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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7. The Night Before it All

That night, at supper, I announced my traveling plans. Addie and Meg, who were serving, almost dropped the roast they were bringing in together. Camilla clapped loudly (a rather joyous expression on her face), and her husband just blinked a few times, before taking another gulp of wine.

"I think it's a splendid idea!" Camilla exclaimed, getting louder and redder with each sip of wine. "I always knew my little sister was up to something-hardly invited me to Christmas after she became Queen. I always thought it was because someone died but," she said, waving her fork in the air. "Apparently she was raising a child that was wrong in a way!"

"Camilla," her husband interrupted. "Don't scare this child."

"I'm not a child," I glared at him. 

"Well, you aren't the Queen, either!" he told me, pushing away from the table. "I'm going up to my room," 

"Before supper, darling?" Camilla asked, still cackling. "Anyways, Tessie, I think it's a grand idea. I'll stay here with Jacob, watching over the Crown, making sure the palace is guarded, and you can go find the abomination your parents didn't want you to find."

"Aunt Camilla!" I gasped. "Addie, does the kingdom know about how the coronation went?"

"Yes," she said, putting a piece of the roast on my plate. "They know you aren't the Queen, but they are still obeying the rules. I will send word you're looking for the rightful heir."

"Isn't that splendid," Camilla said, shoving a mouthful of food in her mouth. "Is that what that letter in your hand was about, then, that Adeline gave you?"

"Who?" I asked. 

"Your little maid you so graciously are allowing me to use," Camilla said, waving her fork to Addie, who was leaving. I blushed; I had forgotten Addie's real name.

"Oh, yes..." I recalled what it had said in Turner's letter. How had Addie gotten the letter, if Turner had sent it with his own maid, Alice?

"Well, this had been a lovely time getting to be with you," Camilla started.

"You've been eating for ten minutes," Meg snorted, ladeling a help of noodles onto my plate. Camilla glared at her.

"I didn't ask for your tone, peasant. If you'll excuse me, I'll take a raincheck on our evening walk, Tessie, and go find my husband." And with that, still carrying her wine goblet, Camilla stumbled out of the dining hall.

I blew a piece of hair out of my face in frustration; my Aunt was always prim and proper and hard and strict on everyone-until you put a bottle of wine in front of her. Then her "I'm-the-queen" act washed down the drain, just like her sober state of mind.

"What a tramp," Meg said, clucking her tongue and sitting down next to me. The hall had thousands of chairs, so many tables; meant for parties and feasts. It was meant for the royal family to dine in and enjoy each other. But, since the family divided, each one taking a little kingdom under Nortashia's rule, only one branch of the family stayed here.

And I was the only person left in that branch.

Usually, I ate in my bedroom. When I was younger, before my father had died, we would eat together every night, my step-mother rarely joining us. I tried to block her out more; the minute the Crown was off her head, on my birthday, she had left, just like she always said she would. She hadn't wanted the responsibility of a kingdom and a child ruler; she only wanted the affection of the King, and the luxuries it came with. She reminded me a lot of Camilla.

"Meg, would you come with me tomorrow?" I asked my red-headed friend, who sat down the pot of noodles on the table. "I have to travel a little ways outside the village. You know the area well. Would you come?"

"Of course!" Meg replied, excitement and surprise flitting across her face. "Excuse me for asking, but why me?" I heard the unsaid question: What about Addie?

"I need a friend for this adventure," I smiled. "Do tell Addie I'll be finishing my meal upstairs. I personally am excusing you from any duties you have tonight; go get a goodnight's rest. You'll need it."

"Thank you, Tess!" Meg overjoyed, grabbing my hand and squeezing it. "You too, okay?"

"Okay," I whispered.

 

It was late at night when I decided to go back into my father's room. I hadn't been able to sleep for hours, and when I tried to play a soft melody on my piano, the notes came out harsh and not at all musically, so I gave up. The moonlight led me down a flight of stairs, where I wandered around the castle, admiring the pillars and glass ceilings and the paintings adorning the walls.

I was tired, and felt like a ghost walking through my hallways, questions tumbling through my head. How did Addie get that letter? Why was Camilla really here? Where was that book? Who had taken it? Who was this Ralph Edrikson? And why had my parents tried to pass me off as their first born, and not my apparent sister?

A rip went through my heart. I had never had a mother; I could remember her light eyes, and her happy laugh, but anything else, any other detail or solid memory, had faded away, or wasn't there. My father had been a serious man, not a very open or emotional person; he wasn't the best father, but I knew he loved me. But that didn't make him any better of a father.

