The walk stretched on for what seemed like forever, though it shouldn't have been. My heart beat an an inconsistent rate, beating fast, then slow, fast, then slow again. We knew why we were on our way to the Queen. Our promotion was imminent. The look James and I had just shared was so understandable, so simple.
We'd known each other long enough to understand what the other was thinking. It wasn't telepathy, though people were able to do that, but rather sheer friendship. We'd known each other all our lives. We wove our way towards the Queen's double palace, weaving through the shadows. Her palace along with our headquarters was secluded so as not to simply be stumbled upon.
The three of us walked past the Queen's Gardens, in which flowers flourished broadly, vivid colours exploding across the garden floor. Our pace never slowed, never quickened either; and we were deadly silent, as was our ability. The palace was finally looming in front of us, towering high above the three of us. We'd visited here many times before, but this visit was much more important than all the rest. We were already at the sixth degree, which was the second highest. We were the youngest to ever accomplish such a feat.
We were about to enter SQS legend.
The seventh degree meant so much more. More priveleges, more jobs, more everything. We entered the palace silently, and emerged inside the Great Hall. The assistant led us down the hall, taking us past the Queen's Library and into another room. It was more of a thin hallway then a room, full glass walls displaying the gardens outside along with the velvety sky.
We walked through the pathway that would connect this palace to the next one, where the Queen resided. The three of us continued to follow the man through the glass-paned hall, not uttering a single word. It didn't take words for James and I to speak. Only gestures and looks. I looked over at him, and smiled, inclining my head. He returned the gesture, and I could almost feel his anticipation alongside my own. Finally, we reached Her palace. We knew where She would be, but we allowed her assistant to guide us to Her room, the Throne Room.
We entered it, and my heart began to beat faster. The room was enormous. The ceiling soared so high it needed to be held up by seven fifty foot Corinthian columns. A red rug was rolled out as a carpet, leading up to seven stairs. On the platform that the stairs led up to, there was a large throne with three smaller ones arching on either side. In the magnificent seat sat the beautiful Queen, her beauty surpassing human levels.
Her perfect pale face complimented her stormy gray eyes that looked silver in the moonlight that fell through an oculus at the top of the room. Her dress was embroidered with gold, adorned with images of stars. The black dress billowed around her as she stood, her crown fitted perfectly on her head. Her flowing black hair only accentuated just how pale she was, more so than James and I. I dared not smile in her presence, only kneel alongside my friend as a gesture of respect.
The inhumanly beautiful Queen walked down the stairs to meet us, and then said in her voice, which was even and soft. It was like wind blowing gently through trees. "Rise, James. Rise, Elias," she said. Hearing my name, I stood from my kneeling position. We stood before her, and her assistant backed away, out of the room. "I have called you here today for a reason. Your duties in SQS have elevated as you've quickly advanced through the sacred ranks in my service. The two of you have continually showed that you truly do care about this society, and have faithfully served me throughout these long years. Your servitude shall not go unrewarded. "What I am saying is that you two are much to good for the sixth rank. Everything is coming much too easy, am I correct?" she asked. Neither of us answered the rhetorical question, and she went on. "I would like to promote you to the final rank, the seventh rank. Just know that once you join, your jobs shall become tedious, and you will not be able to breeze through them as easily as you may assume.
"Everything will be difficult, and you will sometimes think that you do not want to be in our secret society anymore, however, you are bound here. See?" She pushed up our right sleeves to show the emblem that was seared into our skin almost by magic. The initiate now had the same symbol, only our would soon change. "In entering the seventh rank, your emblem shall change, altering you and your duties, and you shall forever be bound to this society. Do you understand these irrevocable circumstances?"
"I do," replied James.
"I do," I answered.
"Then may the stars watch over you on your new journeys in the seventh rank." The queen twisted her hand across her heart, and produced an object from her cloak. She touched it to each of our emblems, which seemed to come to life as they changed.
There was no going back now...
We had entered the final rank of the Secret Queen's Service...