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Assistant to the Villain

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

the book Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer on a shiny iridescent cloth with a frog in the background wearing a crown and holding up a red sign that reads TROUBLE

Evie Sage has just given up a great job, one that she desperately needs because she just left her other one. As she stumbles through the woods, thinking about her ill father and young sister and how they're going to go hungry because she lost her job and gave away an even better one to someone who might've needed it more, she stops to wash her face in the stream only to find it flowing with blood. Evie follows the stream and finds The Villain, injured, and certainly more handsome than his wanted posters led her to believe. He pulls her to the ground to hide from the King's Valiant Guards, but soon they are spotted, and then Evie is shot by an arrow, so they take off running. 

Evie is shockingly not at all afraid of The Villain and is even less so when he shows her why he was running from the knights. He's carrying a frog wearing a crown in a pouch. Kingsley the frog has near human intelligence and there were some in the village who tried to steal him, but The Villain couldn't let that happen. The Villain and Evie continue to Massacre Manor, the name bestowed upon The Villain’s home, and Evie finds it's rather nice and not even a little gruesome. She mentions to The Villain that she needs a job when she rambles a bit of conversation and surprisingly, he offers her a position as his personal assistant.

Five months have passed and Evie, still the Assistant to The Villain, is heading up to her desk to work on her paperwork, balancing The Villain’s ledgers. She passes three decapitated heads hanging in the foyer and through a group of women that also work for The Villain, led by Becky, who is decidedly a bitch. Evie does her best to not let Becky bother her as she sits at her desk and begins her work. At least there's not a body on her desk this time. It seems that The Villain is testing Evie, but she knows that despite the tortures and the beheadings, he's still got morals. When Evie falls out of her chair, startled by a small amount of torture taking place in The Villain's office behind her, he comes out to check on her, looking sexy in leather pants and a black v-neck shirt. She makes a joke about the chair attacking her and The Villain laughs, which is rare and delightful, but then he sends her to the healer. Kingsley offers a tiny sign that says OUCH as she passes him in The Villain's office. Evie feels foolish for needing to see the healer for a bruised ass, and she wonders what The Villain will do when she tells him about the mistakes she found in his ledgers.

Evie goes to see Tatianna, the healer, who offers to fix her broken tailbone, but her payment costs two secrets. Evie’s an open book, but she tells Tati that she had a dream about The Villain last night and the girls joke about how attractive he is. Tati gives Evie a salve for her butt and also some medicine for her father who is still suffering from the Mystical Illness. As Evie leaves, butt healed, she reveals her second secret… that the dream was dirty! and then she walks right into The Villain. He takes her outside to the parapet where just last week he tossed off an employee for saying something he didn't like. Gulp. This time, he tells Evie there is a traitor in their midst. She is semi-daydreaming while listening to him talk, but she agrees to help him find the traitor, and she hopes it's Becky, because she would love to throw her off the parapet.

Evie begins to make a list of names of The Villain's employees and Becky notices and demands to know what Evie is doing because she must know everything going on in the office. Evie distracts her by telling her the pixies are using all their enchanted ink to make copies of their butts, which sends her off in a rage. Blade, the dragon tamer who started shortly after Evie did, comes in then looking for Tati to heal the dragon slash across his forehead. He talks to Evie about some shipments of weapons that were supposed to be coming from the Gleaming City and the King's own stash, but got intercepted. The Villain revealed earlier that this is the third time the shipments haven't arrived, which led him to his traitor search. The Villain hasn't been around much lately which has Evie worried. 

After work for the day, Evie heads home to find her father has cooked dinner, which means he's feeling better. She and her little sister, Lyssa, join him around the table, where Evie thinks about her missing mother and older brother. Lyssa asks her father to tell a story which Evie hates because all his stories are about how evil The Villain is. Evie hates that she can't stand up for him, but no one can know that she works for him, or that he's actually not all that terrible. He doesn't even like for people to know that he likes too much sugar in his morning brew!

