My Ranking Points
The Tale of Edgar and Essa
Gloria walks up the castle stairs a few minutes later. The girl – Ruby – is clearly desperate to see Rhian, and she’s so sure that Rhian wants to see her, that Gloria can’t help but feel convinced.
She knocks on the door of the throne room. Throne room – it all sounds so grand, so unlike anything that King Arthur did. He was never one for big grand rooms with big grand names – he just called it the big room. Gloria liked King Arthur – not like Rhian. She finds him too young and too flashy.
“Come in!” comes a voice from inside.
She walks in, inwardly marvelling at the grandeur, but at the same time disliking it. The old king never had this fixation with pretty things. That big **** that always seems to be around Rhian is there too, and Queen Sophie. “There’s a girl in the kitchen waiting to see you.”
“The kitchen?” he asks, incredulously. Another thing Gloria doesn’t like about him – his reluctance to go anywhere that isn’t kingly.
“I can bring her up here.”
“Who is this girl, anyway?”
“She says her name is… Ruby, I think. Very pretty, I thought -”
Rhian interrupts her, standing up. “Bring her up here.”
“You don’t want to run a background check or wait a few -”
“Bring her up here! he snarls. She murmurs an apology and walks downstairs, half hoping that Ruby will be gone. Alas, she is still there, and so Gloria takes her up the stairs slowly, for she can see how much it pains her to walk.
When they get back to the throne room, Rhian dismisses Gloria, but she still listens at the door, and looks through the keyhole. She can see Rhian, but not Ruby.
“You ran away,” he says.
“I came back.”
“You still ran away.”
“I came back,” Ruby repeats.
Rhian steps towards her, out of Gloria’s line of sight. “You ran away!” Gloria hears a yelp of pain, but cannot see what is causing it.
“Is this really necessary?” Sophie asks. “It’ll ruin the carpets.”
Rhian pauses. “Edgar, take her to the guest rooms.”
Gloria ducks behind a door as Edgar leads Ruby out of the room.
Caro jumps as she comes out of a briefing room to see Valentina.
“What the **** are you doing here?!”
“I’m trying to find you.”
“I didn’t want you to find me.”
Caro glares at her. “Are Nicola and the others here too?” She is surprised by the bitterness in her own voice. Valentina has the decency to look uncomfortable.
“They’ll be here in a few hours.” Caro scowls and turns around. “Why don’t you like them?”
“They don’t like me.”
“Yes, they do.”
Caro turns around. “They didn’t even try to get me! Not once, even when I was trapped in a cave for a ransom for a tribe that I’m not even a part of.”
“We were planning to get you out. Plus, you can’t have hated it too much if you’ve already gone on an adventure with them.”
“So you’re jealous.” Caro glares at her.
Valentina glares back and leaves the room. The four people that Caro left with are outside, and the boy leaps back. It’s obvious that they were listening at the door, but Caro doesn’t appear to care.
Edgar pulls Ruby into possibly the most extravagant room she has ever seen. She mind find it easier to appreciate if it were not for the circumstances, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is beautiful. It is well-lit by the two barred windows, and has a huge four-poster bed in the middle. . The wall hangings are of a battle, and there is a huge chest in the far corner. It’s ostentatious, to be sure, but exquisite. There are two doors leading away, as well as the one she has just walked through.
Edgar pushes her down onto a chair, standing over her to make sure that she does not try to escape. She doesn’t know what he expects her to do – she came here, after all.
After only a few minutes, Rhian strolls in. Rowan follows, and Ruby can read the apology in his eyes. Edgar stands back, but doesn’t leave.
He smirks at her. “Be still, my beating heart.”
“I didn’t think you had a heart,” she replies. Edgar looks at her warningly.
Rhian just laughs. “I expect you to stand when I enter the room.” She stands up. “I want to know why you’re here.”
“I’m here because I missed it, obviously.”
His smile disappears. “The truth.”
“I’m telling you the truth.” Edgar backhands her across the face, and she crumples to the ground, crying out.
“Edgar, please keep our guest conscious,” Rhian drawls.
Edgar nods at him and pulls Ruby to her feet.
“Where were you?”
She shakes her head. “I can’t tell you that.”
“Who rescued you?”
“I can’t tell you that, either.”
Rhian shakes his head at her mockingly and nods at Edgar. Edgar pulls her towards a door that she had assumed led to a toilet. Instead, it is a room made of stone, with something in the middle. At first, she assumes that it is a table, but on closer inspection…
Edgar pushes her into it, and she reads the inscription on the side.
