Chapter Five.

Meylyne has been missing for over a day now. What is happening back home?

Queen Emery bolted upright, her sheets damp with sweat. The nightmare had woken her up again. It was always the same—her, frozen to the spot on Glendoch’s peak while the Garlysle disappeared beneath the ice with her best friend.

Outside, dawn’s golden light outlined her curtains. With a sigh, she threw on her fur-lined robe and boots and padded downstairs, out into the crisp, dew-soaked morning. Making her way to her favorite Spiderberry tree, she set down her lantern and began her pointless, yet soothing ritual of counting the blossoms. As the sky brightened, she heard someone crunching through the grass and smiled. It was impossible to mistake Prince Piam’s heavy, impatient footstep.

“Good morning, Piam,” she said, without turning around.

“For Goodness sake, Mother!” Prince Piam exclaimed. “Would you please stop counting those blossoms? It worries people!”

“I know,” she replied, still counting. “I can’t help myself though. Meylyne has disappeared without a trace and as usual our doctors have made no headway on your cure.”

Piam shook his head. “As I’ve said a hundred times before, we don’t need Meylyne or her mother – I don’t trust them anyway. I’m sure they’re in cahoots with Meph.”

“You’re sure are you?”

“Yes! And he’s behind everything that’s wrong with Glendoch! Did you know that the reports of dissention have tripled … tripled in the past three weeks? And our questioning chambers are fuller than ever. Not that they’re doing us any good. We haven’t found out anything about this supposed rebellion. We must focus our attention on domestic matters, not stupid Meylyne!”

Piam bit his lip. “Besides, we have a plan should Meylyne not return.”

His mother looked up at him. “A plan that I deplore.”

Piam sat down, then sprang back up again as the icy dew soaked his pajama bottoms. “Me too,” he replied, “but for me to marry a Rose is the only way to keep peace in Glendoch. There are still Francescans who blame you for Princess Amber’s disappearance.”

Queen Emery looked down. “I know,” she muttered. “But taking a wife is a serious matter. No Roses are suitable for you. Now go and eat breakfast.”

Piam opened his mouth to argue and then shut it again. Scowling, he stomped back to the castle. Instead of making his way to the breakfast room, however, he climbed to the top of the west turret, taking the stairs two at a time. From here, he could see all of Glendoch—its copper roofs and cobbled streets glowing in the morning light. Glacial fields stretched west to the sparkling blue of the ocean.

A few minutes later, a falconese flew over. Piam held up his arm and the bird alighted upon it.

“Hello Mordeca,” he murmured. “Glendoch on the brink of war. What do you think of that?”

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