Chapter Seventeen: Eliza

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An hour later, I sat in a tub of ice, feeling defeated once again. The ancient books were gone and it was my fault. I sparked the King's interest in finding them. If he was the one to take them, he had a recipe for disaster.

I could only hope that Prince Sebastian's investigation wouldn't lead to him being caught and everyone being exposed. I still hadn't even come to terms with the fact that I needed to tell the others everything that had happened. Would they hate me?

"Mandy," I spoke up, and she came to life in the chair behind me.

"My lady?"

"Will you please visit the other three trainees and tell them to meet here in twenty minutes?"

"Right now, my lady?" she asked, unsure of my request.

"Yes. Just leave me be, I'll dress myself. Go call on the others. Thank you."

"As you wish." Mandy stood from the chair and hurriedly made her exit.

I rose from tub, grabbed my robe and slipped it on. A dress was laid out on my bed, waiting for me to drape myself in it. Once dressed, I paced the length of my room, going over my explanation and predicting the possible reactions. Unfortunately, my thoughts were not in my favor.

Luca was the first to arrive, and his presence was actually soothing. If anyone would defend me, I know it would be him. After letting him into the room, I returned to pacing.

"What is this meeting about? What happened?" he asked, watching me from the corner with curious eyes.

"It's best to wait for the others. I'll explain everything shortly."

Luca nodded and remained quiet. A minute later, Cora and Titus walked into the room, standing next to Luca.

"I was about to eat," Cora complained. "Why did you call us here so abruptly?"

"Because, we have a serious issue," I began. "The King has the winter stone."

"Well how did he get it?" Cora casually asked. She wasn't as alarmed as I'd hoped, then again, she didn't know the King like I knew him. She didn't know even what the winter stone did.

"He ripped it from my neck when he tried to...seduce me." I settled on a more pleasant way of saying that the King tried to force me into bed. I was also embarrassed to admit it because it made me feel weak and vulnerable.

"Ok, so the King has the stone. We still don't even know what it is. I could care less," Titus said, looking bored with the conversation.

"You don't get it!" I shouted.

"I believe I do," Titus fired back. "We found a mysterious stone that only you could touch. We have no idea what it even is! And this mysterious stone was then confiscated by the King. It probably belongs to him, anyway."

"No, it belongs to Prince Sebastian!"

"Good! Better the King have it than the Cold Prince," Titus stated, and then he frowned.  "Wait, how did you know it belonged to the Prince?"

I swallowed hard. If I told them about my involvement with the Prince, they wouldn't understand. They thought he was wicked. Trying to convince them that the King was the evil one would've been impossible.

"I-I...the King admitted it when he took the stone," I lied.

"Well, I'm no longer interested in this stone," Titus said. "I'll excuse myself."

"Wait! There's more." I took a deep breath. "I returned to the Witch's Closet and the books were gone. I think the King found them."

"I have one," Luca spoke up. "It's the one I took that night to try to translate the language."

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