✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 671 ➡️ 680 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


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Wooden planks- Part 2

When it was just Calhoun and Theodore in the room, the latter walked towards the room's doors to close it shut. Calhoun was quick to push the blanket out of his way, and he stepped out of bed. 

"Where did you learn to act so well?" asked Theodore, walking towards the chair and taking a seat.

Calhoun smiled, his smile stretching from one corner of his lips to another, "Must be an innate nature that I acquired from birth." As much as Calhoun had fainted in front of everyone and was put to bed, the truth was he had only acted to have lost consciousness while he heard every word that had left Laurence, Morganna and the others lips. 

"Not to forget, it is also good to have the physician who is ready to lie for us," said Calhoun before taking a seat at the table where the food and blood had been placed for him to eat and drink. "The seed of doubt was placed weeks ago, but the plant has finally sprouted from the ground. Did you hear anything from Morganna?" 

"Apart from consumed in rage, I doubt at the moment there's anything she has been able to do. The King is displeased with her. He refused to talk to her this morning," informed Theodore, and Calhoun chuckled. 

"I would like to do things quickly, to have her blood on my hands before I inflict pain on my dear father. But then there's something very satisfying in this slow process. I can sense their turmoil, the feeling of being trapped where one loses the ability of control," said Calhoun as he started to eat. 

Theodore noticed the way Calhoun's appearance and his demeanour was slowly changing. The smile that didn't reach his eyes previously now looked emptier in his eyes, and it looked maddening on his lips. 

Away from the castle, Helena had called magistrate Maki to throw light on the recent cases, including the one where Theodore had been put under the charge of murdering a woman named Madame Fraunces. 

"I have told you everything you needed to know, Lady Helena," said magistrate Maki, "What more do you want to know about what happened? We found the woman to have been murdered and some of the witnesses said that they saw Theodore, Advisor Calhoun's bodyguard to be seen with the deceased woman before her death."

Helena sat behind her desk, staring at the magistrate for his inefficiency in sharing information about the case with her. 

"Do you think you will feed me with garbage and I will listen to it without any questions or doubts?" she asked him in a stern voice. 

Magistrate Maki let out a frustrated sigh, "What do you mean by I am feeding you garbage-"

A loud bang was heard in the room that was caused by Helena banging her hand on the table, "Do you think I don't know how the King's, Queen's, the Duke's and magistrates have been trying to maneuver their way around all the murders they are involved with? Dimitri," she called the man who was in the room. 

"Lady Helena?" asked the man, who came forward. 

"Charge magistrate Maki for breaking edict number fifty four. He will be put under trial," declared Helena, and this had the man who was sitting in front of her look alarmed. 

"What?! What do you mean breaking edict? I didn't do anything and you are going to put me behind the bars?" questioned the magistrate. 

Helena stared at the man's face before uttering the simple word, "Yes." 

Dimitri had walked forward, writing something in the parchment and said, "This will be handed to the base level in this building. Mr. Maki, you will be dragged behind the bars-"

"Lady Helena, I don't think you understand the severity of this case. You might put me behind the bars but that doesn't mean no ill will happen to you for meddling in something you are not supposed to be snooping your nose in." 

Helena seemed hardly fazed by this, and she leaned back in the chair she was sitting in, "I will give you some advice, Mr. Maki. You can either help us and we can charge you with lesser punishment, or you can rot behind the bars before being dragged to execution. So what is it going to be?"

The magistrate didn't know what to pick, and seeing how this brazen woman wanted him in the dungeon, his jaw ticked. 

"We don't know where the body is, we only found blood in the house. We tried looking for it, but there has been no body nor bones found in the nearby place of the town," explained magistrate Maki. 

Helena stood up from her chair and picked up her coat that she had let hang on the chair she was sitting in. The magistrate noticed the way the woman was clothed as grandly as the Queen but less flashy. 

The magistrate didn't know where Helena was going, but he tagged along with her and other High House people who received the order to join them for inspection. When they reached the house that looked darker than the other walls of the houses next to it, Helena pushed the gate that creaked softly and walked to the house entrance that belonged to Lady Fraunces. 

Unlocking the door, they stepped inside, and the men started to search for a hidden body.

"This is where the woman was killed," informed Magistrate Maki, looking at the wooden flooring that had dark red marks etched around. 

Helena took a closer look at the wooden floor, and she finally sat down, "How many days has it been since she was killed or has gone missing?" She questioned the magistrate. 

"A couple of days, probably in weeks now," replied Magistrate Maki. "We were tipped soon enough when they found the lady had not returned to her house."

"You have the crime scene, but you didn't find the body. How can you tell it belongs to the woman. The woman might have killed someone and fled from here," theorized Helena. 

The magistrate laughed, "That's not possible, Lady Helena. The witnesses said that they often heard and saw the man misbehaving with the woman. The blood was still fresh when we came here to inspect." 

Helena took some time staring at the blood before she said, "Dimitri, get the blood deprehendant."

"What is that?" 
Wooden planks- Part 3

Magistrate Maki looked utterly confused by what Helena just said, and he saw a bag being brought forward by one of the men, and the man named Dimitri opened it before pulling out a glass bottle that held colourless liquid in it. 

Helena stepped away from the patchy wooden floors, and she explained, "The blood deprehendant is something that identifies if the testing component is blood or not. Did you think the High House is just a namesake organization, Mr. Maki?" she turned to look at the man. 

"There is no need for such a thing when we clearly know it is blood. You waste your time on unnecessary things, milady," the magistrate rolled his eyes. This is why women were not fit to handle the cases, thought the man. 

"There is no waste of time if you are trying to give a clear cut justice to someone who is being framed in a hurry. An innocent's life is lost, while the cunning one's continue to live," Helena words were firm, "How would you feel if I said you were the one who was behind Madame Fraunces' murder and you are only trying to cover it up." 

"What bullshit is that?!" magistrate Maki was appalled by the accusation. 

Helena scoffed, "When the problem falls on us, we all turn alert and worry, don't we," she then waved her hand. "If it is truly blood as you say, the colour will turn black. But if it is anything else apart from blood, the colour will change to blue."

