“Positive.” Willa felt relief knowing they’d be headed home soon. Then she realized how naïve that was. She steeled herself against reacting to that thought and played along, all the while understanding that Kyanna was most likely out to get exactly what she wanted. “But I would be happy to come back and visit at some point.”
“Visit?” Kyanna laughed. “You really don’t get it, do you?” She stood and lifted her hand. “You’re not leaving. Zane,” she barked.
Their brother jogged back into the room. He must have been listening closely on the other side of the doors. “Yes?”
“Go with the guards. Take our sister and her pet to the dungeons. Make sure you strip her of all her jewelry.”
The guards rushed forward and took hold of Willa, overpowering her. She screamed at Kyanna. “You have no right!”
“I have every right. I’m the All Seer, and you are a wayward citizen, a wayward lapidus, who refuses to give her talents to the kingdom.” She slashed her hand through the air. “Take them away.”
With the simple command of “Move,” Zane marched Nick away. The guards dragged Willa after them. She twisted to glare at Kyanna. “You can’t keep us here against our will.”
Kyanna smirked and shook her head. “I already am.”
Nick held his tongue until Zane and the guards were gone. Zane hadn’t told him to be quiet again, but he’d stayed silent, letting the fae think otherwise.
Nick curled his lip. He and Willa were somewhere underground in dank cells that smelled of earth and must. The only light came from dull crystals set in the ceiling just outside the bars of their separate cells. The cells shared a common wall and were fronted with bars, but other than that, they were very different.
His bars were thick iron. Hers, he’d seen on the way in, were dowels of wood about the thickness of a child’s wrist. Her entire cell was lined in wood, including the wall between them, which was stone on his side. Judging by the pair of matching cells across from them, the dividing wall was about five inches thick.
He leaned against the stone. “Willa?”
“What?” She sounded about as dejected as a person could be.
“Hey, we’re going to get out of this.”
“I could probably break through this wall between us right now.” It would take two or three good blows, but he could do it.
“Then what? We don’t have a plan and you’re under their control. All it would take is a word from my sister and you’d be incapacitated. Or worse.”
“I’ll figure out a plan.” Something would come to him, but right now, he needed to lift her spirits a little. He stuck his hand through the bars and reached toward her cell. He could get his arm out only a few inches beyond his wrist. “Come here. Reach toward me. I want to see if we can touch.”
Soft, trudging footsteps scraped across the dirty floor. A few seconds later, her fingers brushed his. “What now?”
He laced his fingers through hers. It was good to touch her. “Now we think.”
She curled her fingers, squeezing down on his. “I feel defeated. And betrayed. And angry.”
“I know you do. But we have an advantage.”
“Your sister thinks you’re not as powerful as she is.”
“You don’t know that.” He tugged at her hand. “Focus on one of those crystals in the ceiling. See if you can make it brighter.”
“Nick, I don’t have the slightest idea how to do that.”
Time for some tough love. He had to get her to react. “Look, the pity party is over. Snap out of it.”
“I mean it, Willa.” She tried to pull her hand back, but he held on. “You want Kyanna to win? Then keep doing nothing. Otherwise, focus on that crystal.”
Her fingers clamped down. Three seconds later, the crystal flared, and she exhaled a loud breath. “I did not expect that.”
He grinned. “I did.”
“You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Made me react.”
“Yes. And I’m not sorry. Just because she’s had more training doesn’t mean you’re not as strong. You’re the firstborn.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“It might. And clearly she needs you for something or we wouldn’t be here.”
She sighed. “I still don’t know how to get us out of here.”
A scraping sound made him pull his hand back. Light spilled into the space, then disappeared again. A thin wisp of a child walked past his cell and stopped in front of Willa’s.
She peered through the bars. “Are you Willa?”
“Yes,” Willa answered. “Who are you?”
The girl stepped closer, her hands twisted nervously in the fabric of her dress. “I’m Shay.”
A soft exclamation escaped from Willa’s side. “You’re my little sister.”
Shay nodded. “Are you really here to kill me?”
Willa fell to her knees against the wooden dowels. “Oh my, no. I would never hurt you. Who told you that?”
Shay looked unconvinced. “Kyanna.”
Willa nodded. “I see. Well, Kyanna wasn’t very nice to me. She put me and my friend, Nick, here in this dungeon.”