Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. email@example.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
In the morning Amanda awoke to the strangest sensation of someone blowing in and gently tickling her ear. She giggled then rolled over and looked at Jane.
"Feeling a little frisky this morning are you?" she asked.
Jane didn't reply, instead she quickly climbed on top of Amanda then pinned Amanda's arms above her head.
"I'll take that as a yes," Amanda suggested with a smile.
Jane began to slowly kiss Amanda up and down her neck, on the forehead then finally on the lips. "Good morning Princess," she said happily.
"Good morning to you as well," Amanda replied.
"So what are you going to do today?" Jane asked.
"Well, after that wakeup call, not much," Amanda joked in reply.
"I'm supposed to meet with the Queen," Amanda explained. "You?" she asked.
Jane just shrugged. "Probably looking at more paintings," she replied sounding disappointed.
Amanda smiled. She reached up and tenderly ran her fingers through Jane's hair. "But until then," she suggested.
Jane shook her head. She looked confused. "I don't understand," she said.
Amanda grinned. She suddenly flipped Jane off her then climbed on top herself. She pinned Jane's arms to her side. "But until then," she repeated.
Jane laughed. She sniggered and squirmed playfully. "Do you really think you can hold me down?" she asked smirking.
They both knew that Jane was far stronger.
"Oh I'm willing to give it a try," Amanda suggested.
For anyone walking past the room the screams of pleasure and giggles coming from within might have been a source of great interest or just as much confusion. For Marc and the other guards stationed outside it was as though nothing had even happened.
Allegra again made her way down to the lowest levels of the palace then into the former doctor's chamber, which was now empty and devoid of any evidence of its more sinister past. In one corner of the room she pressed a concealed switch. A section of stone-work swung forward revealing a hidden passage behind.
She emerged in a smaller chamber, it was cold and dank and seemed even less cheerful than the other, though like the first it too seemed to have been recently cleansed of any suggestion of its prior use.
At the far end of the chamber there was a rusty metal gate, a single door to an ancient holding cell.
Allegra stepped up to the bars and looked between.
The cell was cold and sparse with no furniture or comforts whatsoever. The walls were scarred with countless cuts and scrapes as though someone had spent a lifetime in here counting the days.
She briefly smiled. "Well, well Doctor," she said. "I was told there was a gift for me but I never expected this."
The Doctor glanced up from where he sat uncomfortably in the corner. He leapt to his feet and shook the bars with all his strength. They didn't even move. "LET ME OUT OF HERE!" he demanded.
"And why would I do that?" Allegra asked in reply, her voice showing no feeling whatsoever. "I have no reason to trust you."
"I'll die in here!" the Doctor pleaded.
Allegra shook her head. "You're pathetic," she said. "My sister was imprisoned in here for hundreds of years. You couldn't even get that right."
"But she was mostly sedated," the Doctor replied as if this was any sort of justification.
"The marks on the walls would suggest otherwise," Allegra responded darkly, not that she really cared.
"How dare you judge me," the Doctor spat. "You are just as guilty as I if not more so."
Allegra glared. "I know what I am and what I've done," she replied unrepentantly. "Do you?" she said. "Everything has had to stop because of you. Centuries of planning and work destroyed, swept away, my followers scattered because you had a moment of conscience." She stepped closer to the cell door and stared. "Maybe some time in here alone will help refocus your beliefs. Help you to determine where your allegiance lay."
The Doctor thrust his arm through the bars and grabbed Allegra by the throat.
She simply smiled. She didn't even flinch. "I would gladly die for my beliefs," she said. "What would you die for Doctor?"
When Amanda stepped into the throne room there was someone already waiting.
He jumped down from his chair as Amanda approached.
He was positively tiny, Amanda felt like a giant towering over him. She guessed he might be four-foot-one on a good day. Forget that. Four-foot-one on a really good day, with a stool.
He was so short that his head barely even come up to Amanda's waist. He was stocky and proud, with a long, braided red beard and a broad smile which didn't just extend from ear to ear but rather seemed to exceed the very confines of his face.
"Milady," he boomed as he bowed with a flourish so low that his beard brushed the floor then he reached for Amanda's hand and placed a kiss solidly on the back. "Dwarven Ambassador Grent," he said, introducing himself.
"Ambassador," Amanda replied bowing slightly. "It is a pleasure to meet you." She wasn't exactly sure of the correct protocol. She didn't know if she was supposed to kneel down so that their faces might be closer together or what she was required to do.
She must have looked a little worried as Grent boomed with laughter. "Never met a Dwarf before?" he asked.
