Author's note: I wrote this so that I could enter a short story contest! But I'm nervous to turn this in,... Show full author's note »
Break ItBlossomshire was the mightiest kingdom of its day when the wonderful Queen Rae and the honorable King Feivel were on the throne. With the large population and the excellent trade system—Blossomshire was in medias res of the world—and how we advanced in math and science, we were on top of the world in wealth and progression. However, King Feivel had fallen ill after reigning over us for forty-five years. He had been ill for months and they had only one heir, but she was a Princess; and Blossomshire needed a Prince to inherit the throne. This issue worried the government, so they pushed Queen Rae to remarry.
Out of love for her husband and her kingdom, she betrothed herself to a Prince that was fifty years her junior named Garrick. Heartbroken for his wife’s decision to remarry, King Feivel had passed away the day that Garrick arrived to the castle. Blossomshire wept, sprinkling flowers and singing during the funeral march to Sorrow Meadows.
The young Princess wept most of all as she marched with the People.
The next day, Queen Rae and Garrick were married. The procession of the marriage was long and miserable. Garrick marched first. He was decked in the finest, heaviest velveteen robes. The Princess carried the heavy train of robe as he walked down the aisle. The horns were sounding. The drums were pounding. And the Bishop was holding his fragile crown atop the pillow. A single tear ran down the Princess’s cheek as Garrick read out the oath. Her Mother squeezed her hand and watched on, shedding a few tears of her own. The crown was raised, and then placed atop Garrick’s head.
Queen Rae kissed the top of her head as she held up her goblet of Marriage drink, but no one noticed the little boy who had sprinkled powder into the goblet. King Garrick sipped it first, and then handed it to Queen Rae. “Enjoy, my Queen.” His deceitful smile made the Princess cringe. Queen Rae took the goblet and raised it to her lips. She tipped the goblet towards the sky and drank the sweet liquid. Then she fell to her knees, still holding the empty goblet in the air. She fell onto her stomach. King Garrick snatched the Princess away, and the Princess was never seen again…
* * *
Alexavier was running as fast as he could from the farmers as they were throwing apples at him.
“Gentleman, you have been fooled!” He laughed as he turned the corner. He poked his head from it. “Can you give a man a chance to explain—?”
He pulled his head away from the hall when another apple was thrown at him. He ran even harder with the gift of his swiftness. He slid to a stop at the stables. Ralph was there with his arms across his chest.
“Cousin, why are you running?” He asked patiently.
Ralph arched a brow when the farmers turned into the stables with apples raised. They froze at the sight of their liege lord.
“Ralph! We have had enough of him.” The sweaty farmer pointed to Alexavier. “He trespasses, he climbs our apple trees, smashes our fruits, and fancies our women.”
“What was he doing this time, then?”
“This man was trespassing. He was climbing our apple trees and picking our apples for himself—”
“He is allowed to, according to the law, for he is the Prince.” Ralph interjected. “You are the troublemakers, not him… a punishment is needed for your deficiencies in law. I will report you gentleman to the King—”
“No, Uncle. It is fine. I obtained the exercise I needed for the day and I have dinner.” He tossed it in the air and rubbed it against his breast pocket. It shined in the light. “You see, Uncle?”
Ralph’s brows furrowed. “Away, gentleman. I must speak with my cousin in private.”
The three sweaty farmers bowed, not turning their backs to him as they left.
“Alexavier, why must you cause so much trouble for other people? Why are you so careless about things?”
“Because I am Prince. What care I about things?” He asked, biting into his apple. “And they are lower than me in class. I can treat them whatever way I wish! They work for me. I am the boss.”
Ralph shook his head with dismay. “Alexavier, you’re father is out of town and I am but the liege lord. The next time that you want to make such a witless choice, I may not be able to protect you.
“And one day, neither me nor your father will be here. How will you handle yourself then? You must learn responsibility for your actions before you get yourself in a serious predicament in which you disgrace the royal family. Would you honestly like to disgrace us, Alexavier?”
“Then, please, sit. Read a book. Draw. Do whatever you wish, but think things through before you are kicked in the face.”
“Yes, sir.” Ralph kissed the top of his head before walking into the stable with his horse.
