Elaine 6: "Chasing the Crown"

As Harlan walked away, I imagined I could still feel the gentle touch of his lips on mine. Joaquim would no doubt surmise what had transpired, just from the look of Harlan's face, but I found that I didn't care.

Jero and I did what we could in Glorethien, after Harlan had ridden off with Eve in search of her daughter. I was busy sorting accounts that afternoon, when Jero appeared with a large roll of parchment, which he unfurled over my paperwork, earning hismself a disgruntled look. As usual, he ignored it and stated pointing out names on the chart, which I recognized as one of the old Madaari geaneology maps.

He proceeded to point out our blood relationship, and that he was indeed, eligible as my heir. He seemed quite smug with himself as we discussed the matter, but blanched when I mock-threatened to turn to House over to him entirely. Little did we know...

Desire was somewhat helpful in her accounting of Liran politics, enough to cement our conviction that the assassin had been sent by someone attempting to cast suspicion on the Lirans. Desire suggested Verdon as the most likely to want Lira discredited.

After that, I spend a lovely afternoon with cousin Velvet entertaining Crown Prince of Alanhame. We were able to gather enough details of their military strength to know that his highness was a bit overly assured of their chances against Amber. This went on until dinner.

The evening proved to be a bit more exciting, though all of us could have done without it. I could do no more than comfort Queen Vialle as my uncle lay bleeding from the assassin's arrow. Until Desire called to me to say that the assassin was heading to Glorethien...

I stepped through the Trump into a scene of carnage. Bodies and blood covered the floor. I wandered among them, heedless of the pools I stepped into, as my somewhat bewildered cousins drew their own conclusions.

I paused near one body, sprawled on the stairs leading up to the throne, and knelt to close the eyes. "Do you know him?" I heard Eve ask me.

I stood, fury icing my voice as I again swept my gaze over the bodies of the Glorethien Royal court. "This was my liege."

"Take the crown," Harlan had said, and in those first second after the words had left him I could only stare dumfounded. But as I stood in front of the Council and called for the vote, coldly staring down Teilith Haauviel as the votes were cast, and I became the queen of Glorethien. Little did they know what I had planned once things had settled. Now, I could bring peace by claiming my birthright as the heir to the Danani empire, and forge something new and greater.

The following hours passed in a blur as I moved swiftly to cement my position and bring things under control before all hell broke loose. I thanked my father countless times during that long night for teaching me as he had.

The other had long since left, except for dear Harlan, never straying far from my side, and Christoph, who was near when Harlan or Jero were not. Jero was less than pleased when I officially declared him my heir and handed Maadari over to him. I could no longer remain head of house, and with jero as my heir, I could still count on the full support of four members of the Council. I had no doubts that Haauviel was already plotting some way to rectify the current situation, and I made sure he was watched as well.

It was near morning, after I had spoken with **** that I made my way back to the throme chamber. The room had been cleaned of any evidence of the night's ghastly work, but my mind overlaid the memory of the scene on the ivory marble. I paused where I had found Uncle Alberdan's body, gazing at the place where my liege and dear friend had died, his throat slit open.

And I feared that this was only the beginning.

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