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.
Amanda was sitting in the palace kitchen talking with some of the staff when Allegra stormed in a glared around. Amanda had been exploring more of the palace with Marc and she'd asked to see where most of the servants worked throughout the day.
To her credit Allegra recognised the servant she was looking for immediately. She hurried up to the young girl, grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her on the spot.
"Where is he?" she demanded. "I ordered you to find Marshall days ago."
"I told him Milady," the servant replied. "Honestly I did." She looked absolutely terrified. "He was in a bar in the old Dwarven district."
"I don't believe you," Allegra snarled. She clipped the younger woman savagely across the face then threw her to the floor.
"HEY!" Amanda shouted, leaping to her feet. "That's enough!"
Allegra turned and glared. When she saw who had dared to challenge her, her expression became even darker than before. "I warned you never to speak with me," she snarled.
"Yeah, well," Amanda said defiantly, as she slowly stepped around the table, "I've never been good at following orders. Especially from someone who would willingly hurt another."
Allegra laughed coldly. "And you presume to think that I wouldn't do the same to you?" she said.
"No," Amanda replied. She was under no illusions. "You could try," she said, "but there's a big difference between them and me."
"And what's that?" Allegra scoffed.
"I hit back!" Amanda replied. She stepped up to Allegra and stared her directly in the face. "It would be a shame to mar such perfect makeup," she said. "Don't ever let me catch you doing this again!"
"Or you'll do what?" Allegra insisted. "You'll go crying to my slut of a sister or bitch of a mother?"
Amanda actually blinked in surprise. "Wow!" she said in some disbelief. "Is that the best you've got? I've heard playground insults better than that."
For a moment Allegra just glared then she turned on her heel and stormed out.
Marc came and stood beside Amanda.
"What, no words of wisdom?" she asked.
Marc shook his head. "I couldn't have said it better myself," he replied. "Though I doubt this little encounter will help her to like you more."
"No," Amanda agreed. "But it certainly couldn't make me like her any less."
She knelt down in front of the young woman and gently placed her hand under the young woman's chin. She lifted and turned the young woman's head to face her. Amanda smiled. "I hope you don't have that affect on everyone you meet," she joked.
The young woman tried to smile but instead winced in pain. She had a split beneath her left eye and the surrounding flesh was already beginning to colour.
"Can someone get me a clean damp cloth?" Amanda asked looking up. "And some ice," she said. She smiled again. "What's your name?" she inquired.
"It's Romana Milady," the young woman replied.
"Well, we're going to get you all cleaned up," Amanda suggested.
She gently bathed the wound then sealed it with a plaster, then she wrapped some ice in a cloth and held to the young woman's cheek.
"Now you hold that there and let it get really cold," she instructed, "then later I want you to replace it with a hot towel. It'll make the bruise disappear quicker."
Romana smiled. "Thank you Milady," she said.
Amanda stood up and shook her head in distaste. "Is there anything we can do about this?" she asked.
"We," Marc replied shaking his head, "no, but you certainly can."
When Allegra returned to her study she found Marshall waiting just inside the door.
"Where have you been?" she demanded. "I sent for you days ago." She in no way sounded upset about the servant she'd just injured, nor cared that the young woman had clearly been telling the truth. She obviously had no feelings for anyone whatsoever.
"Well, after the last time," Marshall replied nervously, while unconsciously rubbing his lip, "I wasn't in any great hurry to come back."
Allegra glared. She spat. "You said my sister was dead, now's she's back in the palace with her slut of a lover whom my mother has seen fit to elevate to the Royal family. She is beneath my contempt, she should have been killed the moment she was found. All of my plans have been ruined because of her."
Marshall shuffled uncomfortably. He would have loved to rub his thumb and forefinger together and claim he was playing the world's smallest violin just for her. "In my defence," he said instead, "I've never seen your sister. I was only going by your description."
Allegra stared. In the end she strangely chuckled. "Finally some backbone," she said. "I could still make you grovel though," she added.
Marshall nodded. "But it wouldn't really be me grovelling, would it?" he replied.
"So what would you suggest we do?" Allegra inquired while folding her arms and standing back.
Marshall thought for a moment. "Seems to me that this lover is your problem," he reasoned. "Get rid of her then your sister would probably just leave on her own. Away from the palace she would be easy to dispose of."
Allegra smiled. She slowly nodded in agreement. "But we can't be seen to do it," she said. She suddenly chuckled. "Find the vampire who turned her," she suggested, "I'm sure they'd be happy to correct their mistake."
"What about The Watch?" Marshall asked. "They were smart enough to create a decoy the last time. They'll know we're up to something."
"You just find the sire," Allegra commanded. "I'll take care of The Watch."