“Are you going for a ride, Ralph?” Alexavier asked. “May I join you?”
“No. You have all of the exercise that you needed for today, don’t you? Stay here.”
Alexavier was silent. Ralph placed the saddle atop his horse and proceeded to prepare for travel.
* * *
Alexavier was walking through halls and halls and halls of the old fortress, clanging the bars with sticks, when he heard a soft whistle. He dropped the stick and listened again. The alluring whistle rang through his ears. Then he heard singing.
“Who’s melodic voice do I hear?” Alexavier cried. “Speak! Who’s voice does this belong to?”
It was silent. And then the bird chirped again. Alexavier was running again towards the whistling. Darkness was beginning to fall on him heavier than snow as he ran down the hall.
The young woman’s voice brought the dove to her hands. She kissed the top of her head. The dove chirped with delight.
“Good day, Vesta.” She whispered. “How are you?”
The small flappings of Vesta’s wings fluttered against Kadyn’s skin. Kadyn giggled with delight as she brought Vesta to her cheek.
“Who’s melodic voice do I hear? Speak!” She heard a man scream. She backed against the wall and held Vesta close.
Vesta chirped again. Kadyn heard loud, angry footsteps. “Vesta!” She nearly shrieked at her.
Kadyn curled into a ball. “Vesta, leave.” Kadyn begged. “Hurry, before you are taken from me. Here comes my death…”
She heard the figure go past her. She moved closer to the bars. She poked her nose out of the bars to try to see the man who had ran. “Vesta, follow after him. I don’t know why he’s here, but perhaps you can find his reasoning?” She changed her mind. “No, no. Reasoning will not work. It has never worked before… make him leave, Vesta. Get him out of here as quickly as you possible can before he finds me.” Vesta flew out of her hands and fluttered out of the room.
Alexavier turned around. A small dove was seated on the ground. She chirped again.
“What is such a beautiful creature doing in this darkness?” Alexavier asked. He grinned.
Vesta rose from the ground and circled Alexavier. She fluttered in front of him.
“Please! Come back. I’ve never held a bird before.” Alexavier reached out for Vesta with excitement. When she picked up speed, Alexavier began to run. She fluttered into a jail cell. Alexavier froze.
“You’re not supposed to be in this jail cell.” Alexavier said. He slid through the bars and into the shadows. “Little bird?”
He placed himself in the shadows without fear. He dropped on his knees and felt for the ground. He could hardly see his hand in front of him.
“Little bird?” His hand touched skin. He heard a frail gasp. He jumped back and screamed with terror.
“What are you doing in here?” She demanded. “What are you doing in my jail cell? Who are you? Tell me your name now—”
“Prince Alexavier.” He pulled a match from his breast pocket. He lit it and held it between them.
“What is such an ugly creature doing down here with such a beautiful dove?” The man asked.
Her dry red-brown hair, full of clumps of dirt, was tied in a very disorderly bun. Her skin was streaked with dirt and dust. Her brown eyes were sparked with excitement and curiosity until she had heard the man’s—Alexavier’s—comment.
“What is such a loud muttonhead doing in my cell?” Alexavier’s eyes widened. “Get out before you get yourself in trouble.”
Alexavier was frozen. His eyes softened.
“Well? Are you going to be on your way or not, Sir?”
“Before… did you say that there were prison guards?”
“What an irrelevant statement.”
“I’m correcting you—there are no prison guards.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“This fortress was closed years ago. Were you notified?”
“I’ve been a prisoner for years, in an unguarded fortress? I’ve been here for God knows how long—”
“Precisely how long have you been in this prison, darling?”
“Do not call me ‘darling’.” She yanked at the chain that was attached to her shackle.
Alexavier picked up the chain to examine it. “These chains are weak and rusty.” He clenched the chains in his hands. “You could break this.”
“I’ve tried. I’ve never broken it…”
Alexavier tightened his hands around it and pulled at it.
The metal screws were being pulled from the wall. The steel plate that had kept the chain against the wall was coming off. Her eyes widened in amazement.
Then the chain broke free.
“I cannot believe this…” She breathed.
“Believe it, Madame. What is you’re name? Madame, I beg you; tell me your name. How long have you been in here?”
