Queen Faith and I spent the morning in the greenhouse. Even though she was a vampire, she still slept like a human did, something that surprised me. To make communication easier, she brought a paper and a quill with her so that she could write what she wanted to say. She was fascinated by my ability to revive dead plants.
I have not been able to come down here and tend to the gardens as I want to.
"Why not?" I asked and she smiled sadly as she wrote.
My duties as the queen have increased. Now that you are here, though, we will be sharing those duties.
I bit my lower lip. "Are they... difficult?"
They will be at first. I'm sure you'll pick up quickly, though.
I smiled. "Where shall we go next?"
Is it true that elves play music a lot?
"No," I said. "We enjoy it but not as much as people believe."
We left and she led me down the halls. I looked around as we walked. Now that I knew Roan was going to bring more green into the palace, I didn't feel so locked in by all the black and gold. It was rather beautiful considering the legends.
"They say everything you have is black," I said while we walked and she looked at me. "And they also say that you attack humans without mercy."
She shook her head and stopped to scribble something.
Never. We respect the humans and they respect us.
"What about the black and darkness? I understand your skin is sensitive to the sun."
Yes but so are our eyes. Dark colors bring comfort when we have been exposed to too much light.
"I see. That blows so many myths out of the water," I added with a laugh and she smiled, opening a door to a music room.
Is it true there is a Forbidden Fruit that can kill someone just by eating it?
I laughed and told her the story of when we went to the gardens. She covered her mouth, a gesture I realized meant she would laugh.
"So, forgive me, but mutes cannot even laugh?"
She shook her head, looking sad again, and wrote some more.
No. I was born without my vocal cords.
"So that's why your people thought you were weak? Because you were not able to develop all the way?"
She nodded. But it's okay. I have Alec and Roan. They have made me complete. I love them with everything in me.
I smiled. "I wish I had someone like that."
Perhaps you will.
I blushed, knowing she was talking about Roan. I looked around.
"Do you play all of these instruments?"
She nodded enthusiastically.
The harp is my favorite, though.
She set her paper down and went over to the harp. I sat down at her prompting and listened to her play. Her eyes closed as her fingers moved along the strings. I smiled. It was a beautiful sound. The more she played, the more relaxed she seemed to become.
"Will you teach me?" I asked, blushing a little.
She beamed and nodded, bringing over another harp, and I sat beside her.
It was difficult to learn because she couldn't speak and also because of the nature of the instrument. There were some music books but they were hard to understand. It took up much of the afternoon. Suddenly, there was the sound of a door slamming and we both jumped to our feet.
The queen left her parchment behind, lifted her skirts, and flew out of the room. I did the same, worried that someone had been hurt. When we got to the main entryway, we heard raised voices in the throne room. She pressed her fingers to her lips and I nodded.
"You are being unreasonable, Elder Donne!" the king was shouting and her eyes filled with tears.
Did hearing the sound of her husband being angry upset her?
"We are merging our races!" Elder Donne shouted back. "And if that means forcing her to commune with Caricus, then so be it!"
"She will die!" the king said.
"We will force her to let go of this... this Adelpha and swear her allegiance to Caricus. Then perhaps he will let her commune with him."
"You know he won't!"
"She will be having her lessons in the evening," he said coldly.
There was the sound of a large chair falling to the floor. I assumed it was the throne.
"No. Roan was right. She needs to keep her rhythm or she will get sick. I won't let you do that to her. Now get out of my throne room before I take a more forceful approach!"
Faith grabbed my arm and we hid behind a suit of armor. We looked around it as Elder Donne stormed out, sweeping up the stairs. When he was gone, Faith ran to the throne room.
The king sighed when he saw her. I was right; the throne had toppled over. He opened his arms and Faith flew into them, crying.
"I am sorry you had to hear all of that," Alec whispered to her. "Do not deny it, my love. I sensed you both. Roan has gone to the Meeting Hall to speak with Elder Arlan."
"About what?" I asked.
"He said you get sick sometimes," he said and I nodded. "He's gone to get a recipe."
"Has he been gone long?"
"No. You can catch up with him if you-"
I was already out the door.
"Roan!" I shouted when I saw his back. He was taking long strides. "Roan, wait for me!"
He stopped walking but didn't turn around. When I caught up, I had to take a few deep breaths. I put my hand on his arm and was glad when he didn't shake it off.
"Your father is most unhappy with Elder Donne," I said quietly as we continued walking.
"I am furious with him as well," he said in a dark voice. "He is demanding things of you that you cannot do."
"I heard," I said and he stared at me in slight panic.
"How much did you hear?"
"The he wants me to take lessons at night and...." I gulped, clenching my hands into fists. "And he says I am to denounce Adelpha to worship Caricus."
"You won't have to," he said immediately.
I sighed. "I don't know, Roan," I said. "It seems like Elder Donne is a powerful vampire."
He forced open one of my hands and held it, pulling me to a stop. I stared at him.
"He may be powerful," he said, looking into my eyes," but there is someone I have heard is more powerful."
I frowned. "Who?"
He looked around and pulled me closer.
"Elder Arlan," he whispered in my ear.
I blinked. "How do you know?"
He kept walking. "I have heard rumors," he said. "But they come from a very trusted source."
We reached the steps to the Meeting Hall. An elf was standing by the barrier, looking at it curiously.
"Can you please have Elder Arlan meet us?" I asked and the elf nodded, his eyes wide as he stared at the two of us. "Will Elder Donne be mad that I'm here?"
"I don't care. I will protect you."
We walked in on the vampire side. I wasn't sure if I could cross the barrier and I didn't want to risk it, no matter how badly I wanted to embrace Elder Arlan. He ran in shortly and grinned at me.
"Oh, it's good to see you!" he said. "My dear, why are you crying?"
I looked at my hands. "Things are not going as we thought they would, Elder Arlan," I said quietly. "Elder Donne is.... He's demanding things of me that I am not physically able to do."
"What do you mean?" he asked. "Roan, what does she speak of?"
"I've been forbidden to talk about it," he sighed. "Lillian can but... should Elder Donne find out, she will be punished."
I hung my head when Elder Arlan made an angry noise.
"He only lets me eat two meals a day," I whispered. "At first he demanded just one. And he's been trying to keep me from sleeping."
"I am so sorry," he said and I saw that he was crying. "Do you wish to speak with Adelpha?"
"I don't think I can cross," I said, looking at the barrier. "I do not wish to risk it, either."
He sighed. "I understand. Is that why you came?"
"No," Roan said, rubbing his eyes. "While I was here, Lillian got sick. I need the recipe and ingredients for the medicine or soup that will help her. Vampires don't get sick, you see, so we don't have anything for this. It is my hope that Lillian can plant the seeds for the ingredients in our gardens."
"Of course," Elder Arlan said. "I will be right back."
When he left, I put my head in my hands. Roan put his arm around me and pressed his head to the side of mine.
"It will be okay," he whispered. "I will make it okay."