“So, what brought you so far from your kingdom?” Sir Jefferson asked as the two children dug into their meal. Jett scooped a huge steak onto a plate that was too small for the meat, but she didn’t care.
“Oh, you know,” Jett shrugged, trying to think of an excuse. “Royal...business and whatnot.”
“It’s nice to see some people from other kingdoms that enjoy the luxury of monarchy,” the son of Sir Jefferson, Jefferson the Younger, said. “And your parents? They are fair and just rulers?”
“The fairest,” Jett nodded, reaching for her water glass -more of a chalace, really- and then remembering to lift her pinkie. “And your rulers?”
“Oh, our queen is very kind,” Sir Jefferson said. “Though she is a tad young for royalty.”
“Oh, how old is she?” Jett asked.
Jett choked on her water, turning to Finn in surprise. A thirteen year old queen? Jett tried to think back to history class. In the medieval days, that could be middle aged, Jett supposed, but despite what these crazy people are saying, this is not the medieval times!
“That’s very impressive. My coronation to become queen is coming up soon,” Jett lied.
“Would that be the outfit you are wearing for the coronation?” Jefferson the Younger asked. “I understand different kingdoms wear different things. But that white outfit of yours is magnificent. It’s beyond anything I have ever seen. It shows more skin than our queen would,” he glanced at his father, “but the jeweled design is exquisite. Might I ask what the green top is for?”
Jett looked down at her favorite camouflage tank top, covering her ballet ensemble. “It’s a disguise, to not draw attention to ourselves. You know how privacy is these days,” she giggled convincingly.
“Of course. Royalty never want to make a show of themselves, do they?” Sir Jefferson looked at his son, and they both laughed.
“And, your queen? What’s her name?” Finn asked, pretending to be engaged in this conversation, which wasn’t that hard to do when you’re talking to knights.
“Queen Good. That’s her name, isn’t that strange?” Jefferson the Younger laughed. Finn and Jett spun to each other with wide eyes.
“Queen...Good?” Finn questioned.
“She wouldn’t be this little black-haired girl, would she?” Jett described.
“So you’ve met her?” Sir Jefferson exclaimed. Jett and Finn shot each other sideways glances.
“You could say that,” Jett mumbled. “Would you excuse my brother and I for a moment? We must discuss our next actions of our...journey,” she said as princess-y as she could.
“Of course, Your Highness,” Sir Jefferson bowed his head, and the two royal liars rose from the table and wandered off into the hallway.
“Jett! Jett!” Finn struggled to keep up with her as she rushed down the hall, the decorative banners passing in a red blur. “Do you think that queen is that girl we met?”
“Who else could it have been?” Jett stopped in her tracks, spinning to face Finn with her arms crossed. “But why would that kid tell them that she’s their queen?”
“Maybe she is the queen,” Finn shrugged.
Jett sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “This isn’t medieval times, Finn. And besides, there are no queens in Nebraska!” She crossed her arms, looking at the wall, deep in thought. “What a weird kid. First trying to take the baby, then pretending to be a queen…” Jett trailed off, her blue eyes widening with a terrible reminder. “Finn, where’s the baby?!”
“Relax!” Finn automatically responded. “Sir Jefferson had one of his maids take care of Finn 2.”
“You did not tell them that was her name!”
“Of course not! We’re under a disguise, remember? I would never tell them its real name.”
“Her! Not an it! And that’s not her real name! I-” Jett cut herself off, groaning and letting her head fall into her hands, trying desperately to calm herself down. “What did you say her name was?”
“They never asked, so I never told,” Finn shrugged casually. Jett sighed, supposing she should be relieved. Then, Finn remembered something. “Oh! I talked to those cowboys.”
“Finn! They tried to steal from us!” Jett scolded.
“I know, I know. It’s just that…” Finn tapped his fingers together, staring at his feet. “They said...there aren’t any train stations.”
Jett rolled her eyes. “They’re lying, Finn! You can’t trust them. Besides, if we keep moving, we’re bound to hit a station at some point!”
“I guess you’re right.”
“We’d better start moving again. I don’t know if I can spend this much longer away from home. Mom and Eric are probably freaking out.”
Finn nodded, bowing his head at the mention of his dad. “We’ll get back, right?”
“Of course!” Jett wrapped her arm around Finn in a sideways hug, smirking down at him. “I can get us out of this. We should just hit the road soon,” Jett looked out the window, and her shoulders dropped. “Oh no.”
“Oh no?” Finn looked out the window as well. “Oh no, what?”
