Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
Romana stared at Amanda's eyes. "They're so green," she said.
Amanda smiled. It was yet another item to be added to the list of things she hadn't expected. "Royal green," she explained.
"I love them," Jane perked up. "Now we look even more like twins."
Amanda smirked. "Rather incestuous twins," she thought to herself.
Along with Jane's father they were sitting in the palace kitchen enjoying some lunch. Both Amanda and Jane preferred it here as it made them feel less special and more like everyone else. The staff didn't seem to mind and it gave Amanda a chance to correct some of the more outlandish rumours about herself, which had been circulating for the last few days. Allegra's sudden departure was also a source of great speculation, but one which no one seemed unhappy about.
Romana suddenly leapt up and bowed as the Queen came and sat with them.
"You see," the Queen said turning to Amanda, "you've even had an effect on me." Previously she would have fed in her study or more formally in one of the dining rooms. She like the effect that Amanda had, had on everyone. She smiled. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Better," Amanda confirmed.
"I'm glad," the Queen replied.
"Have you heard anything?" Amanda inquired.
"Nothing new," the Queen replied shaking her head. "Though it now seems clear that among other things Allegra was also responsible for the rumours of where Jane was when she was missing."
Amanda frowned. "You mean..." she started and stopped.
The Queen slowly nodded. "Jane's Great Uncle travelled to Paris following one of those rumours," she revealed.
Amanda stared. She was horrified. "It's not your fault," she said quickly turning to Jane.
"I know," Jane replied sadly. "I think it makes it easier that I don't remember him."
"Allegra will be found and punished," the Queen added.
Jane shook her head. "I don't want her to be," she said. "I just want her to disappear and maybe spend the rest of her life wondering why no one ever came looking for her, and then to finally realise that she's really not that important."
Amanda smiled. She silently agreed. She thought it seemed fitting. She turned to Jane's father. He insisted she call him Pop. She thought it was nice. It made her feel more like part of the family and less like someone who had lost so much. "So how do you feel about Allegra?" she asked.
"I'm disappointed," Pop replied. "Though not surprised," he said a little more seriously. "Allegra was always very ambitious. Still," he added while brightening some and joking as best he could. "Because of her I did get to see more of the world than I might have." He reached over and took hold of their hands. "I'm just glad we're all home now," he said. He smiled. "So how are you doing?" he asked. "Still feeling a little..."
"Useless," Amanda finished smiling herself.
Pop smirked. He was something far more than a bookworm and enjoyed nothing more than getting lost in some ancient esoteric manuscript that no one else could possibly love or even understand. He prided himself on knowing at least a little something about everything. He smiled. "You'll get used to," he said reassuringly. "You might be interested to know that even my wife struggled with managing the staff at first."
The Queen immediately turned and frowned. She looked a little annoyed about this revelation.
"Seriously?" Amanda said. She sounded surprised.
Pop nodded. "I suspect it would be a difficult task for anyone," he explained.
"Even you?" Jane asked.
Pop immediately laughed. "Especially me," he replied. "Even back then I would lose myself in books and forget to do everything else. Your mother found it frustrating."
"And now?" Amanda prompted.
"The same!" the Queen confirmed rolling her eyes.
Amanda laughed. She liked Pop. He thought of himself as being the historian for the Fey. He believed it was his role was to record everything for posterity. She was a little nervous about what her might write about her.
"Come on," Jessica said rather bluntly. "What is it?"
Bob turned and stared. He didn't seem to have a clue what Jessica was talking about.
"You've been quiet for days," she explained. "Something is bugging you." She was a little over it.
Bob shrugged. "I don't know what you mean," he replied defensively.
"Is it Amanda?" Jessica pressed. "She's now a vampire and we all know that you don't like vampires."
"That's it, isn't it!" Jessica exclaimed triumphantly. "So what's the problem?" she asked less than delicately. "Do you think she's going to change?"
"No!" Bob quickly replied while shaking his head. He looked a little embarrassed. "It's just that she now has a new family. It seems like she won't need us anymore."
Jessica immediately smirked. "That's really sweet," she said. "But it's never going to happen. This is Amanda we're talking about. She doesn't give up on anyone."