Amanda found Jane and the Queen slowly touring the palace. They were stopping and examining each and every painting they found along the way.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"History lesson," Jane quipped rolling her eyes. She looked thoroughly bored.
"I thought it was best to start by reintroducing Jane to some of her relatives," the Queen explained further, ignoring the attitude as well as the joke.
Amanda nodded. She glanced up at the nearest portrait on the wall. It was the one they'd seen when they'd arrived at the palace for the first time. "Isn't this the one which Jane cut in half?" she asked while staring at the huge slash dividing the canvas in two.
"Correct," the Queen confirmed. "This is your great uncle Fredrick," she explained while turning to Jane. "I believe he thought it was quite amusing to be cut in half. That time at least."
Both Amanda and Jane turned and stared.
"That time?" Jane said. "I didn't do it again, did I, for real?" she asked. She sounded a little panicked.
The Queen shook her head. "No," she explained sadly. "Your great uncle was executed during the French revolution. Unfortunately he was in Paris at the time. He was a kind soul. We all mourned his loss."
"Even me?" Jane asked. She actually sounded curious.
"I don't know," the Queen replied while trying to smile and placing her arm around Jane's shoulder. "You were already missing by then." She turned to Amanda. "I hear you had a bit of a run in with Allegra," she said, gladly changing the subject.
Amanda nodded. "I caught her hitting a young woman in the kitchen," she explained. "I merely warned her not to do it again."
The Queen sighed sounding quite disappointed. "This isn't the first time," she revealed. "Though the way Allegra tells it you threatened her with physical harm."
"I might have threatened her makeup," Amanda replied smirking a little. "I advised her that I wasn't the same as everyone else. If she'd hit me then I'd hit her back." She chuckled softly.
The Queen frowned. "What's so amusing?" she asked.
"Allegra suggested that if she were to do anything to me," Amanda explained with a slight grin, "then I would come crying to you or Jane. I find it amusing that she did exactly that herself." She slowly shook her head and her grin vanished. She was saddened by what had happened. It was one thing to treat the result of a violent injury after the fact, quite another to be there to see it occur. "Why is she so nasty?" she asked.
"Power, or her imagined lack of it," the Queen replied.
"It is rare for pureblood vampires to have more than one child," the Queen explained, "twins even less so. That's why our numbers are so few. Under normal circumstances Allegra wouldn't have had to fight a sibling for anything. She feels she has been denied what is rightfully her's."
"You almost sound like you forgive her for being the way she is," Amanda suggested delicately.
"Never," the Queen replied. "Allegra has lived a life of privilege and has been denied nothing, but I will never forgive anyone for wilfully harming another regardless of who they are. She is my daughter and I love her but that in no way excuses her for how she acts." She smiled and her expression softened. "How is the young woman?" she asked. She really did sound concerned.
"Romana," Amanda advised. "She's going to have a nasty black eye for a while."
"You treated her?"
Amanda nodded. "I wish there was something I could do to stop this sort of thing," she said.
The Queen smiled. "Perhaps there is," she replied.
"It was me wasn't it," Jane suddenly said. She'd been staring at the painting all this time. "I killed him didn't I?"
Amanda and the Queen turned and stared.
"That's why he was in Paris, wasn't he?" Jane asked. "He was trying to find me. If I hadn't run away he might still be alive."
"You don't know that," Amanda said.
"I'm afraid so," the Queen confirmed.
The Queen pulled Jane close and hugged her tightly. "No one knows why you left," she said. "You were always so happy here, then to disappear without a trace. I do not believe it was your choice. It wasn't your fault."
"You think someone else was involved?" Amanda asked.
"Without a doubt," the Queen replied.
Jane pulled herself free then ran crying up the hall.
Amanda moved to follow but the Queen shook her head. "Let her go," she said. "She really needs to work through this on her own." She turned and signalled to one of her own guards standing nearby. "Keep her safe," she commanded sounding more serious than Amanda had ever heard. "Don't let her out of your sight."
The Guard nodded then followed Jane along the hall.
Amanda turned and stared at the Queen. "You planned this," she said sounding quite upset herself.
The Queen shook her head. "No, not really," she replied. "I'd hoped she might remember something. But still this shock might do her good, force her to face her past and realise that she has a future and a role yet to play." She tried to smile though without succeeding. She was obviously hurting herself. "Now," she said, changing the subject while clearly trying to think about something else. "You and I need to decide what we're going to do."
"About what?" Amanda asked worriedly.
"Allegra," the Queen replied.
