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       Reign, p.24

           Chanda Hahn
 
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  Brody and Nix were carrying a female Fae out of the tunnel. Nix shot Mina worried looks as they carried her—not over to the trucks with the survivors—but down by the waterfront, where the rows of the dead lay.

  “That’s not—?” Mina didn’t finish, because she jumped up and dashed after Nix. Ever called out after her. “Don’t go down there.”

  Mina didn’t listen. She recognized the dark hair, saw her beautiful brown skin and her lifeless eyes. “Mei!” She rushed down to the waterfront.

  Nix ran up to meet her and blocked her from heading down to the shore. “No, Mina. Don’t.”

  “That’s Mei. Let me go. That’s my Godmother!”

  Nix looked pained, but he yelled at Brody to help hold her back. Brody pulled her out of Nix’s arms and tried to lead her back up the hill.

  “Mei,” Mina cried, scratching and kicking at Brody so that he would let her go.

  He gripped her wrists and held on. “Mina. She’s gone. There’s nothing you can do.” Just then, another rumble started from deep in the earth and everyone scattered as the Green Mill Recycling Center collapsed in upon itself. It was as if the earth opened up and swallowed every inch of the place in a giant sinkhole.

  The Fae who were coming out of the escape tunnel ran for their life. Cries rose up around her as others screamed for loved ones that hadn’t surfaced yet. But the collapse triggered the water, and it rushed back down into the middle of the river, filling the escape tunnel and cutting off the last refugees.

  She couldn’t breathe. It was impossible to inhale, and it burned as she tried to gasp for air. Finally, her lungs expanded and she started to sob. “It’s all my fault. It’s because of me that this happened.”

  “No, it’s not your fault.” A feminine voice spoke up from behind her. “It’s mine.”

  Through her tears, Mina looked into the face of Ferah. Like Ever, the girl hadn’t aged much since she last saw her running away in the tower. Her hair was still a wild red, her eyes a deep blue.

  Mina filled with rage at the sight of the girl. She lunged for her. Ferah stepped back in surprise and Brody held her back.

  “Y-you,” Mina snarled. “It’s because of you this happened.”

  “But I would have finished the job, Mina. I would have been able to kill the prince if you hadn’t interfered,” Ferah added.

  “If you hadn’t tried to assassinate him with a cursed knife, he wouldn’t have turned evil and destroyed hundreds of innocent Fae.” She pointed at the bodies lining the beach. “They wouldn’t have died. Mei would still be alive. My father would still be alive.”

  Ferah had her own tears rolling down her face. “Blame me all you want, but if you hadn’t fallen out of the tower and used the seam ripper at that place in time to go to Halle, you wouldn’t have saved Wilhelm. You would never have been born.”

  “But why?” Mina sobbed, finally wrenching free from Brody.

  “I did what I had to do to try and prevent this from happening. Prophecies aren’t fool proof. Ask Constance. I’d do it again.”

  “I hate you.” Mina hissed.

  “Yeah, well, get in line,” Ferah laughed. “Behind me.”

  “I think I’d like to join the I Hate Ferah club as well.” Ever grumbled.

  Ferah turned and looked at Ever. “Oh look, if it isn’t the oh-so-shy Ever Farindale. Looks like you got over the shy bit and grew up into a big girl.”

  “Almost being killed in a maze will do that to you,” she shot back.

  Ferah looked over the Goth pixie and smirked at her footwear. “Nice boots.”

  “Yeah, the better to kick your little elf—”

  “Hey, I helped you that night.” Ferah cut Ever off. She thrust a thumb out at Mina. “She would have forgotten about you, if it wasn’t for me.”

  “That doesn’t make us friends,” Ever snapped. “I’ll have to agree with Mina on this one. It’s all your fault.”

  “What do you two not understand? I was just following orders.” The elf girl flung out her hands and pointed back to the burning building. “I was trying to prevent this. This is what the Guild does. Help Fae.”

