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.
"You're not going to start a war over this, are you?" Amanda tried to joke.
The Queen looked up and stared.
"You just seem so angry about it," Amanda added.
"I am angry," the Queen replied.
"And you should be," Amanda agreed, "but so are the majority of humans. Most would prefer that it didn't happen and no case went unpunished. But sometimes it does. I'm sure there is good and bad in both worlds."
The Queen sat back in her chair and smiled. "You're going to make a wonderful ruler one day," she said.
"Me?" Amanda prompted. She didn't see how. Most of the time and even more today she felt like she was just struggling to keep up.
"You have both an innocence and an insight that no other Fey has ever had," the Queen explained. "Your unique perspective allows you to see things from both sides but you judge neither. A good ruler can put aside their prejudicious," she said, "a great ruler has none."
Amanda opened her mouth to ask something. She started and stopped.
The Queen smiled. She chuckled. "You want to know what sort of ruler I think I've been?" she suggested.
Amanda nodded. "It seemed a little personal," she said.
"I like to believe that I've worked hard for the Fey," the Queen replied. "I was lucky though," she said.
"How so?" Amanda asked.
"I inherited the throne from my mother as she did from her mother before her and so on," the Queen explained. "Our family has ruled the Fey during the longest period of peace in our history. It's easy to appear great when all of the important decisions have been made before you."
"I think you're underselling yourself," Amanda responded.
"Maybe," the Queen replied. She certainly didn't sound disappointed.
"There isn't a single person here who wouldn't do anything for you, even without being asked," Amanda added.
The Queen smiled. "Thank you," she said, "but I can think of at least one."
Amanda nodded reluctantly. "Okay, just one," she agreed.
Coincidently Allegra strode into the room at that very moment.
Marc followed her and stood in the doorway looking unusually serious.
"Speak of the devil," Amanda thought.
"Mother," Allegra said while sounding unnaturally pleasant. "I have some exciting news for Amanda if you'll let me."
"You do? What?" Amanda asked nervously.
"I've asked my people to find the monster who attacked you and murdered your family," Allegra revealed now smiling. "It was such a tragic story," she said, her voice dripping with fake sympathy and hurt. "I cried when I heard it. Him turning you, then murdering your whole family, you didn't even get to say goodbye. So sad. I thought it only fair to have him brought here so he can answer for his crimes."
Amanda stared. All the colour had drained from her face. She looked more than terrified.
The Queen leapt to her feet. "Allegra," she insisted. "Enough!"
Amanda jumped out of her chair and ran from the room. She appeared distraught.
Allegra laughed. "Aww," she said giggling. She turned on her heel but found her way blocked at the door. "MOVE!" she demanded.
Marc glared at her. "If she is harmed in any way," he said, his voice noticeably cold, "you will answer to me. I don't care what happens to myself." He glanced questioningly at the Queen. She just nodded then Marc turned and ran after Amanda.
"Are you going to let him speak to me like that?" Allegra snapped turning to her mother.
"I make it a point of never punishing someone for speaking the truth," the Queen replied.
Allegra glared. She again turned to leave.
The Queen called to a guard outside the room. "Escort the princess back to her quarters," she ordered. "She is to be confined there until further notice. Should she resist or leave her quarters then imprison her somewhere, less comfortable."
Allegra stared. For the first time she actually looked shocked.
The Queen's slowly stepped around her desk and stared Allegra directly in the face. "I am this close to having you expelled," she said while holding up her hand with her thumb and forefinger pinched together, "banished forever. I warn you not to push me any further. What you have done is unforgivable."
Allegra sneered. She again turned to leave. When she reached the door she stopped and looked back. "You wonder how I came to be like this? Who I learnt it from? Who pushed me?" She smiled. "Look in the mirror," she suggested.
Marc raced up one hallway then down another. He stopped at the intersection of a third then quickly glanced left and right. There was no sign of Amanda. He couldn't imagine that she'd even made it this far in the state she was in. He urgently called all the guards together. "Find her!" he ordered. "Search everywhere," he commanded. "Even the old dungeons beneath the palace." Afterwards he made his way to the library.
Jane looked up from where she was sitting. She knew there was something wrong immediately.
Marc nodded solemnly. "It's Amanda," he confirmed.
Within minutes they were standing at the door to Allegra's private suite.
Marc had obviously explained what had happened.
"I still don't think this is a good idea," he suggested.
Jane glared. She wasn't going to hear it. She pushed open the door and stepped inside. She immediately stopped and stared.
There was the body of a guard lying prone in a pool of blood, his head almost torn from his shoulders, teeth marks in his flesh. Allegra was no where to be seen.
Marc grabbed Jane then almost threw her back into the hall outside the room. He quickly slammed the door shut behind himself.
Another guard ran up breathless and pale.
"Have you found her?" Marc demanded.
"No sir," the other man replied. "Something else."
Marc turned to Jane. "I don't suppose I could ask you to go back to you quarters?" he pressed.
Jane just glared at him once more.
"Stay close to me then," Marc said seriously. He clearly wasn't in any mood to argue. "Don't let me out of your sight."
