The vampire queen’s reaction to the medallion-puzzle was hardly what Sylvia anticipated. Considering she and her court had searched for and tried to piece the object together themselves for supposedly centuries, Sylvia expected elation at finally gaining possession of it. If the queen even had a court. Royalty was rather low-key here in the Kingdom of Fools, the queen herself decked out in a plain sage-colored dress adorned with only a white sash belt. Her strawberry blonde hair remained void of a crown, still loosely tucked in a braid trailing down to her waist. Considering the medallion’s potential power, Sylvia expected having it close at hand to be the one requirement needed before Her Majesty sounded a battle cry against the Keepers. But instead, the queen gently placed it on the same table where they’d had tea during the last visit. She proceeded to slide the one fragment she owned into its jagged-edged home on the larger piece. Though it was difficult to tell for certain given the irregular shape of the medallion itself, it appeared only two fragments remained missing. Sylvia supposed Deigen and everyone else remained silent during this process due to something akin to awe;she did so out of disbelief at seeing the awaited treasure treated like a jig-saw puzzle during family game night.
“Did you attempt any magic with this?” the queen directed her question to Sylvia while staring at the medallion.
“No, your Majesty.” Sylvia rubbed her thumb over the tip of the pricked middle finger. It still ached even though hours had passed since leaving the swamp. Despite the fact she’d returned the medallion back to the ship before anyone realized it was missing, she was certain V now gave her a quizzical glance. Not daring to turn her head and confirm this certainty, Sylvia stared straight ahead.
“Good.” The queen traced a finger over the engraved pattern of the Keepers’ braid, a lighter-colored portion in the rough black stone. “This needs to be studied before any attempt to use it.”
“Studied?” Sylvia blurted the words out, not caring how rude her tone sounded. “Why can’t we use it now?”
“Because,” Deigen shot a thumb toward Bastiick, who lay asleep on the floor but would likely still be cheering about the Keepers if awake, “this type of magic is not to be played with lightly.”
Sylvia rolled her eyes. “Magic is magic. As long as we’re the ones who have the larger piece of the puzzle, that’s all that matters.”
“But how easily we’ve seen ownership of this item can change hands,” reminded the queen. “And with that knowledge, it is not wise to place our trust nor dependence on it.” She regarded one of the familiar components of the puzzle. “Speaking of pieces, was this the pendant you were carrying?”
Sylvia nodded. “The Keepers took that and the spell book I had. At least I basically got the pendant back when we stole the medallion but the book is still somewhere in their castle.” She looked around the room, landing on Uncle Albert with a glare. “Along with the rest of our family if anyone is interested in trying to rescue them.”
“Sylvia, we aren’t going to get anyone out of there by just barging in again and acting foolhardy,” argued Uncle Albert.
Sylvia pointed at Trevor. “But we have someone who used to be one of their guards! He probably has knowledge about secret entryways or weaknesses in the castle’s defenses.”
Trevor audibly gulped at the sudden importance he was being afforded. “But I was in charge of guarding entry into the kitchen. The only secret passageway I know is a short cut through the dining area.”
V looked at Sylvia while waving a hand toward their incompetent accomplice. “Unless you would like to fix the Keepers lunch, I would suggest we plan out our actions first.”
Trevor rubbed his stomach. “Speaking of lunch, we sort of skipped that in all our traveling. Is there anything to eat here?” His face scrunched further while realizing this question was being directed in the presence of vampires and a zombie. “Something that’s not living. Like a sandwich?”
“Guarded the kitchen, did you?” The queen smiled and made a slow circular arc with her arms. She nodded toward his left hand. “It’s not a sandwich but I’m sure that will do.”
“Wha-oh!” Trevor began devouring the turkey leg he unexpectedly held within barely a second of discovering it. He muttered a full mouthful of gibberish while waving his lunch in the air.
“You’re welcome, I think.” The queen turned to Sylvia, who had a similar turkey leg in her hand. “You should eat too, dear. You’re looking a bit pallid and should try to keep your strength.”
Sylvia threw the turkey leg across the room. “What for? None of us need our strength for anything, we’re not going anywhere!”
“Sylvia!” Uncle Albert nudged her with an elbow. “Stop acting like child again.”
The queen simply waved a hand over the turkey meat scattered on her stone floor. “Sylvia, I know finding your mother and the rest of your family is important to you and it is to us as well but-”
“-No it’s not!” Sylvia stamped her foot. “It’s not important to you, none of you! You have enough skill and time to make poultry magically appear but apparently not enough of either to help me!” She raced up the steps to the guest room she’d been given and slammed the door.
Silence overtook the room until Trevor raised his hand, which now held a nearly bare turkey leg bone. “Um, if she’s not hungry, could you maybe have time to make more poultry appear?” He gulped down his last bite after receiving looks from everyone that foretold there would be no more magical turkey at the moment. “Never mind, I’m full.”