Glass woke up gasping. Someone was shaking her shoulder with a cruel, cold grip.

The blond Protector peered down at her, her hair tied back in a tight bun. Glass’s mind reached for the woman’s name as her eyes adjusted to the dark, making out her severely beautiful features. Margot, Glass remembered. One of Soren’s advisors.

And at that realization, her heart clenched, her mind spooling back to that moment on the field when Soren had pointed to Glass. It must’ve been an order to Margot. The High Protector hadn’t approved of her little speech, and now Glass was going to find out what the consequences were.

Margot started dragging her upward by the armpit. Glass fought against her. “No, no, whatever I’ve done, I swear I’ll be better! I’ll keep my mouth shut, I’ll—”

“Shhh, you’ll wake the others,” Margot hissed. “Don’t be selfish, they need their rest for the workday ahead.”

It was such a mundane thing to say that Glass fell silent, more from confusion now than fear.

“I don’t know what she sees in you,” Margot whispered as Glass stood beside her. “But I trust you’ll prove yourself useful in time.”

Margot led her silently out of the room, tiptoeing around the sleeping forms of the other girls, some with their feet still stubbornly dangling off the side of the cots so their toes could touch the ground. Those were the true believers, Glass knew. She kept well clear of them.

Glass passed Anna’s cot and nearly jostled it with her foot to rouse her. It seemed like a good idea to have somebody witness her being led out of the dorms in the dark of night, but she didn’t want to risk alerting Margot.


Once they’d left the dorms, Margot turned back to lock the door. “Where are we going?” Glass dared to whisper.

“To Soren’s quarters,” Margot answered. “Mother keeps odd hours, so you’d best get used to wake-ups like this one.”

Glass kept pace, her brain catching up. She still found it disorienting how the Protectors called Soren “mother.” Were any of them really her children?

They turned left, continuing down the endless, roofless hall. Glass looked up at the stars winking in the predawn light and wondered where Luke was. Was he awake, exhausted and distraught, staring at the same stars as he crafted a plan to come rescue her? She wished there was a way to send him a message, to let him know that she was fine.

Margot stopped, motioning Glass up a wooden stairway that still smelled like sawdust. As she climbed up the stairs, Glass felt Margot’s hand on her shoulder. She winced, expecting an impatient shove. But, to her surprise, the touch was gentle.

Two guards in white stood at the top of the stairs, wearing their usual eerily blank expressions. Seeing Glass, they nodded—almost deferentially—and parted to let her pass.

Glass forced a smile over her shoulder and continued on with Margot, both of them emerging into a wide room. Its scorched cement floors were covered with woven rugs and a four-poster bed sat in the middle. In the corner of the room, a fire burned in a makeshift fireplace, a scrap-metal chimney sending the smoke safely through the ceiling and into the night sky.

Glass marveled for a moment at the beauty of the room, the many little luxuries here, before remembering that all of this was likely stolen. Who had spent hours upon hours weaving the red woolen blanket on Soren’s bed? Glass hadn’t seen much weaving or wool-spinning going on around here.

Before she could take any more in, Margot shuffled her toward a little antechamber just off the main room. There was a cot here, just like back in the dorms, but also a little washbasin, a warm rug on the floor, even a small cracked mirror on the wall.

Glass stared at herself in it with a ripple of shock. It had been so long since she’d seen her own reflection. She looked so thin, so tired… so sad. She reached out and touched the crack, half expecting her face to fade and disappear behind it.

Margot’s eyes traveled down to Glass’s starchy white nightgown. “You’re smaller than Dara. We’ll have to take in her dress. In the meantime, you can wear your old uniform.”

She tossed Glass’s white dress onto the bed. Glass blinked, surprised—she hadn’t even noticed Margot bundling up her things back at the dorm.

“Who is Dara?” Glass asked, drawing her arms around herself.

“Soren’s former maid,” Margot said briskly. “You’ll be replacing her.” Her eyes sharpened on Glass. “She was a lot like you, actually. Sharp mind. Loud mouth.”

Glass couldn’t read Margot’s smirk, but she felt suspicion swirling in her stomach. “What… happened to Dara?” She pinched the seams of her nightgown, bracing herself for the answer.

“She has risen,” came a voice from behind her.

Glass turned to see Soren standing in the doorway, languid and willowy, a slight smile on her face.

“Risen?” Glass asked carefully. Was that their word for dead?

In answer, Soren stepped back, beckoning another girl into the doorway—a broad-shouldered, dark-skinned girl in her early twenties wearing the gray dress of one of the High Protector’s advisors.

“Dara,” Margot said warmly, reaching out to squeeze the girl’s hands. “Sister.”

Dara beamed, then nodded politely to Glass. “Mother is particular,” she said. “You must have impressed her.”

“That she did.” Soren laughed, extending a hand for Glass to take. “And will continue to, I have no doubt.”

Glass’s head was spinning. “What am I meant to be doing, exactly?”

“Your first responsibility is to take a walk with me,” Soren said, gliding back into her chamber. “I’d like to see the Stone in the dawn light.”

Dara’s eyes met Glass’s. She mouthed, shoes, shawl, while Margot motioned to an open chest of clothing a few feet away. Glass hurried to it, drawing away a set of leather slippers and a thick woolen shawl. Dara nodded, and Glass took them to Soren.

Soren smiled in thanks, then squinted at Glass’s outfit. “Take one more for yourself, child, so you don’t catch a chill.”

Dara was already beside her, offering her a soft white cloak.

“Thank you,” Glass whispered, both flattered and confused by all the attention.

The Stone was quiet as dawn rose over it in waves of pink and yellow. Glass and Soren walked in surprisingly comfortable silence. Soren knew every little alleyway and shortcut through the labyrinthine structure, leaving Glass completely disoriented. Finally, Glass smelled something green and thick and heady, and knew exactly where they were heading: the Heart of the Stone.

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