"Red Knight!" Thackery jumped on the table and hid behind Chesshur, who propmtly evaporated. "Oh no!" Thackery grabbed his ears and dived under the table.
"No time for hiding!" Mally.
"We could always get under the table again," Chess suggested.
"That didn't work last time what makes you think it's going to work now?" Queenie snapped.
"Wait - Last time
?" Rabbit stared at me. I shrugged.
"Okay, here's the plan." I said. "Drink your tea and act like nothing's happening. Hopefully they'll leave off."
"Good plan," Tarrant, Chess, Queenie and Rabbit said together. Chess dragged Thackery back up, who set about rearranging his cutlery. We all sat back down and took to our tea. I could see Mally's cup shaking. I had a terribly bad feeling about this. Then, through the trees appeared Ilsovic Stayne.
"I thought we'd got rid of him," Queenie whispered.
"If only," I replied wistfully. He strode over to the table, towering above us.
"How are my favourite lunatics then?"
"Very well thankyou," Thackery replied, setting off another chorus of laughter. Stayne grumbled something under his breath, and thrust his sword through the centre of the table.
"Silence!" he roared. The teacups rattled, and a few fell to the floor.
"Oh dear," Tarrant gulped. "I might need to fix that." Again with the laughter. Stayne glared at him. "As I was about to say before I was so rudely
interrupted, you have something her majesty requires.
"Some tea?" Mally, as politely as she could, held out her teacup. Stayne smirked, and walked slowly around the table.
"Who have we got with us today?" He nodded to Tarrant, Thackery and Mally. He stood behind my chair, and I did my best to keep my back straight.
"Harriet Hightopp. I believe I've already made your aquaintance." Rabbit stared at me. Who?
she mouthed. I shrugged. I jumped as Stayne grabbed my chair and hauled it backwards. All of a sudden I was on my back, and two Red Knights had grabbed me under the arms.
"I believe we've got what we came for," Stayne smirked. Tarrant stood up on his chair. His eyes were swirling amber.
"Let her go!" He yelled.
"Temper, temper!" Stayne tutted. "Don't lose your head, Tarrant."
"Already lost it," I muttered. He glared at Stayne.
"Tarrant!" Queenie yelled. Tarrant's eyes returned to green and he slowly returned to his seat.
"And who do we have here?" Stayne strode over to Queenie's chair. I could see Queenie trying to come up with a fake name.
, I mouthed.
"Ella," she mumbled. Stayne brought his face right in front of hers.
" I panicked. I knew what she was gonna say.
"Don't!" I yelled.
"Shut it you!" One of the Knights snapped. Queenie sighed.
"Ella of Macrebeth." I hung my head. This was NOT going well.
"Macrebeth?" Stayne grinned. "Oh, her majesty will want to meet you." Stayne snapped his fingers and two more knight grabbed Queenie.
"Hey!" Rabbit stood up from her chair. "Stayne! Let them go you loathsome grub!"
"You geery rottleworm!" I joined in.
"You gleeking fen-sucked harpy!" Queenie yelled.
"What?" I laughed.
"It's Shakespeare," she muttered. I laughed. Rabbit grinned.
"You gorbellied knotty-pated FOOTLICKER!" I burst out laughing.
"Silence!" Stayne roared. He pulled his sword from the table and walked towards Rabbit.
"My, my, and who is this lovely creature." Rabbit glared at him.
"A rabbit?" Stayne smirked. "I've never met one quite as gutsy as you."
"There's a first time for everything," Rabbit snarled. "Now get out of my face before I rip yours off you yeasty weather-bitten wagtail." Stayne growled and stood up.
"We'll take this one as well," Stayne announced. Tarrant glared, but a cluster of guards had formed around him, holding their spears to his throat.
"Is that all then?" I looked around. Where the hell was Chess?
Mally saw my nervous look, and nodded to me. From then on I let it pass. I trusted those lunatics with my life, and Chess'.
"Ready to go then?" Stayne hopped onto his horse, and we were dragged away. I struggled, but it was no use. The teaparty faded away into the distance, until it was nothing but a blur.
We were dragged all the way through the Tulgey Wood and to Salozem Grom. We were stopped outside the castle, and believe me, it was ENORMOUS. It had to be at least twelve times bigger than Miriana's castle.
"Are you ready to make her majesty's aquaintance?" Stayne asked.
"Are you ready to admit how much of a codfish you are, Stayne?" I retaliated. We all sniggered. Stayne glared at me.
"What happened to you Harriet? The last time we met, you were so polite to her majesty. So trustworthy..."
"You forget, that wasn't the last time we met. The last time you met you tried to kill me."
"And me," Queenie said. Stayne laughed.
