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.
Marc shook his head.
The Queen slowly nodded. She looked up at Amanda. "I was afraid this would happen," she said sadly, "but I didn't think it would affect me so much."
"Allegra was still your daughter," Amanda replied. "It's going to hurt for a while."
"How did you cope with it?" the Queen asked.
"Me?" Amanda said. "In the worse way possible," she explained. "I ran away and hid from it all."
"Did that work?" Pop attempted to ask light-heartedly. It didn't really work.
Amanda shook her head. "Not so much," she replied. She turned and looked at Jane. "Are you okay?" she asked.
"I really don't remember very much about her," Jane responded. "I think she only spoke to me once since we arrived. I wish it had been different and we could have got to know each other like sisters should."
"And what about you?" Jane inquired looking up. "Allegra seemed fixated on you. It was you she was angry with."
"I'm fine," Amanda replied. "I'm disappointed," she said. "No one should have to die, regardless of who they were."
"Could we ask the Elves for her body?" Pop asked turning to Marc.
"Unlikely," Marc replied. "It would be extremely difficult for them to admit their involvement without too many questions being asked."
"Ask anyway," Pop suggested.
"There may be no point," Marc added delicately.
Amanda frowned. "Why not?" she inquired.
"Nightshade can have a disastrous effect on vampire flesh," Marc explained. "It can be even worse than sunlight," he revealed. "By now there may be nothing to find."
"What are you going to do?" Amanda asked turning back to the Queen.
She shook her head. "I'm not sure there is anything we can do," she replied unhappily. "Allegra was our daughter but she was also the worst of criminals. Even in death it would be wrong to treat her differently. There can't be one rule for her and something different for everyone else."
"Do you really believe that Allegra is dead?" Amanda asked.
"It is plausible," Marc replied.
"But?" Amanda prompted.
"Allegra has proved herself to be an expert at manipulation," Marc suggested. "She would do anything to appear alone and weak just to catch everyone off guard or to garner sympathy. I would not be surprised if the blade is merely a trick she had planted."
"But why would the Elves help her?"
"Allegra had many followers," Marc revealed. "Not all of them vampires. And she still has much to offer."
"What do you mean?" Amanda asked.
"As a prior member of the Royal family she would know many secrets," Marc added. "Her blood alone would be worth a fortune."
"Her blood?" Amanda inquired. She sounded confused.
Marc nodded. "As I explained previously a vampire's strength is proportional to the age of their bloodline. The royal bloodline is the most powerful there is." He turned and smiled. "You've said yourself that you feel stronger and more focused?"
"She would give her blood away?" Amanda asked sounding more than a little horrified.
"Give or have taken," Marc replied rather seriously.
Amanda stared. "Does the Queen know this?" she asked.
"Not everything," Marc revealed. "Like you she isn't quite as strong as she would have everyone believe. I did not feel the need to burden her any further. Not without proof."
Amanda smiled. She nodded. "Do you know where the Elves are now?" she asked. "The one's who left the blade."
"I do," Marc replied. "They are staying in an older building in the Dwarven district."
"You had them followed?"
"It seemed wise," Marc reasoned.
"Is that strange?" Amanda asked.
"It is unusual but not unheard of," Marc responded. "It does seem a little strange though," he agreed. "Most Elves would prefer not to stay in Arden for any length of time. They would normally return to the deep-roads as quickly as possible."
"We should learn what they're doing," Amanda suggested.
"Not without cause," Marc replied.
"You don't need cause," Amanda remarked. "Pop told you to ask them about Allegra's body."
Marc smiled. "Are you sure that you weren't also a lawyer in another life?" he asked lightly.
"I'm coming with you," Amanda said firmly.
Marc immediately shook his head. "No, Your Highness," he replied respectfully. "It's too dangerous. And even if it wasn't it's not your place." He smiled. "Do you know what the Crown Princess would do to me if I allowed something to happen to yourself."
Amanda smirked. "Nothing pleasant," she suggested.
"To put it mildly," Marc replied. "I still don't think she has truly forgiven me for the last time you were injured."
Amanda smiled. She chuckled. "You're afraid of her," she said laughing.
"I'm afraid of what she might choose to do to me, yes," Marc replied. "I could not bear to see either of you harmed again," he said. "The mood in the palace when she disappeared... I believed I might never see it lifted."
"You were here? You knew Jane before?" Amanda asked. She sounded surprised. She hadn't even considered it.
