“Why would he do this?” Strawberries asked as she paced nervously in the centre of the royal lounge, her hands constantly shifting position. “Why would Ales do this, to Angel, and Shards?”
“I don’t know,” Abigail said, coming to Straw’s side to calm the young Princess down. “Whatever his reason, our main concern is rescuing Shards.”
Abigail’s gaze went across to one of the lounge sofas, on which Katherine was trying to consol Lydia.
“It’s all my fault,” She quietly whispered to herself. “It’s all my fault.”
“You know that’s not true,” Katherine replied, encompassing the Lady in a hug. Lydia was trembling, but she returned the hug, her emotions starting to get the better of her.
“I should never have brought him here,” Lydia went on. “It’s my fault he got into the Palace.”
“Lydia, listen to me,” Katherine said as she grabbed Lydia’s shoulder and forced her to look the Queen in the eye. “You didn’t know what Ales was planning. There was no way you could have known. So do not think this is your fault because that is the furthest thing from the truth.
“Besides,” Katherine went on, allowing a smile onto her face. “No one here blames you for anything. So you have nothing to be sorry for.”
Lydia couldn’t reply and instead embraced Katherine even tighter, to which Katherine replied with another hug, gently stroking Lydia’s copper brown hair.
“And do not think this is your fault either,” Katherine went on, now talking to Arthur, who stood obediently at the doorway of the lounge. “While I do not know the reasons why you were teaching Shards how to fight, I know you did not want any harm to come to her.”
“I am sorry Your Majesty,” Arthur apologised, bowing at the doorway. “Her protection is my responsibility, and I failed.”
“We don’t blame you though,” Abigail spoke up. “You would have saved her if you could. It’s not your fault Ales has her now.”
Arthur nodded, then bowed and walked away. Even though they were all consoling each other, Katherine, Lydia, Abigail and Strawberries could still feel the tension in the air remain, covering the room in an invisible shroud of uncertainty.
“I’m going to see how Romeo is proceeding,” Katherine finally stated, standing up and giving Lydia’s shoulder one last reassuring squeeze before leaving the lounge, steeling herself for the situation ahead of her.
There were hushed whispers from the few attendants that lined the halls as Katherine strode purposefully towards Terrya’s room. They would have seemed annoying to another in her position, but Katherine understood they were only curious.
And though she had mentally prepared herself for this, Katherine felt a pang of sorrow at the sight in front of her.
“Open this door Ales,” Romeo yelled as he pounded on the doors of Terrya’s bedroom. Surrounding Romeo were at least twelve members of the Royal Guard, weapons at the ready to apprehend Ales and save Duchess Shards.
“Don’t be stupid Romeo,” Ales’ voice said through the closed doors. “The second you come in here is the second Shards dies.”
“Then would you be willing to negotiate?” Katherine said as she made her way through the group of Guards.
“You think he still deserves a chance?” Romeo asked incredulously. “He kidnapped Shards.”
“We must not let our first response always be violence,” Katherine stated, her authority on clear display. Romeo knew arguing now would not be the best thing for Shards right now, so he nodded as he took his place by her side.
“And why should I open up, oh imposing Queen of ours?” Ales replied from behind the closed door, his smart-aleck personality putting Katherine on edge.
“Because I’m asking you not as a Queen,” Katherine replied, keeping her temper in check, “But as a concerned relative.”
For a moment, nothing was heard behind the door. The group outside stood patiently, waiting for Ales’ decision. Then there was a scuffling of feet, followed by the door opening a fraction.
Through it, Katherine could see Ales holding Shards in front of him, a knife at her neck.
“Very well,” Ales said with an arrogant smile. “Let’s negotiate.”
“You know full well you are surrounded,” Katherine stated, still keeping hold over her temper. “And you choose a room with plenty of vantage points for us to rush in and take you into custody.
“So why did you tranquilise Angel, send Terrya to Alisia, threaten Lydia and now kidnap Shards? These are serious crimes and not even your status as a Prince will exempt you from judgement.”
“It’s for a purpose you don’t understand just yet,” Ales replied, drawing a scowl from Romeo, his hand resting on the handle of his sword.
“You’re conspiring for the throne, aren’t you?” Romeo asked, drawing a gasp from Shards and a few of the Guards.
“Hm, you weren’t this perceptive last time Romeo,” Ales said in an antagonising tone.
“So you don’t deny it?” Katherine asked, concern starting to seep into her voice.
“From a certain point of view, yes,” Ales admitted before throwing Shards to the ground beside him and quickly slamming the door.
“Ales,” Romeo growled, pounding on the wooden door.
“I won’t explain until the others get back,” Ales said like a child on a tirade. “Until then, should anyone so much as set foot inside this room Shards will die.”
“Damn you,” Romeo said under his breath before turning to the Guards. “You two will stand here and wait for him to come out. He can’t stay in there forever. The rest of you are with me to the war room.”
While the armoured figures filed off around the Prince, Katherine stood there, staring at the doors with an annoyed expression on her face. Even though she knew it was unlikely, she had hoped Ales would listen to reason.
Sighing, she turned and began heading to her room, wanting to think about this by herself.
As she turned a corner however, someone in a hurry ran into her, knocking both of them down.
“Ugh,” Katherine moaned, “Who did that?”
The Queen looked beside her to see the young attendant boy from before, the one that delivered that letter to Terrya. Now he was the centre of her attention, she began to notice his features more clearly. He had dark brown hair that was cut short, yet had a fringe that reached his eyebrows. His skin was slightly pale and his eyes were a unique shade of brown almost to the point of being gold.
“Oh my,” The boy said in surprise. “I am so sorry, Your Majesty. Please accept my apologies.”
“It is alright,” Katherine said before spotting a small dagger near the boys’ hand.
“Why do you have that?” She asked, her tone dropping as she shot a threatening glare at the boy.
“W-Well,” he said, “I’m going to kill the Prince, for having Queen Terrya taken away.”
It was obvious that Terrya was important to him, but as for a reason why Katherine was unable to answer. She stood offering him her hand.
“I understand how you feel,” Katherine told him, “But killing a member of the Royal family will not bring Terrya back.” The boy bowed his head in thought before nodding and accepting Katherine’s hand.
“Now then,” Katherine went on, “What is your name and why do you feel so passionate about Queen Terrya?”
“Oh, apologies,” The boy said, bowing to follow etiquette, though it mattered not to Katherine. “”My name is Jordan Almark, son of Anthony Almark. I had heard that my father knew the Queen and I wanted to know her as he did.
“Almark?” Katherine asked with shock and surprise. She had not heard that name for three years. “Then that means... You’re his son?”