The next night, I met Prince Oryn in the tack room, long after the stable hands had gone to sleep. He was cross-legged on the floor, braiding hay. Silently, I sat down in front of him.
He set the hay in his lap. “You said you’d make me look sick. How real is it?”
I smoothed out my skirt. ” You’ll be tired, but it won’t hurt. The herbs I intend to use will mimic a fever and drain your face of color. It won’t last after you stop taking it.” I explained.
“And how will you make me look dead?” he asked, fidgeting with the braid of hay. “Do you have an herb to stop my heart? My breathing?”
I scoffed. “None that you would wake up from, which rather contradicts my plan.”
He looked at me, confused. “That’s fey magic. You’re not fey.”
“I spent enough time in Rêve to learn a little of their magic.”
He thought for a moment, tying off the braid and starting a new one. “Can the fetch not take my place the moment I fall ill?”
I shook my head. “I cannot keep the magic that long, and it could not impersonate you that exactly.” His shoulders sagged. “Not excited about being weak and frail?” I asked with a soft smile.
“It doesn’t seem comfortable, and I’m putting quite a lot of trust in you, seeing how you’ve hidden a large secret from me for so long.”
I winced. “You understand why I did that, don’t you?”
“Of course.” he said. “But I’m nervous. I didn’t actually expect a way out of my birthright.”
“You would make a fine king.” I said quietly.
“I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m selfish enough to value my freedom over it, which may contradict the thought.”
“You do want to do this, don’t you? I don’t want to force your hand.”
He laughed a little, then met my eyes. “I do. This is a miracle to me. A chance I never thought I’d have. When do we start?”
“Timing is the most important part. If you get sick out of nowhere, people might guess that you’re being poisoned. We need to wait until summer, when fever takes many unfortunate souls. I will begin collecting the herbs, and we will wait until the first bout of sickness strikes.”
“So I have about two months before we carry this through.”
“I nodded. “and if at any time you change your mind, I will honor that. It’s only final when they think you are dead.”
“Thank you, Eletta, but you can’t get rid of me so easily.” he said with a grin.
I smiled back at him. “Is that not precisely what I am doing, your majesty?”
He stood and offered his arm to help me up. “Eletta isn’t your real name, is it?” he asked.
“What is it?”
“I’ll tell you after you are buried.” I said, and we walked back inside in silence.