Hurst - The Signal

Alexandra and I waited, the queen’s body guard announcing our presence. He was gone for only a few moments.

“You may enter,” he announced when he returned.

I bowed my head as we entered. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Alexandra bowing slightly, too. We stopped after only taking a few steps into the room. The queen was sitting at a writing desk in the corner of the room, her quill in her hand. Ignoring us for just a moment, she busied herself with finishing her current task - writing a letter. With a final tap on the paper, presumably dotting an I, she was done. As she put the quill down on the desk, she rose and gave us her full attention.

“Good day, ma’am,” I greeted. Alexandra’s expression was blank for the most part.

Choosing to skip pleasantries as was her custom, the queen asked, “What is the latest?”

“There has been a kidnapping, ma’am.”

“Very well,” the queen replied as she glanced at Alexandra. Without another word spoken, she picked up a small bell sitting on the desk. She gave it one flick of the wrist, and her body guard entered the room. She spoke two words. “The signal!”

“Yes, ma’am,” the guard replied, exiting the room with great haste.

After the guard left, I gazed at Alexandra. I nodded slowly, closing my eyes throughout the length of the nod, trying to indicate that what had just happened was good news. I had an idea of what the queen was doing, and she confirmed my thought when she donned a black cloak from a hook on the wall. It seemed strange to see a member of the highest royalty putting on a piece of clothing without the aid of a servant. She crossed the room, passing by Alexandra by mere inches. Alexandra visibly stiffened, drawing her shoulders in. The queen did not seem to notice.

“Come with me,” the queen stated, her hand reaching out for the wall. She pressed one of the bricks. Without any noise, the brick moved, indenting into the wall. A moment later a door size section of the wall swung out, revealing a secret passage.

Alexandra and I followed the queen into the dark passage. There was a sound of friction. The passage became illuminated from a lamp oil torch the queen had ignited. I offered my hand, and the queen handed me the torch as she pressed the brick back to the other side, closing the door.

We walked down the narrow passage for several minutes in silence. I could only imagine the myriad of questions going through Alexandra’s head, but I dared not speak. The time to speak would soon come.

When we reached the end of the passage, the queen pressed another brick, opening another door, which lead outside. Before the queen stepped through, she raised the hood of her cloak, shielding her face. We stepped through the door. We exited in a wooded area, the castle wall to our back.

A few feet away a carriage was waiting for us. The three of us stepped inside. A short ride brought us to a village just outside the castle’s walls. The three of us exited the carriage. The queen walked to the third house and knocked on the door three times. She paused and knocked three more times, using the same rhythm both times. The door opened, and the three of us entered.

A smile was my only reaction when I saw who had let us in. I looked back at Alexandra, her expression priceless. Her eyebrows were raised higher than I had ever seen them, her mouth opened just slightly.

The queen was still wearing her cloak when she asked, “Are we safe?” With an affirmative answer, the queen removed the hood from her head. Turning to Alexandra, the queen said, “Speak, child.”

Alexandra said nothing, though. Her lips were quivering, tears rolling down her face. She wiped them away. She swallowed, trying to clear her throat.

“Tell us what has happened,” the queen said, her ton softer than her usual brusqueness. Clearing her throat once more, Alexandra was able to speak.

“Miss Olivia St. James has been kidnapped,” she said, wiping more tears away.  

The End

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