She's been summoned before the Queen.
I didn’t look up from the book I’d been scanning for information at the voice, asking, “What?”
“I said I saw your photo in the paper. Yesterday,” came the clarification.
“Should I be worried?”
“Only if one of the Elders saw it.”
My head jerked up at that comment. I’d been sure the commenter was one of the random students that wandered through the building throughout the day. I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the Outlyers. “What are you doing here?”
“Once again. I saw your picture…”
“In the paper, I know.” I closed the book. “It was at a school rally. I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
“Normally it wouldn’t be. But the Queen wants to see you.”
I shuddered. The Queen didn’t often summon petitioners and I hadn’t even reached second level yet. I wasn’t high enough to reach the Queen’s notice or have her summon me for such an infraction.
“When does she require my presence?” I asked. I knew better than to delay. I’d seen what had happened when someone of higher rank that myself had refused to attend the queen when summoned and I had no wish to be flayed.
Scooping up my backpack, I nodded. “I just need to lock up.”
“Don’t take too long,” came the warning.
Eyes were averted from me as I followed the Outlyer through the warrens that led to the Queen’s chambers. I knew why they didn’t want to look at me, no one knew why I had been summoned, and they didn’t want to be associated with me until they knew I was still in favor. I understood. It didn’t make it any easier to run the gauntlet of side-eyes and hesitant looks.
The Outlyer stopped outside a door that I’d seen before but never stepped through. I knew it led to the Queen’s chambers, but I also knew only invited people were allowed entrance. He nodded. “Knock. She’ll tell you when you may enter.”
With those words, he backed away, watching until I knocked tentatively on the door.
Twisting the knob, I slowly let myself into the chambers. The rooms were empty, but I knew the Queen was in here. She’d bid me enter and she’d be waiting. “My Queen?” I asked, stepping tentatively into the room.
“Come closer, child.”
Still moving slowly, I moved towards the voice, kneeling down when I got close to the chair where the Queen resided. “You called me?” I asked.
“Yes, child. Your picture was in the paper,” she informed me.
“I know, my Queen. I didn’t know. I didn’t plan it,” I babbled.
“Do you think I’m angry with you, child?” she asked.
“I don’t know, my Queen,” I replied. “I don’t know why I was summoned.”
She reached out, twisting a lock of my dark hair in her fingers. If I was chosen, if I was turned, my hair would turn blonde like hers. My eyes would lighten and I would lose whatever pigmentation I had in my skin. “I summoned you because I do not have that option anymore. I cannot have my picture in the paper. You’ve intrigued me, child. And nothing has intrigued me for two hundred years.” She patted the cushion next to her. “Sit. Tell me about what you do all day.”
I settled gracefully on the cushion she indicated, allowing her to pet my hair as I told her about a typical day. She encouraged me to keep talking, sending for water when my throat got dry and food when I was hungry. I had intrigued the Queen of the Vampires, which might turn out to be worse than making her angry.
Word Count: 652
Entered in "Winner and New prompt, due Feb 3"