Coal stood at Chalcedony’s bedroom door a few minutes later, holding a ragged shirt and a pair of pants.
The door was open but the room was empty, until Chalcedony stepped from behind her dressing screen. He almost dropped his bundle when he saw her wearing a pair of blue pants and a yellow shirt. Human clothes.
“What are you wearing? How did you get those?” he asked.
“Jeans and a T-shirt, the items you have in your hands, are very common clothes in the human realm.”
“But why are you wearing them?” he asked.
“It’s a surprise. Give me yours and I’ll fix them for you.”
She took his clothes, placed them on her bed and whispered over them. As she spoke, the holes in the shirt became smaller until they disappeared. The material stretched, becoming longer and wider. She worked the same magic with his pants.
“Wow, you could be a tailor. That’ll come in handy if the giants do decide to attack the dwarves.”
“Ha ha.” Chalcedony smiled in triumph. “Tetrick taught me this two days ago. I’m discovering more abilities the closer I get to my coronation.”
He’d always been jealous of Chalcedony’s ability to yield magic. Over the years, he’d gotten much better at hiding his envy, but still, every time he saw Tetrick and Chalcedony together, the jealousy and longing returned. Tetrick was strong, powerful, and able to phase in and out of most places anytime he wanted. He was everything Coal wasn’t.
“Fine, you can lengthen clothes, but why do we need to wear them?” Coal asked.
“Stop asking questions and relax. I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
She waved her hand and an invisible force pushed him backward. She’d learned to move things years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that she’d moved anything heavier than a sheet of paper.
“Okay, okay. I won’t ask any more questions. I can walk the rest of the way myself.”
“Thank you.” She lowered her hand and the force disappeared from his chest. “Be careful back there. I don’t want you ending up somewhere you shouldn’t.”
Reluctantly, but of his own free will, he walked behind the screen with his clothes.
A wave of nostalgia washed over Coal as he remembered the last time he’d ducked behind the screen. It served as Chalcedony’s secret portal and her escape route if Legacy was ever invaded, which hadn’t happened in over one hundred years. It was one of the best kept secrets in Everleaf. As children, they would travel through the screen pretending to hunt for treasure in the forest while everyone slept.
“So, what do you think?” Coal walked out from behind the screen. He didn’t like the feel of the stiff fabric against his skin, but the clothes fitted him.
She stared, eyes narrowed.
“Did I put them on right?” he asked, feeling self-conscious under her intense gaze.
“You look fine.” She smiled. “You look really good, actually.”
“Um, thanks.” If she liked them, he decided, they couldn’t be all bad. “So are you going to tell me why we’re dressed like this?”
“Nope.” She wrapped a black cloak around her lean shoulders and then handed him an extra one lying on her bed. “Wrap up. I don’t want anyone asking too many questions.”
Coal followed her out of the room while he tried to hide his excitement and curiosity. His joy disappeared when he saw Madoc at the bottom of the stairs talking to Ambassador Eli. He turned when he saw Chalcedony and Coal.
“You’re not taking your shadows?” Madoc asked, cocking his bushy black and gray eyebrow.
“I know how to protect myself.”
“Your pride will get you killed. Take your shadows. I’m sure they would appreciate the exercise.”
She rolled her eyes. “No. You have to start trusting me.”
“Traipsing through the human realm without your shadows is not something a queen would do.”
“We’re going to the human realm?” Coal blurted.
“Damn it, Madoc!” Chalcedony exclaimed. “I told you it was a surprise.”
Madoc shrugged. “Take your shadows.”
Chalcedony answered with a sneer before she stormed out of Legacy.
Coal followed behind Chalcedony while his mind raced. She chattered away, but he couldn’t focus. Several moments passed before he asked, “Why didn’t you tell me we were going to the human realm?”
“It was a surprise. Surprise!” Chalcedony wore a mischievous grin that made her red eyes sparkle.
In any other situation, Chalcedony’s good mood would have been contagious, but he’d been in the fey realm since he was seven and he’d never left Everleaf. He didn’t know whether to be scared or excited.
“Why are we going? I’ve never asked to go there.” The fact that Madoc had not argued about Chalcedony taking him worried him. If he knew anything about the elf, it was that he hated Coal. Most especially, Madoc hated Chalcedony to be seen with Coal outside of Legacy. His disapproval had grown more venomous over the past year.
“Are you going to leave me there?” he asked, recalling what the sentries had said.
Chalcedony stopped and faced Coal. “Why would you think that?”
“You didn’t answer my question.” His heart raced while he waited for a response.
“More and more of my work is there. It’s so different. Human tech can be destructive, but it’s amazing. Every time I go there I think of you and I wish you could see it. That’s why we’re going.”
“What about Madoc?”
“Don’t worry about him. Do you really think I’d just leave you in the human realm without telling you?”
“No, I don’t. It’s just—”
“Coal, I’ve been tracking rogue fey in the human realm and dealing with serious for three weeks,” she said with desperation in her voice. “I want to have fun. I swear that is the only reason we’re going. I swear on my mother’s sword.”
She held his gaze.
“How are we going to the human realm without Tetrick? Don’t you need him to phase us there?”
Chalcedony shrugged and continued walking. “No, we don’t need Tetrick.”
“Are we taking the dragons?” Coal asked, his curiosity piquing.
“No, we’re not flying. We’re taking the horses most of the way.”
“You’re not going to tell me, are you?” Coal asked as they entered the stable.
He smirked. “I didn’t think so.”
“Just relax,” Chalcedony said. “You’ll have fun. I promise.”