had before. I closed my eyes and climbed as fast as I could. I gripped the side of the rail and headed for where Elwin was.
"No," Arl said. "You need to go hide."
"You're joking, right?" I snapped. "I can't leave him. What if it's Theodore?"
"Just go," he said, pushing me towards Elwin's hut. "If you're that worried, he has a window. Go."
I groaned but did as he said. I looked around for a window but I didn't see one. Had he said that just to get me to leave? I was about to go back out there until I saw two planks of wood attached to the wall. I pushed on them and they swung open. I squinted my eyes.
My stomach dropped. Five people were making their way over. Two were carrying torches, one was pointing, and the other was falling behind. Every elf was silent. I strained my ears and recognized Theodore's voice.
"Go to the left!" he was ordering. "You, go to the right! Gerald, get your ass in gear and walk forward!"
My heart sank. My papa had been dragged into this.
"I'm not going to help you, Theodore!" he yelled back. I heard him grunt. "Hit me all you want."
They were getting closer and I gripped the windowsill. Finally, all five froze and Theodore shouted.
"I know you're out here, elves!" he yelled. I looked over and saw Arl and Elwin draw back their arrows. "Send her back and we'll leave you alone! Keep her and we will declare war! We know you kidnapped her!"
"Wait," Elwin hissed when Arl almost let his arrow fly.
"I don't want to go to war," Arl hissed back. "If we kill them now-"
"You have until sundown tomorrow!" Theodore shouted. "Come on, men. Gerald, you're going to regret that."
"Papa," I whimpered and fell to my knees.
I waited until I was sure they were far enough away. I whistled the appropriate tune and put my arrow back.
"Where is Camila?" I asked.
"Your hut," Arl said. "I didn't know where else to send her."
I clapped him on the shoulder. "You did well, my friend. I'll be back."
I hurried to my hut. Camila was in front of my window on her knees, her head in her hands. I knelt down next to her and put my hand on her back. She was crying and I sighed. I had no idea what to say. She leaned into me and I wrapped my arms around her from behind, sitting down and wrapping my legs around her, too.
"What are we going to do?" she whispered. "I don't want to go back but I don't want my papa to get hurt!"
"The only thing I can think of to do is see the king and queen," I said.
"But you said it would take five days to get there! They're only giving you until sundown tomorrow!"
I kissed her neck. "Calm down. Let's go see Elder Winterblade. He can help us."
She nodded, wiping her nose on her hand, and stood up with me. I held her hand, expecting her to walk slowly like normal. She was more concerned about what she needed to get done, though, and practically pulled me to his hut. He stepped out and we almost bumped into him. His eyes were grim and he stepped aside so we could walk in.
Camila was biting her lips.
"This is a strict ultimatum," Elder Winterblade began. "I have pondered a solution but you will not like it, Camila."
"You want me to go back?" she whispered.
"No. I cannot condemn you to death."
She frowned. "How do you know I'd die?"
I laced our fingers. "It's his gift," I said softly. "Well, one of them. He can see all possible outcomes of something and he can read minds."
"So what's your solution?" she asked.
"We make a duplicate," he answered and beckoned us over. "It's simple magic but risky in this kind of situation. Your duplicate will last for two weeks." He sighed. "The problem is, your duplicate will not have any knowledge of previous events. She will only be able to react to the present and possible future."
Camila's eyes were darting between the ingredients on his potion and magic table. She was rubbing her right eyebrow and I could tell she was thinking.
"Theodore is an arrogant ass," she said finally and I arched a brow at her swearing. "He will expect me to be compliant. When he... when he raped me, it was to teach me to submissive. Perhaps... perhaps if my duplicate does not mention it, he will assume I learned the lesson...."
"What about the loss of previous events?" I asked.
"Say we erased her memory," Elder Winterblade said. "We'll write a letter and put it in her pocket."
"You think this will work?" Camila asked.
"It will give us enough time for you to see the king and queen. After that... I cannot speak for the future."
Camila stomped her foot on the floor. "I thought you could see!"
"Only sometimes, my dear," Elder Winterblade said sadly. "We're doing everything we can for you."
She covered her face again and I wrapped my arms around her.
"When do we leave?" I asked.
"At the first light of day," he answered right away. "Here's a list of everything you'll need. I've sent my raven ahead of you to alert them of your arrival and the threat facing us."
"When do we make my duplicate?" she asked, her voice muffled in my chest.
"Right now," he answered and began to mix some powders.
We watched closely. He muttered some words as the powders glowed blue and purple. They merged together and he added a few strands of her hair. There was a blinding flash of white light and, standing right beside us, was a Camila lookalike.
The two Camilas stared at each other.
"Can she speak?"
"Yes, I can," the duplicate said and I laughed a little. Even the voice was correct. She turned to Elder Winterblade. "I am ready, Elder Winterblade."
He tucked the letter in her pocket. "Go now."
"Wait," Camila said suddenly. "Let me see your other pocket." The duplicate pulled out a double of the handkerchief and Camila sighed. "Thank goodness."
The duplicate nodded once before leaving.
"Why didn't we tell her everything before she left?" I asked.
"The less information she knows, the better; especially if they try to torture her."
Camila shuddered and there was a shout from below. We hurried out. It was Lura and she was cheering.
"It's about time the human left! We don't need her kind!"
"Don't listen to her," I muttered but Camila's jaw was set.
"What are your rules on fighting?" she asked and I chuckled.
"You do not want to fight her. She's strong."
"So am I," she snapped and stormed over to the ladder.
She descended quickly. The look on Lura's face was comical. I couldn't hear the words they were exchanging as I rushed for the ladder.
"Wait," Elder Winterblade said and I turned to him. "Let the two sort it out themselves."
"If you say so, Elder Winterblade," I sighed.