Finn would work with his father and the trackers to build up the army. He even grudgingly agreed to enlist Loki to help him. Loki was physically as strong as a hobgoblin, so at the very least the trackers could practice fighting him and get an idea of what that kind of strength could do.
Tove had to figure out who to appoint as temporary Chancellor until an election could be held. He’d volunteered to take care of the Chancellor position because he felt responsible for sending our old Chancellor to die. I assured him that it wasn’t his fault, but he wanted to take care of it anyway.
And I had what sounded like the easiest job but felt like the most impossible. I had to find a way to kill the King.
When we got back to the palace, there was a flurry of defense meetings going on. Tove had purposely not told anyone that I had left with Loki out of fear of starting a panic, but I called a meeting as soon as we were back to let them all know.
Loki tried to slink off to his room to hide, but I made him go with us. As ridiculous as it was, I needed the Trylle to trust him. He had the most knowledge of the Vittra, so he would be the best equipped to help us fight.
The meeting went about as well as I’d expected. Lots of yelling and disagreeing, although the Marksinna Laurent was quiet since Tove threatened to banish her. Once I got them calmed down and explained what I was going to do and what had to be done, they took it a bit better. A clear plan helped ease their fears.
I ended the meeting by telling them that we were going on a recovery and fact-finding mission to Oslinna. Without even asking them, I volunteered myself, Willa, Tove, Loki, and Aurora to go. I was trying to ease them into the idea that Markis and Marksinna could do actual work, and hopefully, they would when I called upon them.
Afterward, we all dispersed to complete our tasks. As desperately as I wanted to sleep, I didn’t have time. I had to go to the library and find every book on the Vittra I could. There had to have been other immortals before Oren, and there had to be ways of killing them.
Of course, all the old texts were written in Tryllic in an attempt to disguise them from the Vittra. That’s where the most useful information would be kept on how to stop them. My Tryllic had gotten better, but it wasn’t fantastic. It took me ages to read a single page.
“Wendy,” Tove said, and I looked up to see him standing in the doorway of the library. My vision was blurry, as I’d spent too long staring down at old texts.
I was sitting on the floor amongst a pile of books near the far wall. I’d started out carrying books over to the desk before deciding that was a waste of time, and I had no time to waste. We were leaving for Oslinna in the morning, and we would be gone for a few days, so I wouldn’t be able to research then.
“Did you need something?” I asked.
“It’s late,” Tove said. “Very late.”
“I have a few more things to go through.”
“When was the last time you slept?”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t have time to sleep. There’s so much to do, and I don’t know how we can possibly do it. I don’t know how we can be ready, unless I’m working every minute.”
“You need sleep.” He came into the room and walked over to me. “We need you to be strong, and that means you need to rest sometimes. It is a necessary evil.”
“But what if I can’t do this?” I asked, staring up at him with tears in my eyes. “What if I can’t find a way to stop Oren?”
“You will,” he assured me. “You’re the Princess.”
“Tove,” I sighed.
“Come on.” He held out his hand to me. “Sleep now. We can look more in the morning.”
I let him take my hand and pull me to my feet. He was already in his pajamas, and his hair was even more disheveled than normal. I guessed he’d tried to sleep without me, but he’d gone looking for me when I hadn’t come to bed.
My mind was racing, thinking of all the things I had to do. I didn’t think I’d ever really be able to sleep, but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out.
It looked like a bomb had gone off. I’d never seen Oslinna before to have a real comparison, but everything was devastated.
Oslinna was a small town, even smaller than Förening. It was settled in a valley at the base of several low mountains. By the looks of what was left of some of the buildings, it had been quite beautiful.
All of the trackers’ homes were smashed. Trackers lived in small cottages, most of them nestled in trees or the mountains, and the floors were usually just dirt. They were very easily destroyed. But the nicer homes of the Markis and Marksinna were mostly decimated too, with parts of the roofs missing and walls collapsed.
The palace in the center was the only thing still standing. It was like a version of my own palace, except on a smaller scale and with fewer windows. While the back of my palace overlooked the river, this one was built into the mountain behind it.
Half of the palace had crumbled, and it was blackened, as if burnt. The other half looked okay, at least from the outside. There had been some obvious damage, like broken windows and a destroyed fountain, but it looked much better than the rest of the town.
We’d driven slowly through the town, in awe of the carnage, and Tove had to swerve a few times to miss debris in the road. He stopped in front of the palace, parking next to an uprooted oak tree.
“This is too much for us to handle,” Aurora said from the backseat. She’d been complaining about helping the entire way here, but we’d left her without a choice. She was the strongest healer, and the people of Oslinna had been hurt.
“We’ll do all that we can,” I said. “And if we can’t do any more, then so be it.”
I got out of the car before she could voice any more complaints, and Duncan pulled up in another Cadillac behind us. He had Willa, Matt, and Loki with him. Finn had wanted to come too, but he was still healing and Thomas needed him to help with the trackers. Matt had insisted on coming along, and at first, I’d been against it, but we really could use all the hands we could get.
“This is even worse than I thought it would be,” Willa said. She wrapped her arms around herself and shook her head. “I can’t believe they did this.”
“This is who you’re fighting?” Matt asked, looking around. “The people who did this?”
“We’re not fighting anyone right now,” I said, cutting off his train of thought. “We’re cleaning this up, and that’s the only thing we need to worry about.”