Chapter 18

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Arielle's eyes felt super glued together. She slowly pealed them apart only to close them tightly with a groan. The light made her head throb even more. What happened? She could remember Eva and going to see her down in the dungeons. Arielle could also recall something bad going on with Beckham but everything else was just foggy. Arielle once more tried to open her eyes or sit up when she heard a tired voice say,

"Don't strain yourself."

Arielle shot up immediately. It was the Queen! The room spun around her as she tried to force herself up. Soft, wrinkled hands gently grasped her shoulders and laid her back down on the sofa.

"You don't follow rules very well do you Arielle?"

"I-I...."

Arielle couldn't form any coherent phrases; just jumbled words fell from her mouth. All she could focus on was the disappointment coloring the Queen's voice.

"You're lucky," she said, taking a seat across from Arielle. "I got you off this time with a warning but be rest assured that if you ever break any of our rules again it is out of my hands your fate."

"My Queen, honestly, I didn't mean--"

"Selene has treated you well. You have been far better off than any human inside the Kingdom. Since you are under her care, as well as her apprentice, you can see how this will reflect badly on her."

Arielle burned with shame. She didn't regret going to see Eva, but she did regret the backlash that Selene would receive.

"I don't regret it," Arielle stated.

The Queen chuckled softly. "No, I didn't think you would."

The two elapsed into silence. Arielle shifted nervously under the Queen's stare. Her eyes were patient which put Arielle on edge. She was used to being scowled not really listened to.

"Why did you make Eva a Blood Donor?"

"You sound angry."

"Of course I'm angry! She's not suppose to be down there!" Arielle all but yelled.

The Queen raised a single eyebrow and Arielle crumbled back down on the sofa.

"I'm sorry to say this because I know how close you two are, but she's needed down there. Blood is running short through the kingdom, some vampires are starting to starve. The health of my Kingdom is my top priority."

"Why her? Why could it not have been anyone else?"

"There are requirements to meet for Blood Donors to keep them and the vampires here healthy. Eva meets all of the requirements."

"Then why is there a blood shortage? If the Donors are healthy then why?"

The Queen stared at Arielle. Really stared. She looked right into her soul. Arielle's skin prickled and goosebumps rose. The Queen was judging if she was trustworthy or not. She was going to tell Arielle something very, very important. 

"What I'm about to say will not leave this room. If it does I will show no mercy."

Arielle gulped under the Queen's narrowed gaze.

"Of course."

"The Donors have been dying. Someone is poisoning them. I've changed the kitchen staff, I had guards watch them make the food and take it down. The kitchens aren't putting anything into their meals. Someone is killing our blood source."

"A traitor," Arielle said breathlessly.

Suddenly it all made sense. Beckham was working with rouges and he must also have help on the inside. The Elite Guards! They're the only ones who could be tampering with the Donor's food besides the kitchen. Beckham is gathering forces both inside and outside the Kingdom.

"It's Beckham!" Arielle shouted feverishly. "He's the one behind it all! Eva told me how he had maps on the rouge locations, and I've seen him sneaking around with the Elite Guards. He's the traitor. We have to stop him! Arrest him o--"

"Beckham? Surely you're jesting Arielle."

"No I'm telling you its him! We have to do something about him now."

The Queen didn't move. She just stared at Arielle as if she was some strange creature. Arielle turned her head slightly and caught her reflection in one of the golden ornate mirrors hanging in the room. She looked unhinged to say the least. Her hair was frizzy and tangled together in a mess, dirt smudged all over her face, hands, and tattered dress, then her eyes were blown wide with a frenzy. Overall she looked like some feral child.

"You need rest my dear. Clearly the stress of loosing your friend has gotten to you. Please, get rest."

"I-I...yes. I should do that," she said weakly.

"Would you like--"

"No."

The Queen let the situation drop, and Arielle walked out of the room only to run into the said man himself. Beckham. His icy blue eyes shone with mirth as he smirked down at Arielle. She glared back with the angry in her body.

"Hmm, such a shame. The Assassin can keep neither you or Henry in line. Perhaps Selene is loosing her touch."

Arielle curled her fist and slammed it into his pointed face. He stumbled back, blood flowing from his nose, before growling menacingly at her. Before he could retaliate, the Queen stepped between them.

"You shouldn't taught her. Arielle is not in the best place now. Please, come in."

Beckham bared his fangs at Arielle before slipping into the Queen's room. The Queen squeezed Arielle's shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. Arielle felt so furious she almost felt empty. He was the traitor she was sure of it. She just needed proof. But what?

"Arielle!" Someone called out.

She turned to see Henry running after her. She groaned quietly. That was just what she needed. Some sardonic comment about her that she didn't have time nor the patience for it.

"I need your help!"

Arielle blinked owlishly down at the young vampire. That was unexpected.

"What do you mean you need my help?"

"I think Selene's been hurt."

"Wh-what do you mean?"

"I'm telling you she's been hurt."

"How do you--you know what never-mind. Selene is a powerful vampire I'm sure she's okay."

Even as she said the words she couldn't help the tiny seed of doubt that was planted inside her head. Henry has never spoken so earnestly to her before. Maybe something did happen...or at least Henry obviously believes something has. Arielle opened her mouth to ask more when Henry jumped her, pressing a some sweet-smelling, soaked rag to her face.

With the world quickly fading in and out, Arielle was once again knocked out.

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