They followed the other guard down into the bowels of the palace, into a dungeon like chamber which was cold and damp.
"What is that?" Marc asked pointing at a section of wall which somehow seemed disconnected from the others.
"It was open when we got here," the other guard revealed. "I doubt we would have found it otherwise. Someone must have opened it before we arrived. I would guess there are hidden passages like this all over the palace."
They walked along the short corridor then stepped into the room beyond.
The Doctor's corpse lay slumped against one wall.
Marc stared at it. "It looks like he's been gutted," he said disgusted.
The other guard nodded though less than solemnly. "He was alive when we found him," he advised. "He wanted to apologise for what he and Allegra had done to the princess. Apparently this is where they'd kept her after she'd disappeared."
Jane suddenly screamed. Her eyes were wide with terror.
Everyone turned and stared.
She slumped against the wall and began to sob uncontrollably. Unseen by everyone she had crept into the small cell and begun to run her hands over the countless cuts and scrapes decorating the walls.
Marc ran over and carefully lifted Jane from where she was now shaking and curled in a ball.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and cried silently on his shoulder.
Marc gently carried her from the room. "Keep looking," he ordered, "I want to know where every one of these passages lead."
"This is treason," the Queen suggested.
Marc nodded. "There's also evidence that Allegra and the doctor were involved in the Crown Princess' disappearance as well," he revealed.
The Queen stared. She shook her head in disgust. "I want her found," she said firmly.
"It may not be easy," Marc responded. "She has followers who will protect her."
"I don't care," the Queen replied. "As of this moment she is no longer a princess or even a member of the royal house, and as much as it pains me she is also no longer my daughter. She is a fugitive wanted for the most heinous of crimes. We cannot be seen to take sides in this matter. It is of no consequence who she was before."
"Gold loosens tongues," the Queen suggested darkly, "especially amongst those like Allegra with little conscience. Use it!"
Jane walked into the room and slumped in a chair. She looked pale, her eyes red and puffy from tears. She appeared to have cried herself out.
The Queen smiled sadly at her. "Do you remember anything more?" she asked.
Jane shook her head. "Just feelings mostly," she said.
"And what of Amanda?" the Queen asked, turning back to Marc.
He just shook his head. They'd been searching for hours and it was now late in the evening. Even the apartment had been silent and empty. They hadn't found any sign of her.
"What about with Bob and Jessica?" Jane said quietly. "Amanda wouldn't feel safer anywhere else."
Both Marc and the Queen turned and stared.
Marc shook his head. He could have slapped himself. He hadn't even considered it because he'd just assumed that Bob would call if he knew anything. He turned to Jane. "Shall we go find her?" he asked.
Bob was waiting for them as they stepped through the door. "What happened?" he asked seriously.
"Allegra," Marc replied just as gravely. "She gone now, on the run, charged with treason and murder. I hope we never see her or her like again."
Bob shook his head. "I knew she was up to something," he replied.
"How's Amanda?" Jane asked.
Bob tried to smile. "Not good," he replied. "She was so panicked that she ran the whole way here in the sun. The burns are so severe she may not even survive."
"Can I see her?" Jane asked, her voice shaking.
Bob nodded. He led them to the residence located behind the store.
Amanda was stretched out on the couch. Her exposed skin looked red and raw, in places blistered and burnt almost beyond recognition.
Jessica was sitting nearby. Her eyes, like Jane's, were puffy and red with tears.
"Why didn't you call?" Marc asked. He still didn't understand why Bob hadn't.
"She made me promise and I keep my promises," Bob replied.
Jane knelt beside the couch. "Hey you," she said.
Amanda slowly opened her eyes. "How did you find me?" she croaked.
"Where does any young child run to when their afraid?" Jane inquired.
"But I'm not a child," Amanda said.
"In this world you are," Jane replied.
Amanda tried to smile. "It's for the best," she said. "I could spend the rest of my life with you, but you can't spend the rest of your life with me. It was always bound to happen one day. Better to get it over with sooner than later."
Jane smiled sadly. "If there was a way that we could be together forever and neither of us would have to die, would you take it? Would you let me help you?" she asked.
"It will be painful and you would never be the same again."
"I don't care," Amanda replied. "I just want to be with you."
"You're sure? There can be no turning back."
Amanda nodded. "I'm sure," she said.
Jane nodded seriously, she turned and looked at Marc. "Bring me a sharp knife," she said.
Marc shook his head. He didn't understand.
"Now!" Jane added.
Bob collected a razor sharp knife from the store. He sterilised it then handed it to Jane. He looked just as confused as Marc.
Jane turned back to Amanda. "Are you ready?" she asked.
Amanda just nodded once more.
Everyone else just watched wide-eyed, confused about what was about to happen.
Without flinching Jane ran the blade across her wrist, slicing open her veins so that the blood would flow. She held the bloody wound to Amanda lips. "Now drink," she commanded. "Take as much as you need."
When Amanda finally opened her eyes there was someone she'd never seen before sitting beside the bed. She slowly turned and glanced around. The sudden motion made her head swim. She recognised the room immediately. She was back in the palace. She felt her face and quickly looked at her arms and hands, the burns were gone and her skin was blemish free, though, strangely, like Jane's, it seemed somewhat paler than before. She moved to sit up.
