14. Confrontation

Finn punched Loki in the face, and Loki raised his fist like he meant to strike back. That wouldn’t be so bad, except Loki was about fifty times stronger than Finn and would bust his face in.

“Loki!” I yelled. “Don’t you dare hit him!”

“You are so lucky.” Loki glared down at Finn and wiped at the blood on his nose.

“What the hell were you doing?” Finn shouted at him. “What’s wrong with you? You had no right to take her anywhere!”

“Finn,” Tove said. “Stop. Calm down. She’s fine.”

Duncan and Willa climbed out of the backseat of the SUV, and my heart sunk. Loki had been right. They had been part of the rescue mission too, and if we’d left an hour later from the Vittra palace, Duncan, Willa, Tove, and Finn would all be dead.

“Like this was my idea!” Loki yelled back at Finn. “She’s the Princess. She commanded, and I obeyed!”

“You don’t obey a suicide mission!” Finn shouted.

“It wasn’t a suicide mission,” I said, loud enough to be heard over their yelling.

They stood in front of the Cadillac, staring down at each other, and strangely, I was grateful that Loki was so much stronger than Finn. If they were equally matched, Loki probably wouldn’t hold back, and it would be a fist fight.

“Are you okay?” Willa asked, walking over to me.

“Why are you on the side of the road?” Duncan asked.

“I needed fresh air,” I said. “Everything’s fine. I got the Vittra to back off until I’m Queen. They won’t attack any of us, no matter where we are.”

“What the hell did you agree to?” Finn asked, breaking his icy stare with Loki to look at me.

“It doesn’t matter.” I shook my head. “We’ll stop them before it comes to that.”

“Wendy,” Finn sighed and shook his head, then turned back to Loki. “And you, Markis, I lost any respect I had for you.”

“She was going to go whether I went with her or not,” Loki said. “I thought it would be better if she didn’t go alone.”

“She shouldn’t have gone at all!” Finn yelled.

“Yes, I should have!” I shouted at him. “If I hadn’t, the Vittra would still be killing our people. I bought us more time, and I saved lives. That is my job, Finn! I did what I had to do, and I would do it again!”

“You didn’t have to do it like this,” Finn said.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “It’s done. Now I’ve had a very long morning, and I would just like to go home.”

“Come on, Wendy.” Willa put her arm around me.

“Duncan, would you mind riding with Loki?” Tove asked. “I’d like to talk to my wife.”

“Yeah, sure,” Duncan nodded.

Willa led me around the SUV, and I glanced back once over my shoulder at Loki. He was still standing in the road, and he was watching me walk away. Something in his eyes broke my heart, and I looked away from him.

I climbed into the SUV, and Willa got in the seat behind me. Finn stayed outside, and it looked like he wanted to say something to Loki, but Tove sent him to the car. When he climbed in back next to Willa, Finn was still seething and glared out the window.

Tove stayed outside a bit longer, talking to Loki, and I wished I could read lips.

“What were you thinking, Wendy?” Finn asked, barely restraining the anger in his voice.

“I did what was best for the kingdom,” I said simply. “Isn’t that what you always told me to do?”

“Not at your own peril,” Finn said. I looked in the rear view mirror so I could meet his eyes.

“You’ve told me over and over again that I shouldn’t make decisions because of you,” I said. “That I should think of the greater good of the kingdom. You were right, but this isn’t about me either.”

“I’m glad you’re safe,” Willa said, breaking the tension. “And I know that you’re badass and all that, but you don’t have to do this alone. You could’ve asked for help.”

“Everything turned out fine,” I said.

Outside the car window, I saw Loki nod and get in the driver’s side of the car. Tove walked back to the SUV and got in. Loki’s Cadillac sped off down the road, and Tove did a U-turn and drove behind him.

“You didn’t tell me,” Tove said at length.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “But I did what –”

“Don’t,” Tove cut me off. “This isn’t about what you did or why you did it or if it was the right thing to do.”

“What is this about then?” I asked.

“We’re married, Wendy,” Tove said. He glanced over at me. “Do you know why I asked you to marry me?”

“No,” I said, and I could feel Finn and Willa watching us from the backseat.

“Because we could be a team,” Tove said. “I thought you needed someone to support you and stand by your side, and I know I needed the same thing.”

“We are a team,” I said meekly.

“Then why did you go behind my back?” Tove asked.

“I didn’t think you would understand,” I said.

“When I have not understood?” Tove asked. “When have I not trusted you? When have I even tried to stop you from doing something?”

“You haven’t,” I admitted quietly. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Tove said. “Just don’t do it again. I want us to work. But to do that, you have to tell me what’s going on. You can’t risk your life or make major decisions about the kingdom without at least letting me know.”

“I’m sorry,” I repeated and stared down at my lap.

“Loki told me what you did,” Tove said, and I lifted my head.


“What you exchanged for the peace now,” Tove said. “He told me the plan, and it’s a good plan. But we have a lot of work cut out for us.”

“What?” Willa leaned forward between the seats. “What’s the plan?”

