Chapter 3: Plans In Motion

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Luria growled with frustration. She slammed her fist against the table in front of her. Despite the fact that she'd become one of the queen's ladies-in-waiting, her life hadn't changed much. Every day was the same as the last. She'd wake up, shower, put on the prettiest dresses, dole on her make-up, and attend to the queen whenever possible.

For most, such a life was quite desirable. For her, she detested the monotony.

She yearned to put a stop to Gretna's reign, once and for all. The queen ruled her kingdom with an iron thumb, something her predecessors rarely did themselves. Gretna knew what she wanted when it came to her beloved kingdom. Unfortunately, she rarely saw past her own desires.

The kingdom suffered because of her extravagances. Day in and day out, many of her subjects went without. Food, water, the means to keep themselves clothed and their families safe—the situation grew worse by the second. By taking Gretna off the throne and instilling her beloved nephew—a man who wanted nothing more than to right all wrongs for the kingdom—she'd ensure the kingdom's prosperity. In her mind, Vespa Vale and its inhabitants deserved the happiness they sought and yearned for.

Luria cracked her neck, intent on relieving the mounting tension roiling within her. She stared at the uneaten pheasant and vegetables lying on the plate in front of her. Ever since she'd learned she was pregnant, the thought of ingesting the needed nutrients to sustain her and the child she carried often eluded her. She ate enough to ensure to the baby thrived within her, even though she often had no appetite. The pregnancy also added another problem she needed to take care of.

A soft knock sounded on the door behind her, drawing her out of her reverie.

"Come in," she mumbled, uncurling her fists before turning around to face the door.

Her handmaiden, Ina, strode into the room. The young woman curtsied in front of her.

"Forgive me, Milady. I don't mean to disturb you."

Luria waved a hand in the air in front of her. "It's of no consequence. How can I assist you?"

"The queen has requested that you attend her in the Pilsham Solar."

Her eyes narrowed. "How so?"

Ina shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. "We are to have guests this evening. She wants to address everyone accordingly. Shall I tell her you'll attend?"

She licked her lips and nodded. "Please do. I'll be down shortly."

Her handmaiden smiled and curtsied once more. She turned, intent on walking out the door.

"One more thing."

Ina whirled about with surprise, intertwining her hands in front of her. "Yes, Milady?"

"Has Roydon sent a message?"

"N—No, he hasn't."

Luria pursed her lips. Her eyes narrowed with suspicion.

"Are you sure?"

"Y—Yes."

"Your nervousness says otherwise. What are you hiding?" she asked, pushing herself to her feet.

Ina's face blanched. "N—Nothing, Milady."

She approached the young woman, staring deep into her light blue eyes. "If I find out you're lying to me . . ."

"He's dead, Mistress," Ina blurted out.

Luria's face paled. "What?"

Ina licked her dry lips and took a step back. "I . . . I heard a rumor earlier today. Roydon's calvary was accosted by King Godfrey's men. Your beau was amongst the dead."

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