The magistrate turned his head around to see some of the men who were outside, digging the ground to find if the body was placed there while some were present in this room. He watched Dimitri step forward with the glass bottle before pouring half of the liquid all around the darkened wooden area. 

The colour turned blue, and Helena's eyes narrowed. "Seems like I was right, Mr. Maki. Do you see the colour? For some strange reason it still continued to hold a reddish colour with it and we all know the color of the blood turns black after a day, almost black."

"This cannot be true," the magistrate had received the information from the men the Queen had sent. There was no way there could be any errors in it. And even if there wasn't a body, everyone knew what the Queen and the King said was the final word. 

"We can spill some blood and see if it will clear your doubts on it," said the woman, and the magistrate looked at her as if she had lost it. "It seems like he was framed. Thank you for not assisting Magistrate Maki. You can leave us now." 

Once the magistrate left the house, Helena sent her other people back to the High House, and on time, another High House member appeared at the house. 

"Where were you? You have been missing from the building for two hours," said Helena to Michael, who made his way to where she was. 

"I had to be somewhere. My family needed me," replied Michael, and he looked at the floor while Helena's eyes continued to stare at him. The man seemed to leave the High House often, but he seemed to appear when she was outside. 

Dimitri, on the other hand, watched Helena as well as Michael converse with each other. It was only a few days ago since Helena had been acquainted with the man, who had come to join the higher High House. Did Helena miss him, which was why she was staring at him now? Asked Dimitri to himself. Michael was always around her, and it seemed like Helena, who didn't often trust people seemed to trust Michael. 

Were they perhaps doing it? Helena was a strong figure not just in the High House, but she was turning to be someone who was turning out to be an important person in the lands. In the last few weeks, he had heard some of the subordinates mentioning Michael and Helena to be together, but he wasn't sure how far it was true. 

Helena then said, "We ran a test on the floor and apparently it isn't blood. It looks like the Queen is trying to frame the poor young man for some reason."

Dimitri added the information he found, "It must be because he is Calhoun's bodyguard. The Queen isn't fond of her grandson as he is an illegitimate son of the King."

The vampiress nodded her head, "I am aware of it. How is the scheduling meeting with the King been going so far?" 

"Not good, milady. They oppose the existence of the High House," replied Dimitri. 

While Helena spoke to Dimitri, Michael stared at the wooden floor that had been discoloured. Though there was no blood, he could sense the recent death that had taken place in this house. 

Death did take place, but these patches weren't of blood. It seemed like someone had smartly replaced the wooden planks from here before replacing them with the same size and type of wood plank before spilling something that looked similar to blood. 

With the way things looked, it seemed like the Queen was desperately trying to frame Calhoun's guard. 

"Michael?" called Helena, and his gaze moved back to look at the vampiress. "Do you want to take a look around the house?

"No. I already took a look before," Michael answered her, "I believe you did a good job at it." He wondered if it was the Queen who had replaced the wooden planks, but then it didn't make sense why she would do it and try to frame the guard. It was someone else. 

In the castle, Calhoun finished his lunch in his room while taking reports from Theodore on Morganna and the King. In thought, he played with one of his fangs with his tongue, feeling its sharpness. It was time for revenge to be served, and he would himself serve it to Morganna. 
Panic- Part 1

When Madame Fraunces had been killed with blood spilt on the floor, Calhoun knew that Morganna would not leave it at it. The Queen wouldn't be satisfied with just the death of the woman who was close to Theodore, she would go to great lengths to frame Theodore and him, taking advantage of the situation. 

Every step that Morganna took, she didn't realize she was making way for Calhoun and he was making use of her for his own benefit. 

The day when Madame Fraunces was found dead, Calhoun had not only moved the body where the royal family would least suspect, but he had gone back to the house at the same night to replace the wooden planks before he had spilt juice that was extracted from beetroot. This gave an effect of blood before he left the house. 

The Queen acted just as he had expected, tipping the magistrate as well as the guards to drag Theodore to be executed, but she wouldn't have guessed that the High House would be on her trail now. 

In the royal court room, Calhoun stood next to King Laurence while the discussion took place in the castle. 

"My King," one of the ministers who stood in front Laurence said, "The villagers have been giving the money for the taxes that are being collected every month. We even increased the amount so that it could cover the wars and the land's other expenses, but that seems to not be enough."

"Increase it some more then. We work for the welfare of the people and if the expenses are getting high, it only means we are spending more on them," stated King Laurence in a matter of fact tone. 

The minister looked slightly troubled by hearing the King's words, "That would mean they wouldn't have a singly penny left for themselves. The people from one of the villages have already started to revolt over the tax that has been implied by us. I don't think it would go well, my King, if we were to pressure them more."

"Maybe it is time we attack one of the neighbouring kingdoms and use the wealth from there to compensate for it," proposed Queen Morganna. "I heard there are lots of expensive and rare jewels that are possessed by the Queen."

On hearing the Queen's words, Calhoun smiled, "That might only cause further holes in our wealth, my King. We are still trying to compensate by using other possible measures, and to get the men trained for war would mean to have enough resources. We have only half the men compared to the previous war and if we don't calculate properly, we would only end up weakening our military resources."

King Laurence nodded his head in agreement. 

"Calhoun is right," stated King Laurence, "We cannot afford to lose what we have in haste. The neighbouring kingdom might be weak compared to the other lands, but they are also being supported by the Warrings."

The minister who had brought up the issue, then said, "What shall we do, my King?"

"For now it might be good for us to concentrate and increase the resources that we have. Also try to find the men who are young or old. In the span of a few months, we'll wage the war and try to conquer the neighbouring land," ordered King Laurence. 

Before everyone could agree on the idea, Calhoun proposed, "Why not make use of the wealth that is present in the treasury?"

Morganna let out a chuckle, "What are you saying, Advisor Calhoun. The wealth that is there in the treasury right now, it cannot be used for the benefit of the public, but it will be needed for the use of the royal family, the ministers and other people. And it is only a matter of time before everything comes back to normal."

Calhoun knew Morganna knew what was on his mind, and she was trying to divert the conversation, but he wasn't going to let it go. 