The Villain is pacing around in his office, frustratingly tantalized by Evie humming outside his door. He shouldn't be so enthralled by her… he's The Villain after all! but he is. As he leans closer to the door to decipher what song she is humming, she comes in, bashing him in the face with the door. She's incredibly flustered, which makes him even more enthralled! Evie delivers her list of names and information about who could be the traitor and mentions she is on the list, too, but he tells her she most definitely cannot be the traitor and gestures to the gold tattooed ring on her finger that he gave her upon employment. It has a charm that ensures she can't betray him. His guards have similar green rings that will turn to poison if they turn traitor, so it can't be them either. Before Evie leaves the office, she tells The Villain that she'd torture anyone who hurt him, which makes him secretly swoon a little, and makes Kingsley hold up a sign that says TROUBLE.

Evie is in the kitchen later with Edwin the Ogre. He's a fantastic cook and a steamy romance reader and Evie likes him a lot. She's struggling to think of who she can trust in the office when she hears a mysterious ticking noise. She follows it toward her desk when she spots Kingsley nearby on the floor. She bends down to pick him up, but continues into The Villain's office where the mysterious ticking sound is louder. Finally she finds the source and Kingsley holds up a sign that says DANGER. It's a bomb. Kingsley holds a new sign that says RUN, so Evie takes off toward the parapet, Becky holding the door for her. As she runs to the edge, Evie trips, her heel caught in the stone. Unfortunately, she drops the bomb, but not over the edge, though still out of reach. She thinks of her family and of The Villain, ready to die.

The Villain meanwhile is off investigating one of his safehouses where he keeps the things they've taken from the King, but he finds his men and women in battle with the Valiant Guards. He uses his magic to pinpoint the knights’ weak points and destroys them all with gray mist that only he can see. With every knight he kills, his magic gets stronger and, needless to say, he ends the battle. On the way home to Massacre Manor, he wonders who the traitor could be because there obviously is one. When he gets back, he knows something is wrong and then Becky confirms by telling him there is a bomb and that Evie took it out on the parapet. He finds her still out there, stuck, with the bomb about to explode. He throws himself over her and surrounds them both with magic just as the bomb explodes.

They're both fine of course, but most of the tower is gone and it looks like the library was exploded. Not the books!! The Villain lifts Evie and carries her to Tatianna. Evie is worried that The Villain is angry with her and apologizes, but he's clearly worried, maybe about her. Someone sent him away by messing with the safehouse while they tried to blow up his office, or maybe her! He tells Evie after Tatianna fixes her sprained ankle that he's escorting her home.

The carriage ride home is lovely but a little rough. Evie has a magical wound on her shoulder from her former employer that is bothering her after her near explosion and now the bumpy ride, but she never told anyone about it, nor has she gotten it healed, and she can't very well talk about it now. The Villain is taking her home. To her house! When they arrive, The Villain meets Evie’s sister, Lyssa, and introduces himself with his real name, Trystan, which Evie worries about and also just learned for the first time, but he assures her that literally no one knows who he is or what he looks like. As he leaves, he asks Evie to go to a tavern with him the next night because the owner is the only person he knows who could make a timepiece like the one that was on the bomb and he needs her assistance. Well, she is his assistant after all.

At the tavern, before Trystan arrives, Evie is accosted and sleazed on by a former lover, but luckily The Villain shows up at the perfect moment and Evie flings herself upon him. Awkwardly going along with Evie’s ruse, Trystan threatens the former lover as they walk away from him. Soon the tavern owner arrives and Trystan tells Evie to call him over nonchalantly, telling her his name is Malcolm. She loudly and awkwardly shouts to Malcolm and he comes over, then yells at his brother…Trystan!

Trystan almost maims Malcolm, but then they step outside to talk. It turns out, Malcolm wasn't the one trying to kill Trystan, he just happened to sell a clock to a stranger a week ago. Evie guilt trips him, telling him that his mistake almost cost her life and the lives of her father and sister because she is their primary caregiver. Malcolm finally remembers that the man who bought the clock had glowing blue ink on his fingernails, which is a very good clue. The brothers separate, vowing to not be actually trying to kill each other currently, and Trystan asks Evie if she'll make it home okay. Of course she will! But she worries all night if whomever tried to blow Trystan up using his brother's clock might try to use her somehow next.

