31. Off With Their Heads
The Queen of Hearts watched dispassionately as, all though the day, the house buzzed with activity, the inhabitants scurrying about like ants. It was quite humorous, she thought, considering how little they actually accomplished. Only her son did anything of real value, planning out the entire escape in minute detail.
Sometimes she really was proud of him. Her little Ace. He was nothing compared to his father, but she’d never expected it of him. From the moment he was born, she’d known failure after failure. Her second child, too, had been a waste. Why was it the Queen of Hearts failed at everything? Why did nothing ever go as she’d planned?
Even now her sons were working against her, her little boys trying to supplant her authority. They’d replaced loyal members of the family – those from the Old Order, those who answered first to her, then to their ‘leader’ – with fools who understood less than nothing.
It was all her husband’s fault. He’d insisted on providing her sons with playmates, violent brutes who had corrupted and ruined them. Yes, it was all the fault of the King of Hearts. He too had claimed the name ‘Ace’ once, but he hadn’t deserved it either.
No, only the Queen herself could ever be worthy of that, but the guild was ancient, older than equality. It followed traditions hundreds of the years in the making, traditions which dictated that only a son of the Savage line could become Ace. Sexist bigots, ruining her before she even had a chance.
Well, the Queen had seen them punished. She’d ended the line, or near enough. Now only two dying boys remained of the Savages, two boys, only one who would ever have a chance at children. But that was unlikely. Whit was smarter than that, unfortunately. He wouldn’t marry, wouldn’t leave a young widow to mourn him. And the family name would die with him.
The family would die with him.
This hated way of life, this backstabbing and fear and corruption, they would all end with him. This Ace, the Ace of Spades, the name and the life that had stolen her son, he would be the last of his kind. He would be the Ace of Blood, presiding over a banquet of betrayal and death, until he too succumbed to its succulent temptation.
Undoubtedly the Queen would die too, for otherwise it couldn’t be a full purge. Otherwise the traitor wouldn’t achieve his true objective. She fingered a stray strand of hair, turning it this way and that, examining the split end. Yes, that was what this was. Their family was split, broken between the Old and the New. The traitor was simply doing what had to be done, removing the whole strand so that they might start anew.
The Queen understood.
The Queen appreciated it.
“Off with all of their heads!”