Finally, he looked up at Serilda. “Where isyourbody?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “He must be keeping it somewhere else.”
Gild sighed, frustrated. “We need to put the platform back. If the Erlking knew what we’d seen, he would move the bodies somewhere else.”
Serilda frowned. “Gild … you can take the arrow out. Untether yourself. Break the curse. You can do it now.”
He held her gaze, confused. “And what about you?”
She shook her head. “You can’t be worried about me. This is your chance to get away, to be free of this place—”
He scoffed. “And leave you here by yourself? Not a chance. As soon as I break my curse, I’ll be trapped on the other side of the veil, without you.”157
Serilda wanted to argue, but his tone was decided, and she could tell he would not be persuaded. A part of her was relieved.
But his words also brought a sting of guilt. She didn’t want to be the reason he was trapped here. And even if they did find her body … would she leave with him? Could she ever abandon the children like that?
“Gild,” she started, attempting to sound reassuring and logical, “we don’t know if we’ll ever—”
“We will,” he said, making his way back to the edge of the pit. “We’ll find your body, too, Serilda. When we leave, we’ll be leaving together.”
Rarely did she see him so stoic. So determined.
Slowly, she nodded. “All right.”
Gild climbed out of the pit and began to walk around to the other side of the dais to push it back into place.
“Wait,” said Serilda. “You should take this.” Reaching down, she picked up the crown that lay near the corner of the pit. Delicately crafted of gold filigree, inlaid with emeralds and pearls. “You would have been king.”
He laughed, though it lacked his usual humor. “I don’t want that. I haven’t done anything to earn it.”
Then a change came over him. A shadow. A tension. It showed in the set of his shoulders and the tilt of his chin.
“But I want to earn it.” An unfamiliar glint entered his eye as he scanned the pit again. His parents, his court. So many who still wandered its halls, locked into servitude of the Erlking.
“Let’s break these curses, Serilda. And let’s find a way to make him regret ever having come to this castle.”
A throat cleared, startling them both.
Serilda spun around.
Agathe stood in the doorway, covered in new bandages, her arm in a sling. Smiling crookedly. “I might be able to help with that.”158
Gild poked his head out from behind a column. He looked from the weapons master to Serilda. “Help with … putting the thrones back where they go? Or help with breaking the curse?”
Agathe’s grin widened. “Both.”
Agathe knew where Serilda’s body was being kept.
Serilda couldn’t believe it.Didn’tbelieve it.
As she and Gild hastened after the weapons master, she felt hope warring with disbelief.
They had found Gild’s body, and now they were on the verge of finding hers as well. After months of searching, it seemed almost too easy. Could it be a trick?