"So where to now?" Amanda asked as she and Marc walked out of the kitchen.
Jane and Pop had since returned to the library and the Queen to her own duties.
"You have a meeting with Ambassador Grent in the Grand ballroom to discuss seating arrangements for the anniversary," Marc revealed.
Amanda nodded seriously.
"You do realise that I am your bodyguard not your secretary," Marc advised.
Amanda turned and stared. She smiled and smirked.
"Ok," Marc reluctantly agreed. "I'll admit that I never expected you to get the better of me. To beat me up in front of everyone else."
"Aikido was invented to protect both the attacker and defender from harm," Amanda explained. "There's no fun in hurting people."
"My bruises and your smile might have suggested otherwise," Marc chuckled in reply.
Amanda smiled once more but didn't immediately respond.
"So how are you coping with the changes?" Marc asked.
Amanda frowned. "Physically I'm fine," she replied, reciting the same pat answer she'd also provided the Queen many times before. "I've never felt stronger or more focused."
"But?" Marc prompted. He sounded a little worried.
"It's the staff," Amanda replied. "Before they treated me as one of them, now they see me as something different."
"Does that worry you?"
"I didn't just grow a set of fangs and my eyes didn't just change colour," Amanda revealed sounding a little angry. "I accept that. Every part of me had to be rewritten, but I'm still the same person inside."
They walked silently for a time.
"I'm sorry," Amanda abruptly said. "It's not your fault and I've no need to be angry with you. You're right, I shouldn't use you the way I have." She smiled to herself. She almost couldn't believe what she was about to ask next. Her life had changed so much. "Can you organise some staff for me? A secretary at least who can keep track of everything? Maybe an office?"
"Also can you have one of those sparring mats from the gym delivered to our suite? I'd like to practise when I can."
Marc frowned. "You are welcome to use the gym whenever you wish," he advised.
Amanda quickly shook her head. "No," she said. "It would be better if I practised alone."
Marshall pulled the car into a lay-by. He'd been driving for almost five days with only short breaks to rest and feed. He was seriously over it. He flipped open his mobile phone and dialled Allegra's number. He was surprised when his call was met with a disconnected signal. He tried again and again always with the same result. He was confused, torn and for a brief moment was unsure what to do. In the end he elected to drive on.
In the evening Jane quietly stepped round the door into their suite.
Amanda was sitting crosslegged in the centre of a pristine training mat. She looked relaxed as though she'd been quietly meditating for some time.
Jane crawled onto the mat beside her. It was certainly more comfortable than sitting on the cold marble floor.
They hugged and kissed then held each other for a long moment.
"I missed you at dinner," Jane said. She sounded concerned.
"I really wasn't up for it, sorry," Amanda replied. "I had some things to think about. How are you doing?" she asked.
Jane shrugged. "I feel like I'm reading about someone else's life," she replied while frowning and screwing up her face. She clearly hadn't enjoyed her day that much either. "I'm not sure what Mum or Dad want me to get from it."
"Maybe some context of who you are now," Amanda suggested. She didn't really know either.
"Not without knowing what happened in the last two hundred years," Jane said darkly.
"Which you don't want to learn," Amanda added.
Jane shook her head. "No!" she said firmly. Stepping into the small cell had been enough for her. She really didn't want to learn anymore. She actually wanted to forget it completely.
They smiled at each other.
Jane reached up and gently ran her fingers through Amanda's hair, brushing it aside.
"So what are we going to do?" they said together before laughing about it afterwards.
"I know what I would do," Amanda said.
She patted the mat. "Work out my frustrations," she revealed.
"Then do that," Jane suggested smiling. She leapt up then went and sat on the side of the bed.
Amanda smiled. She stood with her feet shoulder width apart with one foot placed further forward than the other, then she flexed at the knees and quickly and seamlessly ran through a complex series of movements, finishing with a step-through half turn.
Jane just stared. To her it looked incredible. Like a dance she'd never thought possible. It was abundantly clear that Amanda knew far more than she'd previously let on.
"Want to try?" Amanda asked.
Jane immediately frowned. "But I didn't think you wanted to teach anyone else," she said.
