Nuala had brought her lunch -- she'd picked at it -- and tried to dress her. She didn't know what to do next. Horse had disappeared, and though she had tried whistling out the window and calling his name, he hadn't appeared. Now she waited for nightfall, for news of the queen's death, for the castle to sleep and let her sneak into the dungeons and find her husband.
Nuala had returned with dinner and tried to brush her hair. The serving woman seemed concerned for her, and prattled endlessly about the trolls. Lyta slumped on the bed, exhausted.
The door opened.
"Jasper!" She flung her arms around him and kissed his broken lips, his dirty cheeks and blackened eyes. His arms were chained and he stared at her, his eyes hollow and distant, until his demeanor cracked and black misery flooded out of him like a river that had cracked its dam. He scooped her up and laid her on the bed, kissing her with the desperation of a man who had thought he would never see his wife again, and still might loose her yet.
He clutched her against himself and buried his face in her hair, kissing her neck. "Lyta." His voice was hoarse. "Why are you here?"
"I came for you. You knew I would." Lyta caught Jasper's hands, tugging at the manacles. "What have they done to you?"
The guard cleared his throat and glared at them.
The color drained from Jasper's face. "I must do something terrible." He turned away and picked up her satchel, slipping a hand inside.
Lyta helped him with the strap, which he couldn't manage with his hands bound. "What is it?"
His expression hardened. "Come with me."
She swallowed, then took his arm.
Lyta couldn't help but stare at the queen, rendered so commonly mortal by a simple dose of poison. Her head lolled against the pillow, a line of blood staining the silk. Her eyes flicked back and forth, and as she returned to herself, she grunted and gestured for all but her dead guards to leave.
Jasper knelt, staring at the floor. "I have brought her."
Lyta's heart began to pound.
The trolls outside had begun to roar, beating their fists against the castle, demanding kaolinite and retribution. They stomped and rumbled and shook, and the castle shook with them, chunks of mortar falling from the cracks between the bricks. "Give her..." The queen's voice was a whisper, rough and hoarse.
Jasper picked Lyta up. "Don't worry," he whispered, "this won't hurt." He kissed her forehead, and the world went black.