Ascend / Page 19

Page 19


“Yes, of course.” Duncan made a quick bow and started walking out.

“Oh, and can you run to my room and grab some clothes?” I asked. “They didn’t seem to make it in the move yesterday.”

“Sorry about that.” Duncan’s cheeks reddened. “It was Willa’s idea. She thought it would be –”

“Never mind that,” I waved it off. “Just grab me something to wear. And make sure Willa comes. I want her at this meeting.”

“Yes, Princess.” He rushed out of the room, hurrying to complete his tasks, but Finn stayed where he was.

“What?” I asked.

“What about him?” Finn’s eyes went over to Loki.

“What about him?” I asked, annoyed.

“He’s Vittra,” Finn said.

“He’s not –” I stopped and turned back to Loki. “Did you know about the attack on Oslinna?”

“No, of course not,” Loki said, and he did seem genuinely distressed about it, which was much different than his normal cocky smirk. “The King would never tell me of his plans.”

“See?” I turned to face Finn again. “He didn’t know anything.”

“Princess,” Finn gave me a hard look.

“I don’t have time to stand here and argue with you, Finn,” I said. “You need to get down to the meeting and make sure nobody does anything stupid before I get there. Don’t let the Chancellor decide anything. I’ll be in the War Room in ten minutes, okay?”

“Yes, Princess.” Finn didn’t look happy, but he nodded and left my room.

“I need to get clothes, too,” Tove said and pushed back his chair. He got up and tossed his napkin on the half-eaten plate of food. “Do you have any idea on how you want to handle this, Wendy?”

“Not yet.” I shook my head. “But I don’t entirely know what’s happened.”

“We’ll figure this out.” Tove walked over to me and touched my arm gently. “I’ll meet you in the War Room.”

“Okay,” I nodded. “Hurry.”

I ran a hand through my hair. My mind raced. An attack meant that people had been killed, but it also meant that many were injured and their homes might be destroyed. We had to help the survivors somehow, as well as figure out how to deal with the Vittra.

“I should probably let you get ready,” Loki said, rising.

“What?” I turned back to face him. I’d forgotten he was here.

“I am truly sorry for what happened,” Loki said solemnly. “Your people didn’t deserve that.”

“I know.” I swallowed hard. He turned away to leave and I asked, “Would you have done it?”

“What?” Loki paused at the door.

“If you were with the Vittra still?” I asked, and I looked at him directly. He stood a few feet from me, his golden eyes looking dark and sad. “Would you have attacked Oslinna? Would you have killed them?”

“No,” he said. “I have never killed anyone.”

“But you fought with them.”

“I never fought for my King.” He shook his head. “That’s why I ended up in the dungeon.”

“I see.” I looked down at the floor, unsure of what to think of him anymore. “Stay out of sight. Nobody else will trust you.”

“I will.”

“Loki,” I said just before he slipped out the door, and I turned to him, so he could see I was serious. “If I find out you knew anything about the attack, I will bring you to the King myself.”

“Yes, Your Highness.” He bowed, then left my chambers.

9. Repercussions

Duncan came in a few minutes later, and I dressed quickly. I smoothed out my hair the best I could, because I couldn’t look a fright at this meeting, but I didn’t have time to make sure I looked top notch.

I practically ran down the hall, with Duncan at my heels, and I reached the top of the stairs at the same time as Willa. Her dress was a bit askew, and her hair was tangled, so she’d obviously gotten dressed in a hurry. I was happy to see that she’d listened.

“Duncan said you wanted me to come to the meeting?” Willa asked, sounding confused as we went down the stairs.

“Yes,” I said. “I need you to start getting involved with this.”

“Wendy, you know I’m not good at this kind of stuff,” Willa said.

“I don’t know why you say that. Public relations are your forte. And even if it wasn’t, this is your job. You are one of the highest Marksinnas we have. You should be helping shape the kingdom instead of letting others destroy it.”

“I don’t know,” she shook her head, and when we reached the bottom of the steps, I stopped to face her.

“Look, Willa, I need you on my side,” I said. “I’m going into a room full of people who think I’m an idiot and a liability. People are in trouble in Oslinna, our people. I don’t have time to fight with them, and people are fond of you. I need you to help me. Okay?”

“Of course.” Willa smiled nervously. “I will help you in any way I can.”

Before we even reached the War Room, I could hear them arguing. There were too many voices to clearly understand what they were fighting about, but they were upset.

“We all need to calm down!” Finn was shouting to be heard over them when Willa, Duncan, and I arrived. Finn stood at the front of the crowded War Room, but nobody paid attention to him.

Tove leaned on the desk, watching them all. The Chancellor, his face beet red, was yelling so much at poor Markis Bain that spittle flew from his mouth. Marksinna Laurent was standing up and screaming at Garrett, who tried to keep his expression neutral, but I knew he wanted to smack her.

“Excuse me!” I shouted, but nobody even noticed me.

“I’ve been trying to get them to calm down.” Finn looked at me apologetically. “But they’re in a complete frenzy. They think we’re next.”

“I got this,” Willa said.

She climbed up onto the desk behind Tove, carefully because she was wearing a short dress, and she put two fingers in her mouth and let out a loud whistle. So loud that Tove actually covered his ears.

Everybody stopped talking and looked up at her.

“Your Princess is here, and she’d like to talk to you, so you should give her your attention,” Willa said with a smile.

Duncan walked over to the desk and gave Willa his hand to help her to the ground. She thanked him, then smoothed out her dress, and I walked over to stand between her and Tove.

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