"I wouldn't recommend that you did that just yet," said the person sitting nearby.
Amanda tried, she failed and immediately slumped back down. "Urgh," she groaned. She felt like she was going to be sick.
"I did warn you," the unknown person said.
Amanda stared at him. He seemed familiar in an unfamiliar sort of way.
He laughed at her expression. "I understand I have yet another daughter," he revealed.
Amanda stared. "You're Jane's father?" she said surprised.
"Guilty as charged," he replied while smiling broadly. He had a kind face and gentle smile which had seen far too much worry. "How are you feeling?" he asked. He really did sound concerned.
"Like I've been torn apart then stitched back together again, you know," Amanda replied.
Jane's father shook his head. "No, not really," he replied.
Amanda rested back on her pillow. She was exhausted by the effort.
The door to the room opened and Romana stepped in carrying a tray loaded with many things including blood and some cooling, moist towels. She bowed to Jane's father then stepped up to the side of the bed. She was surprised to find Amanda awake.
"Milady," she said excitedly. "You're awake and you're not screaming."
Amanda frowned. "I was screaming?" she inquired. She sounded horrified.
Romana nodded. She looked worried.
"Quite often," Jane's father confirmed. He was obviously being extremely generous and polite. It seemed clear that Amanda had been screaming almost constantly.
"I don't remember anything?" she said.
"That's probably a good thing," Romana suggested. She placed the tray aside then gently laid one of the cooling towels on Amanda's forehead.
She sighed. It did make her feel better. "How long have I been here?" she asked.
"Three days Milady," Romana replied. "Your fever broke last night but we've been constantly at your side since the Princess brought you home."
Amanda smiled. "Thank you," she whispered. "Your eye is looking better," she said.
Romana smiled. "Are you hungry?" she asked.
Amanda nodded. "Famished," she replied.
Romana poured a cup of blood from a thermos. She gently cradled Amanda's head then held the cup to Amanda's lips.
Jane's father leant forward in his chair and watched with some curiosity.
Amanda sipped and sighed with delight as the blood at first coated her mouth then warmed her stomach. She ran her tongue around her mouth savouring the metallic taste. She stopped and frowned then quickly poked a finger between her lips. "Okay," she mumbled, while prodding and poking in exactly the same way as Jane had done, "that's really weird!"
"What is Milady?" Romana asked. She again sounded concerned.
Amanda nervously opened her mouth revealing a delicate set of fangs.
Romana screamed with fright and jumped backward. "But I thought you were a..." she started.
Jane's father smiled. He clearly knew more about what was happening than Romana.
The door to the room opened for a second time. Jane and the Queen then Marc stepped into the room. Marc just smiled and nodded politely but stayed by the door.
"Can I assume that you're responsible for these?" Amanda asked playfully while still poking around in her mouth. She had suspected what Jane was attempting but she hadn't believed it was possible until this very moment. She didn't sound disappointed.
Jane jumped and bounced on the bed. "Oh they're cute," she quipped. She gently kissed Amanda on the forehead. "I'm glad you're back," she said.
Romana coughed politely then moved to excuse herself.
The Queen waved at her. "Oh stay," she said. "You're as much of a part of this little club as the rest of us."
"Is this what you were researching in the library?" Amanda asked.
"What happened to finding out who you were before?" Amanda inquired raising an eyebrow.
"Why would I want to do that?" Jane replied while rolling her eyes and carefully avoiding looking at her mother. "I like me right now," she said with grammar so bad to give an editor an apoplectic fit.
The Queen sighed and shook her head in some frustration.
Jane's father smirked.
It was abundantly clear where Jane got her sense of humour.
"And what about Allegra?" Amanda asked.
"Gone, hiding somewhere," the Queen explained. "You don't need to worry about her anymore. She will be found and punished."
Amanda nodded. "When can I get out of here?" she asked. Without Jane she thought laying in bed would be quite boring. She again tried to sit up before moaning and laying back down. "Okay maybe a little bit longer," she groaned while smiling wretchedly.
"Probably a few more days at least," the Queen advised without sugar coating the truth. "We really don't know," she said. "The elevation of a familiar using royal blood hasn't been performed in over a thousand generations that I'm aware of, and never with such an intimate connections between the two. It was thought that knowledge had been lost. Now you truely are unique."
"Oh great," Amanda joked, "more reasons for people to point and whisper."
Jane smirked. She leapt off the bed but accidentally knocked her knee on one of the posts as she did.
"OW!" both Amanda and Jane exclaimed at exactly the same moment their hands leaping to their knees.
Everyone turned and stared. They almost all of them frowned.
"I felt that," Amanda said disbelievingly, her leg still tingling. She threw back the covers and pulled up her pyjama leg. Her knee looked as unblemished as before. She looked up and stared.
Jane shrugged. For the briefest moment she looked as confused as Amanda did. "Well," she joked, while at first smirking then smiling broadly. "This has just got a lot more interesting."
The Queen shook her head. She sighed. "What could possibly go wrong with this?" she thought.
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