Steel Queen

**WINNER OF 2016 RED QUEEN WRITING COMP**

Princess Thalia is betrothed to an unfamiliar prince in a foreign land. When it turns out that the prince is a cruel and harsh dictator, who seeks to dominate Thalia- or do away with her- she has to make a desperate plan in order to save her own life.


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13. Chapter 13

Chrissy couldn’t help but notice that lately Beatrice tended to be wherever she was. The two of them were growing practically inseparable, and Chrissy didn’t mind. Beatrice was eager and full of life, and had taken to anything Chrissy had shown her with gusto. 

    That particular day, they had been drawing in the garden, and Chrissy had begun to teach Beatrice the code that she’d made with Thalia. Despite not being able to read or write, she could draw. And in a way, that was like learning to read for her.

    Halfway through the lesson, the conversation somehow turned to Thalia.

    “How was she doing. When you last saw her?” Chrissy asked, turning to look at Beatrice. She was staring intently at the paper, doing her best to scratch out the figures that Chrissy had shown her.

    “She was mad,” she replied. “‘Cause she didn’t like what Ferrel was doing.”

    Chrissy nodded. She’d heard the entire story- Ferrel had tried to kill Beatrice. No one was sure why- though he’d said she was a spy. Chrissy didn’t believe it. The problem was, the only one who would really know would be Ferrel. And Thalia.

    “Tell me about it again,” Chrissy said smiling. Beatrice didn’t seem to mind telling the story, and Chrissy liked hearing about her sister’s heroics.

    Chrissy put down the pen, taking a deep breath as she prepared to launch into the story.

    “So,” she began. “You know how it starts, right?”

    Chrissy nodded. “One of Ferrel’s guards came to get you and said you were accused of some crime.”

    “But he wasn’t happy ‘bout it,” Beatrice added quickly. “He looked sick, remember?”

    “Sick,” Chrissy agreed. “Yeah.”

    Beatrice kept going. “And then we got out to the arena and there were the lions and it was terrifying ‘cause I had no idea what I’d done wrong but at the same time I did ‘cause I snuck Thalia those letters from you ‘stead of burnin’ em. And then Thalia didn’t seem to care, ‘cause she wouldn’t even look at me, and she was talking with Ferrel all sweet, and I wondered if he’d finally made her do what he wanted which would be really bad, ya know?”

    Chrissy nodded, somehow managing to keep up with Beatrice’s mile-a-minute story.

    “And then they let the lions out and I was sure I was gonna die, but then Thalia jumped down in front of me with a sword and killed ‘em!” She made a few slashing demonstrations with her hand, grinning from ear to ear. “She was so brave, and they didn’t even touch her. They were almost scared of her, even. And she was fast too, with the sword,” she made a few more dramatic demonstrations, which Chrissy applauded, smiling. This sounded exactly like Thalia, instantly leaping to someone’s defense.

    “That would be her,” Chrissy agreed. “Do you have any siblings?” She asked suddenly, as the thought crossed her mind.

    Beatrice shook her head. “No… But it’s ok. I don’t mind. You have a good sister,” she added. “All the servants were saying that she’s gonna change Ferrel’s ways, and take over the kingdom and be a good ruler, instead of the ty-rant that Ferrel is now.” 

    Chrissy smiled as she sounded out the word tyrant with caution. Beatrice was eager to learn, and Chrissy had taken it upon herself to teach her whatever she could. It was a difficult challenge, but Chrissy was patient, and Beatrice was an eager learner. She practically worshipped Thalia, and to an extent, Chrissy as Thalia’s sister. In turn, Chrissy was fond of Beatrice. She appreciated her eagerness, and her large, worshipful eyes.

    “And do you think she will?” Chrissy raised her eyebrows, already predicting the answer.

    “Yes!” Beatrice nodded fervently. “Thalia is much better than Ferrel. She’s a good queen, he’s a bad king.”

    Chrissy wasn’t so ready to believe that. from what Thalia had told her in her letters, Ferrel was a dangerous man, who would not hesitate to do away with her if she was too much trouble. That worried Chrissy- Thalia could be in danger right now, and she wouldn’t know.

    “Beatrice… how did Ferrel react when Thalia saved you?”

    “He was mad,” she said with a sight grin. “Very mad. But he couldn’t do anything about it because no one liked what he was doing anyways. He’s a terrible king, and everyone knows it.”

    Chrissy nodded in agreement. “But Thalia- do you think she’ll be in trouble?”

    “Nah. Thalia is brave and strong. He won’t be able to do anything to her,” Beatrice said confidently. Apparently convinced the conversation was over, she bent back over her work, and kept drawing, her face screwed in concentration. Chrissy sighed. She wasn’t going to get anything else out of her, so she went back to her own work, and for the moment, tried to take her mind off of whatever was happening with her sister, wherever she was.

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