Evie goes to work early the next morning and finds The Villain basking in the sunrise. She adores seeing him and manages to get a handsome dimple to appear when he asks about her sneaking up on him. He dismisses her to retrieve his morning sugary drink, then she goes out to see Blade and his dragon, taking him a drink, too. Blade is dealing with the skittish dragon who has panicked after seeing a mouse and asks Evie to go up to his room and grab a training book for him, and when she does, she sees a certificate of employment from King Benedict. Gasp! Is Blade the traitor?! As Evie starts to scream, a hand closes over her mouth, begging her not to. Blade explains that he used to live in the Gleaming City but found out they had and were going to sell the dragon egg. Loving magical creatures, he couldn’t stand it, so he stole the egg and came to work for The Villain instead, knowing he is one of the only people who isn’t afraid of the King. Evie tells him he must confess to The Villain before he finds out and thinks he’s the traitor.

Evie doesn't have time to think about Blade later when Trystan asks her to accompany him again to speak to someone else about the glowing blue ink, and Tatianna goes too. This time, the person they are speaking to is Tatianna’s ex and Trystan’s sister, Clare. Tati and Clare immediately begin fighting but soon they are interrupted with questions about the ink. Clare has the magical ability to add magic to anything, but adding it to ink is very easy and pretty profitable. She looks through her ledgers to find that only two people have purchased glowing blue ink in the last few months. One is an old widower and the other, Lark Moray, signed his name with the sigil of the Valiant Guards. Tristan gets upset and Clare asks when it's going to stop. Evie has no idea what they're talking about, and when she asks, Trystan basically says it's none of her business. Of course it's her business! What she doesn't know could kill him! She gets pissed and leaves.

Trystan, thinking of how beautiful Evie is and how he doesn't really understand why he doesn't want to hurt her when typically women don't mean much to him, eventually catches up and tells her that the story between himself and King Benedict is a long one and he honestly doesn't know how to tell it. Evie loses some of her anger and says she has similar stories in her past, though that doesn't mean they're even, because where would the fun be in that? Trystan finds this intriguing.

In Trystan's office later, Evie decides to open the vent above his desk that is normally kept closed so they can eavesdrop on his workers whose voices will travel through it. She is too short to quite reach and jumps for the vent even though Kingsley shows off a BAD IDEA sign. She topples but luckily Trystan is there to break her fall. She sits astride him for far too long, talking about his hair, when he finally asks her to dismount. It's a good thing, too, because Becky comes in shortly thereafter with Blade’s certificate of employment from the King… except, Evie only just notices, it doesn't have a name on it, and Becky says Evie dropped it. Trystan gets mad, thinking Evie has betrayed him despite the tattoo that literally prevents her from doing that and she gets so mad about him mistrusting her that she quits, which, oopsie, means she's betraying him, which also means the magic ink will probably turn into poison and kill her.

Everything goes to shit around The Villain's Manor because Evie was in charge of everything and knew where everyone was supposed to be and when shipments would arrive and how everyone liked and disliked everything. Becky comes in to deliver a beverage to Trystan with a smug look of triumph on her face. She has been made Trystan's assistant now that Evie is gone. Blade is also in the office, talking about his dragon, when he finally comes clean about the letter that Evie quit over. He confesses that it was his and he only kept it to remind him of where he came from and how he's in the right place now and that Evie took it to force him into telling the truth. Trystan feels terrible, which is odd because he's The Villain and he shouldn't feel bad about anything, but he definitely does. Even smug Becky thinks she should come back, because Evie really did keep the place running with all her notes that she constantly takes about everything. Now the manor is literally on fire, and it seems only Evie knows where the fire hoses were installed.

