Blood Crown
By Violet Day
Date: October 19, 2020
Ch. 33

Where were they going?

As soon as she actually started to worry about how long this walk would be, an attendant gestured that she should follow the rest of the girls into something that looked like a huge gymnasium. As Senna looked around the room she realized that it was a huge gym. It was the only gym she had ever seen; she had seen it on a sports reality television show that the palace had broadcasted when Senna was fourteen, already spending most of her day working and only a little bit at a school which definitely didn’t have the budget for a gym.

In a few minutes new girls stopped entering the gym. Everyone settled onto the bleachers, which had room for a few hundred more people than actually were there. Once most people were sitting down Senna caught a glimpse of Lowelle and her red dress. Lowelle was waving at her wildly.

Senna went to join her on the other side of the gym. “You got through?”

“Of course I did. Initial beauty check? I’d pass any kind of beauty check. How’d you get through? Barely, I’d guess.”

“I’d guess you’re right. The attendant actually told me she hoped I had nicer clothes hidden away somewhere.”

Lowelle raised an eyebrow. “She’s right to hope so.”

They sat down, Lowelle smoothing her skirt. “I’m guessing this is the other half of the first trial. The health part. They better be providing us sneakers for this.”

Health? Though Senna had never officially been to the doctor, she had never been seriously sick and she played sports and went on runs a few times a week. Vegetables were about the only food her father, her, and her sister could afford. She would consider herself a bit healthier than average.

The queen’s voice crackled through the gymnasium. “I know it’s late, ladies, but there’s one more part of this trial before you are escorted to the living quarters. You will be weighed, asked to perform a series of strength and flexibility exercises –nothing difficult, don’t worry, just difficult enough to establish a queenly baseline –and to run a lap around the gym. Good luck, girls.”

Since all the girls with proportions that indicated over or underweight conditions had already been eliminated, Senna was sure very few girls would be eliminated in this new aspect of the competition.

She was right. Though some girls failed miserably to touch their toes and came back from their lap breathing heavily, most girls were completely competent. Senna definitely was. When asked to demonstrate how far she could do the splits, she was able to do them completely. She could lift the heaviest weights they had available. She was clearly one of the fittest in the entire group of seven hundred or so girls.

By the end of the hour, that seven hundred was a solid five hundred.

Lowelle found her as the girls were again shepherded down hallways to their dorms. “I asked one of the attendants and they said we choose our own roommates. Just whoever goes into their room and calls for their luggage to be brought there gets to stay there. Want to share? I know other girls here, but…” She trailed off. “You seem much more interesting. I want to know how far you get. Plus, if you leave, I’ll have more room to myself.”

“How kind of you to offer.” Senna rolled her eyes. But she was really glad to have someone who showed any interest in her. She missed her friends from her neighborhood… but maybe it was possible to find someone among these rich Elevated-wannabes?


The rooms each held two or three girls. Lowelle and Senna claimed one of the two girl rooms. They overheard someone saying that they were in the dorms for the University of the Silver Palace where, during the spring and winter months, men dormed in the rooms while studying at the most prestigious university in the kingdom.

“I hope they washed the sheets thoroughly,” Lowelle said, tossing her heels off and digging through her luggage.

Senna sat on her bed, not quite sure what to do.

Lowelle looked up after she pulled her pajamas out of one of her bags. “I’m guessing since you don’t have any bags you also don’t have any pajamas.”

“No, I don’t,” Senna said.

Lowelle twisted her lips, looking thoughtful. “Okay. You can wear some of my pajamas and use my soap and stuff for the shower because being clean and comfortable at night won’t make you competitive in the least.”

Senna almost felt her jaw drop. “Are you serious? That’s so nice of you!” She joined Lowelle on the floor next to the open suitcase.

“Not nice, just decently human. I hope you return the decency someday.”

“Of course.”

Lowelle handed her some shorts and a tank top in a material softer than anything Senna had ever felt. “Wow. Thanks again.” Then Lowelle shoved a bottle of scented soap into her other hand.

“Now go take a shower. You smell like a boy.”

Senna wasn’t quite sure what that was supposed to mean exactly, but she gladly went to have a shower in their private bathroom anyhow. And what a shower it was! Warm, soft water. The lavender scent of the soap in the air. Senna felt almost bad for coming here, like she was taking advantage of something that she really shouldn’t be.

Then she decided to just enjoy it. She was here. She had passed the first trial –and she found herself oddly excited for the next day.

Once Lowelle had showered as well and they were both in bed, Senna was ready to turn out the lights and go to sleep –but Lowelle insisted on keeping them on so she could read.

“What are you reading?” Senna asked finally, the silence and her inability to sleep boring her.

“A history of Dornesian fashion.”

“Do you like fashion?”

“Very much. I hope there’s a fashion trial or something. I’d come out on top.”

“I’m sure you would,” Senna said. She rolled over, pulling the covers over her head to block out the light. It worked –the covers were high quality covers. Everything felt smooth against her skin and smelled good.

Before she noticed herself falling asleep, she was being woken up.

An obviously recorded tinkling sound of birds and bells rang through the hallways. “I hope you had a good night’s rest, girls!” The crisp sound of the queen’s voice cleanly broke Senna from her slumber. “I’m glad to announce that the second trial will be held this evening. You have the day to prepare or to explore the palace, if you feel that would be a better use of your time. The first trial judged you by your appearance, and this second trial will judge you by your mind. It shall take the form of…” A dramatic pause. “An exam. Any queen should have a good grasp on common core subjects such as math, science, and Dornesian history, as well as a familiarity with political science. Please be prepared for an exam after dinner on these subjects, including an essay about which queen of history you admire the most. Good luck, girls.”

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