“Even if my father thought that,” I said, “and even if he wanted to kill Henry, he wouldn’t have done it that way. He wouldn’t have used me. And there’s no way I would have let him use me like that.”
The Queen was still looking at me with a gentle, pitying expression. “I’m sure it seems that way to you,” she said soothingly. “And I understand that it is hard for you to think ill of your father.”
I had to roll my eyes at that one. I was pretty good at “thinking ill” of people. “It doesn’t matter what I think of my dad. I’m telling you: I had nothing to do with that bomb. There’s another Faeriewalker that no one knows about. Well, almost no one.”
Magic began to gather again, and I jerked my arms up, realizing the barrel of the gun had been slowly dropping as we spoke. It wasn’t like the gun was heavy or anything, but my arms were getting tired.
“No magic!” I reminded her. “I’m serious.”
Titania shrugged as though it hardly mattered, but the magic dissipated. “I believe you would say anything to save your father from getting his just desserts,” she said. “You will not change my mind with brute force.”
Too bad brute force was my only option. I knew if I lowered the gun, Titania’s magic would come back in a heartbeat, and though I didn’t know what that magic would do to me, I was sure it wasn’t anything good.
“You would believe her if she could prove the existence of another Faeriewalker, would you not?” the Erlking asked.
I might have thought he was trying to help me out—if I didn’t know him better. He just wanted to know the identity of the other Faeriewalker in hopes that she was easier to exploit than I was.
I pictured Elizabeth in my mind’s eye, her head bowed and her shoulders hunched in the face of Henry’s disapproval. She had brought the bomb from Avalon and had planted it under Elaine’s chair, but she truly was the helpless tool Titania imagined me to be. If I gave her up, then Titania might well kill her. And if she didn’t, the Erlking would start circling her like the hungry shark he was.
But if I didn’t give her up, my father and I were both going to die, and who knew what Titania would do to my friends.
Titania cocked her head, looking curious. “Can you prove it?” she asked me.
I hesitated, hating the thought of throwing Elizabeth to the wolves. My throat tightened, and I felt like a gutless wonder. She might not be a friend of mine, but Elizabeth was a child.
“You have no choice, Dana,” the Erlking said. “This can only end in disaster for you if you refuse to unmask the real culprit.”
He was right, and I knew it. It wasn’t like I had enough bullets to shoot my way out of here. And even if I summoned my magic and unleashed my deadly spell, there was a gauntlet of Knights and trolls I’d have to make my way through before I escaped the palace a second time.
I wanted to scream with anger and frustration, but I didn’t. Too many people’s lives depended on me, and I couldn’t afford to take a single false step.
“It’s Elizabeth,” I said, the words tasting bitter on my tongue. “And I can prove it.”
There was no sign of recognition on either of their faces. But then why should Titania or Arawn know the name of one insignificant servant in Henry’s entourage.
“She’s one of Henry’s servants,” I explained. “And she’s just a kid,” I hastened to add. “He beats on her, and she’s so terrified of him she’d do anything he told her to.”
I’d thought Titania’s eyes looked cold before. I’d had no idea what cold was until I saw the way she looked at me now.
“You lie,” she said simply, but there was so much fury in her voice that I almost pulled the trigger in preemptive self-defense. It was no surprise that she didn’t like hearing her son might have been involved with the whole plot.
“You said you can prove it,” Arawn said, sounding surprisingly cautious, like he was afraid Titania was about to explode or something.
I nodded, too intimidated by Titania’s glare to force out any words.
“I refuse to believe it,” Titania spat. “This is your father’s doing. He wishes to discredit my son, and—”
“If she thinks she can prove it, then let her try,” Arawn interrupted. “If your son is innocent, then there is no harm done. You can punish Seamus to your heart’s content, and you can leave Dana to me, which I assure you she would find a more than adequate punishment.” He winked at me, like he thought this was all some kind of joke. It made me want to shoot him, though I knew it wouldn’t do any good.
Titania speared me with her ice-pick eyes. “Very well. You have my leave to try to ‘prove’ my son was behind this. And woe unto you and everyone you care about if you fail.”
Yeah, no pressure or anything.
“Give your weapon to Arawn,” she ordered. “I will not be threatened in my own home.”
Arawn took a couple of cautious steps toward me and held out his hand.
I did not want to give him my gun. True, I knew it wasn’t enough of a threat to get me out of here with my skin, but it made a nice security blanket. Even though my arms were quivering with the strain of holding it up.
Arawn sidled closer, though he made no attempt to take the gun from me by force. His voice dropped to a barely audible murmur.
“Give me the gun. It is hardly your only weapon, and it isn’t even your most fearsome one.”