“It’s NIGHT?!” Jett gasped, motioning to the outdoors and the setting sun. “How long was I out?”
Finn shrugged, not having a good concept of time as an eight year old. “A couple hours, I think.”
“Da-” Jett held herself back from swearing under her breath in front of the kid. She leaned against the wall and crossed her arms. “Should we just walk during the night? I doubt it would be that dangerous. And we did take a pretty long break in this castle.”
“It’ll be cold,” Finn pointed out, and Jett groaned.
“You’re right. It could be worse, I guess. It could be snowing.”
“Oh shush, Finn,” Jett brushed off her tutu, staring out the window with newfound determination. “We’re going to do it. We just had a huge dinner, and we still have a few snacks packed from Mama Mint. Let’s just go thank Sir Jefferson and-”
“You’re leaving?” a voice from behind them asked. Jett spun around, meeting eyes with the handsome Jefferson the Younger. He shyly brushed his blonde curls out of his brown eyes, smiling.
“Yes, we have to get to our...royal duties,” Jett looked down at Finn with uncertainty.
“I’ll go let the maid know to get your little sister. It’s been an honor having you in our home, Highnesses,” he bowed.
“The pleasure was all ours,” Jett waved for him to rise. “Give our best regards to your Queen.”
“And ours to yours,” Jefferson the Younger nodded, rushing past them and into the next hallway.
“How much do you think he heard?” Finn whispered.
All of it.
Jefferson the Younger rushed down his hallways with nervous speed. His brown eyes darted around the walls, unsure of how to approach the situation. If they weren’t visiting royalty, that could only mean one thing.
Those kids were Lost.
And if they were Lost, that monster can’t be too far behind them.
His first plan of action should be telling his father.
He darted around a corner, nearly crashing into a young girl he automatically assumed as one of his father’s maids. “Would you move, this is urge-” he choked on his words, realizing who the young girl standing in front of him was.
“Is there something wrong, Young Jefferson?” the girl asked quietly, her hands held together in front of her. She peered up at him with sympathetic green eyes.
Jett and Finn were still bickering over what they should do about Jefferson the Younger when they heard the sound of clicking heels. The step siblings fell silent, staring at the corner of the hallway. A woman -no, a child- turned the corner with the grace and poise of royalty. Her long, elegant red dress trailed along the ground, decorated with fine golden swirls. Her black hair was tied into the fanciest updo they had ever seen, speckled with golden beads. Contrasting with the beautiful outfit was a ratty brown scarf tossed around her neck. She smiled familiarly.
“Hello, Jett and Finn.”
“You!” Jett gasped, stepping back. “What are you doing here, kid?”
“I would prefer if you called me by my title. Her Royal Highness, Queen Good,” she announced, walking closer.
“Look, kid,” Jett took a step back. “I don’t know what you’re telling these confused people, but you have to stop tricking them into thinking you’re a queen!”
“What if I am a queen?” Good asked, motioning to her ensemble.
“That’s what I said!” Finn announced, earning a shove from Jett.
“I know you’re not a queen!” Jett snapped. “There are no queens in Nebraska!”
Good chuckled. “So you’re on to me. I’m not surprised, I knew you were smart. Now, there is a reason why I came here. The baby.”
“You’ll never find her!” Jett growled.
Good laughed, tossing her head back. Something about her laugh made Jett’s arms crawl with goosebumps. “I know she’s with the maids, you can’t try to hide anything from me, Princess Jessica.”
Jett pursed her lips in annoyance.
“The baby isn’t yours, so why do you care so much about it?” Good asked. “Why can’t you understand that this is just for the greater good?”
“Queen Good!” Sir Jefferson exclaimed, rushing down the hallway. He knelt in front of the kid, bowing his head. “Your Highness, my son alerted me of your presence, is something wrong?”
“She wants my baby sister, Sir Jefferson,” Jett said, glaring down at Good.
Sir Jefferson looked between Good and Jett with confusion. “Why would you want the child, Your Highness?”
“No reason,” Good sighed, shaking her head at Jett. “Princess Jessica and I were just discussing the means of travel. It’s not suitable for a princess to travel on foot.”
“Should I offer one of my horses, Your Highness?”
“That will not be necessary,” Jett cut in, trying to speak as smooth and elegantly as Good. “My brother and I can handle ourselves.”
“It’s true!” Finn nodded. “We have walked a lot, our legs have gotten super strong.”
“Then I suppose there is no other reason for me being here. It was nice to greet other royalty,” Good nodded.