"Is it that obvious?" Amanda asked in reply and now sounding rather embarrassed.
"A little," Grent laughed without sounding offended in the slightest.
They sat on some chairs at the side of the room.
Amanda suspected Grent would be quite insulted if she were to offer to help or pick him up and plonk him back on his chair.
"And you are?" Grent asked while raising an eyebrow and smirking.
"Oh I'm sorry," Amanda replied, now sounding even more embarrassed and quite mortified. "Amanda," she said.
"Just Amanda?" Grent inquired. He glanced at Marc who was still standing nearby and was as always looking quite stern and overly protective. "So just Amanda," Grent said, "I suspect that your constant companion would suggest otherwise." He smiled. "Might I be bold enough to suggest that you could be the Lady Amanda? The Princess Ward we have all heard of and wondered so much about?"
Amanda nodded. "That's me," she replied sounding just as embarrassed as before.
Grent laughed once more. "Never be embarrassed about who you are," he advised.
"I'm not," Amanda replied. "Not really," she said. "I'm just a bit new to all of this."
Grent smiled once more. "My daughter will be so pleased I met you," he said with pride. "She has wanted to learn more about you ever since the first news of you and the Crown Princess began to spread."
"Really?" Amanda said. She sounded surprised.
"What will you tell her?" Amanda asked now sounding curious.
"That you, like the Crown Princess, are both warm and kind, and maybe just a little shy."
Amanda smiled. "Thank you," she said.
Allegra left the Doctor cursing in the cell. When she reached the door she turned and looked back. "How long can a vampire survive without blood?" she asked.
The Doctor frowned. "No longer than a human without food," he replied worriedly.
"Then I suggest you make up your mind before then," Allegra recommended then she was gone.
The Queen was delighted to find Grent and Amanda talking.
"We were just discussing Arden's upcoming anniversary," Grent advised.
"Ten thousand years," Amanda said, shaking her head in some astonishment.
The Queen nodded. "Hard to imagine something in the human world lasting that long isn't it," she said a little seriously.
Amanda just nodded. Humans had a knack for destroying everything they touched, including themselves.
"I've got a grand idea," Grent suddenly boomed. "Why don't you have your young ward look after the preparations? She would get to meet everyone." It was a nicer way of saying that she'd lived a rather sheltered life.
The Queen smiled. "That's a wonderful idea," she agreed. "I'm sure Amanda would be up for the challenge. Am I right?" she asked.
"Err... Yeah," Amanda replied, somewhat reluctantly. "Sure!"
"Then it's settled," Grent said while clapping and excitedly rubbing his hands together. Everything about him was exaggerated as though making up for his shorter stature. He leapt down from his chair. "I'll have my people get in touch."
Both Amanda and the Queen stood as Grent said his farewells.
"Say hello to your daughter for me," Amanda suggested. "Tell her I would love to meet her one day."
Grent beamed. He bowed then was gone.
"That was nice," said the Queen.
Amanda smiled worriedly. "Are you sure about this?" she asked a little nervously.
"I wouldn't have agreed otherwise," the Queen replied. She turned and smiled. "Don't worry," she said. "The staff will handle almost all of the preparations. You'll just need to be there to greet people and to answer any questions in the meantime, and if you can't then bring them to me."
"Expect to be interrupted a lot then," Amanda tried to joke.
The Queen smiled once more. "You'll do fine," she added reassuringly. "Now," she said a little more seriously, "what happened with Allegra?"
"I spoke with her last night and informed the staff this morning," Amanda replied.
"Was she particularly, nasty?"
Amanda shrugged. "No more than usual," she revealed. With Marc and the other guards present Amanda had actually felt completely safe. She didn't want to imagine what might have happened should Allegra have tried something.
The Queen sighed and shook her head. She looked quite upset. "You must think me a terrible failure for this," she said.
Amanda immediately shook her head. "I blame Allegra," she replied. "Anyone can be nasty to someone with no rights who can't defend themselves. It takes a better person to treat them as an equal."
The Queen slowly nodded, she stood back. She looked concerned. "Are you sure you want to do this?" she asked. "It's not going get any easier. What with the preparations for the anniversary, Allegra, and now also agreeing to manage the staff are you sure you're not taking on too much to soon?"
"I'll be fine," Amanda replied, "and Marc can always protect me from Allegra."
The Queen smiled. "I've always thought him rather handsome, you know," she remarked while looking back through the open door into the throne room.
Amanda turned and looked herself. Marc was patiently waiting outside the door with one of the Queen's own guards.