She jumped from the ground and wobbled to the bars. “If you must know my name… it is Kadyn.” She took a deep breath. “Princess Kadyn.”
Alexavier laughed at her. “Princess of what?”
“Blossomshire. I am Kadyn of Blossomshire.”
Alexavier laughed even harder at her. He had never heard a prisoner being of royal blood.
“Blossomshire… well, I am Prince Alexavier of the Garricks.”
Kadyn giggled. She wrapped her fingers around the bars and looked out.
Alexavier remembered how long it had been ever since Ralph had left. “Now, about the length of time you’ve been imprisoned…” He turned to the left.
“Kadyn?” He called for her. “Kadyn!” His voice echoed off of the walls. He shrugged his shoulders at the situation and calmly walked out of the cell.
* * *
Ralph brushed his horse’s coat as Alexavier arrived in the stables. “How are you Alexavier? Did you do something productive while I was gone?”
“I trekked the castle halls and explored. I also read in the library for a spell.”
“You don’t say?” Ralph turned to him with surprise. Pride washed over Alexavier like water. It went away after Alexavier was in touch with the reality of his situation. A prisoner had been released under his doing. She was nowhere to be found. What could that woman have done to put her in prison? What could she do? What has Alexavier done to the castle? He heard Ralph’s voice again and began to listen.
“I’m very proud of you, cousin.”
Alexavier smiled as if nothing was wrong. “Thank you, cousin.”
“A few of my sisters and their friends are going for a ride tomorrow. They expressed delight when they spoke of you and I. Would you like to join come?”
“I would rather stay in the castle. Perhaps I will visit the library again and study birds.
“While you are here, I wish to ask you a question.”
“Ask away, cousin.”
“Can you tell me all that you know of Blossomshire?”
“I beg your pardon, cousin?”
“Have you ever heard about the Kingdom of Blossomshire or about a woman named Kadyn?”
His brown eyes darkened. His face looked sullen. His muscles tensed and everything inside of him hardened.
“I know nothing, cousin. My apologies.” Ralph bowed, not turning his back to him as he left.
* * *
Alexavier trekked the castle until nightfall to find the girl. He deeply regretted the decision of breaking her chain and letting her free. He checked the farmlands, the stables, the rooms, and the jails, but there was no trace of her.
His mind ran wild with lethal scenarios. He imagined her killing his father. He imagined her destroying the castle. He imagined her killing him. No matter what the scenario was, he knew that it would result in death. He thought that it would have been a wiser choice to never had talked to her, or to have actually listened to Ralph. However, he was happy to set her free, for she looked malnourished and full of misery.
Alexavier chose to sleep in his room that night, but to sleep proved to be a terrible decision.
He dreamt that he was a scarecrow in a pumpkin patch. It was night and the pumpkins were wilting around him. A black bear appeared in the patch, walking around the patch. Alexavier’s heart was pounding. Beads of sweat dripped from his forehead. Alexavier held his breath and didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t move, for he was so frightened of what the black bear could do.
He was very afraid of what would happen. He was so afraid that he woke up early in the morning. He stayed awake and looked up at the ceiling until the vision of the dream had dissolved and he could have pleasant dreams again.
He woke up again at sunrise. His maids performed his ritual—bathing him, clothing him, and then giving him breakfast. After flirting with a few of them at the dining table, he went to the stables with Ralph and decided at the last minute to ride through the country with him and the ladies.
Ralph could tell that Alexavier’s mind was elsewhere. “Cousin, are you okay?” Ralph asked. “I’ve been studying you today, and you seem disturbed.”
“Disturbed?” Alexavier asked. “I am just focusing on my riding so that I do not get hurt.”
They continued on the trail west of the Castle through the woods, and then ended their journey when sunset had come. Alexavier had taken a horseshoe from the stables before they ventured to the dining room. Their hunger had definitely grown throughout the day.
The maids cooked a great dinner of fish, steamed vegetables, and goblets of sweet tea. Finishing their dinner, they brought in cinnamon buns and hot chocolate to serve as dessert.
“Your Grace?” The littlest maid of age fourteen that was named Nell called him. “You seem disturbed.”