  “I want to know whose orders.” Nix spoke up. “If everyone is going to start throwing blame on the powers that be, they’d better have a name.”

  Ferah’s lips pressed closed and she avoided eye contact. Not willing to share that information.

  “Oh don’t get all secretive on us now,” Ever lashed out. “There’s no time like the middle of a life or death situation to hash things out.”

  “She was following my orders.” Constance came up from down by the waterfront. Her white hair was filled with soot, and her dress was burned along the side. She looked like she’d been in a battle.

  “We knew this day would come, and this is not the first or final battle. Teague attacked the Guild first because we are the strongest of the Fae. We’re a collective, a mini army, whereas the rest of the Fae are scattered across the world. We were the only ones that could stand in his way of destroying your world. It’s why he attacked all of the other Guilds twenty years ago. But then, he wasn’t strong enough to destroy ours.” Constance looked toward the river.

  “This time, he was. He ripped right through our wards, and the giants and trolls made quick work of bringing the building down on us. Knocking out the gas lines. A lot of Fae gave their lives to help create a protective shield to hold them back while others escaped. But they couldn’t hold it back, and when the shield fell, the gas line blew.”

  “What now?” Ever asked, wiping her eyes with the corner of her black jacket.

  “We get the injured to safety. We have to hide all evidence of us ever being here. A few will stay behind to keep this area cloaked as well as trying to keep us hidden from the police. Also, someone will have to fix this.” She gestured to Brody, and Mina gasped.

  “No. You can’t.”

  “I’m sorry, Mina. But we have too. He’s seen too much.”

  “He helped. He was saving lives.” She tried to champion Brody’s cause, but he just gave her arm a squeeze.

  “We told you, you could have one.” Constance answered.

  “Yeah, well, your rules suck. And I don’t think I’m going to follow them anymore.” Mina grabbed Brody’s arm and tried to lead him away as fast as she could.

  But Ferah walked up to Brody and, in a split second, placed her hand on his forehead. A slight glow appeared around him, then dissipated.

  “No!” Mina swatted her hand away and looked to Brody. He eyes weren’t focusing. “Brody! Brody, answer me. It’s me. Mina.”

  He didn’t say a word.

  Constance motioned to someone down by the waterfront, and a woman started softly singing. She must have been another muse, like Constance, for when she sang, fire sprang up. In seconds, the dead were engulfed in flames, and Mina cried out.

  Her Godmother was no more. It hurt. To not be able to say good-bye. Mei had done so much for her and her family. Protecting her, watching out for her, and causing a bit of mischief at the same time. How was she going to tell her mom about this?

  Constance turned to Ferah and Nix. “Get the last of the Fae loaded up. We need to get to our backup location before the dark prince comes back for us.”

  Nix nodded and ran over to one of the Fae loading trucks. He jumped up onto the back of the truck bed and began getting the people settled in as comfortably as he could.

  “Where are you going? Where are you taking Nix?” Mina asked, feeling like she was being abandoned.

  “We have to get to a safe house. I have to protect our people. I’m sorry, Mina. But right now, they are my first priority.”

  “You’re abandoning me? You are the one to start all of this and now you’re walking away.”

  “Look at the truck and tell me what you see.”

  She scanned the back and saw Nix sitting down, pulling a small child into his lap. “Children. I see a lot of women and children.”

  Constance nodded her head.
They ran while the men fought off Teague’s army and tried to keep the building from collapsing. I have to get them to safety. I can’t let Teague hurt them.”

  “I understand,” Mina whispered. Her heart ached for all of the children that lost a loved one or a parent.

  Constance was about to head up to the trucks but turned to give her a warning. “Mina, there’s something else you should know.”

  She was exhausted and hurting, and she didn’t really want to hear any more news from the GM’s.

  “Teague’s goal wasn’t just to attack us. He took something.”

  “What was it?” Mina began to chew on her lip in worry. She didn’t need her most dangerous ally to have another huge weapon.

  “He stole one of the mirrors from the hall.”

