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Outcast (Part 7)

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Scared as I was, I had to walk in. I didn’t want to, but someone had to marry the Ice Prince. But there was a problem: I had knocked him off his horse. There was no way he could have gotten back and cleaned up and change to look presentable to his ‘bride’ or for the throne room. I stopped when the guards began opening the doors. I couldn’t make my legs move. Ixol gave me a shove. I swallowed my fear and walked in. I stopped again and gasped when I saw Rider of Winds standing at the far end of the room. Ixol and the soldier, whose name was Dafar, had to literally push me toward him.

“Ah, Ixol. I see you’ve brought me a wife.”

His voice was deep and as rich as his black hair.

“Yes, your highness.”

“What is your name?”

Ixol had to nudge me before I realized he was addressing me. “Moonbeam, your highness.”

“I assume you know who I am.”

“Yes.”

“I will tell you anyway. I am Rider of Winds, Prince of the Snow Kingdom. I am a Moon Holder. I must marry to become king. Then this fair city will be restored to its former glory and I shall strive to reverse the curse of the Ancients.”

“Curse?”

“You know, the one where the land became barren and the Shifts started and ice and snow became thick.”

“Oh, that curse.”

Rider of Winds looked over my shoulder at Ixol. “Is she stupid?”

“Oh no, my lord. Most definitely not. She is strong in mind. And in muscle. And if I might be so bold as to say, beauty. Both inside and out.”

“Ixol!” I was shocked that he would say such things in public.

“My sincerest apologies, my lady.”

“You are a lady?” Rider of Winds asked. He seem surprised.

“She is a princess, to be precise.” Ixol said.

“A princess. Why is she dressed in such clothing, then?” Rider of Winds gestured to my outfit.

“I am dressed like this because when I started my journey, I did not know I was a princess.”

“When did you find out, before or after you pushed me off my horse?”

I blushed. “I am ashamed to say, it was before.”

“She has a temper.”

I punched Ixol’s shoulder, knocking him over.

“Who are these people?” a thunderous voice said.

I turned around. A tall, thin man was striding towards us.

“Ah, Grandfather, this is Ixol. He has brought me my bride.”

“I assume that she is of royal birth?”

“Yes, your majesty.” Ixol lied, bowing deeply.

“And I suppose you’ll be wanting you gold.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Your majesty.” I said.

“What is it, girl.” He looked out from under the bushiest eyebrows I had ever seen.

“I wish for Ixol to stay here. He is the only person I know.”

“I will think about it.” He said. I could tell he was impatient. He called a servant. “Give our guests rooms and food.”

We followed the servant to a side door.

“Stop.”

We turned around. Rider of Winds’ grandfather was peering at Dafar. “Prince, is this no the guard Dafar?”

Rider of Winds looked over his grandfather’s shoulder. “Ye, I believe it is.”

“He is with me, you majesty.” I said. “He swore aligance to me.”

“Let him go, Grandfather. He may be Lady Moonbeam’s personal guard, as Ixol will be her personal advisor.”

“Very well.”

We followed the servant up several flights of stairs and down a long corridor. I had my own suite while Ixol and Dafar shared the next one. After the first servant left, another came in. I tried talking to her, but she was scared.

“Are you frightened because I am a Moon Holder?”

“Yes, my lady.” She kept her eyes downcast.

“Don’t be.”

The girl looked up and smiled slightly.

“I don’t know anything about this prince. How about you tell me about him?”

“Oh, he is kind and strong. He doesn’t just order us around, the other servants and I. He tries to help us with our duties. But sometimes his grandfather, who is king, catches him and we get punished.”

“You are punished when he helps you?” I was appalled.

“Yes. The king is a Moon Holder. I was afraid that you might be cruel.”

“I heard that many Moon Holders are cruel and evil.”

“Is it true that Lord Ixol is a Moon Holder?”

“Yes.”

“Is it true that you are to marry the prince?”

“Yes, it is.” I smiled. “Before we came into the city, I knocked him off his horse.”

“Oh, my lady!” she gasped before giggling. Soon we were both holding our side and crying for our laughter.

It occurred to me that I did not know her name. “What is your name?”

“I am called Singing Deer.”

“And what are you duties?”

“Well, I used to clean rooms, but I was ordered to by your personal maid.”

“Let’s be friends. You can tell me how to behave in a castle, because I did not know that I was princess until yesterday.”

Singing deer giggled. There was a knock at the outer door. She answered it. There was a voice of a man, and then the door shut. Singing deer came back.

“The king and prince wish for you to join them for dinner.”

“Now?”

“You have a few minutes.”

“I can go now.”

She gave my clothes a disdainful glance. “Not in that.”

She opened the wardrobe and pulled out a rose colored gown. She helped me put it on. “This will please the prince and it complements your coloring and figure.”

I blushed. She led me down to the dining hall. Ixol was already there. The all three men stood and Rider of Winds came over and took my hand. Singing Deer went to stand by the wall behind the table. I noticed the Dafar was there also.

“May I say that you look beautiful?”

I blushed. I was blushing too much for my liking. “Thank you.”

He led me to my seat at the table. I sat. He took the seat beside me and we began eating. I hoped that we would not talk about the wedding or the fact that I pushed him off his horse. Ixol did most of my talking for me, for which I was grateful. After the meal, Rider of Winds excused himself and took my hand and led me out to a garden. We walked up a long path and came to a bench. I sat down and Rider of Winds stood in front of me. We talked about his horse, and the castle.

“Would you like to go the stables?”

“I would like that very much.”

He led me to the stable, which were as big as the village chief’s house. My horse was in a stall beside Moonfire. The white stallion nickered when he saw Rider of Winds.

“He has been with me since I was ten years old.”

“You have been riding since then?” I brushed my horse’s nose gently.

“Yes. How long have you been riding?”

“Since two days ago.”

“You ride well.”

“Thank you.” I shivered.

“You are cold. We will go back now.”

We went back inside. I was joined by Singing Deer, who stayed five steps behind me. Dafar walked ten steps behind her. I wondered why.

“I will tell you when we get to your chambers.” She whispered.

When we got in and Dafar shut the door, Singing Deer turned to me. “The king is planning to have you killed.”





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