Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The woman left Marshall cowering on the floor. She simply turned and strode away as though he didn't exist. She didn't even care about the pool of blood which had collected on the polished, marble floor beneath him. She marched the length of a grand hallway then approached an ornate door at the far end. On either side there stood a doorman. They were both large and imposing with harden features and stern expressions. Their role clearly entailed far more than just providing access to whatever lay beyond.
They bowed as the woman approached then quickly opened doors and pushed them wide.
"Princess," one said. "The Queen is in her study."
The woman didn't respond. She strode past the guards without even acknowledging their existence.
Afterwards they pulled the doors closed.
One guard turned to the other. "What a complete bitch," he said.
The other nodded in agreement. "Nothing like her mother," he replied sounding quite taken.
Beyond the doors there was a magnificent ballroom. A red carpet led to an opulent throne at one end. For the briefest moment the woman paused and stared longingly at it then continued across the room into a smaller chamber on the far side.
"Mother," she said rather formally to a woman seated behind a desk.
The Queen looked up and immediately smiled. "Allegra my dear," she replied, sounding quite delighted. "This is a surprise!" She rose from her chair then stepped around the desk. They hugged briefly. Just like her daughter the Queen was tall and slim. Her shoulder length hair was the colour of deepest ebony, it framed her fair face and made her bright green eyes shine in comparison. She was dressed casually, in elegant black slacks and a white blouse of the finest silk.
It was impossible to tell the age of one or the other. If there was any difference at all then the Queen appeared a little older. To the casual observer they could very well have been sisters.
The Queen stepped back and rested against the desk. She seemed a little surprised. "What do you need?" she asked. "Why are you here?" It was obvious that neither visited the other with any regularity.
"It's time," Allegra suggested.
"Time?" the Queen replied. She sounded somewhat confused. "Time for what?" she asked.
"To redraw the lines of succession," Allegra explained.
The Queen smiled and gently shook her head. "I think it's a little too soon for that," she responded rather diplomatically.
"My older sister has been missing for almost two hundred and fifty years," Allegra said impatiently. "When will it be time?"
The Queen paused for a moment and smiled. "I didn't talk to my parents for almost eight hundred years," she revealed. "When it was time I returned, as will your sister Elandra."
"And if she doesn't?"
"Then the throne may be your's," the Queen replied straightforwardly. She smiled thinly, she clearly didn't think this was a subject which required discussion. She reached out and took her daughter's hand. "You don't need to worry," she said reassuringly as if she felt this was the reason for her daughter's concern. "Vampires have ruled the Fey since before humans knew what civilisation was, and we will continue to rule after they have long since crumbled to dust." She frowned. "What have you done to your hand?" she asked, abruptly changing the subject and sounding quite concerned. She lifted her daughter's hand and stared at it.
The back of Allegra's hand was badly bruised. She just shrugged it off, as if it was of no importance whatsoever. "A problem with one of my servants," she replied dismissively. "It will heal."
"And the servant?" the Queen asked while looking up and staring the princess directly in the face. "What of them?"
"Why should I care?" Allegra replied coolly, snatching her hand away.
The Queen glared. "Because every person deserves respect," she responded sounding equally cool. "Especially from us!"
"Then maybe you should have overruled the council's decision," Allegra challenged, sounding quite smug.
"Maybe I will," the Queen replied. "If this is how my own daughter chooses to act then clearly something needs to be done."
"Just because you never wanted to turn anyone, don't ruin the fun for the rest of us," Allegra responded defiantly.
"There is no fun in tormenting people," the Queen replied. She was incensed but had the discipline and control to not let it show. "Perhaps you should go," she said. "I do not wish to argue this subject with you."
Allegra turned to leave.
The Queen called after her. "If this is what you truly believe," she said, "how you would choose to act and treat others, then should your sister not return I would at this time not consider you as my heir."
Allegra stared. "You, you would deny you own daughter and willingly hand power to a different family?" she stammered in some shock.
"That has nothing to do with it," the Queen replied sounding quite businesslike. "My decision will always be what is best for the kingdom, nothing more."
Allegra turned on her heel and stormed out.
The Queen shook her head in considerable disgust. "How did I ever produce something like that?" she thought uncharitably. She called the captain of the guard to her study. "Any progress in finding my other daughter?" she asked without even the faintest glimmer of hope colouring her voice.
The Captain sadly shook his head. "I'm sorry Milady," he replied.
The Queen nodded. She leant back in her chair and sighed. "We're running out of time," she said.
"We will find her," the Captain added trying to sound reassuring.
The Queen smiled. "You have been a good friend," she said.
"We still have teams out looking," the Captain quickly added before the Queen could despair any further. "Even the Consort is searching the old country for any trace."
The Queen looked up and stared. "Why there?" she asked. "Elandra was born here, she would know nothing of that place. My husband knows this."
"Another rumour," the Captain explained.
The Queen nodded. "Am I the only one who hasn't given up?" she asked.
"No, Milady," the Captain replied sounding deadly certain. "We all want the true princess back as well. Even The Watch is looking for any sign."