Evie stays in bed the next morning and her sister thinks she's sick with the Mystical Illness like their father, but no. Evie is just sad. Lyssa leaves for school and then their father comes in. They discuss Evie's mother and older brother a little bit. It turns out, after Evie’s mom gave birth to Lyssa, she developed magic that was bright like starshine. Unfortunately, the magic basically devoured her from the inside because she couldn't control it. One day, when she was feeling well enough, she took her children for a walk and used her magic to light up a field of flowers. She tossed a ball of starshine for Evie's brother to catch, but instead, it completely burned him up. Evie's mother left them then, feeling so bad about basically murdering her son. Evie asks her father if he hates her mother, and he wishes he could, but he just misses her instead. Evie knows how that feels. She misses The Villain a lot even though he mistrusted her. 

Trystan is pretty miserable and he's about to murder the next person he encounters, until that next person is Evie. She comes in, apologizes for not thinking things through and abruptly quitting, but tells Trystan that he hurt her, which fills his dark, empty, dead insides with guilt. He apologizes, too, and when Evie is shocked, he jokes that his apology isn't that strange. It's not like he confessed to something silly like having a night light or something, which turns into a confession of him being afraid of the dark and Evie being afraid of ladybug spots. They are clearly back to their old jokey ways. As she leaves Trystan's office to get back to work, he calls Evie back to ask why she was so hurt. She tells him she just wants to know him, which causes him to slide down to the floor, basically in a swoony puddle.

Over the next week, things get back to normal, including Becky being a bitch to Evie, but it seems that Trystan has stopped sleeping. Blade comes to get Evie and Tatianna one day to show them how Fluffy the Dragon (yes, his name is Fluffy, thanks to Trystan being cute after joking with Evie about his own name) has progressed, but they're met outside by The Villain. Evie touches his face and Trystan holds her hand for a little bit too long and Tati and Blade definitely notice, but then they get back to Fluffy. Now that he has a name, the dragon seems to be better behaved, so much so that Blade was able to remove his chains. Upon doing that, though, they discovered that a message was written on the inside: THE VILLAIN WILL FALL. Evie tells them that they've had those chains since her first week working there, so it seems King Benedict knew that Blade would go to work for The Villain and take the dragon with him. The feud between King Benedict and Trystan has been going on for a very long time, in fact, he was the first person to call Trystan a monster, which he really seems to hate, and now Trystan will end their game and have the King’s head.

Evie is in the town square one weekend with her father and sister. Her father is feeling better and asks for the coin purse to buy drinks for his friends. Evie doesn't really like that, but gives him the money and starts to head home. She's thinking about The Villain and how she realizes she has feelings for him, which is bad because he's her boss and in a feud with the King who wants him dead. As she's pondering this, Trystan approaches her. She's shocked because surely the King knows his name and what he looks like, so surely the guards will come for him eventually, but Trystan isn't worried. He has come to town to see the blacksmith and asks Evie to introduce him. His mark is on the dragon chains, so clearly he's involved with the treachery. Evie doesn't want to see the blacksmith because he is her former employer, the one she escaped from at the beginning who happened to sexually harass her and then slice her shoulder with a magical blade, and she's afraid she's going to bash his head in. 

Trystan tells the blacksmith he has plans to capture a magical beast called a guvre and asks about having chains made to contain it, and the blacksmith lets them in on a little secret, for five gold coins. He made some chains for an agent of the King to send a message to The Villain. When they ask about the person who ordered the chains, the blacksmith can only tell them that he wore the King's symbol on a mask. Evie, feeling horrible about having to be in the same room with her former boss who harassed her, tells the blacksmith that they won't be needing his services, which makes him yell at her. Trystan steps in and says she's right, but as they turn to leave, she sees the blacksmith coming for Trystan with the magical blade. She tries to stop him, but she's suddenly overwhelmed with pain from her magical wound.

Trystan breaks the blacksmith’s wrist, somehow knowing he hurt Evie before she came to be his assistant. He wants to kill him, but Evie stops him because everyone in town would know she was there and was involved, which wouldn't be good. Trystan then learns about him cutting her with the magical blade and since Evie won't let him kill the blacksmith, he uses a magical crystal he has to contact his guard who will convince the blacksmith to leave town, which may or may not involve them murdering him because he's terrible. Trystan doesn't press Evie for the full story of what happened, which is good because he definitely would've immediately killed the blacksmith had he known. As they leave, Trystan takes the magical blade with plans to give it to Tatianna to see if she can break the spell on it and heal Evie.

