The Tale of Edgar and Essa Part Two
Beatrix storms through the castle, looking for the room where Ruby is being kept. It is hard, when all she has to go on is a stone room and the directions that she gathered, but she isn’t stopping.
She peers into an ornate room decorated with wall hangings, dark colours, rich. “She’s in there,” she hears behind her.
“Rowan,” she says without turning around.
“You knew it was me.”
“I have good vocal recognition.” She walks towards a door set in the wall and opens it. A bathroom.
“The other one.”
She gives a strangled cry as she sees Ruby crumpled on the floor next to Edgar, blood on the floor around her. “Get Fifer,” she tells Rowan.
“Get her. Balcony.”
“Okay,” he says. He disappears, and Beatrix kneels down so she is eye-to-eye with Ruby.
Her eyes flutter open, and she manages a weak smile. “If you’re here, then things are either very good or very bad.”
Beatrix grins. “Very good.”
Ruby’s eyes close as she drifts out of consciousness. Without thinking, Beatrix leans down and presses a quick kiss to her lips.
“****,” she says as she walks out.
Edgar’s eyes are open and narrowed, and it’s clear that he saw her. But he’s not getting up any time soon, so she doesn’t worry. And no-one will ever believe him anyway.
Rowan runs onto the balcony, skidding to a halt in front of Kiko. “Where’s Fifer?”
He notices everyone staring at him. “Who are you?” Tedros asks, his mouth open.
“I’m Rowan… Rhian’s brother.”
Tedros turns to the girl next to him. “What?”
Rowan stares at her. “Rafi?”
“He’s my brother.”
Rowan tries a smile. “Two for the price of one?”
He makes a quick exit, Kiko following him. “Fifer’s in the kitchen. Lots of water, apparently. She needs to deal with the stupid girl that threw herself in front of a knife.”
“We need her.”
“There are other healers in the castle, you know.”
“But none as skilled as she is.”
“Why do you need her?”
Rowan bursts into the kitchen. “Ruby.”
Fifer looks up. “What is it?”
“She needs your help.”
Fifer shakes her head. “Sorry, but I’m busy.”
“Anastacia is more hurt.”
Bette runs in. “I can help.”
“Why would you want to?”
“She helped my sister, Tilly. I would like to return the favour.”
Fifer nods. “Fine. Replace the bandages in a few minutes. I’ll be back soon.”
Rowan leads her through the castle, breaking into a run as they get closer. She easily keeps up, blinking as they reach her bedroom. “I didn’t think… I thought that he would have kept her in a dungeon.”
“Poisoned. Still alive, but unconscious.”
Fifer frowns. “How?”
“We coated the weapons with the poison.”
She enters the stone room. “Son of a -” She helps Ruby up and onto the bed outside.
It’s too much to ask for that Ruby remains unconscious throughout the whole treatment, and she gives a soft moan as they carefully take off her dress. “Get out,” Fifer says to Rowan and Beatrix. “Go tell the servant girl to keep replacing the bandages.”
They leave without argument, walking quickly to the kitchen, where Anastasia is slumped on the table, horror filling her eyes. “Bette,” Rowan says. “We need to take her to a secure room.”
“She’s not going anywhere, you idiot,” Bette snaps. “You should go.”
Rowan shrugs, knowing that she’s right, before following Beatrix out of the room.
Rafaela frowns as more people pile onto the balcony, coming off stymphs and pouring into the room from below. Tedros smiles as he sees some people that she thinks he knows. “Julia? Eugenia?”
Eugenia runs over to him – or walks as fast as she can – and hugs him tightly, leaving him struggling for breath.
Other people gather behind him, most of whom he recognises from the safe house, and one gives a wail of distress as she sees the body of the man who brought Excalibur on the floor. Jade smiles savagely, and Tedros realises that he must be Ruby’s stepfather.
Must have been.
He is used to talking about his father in the past tense. They are not used to talking about their stepfather like that.
“Are you okay?” he asks Jade cautiously.
“Of course I’m okay!” she says joyfully. “You’ve got the throne, everyone is safe and he’s dead!”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Of course I do. He was a monster. He made my sister’s last days miserable and full of pain.”
Alison pulls him to the side. “It’s not your story to tell,” she hisses. “Don’t tell Jade anything.”
“But surely -”
“Not a word.”
Julia stands on a chair, a makeshift stage. “We must have a trial. Get him a lawyer, get people to testify, the whole hog. That’s the only way that everyone will accept what he’s done. Don’t forget, he was the Lion before he was king.”
“A trial,” Rafaela repeats. “It’s a good idea.”
“You want to get your brother convicted?” Alison asks sharply.
“My brother hurt people.”
“You share the same parents.”
Rafaela moves so she is nose-to-nose to Alison, despite having to stand on the tips of her toes. “I’m not Rhian.”
Alison just smirks. “No, you’re his sister.”
“Tedros is his brother.”
“Tedros didn’t run away when he was ten.”
“No, he just ran to the School when he was thirteen.” She leaves the room, the harmonious atmosphere of a few minutes ago gone.
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