“Why must everyone label me as disturbed today? I am of fine health.”
“Are you sure? Your hands are shaking… and all of your shaking is making the table tremble. Is there something you would like us to address?”
“Yes. I need more hot chocolate.”
“Are you sure that hot chocolate is the issue?” Nell asked. “Do you fear for something, Sir? I ask for the truth, your Grace.”
“I always speak the truth, Nell. I am very displeased that you would accuse me of not speaking the truth.”
There was a scratch outside in the hall. Nell’s eyes moved to the door. She moved her eyes back to the Prince.
“Please forgive me, your Grace.” Nell took his hand and kissed it. He took his cup to fill it with hot chocolate.
* * *
Nell was kind enough to walk Alexavier to the library. Nell bowed to him, not turning her back on him as she left. He opened the grand doors to the library. He discovered Kadyn patiently waiting behind the doors as closed them. She walked forward.
Alexavier held out his horseshoe to attack her. Kadyn grabbed his wrist, turned his back to the wall, and shoved him against it. She kept the hand that he used to hold the horseshoe above them.
She placed a small knife up to his throat.
“Please don’t make this harder than it already is.” She begged. “I need your assistance—”
“I don’t care.”
“If you don’t care about helping me, then I don’t care about killing you.”
“Why do you need my assistance? What do you want?”
“I want to leave this castle to find Blossomshire. I need to get home as quickly as possible, but I cannot do it myself. The castle is full of halls that I’ve never ventured before and I may get lost or captured, and I’m not going back to that cell… so I’ll need someone to guide me out of this dark pit of hell. Since you’re the one who set me free, Prince Alexavier, you will be my guide to leave.”
“I wish not to leave my home for you. If I leave the castle, I may not be able to remember my way back.”
“You mean you don’t know how to get out of the castle?”
“I know my way around the castle and I know a few horseback riding trails and I know the main exits, however, I don’t know what to do when we get out of the castle.”
“I won’t need you then. If you just take me to the exit, then you will never see me again. I promise.”
“Promise that I’ll never smell you again.”
She rolled her eyes. “You will not see, hear, feel, taste, or smell me ever again. You have my word; I will keep my word.”
“And you will not kill me?”
“As long as you do not deceive me, Sir.” She promised.
“I will guide you through these halls.”
“And you will not kill me, as well?”
“No. I’m not the type to harm someone.” He dropped the horseshoe. She released his wrist and backed away from him.
“Excellent.” She grinned. “We leave in twenty minutes. Everyone else should be asleep by then. And I would like to exit in the back of the castle instead of the front in order to be conspicuous.”
“Yes, ma’am… would you like to take a bath? Or eat? Or anything before you leave?”
She pursed her lips in thought.
* * *
Nell handed him a dress. “Sir, may I ask why you need a dress?” Nell asked.
“’No, you may not ask. You may retire for the night.”
“My grace, why are you so cryptic towards me? There is something amiss, and I am going to try my hardest to figure out what that something is.”
Alexavier snatched the dress from her. “There is nothing amiss. You deceive yourself. You need sleep. Good night, Sweet Nell.” He kissed her cheek. His lips went to her ears. His hands slid down her back. “Rest in my bedchamber tonight, my Sweet. I will be in there shortly.”
Nell’s grin stretched across her face.
“Yes, your Grace. I will be in your bedchamber tonight.” Nell turned and backed away from him to go to his bedchamber.
“It was rude of you to do that to her.” Kadyn told him. “She thinks that you will put her down to bed.”
“Exactly.” He said. “She will spend a long time in there instead of snooping about the palace for information.”
“Prince Alexavier! What a non-witless decision you have made.”
“Things are changing, aren’t they? We have to hurry before Nell realizes the plan. We have a long journey since the Castle is large in size—especially if we are going out the back way. Follow me.”
Alexavier began down the hallway with his horseshoe in hand. “You are still carrying that horseshoe? That will be of no use to you. You need a real weapon.”
“This horseshoe is made of steel and I can throw it at my enemy or an object. It’s just as good as a bow and arrow, or would you like me to use my ‘wits’.”
“A horseshoe may be a mightier weapon…” She muttered under her breath.