Trystan goes on a quest to capture the guvre, which is something that King Benedict has been trying to do for years. Though he and Malevolent Guards get a little melted from the beast’s purple foggy acid breath, it'll be so worth it because surely the Traitor will immediately tell the King he has captured it. Evie, Tati and Becky meanwhile are busy hanging up a horrendous caricature of The Villain to replace a horrible abstract painting of him. Evie has seen the illustration and others like it on wanted posters in town, but finding an enormous, hand-painted copy at half price was an extra special surprise. Becky hates it because she seems to hate everything and everyone, but it's not Becky that Evie cares about. The Villain arrives then and secretly loves the caricature even though Kingsley shows a sign that says TROUBLE. 

Trystan is slightly injured from his bout with the guvre, but at least he's got it now, which means King Benedict does not have it. Evie is worried about his injuries of course, but he goes to Tatianna for assistance and asks her about breaking the magical blade enchantment. Tati agrees to help, of course, and then a huge storm starts. Evie is so startled at a clap of thunder that she grabs Trystan, swoon, but he steps away to collect himself. He explains that keeping a guvre against its will causes natural disasters that get worse the longer you hold them. Evie decides that she's going to gather up lots of sleeping pallets and bedrolls because no one's going to be able to leave the palace in the horrendous storm. Sleepover!!!

While the manor prepares for the storm, Evie goes with Blade and The Villain to see the guvre, which is terrifying, but oddly cute. She makes a similar comment about The Villain, but he doesn't realize right away because he's busy planning for the guvre’s mate to come to rescue her trapped companion. A little later, Evie, Blade, Tatianna and even Becky, after some convincing, crack open a bottle of wine. They're all stuck there because of the storm so they might as well enjoy themselves. The Villain joins a little later and they all make fun of Blade, then they start in on The Villain, too, and soon everyone is laughing, but then they hear the cry of the female guvre.

The Villain and Evie work together with lots of touching and rescuing each other and jokes and jabs and taunts, and manage to capture the female guvre. Evie’s hands get a little melted but she tries to hide it from Trystan but of course he notices. He also notices the melted stairs. It's going to take some work to get things repaired, but they've done what they set out to do, and after the guvres are reunited, the storm calms. Evie spends the night with Tatianna who tries to heal her hands which of course means that Evie has to tell her the story of what happened as payment.

The next day, wearing a magical, perfect-fitting dress of Tatianna's since she was unable to return home, Evie asks her friend about her relationship with Trystan's sister, which requires Tati to tell a long story from her childhood. When she turned ten, she got her healing magic and her mother stopped caring about her daughter and only cared that she was a healer. Tatianna and Clare and Malcolm were friends because they all lived in the same village, and they were the only ones to treat her normally at that birthday party, until Trystan showed up later with cake. He told Tatianna not to care what others think, so she stopped. She and Clare had a nice relationship until Trystan became The Villain, but then Clare couldn't forgive her brother. Tati could though, and she did, but things got worse with Clare so they broke up.

Later, Evie realizes, after Trystan starts looking through maps trying to figure out who the Traitor is since they have been betrayed during shipments, that one of the maps is missing. They are stored behind a lock that only she and The Villain have keys for, but then Trystan says that there used to be a third, but he doesn't say who has that one. She wants to tell him about the missing map, but he probably knows who has it since he knows who has the third key. Soon they overhear some workers carrying on a conversation in which disparaging remarks are said about Evie, so they hide in a tiny alcove to eavesdrop, hoping to hear something important, but while they're listening, all we want is for them to kiss because they're squished tightly together. They hear that someone found a Valiant Guard mask after the explosion, which is pretty important. 

