Home > Quests for Glory (The School for Good and Evil #4)(3)

Quests for Glory (The School for Good and Evil #4)(3)
Author: Soman Chainani

Knowing this, Agatha had tried to befriend her steward, but Lady Gremlaine hated her at first sight. Agatha had no idea why, but clearly the woman didn’t want her marrying Camelot’s king. It was as if Lady Gremlaine thought if she just tried hard enough, Agatha would give up her groom before the wedding.

I’d sooner die, Agatha vowed.

So for the last six months, she’d woken up each morning ready for the fight.

But today was the day that broke her.

First there was the florist, who shoved Agatha’s face in so many effluvious bouquets over the course of an hour that she’d left red-eyed and nose dripping. Next there were the six tailors who showed her dozens of linens that looked exactly the same. Then came the reporter from the Camelot Courier, a miserably cheerful young girl named Bettina, who arrived sucking a red lollipop.

“Lady Gremlaine already scripted all your answers, so let’s have an off-the-record chat for fun,” she diddled, before launching into an array of startlingly personal questions about Agatha’s relationship with Tedros: “What does he wear when he sleeps?” “Does he have a nickname for you?” “Do you ever catch him looking at other girls?”

“No,” Agatha said to the last, about to add, “especially not fart bubbles like you,” but she held her tongue through nearly an hour of this before she’d had enough.

“So do you and Tedros want children?” Bettina wisped.

“Why? Are you looking for parents?” Agatha snapped.

The meeting was over after that.

She nearly lost her temper again at the Spansel Club fundraiser when she had to read The Lion and the Snake, a famous Camelot storybook, to rich, bratty children, who kept interrupting her because they already knew the story. Now in her carriage after picking wedding doves at the zoo, Agatha slumped over in her sweaty gown, thinking of the waltz and etiquette lessons ahead, and sucked back tears.

“The king hasn’t mentioned your name once,” Lady Gremlaine echoed.

She’d tried to pretend that the meddling bat had lied. But Agatha knew she hadn’t.

Even when Agatha had run into Tedros in the castle these past few months, he’d tell her how pretty she looked or prattle something inane about the weather or ask her if she was comfortable in her quarters before shuttling away like a spooked squirrel. Last night in her room was the first time she’d seen him without a flushed, plastic smile on his face that told her not to ask how he was doing because he was doing just fine.

But he wasn’t fine, of course. And she didn’t know how to help him.

Agatha dabbed at her eyes. She had come to Camelot for Tedros. To be his queen. To stand by him in his finest and darkest hours. But instead they were both alone, fending for themselves.

It was clear he needed her. That’s why he’d crawled into her arms last night. So why couldn’t he just admit it? She knew deep down it wasn’t her fault. But she still couldn’t help feeling rejected and hurt.

Reaper curled up in her lap, reminding her he was there.

She rubbed his bald head. “If only we could go back to our graveyard before we ever thought about boys.”

Reaper spat in agreement.

Agatha gazed out the window of her blue-and-gold carriage as it rolled into Maker’s Market, the main thoroughfare of Camelot City. Given the conditions of its roads, her driver normally avoided it and took the longer route back to the castle, but they were already running late for her wedding waltz lesson and she didn’t want to make a poor impression on her new teacher. Dirt kicked up around the carriage from unpaved streets, clouding her view of the bright-colored tents, each carrying a flag with Camelot’s crest: two eagles, flanking the sword Excalibur on a blue shield.

But as the dust cleared, Agatha noticed a stark divide between the rich villagers in expensive coats and jewels as they shopped along the main street and the thousands of grimy, skeletal peasants living in crumbling shanties in the alley-ways adjoining the market. Royal guards patrolled these slums, forcefully blocking any peasants who drew too close to wealthy patrons entering or leaving the tents. Agatha slid down her window to get a better view, but her driver rapped his horsewhip on the glass—

“Lay low, milady,” he said.

Agatha pushed the window back up. When she first rode into her new kingdom six months ago, she’d seen the same slum cities smack in the middle of Camelot. As Tedros explained then, his father had led Camelot to a golden age, where every citizen improved his or her fortune. But upon Arthur’s death, his advisors had allied with the rich, passing shady laws to reclaim land and wealth from the middle-class, plunging them into poverty. Tedros had vowed to undo these laws and resettle those without homes, but in the past half-year, the divide between rich and poor had only gotten worse. Why hadn’t he succeeded? Had he not seen how far his father’s legacy had fallen? How could he let his own kingdom languish like this? If she was king—

Agatha exhaled. But she wasn’t, was she. She wasn’t even queen yet. And from the way Tedros acted last night, he was clearly frustrated too. He was managing Camelot by himself and had no one to help him: not her, not his father, not his mother, not Lancelot, not even Merlin, the last three of who’d been gone for the past six months—

SPLAT! A black, mashed hunk of food hit the window. Agatha spun to see a filthy peasant yell, “SO-CALLED KING AND HIS ALMOST QUEEN!”

Suddenly, others in the slum cities spotted her carriage and globbed onto the chant—“SO-CALLED KING AND HIS ALMOST QUEEN!”—while pelting her vehicle with food, shoes, and handfuls of dirt. Her driver beat the horses harder, racing them out of the market.

Blood boiling, Agatha wanted to leap out of the carriage and tell those goons that none of this was her or Tedros’ fault—not the slum cities, not the coronation, not a once-legendary kingdom gone to shambles—

How would that help anything? Agatha scolded herself. If she were starving in the streets, wouldn’t she blame herself and Tedros too? They were the ones in power now, even if they hadn’t caused the kingdom’s fall. The poor and suffering had no time for the past, only for progress. But this wasn’t school anymore, where progress could be charted with rankings and a scoreboard. This was real life and despite the dismal results thus far, they were two teenagers trying to be good leaders.

Or Tedros was, surely.

She was on her way to dancing lessons.

Agatha sulked as the carriage rumbled up the hill towards the bone-white gates of Camelot, which the royal guards pulled open for their arrival. It didn’t matter that the gates were streaked with rust or the towers ahead faded by weather and soot. Camelot Castle was still a magnificent sight, built into jagged gray cliffs over the Savage Sea. Under the August sun, the white spires took on a liquid sheen, capped with rounded blue turrets that speared through low-flying clouds.

The carriage stopped short of a gap in the cliffs, leading to the castle’s entrance.

“Drawbridge is still broken from the coronation, milady,” the driver sighed, pulling into a carriage house at the edge of the cliff. “We’ll have to use the ropes to cross.”

Agatha barreled out of the carriage herself before the driver could open her door. Enough whining, she thought, as she wobbled along the unsteady rope bridge that even honored guests had to use until the embarrassing drawbridge problem could be fixed. Tedros wasn’t haggling over when they would have time alone. Tedros wasn’t hounding her about being a team. Tedros was working for his people, like she should be.

Hot Books
» Buy Me Sir
» The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)
» White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)
» Daddy's Pretty Baby
» Fallen Crest Home (Fallen Crest High #6)
» The Dom's Virgin: A Dark Billionaire Romanc
» The Hot Shot (Game On #4)
» Mastered (The Enforcers #1)
» Wet
» Wake A Sleeping Tiger (Breeds #31)
» Kept (The Enforcers #3)
» The Greek's Forgotten Wife (The Boarding Sc
» If You Were Mine
» Ruckus (Sinners of Saint #2)
» Seven Days With Her Boss