I opened the door of the cottage, frustrated to find the fire down to nothing but embers and not a single candle lit. I’d finished my work in town, returned the goats to their pens, and I was head-to-toe in mud and soaked to the skin – not to mention that my arms hurt like anything and my fever was getting worse.
I built up the fire, lit a candle, and set to stripping off my wet clothing. It wasn’t easy to do with my broken arm splinted and bandaged. It couldn’t bend, and the fingers on that hand were swollen and thick. It needed rest, but I didn’t have time to rest it.
I was down to my underthings when my blindfold slipped off as I was tugging my shirt over my head. I bent to recover it and then gasped.
The cage I’d set beside the sewing kit was the only thing I could really see without the blindfold. It still glowed a bright but eerie greenish-blue.
Dripping from the cage out onto the worn wooden floor of our cottage was black tar-like blood. And in the center of the cage, the Fae leader stood with black blood smeared across his clothing, a sewing needle streaked in black in one hand and a growl bubbling up from his throat. Under his feet, lay his fallen comrades, pins and needles scattered in their blood and sticking up from their backs.
“I see I have a pair of new pincushions. What have you been doing while I was gone?” I asked, aghast.
“Slaying my enemies,” he said with a fearsome curl to his lip. “What did you expect?”
I leaned down so my face was level with the cage, and I could feel my eyes widening as his glamour showed the full effect of perfect immortal features as he sneered at me.
“Not this,” I said, swallowing. My heart was sinking. I’d counted on having three of them. Three Fae to put back into the Star Stone circle. One to bring back each of the humans within. I hadn’t counted on them killing each other. Fuel, Allie! Use that disappointment as fuel!
My eyes were stinging with frustrated tears despite my reminder as I reached into the cage.
He jabbed my hand with the needle.
Again, and again. His movements were too quick for me to guess in that strange almost stilted and yet fluid way the Fae had. It was as if they were just jumping over little bits of time and space.
I pulled my hand out as fast as I could, cursing.
“Fine. They can rot in there with you. Enjoy the smell of putrefaction!” I sucked the wounds on my fingers.
“Let me out of the cage,” he said grimly. “Let me out and I will not slay you, too.”
I snorted. “You’re holding a sewing needle. You’re going to slay me with that?”
He waggled his eyebrows. “It’s not the size that counts.”
“Keep telling yourself that,” I muttered.