After they unsquish from the small space, Evie decides she needs to go home and sleep so The Villain offers to take her in his carriage. He tells her he's given everyone the day off the next day except her because they need to explore the Manor from top to bottom to discover who the traitor is. It seems though, on the way to Evie’s, they've spotted the traitor. Evie sees someone walking, wearing the Valiant Guard mask and tackles them. It's… Becky?! She says she's not the traitor but decided to try to use the mask to sneak into the Gleaming City to try to find out if they have a cure for the Mystical Illness. Trystan assures her there is not a cure and promises that if there was one, he would get it for Becky and Evie. The girls didn't realize they both knew someone with the illness, and now they might be a little closer, but they pretend they're not. 

At home, Lyssa has been worried because Evie didn't come home the night before and their father has been so sick that he can't get out of bed. Evie goes to check on him then heads to her room where she realizes her window is open and there's a card on her desk. That's terrifying. Someone, probably the Traitor, was inside her house! She opens the card and finds it's an invitation to a formal celebration thrown by the Core Healer offering a cure. Evie pulls a gorgeous white but somehow rainbow sparkly dress from under her bed that she bought on a whim, pulls her hair back with butterfly pins that belonged to her mother and puts on some red lipstick. She's gorgeous.

On her way to the celebration, Evie thinks she probably should've told The Villain that she was invited to a party by the Traitor who was inside her house, but she figures he might show up anyway. She runs into Blade and Becky who received similar invitations, though Blade’s doesn't mention the cure. Blade seems to have googly eyes for Becky and chases after her upon arrival when he spots another man kissing her hand, leaving Evie alone. She's not alone for long, though. She is soon approached by the Core Healer, who also happens to be Arthur Maverine, Trystan's father. Arthur mentions the letter Evie wrote him, telling him that she works for his son and that she'd very much like to be invited to one of his gatherings, but… Evie never wrote to him and had no idea who he was until just now. How very odd. 

Trystan arrives at the celebration not long after Evie met his father. He hasn't seen his father for years and doesn't really care to catch up with him. He does want to catch up with Evie though because she has just snuck off and darted away from the party. When Trystan finds her, they begin dancing and he tells Evie about how his parents didn't seem to care for him or about him at all when he was younger. His father was always healing people and throwing parties to heal people and his mother was only concerned with his father and his ability to heal people. Things changed a little when Clare and Malcolm came along but Trystan was done. Now, he is really enjoying dancing with Evie, but then the screaming starts.

The male guvre is flying around the party, melting people. Evie wonders for about two seconds how he escaped, but then she understands that everyone coming to the party was a trick set up by the Traitor. While they're all partying, the Traitor must've released the guvre. Trystan spots Clare and runs after her, maybe thinking she's the Traitor, and then Blade and Becky show up again. They have to recapture the guvre but before they can set off to do that, they spot a man they think is dead and decide to poke him with a stick. Nope, not dead. And not just any man either. It's Arthur and he's been injured. Blade goes after the guvre while Evie and Becky help Arthur, but then they are surrounded by Valiant Guards, who also knocked out and captured Trystan. Luckily Blade and Clare got away.

Evie quickly spins a story, trying to get the guards to let them go. She begins to weep, which frightens the guards, then she doubles down on her womanly woes and tells them she's on her period. They get even more frightened when she tells them that she and her husband, the unconscious Trystan, have been trying to conceive a baby, which is why they were at the Core Healer’s party. Unfortunately, Trystan starts to wake up then, so Evie stops him from murdering everyone and blowing their cover by kissing him! Trystan thinks he's in a dream until he realizes that Evie is trying to rescue all of them and goes along with her story. The guards surprisingly let everyone go.

That doesn't last long though. A couple of other guards approach to take Trystan and Evie to see a healer, but then attack instead, and get real sleazy with Evie. The guards tell them that they were found with the Core Healer, aka The Villain, and they need to make sure they're not his accomplices. Poor guards. Trystan kills them, not for thinking his father is The Villain or for attacking them, but for sleazing on Evie. It's at this moment that he realizes he loves her, but he decides to never tell her, thinking she'll be terrified that he just straight up murdered those guys. Instead, she rushes over and hugs him. He says he doesn't know what to do now and she teaches him how to hug, which is not at all what Trystan meant and absolutely ridiculous in the best way. 

