The Lost Queen

Tessa is the princess and only heir to her kingdom's throne-as far as she knows. When her father dies, and it is time for her to take up the crown of the kingdom-which can only be worn by the direct descendant of the royal bloodline-something goes wrong. The crown regects Tessa, and no one in the kingdom know's why. It's up to Tessa to learn who is the rightful ruler, before the time runs out-and the crown that keeps the land protected goes missing forever.

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9. So...You Sure You aren't Secretly a Guy?

All three of us dropped our jaws. 

"Well," the lady said, her foot tapping impatiently. "What do you want."

I peered at the lady my mouth closing. She had pretty blonde hair, and bright green eyes. She was taller, probably older, then me, and wore a simple white dress. Her mouth was pinched shut, her nose long, and she wore a sour expression.

"I...I'm, um...I'm Princess Theresa of Nortashia," I stuttered. I composed myself for a minute, stealing a quick glance to Meg and Trenton. "I'm here looking for Ralph Edrikson. I was told he lived here," The minute I said the artist's name, the girl mouth became more pinched, her eyes narrowing to a glare. 

"He no longer lives here." she spat. "Good day." The lady started to close the door, and I shoved myself in between the it.

"Please," I said to her, trying to keep my voice even. "I'm the ruler of a dying country. Ralph is the only chance I have of saving it. You're the only person who must have a lead to him. I need help."

The lady looked down at me, and the slightest thing changed in her expression. 

"You look familiar," the lady finally said, reopening her door. "You said your name was Theresa?" I nodded. "Who are the folk you have with you?"

"I'm Megan, server of the Princess of Nortashia." Meg said, curtsying slightly. A chipper grin was now on her face; I wondered what she had had to do to get that face out. 

"Trent," Trenton belted out, glaring at her. 

"Show some respect," the lady said. "I am Madeline of Nortashia. Please come in," She opened the door even wider. Trenton walked through first, Meg following, and I came in through the back.

"Why should I show any respect?" Trenton asked haughtily. I swear I could hear Madeline snapping her teeth at him.

"Because, you stupid boy," she said, quickly pushing past me, going into the front of our little line. She stopped us at a door, turning around to face us. "I'm the daughter of Ralph Edrikson. And if you ever want to find him, show some respect."

 

After leading us to a little sitting room with a couch and two chairs, Madeline brought out a tea set, and gave us each a piece of china. Trenton and Meg sat on the chair, across from Madeline and I. All of sipped on the tea, none of us wanting to meet Madeline's stare.

"Madeline, the reason we came here was to talk to your father," I said, my tea cup shaking in my hand, slightly. Madeline's eyes were narrowed on mine, and I paused, waiting for her to finish the story of where he was. 

"The princess is trying to say she wants you to tell us where your father is, and why he isn't here anymore," Trenton cut in. I glared at him, while Meg giggled nervously. I gave Madeline an apologetic glance, while she took an annoyed sip of tea.

"I made my father leave," Madeline said simply. I furrowed my eyebrows. I held up my hand, silencing Trenton's opening mouth.

"Why?" I asked, confused. "What could be so bad that you would push a parent away?"

"I don't talk about it," Madeline said easily. "Quite simple,"

"Would you mind telling us where he is?" Meg asked quietly. She took another sip of her tea, and batted her eyelashes; as if that would work on Madeline. I snorted at the idea; Madeline didn't seem like anyone was going to persuade her.

"I'd be delighted too," Madeline said, setting her teacup down, and I felt a breath come out in relief. "For a price, of course." 

Trenton rolled his eyes, and Meg frowned. I didn't expect any less.

"What would that be?" I asked. 

"Stay for a night," Madeline said simply. "That's all I ask,"

"Are you a serial killer?" Trenton asked. Madeline shot him a dirty look.

"No," she said. "But, where my father's staying is a whiles away. You won't be able to leave until tomorrow without reaching dark, and you'll need a place to stay. So, I welcome you."

I nodded, Meg nodding eagerly. Trenton glared some more, but nodded. 

"I'll go tell the carriage driver," Trenton said. "I don't suppose you have a stables for the horses?"

"Out back," Madeline said. "You two can stay here; I'll go get the guests rooms ready." With that, she left Meg and I staring across from each other. 

"That was odd," I said, frowning.

"Are you sure we should stay here?" Meg asked me. 

"What do you mean?"

"Well, she is a stranger," Meg pointed out. "We know nothing about her, except she says she's this Ralph's daughter."

"You think I should go poke around?" I asked. 

"I'm not," Meg said, taking another sip of her tea. "But you should."

"Because I'm not as afraid," I said.

"More like she's less likely to kill you," Meg said. 

 

I wandered through the hallway in the back of Ralph's-Madeline's- house, trying to retrace her steps. I tried to find her, and eventually gave up once I ended up in the sitting room for the third time. 

"Madeline," I called, wandering around her hallways. "Madeline,"

"What?" she demanded, stepping out of a random doorway behind me. I jumped, and then turned around, staggering back in shock. Madeline's eyes looked more blue now, and was ringed with red. She shoulders were shaking slightly, her breaths shaky.

"Are you okay?" I asked her, taking a slight step forward. She backed away, taking in a deep breath. 

"I'm fine," Madeline said, walking past me. I followed her down the carpet clad floor, the two of us ending up in the kitchen. I hopped onto a stool, enjoying the heat of a small fireplace that was across from me. Flames licked a copper kettle that hung from a single hook; after poking at the flames, Madeline (with gloves on) unhooked the pot, and set it on the counter. She pulled two cups out of a cupboard, and set one in front of me.

"Tell me about your father," I said, guessing this was the reason for tears. Madeline didn't respond, only pulled her hair up into a ponytail with a ribbon. The top of her head was blond, but underneath that was a dark brown.  

"I don't talk about him," she said, pouring a cup of liquidated herbs for herself and me. There was a moment of silence; I saw the moon coming up through a window by the fireplace, and wandered where Trenton was.

"It'll make you feel better," I cooed. Madeline hopped onto a stool next to me, and blew on her cup.

"He was a prick who only cared about his next painting and how much money he'd make for it, and maybe my mother. Ralph didn't care about me; the only reason I'm not at an orphanage is because he felt pity for the lady whom he loved and gave a child too." she said in one breath, before taking another sip of her drink. To be polite, I did as well, and found it didn't taste badly at all.

"My father seemed like that," I said, looking into the fire. "He was the King, so of course he had something he always needed to do. I know that. Usually, he saddled me with my head maid, Addie. She was more of a mother to me then he was a father,"

Madeline nodded her head.

"My childhood was filled with running to get paintbrushes and canvass for my father," she admitted. "Each time he came back from a job, which took days at a time, mind you, he would be on the very edge of soberness. Last time he came home..."

"Well, you got this far," I told her. "Go on."

"He brought home another lady," Madeline sniffed. "Ralph, that bastard, loved my mother. And he replaced her on the verge of soberness. I couldn't take it. I told him to get out."

"And he did?" I asked, shocked his daughter had been able to get him to leave. 

"No," Madeline said, laughing hollowly, and taking a sip of her tea. "He took the lady to the barn, out back. He tried coming back the next morning; I locked the doors. I set his stuff on the doorstep, some of his money, and sent him away."

"But you know where he is?" I asked after a minute. My heart ached for the girl. She shot me a look, before sighing. "I'm sorry, Madeline."

"Me too," Madeline said, sighing. She stood up, taking my cup. "Go find that servant and guard of yours. I'll start supper."

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