"My King," Calhoun turned to look at Laurence, "I have been going through the records and the details that explain the expenses of the treasury, but it seems like a few things aren't matching up. I would like to ask the woman who has been in charge of it."

King Laurence nodded his head, "Go ahead."

"Milady," Calhoun turned to the woman who had been working in handling the treasury of the Kingdom. She had an apprehensive look on her face while the Queen turned alert. 

Ms. Selene bowed her head, and Calhoun asked, "Ms. Selene, could you explain why there has been discrepancies since the last few months, no, years actually. It seems that the amount that comes to the vault vanishes to nowhere, and I wasn't able to figure out why."

Morganna gritted her teeth that Calhoun was bringing this up in front of everyone. She had tried to kill Selene because the woman was the sole witness to what she had done, but the woman was always surrounded by Theodore or someone else, and it made it difficult for her to eliminate the woman. 

Ms. Selene had a troubled look on her face when her eyes met Calhoun's and then the King's. 

"I don't know, Advisor Calhoun. I have been recording the transactions as much as I can. I swear on my life that I didn't touch a coin from the treasury." 

"Are you sure you can bet your life on a couple of coins that sits not in your house where you live, but in the mansion that you brought through the money you received?" inquired Calhoun, tilting his head to the side while noticing how the woman started to sweat.

King Laurence narrowed his eyes, and he asked, "What's going on in here Calhoun? Is there something I need to know?"

Calhoun offered his father his deepest bow, "You will find out in a while, my King. People have been doing this under your nose."

Morganna knew if she were to protect Selene right now, it would only put her under problem. Without wasting time, she said,

"Guards! Put the woman in the dungeon."

"Wait," Calhoun raised his hand towards the guards. "Always so eager to help me out, grandmother. My apologies, Queen Morganna. We should conduct a fair trial so that the King comes to know of what his people have been doing, don't you agree?"
Panic- Part 2

Morganna glared at Calhoun. She knew he was trying to frame her, but she wasn't going to let him disgrace her in front of anyone! When Calhoun turned to look at the woman who was in question, Morganna did the best she could, and she acted as if she fainted, falling from her chair. 

"Mother!" King Laurence was quick to leave his throne to pick his mother up. "Are you alright, mother? Guards!"

Calhoun stared at Morganna, who had fainted and was taken out of the royal court room to her very own room while the physician was called to examine her condition. The old hag seemed to use the oldest book's trick, and his tongue ran over his fang. 

After checking Morganna's pulse and other vitals, the physician informed the King and Calhoun, "There is nothing to worry about. It seems like she fainted because of fatigue that caught up to her."

"Thank the heavens!" exclaimed Calhoun with a relieved expression on his face. 

"She will be fine with a night's rest," informed the physician, and Calhoun led the man outside while leaving Laurence in Morganna's room, who continued to behave as if she was still unconscious. 

While Calhoun took the physician to the end of the halls, he said, "Did you bring what I asked you last time?" his polite expression dropping and his eyes looking straight at the man next to him. 

The physician looked back and forth to make sure no one was around before he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small paper that had been folded. "This is the one. The colour will change in a matter of a few seconds."

"Wonderful," commented Calhoun. "You have been of great help, Henry. Here you are," he pulled a small bag filled with coins, handing it to the man. 

"Thank you," said the man before taking the bag, he disappeared from not just the castle but also from the town. Calhoun was about to go back to where his father was when he heard footsteps behind him. 

"What is that, that you have in your hand?" asked a voice. 

Calhoun turned around to catch sight of a woman, who appeared to be somewhere around his father's age whom he had never seen here before. "It's medicine for Queen Morganna."

The woman had a wise look on her face, and the clothes that she wore were slightly different compared to the frilly and heavier dress that women wore in the castle or around. It was a long and smooth navy blue dress made of tough silk—covering most of her skin, while one could see the black boots that peeked from below. 

The person didn't question him, instead walked past him before making her way to where the Queen was. Calhoun followed her, and on her entrance, King Laurence looked surprised. 


"King Laurence," the woman bowed her head, "I heard my niece was getting married and thought to attend it. But I guess I was late," said the woman named Monique, stepping forward to look at the Queen resting on the bed. "What happened to Queen Morganna?"

"She fainted. The physician said she will feel better by tomorrow morning. You should go back to your place," said the King, "Also, it might not be the best if you stay around."

Calhoun watched the interaction between Laurence and Monique, figuring out the woman was his half-sister. By the King's words, it was clear that Morganna didn't like the woman and the King wanted to send her out of the castle as quickly as possible. 
When Monique's eyes fell back on Calhoun, Laurence introduced his son to his half-sister, "This is Calhoun, my son."

The woman looked taken aback by the King's words, and she stared at Calhoun, who bowed his head in greeting. "A pleasure meeting you, Lady Monique."

They stepped out of the room so that the Queen could have her required rest, and the King left the room. 

"I didn't know Constance had a son," said Monique. 

Calhoun's eyes looked at Monique with a hint of curiosity in them. People never brought his mother's name during a conversation. Even his own father refused to mention his mother as if she was his dirty secret, and the public had slowly started to view him as the future King of Devon, son of King Laurence. 

"Seems like you knew my mother in the past," commented Calhoun, and the woman nodded her head. 

"I did, but it was only for a short period. It was when she had arrived at the castle. Sadly I didn't get to stay in the castle and stayed mostly away from it," responded Monique. "How is she?"

"She passed away a few months ago," Calhoun's voice held no emotion, but it was like the chill cold in winter. 

"I am sorry to hear that," replied Monique.

Monique had met Constance, Calhoun's mother, for a brief time, but the time she had spent with her then half-brother's lover had left a lasting impression on her. 

From the corner of her eyes, she looked at Calhoun who was looking at the castle's ground. In Monique's eyes, the young man looked nothing like his mother, but then he didn't look like the King either. She would have never guessed that Constance's son existed and it made her wonder how he even ended up here. As she had been working in a remote location, she hadn't received the news about it. 

"You can meet Lucy in Greville's mansion. It isn't too far from here," informed Calhoun.