I remembered the months leading up to his death. He was always wary and spooked, and whenever I tried to console him, my father would scream. Addie told me he was remembering bad times when he saw me; probably the grief of my mother's death. It was times like that I would have Addie escort me out of the palace, and visit the village. 

Somehow, I ended up back in my father's room. It was quiet and creepy in there, ever more at night, and I felt as if my energy was being sapped out of me. I carefully sat down on the bed, before jumping back up.

"What are you doing in here, Theresa?" Addie asked me, from the bookshelf.

"I could ask you the same question." I said carefully, backing towards the doorway. 

"You said you found that book in here," she said quietly. "I thought maybe I'd be able to find it."

"I never told you,"

"Turner's letter did. I knew of the painter who made that page-I knew what it talked about." Addie told me. 

"You took it from Alice?" I asked her, shocked. "You're starting to scare me, Addie." She laughed softly. 

"I'm sorry, Theresa. Let's go back to your room; I'll get some tea and explain you why I took that letter." Addie said, and I only nodded my head, and quickly left the room. In my room, I found a few matches in the little desk by the door. I lit a few candles around the room, feeling more comfortable as they gave off a soft glow.

I sat on my bed, up straight, waiting patiently for Addie to come. Finally, my door creaked open, and she came in, holding a tray of tea and cups. She pulled up a chair, balancing the tray in one hand, and came to sat across from me. Carefully, she poured me a cup, then herself one, and set the rest on the floor.

"I had ran into Alice in the hallway, you see, and she had the letter. I told her I would take it to you; she reluctantly gave it to me. I saw it was from Turner-I don't trust him by any means, and didn't want you to have it, so I opened it and looked at it first. I read about the page of the book; I knew what it was immediately, and I went to look at it."

Addie said all this in one breath, before stopping, and taking a sip of tea.

"Why don't you trust Turner?" I asked her. That was really the only thing I found odd about her story; Addie was protective of me-I understood that. 

"I don't like talking about it," Addie said quietly. I continued to look at her, waiting for the story. "That includes talking to you, Theresa."

"Well, I'd like something to take my mind off this mess," I complained, pulling my legs toward me.

"What do you mean?" Addie asked me. I laughed, not with amusement.

"In just two days, I've lost the only thing I've ever known, told my kingdom is being ripped apart, my father is a suppose murderer who killed my mom, and I have a sister who is suppose to be rule! How in the world could you mean "What do you mean"?" 

"There are worse things then learning you don't have to rule a kingdom," Addie told me. "Or, that you have another family member."

"And my father being a murderer? How do you explain that?" I demanded. 

"I can promise you this, Theresa. Your father was a killer; a ruthless thief. And he is the one that took your family member away from you," she took a breath. "But he wouldn't kill your mother. Queen or not, he loved you, and he loved her."

"Why do care so much for him?" I asked her, softly. 

"He gave me a daughter," she smiled at me, touching my hair lightly. "I had another child, you know."

"What?" I asked, surprised.

"It's why I don't trust Turner. He, and the King, decided it would be best for me to give the child up." Addie said quietly, her voice strained. "I was new at my job. They didn't think I could handle it. But I loved that little baby; more than anyone could ever know."

I stared at her in awe.

"Except, maybe, for Henry. But, the King took my baby, and he..."

"What'd he do to it?" I said, curious.

"He killed her," Addie said hushedly. I stared at her, shocked. "I don't want you to think bad of the King. He was a good man." she sounded like a robot.

"I don't think he was," I told her. Addie smiled at me softly, before digging around in her apron for something. When she found it, finally, she gave it to me.

"That's me and my baby," Addie said. I looked at the picture. It was a younger looking Addie; perhaps 20 or so. She was looking at a little bundle in her arms, her baby. The thing looked like it was in mid-laugh, kicking its hands in little fists. Addie was looking at it with wonder and love and amusement. 

"Here," I said, trying to hand it back to her. 

"Keep it," Addie said, sniffling a little. "I have another one." I was touched. "Time to get some sleep, Theresa." Something occurred to me.

"Are you my sister, Addie?" I asked her, in seriousness. She laughed and shook her head.

"I couldn't be, Theresa. I'm sorry I'm not, though."

"Why did my dad kill your baby?"

"He thought it would be for the better," Addie said, hesitantly, humor melting off her face. "Get some sleep, Theresa."

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