"Only for a brief time," Marc explained. "I was young and fresh out of training. We all enjoyed the Crown Princess' sense of humour and her passion for breaking the rules. We are all thankful that you have returned her to us and that she is not so different than she was before. The joy that you have both brought to the palace is beyond anything that was here previously."
Amanda smiled. "Call me as soon as you get back," she said.
Marc nodded. "Yes, Your Highness," he replied.
"Next week?" Jane suggested after they'd all returned to the Queen's study.
Amanda silently nodded in agreement. She looked less sure and would probably have had a nervous flutter in her voice.
"That isn't very much time," the Queen advised. "We've only just had the anniversary. It would be a little inconsiderate to ask everyone to return so soon."
"Does it really have to be that big?" Amanda asked. "Can't we have a private ceremony with just some friends and family?"
Jane nodded in return. "Yeah," she agreed.
"It's a celebration," the Queen added smiling. "We are everyone's Royal family. Our successes are their successes."
"Is it too late to elope?" Amanda quipped nervously.
Pop laughed out loud then quickly stopped when he realised that his wife was staring rather sternly at him. "We probably shouldn't even joke about that," he added being strangely serious. "Anytime in the next year will be considered too soon to ask everyone back," he said. "If Amanda and Jane would like something smaller and more private then that is their decision. We know better than anyone how that feels, anyway the media will still make a huge thing out of it and everyone will be happy. If you think the headlines have been a little outlandish already, wait until they start asking the serious questions."
Amanda frowned. "Like what?" she said.
"Who's having the children, and how?" Pop suggested.
Amanda and Jane slowly turned and stared at each other. In the end they smirked then collapsed in each others arms while laughing uncontrollably.
"Very well," the Queen conceded though still sounding a little disappointed. "If that's what you truly want then I'm happy for you, but I would like to organise the dinner and ceremony if you would allow me."
Amanda and Jane quickly nodded. "Sure," they agreed.
They followed Pop out of the room and left the Queen to her work.
"Why did mum give in so easily?" Jane asked looking up at Pop. She sounded confused and maybe just a little suspicious. She'd been expecting a huge argument. Both her and Amanda had. One that they still would have lost.
Pop smiled. He chuckled a little nervously himself. "There is some history you're not aware of," he explained. He directed them to the side of the room where they sat huddled in a group. "When your mother and I were young," he began in almost a whisper, "we'd hoped for a small ceremony like yours but our parents wouldn't hear of it. We even threatened to elope but that only made everyone even more determined that we do as we were told."
"That's why you suggested we probably shouldn't even joke about it?" Amanda said.
Pop nodded. "It really didn't go down very well with our parents," he admitted with a noticeable grimace. "On the day of the ceremony," he continued, "you mother and I ran away and hid, we didn't show up."
Both Amanda and Jane stared.
Jane smirked. "That's hilarious," she said.
Pop rolled his eyes. "It was considered quite the scandal at the time," he revealed. "Some weeks later there was a private ceremony like we'd wanted and eventually my parents forgave me, but your mother's parents never did. They barely spoke for hundreds of years even though your mother repeatedly tried to mend the rift. They still have little to do with each other."
"That's terrible," Amanda said.
"It's childish," Pop suggested. "Your story is the heartbreaking one. At least they could still talk if they wished. You don't have that opportunity."
Marc came and stood nearby. He looked troubled.
"How did it go?" Amanda asked worriedly.
"Not well, Your Highness," Marc replied. "The Elves attacked us as soon as we arrived. Four of them are dead and the last tried to take his own life before we were able to stop him."
Pop stared. "Did you find Allegra's body?" he inquired. He sounded small and afraid of the answer.
Both Amanda and Jane squeezed his hand.
Marc shook his head. "No, Your Majesty," he responded. "We found her."
"Where is she now?" Amanda asked.
"In a holding cell downstairs," Marc advised. "She is badly injured and I was hoping that you might be willing to help?"
Amanda immediately nodded. "But why me?" she asked.
"The new doctor is refusing to treat her because of what she has done," Marc replied with some loathing.
"Why is she even injured?" Pop said seriously.
"The Elves were, doing things to her," Marc responded. He sounded quite disgusted and clearly hadn't wanted to reveal this. Not like this! Not now! "We don't know why," he said
"What things?" Pop inquired.
