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In response, the princess started to laugh.
Gild and Serilda frowned at her and she cut off abruptly, as if surprised that they hadn’t joined her. She returned their frowns in force. “Iam a vicious thing,” she said. “The graveyard should fearme.”
Serilda couldn’t help the smile that crept across her mouth. Three hundred years old or not, it was impossible not to imagine this girl as a child playing make-believe.
She knew that wasn’t fair to her, though. She had rallied countless monsters to her side and fought against Perchta and the dark ones. She had fought valiantly.383
“I will keep guard,” rumbled a throaty voice.
Serilda started and spun around to find that she was face-to-face, not with a wyvern, but a human. They were shorter than Serilda, but stout and muscular, with a braid of long auburn hair tossed over one shoulder, full lips, and piercing green eyes. Most striking of all was the cut ruby that gleamed from the center of their forehead, marking the division of their face and body—half of which was covered in lizard-like scales, the other half in shining amber skin.
Tyrr did not move while they gaped at them, as if they were used to humans being rendered speechless by their sudden appearance.
“Th-thank you,” sputtered Serilda. “That would be appreciated.”
With a slow incline of their head, Tyrr picked up a tree branch that had fallen from a nearby oak and cracked it over their knee before tossing away the less pointy end. They approached the side of a moss-covered tombstone and, with effortless grace, hauled themselves up on top. They crouched there, gripping their makeshift spear, still as a gargoyle.
Serilda cleared her throat. Of all the times she’d imagined meeting the gods since she and Gild had concocted their plan, she hadn’t thought she would be quite so nervous around one.
“I cannot wear this,” said the princess, picking at the nightgown she wore with disgust. “I want my armor back.”
“Your armor is in Gravenstone,” said Serilda. “For now, it will have to do, until we can find you something else.”
“Here,” said Gild, undoing the clasps down the front of his jerkin, the one he’d been wearing when he was cursed. Underneath was the same linen shirt he’d always worn, but much cleaner and newer looking. He handed the leather jerkin to the girl, who eyed it with distrust. “It’ll be big on you, but it’s the best we can do for now.”
The girl huffed, but slipped it on over her nightgown. “It’s a bit better,” she admitted, her lip curled. “But what about my weapons? And my loom?”
“Loom?” asked Gild.384
“For my tapestries,” she said, as if it should have been obvious.
“Great gods,” muttered Serilda. “We broke your curse! We freed you from Gravenstone, like we said we would. We’re doing the best we can.”
The girl lifted her chin, glaring at Serilda and then Gild. Finally, she said, “Yes, fine. I’m grateful.” She did not sound grateful. “And I like that you brought a god with you. I’d never seen a wyvern before.” She nodded up toward Tyrr approvingly.
Tyrr raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“Perhaps we should introduce ourselves?” said Serilda, noting that Gild’s eyes kept awkwardly alighting on the princess, then darting away, then back to her again.
“I know who you are,” said the princess.
Gild’s eyes widened. “You do?”
“Well enough. Your faces have been appearing in my tapestries for centuries.” She gestured at Serilda. “Wyrdith-blessed and bride to the Erlking.” To Gild. “Gold-spinner. Hulda-blessed, like me.” Then to Tyrr. “God of war. Obviously.”
Gild and Serilda exchanged looks.
“Yes, well,” said Serilda, “it’s a bit more complicated than that.”
The girl gave Serilda a knowing look. “You do seem like the sort that likes to complicate things.”
“No, that’s not what I—” She huffed. “Gild, why don’t you start?” She nudged him in the side.
“I … yes. I’m Gild.” He scrunched his shoulders nervously toward his ears.
The princess stared, waiting.
He glanced once at Serilda, as if begging for help, but she just nodded, urging him to continue.