Book two in Accidental Enchantments.
Prince Richard is cursed. Enslaved to a magic mirror, he must truthfully answer the evil queen when she uses it to call on him. To keep from betraying innocents, Richard wanders the countryside and avoids people.
All her life, Gretchen has been teased for being small. When she hears of a hidden farm populated by little people like her, she sets out to find it--and is welcomed by the mostly male inhabitants. Lars in particular woos her with his gentle kindness and quiet strength.
Danger looms when Gretchen meets a runaway princess and offers her shelter at the Little Farm. Wandering nearby, Richard instantly falls in love with the beautiful princess, and is later compelled to tell the queen that she is not the fairest of them all. Enraged, the queen vows to find them and destroy them.
If either Gretchen or Richard are to have their happy endings, they must team up to break the mirror's spell before the queen kills them all...
For another fairy tale retelling from Tia Nevitt, check out The Sevenfold Spell, available now!
He lost track of the turns he had taken since he had fled the town hours ago. He was lost, but he didn't care. He was glad of it. Fortunately he didn't know the name of the town. He had run away as soon as he learned its secret, shouting warnings of doom behind him and probably sounding like a madman.
He knew he looked like a madman. There were traces of decayed finery about him, the odd length of gold braid clinging to the seam of his trousers by a few threads or the frayed end of an epaulet dangling from his shoulder. But these scraps of lost riches only looked more wretched next to his stringy hair, the frayed ends of his tunic and the loose heel of his boot that slapped on the road as he ran.
He had long since sold his horse. It was cruel to run the beast into a froth every day.
It grew darker with every minute, and he began to stumble on the stones of the road. The night bugs were starting to sing, and the owls to hoot. Far in the distance came the chilling howl of wolves.
Ahead, the road forked. Both directions looked the same--sparsely wooded and uninhabited.
Lost. He needed to stay lost.
Richard stopped at the center of the fork, closed his eyes and began to spin. Around and around he went, until he felt as if the world was awhirl along with him and until his stomach stung his throat with bile.
He stopped spinning, caught himself from falling and then with his eyes still closed, he stumbled and groped his way down one of the roads. For all he knew, he could be heading back in the direction he came from. He had already taken numerous turns, soit didn't matter. What mattered was that he stay as lost as possible. He opened his eyes and carried on.
The last of the daylight eked out of the landscape, and his eyes strained to see.
A swoosh of dizziness almost pitched him over. He staggered against a low roadside wall as a vision crowded out the darkness. He could see littleof the wall or of any of his surroundings. Instead, a face swam before his consciousness, a vision that was familiar, lovely beyond compare, and terrible.
"Greetings, slave of the mirror," she said.
He didn't respond. He never did. He just waited for the questions.
"Who is the fairest woman of all?"A crown topped a veil of gold damask that showered over her platinum hair. Her eyes were just the opposite. They were so dark that he could not tell where the pupils ended and the iris began.
One. "You are, my lady, as you well know," he said. She often asked this question, and he always wondered why. He had to tell the truth when summoned by the mirror. He would betray his own father, and indeed, he had before. So why waste a question on a matter of vanity?
He suspected she didn't--that there was another reason she asked.
"Tell me what you've learned today that might interest me."
Two. "There's a town. It's--" he couldn't stop himself from telling the truth, but he could be as vague as possible, "--it's reached an...arrangement with your tax collector. The townsfolk were...very happy."
"I see." She paused. He knew she was trying to think of a way to phrase the question to yield the most information possible. Beyond her he could see a richly bedecked room and the pointed arches of glass-paned windows. "What is the name of this town, which reached an arrangement with one of my tax collectors?"
Three! The name of the town came to him--Grunberg--but so did the names of other towns, in other places. He smiled. "There are many such towns."