Evie and Trystan walk off through the woods, arm in arm, each probably swooning while simultaneously thinking that the other is weirded out. Oh how wrong they are. They eventually come across Becky, and then Clare, and then learn that Blade is currently sitting with the captured guvre. Trystan summons the Malevolent Guard to carry the guvre to the Manor and declares that everyone will be staying the night there, but Evie says she's got to go home instead. She wakes the next morning, grumbling to her little sister about there being a rat she can't catch at the Manor. Lyssa asks if she's searching in all the right places and also all the wrong places, which makes Evie wonder if all her lists and ledgers she's made trying to figure out who the traitor is are even worth it. She then realizes that her father isn't home, but Lyssa says he got up early feeling refreshed and really great and went for a walk. That's nice.

At the Manor later, after making sure Becky is okay, Evie is asked to join Clare and Tatianna to talk. They show her a box and then, unfortunately, the talking turns to screaming. Trystan meanwhile is poring over lists, trying to figure out who the Traitor is, but then he realizes that Tatianna wasn't with them when the guvre was released. Is it her? Then he hears Evie scream. He rushes to find her and, oh no, she's in the room with Tatianna and Clare and it seems that Clare has used her magic to ward the doors. Oh no. Trystan breaks through and threatens to kill his friend and his sister, but Evie stops him. The box they showed her contains the magic dagger which Clare discovered has been imbued with Evie's blood, which is why it hurts her when she goes near it, and unfortunately the only way to ease the pain is for Evie to get used to it, which is what they’re currently working on and why she is screaming. Blade arrives then and asks for Trystan's help to protect the room that the guvres are in because they are fornicating and might destroy it. What an odd series of events. 

Before Evie leaves Tatianna and Clare for the day, Tati offers to make up a batch of pain relieving potion for Evie's father. While Evie waits, Clare apologizes for not realizing that she sold the blue ink to the Valiant Guard Traitor. Evie asks why that ink is so special and Clare said it's because it can be used to make copies of anything written with it, which seems like it would be really helpful. Clare goes on to describe being overwhelmed by one of her favorite patrons, East Marigold, who also bought blue ink that day. She says he was overcome with sadness because his wife loved that blue ink. Evie is stunned when she hears that name and, as she is leaving with the medicine Tati made, she pockets another vial of something else and heads home. 

When she arrives, Evie's father is in the kitchen, trying and failing to cook something. She seems wary and very untrusting of her father who sent her sister to bed early that night. Evie gives the new medication to her father who downs it in one, then she leaves him to go to her room for a moment. She stops by his office, ”accidentally” flings a hair pin inside, and upon retrieving it, discovers a letter on his desk from her mother.

Trystan meanwhile has finished with the fornicating guvres and then has a conversation with his sister. She's impressed with how much he cares about all his employees, she says pointedly, and everyone knows she's really talking about Evie. Clare tells Trystan that he needs to tell Evie what the gold band is that she is tattooed with, and that he also is tattooed with. It's a band of protection. For some reason he decided to tattoo her with that instead of his typical poisonous green employment band, and so, whenever she is in danger, he knows.

Clare then talks about the blue ink again, but is interrupted by a guard who rushes in to say that Lark Moray, the Valiant Guard who bought the blue ink, is dead and has been since the day after he bought the ink. So that means he couldn't possibly be the one who bought the clock and made the bomb. Uh oh. Clare reveals that it must be East Marigold, who accidentally, drunkenly, revealed his real name to her the last time he came in. Griffin Sage, Evie's father. Becky mentions that Evie was gifted new purple ink by her father a week after starting work, but obviously, blue ink can become purple with just a few drops of red. Oh no. All of Evie's notes will have been copied by her father, who is very obviously the Traitor.