Bob and Jessica were again sitting in the back room when Bob's phone began to ring. Now that Jessica was helping full time there were a lot more opportunities to just relax and talk. She had started studying again and Bob had even taken some time off for the first time in, well, ever. He'd even tentatively agreed to Jessica's suggestion that they hire some additional staff so he could have some more time to himself. It was progress, she thought. He was willing to discuss it at least.
He pulled out his phone and glanced at the display. He frowned from ear to ear. "Weird?" he said. He accepted the call then after listening for a while hung up once again without having barely said a word.
"Who was that?" Jessica asked. "Is someone else looking for Amanda?"
Bob shook his head. "It was the palace," he replied. "Apparently we're going to receive a visit."
"From whom?" Jessica asked. "Not Amanda?"
Bob again shook his head. "Neither Jane, Amanda nor even the Queen would have the affront to demand that we prepare for their arrival," he said. "They wouldn't care. They wouldn't expect it. It has to be someone else, someone far more needy."
"Allegra," Jessica suggested. Even she knew of the Princess' less than stellar reputation and frequently unrealistic demands.
Bob smiled. He nodded approvingly. "Good girl," he said.
"So what are we going to do?" Jessica asked.
"I'd say with give her exactly the sort of welcome she deserves," Bob suggested.
"And what's that?"
"None at all," Bob replied.
It was many hours before Jane quietly stepped round the door into their suite. She looked completely embarrassed and stood with her back resting gently against the door. "Can I come in?" she asked a little timidly.
"Of course," Amanda replied. "Always," she said. She had been resting on the bed and appeared as worried as Jane was embarrassed.
Jane came and sat beside her. "Are you okay?" she asked.
Amanda nodded. "You?" she said.
"Fine," Jane replied.
Neither of them really sounded that convincing.
They sat silently for a moment.
"So do you want to go home?" Jane asked.
"Only if you do," Amanda suggested.
"No!" Jane said leaping up. "It's not always about me. What do you want?"
"I like some of the freedom we have here," Amanda replied truthfully while sounding a little surprised at Jane's sudden outburst. "But I don't really care. What about you?"
Jane sat down once more. "I want to find out who I was, who did this to me." For the first time she sounded determined. "No one should have died because of me."
"You can only do that here," Amanda suggested.
"I know," Jane replied.
"Then we stay," Amanda advised. She didn't sound disappointed.
They were quiet for a time.
Jane smirked a little. "Did we just have our first fight?" she asked.
"I guess so," Amanda replied, grinning as well.
"How would you rate it?" Jane asked.
"Pretty weak," Amanda responded.
Jane chuckled then they both laughed. They hugged then lay down beside each other.
"So where did you go?" Amanda inquired.
Jane shrugged. "I just ran and hid," she revealed. "What about you?" she asked, she clearly wasn't ready to talk that much about it. "What have you been doing?"
"Speaking with your mum mostly," Amanda replied. "We were trying to work out what we're going to do with Allegra and anyone else who treats the staff inappropriately." So far they hadn't come up with any workable idea.
"It's easy," Jane said. "The staff just stop helping them until they publicly apologise. They'll soon learn."
Amanda smiled. She chuckled. "Where did you learn to be so devious?" she asked.
Jane just shrugged once more. "Well, Allegra is my sister," she replied.
The huge limo, surrounded by a fleet of other vehicles, pulled to halt out the front of the store. The door was opened and Allegra swept into the store in an elegant gown and cloud of sweet smelling perfume.
She looked around and glared. She'd obviously been expecting something more.
Jessica was sitting behind the counter studying a book on elemental diplomacy for her new correspondence course. "Can I help you?" she asked looking up. "We have a special on blood sausage today," she parroted.
Allegra stared. "I was looking for Robert Marcus Zerwiller," she announced rather haughtily. "I was informed I could find him here."
"Dad!" Jessica shouted while returning her attention to the book. "Some woman is looking for you. Looks like she's going to a fancy dress ball."
The door to back room swung open and Bob's enormous shadow fell into the room.
Allegra looked up wide-eyed and stared. She'd obviously never really met a full-size Yeti before.
"Can I help you?" Bob growled. "Make it quick," he said as he made a rather elaborate show of wiping his grimy hands on his apron, "I'd hate to have to throw out something unpleasant."
Allegra stuttered with fury. "Do you know who I am," she demanded.
Bob simply nodded.
"Then why don't you treat me with the proper respect?"
"This is the real world," Bob explained. "Out here we don't draw attention to ourselves, to do so only makes it more dangerous for every one. As for respect," he said. "I've heard about your kind of respect. You have something to say, say it then leave!"
"Very well," Allegra replied. She almost seemed to approve of Bob's bluntness. "I order you and The Watch to assist my agents with whatever they require."