"I will do that," said Monique. Her family had decided to forget to send her the invitation to the wedding like many other times, and it didn't hurt the woman as much as it did in the beginning. 

Calhoun then asked, "How was my mother here?"

Monique turned to face him, "Your father brought her here."

"I meant, how was her life here," corrected Calhoun.

Monique remembered the time when Constance had arrived at the castle, and she said, "Your mother was a beautiful person. Not just by looks, but even the way she thought about things. You could tell somewhere my niece, Lucy reminds me of her." 

A chuckle escaped Calhoun's lips. In some ways, Lucy did remind him of his mother, and maybe that is how he viewed his mother before she came to live in the castle and after what the King and Queen did to her. 

"She was full of life, and truth to be told, I don't think she deserved to live here," Monique said in a low voice. 

"It seems like you view life in the castle to be a bad one," commented Calhoun.

A faint smile appeared on the woman's lips, "I don't think I need to explain to you on why I feel that way. Anyways, I need to head back as the King has asked me to."

"The duty at the border seems to be a tough one. Why not ask someone else to stand by while you get some break," questioned Calhoun to her when she readied to leave the corridor. 

"Maybe one day, I will," answered the woman. They bowed at each other and Calhoun saw Monique leave the corridor.
Panic- Part 3

On hearing the doors of the room close, Morganna who had until then behaved as if she had lost her consciousness, slowly opened her eyes, while making sure there was no one in the room. She moved the blanket out of the way, and she sat at the edge of the bed. She had to get rid of Selene away from the castle right this instant. 

Readying to call a servant, she opened her lips but instead, someone beat her to it. 

"How are you feeling now, grandmother?" questioned Calhoun, making her jump out of her skin. She snapped her head to catch sight of Calhoun coming out of the shadows. 

"How dare you stay in my room. Get out right now," Morganna threatened in a low tone. 

Calhoun tsked, his tongue clicking in his mouth, "So much of anger, it is not good for you, especially not at your age. Let me get you a glass of water," he smiled at her. 

"All I need to do is harm myself, and blame it on you on how you have been trying to attack me," she glared at him. 

"Me attacking you?  The Queen? I would never do something like that, how dare I," commented Calhoun, his words filled in sarcasm. "You are thinking too much, grandmother. Why don't you take some more rest in the bed."

"What do you want?" asked Morganna in a low tone. She wanted Calhoun out of her sight, all she wanted was to be the Queen and have this little pest out of her castle. 

Calhoun leaned his back against the chair, "I don't think you will be able to give what I want."

"I will give something to compensate you. You can address me as your grandmother in the royal court room, or anywhere else."

Hearing this Calhoun couldn't control his laugh and his shoulders started to shake at Queen Morganna's humour. "It seems like you have lost your sense of thinking. What makes you think I have any interest in addressing you? I am not happy with your offer. I am sure you can get something better than this in that old rusted mind of yours. Come on, think." 

Morganna didn't know what Calhoun was playing at, but if she was able to fulfill it, she decided to do it. It was because Calhoun had been very close to exposing her today, and if she hadn't fainted, who knew what would have happened. 

"I will help you turn to the King," offered Morganna, "Everyone wants to be the King, I will help you with it and you can rule Devon. I will be right here to guide you."

"Tch, you are a foolish woman. Why does a King need guidance?" he raised one of his eyebrows. "But your offer does seem enticing. How do you think you are going to achieve it? I will forget about your little wealth that you have accumulated until now if you turn me into a King soon."

Morganna knew her son Laurence was useless, while Calhoun was smart and at the same time, he was also cunning. 

Right now, an axe was hanging above her neck and there was no telling when Calhoun would let it drop. It was as if he was playing the cat and mouse game, and so far, he was winning. 

"How do I know you won't throw me out if I turn you to the next King of Devon?" questioned Morganna, her red eyes staring at Calhoun. 

"You do have a point," agreed Calhoun. 

"I will give you guarantee. An agreement drawn out between us that if I do turn to be the King, you will be allowed to stay as the Queen, but I will be holding the reins in here," said Calhoun, bringing his hand up to take a look at his nails. "It is quite a good deal compared to you being humiliated and shamed in front of everyone for stealing the commoners hard earned money." 

Calhoun gave her the time she needed to think, dropping his hand that took support of the chair and he tapped on the wood like the clock ticking its hand. 

"Get me the guarantee, and I will help you to have the crown for yourself," Morganna gave her word. "Until you don't bring up your agreement, you cannot throw me under the wheels."

"Is that the tone you use with your future King, grandmother? You forget that it is not I, but you who is at a disadvantage right now."

Morganna gritted her teeth in anger. Calhoun had all the good cards, and she was stuck to lose everything. 

"Do you think I come unprepared," he said to her before pulling out rolled out parchments from his shirt. He moved away from the table so that she could come and take a look at it. "You can take your time in reading it, and sign it for me. This way we both uphold the deal. I will be waiting for your generous help." 

Saying this Calhoun opened the doors and he was about to step out, but he stopped right there. 

"Don't make the mistake of handing these parchments to father. It isn't written in my handwriting and the document states that you are the one offering it to me and you are the one to prepare it," he smiled at the woman. "I wouldn't like to take the risk of you turning the King against me."

Calhoun finally left the room, and Morganna pushed the chair in anger that crashed against the wall. How dare the boy try to threaten her! It was obvious that he wanted the throne and she would make use of that time to get some of the things sorted out so that the blame would not come to befall on her. She wanted to poison him, or have him beheaded. 

She decided to take the help of her men who had infiltrated the High House and now worked there. 

Walking outside, she called one of the guards who stood outside, "Get Arthur Horatio here. Tell him the Queen has summoned him and that it is of great importance." 

She didn't know why Calhoun's bodyguard was not thrown behind the bars in the dungeons. She had gone through extensive planning, going so far as to plant her men in the High House so that they could favour her and have the man executed. But nothing like that had happened. 
The last dinner- Part 1

Music Recommendation: Promenade of Stolen Children


Morganna was not happy with her current situation, and in her room, she waited for her loyal man to arrive at the castle so that she could ask him about the progress in the High House regarding Theodore being the murderer of Madame Fraunces. A few months ago, her life was perfect, and there was nothing to worry about. Since her husband's death, she had made enough wealth, and she had control over the land of Devon and its people. 