“B-But Your Highness! The baby?” Sir Jefferson questioned.
“I will not do anything against the wishes of Princess Jessica and Prince Finn,” Good explained. “It is against my good nature to do so. Good day,” with one last nod, Queen Good turned on her heel and walked away. As she passed a window, she peeked outside at the shack.
“So. You two seem like you’re in a pickle.”
At the sound of a small girl’s voice, the cowboy, Gary, and the cowgirl, Gail, looked up. Their tired eyes rested on a silhouette waiting in the doorway. Their green eyes shone in the moonlight, resting on Gary and Gail.
“And who might you be, sister?” Gail asked.
“A friend,” the girl strode into the shack, the door swinging shut behind her. Despite it being a loud door all the times before, this time, it closed silently. “Gail and Gary, I presume?”
“You know us?” Gary questioned.
The girl chuckled, her shoulders bouncing, hands in her pockets. “You two robbers are very popular on this side of the train tracks. I’m impressed.”
“Are you a cop or somethin’?” Gary asked. The girl laughed again.
“Or something,” she responded, stalking closer. “You’ve been talking a lot to that Finn boy, haven’t you?”
“Not reall-” Gail cut herself off with a gasp as the girl pulled out a knife faster than she could react.
“I have to stop you before you say something you might...regret,” the girl’s voice fell flat and low. Gail and Gary pressed their backs to the wall, trembling as the girl came closer.
“W-What do ya think yer-?!” Gail was cut off again as the girl yanked Gail from the wall and brought her knife down…
...on the rope that bound the cowgirl’s wrists. The rope fell to the floor, and Gail’s eyes widened as the girl pushed her out of the way to cut Gary free.
“You’re lettin’ us go?” Gail breathed, rising to her feet.
“I want you two to get out of here, quickly,” the girl pointed her knife at the two of them.
“Who are you?” Gail asked, backing towards the door. The girl smirked and reached up, tugging on a chain hanging from the ceiling. That turned on a sole light bulb, illuminating the girl. Gail and Gary gasped.
“G-Good?” Gary asked. She smiled, shining the knife on the brown scarf around her neck.
“Nope. Try again,” she giggled, insanity brewing in her dangerous green eyes. Gail grabbed Gary’s wrist.
“You!” she breathed, pushing open the door. “We’ll leave, just don’t hurt us.”
“You know that’s not my way,” the girl identical to Good said, walking forwards, towards Gail and Gary. The siblings backed out of the shack. “Hurting you right now would be no fun at all.” She chucked the knife at them, and it wedged itself in the dirt, inches away from Gail’s toes. “Get out.”
Gail and Gary spun on their heels and sprinting into the woods. The girl chuckled, looking up at Sir Jefferson’s mansion. One of the illuminated rooms had a girl’s figure standing in the window, wearing a tutu. The silhouette seemed to be talking to a small boy.
Nearby bushes began to rustle, and she heard a deep growling. She snapped her head to glare at the bush.
“Keep your claws on, buddy, I’m leaving,” she hissed, turning on her heel and storming into the woods.
Jett watched as “Queen” Good strolled out of sight. “Sir Jefferson?” she turned to face the knight, and jumped with surprise upon seeing his son standing beside him, holding the bundled baby in his arms. The two knights stared at Jett emotionlessly.
“You are Lost, are you not?” Jefferson the Younger asked.
“N-No!” Jett exclaimed. “Like I said, we have very royal duties for travelling here.”
“Right,” Sir Jefferson glanced at his son, then back at Jett. “You came to the daisy fields on a large, metal, rolling machine, did you not?”
“Father, I believe the modern people are calling it a ‘train’,” Jefferson the Younger pointed out.
Jett blinked in surprise. “I-I...yes.”
“Then you are Lost,” Sir Jefferson nodded, approaching the girl and raising his hand. Jett flinched, but relaxed when his hand only rested on her shoulder. “Understand this, Princess Jessica,” he whispered. “You cannot stay here. A great Evil is following you Lost children, and Queen Good cannot help you. However, there is a woman I suggest you find. A woman who lasted since the beginning of this game-”
“Game?” Jett interrupted.
“You must heed my warning, Princess,” Sir Jefferson stressed, shaking her. “Find the first woman. She can protect you.”
“Good luck to you both,” Jefferson the Younger said, approaching Jett and handing the baby to her. Jett cradled the baby and gently pulled back the blanket, revealing her sleeping, peaceful face.
“We’re leaving now?” Finn asked, glancing up at Jett. She nodded.
“We’re leaving now.”