CH 15.1 —
A ghostly figure appeared at Ezra’s side. “Bit of a rough day, eh?”
Ezra knew all the castle ghosts. This one had been his father’s bodyguard a long time ago. He had been killed during the last troll war, when Ezra’s father, Frances, had been a young boy. “Michaels, was my father always like this?”
The ghost patted him on the shoulder. “He has had his more relaxed moments.”
“I know my father loves me and that he’s afraid for my life, but he’s also disappointed in me. He’s angry that I didn’t turn out like my brothers, who wield their mighty swords to defend the kingdom. Because of this stupid curse, I’ll never be a brave knight like them. So why doesn’t he let me help in other ways? Why can’t he see that I am capable? I could be a big help to him.”
Michaels cleared his throat. “I don’t think he saw the humor in the donkey prank.”
“School is so boring most of the time. I have to do something to liven things up. And can I help it if my royal cousins have the intelligence of cows? They’re cruel too. They deserved what happened.”
Michaels pursed his lips. “Did they? Those donkeys, who used to be your royal cousins, all disappeared from their homes last night. No one knows what happened to them.”
Ezra frowned, uneasy. “Maybe they were so ashamed that they ran away.”
“All of them? All at the same time? I doubt it. I think they were stolen. Your aunts and uncles are frantic with worry.”
“Did any of the ghosts see who took them?”
Michaels cleared his throat. “Sorry. I was with your father all night. His heart is not doing well. I will ask the other ghosts.”
Ezra was immediately concerned. “Has anyone tried Miracle Mix?”
“Unfortunately, the last jar was used up a month ago. Dr. Pill ordered some more, but the shipments keep getting waylaid in the Tulgey Woods.”
“Can’t you go out to the woods and find out what’s going on?”
“Sorry, Sire. I am bound to the castle. No one can see or hear the ghosts except you, and at this moment no one will listen to you.”
Ezra felt uneasy. Why would anyone steal all the male royal cousins, especially when they were in donkey form? What were the fey up to?
He sank down on the window seat and stared out through the iron bars at the gathering darkness. From here he could still see the mountains, and a last sliver of light caught the edge of The Blue Hand – an enormous outcropping of blue stone that looked remarkably similar to an actual hand. One of the fingers was broken off.
“Michaels, what is that blue rock out there, the one that looks like a hand? Do you have any idea?”
Michaels raised a silvery eyebrow. “When was the last time you read the history of your kingdom, Ezra?”
“Er. Not recently.” Like, never. He usually spent history class figuring out ways to torment his cousins. History was boring.
“I suggest you catch up.” Michaels rubbed his arm as if it pained him.
Then Ezra heard voices in the hallway outside his door.
“You have visitors. Good-bye for now.” The ghost vanished.
CH 15.1 —