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Authors: MarcyKate Connolly
where I am headed. He could be working with the wizard for all I know.
    When his footfalls no longer trail after me, I lean against a building and catch my breath. Adrenaline leaves my legs rubbery and weak. I must be more careful. What if he saw me coming out of the palace?
    I will rest for a few more minutes, just to be sure he is gone. Then, and only then, will I resume my task.


    WHEN I WAKE ON THE FLOOR OF THE TOWER ROOM, FATHER WAITS IN THE armchair in the corner, studying me carefully. The limp bundle of girl remains on the bed where I placed her last night. I waited a long time before fetching her and was so exhausted that I must have fallen asleep as soon as I set her down.
    â€œSomething troubles you, my dear,” Father says.
    My face burns and I take a seat on the edge of a bed. My dreams were plagued with images of the strange boy, and the haunting vision of the little blond girl. I cannot lie. Father can see into the recesses of my mind and sense everything I know.
    â€œThat boy,” I say, fearing his anger. “He saw me on the way to the prison. He called for me to stop.”
    Father grabs my arms. “What? How could you let someone see you? Did you speak to him?”
    I flinch. “I ran. I hid. He did not catch me.”
    The tension in Father’s shoulders relaxes. “Good. You are certain he did not follow you to the prison?”
    â€œI am certain,” I assure Father.
    â€œYou must be careful, Kymera. If anyone else were to find the secret prison, they would be in danger, too. Only you can go in and out safely.”
    Shame slinks through my belly. For some reason, I do not like the thought of the boy getting caught by the wizard. I brush the strange feelings away as Father paces the circular room. He taps his forefinger to his chin as he often does when he thinks hard about something.
    â€œWhat I do not understand is why the boy was out after curfew. The king’s proclamation allows for no exceptions.”
    My face reddens. “I might know something, but I cannot make sense of it.”
    Father stops and stares. “Well, go on, child.”
    I clasp and unclasp my hands. They are sweaty, which strikes me as odd.
    â€œI am not sure the king is in power anymore.”
    â€œWhat?” The look on Father’s face makes me want to giggle. Confusion, mixed with fear and a tinge of happiness. So much conflict in the span of a mere two seconds.
    â€œThe palace is empty.”
    â€œTell me, how do you know this?” he whispers.
    â€œI am sorry, Father, but I had to see it for myself. All the fairy tales revolve around a palace, and after all you’vetold me of our city, I could not help it. But when I arrived, no one was there. Except that boy.” I frown, realizing how much this could upset Father. I wish I had held my tongue.
    â€œNo one? What do you mean, no one?”
    â€œThe only guards were at the gates, there was no heavy breathing of sleep—one of the halls even seemed to be falling apart. That boy knew secret ways in and out.” My hands quiver as the uneasiness from the night before descends again, and I clasp them together.
    â€œWhat did the boy do in the palace?”
    â€œIt was all very strange. I followed him to the throne room and watched him open a panel in the dais stairs. He hid a note there and ran off.” I grin. “But I am sly and I read his note. I put it right back. No one will know.”
    â€œWhat did it say?” Father’s voice is throaty and he seems to be having trouble swallowing.
    â€œThe meaning baffles me. It said: ‘More girls sick. K suspects wizard. Will remain where he is. More guards.’”
    Father’s hands shake, but then he laughs out loud, startling me. “He is running away. The king is running away and using a mere boy to deliver secret messages for him. No wonder the city council still makes a show of entering the palace every day. They are

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