But right now, she was stressed. Every passing minute, she looked at the closed door, waiting for the person to arrive. 

Finally, when the door opened, Morganna was more than relieved that the person had finally arrived, but her heart sunk when she noticed Laurence, Samara and Calhoun entering the room. 

"Mother, you are awake!" exclaimed Laurence, moving to his mother's side and sitting on the bed. "How are you feeling now?" 

Morganna smiled at her son's concern, "It was just a little fatigue. I am completely fine and should be able to go back to attend the royal court meetings."

The King shook his head, "I think it would be best for you to sit out on the meetings for a few days. Rest and get back your energy. You have been by my side, assisting me for so long, it must have been exhausting as you never take a break."

"I am fine, Laurence," Morganna placed her hand on her son's arm. "Tomorrow I will be doing well."

"It is good to see that Queen Morganna is doing fine," Lady Samara showed her concern towards the Queen. "Is there something you would like me to do? I will see to it that it is done."

Morganna had a tight smile on her face. She wanted to butcher this cocky boy who was in the room. 

"Don't trouble yourself, Samara. There are maids to do that," responded Morganna, and Samara bowed her head. 

Calhoun, who was watching the exchange of words, said, "Grandmother, you should let us spoil you. How about we go out and spend some time together. Us family members. What do you think, my King?"

King Laurence laughed, "Calhoun seemed to be quite taken by you, mother. He has been worried about you since you fainted, asking when you would wake up and if we need to find another physician to look after you. Isn't he wonderful?"

A broad smile appeared on Calhoun's lips, "She's my family now, like everyone else. I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to her."

This lying bastard! cursed Morganna in her mind. The time right now was so bad that if Calhoun brought a crow after painting it white, her son would nod his head and tell it wasn't a crow. 

To play along, Morganna smiled back, "What can I say. In the beginning I was wrong, but I now know so much about Calhoun, he surprises me every day," she commented. She had underestimated him, believing him to be a weakling just like his mother, but she was so wrong about it. If she knew about his true nature, she would have got him killed long ago. 

Lady Samara looked slightly taken aback by this exchange of words. It was because she knew the Queen despised Calhoun's existence. Did something happen? 

"It's good to see that you both are bonding so well," said King Laurence with a pleased expression on his face. This also meant that his mother wouldn't try to give his throne to anyone else. 

At the same time, while they were speaking, the person whom Morganna had summoned for arrived at the door. 

"My King! My Queen!" the person bowed his head in greetings. 

King Laurence raised his eyebrows in question, "Arthur Horatio, what brings you here?" 

Queen Morganna glared at the minister and then at her servant for bringing the man here without any prior notice. 

Arthur glanced at Morganna, receiving the noticeable glare from her while Calhoun tried to hide his smile, "I-uh, I heard about the Queen's health and decided to come here and see if she was alright."

"It seems that news reaches the High House faster than anyone else," as Laurence said this, there was an evident distaste in his voice when he said 'High House'. "How are things going there?"

"We have been working as per your instructions and orders, my King and watching the people's moves on what they do," replied the minister. 

"And what about the woman Helena?" demanded King Laurence. "I thought you were going to kill her at any possible opportunity. I guess it is time that we change the men appointed in the High House as they don't seem worthy of the job." 

The minister bowed his head and said, "Forgive me, my majesty! It has been extremely difficult to get a knife near her without being suspected. Many of them have already tried to attach her, but they have either ended up with broken or twisted arms. I tried to arrange a kill on her when she was outside, but there is another High House member who is always with her. He must be her lover because they go to her house together-"

"That's enough!" King Laurence had turned annoyed just by hearing what the minister had to say about Helena. "You cannot handle one mere woman? Pathetic!" 

"My King, I will try to arrange another way to have her killed. I won't let you down this time!" assured the minister, but Laurence waved his hand as if he didn't want to listen to the man. 

"I will come back later to see you again, mother. Please rest until then," said Laurence before walking out of the room followed by his wife and son. This left the minister with the Queen and some of the maids who were in the room. 

"Leave us alone," ordered Queen Morganna to her maids, "And close the door, while making sure if someone comes, let me know."

The maids bowed and stepped out of the room and closed the door to give the Queen and the minister the needed privacy. 
The last dinner- Part 2

With the door closed, Morganna stood up from the bed and glared at the minister, "Did you forget you should wait for me until I tell you to come?" she asked in a low, threatening voice. 

"Forgive me, my Queen. The servant just led me here. I didn't know the King and the others would be here," he apologised. "Are you alright, Queen Morganna? I can-"

"I called you here to know the progress of the case that went to the High House. Where do we stand when it comes to Calhoun's bodyguard Theodore being framed and set for execution?" 

Minister Arthur had a grim look on his face, and he said, "About that... there has been some new findings in the case."

Morganna narrowed her eyes and questioned, "And what is that?" 

"The High House has their eyes on you because the spot where the supposed death took place, they didn't find blood there." 

"What rubbish are you speaking, weren't you the one to kill the woman and have her blood spilt?" demanded Morganna, and the man nodded his head. 

"Yes, milady, but someone must have gone back to the murder scene and changed the planks of the floor. The blood was not blood but beetroot juice. Right now they suspect you have something against Calhoun and they plan to interrogate you about it. I tried-"

"Get out of the room," whispered Morganna, closing her eyes to control her fueling rage. "Get out!" she yelled. 

The minister turned alarmed and was quick to scurry out of the room. He was heading out of the castle, walking down the stairs, and sat in the carriage. He closed the door, when he caught sight of Calhoun sitting next to him, his heart almost jumping out of his chest. 

"Advisor Calhoun," came the shocked voice of the minister. 

Calhoun offered the man a smile, "Minister Arthur, I wanted to discuss something with you." 

"I-I don't know what you are talking about," stuttered the man in fear. 