  “You mean one of the Grimm mirrors? Whose mirror?”

  Constance pushed her glasses up on her nose and gave her a worried look. “Yours.”

  Chapter 33

  “What?” It was worse than she thought. If Teague had her mirror, there was no way for her to ever surprise him. He could watch her every second of every day. Her stomach rolled, and she turned and slipped her hand into Brody’s unresponsive one. He was still in a memory funk.

  In a matter of minutes, the rest of the Fae had cleared the site and were pulling away in the loaded the trucks. Ever, Mina, and Brody watched as five trucks filed in line and drove down an old service road. On their way to who knows where. Nix’s truck was the last to pull out, and he watched them solemnly. When they were about to turn a corner and pass out of sight, Nix stood up and waved goodbye.

  Brody snapped out of his coma to raise his arm and salute his best friend. Mina turned and gave him an odd stare. Ever just grinned and rolled her eyes.

  “Do you know who I am?” Mina asked, waving her hand in front of Brody’s face.

  “Of course I do.” Brody made an amused face and gently pushed her hand down.

  “What do you remember?” She tested him.

  “Everything.”

  “Everything, everything or just—”

  “Mina.” Brody reached into his pocket and pulled out a little charm. It was identical to the one Nan had. “I remember everything.”

  “How?” She almost started crying in relief.

  “Nix slipped it into my pocket in the tunnel and told me to not lose it. And if anything weird happened to just play dumb.”

  “But where did Nix get this charm?” Mina asked.

  “Why, he stole it.” Ever chimed in. “I watched him swipe it right out of Pandora’s box. You know Nixies have a thing for pretty little baubles. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stole a whole bunch of other stuff from the GMs while he was here.”

  “I’m so thankful he did,” Mina cried and gave Brody a hug. Then she turned to Ever. “So what are you going to do now? Why didn’t you go with them, and go into hiding?”

  Ever snorted. “Hiding’s not really my thing. And we can’t let Teague get away with this.”

  “No, no we can’t,” Mina agreed.

  “Plus, I happen to have gotten to know him quite well—or at least Jared pretty well—over the last few years. So if someone has an inside scoop on how he thinks, it’s probably me.”

  “Ever, thank you.” Mina reached out and gave her a hug, which Ever tried to get out of as fast as possible.

  “Yeah, well I’ve seen you in action and you really need all the help you can get. Good looks aren’t going to be enough.” She pointed at Brody, who just shook his head and gave her a wry smile. “Plus someone has to jump in and be your temporary Godmother, while the world is ending. I mean a Grimm can’t be without a Fae Godmother. And all the qualified ones just left.”

  Mina couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Ever, are you serious?”

  “About most things in life…No. About this…I’m dead serious.”

  “I’d be honored to have you be my Godmother.”

  “Great! It’s a deal. Just don’t tell Nan. That’s really not the image I want everyone to associate with me, you know.”

  “Pixie promise,” Mina answered.

  “Don’t you know it,” Ever said solemnly.

  Ever, Mina, and Brody were standing on the shore when the glamour hiding them dropped. Suddenly there was a whole parking lot filled with police, firemen, and what looked like a bomb squad who might be able to see them.

  “So what do we do next?” Brody asked while they stared at the flashing lights and sirens going off. It was unbelievable how much had been muffled by the glamour. Even the heat was ten times more intense now than before.

  “He’s not finished.” Ever announced. Her wings started to flap quickly, pushing more hot air toward Mina. “This is just the beginning of what he’s going to do.”

  “Teague’s got an army, so I think we need an army,” Mina answered.

  “And where do you think we’re going to find an army strong enough to take down one of the strongest Fae in both planes?” Ever asked.

  Mina pulled out the seam ripper. “I’m not sure, but I think we can come up with something. I won’t give up. Mei wouldn’t want that.”

  “Together?” she reached out and put her hand out palm down.

  Ever and Brody smiled and spoke at the same time. “Together.”

