In answer, Marinia uncurled her hand in front of them, her long nails – like solid gold – catching the light. ‘Then return the eye.’
Holding the sock tightly, Andrel hesitated, even as Tayna nodded at him. Eventually he sighed, as if in defeat, and tossed it across the room. Marinia caught it with barely any attention to where to reach, handing the sock straight to her sister, who tried to conceal her action in removing the eye and pushing it back into place. When she pulled her hand away and flicked her hair aside, the blackening quickly faded back to white, and the eye became just another one narrowed at the three of them.
‘There. That wasn’t difficult, was it?’ Marinia mocked. ‘Now where were we,’ she took a couple steps forward, her eyes on Will. ‘Oh yes, Willow Avaric.’ Tayna rolled her shoulders straight, and from behind, Will saw her flex her wrist and something slip down her sleeve, perfectly concealed, into her hand: her wand. Those that noticed took another step back, whilst the others watched fearfully as she raised her arm straight, the wand aligned with Marinia’s chest. The princess looked surprised, even impressed, though just for a moment, her expression soon settling into one of sly contempt.
‘You lecture me about not giving him respect,’ she said smoothly, her lip curling at the edge into a smile, ‘and yet you don’t let him fight for himself. Or do you have your eye on another one, Tayna?’
Will felt his cheeks burn red and Tayna’s arm shook slightly. He didn’t doubt that Tayna thought him weak, even if she wouldn’t admit it, but when the room seemed filled with an air of disappointment, he recoiled within it.
‘I thought so,’ said Valda, wearing a satisfied smile. ‘Though it’s a little unfair, just claiming him for yourself. Don’t you have the human twerp on the go too?’ She looked menacingly at Andrel, who immediately stepped forward to Tayna’s side.
‘Call me that one more time and I’ll have to prove how little human I am,’ he said. He couldn’t see Will looking at him questioningly – human? As if the word triggered something deep in his psychology, he felt fear take hold.