"I hadn't noticed," she said grinning a little. "He's really not my type."
The Queen smirked. She chuckled and shook her head. "And how is Jane?" she asked.
"Well, she was fine this morning," Amanda replied while blushing and laughing inwardly. She really didn't know what else to say.
Marshall pushed open the door to the butcher shop then extremely cautiously stepped inside.
Bob, as usual, was sitting behind the counter. He leapt up and glared. "I thought I told you never to come back," he growled. "I suggested it wouldn't be an enjoyable experience."
"I know," Marshall nervously replied with his palms spread wide while unconsciously taking a step back, "but I'm under orders. The Princess Allegra has directed me to find the vampire who attacked the Lady Amanda, so that he might be punished for his crime."
Bob frowned. "Why?" he asked. He sounded a little worried. "It's well known that Allegra thinks of no one other than herself. Why would she care about this? Why now?"
Marshall shook his head. "I don't know," he replied, lying.
Bob stepped round the counter. He glared. "You go back to your mistress and tell her," he commanded, "that neither I nor The Watch will play any part in her schemes, whatever they are."
Marshall quickly nodded and left. He breathed a silent sigh of relief. He met Jessica in the parking lot outside.
"I thought Dad told you never to come back," she said sounding suspicious herself.
"I've been ordered to find the vampire who attacked and turned your sister, so that he can be punished," Marshall explained, "but your father is unwilling to help."
"I'm not sure," Marshall added, lying once more. "Can you tell me anything?" he asked almost pleading.
Jessica thought for a long moment. She glanced at the store. "His name was Damian," she revealed, then she walked away.
"I assume that your highnesses have decided to remain in the palace?" Marc asked as Amanda joined him in the throne room.
Amanda looked up surprised. She hadn't said anything. In fact she'd almost forgotten about the conversation with Jane from the previous evening.
Marc smiled. "You remained here last night and have made no mention of going home today," he explained.
They started walking toward the door.
"That should make things easier," Marc suggested.
"No, not really," Amanda lightly joked, laughing as she did.
"How so?" Marc inquired. He turned to face her.
"Clothes," Amanda replied. "Everything is at home and what clothes Jane has here are like three hundred years out of date. We really have nothing to wear." She actually felt rather vain by thinking this way, though it was getting a little embarrassing to be seen in the same outfit all the time.
Marc smiled. "I'll organise for your things to be moved here," he said.
"No," Amanda quickly replied. "I'll do it."
"You don't have to do everything yourself," Marc advised sounding a bit more serious.
"I know," Amanda returned, "but I don't want to appear demanding."
"You would never," Marc responded smiling once more, "and there are people here who will help you, not because they've been ordered to, or that it's their job, but because they want to. They like you, they respect you, both you and Jane. As I've said before you're an inspiration to all of us."
"You make it sound like I'm different from everyone else," Amanda suggested. She really didn't like the implication.
"You are different," Marc responded. "At least in the way that we all see you."
"You are Milady," Romana agreed as she walked up to them. She bowed to Amanda and nodded politely to Marc. "We would gladly do anything for you," she said.
"Let us help you?" Marc added.
Amanda glanced back and forth between them. In the end she shook her head and smirked. "Did you plan this?" she asked looking to Marc. She chuckled. "I guess I have no choice then," she said.
Marc smiled. "Not really," he replied.
Amanda glared though without any menace. "Just some clothes and things," she playfully warned, "nothing more."
Marc nodded. "As you wish," he replied.
Amanda turned to Romana. She smiled. "How are you?" she asked. "Your eye is looking a lot better," she said. "Have you been putting hot towels on it?"
Romana quickly nodded. "Twice a day Milady, as you instructed," she replied.
Amanda smiled once more. At least one of her patient did what they were told. "Why are you here?" she asked.
Romana shook her head. "I'm not sure Milady," she replied. "I was told to report to the Queen. Apparently she has a special task for me." She actually sounded a little excited.
"Well, make sure you enjoy it," Amanda suggested. "You certainly deserve it."
Bob pulled the door open for Jessica as she stepped into the store. "What did you say to him?" he asked.
"Only that his name was Damian," Jessica replied.
"Did I do something wrong?" Jessica inquired.
Bob shook his head. "No," he replied. He still looked worried.
"Don't you want him to be caught and punished?"
"Marshall may be a lot of things," Bob said seriously, "but a seeker of justice isn't one of them. I just wish I knew what he and Allegra were planning, it seems clear that Amanda is at the centre of it." He turned to Jessica and smiled. "Do you still want that sort of life?" he asked.
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