Hildreth and Elsie stood barefoot in the middle of his training room – less than five feet away from each other.
Hildreth went into a fighting stance and flexed his fists. He smirked. “You sure you want me to fight you?”
Elsie didn’t answer. She charged at him with a loud warrior yell.
Hildreth laughed and ran at her. He blocked her first three blows, which infuriated her.
“I told you—” She aimed her fist at his face, which he blocked. “—NO BLOCKING!”
He laughed again. “Sorry, baby. Force of habit.”
“Idiot!” She tried to punch his face again.
He caught her fist, grinned devilishly, and threw her across the room.
Hildreth strolled over to her downed body and went down on one knee. He tilted his head. “I thought you said you wouldn’t pull your punches, Elsie baby.”
Elsie kicked his chest, knocking him off balance.
He fell onto his back.
She crawled over to him and pinned his wrists. “Who’s pulling punches?”
He looked up at her.
Her golden eyes sparkled.
Her frizzy black hair hung wild and long over her shoulders. Random strands levitated in arcs above her head.
And she smiled.
“Elsie baby, I wish you could see you through my eyes. Then, you’d know everything I can’t say. Everything I don’t know how to say.”
“You’d know how much I love you.”
“My own dear idiot. I don’t have to do a body switch to know that.” She released his wrists and kissed him.
He slowly opened his eyes and he saw the love shining bright in her eyes.
“I already know.” She helped him up. “I need to go buy some more stakes and tracker buttons.”
“Can I come with?”
She smiled. “Is there a reason why I would say no?”
Hildreth tapped his lips as he fake-thought about it. “No. Not really.” He yearned to say something bigger, something a whole lot more expressive than “I love you”, but those words didn’t exist in his head. Or maybe they were safely locked up. He had no idea.
So, he kissed her.
Maelin looked down at the sick, sleeping fey.
I want to take him far away from this place.
I want to take him somewhere safe, somewhere he can be safe and happy.
I know exactly where that somewhere is.
It’s in Pinkerlee.
With a scarred vampire named Robin.
But Isellta can’t go anywhere with these two spells on him.
But what can I do about it?
How can I help him?
She straightened her back.
I think I know.
She whispered dragon magic into her hands. But not just any dragon magic. A peace dragon’s cancellation spell.
She pushed the magic at Isellta.
And nothing happened.
Maelin’s eyes widened into a dragon’s slit-pupil eyes and she could see the magic binding Isellta.
A dense bubble of disembodied white gloved hands floated around him, making it difficult to actually see him.
Out of curiosity, Maelin reached for Isellta.
The hands tried to push her away, but they went right through her.
She tried again to cancel at least that spell.
The hands pushed her magic away.
“Interesting.” She focused on the spell binding him to Mark Caten’s borders.
The white-gloved hands disappeared and she could see the other spell.
Thick, spiked chains and iron manacles connected him to the ceiling and the walls and the floor and even the bed.
She tried to cancel that spell.
The magic went through the chains and manacles without damaging them at all.
She tried to grab one of the chains.
Her hand passed right through it.
Maelin’s eyes returned to normal and the spells became invisible again.
She sat down on the edge of the bed and listened to the sound of Isellta’s shivering.
What else can I do?