"They seemed to be draining her blood," Marc reluctantly revealed. "The blade was obviously meant to distract us."
Both Amanda and Jane stared.
"How can the doctor refuse..." Amanda started then stopped. She angrily shook her head then turned to another guard close by. "Find Romana," she instructed. "Have her bring bandages, wound clips, sterile dressings and gauze then meet us downstairs, and tell the doctor I seriously don't care if he complains." She hadn't actually met the new doctor and now she wasn't so sure she wanted to. It wouldn't be a pleasant experience for either of them.
They ran from the room and followed Marc down to the lower levels of the palace.
Amanda was incensed. "How can the doctor refuse to treat someone?" she demanded. Until this moment she had always considered the Fey world more civilised.
They found Allegra lying motionless on a bunk in one of the cells. To Amanda's eyes she looked gravely ill, her breaths were coming in short sharp gulps and even for a vampire she was pale to the point of appearing white. She looked nothing like any of them remembered. She appeared old, hagged and had blood soaked rags wrapping her wrists and throat.
Pop stepped up to the bars and stared through. "Can't we move her somewhere else?" he asked desperately.
Marc slowly shook his head. "She is still a criminal," he gently reminded.
Pop nodded. "You'll help her?" he asked turning to Amanda.
She smiled thinly. "I'll do what I can," she responded.
Pop smiled as best he could. "Thank you," he replied. "She may be a monster," he said, "but she is still my daughter and regardless of everything I still care for her."
Romana arrived carrying numerous bags and armfuls of supplies. She'd even had the forethought to bring a large thermos of blood. She looked through the door into the cell and instantly froze. "Is that?" she stuttered nervously.
Amanda nodded. "I need your help," she said, "but I would never force you. I would understand if you don't wish to."
"I will, Milady," Romana replied. "I was just a little surprised," she said nervously.
Amanda smiled. She nodded once more. "Come on," she added.
They quickly stripped of the filthy rags then bathed the wounds before clipping them closed and sealing them beneath gauze and sterile dressings. Afterwards they bound them with clean bandages then they raised Allegra's legs on a pillow.
Jane and Pop watched nervously from the hall outside the cell.
The Queen arrived in a rush. "How is she?" she asked.
Jane simply shook her head.
Allegra slowly opened her eyes. She stared at Amanda. "You have my sister's eyes," she whispered hoarsely. She chuckled and coughed. Blood dribbled from the corner of her mouth. "They look good on you," she said.
Amanda nodded. "You've lost a lot of blood," she revealed. "You need to feed."
Allegra almost imperceptibly shook her head. "No," she replied sounding quite determined. "I don't want it."
"But you could die!" Romana blurted out. She didn't understand.
Allegra grimaced in pain. "I'm going to die anyway," she said laughing and coughing once more. She swallowed painfully. "At least this way there will be no need to embarrass you all with a public execution. After what I've done there'd be no other choice."
"Are you sorry for anything?" Amanda asked.
Allegra chuckled and coughed. She shivered and shook all over. More blood spilled from the corner of her mouth. She smiled weakly. "Not at all," she said defiantly. "How long?" she asked.
"A few hours, maybe a day at the most," Amanda suggested. "It won't be pleasant," she said.
Allegra nodded. She smiled and closed her eyes. "It never is," she replied.
"Do you know why the Elves were taking your blood?"
"Because I told them to," Allegra revealed while smiling once again.
"You told them?" Romana said quickly.
"They would have killed me anyway," Allegra added. "Idiots that they are. They didn't understand what we could have done together."
"And the blade?" Amanda asked.
Allegra opened her eyes once more. "Blade?" she said. "What blade?"
"How is she?" Pop inquired as Amanda slowly stepped out of the cell. He sounded desperate.
Both the Queen and Jane were still silently standing at his side. They looked just as upset as he was.
Amanda glanced over her shoulder.
Romana had remained in the cell and was mopping up the blood as it dribbled from Allegra's mouth.
"She's dying," Amanda revealed. "Unless she feeds there is nothing more I can do."
"You could force her," Pop suggested without really thinking. He was almost distraught.
Amanda smiled. She could understand and she'd heard the same demand many times before. "No I couldn't," she said shaking her head, "and I wouldn't, but it wouldn't really make any difference anyway."
Pop frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"Allegra expects to be executed," Amanda replied. "She believes this is the best way for everyone and unless she agrees to let me help her there is nothing more I can do." She smiled thinly. "Go talk to her," she suggested.
