Goddess Save the Queen Epilogue
Three hours before the start of the feast…
“This is terrible. Horrible. Awful. Why do the gods hate me so?”
Lionel Geoffries looks up at Arduno Boliviar, who has been drinking from a bottle of spiced rum all night.
“It can’t be that bad. Yours can’t be any worse than mine. This is possibly the worst I’ve ever done.” Lionel looks down at his cards: a captain, a viceroy and two split dogs. The split dogs would make a superb hand with a dog tamer, but they meant nothing without one.
“The two of you realize the point behind the game is bluffing the others into thinking your hand is superior, do you not?” The janitor, Mr. Humphrey says, and then shakes his head.
Arduno reveals his hand to the other players.
“No, I was wrong. That’s about as bad as it gets. It really isn’t your night, friend.” Lionel lays down his cards. Mr Humphrey shows his cards, and then takes the pool.
Arduno takes another swig of rum before standing up. “I swear, by the stars in the sky, I shall never play Hiboredian card games again.”
“You said that the last time he cleaned you out,” Lionel says.
“This time, I swear by my honor as a Matadorian!”
The night pretty much continues as expected for the inebriated and frustrated Arduno Boliviar, who was restricted from the most awesome festivities in the Lord of Covesby Grove’s manor. Arduno never understood just why he was ordered never to return to the village, and why he was specifically called out to not attend the feast. However, the headmaster had made it quite clear that should he sneak away, his employment at the academy would be terminated.
“A pox on the lot of them,” he whispers, stumbling back to the guest room they ordered him to stay at inside the academy itself.
- * *
Back at the party, Magdela reaches the Queen and asks of her, “Your Royal Majesty, could you please grant me a moment of your time?”
The Queen, who is drinking wine with her Captain of the Guards, says, “Of course, dear educator, I had hoped to speak to some of you as well. How can I be of aid?”
Magdela replies, “Well, I was wondering, Your Highness, is it true that you asked for the entire staff of the Academy to be present?”
The Queen looks mystfied for a moment, and then laughs. “Oh, that? No, I merely requested a representative to meet me here for greetings before I toured your fine Academy. It was Lord Sandover who insisted we throw a party in the honor of this occasion. He’s truly a nice man, whom I am so glad I entrusted my true home to. And such a wonderful affair this has become!”
Magdela pales as she comes to the realization that the entire event might have been a ruse to empty the Academy in order to sneak an assassin in.
“It seems I have disturbed you.” The Queen sets down her goblet and motions for her attendant. The man pulls back her chair allowing her to stand. Her gown shifts causing waves of material to cascade to the floor, straightening against her thin body, disguised under layers of garments. “Perhaps we could speak in private, miss…?”
“Solarim, your majesty. Magdela Solarim.”
“Well, Magdela Solarim, care to join me in the dais for a bit of privacy?”
Magdela nods, still trying to decide what her next course of action should be. To leave the feast would be a grave insult. She would have to send someone unlikely to be missed.
The Queen takes Miss Solarim’s arm and guides her up the stairs to the dais overlooking the feast hall. Only a few guards stand about, whom the Queen ignores, followed by Yalesha, her blademaster and bodyguard, never more than a few feet from her at any time. Many the drunk around the kingdom suggest she would be standing at the foot of the bed when the Queen finally took a husband on her wedding night.
The Queen glances about and then beckons Yalesha with a quick motion. The blademaster pulls a parchmant from her cloak and hands it to her majesty. The Queen then holds it in front of Magdela. She is confused by the face of Arduno Boliviar painted quite exquisitely on a piece of parchment held in the hands of the Queen of Hiboredia.
“Have you ever seen this man? He is likely a foreign diplomat or noble, and was about these parts some half a dozen years before. He flew a cloudship of Matadorian craft, a medium ship as swift as the wind, and as beautiful as the sea.”
Magdela’s eyes open a bit wider. “I have, your majesty. He is known to this area as a pirate by Lord Sandover and is forbid from setting foot in the area at penalty of imprisonment, although it is not known to me what his crimes entail. What business do you have with him?”
The Queen is the one taken aback. “A pirate, you say?” She looks at the painting with a look of longing. “I merely sought to repay this man for services he rendered for this country. Please, do not mention this to any, as I fear that others might not understand my interest. I had no idea this man was wanted for any reason other than for me to repay a debt to him.”
“He is known to fly through this area with some frequency. Perhaps I could deliver him a message for you?”
The Queen turns to Yalesha, who hands her a roll piece of parchment, with the wax seal of the House of Hibore on it. “Yes, please deliver this to his hands, and to none other.” She then puts it in Magdela’s hand and whispers an incantation. “May the letter reach the hand of the man of whom I seek, and none other than this messenger will see it until that time.” The letter glows briefly as the Queen’s magic enchants it.
“I am honored, your majesty,” Magdela says, half touched by the Queen’s trust in her, and half horrified by the fact that she has to deliver what is most likely a love letter to the person that may ever well be dead by the time she frees herself from this engagement.
“The honor is mine, dear Magdela Solarim. Please be my guide when I visit your beloved academy on the morrow.”
“I would be delighted, your highness.”
After her meeting with the Queen, Magdela swiftly walks to where Ilana and Zandox await her return.
“What did you learn, Miss Solarim?” Ilana asks, her fiery eyes fast on her.
“Lord Sandover arranged everything, and specified that the entire staff be present, apart from Arduno Boliviar. He is also the one who released the thief from his imprisonment. Could this be a coincidence?”
Zandox shakes his head. “Kimi’s information specifies that the assassin was hired before the event was made public. It had to be someone on the inside. This man’s hatred of Arduno is well known as well.”
Magdela nods. “I cannot leave without drawing suspicion. But the two of you leaving would not be remarked upon greatly. I hate to cause you to miss any of the festivities, but I would be at fault of Arduno were to fall upon an unfortunate demise while we enjoy ourselves here.”
“Agreed,” Ilana says, lifting her gown to pull it up from the floor. “I will make haste to the academy with Zandox. Perhaps we should bring Mr. Haknmes as well?”
“No, he seems rather… occupied…” Magdela points to where he is. They all look to see that he is all but completely wrapped in wings and 16-year-old arms in a slow dance.
The two teachers then exit the party and make haste back to the academy, where they hope they are not too late.
- * *