Blood Crown
By Violet Day
Date: October 12, 2020
Ch. 22

“What’s your name?” Senna asked. She liked this girl.

“I’m Lowelle,” she said. “You?”


“What’s up with your street clothes, Senna? You trying to stand out from the crowd?”

Senna blinked. “No, I actually just… don’t have a dress.”

“Are you serious?” Lowelle’s heavily lined eyes widened. “I would offer you one of mine –I brought plenty –but competition, you know.”

Senna looked at Lowelle’s dress. It was blood red and skin tight until just below the hips, where it flared out into soft, calf-length waves of darker fabric. It was beautiful and clearly something that Senna couldn’t have afforded with a year’s salary.

She was trying to think of something to say when soft music started to play from invisible speakers. The crowd of girls gradually began to stop talking and looked around the hall somewhat anxiously. Senna looked up at the raised platform that held the silver thrones of the queen and her deceased husband. Sure enough, a page came onto the stage.

He held a finger to his neck –a gesture Senna recognized from movies about the Elevated as a way of making their voices louder –and cleared his throat. The sound echoed throughout the hall and there was absolute silence. The music faded away.

“Welcome, hopeful contestants of the most spectacular and important event in the recent history of the Kingdom of Dornesse! As you all know, our king has passed away –long may he rest –and there is need for a queen so our prince can take his place. For the first time in the history of Dornesse, this queen will not be chosen from the Elevated. This queen…” A dramatic pause. “Will be one of you.”

Many girls clapped. Others just looked dreamy.

“Now, it is my deepest honor to introduce the queen, who will say a few short words.”

There were a few mutters throughout the crowd. “Shouldn’t the prince be the one to welcome us?” Lowelle asked under her breath, echoing the thoughts of those around them.

The queen, a brunette woman of advanced middle age yet in very good health, slim and strong, walked onto the platform. Her gown of rich purple shimmered in the lights of the hall. She held her finger delicately to her throat. “Welcome, girls. I am, of course, delighted to have the chance to have a hand in choosing the next queen. From what I can tell, this will be a difficult choice.” A few laughs. “The prince could not be present, sadly, as he is away on foreign business. He will be back for the final trial of this contest, when he will choose from a final group of three girls. Until then, I will be your mentor and judge. The first trial is simple: it is a test of beauty and health. There is no place for a queen who cannot please her king and her people because of poor health or average looks. Additionally, it is to be known that this trial is skewed toward those girls who show the traits the prince has expressed as his preference. These specific traits will not be revealed.”

Senna looked towards Lowelle, whose hair was black and features sharp. Her expression hadn’t changed. Senna wondered if she could even get past the first trial. Her hair was white blonde, and she had no idea if she was average looking or above average… And these clothes definitely weren’t going to help her case. She wondered what the prince’s preferences were and if she was anywhere near them in looks.

“When your group is called, please line up –numerically –for the initial beauty check.” The queen dropped her hand from her throat and sat down on her throne, looking expectant. A group of ten people, mostly young women holding cards with numbers positioned themselves around the room.

The music returned. The page’s bored voice rang through the hall but he was nowhere to be seen. “Numbers one through one through one hundred and sixty to group one. Numbers one hundred and sixty one to three hundred and twenty to group two…” And so on.

Girls confusedly pushed their way through the crowd toward the attendant with their group number. The room eventually settled into snaking lines of girls. Senna was in the middle of the last group, group ten. Lowelle had peeled off much earlier and was in group four or five.

Craning her neck, Senna was able to see the attendants at the front of each line measuring the girls and seeming to look occasionally into a folder that probably had the beauty requirements in measurable terms. Pretty rapidly the girls were either sent through one door to the right of the thrones –giggling and talking to the other girls who were sent through that door and waving to the queen, or they were shown to the door by pages in rich black clothes.

It seemed like at least half of the girls were being sent out the door through which they came.

And it went on like that for a good time. Senna felt a bit bad for any viewers at home, this was incredibly boring. Well, any viewers were probably going to get a highly edited view of the proceedings the next day. It wasn’t being broadcasted live.

After about twenty minutes, Senna realized she was within a few minutes of the front of her line. Her heart started to beat faster, and she realized she had never been subject to something like this. Just the idea of being judged by her appearance was starting to terrify her, because she didn’t quite mind if she was eliminated in this early stage.

It was her turn. The attendant glanced up at her face, glanced into her folder, made some gestures in front of her body and face with her hands (perhaps measuring proportions?) and then had a younger assistant, a girl probably only thirteen or fourteen but definitely Elevated, take her measurements. The measuring tape floated around her waist, hips, arms, and thighs without a guiding touch from the girl. When the measurements were taken the attendant punched them into a calculator.

“Okay, go on through that door past the platform.” Senna was a bit surprised, and felt more excited about passing the initial test than she thought she would. “I hope you have your nice clothes in your luggage,” the attendant said sardonically as Senna started to walk away.

Yeah. She would have to figure that out if she was going to get anywhere in the competition.

Though the group of girls moving through the door to the rest of the competition was half the size of the original group, it was still a lot of girls and Senna felt lost in the crowd.

She noticed there were more attendants scattered through the castle, basically herding the girls through the glittering hallways with vaulted ceilings crusted with jewels.

Font size
Font color
Line spacing
Background color