  The End

  About the Author

  Chanda Hahn takes her experience as a children's pastor, children's librarian, and bookseller to write compelling and popular fiction for young teens. She was born in Seattle, WA, grew up in Nebraska, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and their twins, Aiden and Ashley.

  Visit Chanda Hahn’s website to learn more about her other forthcoming books.

  Other Books by Chanda Hahn

  UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 1)

  Fairest (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 2)

  Fable (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 3)

  Reign (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 4)

  An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 5 2015

  The Iron Butterfly

  The Steele Wolf

  The Silver Siren

  Connect with Me Online at:

  Web: www.chandahahn.com

  Twitter: www.twitter.com/chandahahn

  Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChandaHahnAuthor

  Connect with Me Online at:

  Web site: www.chandahahn.com

  Twitter: www.twitter.com/chandahahn

  Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChandaHahnAuthor

  Thank you for Pre Ordering Reign.

  As a special thank you from the author, I’ve included the elusive

  Jared’s Quest, An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Short Story.

  **Please note**

  Jared’s Quest takes place in the timeline between UnEnchanted and Fairest.

  Even though you are reading it after REIGN

  Jared’s Quest

  Chapter 1

  He could see her from his perch in the tree. She was crouched below trying to be inconspicuous in the bushes. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, and she wore all black clothes to blend into the night.

  Very cliché. All she needs now is a utility belt and a cape and she’ll look like Batman. Jared had watched her for days and seen the signs—the lack of sleep, the anxiety, the constant looking over her shoulder. He could sense it too, the buildup of power that usually foretold a quest. Mina Grime was about to step into some very dangerous Fae business. He couldn’t believe she hadn’t even asked for his help. It was a good thing he didn’t need anybody’s permission to meddle in her business.

  Jared slipped down to the next lowest tree branch to get closer, being careful to not snag his jacket. He flexed his strained fingers before wiping them on his jeans. Mina was oblivious to the fact that he’d suddenly materialized in the tree; she was focused solely on the house in front of her. Her entire body was tense, like the spring on a mousetrap just waiting to be sprung. A sly smile crept up Jared’s cheek as a sudden idea pop
ped into his head. It was time to spring the trap.

  Jared slowly opened his hand. A small yellow glow appeared, and a black stone materialized into his palm. Taking careful aim, he tossed it into the bushes ten feet from Mina. Her head flicked to the left, following the sound. He leaned forward and gripped a smallish branch in the tree, pressing down on it until it snapped

  Mina jumped—straight into fight or flight mode. She turned in circles, scanning the area—looking everywhere but up.

  Pay attention, Mina. The sound was in the tree. Attackers can come from anywhere. He watched as her breathing became ragged and her hands started to tremble. She pulled the Grimoire out of her jacket and held it close, at the ready. Jared frowned. Didn’t she realize that she could ask for his help, instead of the stupid book? Maybe it was because he burned his bridge of trust with her. No he didn’t just burn it. He destroyed it with dynamite, and left their trust in piece with his evasiveness.

  He ran his hand through his thick hair, and his eyes narrowed. He thrust out his hand, and an even larger rock magically appeared. This time, he dispensed with the caution and launched it into the trees behind her.

  She visibly jumped and said something—barely audible. There!

  His name.

  A small frightened whimper, but enough for him. He didn’t know why, but just hearing her say his name calmed him. Mina was moving underneath his tree, and he didn’t need any prodding.

  When she passed in front, he nimbly leapt down. Although his branch was a good twelve feet from the ground, his landing was nothing but silent. Jared grabbed Mina around the waist and lifted her off her feet.

  “EEEK—mmph!” Mina yelped loudly but was quickly hushed by Jared’s hand over her mouth.

  “Mina, you really should be quieter,” he whispered into her ear, as he gently put her down on the ground. He took a deep breath and tried to hide his smile. She smelled like strawberries and vanilla. A scent that—in the Fae world—wouldn’t be considered all that beautiful or fascinating. But to him…on her it was just right.

 
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