Here lies James of Camelot.
No, no, no, she thinks.
“Yes, yes, yes,” comes Rhian’s voice from behind her, and she realises that she must have said it out loud.
She breaks free of Edgar, and tries to run towards the door, but he has already caught hold of her again.
“Tie her up.”
Rowan slips into the room. Be brave, he mouths as Edgar chains her to the wall.
“Tell me about your life before you came to the castle.”
She frowns – this is a different approach, and she supposes that it can’t do any harm to tell him any of this.
“My father was executed when I was thirteen. My mother didn’t take long to remarry. My stepfather, Miles, was… pure evil.” She sinks into silence.
“Keep going. Where did you get that scar?” She knows that he is talking about the old, moon-white scar on her hand.
“That wa just over a year ago. My sister had been running around the house, just playing another game, like toddlers like to do. She crashed into him and knocked him over.” She looks around – Edgar’s face is emotionless, Rhian’s angry and Rowan’s sympathetic. “He came at her with his belt – so I stopped him. He gave me three cracked ribs for that.” She glances at Rowan. His eyes are wide, and a tear runs down his face.
Rhian pauses. “I think we’ve heard enough for today.” Edgar unties her, then follows Rhian out of the room. Rowan helps her up and takes her towards the bed.
“I didn’t know that.”
She looks at him in disbelief. “Why would you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you know where your sister is?” she asks.
His eyes widen, startled at the sudden change in subject, but he lets her change the subject. “No. Do you?”
She shakes her head. “No.”
“Then why ask?”
She scrutinises him. “I came here to find Excalibur.” His face shows no signs of surprise. “But you knew that already, didn’t you?”
“Yes. Fifer got a note to me as soon as they found out that you had left.”
“I want there to be a backup plan. For if I don’t manage to find it.”
“How do you think you’re going to find it?”
“I don’t know that yet.”
Rowan straightens as he hears steps in the hallway. He ducks behind a chair as a maid walks in. “Hello?” she calls out. She is the same age as Ruby, but taller.
Rowan steps out. “Hello, Bette.” The maid jumps a little, but composes herself quickly.
“Mr Rowan!” He kisses her on the cheek, but she bats him away. She looks straight at Ruby. “You’re Ruby, aren’t you?”
“The king wants you to come to his dinner he’s holding today.” She throws a dress at her – apple green, with gold edging. “Get out, Mr Rowan.” Rowan nods and walks out of the room. “Milady, get dressed in the dressing room. Through that door.”
A few minutes later, Ruby comes out of the dressing room in the dress. Bette looks at her and claps her hands. “Milady, you look beautiful. Now, you must get to the dinner quickly!”
She hurries her along the halls. They enter the dining room late, but it doesn’t matter. No-one appears to care.
Rhian notices her and stands up to lead her to the table. It takes all her will not to ****** her hand away. “Everyone, meet Ruby.”
A girl about a year older than her surveys her with barely disguised distaste. “And what is Ruby to you?”
Rowan bristles at the insinuation, but Rhian just laughs. “She’s a… guest. Ruby, this is Lady Anastacia of the Grasshills.”
She gives a wave of her hand. “Don’t mind me. I’m far more interested in her.”
“Anastacia, please be civil.”
“I wouldn’t dream of anything else.” She smirks at him.
Ruby looks around the table. As well as Rowan, there is an older, dignified woman who looks like she is Anastacia’s mother or grandmother, Queen Sophie and an old man. Edgar stands behind Ruby, guarding her. Anastacia takes this in with a single glance. She probably thinks that Edgar is Ruby’s bodyguard. “You know my queen, of course, and this is Lady Irene and Lord Mortimer.” They murmur polite greetings then go back to their food. Ruby doesn’t eat anything.
“I’m not hungry.”
Rhian takes a spoonful of salad and holds it up to her mouth. She slaps his hand away, and his eyes darken, while Anastacia’s sharpen with interest. Edgar leads her out of the room.
“Never do that again.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Lady Anastacia already suspects something. You do not give her any more ammunition.”
“Why? If she’s so loyal -”
“The lady is a strong person. If she discovers that there is something that the king is not telling her, or her mother, then she will -”
“Will she do anything? Or will you take her prisoner as well?”
Edgar slaps her, and she jerks away, her vision filling with stars as she leans against him for support. Silently, he leads her back to her quarters and she drops onto the bed and falls asleep.
oooooooh wonderful sapphy! I’ve heard such great things about your writing and now i see why. Please tag!