I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want to talk anymore. I was exhausted, and I knew how much work we had ahead of us if we wanted to have a chance against the Vittra. But right now, all I wanted to do is sleep.

Thankfully, Loki had told Tove enough that he could explain it to Willa and Finn. I rested my head against the cold glass of the car window and listened to them talk about what we needed to do.

Some of the trackers had already made it back to Förening, and the rest would be there in the next few days. Thomas had already begun a boot camp for them.

 Trackers had some combat training to help protect the changelings and other Trylle, but they weren’t soldiers. Thomas was charged with turning them into an army, but they were going up against an enemy they didn’t know how to defeat.

Thanks to the extended peace treaty, we were now free to go to Oslinna. When we got back to Förening, we could set up another a team and head out the next day. This time, Willa volunteered to go. I would go, whether anyone liked it or not, but I didn’t say that during the car ride. I didn’t have the strength to argue.

The hardest part would be convincing other Markis and Marksinna to join the fight. Loki had thought the only things stronger than the hobgoblins were our abilities, so the ones best equipped for a fight against them would be the higher Trylle.

Willa said that we shouldn’t tell the other Trylle what I had exchanged to get our new peace treaty. They would revolt if they thought I’d risked the kingdom. I would tell them that I had seen Oren and extended the treaty by offering to go with him voluntarily in six months.

The Trylle still wouldn’t like that, but they would feel much better if they only lost me. In the meantime, we would rally them for a fight against the Vittra and hope that it worked when it came time for war.

We all had a mission when we got back to Förening. Willa was to start working on the Markis and Marksinna. They all seemed to like her, and she might be able to convince some of them to fight with us. She’d also been working on her own abilities, and she could work on training those that had let their abilities atrophy.

Finn would work with his father and the trackers to build up the army. He even grudgingly agreed to enlist Loki to help him. Loki was physically as strong as a hobgoblin, so at the very least the trackers could practice fighting him and get an idea of what that kind of strength could do.

Tove had to figure out who to appoint as temporary Chancellor until an election could be held. He’d volunteered to take care of the Chancellor position because he felt responsible for sending our old Chancellor to die. I assured him that it wasn’t his fault, but he wanted to take care of it anyway.

And I had what sounded like the easiest job but felt like the most impossible. I had to find a way to kill the King.

When we got back to the palace, there was a flurry of defense meetings going on. Tove had purposely not told anyone that I had left with Loki out of fear of starting a panic, but I called a meeting as soon as we were back to let them all know.

Loki tried to slink off to his room to hide, but I made him go with us. As ridiculous as it was, I needed the Trylle to trust him. He had the most knowledge of the Vittra, so he would be the best equipped to help us fight.

The meeting went about as well as I’d expected. Lots of yelling and disagreeing, although the Marksinna Laurent was quiet since Tove threatened to banish her. Once I got them calmed down and explained what I was going to do and what had to be done, they took it a bit better. A clear plan helped ease their fears.

I ended the meeting by telling them that we were going on a recovery and fact-finding mission to Oslinna. Without even asking them, I volunteered myself, Willa, Tove, Loki, and Aurora to go. I was trying to ease them into the idea that Markis and Marksinna could do actual work, and hopefully, they would when I called upon them.

Afterward, we all dispersed to complete our tasks. As desperately as I wanted to sleep, I didn’t have time. I had to go to the library and find every book on the Vittra I could. There had to have been other immortals before Oren, and there had to be ways of killing them.

Of course, all the old texts were written in Tryllic in an attempt to disguise them from the Vittra. That’s where the most useful information would be kept on how to stop them. My Tryllic had gotten better, but it wasn’t fantastic. It took me ages to read a single page.

“Wendy,” Tove said, and I looked up to see him standing in the doorway of the library. My vision was blurry, as I’d spent too long staring down at old texts.

I was sitting on the floor amongst a pile of books near the far wall. I’d started out carrying books over to the desk before deciding that was a waste of time, and I had no time to waste. We were leaving for Oslinna in the morning, and we would be gone for a few days, so I wouldn’t be able to research then.

“Did you need something?” I asked.

“It’s late,” Tove said. “Very late.”

“I have a few more things to go through.”

“When was the last time you slept?”

“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t have time to sleep. There’s so much to do, and I don’t know how we can possibly do it. I don’t know how we can be ready, unless I’m working every minute.”

“You need sleep.” He came into the room and walked over to me. “We need you to be strong, and that means you need to rest sometimes. It is a necessary evil.”

“But what if I can’t do this?”  I asked, staring up at him with tears in my eyes. “What if I can’t find a way to stop Oren?”

“You will,” he assured me. “You’re the Princess.”

“Tove,” I sighed.

“Come on.” He held out his hand to me. “Sleep now. We can look more in the morning.”

I let him take my hand and pull me to my feet. He was already in his pajamas, and his hair was even more disheveled than normal. I guessed he’d tried to sleep without me, but he’d gone looking for me when I hadn’t come to bed.

My mind was racing, thinking of all the things I had to do. I didn’t think I’d ever really be able to sleep, but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out.