"I'm afraid I have no recollection of those events, girls."
"You wouldn't, would you?" I snapped. He laughed.
"Are we going to see Iracebeth or not?" Rabbit asked. Stayne smiled at her, and flung open the doors. The queen sat high upon her throne.
"Oh my god!" I whispered horrified. "I do declare her head appears to be twice as big as the last time I saw her!" We all sniggered, attempting not to be heard.
"It's horrific!" Queenie whispered.
"It's hideous!" Rabbit whispered.
"It's - it's - it's -"
"Bulbus" we all said together.
"Your majesty," Stayne drooled the words like some depressed golden retriever. Iracebeth stuck out her hand, and Stayne kissed it gently.
"Gross," I muttered. "She probably has scabies." We all spluttered, and some Iracebeth's new toadies raised there eyebrows. I suddenly burst into laughter. I was amazed that Iracebeth had not realized, but her toadies were the exact same people as before
. They'd all swapped places. The woman who originally had the oversized chest now had an unusually long nose. The man with the double chin now had enormous ears. The woman with the long nose now had a huge belly. And so it goes. I laughed more and more at every one I saw.
"Don't worry," Stayne said. "She's mad."
"Ah," I sighed happily. "Now how many times have I suffered that compliment before?" Iracebeth looked over at me and smiled. She jumped off her throne and trotted over to me.
"Well if it isn't Harriet Hightopp," she said sweetly. "How is your dear mother?"
"Alas, your majesty, my mother passed away not but a few months ago."
"Ah, how sad."
"So, whom is your carer?"
"My brother, your majesty."
"Ah yes, your slithering, slimy, kenspeckle of a brother." I scowled as she paced the room. My eyes swirled, but Queenie sensed the alarm and grabbed my shoulder.
"Control yourself," she whispered. "We can deal with this fool later."
"The bootless clapper-clawed flax-wench," I muttered. Queenie and I burst into hysterical laughter. Rabbit had no idea why we were laughing, but joined in all the same.
"What are you laughing at?" Iracebeth demanded.
"Oh don't worry," I said, perfectly impersonating Stayne. "We're all mad." Stayne went beetroot red, and glared at me. I smiled triumphantly. Then, to my suprise, Iracebeth laughed. Her childish, stuttering laugh.
"Oh Harriet you are so funny!" She walked back over to me and smiled.
"Just as I thought. You will make an excellent favourite."
" Stayne and I both gasped.
"Your majesty," Stayne laughed nervously. "I'm not sure that's a good idea..."
"Silence! Stayne, I have made my decision."
"But your majesty -"
"He's right," I agreed. "I taste bad." Iracebeth burst into laughter again. Then she clapped her hands.
"Stayne, escort the girls to their rooms."
"But don't you want to meet the other two?" I panicked.
"Stayne, I shall meet them when they are properly dressed." I sighed in relief. Now I had time to come up with an excuse for Rabbit and Queenie. Stayne grumbled something under his breath, and led us away.
"Properly dressed?" Rabbit whispered.
"This sucks!" Rabbit kicked the wardrobe violently.
"These clothes are just...hideous
," Queenie groaned. I said nothing. I was hunched in a corner, my eyes burning amber.
"What's up with Hatter?" Rabbit whispered to Queenie.
"She gets like this when someone touches her hats," Queenie whispered back. "I remember a girl stole a hat she was wearing once, Hatter would have strangled her if Chess hadn't been there." I growled and stood up.
"SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE TOUCHED MY HAT!" I roared.
"HATTER!" They both yelled. I blinked, and my eyes returned to hazel.
"Thanks," I whispered.
"Hatter!" Queenie yelled again. "Your hands are on fire!" I looked down, and my hands were in balls of fire. They didn't hurt, but I screamed all the same.
"AAAAAH CRAP WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON!" I waved my hands around hysterically, and eventually the fire went out. I stood in the middle of the room, gasping for air.
"Well that's new," I finally said. We all burst into laughter...AGAIN. After the laughing fit, I staggered over the a mirror (heart shaped of course).
"ugh," I groaned. "I hate it." I had been dressed in knee high leather boots, Red leggins, a shirt with black and red hearts all over it, and a black waistcoat. I'd tried to find something at least half-decent
"It needs...it needs..."
"A hat?" Rabbit suggested.
"Exactly." I walked over to another corner of the room and rummaged through a pile of hats. I pulled out hat after hat. Eventually i found one resembling my own. It was red and had black hearts dangling from it. I sighed, and put it on.
"I miss my old clothes."
"I think we all do," Queenie agreed.
"I miss Chess," Rabbit said.
"She's coming for us," I said. "I know it."