But he didn’t pry. Instead, a glint of defiance came into that eye. “I noticed a horrific number of cobwebs in the corridor that mustn’t be tolerated. I don’t suppose you would mind if I go take care of that?”
Her chest warmed. “Not at all.”
“Good. I’ll leave the door parted a bit, so as not toleave you alone.”
She couldn’t be sure of it, but Serilda thought the squint of his eye was an attempt to wink, before he left the cell, leaving the door ajar barely the width of his thumb.
“Always did like him,” said Gild.
Serilda turned back, overcome—with gratitude, with relief.
With desperation. The clock was already ticking.
She threw herself into Gild’s arms.
“What did you say to His Glumness to make him leave?”
“Nothing of importance. Come, tell me everything.”
“I have nothing to tell,” said Gild. “How long have I been down here?”
“Four weeks. Tonight is the Harvest Moon.”
Gild groaned. “And I thought time passed slowly in Adalheid.”
Serilda looked at the pile of straw, to the spinning wheel in the cell’s corner. “How much have you spun?”
“Enough to capture every animal in the Aschen Wood,” he said, rolling a kink from his shoulders. “I didn’t even know I could get blisters anymore.” He lifted his hands to show her the sore spots on his palms and fingers. “And I’ve got a permanent ache in my leg from stepping on that damned treadle. I’ll be happy to never spin again after this.”253
“Gild—you shouldn’t be doing this. He plans to catch a god. He’s going to bring back Perchta—”
“Do I have another choice?” He wrapped one of Serilda’s braids around his fingers. “I can’t let him hurt you. Just like you can’t let him hurt those children.”
She slumped, frustrated with how easily the Erlking had manipulated them.
“Besides, let him bring back his huntress. I killed her once, didn’t I? I can do it again.”
He laughed and shrugged. “Probably not. I’ve no idea how I did it the first time. Something about an arrow? Iamdecent at archery.”
“It’s also possible Tyrr had something to do with that.”
Tyrr, the god of archery and war, was often credited with a lucky shot.
Gild groaned. “You want to give the gods credit for everything. But I don’t want to talk about Perchta or the Erlking or spinning gold. Serilda … we’re inGravenstone.” He fixed her with a meaningful look. “Have you … I mean … have you seen her?”
Serilda stared at him. “Perchta?”
He made a face. “Mysister.”
Understanding bolted through her. Serilda had thought of the princess often in the first days since their arrival, but since then she’d been distracted by haunting whispers and drude attacks.
She shook her head. “She isn’t here. The castle was abandoned.”
Disappointment clouded his face. “He took her because of me. He had heard that one of the royal children was Hulda-blessed, and he’d assumed it was her.”
“She might have been a gold-spinner, too,” she said. “Maybe it runs in your blood.”