"Your majesty," I said, cutting in before anyone could stop me. "I have one request."
"Go on," the Queen replied.
"I would appreciate some assistance travelling back to Iberia," I asked, stepping forward, away from my sister and the rest of the group. "It's dangerous travelling alone through Handrin alone, especially when you are Iberian born and do not know the country."
"Of course Sebastian."
"I would also like to request the discharge of my sister, Alexandra, from her position as an Iberian spy."
"You can't do that!" My sister's voice was outraged as she came towards me, grabbing my arm and spinning me round to face her. Her eyes were blazing as she stared at me.
"I am your superior and if the Queen allows me to relieve you of your duties then I will do so."
"This is just like you Sebastian," Alex hissed at me. "You always have to be the one in charge. You always have to have everyone else waiting to take your orders and blindly obey. I'm not going to be one of your lackeys."
"Stop making a scene Alexandra," I said firmly. "I'm not doing this to spite you, I'm doing it to protect you."
"And what about the rest of these people?" Alexandra said, her arms sweeping in an arc to encapsulate the people standing around. "They are still here. They don't have someone behind them saying what they can and can't do because it's for their own good. Why should I be any different?"
"Because you are my sister and it's my job to protect you."
"I think I am old enough to look after myself now thank you Sebastian."
"It's my job to look after you," I shouted, surprised at the level of anger and the force in my voice. "I promised Mother that I would look after you no matter what happened and I am not going to go back on that promise now."
I could see frustration flash in Alexandra's eyes as she knew she couldn't fight me on this one. We both knew how Mother would react if anything happened to either of us. Neither of us wanted to see that again. Or put Mother through losing someone else.
The tension in the room began to creep through my body as I realised that no one else was talking. Half the group was looking away awkwardly. The other half had their eyes glued to my and Alex, anxious to see what would happen next.
"Let the Queen decide," Alex finally said stiffly. All eyes swung around to the Queen who was standing regally, seemingly undisturbed by the conflict that was unfolding before her.
"Alexandra will return with her brother to Iberia," the Queen said simply but firmly.
I could feel my sister getting ready to protest but stopping herself at the last moment. She had allowed the Queen to make the decision, now she had to accept it.
"Thank you your majesty," I said softly. "We will prepare to leave as soon as you require us to."
"Very good Sebastian," the Queen said. "But there is something you're forgetting. I will send Mr. Hurst with you and your sister as a guide to the Iberian border. I am sure you are both very trustworthy people, but it doesn't hurt to have an extra pair of eyes and ears."
"I won't go," Alex protested loudly. "Not with him."
I looked first at my sister, then at Hurst who was looking very uncomfortable. Was there something going on that I didn't know about? Had Hurst done something to hurt Alex?
"I can assure you Miss. Ford," the Queen replied forcefully. "Mr. Hurst is a trusted and loyal servant. You can trust him."