“I thought so. Guards are everywhere, especially in the backways. Their size grows the deeper we go, so I have another plan.”
* * *
The guards stood about a yard from each other at first. Alexavier and her were dressed in peasant clothing. Alexavier cradled her in her arms. Beads of sweat poured down her forehead. Her eyes were closed.
“Please, Sirs! This maid is sick. I am going to escort her out of the castle so that the disease does not spread.”
“Let us warn the other guards so that they can leave peacefully. We can carry her, in fact—”
“No, you’ll get sick as well! We wish not to spread this disease—”
She coughed, and then gasped.
“I-I’m c-c-c-cold…” She shivered.
“We must hurry!” Alexavier rushed onwards through the guards and through most of the halls without trouble. Word had spread quickly to the guards of their arrival.
Alexavier’s legs were tiring out, but he pushed himself as much as he could.
“So they fell for the bait?” She whispered.
“Yes.” He whispered. “Be quiet. You’re supposed to be dying?”
It was silent for a few moments as she built her courage to ask Alexavier a question.
“What are the Garricks?”
“The Garricks are my Kingdom—hundreds and hundreds of acres of forest, land, and whatever else there is.”
“Hundreds? Hm. The Garricks are a city-state compared to Blossomshire. I cannot wait to return to Blossomshire.”
Alexavier rolled his eyes. They had made it safely through most of the castles. The guards eyed Alexavier with caution. He fearfully kept his eyes ahead.
“You’re shaking.” She whispered. “Relax and play cool. You’ve been doing very well on your journey.”
“It’s not me, but you’re just getting heavier—”
“We’re moving downhill.”
His eyes widened. “Oh my.” He breathed. “We’re almost there. We’re almost outside.”
“Freedom.” She sighed.
Alexavier’s heart fluttered at the sight of her smile. He delivered her with little reward. He was very proud of himself untill they were stopped.
“Sir, we need to leave—”
“The King is in the building. You must put the maiden down so that she may bow when he sees her.”
“But she is so sick that she cannot stand straight.”
“Either you let her down to bow, or she is beheaded on the spot at the King’s orders.”
“It’s okay.” She said in a meek voice. “I will bow for the King. I will be most grateful to bow to him.”
Alexavier moved to the wall to let her down. She bent over when she was released.
“That is not how we bow.” Alexavier whispered. He dropped to one knee and lowered his head. He placed his wrists behind him. “Drop to both of your knees, lower your head, and place your wrists behind you.”
“Why do you stand on one knee?”
“I am a man.”
She sighed with disgust as she fell to the ground on her knees. She held her wrist behind her.
“Stay like this until he has turned unto another hall.” He whispered.
“This is ridiculous and demeaning. My parents never made me do this.”
“You were the Princess of Blossomshire. Now, you are a commoner.”
“Why is it called the Garricks, anyway?” She asked. He shushed her as the sounds of footsteps rang through the halls.
“King Garrick is approaching!” The guards called. All of the guards lowered to one knee.
Kadyn’s chin rose. “King Garrick?” She asked. King Garrick had come into the hall and heard her. She lowered her head. “Good evening, King Garrick.”
King Garrick’s eyes squinted.
“Forgive me for my outburst.”
“Milord, she is sick.” Alexavier disguised his voice by installing grit and heavy breathing. “We have crossed paths on our way out. I must take her away from this castle to keep the disease from spreading—”
“Is she a maid? What is her name? And who are you? What is your name?”
“I am a stableboy. My name is Horatio, and this is my little sister… Horatia.”
Kadyn’s brows knit together.
“Horatio and Horatia? May I see your face, Horatio?”
“I may be coming down with something as well, milord.” He coughed out. “We must be on our way—”
“Show me your face.” He demanded.
He kept his eyes closed. He slowly lifted his chin—
Kadyn shoved Alexavier onto his side. She swept her leg underneath the King’s feet. He fell to the ground.
“She attacked the King!” One of the guards shouted. “Get her and the boy! Protect the King!”
Kadyn grabbed a man’s shoulder and kneed him in the stomach. She tossed him into another guard. She threw her foot into a man’s gut and then thrust her fist into his face.