Bob laughed. "You, order me, The Watch?" he said. "We don't answer to you or anyone for that matter."
"You don't want to help your Amanda?" Allegra inquired. She smiled. "Interesting," she said, then she turned on her heel and strode out.
Jessica came and stood beside him. "What's wrong with Amanda?" she asked sounding as concerned as Bob now looked.
Bob shook his head. "I think I need to make a call," he said.
The Queen called all the staff together. She met them in the kitchen where Amanda had spoken with them in the morning. She smiled pleasantly. "I have an announcement," she said. When finished she spoke briefly with the managers. "How is Romana?" she asked. She still sounded upset. "Have her report to my study in the morning," she said. "I have a special assignment for her."
When Allegra returned to her quarters she felt like she desperately needed a bath. She rarely ever left the security of the palace and the earthy smell of the butchers shop along with the image of Bob cleaning the grime from his hands had remained with her. She wrongly imagined that everyone was staring at her and from the putrid smell wondered where she had been.
She called to a servant. "Draw me a bath," she commanded.
"I'm sorry Milady," the Servant replied, flinching nervously as she did, "but I cannot."
Allegra turned and glared. "And why can't you?" she demanded.
"The Queen has given orders to all staff," the Servant explained. "She has advised that no one is to assist your-Ladyship until you have spoken with the Princess Ward."
"And why would I need to do that?" Allegra inquired.
"I do not know Milady," the Servant replied.
"I could still force you," Allegra suggested. She sneered, smiled and seemed to enjoy the very idea.
"I suspect that, that would only make the problem worse," the Servant bravely responded.
Allegra snarled and bared her fangs, after a moment she angrily strode from the room. She marched up one corridor then down another. She stopped outside the door to Amanda and Jane's private suite.
As before Marc and a number of guards were stationed outside the room.
"Well, open the door!" Allegra snapped. "I would speak with my sister and her, partner." She couldn't have made the last word sound anymore forced even if she'd tried.
"I'm sorry Princess," Marc replied, "but we are very under strict instructions that they not be disturbed by anyone."
"But surely that does not include me?" Allegra inquired.
"Anyone," Marc repeated firmly but graciously, which was a rather neat trick.
Allegra stuttered with fury. She pushed the closest guard aside and reached for the handle.
"I would recommend that you did not do that," Marc advised.
Allegra turned and glared. She was incensed. "Are you threatening me?" she demanded.
"Not at all," Marc replied as graciously as before. "I'm just informing the Princess that we have been specially charged by her Majesty to protect the privacy of the Crown Princess and the Princess Ward. I doubt that the Queen would be pleased to learn that it was you who caused us to fail in that duty."
The door to the room swung open and Amanda appeared in the doorway. "What's all the noise out here?" she asked. She thought it was a little funny. She imagined the neighbours next door were fighting again. She was dressed in her usual jeans and t-shirt but her feet were bare. She looked completely normal and totally at ease, unlike someone else who always had to appear prim and proper and would never be caught dead in public dressed like that.
Marc smiled. He bowed. "Your Highness," he said. "The Princess Allegra was hoping that she might speak with yourself and her sister."
Amanda briefly glanced at Allegra then turned back into the room. "Jane's resting at the moment but I can ask," she said. She really didn't sound happy. Jane hadn't had the most pleasant of days.
"That's all right," Allegra replied sounding barely civil, "it's you I'm required to speak with anyway."
"You made it pretty clear this morning that you didn't want me to speak to you," Amanda recalled. "What's so different now?"
"Don't play games!" Allegra snapped. "You know very well why I'm here." She seemed to be barely keeping her anger under control. "I'm told that I must speak with you before the servants will assist me."
Amanda nodded. "In the future anyone who treats one of the staff inappropriately, as you have done, will need to publicly apologise before the staff will help them again."
"This was your idea?" Allegra inquired, glaring.
"No," Amanda replied, "it was Jane's. Though I agree with it. I'll let you off easily this time," she said, "but don't let it happen again."
Allegra sneered. She scoffed. "You'll inform the servants?" she asked.
Amanda nodded once more. "In the morning," she replied.
"Morning!" Allegra shouted. "What am I to do until then?"
"Make do," Amanda suggested.
"You must be enjoying this?" Allegra growled. "A worthless creature such as yourself with power over someone like me. It must be everything you've ever hoped for."
Amanda shook her head. "No one should have the power to control another," she replied, "but I understand that there are people like you who enjoy it, but that doesn't make it right."
Allegra scoffed once more then turned and strode away.
Amanda called after her.
Allegra turned and glared.
"I don't know what you're up to," Amanda warned, "but you'll find that Bob doesn't respond well to threats, and neither do I."
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