"These are just forms for meditation really," Amanda explained. "Nothing that can be used to hurt anyone."
Jane nodded then quickly jumped into the centre of the mat. For a time she practised copying each pose that Amanda held then slowly transitioned from one to another. They spend a lot of time laughing at each other and falling about. Afterwards Amanda walked around and corrected Jane's poses as she moved a little quicker.
Amanda stood back and watched, thinking about Jane while at the same time imagining herself performing the flawlessly choreographed transitions from one form to the next.
She abruptly stood and stared.
Jane looked just as dumbfounded. "Okay," she said sounding as surprised as she appeared. "How did I just do that?" She had struggled to hold and change from pose to pose. This time however she had performed the movements exactly, expertly as though Amanda had been doing them herself.
Amanda frowned. "Do that again," she instructed.
Jane tried again and though far better than when she'd first started it was nothing like the previous attempt.
"And again," Amanda added while thinking about Jane and imagining herself performing the movements. "Once more," she added, after Jane had again performed the sequence perfectly, "but this time stop halfway through."
Jane started and stopped without any difficulty. She frowned then stared at Amanda. "What's going on?" she asked. She was beginning to sound a little freaked out.
"It must be our connection," Amanda explained excitedly smiling as she did. "When I think of you and imagine myself completing the sequence you perform it like me."
"You were controlling me?" Jane asked a little worriedly.
Amanda shook her head. "No!" she replied. "It's like you're using my memories of how to do it, but more than that you're learning it quicker at the same time." Even without Amanda thinking about her, Jane had improved vastly in the last few attempts. Amanda frowned for a moment then stepped up to Jane and smiled. "Poke me in the ribs," she commanded.
Jane smirked but did as Amanda asked.
Only Amanda giggled afterwards. "Again," she instructed while thinking about Jane.
This time they both giggled out loud but in the end stood staring at each other.
"You must have been thinking about me when you banged your leg on the bedpost," Amanda suggested with some astonishment in her voice.
"I was," Jane replied with just as much awe.
They randomly tried one thinking about the other then both at the same time.
They stared at each other.
"So what happens if I think about you while you're performing the sequence?" Jane asked again sounding worried. "Do you forget how to do it instead?"
Amanda shrugged. She had no idea.
After a moment they tried. Amanda performed the sequence while Jane thought about her and the movements she needed to complete. In the end they both stopped and smiled at each other.
"Apparently not," they said together.
Allegra looked up from where she was sitting at the small table. The room was cramped and sparsely furnished. A far cry from what she had been accustomed to in the palace.
The door opened and a young woman was thrust into the room. She nervously glanced around and stared, she shivered, her tearful eyes wide with fear. She had no idea where she was or even how she'd got here.
Allegra smiled like a snake. She rose from her seat and grabbed the young woman single-handedly hauling her closer. She bared her fangs and sank them into the young woman's throat, draining her then callously casting the young woman's now lifeless body aside.
The door opened once more and a man appeared.
"Find me another!" Allegra demanded.
"We must be careful," the man said placidly. "Too many more disappearances may be noticed."
"I DON'T CARE!" Allegra screamed. "I'd rather die at human hands today than live another year of this pathetic hidden existence."
"As you wish," the man advised while lingering in the opening.
"Well?" Allegra demanded. "What are you waiting for?"
"One of your loyal guards from the palace," the man explained. "He brings news of the Princess Ward. Apparently she has knowledge of something new. A fighting style none of us have ever seen before. He suggests that we should be concerned."
"What does it matter," Allegra scoffed conceitedly. "They will be no match for us. She is just a familiar. Any knowledge that bitch possesses is as useless as she is."
"I'm afraid not," the man replied bowing slightly as he did. "You are misinformed, out of touch I'm afraid," he suggested delicately. "The Princess Ward has since been, elevated. The same royal blood now runs through her veins as does your's."
Allegra stared. She cursed and spat. She screamed and slammed her fist into the small table, shattering it beyond repair. She turned and glared. "She is mine," she hissed while baring her blood soaked fangs. "No one is to touch her. I would kill that fucking worthless whore with my own hands."
"As you wish," the man replied.
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