A deep roar echoed in the next room, the sound resonating through the floor. Mina felt it through the soles of her shoes. King Lucian winced at the sound.

“What kind of test is this? This doesn’t seem proper,” Annalora shrieked again.

“One that is fully appropriate, I assure you.”

The sounds coming from the other room died down, and Mina could just see the barest shimmer of light passing under the door. Then it went dark.

King Lucian waited as the servant from yesterday reappeared and whispered the results to him. He looked disappointed.

“Ah, it seems we are ready. Who will go next?” He cast his golden gaze around at the girls, waiting for a volunteer. It appeared they wouldn’t know the results of the previous contenders until they’d either failed or passed the test themselves.

Dinah stepped forward and gave each of the girls a nervous glance before entering the library.

Mina couldn’t lie. She didn’t want to compete against Dinah, but she still wanted her new friend to succeed. It was the same with Ever. She truly cared about what was happening to these girls, and she didn’t want any of them hurt. But then there was Annalora. She couldn’t care less what happened to the bully.

Dinah’s test dragged on even longer than Tawny’s. But she also didn’t hear any of the terrifying roars. It was close to twenty minutes before King Lucian signaled for the next girl to enter the library. Like he’d done with Tawny’s results, he didn’t give any indication what happened to Dinah.

Ever jumped at the chance to go next. Mina’s respect for her grew with each contest. The girl really wanted to win Teague.

This time they heard angry roars coming from the library loud and clear. In fact, Mina could’ve sworn she heard two overlapping. It might have been just her nerves. But maybe it wasn’t.


The petite Perrin went in next, leaving five girls. Perrin barely stood over four feet, with white blonde hair and doll-like features. But it was those doll eyes that made everyone avoid her. There was something about her that was a bit creepy—like right-out-of-a-horror-movie creepy.

Then it was down to five: Mina, Annalora, Sephora, Estellya and Shaya. When it was time for someone to approach the doors, Mina felt a hand shove the center of her back, pushing her toward King Lucian.

“So eager to meet your fate?” he teased.

“I already have, your Majesty.” Mina nodded in his direction.

He laughed. “Excellent! Brave and quick-witted. “Hopefully your wit will help you in your next task. Enter.”

Her feet were on autopilot as she walked through the doors into the library. First, she let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Bookshelves lined every wall and formed long rows down the back of the room. There was a reading nook by a window with a cushioned bench. A few dark mahogany tables with stacks of books were placed throughout, and lit candelabras adorned each table.

The room looked relatively peaceful. There was no evidence of any of the girls having been here. No sign of the originator of the beast-like roar. Maybe it truly was just a trick. She wouldn’t put it past the Fates to tease them with something awful, and instead give them a simple-but-easy-to-overlook quest.

She walked past a large window that was drawn shut. Looking around, she noticed most of the windows’ thick curtains were drawn closed. Actually, only one window was visible, casting a path of light down the middle of the room. Maybe it was done on purpose to protect and preserve the books?

Specks of dust swirled in the light and she was momentarily distracted by a book and quill laying on the table closest to her. It seemed that the story was left unfinished. The author had unique penmanship, and the ink still looked wet.

I know what is expected of me, but the pressure is more than I can bear alone.

And yet I know that to rule is to be alone...forever.

The pages on the book began to flip as cold breeze blew over her skin. Somewhere, a door had opened in the half-darkened library. She was no longer by herself. She looked up in alarm, but couldn’t make out the large shape lumbering toward her until it passed into the beam of light.

It was just as Teague had warned—an ogre. Its gray bald head and bulbous nose came into view as it leaned down, swinging a meaty hand toward her. Without thinking, she jumped back just in time. The ogre’s gigantic fist crashed into the table, inches from the book. She should have run when she had the chance, but instead she leaned forward and grabbed the book from beside the ogre’s hand and rolled under the table.

He roared and smashed his fist into the tabletop again, cracking it.

Desperate, Mina looked around the room considering her options.

She muffled a cry as the ogre slammed the table once more, and dust rained down on her. She was so scared, the edges of the book’s cover dug into her fingers. Her grip had only become stronger with her terror. The ogre’s feet were inches from her, and she tried to use Fae magic to protect herself by pushing him away or knocking him over. But her limited knowledge of how it worked made it useless.

“Oh, Jared,” Mina cried out. “What would you do?”

The assault on the table ceased, and the enormous feet moved to her left, continuing in a circle around the area. Pacing her, taunting her, stalking her. Her nerves were getting the better of her, but she could also feel the power.

She could feel the Story that she’d always been so tuned into. Something stirred deep in her soul and she knew what she had to do. She’d never been good at outright controlling Fae magic. Manipulation, on the other hand, was something that she could do—and had been doing subconsciously ever since she’d learned she was a Grimm. The power had been following her family for generations, and the longer she resided in the Fae plane, the more of the overall plan she understood.

And the more she recognized her part in it.

She may not like or agree with it, but it was becoming clear that she was the center.

Mina flung the heavy leather bound book onto the floor, pressed her hands to the pages, and commanded it to change. She began to push her will and all of the Fae magic that gathered around her into the book. Her hands grew tingly with warmth, and she watched in awe as golden veins of magic rushed through her fingers into the pages. The book glowed with power and gradually lifted off the ground to float inches above the floor.

She understood now. Granted, it was like trying to see the future by looking through the small crack in a window blind, but she could see her purpose and part. She would worry about the consequences later. When her hands stopped glowing and she felt herself weaken and tire, she pulled the book out of the air and felt it hum in happiness.

“Hello, my friend,” Mina whispered. “I’ve missed you. Do you think you are ready for a great adventure?” The book almost quivered with excitement, and Mina grinned.

She braced herself on one knee with the book tucked under her arm and waited for the ogre to come around.

Suddenly, he lifted the table and tossed it to the side. It crashed against a far wall, breaking the shelves and sending a mass of leather bound books to the ground.

“Rawrgh!” He advanced.

Mina smiled wryly and held the book before her where it elongated into a golden sword of fire. The blazing weapon gave him pause, but he shook it off and tried to circle her. And then another ogre appeared from behind the first.

“Oh, come on.” Mina decided to attack. She rushed the first ogre and swung upward with the fiery blade, slicing him across the chest. He roared in pain but it only infuriated him as he charged at her.

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