The Queen of All That Lives (The Fallen World Book 3)(2)By: Laura Thalassa
“Where is Montes?” I demand.
The six of them share a look.
“He’s far away, Your Majesty,” Jace says. The way he says the words, it’s as though they’re meant to reassure me.
Where is he? And why can’t I remember?
“Is he dead?” I ask. And now I really have to control my voice. The thought of my brutal husband ceasing to exist is … unfathomable.
Another look passes between them in.
“No, Your Majesty.”
I release a shaky breath.
I can work with alive.
“Why did you take me?” My eyes pass over the soldiers again.
They look at me wondrously, like I hold the answers to all their problems.
I’m in a car full of eager men. Not good.
Jace leans forward, resting his forearms on his thighs. “How much do you remember?”
Remember? My blood chills. If this is another one of the king’s memory serums …
But that cannot be. I wouldn’t remember him, I wouldn’t remember myself—I wouldn’t remember anything before this moment.
And I do. Don’t I?
I eye the soldier warily. “Remember what?”
Jace sighs and rubs his face. “Does someone else want to take this on?”
“Shit no,” one of the other soldiers says.
My heart is still pounding like mad, but now it has more to do with confusion than adrenaline.
“Stop calling me that,” I interject. I hate the title, hate that the king made me what I am.
Jace inclines his head. “Mrs. Lazuli—”
Naturally, he chooses a name that’s even worse.
“Serenity,” I say.
“Serenity,” he repeats. “My men and I were given the task of finding the lost queen.”
“We’ve been searching for you for decades.”
I stop breathing.
What in God’s name … ?
I look over them again just to memorize their faces.
These men have lost their minds. People don’t disappear for decades. I don’t disappear for decades.
I went to bed last night, right after … right after …
“We found you buried beneath one of the king’s palaces. He’s kept you there for close to half a century, as far as we can tell.”
Now we’ve gone from decades to fifty years? This is like one of those stories that gets bigger every time it’s retold.
“What do you want?” I ask, sitting up a little straighter and eyeing the back doors of the vehicle.
“Jace, she needs proof,” one of the other men says.
Jace squeezes the back of his neck. “I don’t have proof.”
“Wait,” another soldier says. He reaches into the back pocket of his fatigues and pulls out a folded piece of paper. He tosses it onto my lap.
I raise an eyebrow as I stare down at it.
Nothing about the situation is going as it should. My kidnappers are not demanding things of me; they’re beseeching me to understand what they’re telling me. To be fair, what they are telling me is insane.
“A piece of paper is supposed to convince me I’ve been gone for fifty years?” I say.
“Not gone,” Jace corrects. “Asleep. We found you in one of the king’s fabled Sleepers.”
My attention snaps to Jace. The Sleeper. I’d almost forgotten about the machine. The last time I had gotten in one of those was right after the king and I lost our child.
The memory has me tightening my lips and squeezing the sheets beneath my fingers. At least I can rule out memory suppressant. I remember that moment in vivid detail, and oh how I would like to forget.
“Open the paper, Serenity,” Jace says.
I grab it, mostly because I’m curious. That, and I’m still unarmed and surrounded by six soldiers who have taken a keen interest in me.
I open the crumpled sheet.
Staring back at me … is me.
It’s more of a sketch, really. My face is outlined in black and shaded in yellow and navy. The king’s colors. I stare directly at the viewer, my face resolute.
I touch my scar as I notice the one on paper. It starts at the corner of my eye and drags down my cheek, making me look dangerous, wicked even. Beneath my image is the phrase, Freedom or Death.
I don’t know what to make of this. Their proof hasn’t convinced me of anything, except that maybe a few of my subjects don’t hate me as much as I assumed they did.
“That poster has been in circulation for almost a century.”
I fold the paper. “And now it’s a century. By the time we arrive to whatever destination you have in mind, you’ll tell me I’ve been gone for a millennia.”
“Jace, you’re doing great man,” one of the other soldiers says. It’s a jibe, and it only confuses me more.
“If you want to fucking jump in, be my guest,” Jace says.
He returns his attention to me. He rubs his cheek, studying my face. “How am I going to get you to believe me?”
“You’re not,” I say. I’m not a big fan of trusting strangers, especially ones that kidnap me.
And there it is again. These men took me. Perhaps if it had been the first time, or even the second that this had happened to me, I’d be more interested in escape than revenge. But it isn’t. When I get the chance, and I will get the chance, I will mow these men down.