Glad you could join us for the next unsettling episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Queen Madalena lifted her chin. “You do remember me. Good. I know I’m not welcome here, so I’ll stay only a minute. I have to ask you about the war your people are stirring up in the Freelands. Why? Why bring your troubles to a region where people just want to live in peace?”
“We didn’t bring the trouble,” Lilian explained. “Your wasp community is a rebel target. They need help.”
Queen Madalena stood tall, “We are not wasps. They are not our community. We do not need or want your help.”
“Maddie, please. You don’t know the enemy like we do. They won’t spare anyone when they finally make their move.”
“The Hiverarchy can defend itself.”
“I’m sure it can repel a direct air assault, just as the Hive can,” the Queen of Fen agreed. “Just as the Freelands’ wasps should have been able to do.”
“The wasps are too thinly spread,” Madalena reproved. “They never stood a chance.”
“So you’re willing to stand by and watch them be killed?”
“What —” Madalena demanded, “like you watched your soldiers kill my husband — a loyal subject of the soon-to-be-crowned Queen Lilian the Magnificent, Undisputed Monarch of Fen?”
The battle replayed in Lilian’s mind. The sky full of buzzing chaos and noise and anger and fear. Her mother racing to her own death to save her daughter from Benito. Friends and loved ones falling to the ground. She closed her eyes against the vision. “It wasn’t clear who he served,” she pleaded. “He was Benito’s brother—“
Screaming furious tears, Madalena lashed out, “He was my husband! You knew me! We were friends. You took him from me, exiled me, and now you’ve taken our daughter.”
Lilian’s stomach lurched. “Samantha is yours?”
Crumbling, Madalena wept in defeat, “Yes. She’s all I have left of her father.”
“Have you told her what happened here?”
“I did,” she declared, “and still she chose to fight with the Alliance. She says she’s fighting for a greater future for everyone.”
“She has vision and a fiery spirit. She’s proven herself to be a strong leader,” Lilian said.
“I know she is, and if she survives your folly,” Madalena spat out, “someday she’s going to be a truly magnificent Queen.”
Lilian’s heart flinched. “My officers have utter faith in her ability to help end the rebel threat,” she offered. “I’d think you’d want her future to be vaster than our own.” She reached to place her hand on Maddie’s arm only to have it snatched away.
Eyes blazing, Madalena growled, “How dare you? You know nothing of my dreams for my daughter.” She turned and leaped from the blossom.
Queen Lilian called after the fleeing queen, “What would her father have dreamed for her?”
To be continued. . .