Allegra strode back the way she'd come, kicking and slamming every door she passed through. She didn't return to her quarters, instead she made her way down to the lowest levels of the palace, where in a dungeon of a room she found a furtive little man hunched over a table of chemical filled test-tubes, beakers and flickering bunsen burners.
"How could you let her escape?" she demanded.
"She was being moved to the new testing centre," the man explained plainly without rising to the princess' ire. "Somehow she managed to convince her handlers that she was still unconscious," he added, "she broke free and leapt out of the vehicle while it was still moving. The sun hadn't yet set, the burns would have been terrible."
"They should have collected her!" the princess demanded.
"She was struck by another vehicle," the man revealed further, sounding just as in-passionate, "massive head injuries I'm told, it seems unlikely she would have survived."
"Well, she did, at least for a time," the princess responded and for the briefest moment sounding unnaturally sombre.
"What would you have had us do?" the man asked looking up. "Follow the other vehicle to the hospital and inform them that for the last two hundred years we've been harvesting her skin for a youth serum the humans would pay the world for?"
The princess just glared.
"Where's her body?" the man asked hopefully.
"Gone! Destroyed by The Watch," the princess explained. "Do you have enough of her, material?" she asked. For a moment she at least sounded troubled by what they were discussing.
"Barely," the man responded.
"Will a servant do?"
The man shook his head. "The material is not pure enough," he explained, "too much humanity in it." He didn't sound even slightly disturbed. "Only a pure blood would be suitable," he revealed.
The princess immediately smiled. "Oh I know the perfect one," she said.
The Queen thanked the Captain for his time then returned her attention to the papers on her desk. Even though it was now late in the evening she refused to leave until she'd finished everything she possibly could. Unlike Allegra she considered herself a servant of the people and not the other way round. She also wisely doubled the guard throughout the palace. She loved both her daughters dearly and without question, but she accepted that vampires were notoriously treacherous especially when power or the loss of it was involved. She didn't really expect that Allegra would do anything, but nor was she totally naive.
David and the rest of his ER team were just sitting down to their mid-shift break when the emergency department administrator stepped into the room.
David looked up and frowned. "You're here late," he said expecting the worst.
"Busy day," the older, larger man replied rolling his eyes. He quickly glanced around and nodded pleasantly to everyone then turned back to David. "I understand you've given Amanda Chambers some time off," he said. He didn't sound angry rather he sounded strangely pleased.
"She bonded with young patient who suddenly passed away," David explained. "She took it pretty hard."
The administrator nodded once more. "Let's hope that this time she uses the break to grieve rather than bottling it all up inside."
David frowned. "You mean the assault?" he suggested.
The other man turned and stared. "Told you did she?" he asked.
"Did she also tell you about her family? Her parents?"
David shook his head. "No," he said. "What about them?"
Bob poked his head through the door into their living quarters located behind the store.
Jessica was stretched out on the couch staring at the picture he'd given her hours before.
"You should go to bed," he said trying to sound both stern and fatherly and failing at both. "You have school tomorrow."
"Rachel looks buff," Jess said ignoring her father's comments completely.
"I think she does weights," he advised.
"And the stick figure beside her?" Jessica asked frowning at the photo.
Jessica shook her head in surprise. She sniggered uncontrollably. "Wow!" she exclaimed. "She could snap him like a twig!"
"School?" Bob repeated firmly while rapidly clearing his throat of some not insignificant fatherly embarrassment. Teenagers, jokes, sexual innuendo and how to cope with it all was clearly another book he desperately needed to read. He really wished his wife wasn't, away.
Jessica placed the photo to one side and looked up. "Why do I need to?" she asked without trying to sound defiant but succeeding nonetheless. She'd clearly practised.
"Sorry?" said Bob.
"If I am this thing," Jessica suggested.
"You are," Bob confirmed.
"Then why do I need to go to school?"
"You just do," Bob responded firmly while hoping beyond hope that this would be the end of the discussion. It wasn't.
"So why not a Fey school instead?" Jessica countered. "I'm not sure how my guidance counsellor is going to cope with my new life goal of traipsing around snowy mountain peaks while oxygen deprived climbers take fuzzy out of focus pictures of me." She had obviously been thinking a lot about it in the last few hours. She actually sounded afraid as though she now believed her entire life was planned out and over which she would no longer have any control. "I don't know what I can talk to my friends about anymore," she said sadly.
Bob came and sat on the couch beside her. "But you've known for ages it's going to happen," he said. He still resented not being the one to reveal the big family secret. "What's so different now?"
"It always seemed so far away before," Jessica replied. She leant against her father and pressed her head against his shoulder. "Now I know it's closer than ever. Twenty-one! I won't have any life at all."
Bob smiled and gently shook his head. "The change only happens for a month every ten years or so," he explained, "and with practise you can control it at will. For the remainder of the time you'll look as human as anyone else."
Jessica sat up, she turned and stared. "But I'm not human, am I?" she responded angrily.
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