Calhoun put his hand around the man's shoulder, "Don't look so scared, I haven't even done anything to you...yet," and the minister gulped.

When the night arrived, Morganna started to lose her mind with the way things had spiralled out. Not only was Calhoun trying to put her against her son, but also the High House who had come into existence were watching her. Pacing back and forth, she finally took the parchments that Calhoun had given to her. 

She read them several times, and when it was time, she ordered a maid to bring Calhoun to her. 

"Before I sign, I need you to sign it," she said to Calhoun.

Calhoun chuckled, "Seems like we have some trust issues in here, but that's alright." He picked the quill that laid next to the parchments, dipping it in the ink bottle before signing his name at the end of the parchment. "Your turn now, grandmother." 

Morganna gave Calhoun a suspicious look, and she then signed her name in the parchment before handing it to him. 

"I look forward to your plans, grandmother in dethroning father," he smiled as he rolled the parchment. 

"Never would I have imagined joining hands with you," stated Morganna, "But if we both are going to benefit from it, and neither of us are going to expose each other's secrets, it should be fine."

"So what is your plan, grandmother. I have been eager to hear it," said Calhoun. 

"Patience. You will find it tomorrow," replied Morganna. 

"I cannot wait."
The next morning, in the royal court room, the Queen had gone back to occupy her seat next to the King. 

"We should have a feast to celebrate the recovery of the Queen's heath," proposed Calhoun in the royal court room. 

Morganna's eyes narrowed. She had told him that she would be the one to run the plan of giving the throne from her son to Calhoun so that her grandson would  get off of her back, but with his current behaviour, she didn't know what he was up to. 

"I agree," said another minister, "We should all drink and eat for the Queen's health."

King Laurence didn't have money to spend for the welfare of his subjects, but on hearing the proposal of celebration to drink and eat delicious food, he was quick to agree to it. "I demand from  the royal kitchen to start cooking for tonight's feast for the ministers and the royal family! Get on it right now!" he ordered the servants. 

"I haven't seen Lady Selene today. Where is she?" questioned Laurence. "I thought you wanted to question something about the transactions, Calhoun."

Calhoun smiled at his father, "Lady. Selene is at her home, my King. It seems she fell sick and I sent Theodore there to see if she needs anything." He paused for a moment before saying. "Also, I thought it won't be good to bring up the matter right now, when we are in the celebratory mood. We can clarify about it when Lady Selene returns."

King Laurence nodded his head and turned to his mother and said, 

"There is something I would like to give you today, mother," He raised his hand for the guards who were standing behind him, to start walking. One of them carried a velvet box and came to stand next to the King. 

Everyone turned curious as to what the King wanted to give the Queen and on seeing the blue velvet box, they guessed it was jewellery. 

Morganna, who was excited by her son's words, her face turned sour when the box was opened for her to see the chain. 

"How about you wear it tonight," said Laurence to his mother, a proud smile on his face. 

Morganna smiled, and said, "The jewel looks truly precious. Maybe I will," she smiled. The last thing she wanted was a cursed hanging jewel around her neck. She didn't know why, but it felt like her days had been coated with bad luck. "Thank you, my King for your generous gift."

She took the box and kept it with her. 
The last dinner- Part 3

As the feast was arranged for the sake of the Queen's good health, it wasn't just the ministers from the royal court who came to attend it, but even the Head of the High House with some of the members. 

King Laurence was displeased that the High House had come to the castle to attend the celebration. He had no idea how they even found out about the celebration taking place tonight, making him question who had invited them. Though Calhoun was the one to tip the High House about it, he hadn't disclosed a word about it, and right now, everyone had gathered in the big hall to have supper. 

There was an air of hostility hanging in the room, while everyone sat at the long table that had been arranged to accommodate everyone. 

"It is good to hear that the Queen has recovered so quickly," said Helena, who was sitting near the King and the Queen, unlike the other ministers, who sat away from the King. 

King Laurence, who was sipping his wine, said, "You seem to be surprised with her speedy recovery, Lady Helena. Did you expect her to be stuck to bed? We are vampires, not humans," came his passive-aggressive tone. 

Lady Helena didn't take any offence, but she stared at the King's for the immature words he uttered, "I am well aware of it, King Laurence. But we cannot rule out that there are some things that affect vampires and vampiresses like disease that are rare and incurable. Don't you agree with it?" Her eyes then slowly fell on Calhoun, who was sitting next to Lady Samara, chewing his food. 

Hearing this, King Laurence said, "It might be because they weren't good enough vampires like us. Not belonging to the higher social standing. You never know what they eat and drink. Our quality of life is incomparable to the commoners," he said proudly. "How is your High House functioning so far? I heard from my magistrates that you have been seizing all the cases from them. At this rate they will be left with no work to do."

Helena turned her head to look at the men seated on the other end of the table. When their eyes met hers, they were quick to look down at their plates. 

"Seizing would be the wrong word here. I am trying to rectify the wrong job done by some of them as they fail to do it. With the High House's help, they will be able to work more efficiently," said Helena. 

"Hmph," the King harrumphed, "You know the magistrates have been doing their job, how else do you think the law in the capital and other parts of Devon has been running smoothly?"

Morganna, who sat next to Laurence, put in her own thought in the conversation and said, "I heard you believe that the Kings and the Queens are not doing a good job in giving out justice. Doesn't that mean you do not believe in the fairness of our rule?" 

"The High House has been formed to stop the injustice towards the people, my Queen. No one is questioning your rule. When there are people missing, people from the same families or acquaintances, who get killed without the report going further from a magistrate, it makes one question how well the ruling system works. And you have your own men who have joined and are working with us, I am sure they will let you know about it."

Both Morganna and Laurence's eyes narrowed at this. So the woman was aware that their men were part of the High House. 

"How about we continue the discussion of work after dinner," proposed Calhoun. "We are gathered here to celebrate for the longevity of the Queen," and he raised his glass. 

Everyone raised their glasses before toasting to Queen Morganna's health. In truth, Calhoun had toasted to the woman's death that was approaching her at such speed that she failed to see it. 