“Alexavier?” She looked around frantically for him. An arm was placed around her neck. “ALEXAVIER—!”
A loud clunk had sounded a few feet above her. The guard’s grip softened. He fell to the ground.
“Did I not say that horseshoes made a handy weapon?”
“I apologize for what I said earlier, Horati—OH!” A bow was lodged into her back.
“That’s enough, Horatia.” King Garrick’s voice was low. “Or may I call you, Princess Kadyn?”
Blood was trickling from her back. She looked back at him as he pulled another arrow. “One more arrow should finish the job—”
“No, Father.” He placed himself in front of her. “You cannot shoot her. She just wants to leave, Father. I was escorting her out of the castle—”
“You lied to the men that protected you. And you tried to lie to me, for her? I imprisoned her for a reason.”
“And that reason would be?”
“So that I cannot inherit Blossomshire…” She answered. “Where is Blossomshire, and why are we so far from it, Garrick?”
“Is that anyway to speak to the king? I am still your father.”
“You’re only my step-father.” She argued, jumping to her feet. She pulled her fist back. He grabbed her fist and stabbed her in the stomach with an arrow.
Alexavier chucked another horseshoe at him. He fell to his knees. She fell on her side beside them. He scooped her up and ran with her out of the hall before more guards and other people could distract them.
* * *
Kadyn opened her eyes, to see more darkness. She felt for whatever covered her face and threw it off. She jumped up—
“Ah!” Her side stung.
“Don’t. Move.” Alexavier directed. He placed the dampened towel back over her eyes.
“What are you doing? I feel a draft.”
“I untied your corset so that I can heal your wounds. We’re at my father’s old hunting lodge.”
“We’re out of the castle?”
“Yes. We’re not in the front, either. We’re in different territory, and I can’t say that I know our way back.”
“How does my wound look?”
“It looks better, but I caution you to not move a lot.”
She placed her fingers on top of the towel that was seated on her eyes. “Why did you put this towel over my eyes?”
“The look of the wound is not pleasing to the eye.”
“I’ve been in that grimy cell for years. Nothing can disgust me at this point.”
“A few hours ago when you woke up, you threw up on my shoes. Speaking of which, you must be hungry. I have soup cooking on the stovetop.”
“I could have cooked.”
“You could have not knocked my father off of my feet and get me expelled from my own home.”
“Expelled?” She asked. “Oh my… this is all my fault.”
“No, it’s my fault. I thought that I had everything under control, but I do not. I thought that everything would go okay, but nothing is okay. You are wounded, I am expelled, and we’re fugitives. We won’t make it.”
“I am happy, Alexavier.” She whispered. She made a circle with her foot. “My shackle!”
“That? I removed it. It looked uncomfortable on you and I wanted you to be entirely free.”
“Why would you want that for me?”
“Because… I may have been in places where I shouldn’t have been…”
Her eyes widened beneath the towel. She took it and threw it on the ground. She jumped from the table and pulled back her fist, only to have her be stung with pain.
She held her side and cried out.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.”
“I thought that I was unattractive.”
“’What is such an ugly creature doing down here with such a beautiful dove?’ Remember?”
“I was speaking out of… out of…” He shook his head. “I am very sorry, Princess Kadyn. Now that you’ve been washed and groomed, I would like to dissolve what I had said earlier because I’ve never seen such a beautiful, blood thirsty woman.”
Kadyn grinned. “Blood thirsty?”
“The way you had attacked the guards. It was the bravest thing I have ever seen a woman do.”
“Where did you learn to fight like that?”
“You are a natural-born fighter!” Kadyn flushed. “I wish I had your bravado and your strength.”
“You do have bravado. Not only do you have bravado, but you also have wits. I never knew how handy horseshoes really are. Perhaps on our way back to the castle, we could pick up more horseshoes.”
“On our way back to the castle? I was expelled.”
“I know. I did not know that the Castle belonged to King Garrick. He kept me in the prison ever since I was a child. I finally understand why, now. He doesn’t want me to inherit the throne. We’re going back.”
“Why? I beg your pardon, did you say ‘we’?”
Her brows knit together in confusion. “You’re not coming with me?”
TO BE CONTINUED