Evie’s father finds her in his office and his demeanor completely changes. Evie asks him about the letter from her mother, about the blue ink she has just spotted on his desk, and about what else she might find in his desk. She opens a drawer to find all the notes she's been taking since she started working for Trystan. Why would he have those? Oh, it's because he's been working for King Benedict the entire time, and oh yeah, he doesn't have the Mystic Illness, he's been faking it so he can sneak off and work for the King. He knew Evie was working for The Villain from the very beginning when she was spotted by the Valiant Guards the first day she met him.

To make everything worse, if that's even possible, Griffin gets mad at Evie for turning down the offer he set up with the blacksmith. Yeah, he tried to sell Evie to him so he could enjoy her. Disgusting. Luckily not much more time passes before Griffin Sage passes out. Evie tells him it wasn't medicine that she gave him, it was a slow-acting sedative. She knew he was the traitor when Clare mentioned the name East Marigold. That's the name Griffin always used when he told his daughters bedtime stories, which really just makes the whole thing even worse again. Trystan arrives shortly thereafter, bursting through the door with Tatianna not far behind. He insists that Tati take Lyssa back to the Manor while he goes to find Evie. She's perfectly fine, though terribly disgusted with her father who she's not sure isn't dead and she honestly doesn't even care. Trystan’s Malevolent Guards come and take Griffin away. 

Trystan and Evie, and surprise! Kingsley, who also just happens to be there, sit on Evie's couch. She's in shock and realizes that she's an evil villain now because she was abandoned by her mother and her father is a monster, which is every evil villain's origin story. She asks Trystan if he knows why the King would want the mated guvres and says she tried to ask her father but he wouldn't tell her, only that the King wanted them. 

Well fuck. The time has come for Trystan to tell Evie the story of how he became The Villain. He went to live with the King so he could be trained to use his magic that hadn't even manifested yet. The King made him feel special and important, which was a great thing to hear after being basically ignored by his parents. The King and a specialist worked with Trystan and because the King was so kind to him, he helped him capture the guvre. The King had heard that the venom of a baby guvre was supposed to be a magical cure-all, so Trystan helped him capture the female. Not long after, everyone started avoiding Trystan and when he asked the King why, he told him that everyone was afraid of his powers because they would be dangerous. The King then had his Valiant Guards lock Trystan in a lightless cellar for a month. It would've been forever probably, but Trystan finally developed his powers and used them to kill all the guards.

Surprisingly, he found that Evie was pleased with the outcome of the story, not disgusted. Now though, they need to figure out why the King used Evie's father to get to him. This sends her into a brief panic and the only thing that will help her calm down is a hug. This hug lasts for a long time and Trystan doesn't want to ever let go, and then they almost kiss, but unfortunately Kingsley knocks something off the table, disrupting the moment. Evie leaves to pack some of her and her sister's things so they can head back to the Manor. Trystan is very pleased that Kingsley is a frog and not the handsome prince he once was, because surely Evie would fall in love with him, and, well, we all know who Trystan wants her to love. 

They get to the Manor, Evie upset with herself for not kissing Trystan, but then she realizes she forgot her notebooks when she was packing up her things and she desperately wants them because they're full of memories and dreams and probably her name plus Trystan’s name doodled with hearts. She and Trystan begin the walk back to her house, but they are ambushed by King Benedict and a few of his Valiant Guards, one of whom is the blacksmith who has made special chains for Trystan. The King tells Evie that she was supposed to be his little savior but now the blacksmith can have her and kill her as long as he gives her body back because he'll need it. 

One of the guards knocks Trystan out and then the King takes him back to the Gleaming City, leaving Evie alone with the blacksmith and two other guards. The blacksmith pins Evie to the ground, but luckily her bag containing the magical blade is near enough that she can reach it. She grabs it through the pain and slits the blacksmith's throat with a smile. The blade no longer causes her any pain but instead feels like a long lost friend. Now for the other two guards… ooh, make that one. One of them has just killed the other and then he dashed away. Interesting. Later, back at the Manor, Evie makes a plan to get Trystan back that involves Becky killing her, but first, she hangs up the blacksmith’s head in the foyer. She vows that she's going to save The Villain, or become one trying.

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