The night continued, and the friction in the atmosphere didn't reduce. While they were conversing, King Laurence said, 

"When my father was the King, he made sure to look after the welfare of each and everyone. The tradition has only continued," boasted King Laurence. "You will be able to see that many villages are being turned into towns by reconstructing them."

"That is good, my King, but something has come to my notice, " said Helena, "It seems people have started to rebel over your rule because of the increase in the tax that you have imposed on them. And they are indeed too high."

King Laurence laughed at this, "The money is spent on them, doesn't it. The commoners have no vision and complain without seeing what we are doing for them."

Away from the main hall now, Helena took a sip from her glass, feeling the dinner time had gone too long. After finishing dinner, she stood with the King and Dimitri and the King's wife when one of the High House men came to speak to Dimitri's ear. After hearing it, Dimitri leaned to her side, and he said something to her. 

"Are you sure about it?" questioned Helena, and Dimitri nodded his head. 

"Is everything alright?" asked King Laurence, his curiosity peaking. 

Helena took a while to grasp what Dimitri just said in her ear, and she then looked straight at the King. 

"Before coming to the main subject, I believe that you, my King, are aware of how the High House works," stated Helena, her red eyes holding Laurence's gaze. "It isn't a formation of one or two King's, but every single King's and Queen's who exist. There's some questions that we would want to clarify regarding the necklace that you presented to Queen Morganna today. You wouldn't mind if we took the necklace to the High House and inspected it, do you?"

Laurence was obviously not pleased by this, and he said, "Do you think you can come into the Hawthrone's castle, and take the jewel away from here that easily?" 

"Yes," deadpanned Helena, not wanting to go in-depth about what or from where the necklace came. 

"That's absurd," responded King Laurence. "The necklace is part of the set of jewellery that my mother has. I will need more than just your words before you take it away from here."

At this, Helena's eyes narrowed. Did he just say part of the jewellery set? She turned around to see where the Queen stood, and when her eyes fell on the woman, the Queen stared back at her. 

She had been gathering the cursed jewels for quite some time now, and to think the last pieces that she had been trying to seize was with the Queen, her suspicion on the woman only increased furthermore. Seeing how King Laurence wasn't willing to comply to her wishes, she said, 

"That's alright."

Helena moved from her place and walked to where Morganna stood, "My Queen, you wouldn't mind if I ask you some questions, do you?" 

Morganna stared at the head of the High House, who stood in front of her. "Why would I mind?" she offered Helena a smile. 

"Good, then shall we move to a more private place?" proposed Helena. Seeing the Queen start to walk, Helena whispered something to Dimitri, who nodded his head and got on the carriage right away. 
Interrogation- Part 1

Music Recommendation: Windmills - Ludwig Goransson


In one of the castle's private rooms, Morganna sat in front of Helena, the younger-looking vampiress who wanted to ask her something. In the same room were King Laurence, Calhoun, Lady Samara, and some of the people who attended the royal court room. 

It wasn't Queen Morganna but Helena who had asked the others to accompany them so that they could witness what she was going to speak with the Queen.

"What is it that you want to question me, Lady Helena?" Morganna looked at the woman who sat in front of her with a streak of arrogance and pride in her eyes. 

Helena watched the older woman, the Queen, who looked down at her. "This is regarding Madame Fraunces's death. I believe you have already heard this name before?" questioned Helena. 

"I do," answered Morganna, "The woman who was killed by a guard in the castle and you freed him."

"Are you upset that I freed him, my Queen?" questioned Helena and Morganna's eyes narrowed. "I received information that you were the one to tip the magistrate about it. Magistrate Maki," she called the magistrate, who looked like he was struck with fear and nervousness. 

Queen Morganna raised her hand as if telling her there was no need for the magistrate to come and talk. 

"Being the Queen of Devon, I need to make sure my subjects are well taken care of and that no harm comes to befall on them," stated Queen Morganna. "And being in the responsible position, I receive information regarding who does what in the castle. More importantly, this is the place where my family lives, it is only right I see and inform the magistrate to take necessary actions. Are you questioning me that I shouldn't do it?" Morganna raised one of her brows at Helena. 

"You didn't conduct any trial to prove if he's guilty or innocent. If I am not wrong, people are often put under trial before being sent to execution. On what basis did you send him for execution without any proper evidence?" Helena's tone was slightly demanding, and it got Morganna annoyed. 
"I am the Queen of Devon, the mother of the present King. Do you think I would do something wrong, and that is why you are questioning me back and forth?" asked Morganna. "Just because you are the Head of some small organization, don't think you can compare your responsibility to the vastness of the land that needs to be looked after."

When Helena was young, her brother had been put under execution by the King's word; When the matter came about the King or the royal family, their opinion was different. Since then, she had tried to find a way to establish a central system so that each person in all lands could get fair treatment and catch the people who belonged to the higher status and committed sins. 

"Considering you were the one who informed the magistrate about the woman's death through your servant, your informant must already know where the body is or must have seen it?" asked Helena. 

"My informant said he found blood on the floor and that the neighbours were concerned as they didn't see the woman for quite some time. Magistrate Maki, why don't you go get the people who saw what happened," ordered Helena, and the man was quick to leave the room. 

Helena stared at the woman before saying, "There was no blood spilt in any part of the house. The blood that was reported earlier on the wooden floor was not blood but a vegetable extract. It might be possible the woman left the house to go somewhere and someone framed Mr. Chauncey for it? Do you agree with it?" 

"How would mother know about that person," demanded King Laurence, "Your questions are absurd, Lady Helena."

Helena shifted her gaze from Morganna to look at the King, "I will tell you soon enough why it isn't absurd. With the way I see it, it seems like Mr. Chauncey was framed for no apparent reason, and whoever informed you possibly didn't like him, Queen Morganna," her eyes had gone back to look at the Queen. 

Morganna glared at Helena. 

"Do you understand what can happen to you with you pointing your fingers at me?" Morganna asked in a low, threatening voice. 

The Queen's words didn't faze Helena. "I am only doing my job, my Queen. You do not have to feel intimidated by my presence if you aren't guilty."

"You must be delusional to think a person who is more experienced and wiser than you would be intimidated. You seem to be a person who likes to give yourself a lot of credit," chuckled Queen Morganna. 