Pop reluctantly nodded. He slowly stepped into the cell then sat down beside the bed.
"So what is going to happen?" Amanda asked.
The Queen shook her head. "She's right," the Queen replied. "She would be executed and there is nothing I could do about it." She sounded a little stronger than Pop. "Did Allegra say anything else?" she asked.
"Only that she allowed the Elves to take her blood," Amanda replied. "It seems she convinced them that it would be worth something."
"Direct from the source maybe," the Queen replied sounding confused, "but not like this."
"What do you mean?"
"Anything special about our blood is lost when it is removed from the body," the Queen explained. "Some believe it is in some way magical or that the life force dies when it is taken. Allegra would know this. If Jane had fed you her blood from a cup then nothing would have happened. A vampire's blood is no more special than anyone else's, unless drunk directly from the source."
"Then she was using them and they were using her," Amanda suggested. "She knew they were going to kill her. Maybe she was trying to buy more time. She claims she knows nothing about the blade."
The Queen turned and stared. She looked worried. "What were they doing, planning?" she asked thinking out loud.
Amanda pulled Jane close and hugged her tightly. "You should both go and talk to her," she said. "Believe me I know what it's like to not be able to say goodbye. You'll never forgive yourselves if you don't."
Amanda walked further up the cell block then stared through the bars of another cell. The was an elf sitting inside. It was the same man she'd spoken to at the anniversary dinner. He had a cut on his forearm which was loosely wrapped with a cloth.
"Do you want me to treat that?" she asked.
He looked up and glared. "Why?" he snapped. "So you can torture me? That's what you vampires do, isn't it?"
Amanda smiled. "I just want to help," she replied. "I don't know about the others and I don't care what you've done."
The man stared. In the end he slowly nodded.
Marc unlocked the door and stood over them.
Amanda cleaned and dressed the wound just as she'd done many hundreds of times before. "Why did you leave the blade?" she asked.
The man was silent for a long moment. "We wanted to convince you that the princess was dead," he revealed in the end.
"You did. You had," Amanda confirmed. "Marc and his men only came to ask for her body," she explained. "There was no need to attack them and none of your people needed to have died. There was no reason for any of this."
"I don't believe you," the man responded.
Amanda stood up and smiled. "I don't care," she said, "but it is the truth." She turned to leave.
"It doesn't matter anyway," the man added laughing. "We still have enough of her blood and after we've spread it around there will be hundreds of families with the Royal Blood line. You'll kill each fighting over the throne."
Amanda turned and stared. "It doesn't work that way," she explained. "Allegra tricked you. Once the blood is removed from the body it looses any special abilities it may have had. All you have now is blood from whatever Allegra was feeding on." She shook her head and turned to Marc. "What is going to happen to him?" she asked.
"He'll be handed over to the Elven government to deal with," Marc replied. "His punishment will be up to them."
"He's not to be killed," Amanda said seriously. "There's been enough death already."
She stepped back into the hall.
Marc locked the cell-door behind them.
Jane came and stood beside Amanda. They hugged. "Allegra is asking for you," she revealed.
"How are you?" Amanda asked.
Jane shrugged. "I'm not sure I want this to be the only memory I have of her," she replied.
Amanda smiled. "I know what you mean," she said comfortingly, "but at least you got to say goodbye."
Jane slowly nodded. She hugged Amanda once more and tenderly kissed her on the cheek. "Do you want me to come with you?" she asked.
Amanda shook her head. "How's Pop?" she asked.
"Pretty upset," Jane responded. "I don't think any of us guessed that it was worrying him so much."
Amanda left Jane with Pop. She hugged him tightly then again stepped into the cell.
Romana stood up to leave.
Allegra looked up at her. "I'm not sorry for what I am or what I've done," she said wincing, "but I am pleased that you're okay."
Romana stared. "Thank you, Milady," she said surprised.
Amanda sat down beside the bed.
Allegra stared at her. "I guess I'm going to find out what's next," she said smiling strangely. "I hope there's nothing." She coughed and choked on the constant stream of blood now running from her mouth. He lips were red with it. "Look after my sister," she said. "I'm glad she has someone like you to take care of her." She smiled once more then was still. She looked peaceful like never before.
Amanda sat for a long moment then slowly stood up and stepped back into the hall. "She's gone," she advised.
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