As time passed in the room, Dimitri, as well as magistrate Maki arrived at the room. Dimitri had left the castle with the pace, one would think he had gone to fetch men from the High House to get reinforcement, but unlike Maki, who brought three people along with him, Dimitri had returned alone. 

"Here are your witnesses, Lady Helena. These are the people who testified earlier against the bodyguard," stated Morganna, letting her back lean against the chair she sat in. 

She knew this day would possibly come. Therefore she had readied the people to support her side of the story in advance. 

Helena left the chair, and she walked towards the three people who didn't look like they were part of the Queen's schemes. But the Queen was a clever woman, and she might have chosen people in a way where the fingers would not point at her. 

Magistrate Maki was the one to introduce the three people, "This here is Mr. Barwood, Lady Gracelynn, and the one at the left is Lady Christine." 

Helena took her time staring at each and every one of them closely.

The first one to be questioned was the man, "Mr. Barwood, what did you see and tell that you have accused Theodore Chauncey to be the murderer of Madame Fraunces?" 
Interrogation- Part 2

The man had a confidant look on his face and he said, "Milady, I have been Madame Fraunces' neighbour for more than two decades. I used to speak to her every day and we are well acquainted with each other."

On hearing this, Theodore, who stood in the room, clenched his hands into fists. Given Mr. Barwood was speaking the truth when it came to him being Madame Fraunces neighbour, the man had been nothing but rude to the woman whom he had lived next to. Many times Theodore had heard Mr. Barwood's uncouth words, which Madame Fraunces ignored. 

"We had such a good relationship, especially after her husband's death. You know how cruel the world can be for a widow," said Mr. Barwood. 

Helena's gaze shifted to look at Lady Gracelynn, "How about you, Milady? How are you acquainted with the deceased woman?" 

Gracelynn said, "Madame Fraunces was a dear friend of mine. In one of my visits to her house, she told me that she was troubled. Troubled because the boy whom she took in was threatening her to pass on the ownership of the house in his name. She was heartbroken," the woman paused to look at Theodore and then back at Helena. "In the recent visits, it seemed like she was hiding something, as if she was unable to speak especially when Theodore was present in the house. I think she was terrorized."

Calhoun, who stood next to Theodore, turned to him and whispered, "Do you know her?" 

"Never seen her before," Theodore whispered in a way that only Calhoun could hear him. 

Calhoun nodded his head. Clearly, the woman and the man were lying right through their teeth, and it didn't sound believable.

"Did she tell you anything else that must have caught your attention? When was the last time you spoke to Madame Fraunces?" questioned Helena. 

"It must be three days before she was declared to be dead," answered Lady Gracelynn. "I think she must have died on the same day I last met her."

"Doesn't that mean you are the murderer?" Helena interrogated the woman, and Lady Gracelynn's eyes widened in shock. 

"W-what me? Why would I ever do that to my friend!" asked Lady Gracelynn.

"It is surprising that you know when she died when she could have died any day," came the blunt words from Helena's mouth. "People have different motives when they kill people. Revenge, to hide truth, or whatnot. How about you Lady Christine? How were you acquainted with Madame Fraunces."

Both Calhoun and Theodore watched Lady Christine, who stood in the same line as the other two witnesses, who came to testify against Theodore. She was an older woman, someone with who both the young men had conversed in the past. 

Lady Christine had a stoic expression on her face, "How I know her? She was someone who offered me what I wanted."

Helena raised her eyebrows, "I would need you to be more specific, milady."

"I used to get her company when I felt lonely. I am a widow and my life has been very dull and mundane, dear," answered Lady Christine without giving any further details about what business Madame Fraunces was in or about Theodore. "Fraunces was a good woman, someone who helped people like me. She took in Mr. Chauncey when he was very small, treating him like her own son." 

"Do you believe and agree with what others just said about him wanting to illegally take the ownership of her house?" inquired Helena. "Lady Christine?" 
The older woman stayed quiet. Like the other two witnesses, she had been bribed by money and had asked to speak against Theodore. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she said, 

"No, I do not believe it." 

Hearing these words, Queen's Morganna's eyes narrowed. She had asked her men to pay a huge sum of money so that they would tell the same things she wanted them to speak. 

"I am an old woman, and my end is near. I would like to leave this world with a clear conscience unlike some others," came the dull words from Lady Christine's mouth. "I do not believe Theodore has anything to do with Madame Fraunces murder, in fact, I believe someone who hates him must be trying to frame and get rid of him."

"How can you be sure about it? Do you know who it might be?" demanded Helena. 

Lady Christine looked at the people who were present in the room. After meeting everyone's eyes, she said, "I do not know."

Helena's jaw ticked because she could sense that the woman knew who it was, and even Helena knew it. 

"I hope you are aware of the new rules made from the High House that were sent out two weeks ago to every single kingdom, lying and giving false information to the High House will only land you behind the dungeon. It is considered to be a crime," said Helena, looking at each one of them. "I need you to tell me, who found the woman's body that was in her house. It is because the body is missing and we have already taken a look at every cemetery that has fresh bodies being buried and none of them has Madame Fraunces' body in it. So who was it." 

Lady Christine stood quiet, and the other two stared at Helena, "It was I who saw the body," confessed Mr. Barwood. This meant Lady Gracelynn was lying, thought Helena in her mind. 

Helena nodded her head, "We'll need you to come with us to the High House, Mr. Barwood. There are further questions we would like to ask." 

"W-what? Why me?!" demanded Mr. Barwood, and Helena took a step towards him. 

"Because you look very suspicious to me and I feel like you were the one to kill her. I would like to give you a chance before I decide to throw you in the dungeon. Dimitri," Helena ordered the person and other men who had come from the High House to take Mr. Barwood out of the room. "I will have the rest of the discussion tomorrow. Dimitri, did you get it?" she asked her fellow High House member. 

Dimitri walked to where Helena was, and he pulled out a scroll of parchment from his coat and handed it to her. 

Helena then brought it in front of Morganna. "What is this?" asked Morganna in arrogance.