Escapade

[after strong consideration, Escapade is 'under construction' and will be resumed at the end of this semester.]
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3. Three

I wasn’t quite sure whether I should be happy about how the night had been, or purely disgusted by the amount of chocolate muffins the prince forced into his mouth.

The hallways were quiet, as they usually were at this time of night. A few servants roamed around the grounds outside, making small chat with the guards. I smiled at Silvia, who had found Hunt just outside of the stables. They exchanged a quick hug, and grasped hands. I never saw my nurse this happy, especially when she was combing my tangled hair after a long ride.

Behind me, heels of shoes clicked on the marble ground. I took a deep breath and pressed my nose to the glass of the window. On the edges of the panes, frost created pretty designs. I smiled and pulled away, leaving a smudge mark where my nose had been.

“You were awfully rude.” Mai said. She stopped besides me, taking my arm with her hand. Gently, she pulled me away from the window and we walked together back to our chambers.

“I was just speaking my opinion, and if the prince doesn’t like it - that’s his choice.” I replied. I could just hear Mai’s eyes rolling by the way the silence crept between us.

“You need to learn to keep your opinions to yourself sometimes.” Mai told me. I laughed. She, of all people, telling me to keep my opinions to myself.

I kept my mouth shut as we walked around the upper floor of the palace, running my hand along the cracks in the walls. The paintings had been covered with thin white sheets to keep the frost from creeping into the hallways and ruining the pictures.

Ahead, candles had been lit and placed in glass boxes along the walls to light our way. Mai blew a few out as we passed them, and finally we reached the last two at the end of the hallway.

I turned to face my sister, who had just finished blowing the candle across the hallway out.

“Thank you for walking with me.” I said, curtsying just low enough that my knee barely crossed my toes.

Mai smiled and embraced me, squeezing tightly. I held my breath as she sighed. “Don’t let father push you around with this prince, okay? He will try to, but you must accept that he just wants what’s best for you.”

“I won’t. And please, if you notice the prince falling for me, tell me so I can destroy his feelings immediately.” I said. We laughed and she pulled away, leaving her hand on my shoulder.

“I highly doubt he’ll fall for you.”

“Really?”

“Really. He’ll trip, lose his balance, fall down a hundred steps, and break every bone in his body just for you.”

“You’re joking. Now go to bed.” I pushed her away, a smile creeping across both of our faces.

I opened the door to my room, blew the last candle out, and listened to the click of the lock my door made when I pulled it shut.

“You’re late.”

 

*

 

Behind the curtains was a small balcony. There was a set of chairs on either side of a table, just high enough to be considered a table for taking meals at. Flower pots were lying around the floor, vines crawled up the railing and devoured the side of the palace. There wasn’t a use to this balcony, except for looking at. No one could access the room but me, and I, as a ghost, could not even use it.

I sat on the chair, the cold metal sending chills up my spine - one of the only things I could feel in this pointless body.

Body. Oh, how I longed for a body. A body I could feel with, touch with, taste with, and love with. I wasn’t anything - just a dead man walking through the halls. No one noticed me, just the messes I made by pulling down the tapestries or throwing pots and pans around the kitchen, or overturning the flower vases, or even leaving dents in the marble floors.

I wanted someone to notice me. It has been almost 20 years since Dela had left me for some other ghost in the town, and when I had begged her to come back to me she had fled the kingdom with the bastard.

A tear slid down my cheek. I brushed it away, the cool feeling tingling my skin. I hated that I was able to feel emotion. It was killing me all over again. I wished Dela was here to help me protect this ridiculous palace and it’s inhabitants, and to bring enough power to the stupid princess’s mind to make her see us.

I wish I was actually gone. Not a man living in the dead, not a soul to roam what the people called ‘Heaven.’ I wanted to be gone, non-existent. I wanted, if I was to be here, to be seen and loved and talked to and-

Something crashed above the room, and then a scream ended the night’s silence. I pushed the curtains away and took off towards the door, drifting through the wood. The pressure pushed against my lungs, but I ignored it as my feet touched the cold floor.

The crashing continued as guards ran through my lifeless body up to the next level of the palace. Their footsteps thundered through the hallway, the screeching of their swords being drawn making my ears ring.

I ran towards the group, entangling myself in the fifteen-plus soldiers that were barrelling up the staircase. I felt nothing as a sword was pressed through my stomach, just a cool swish of air through my veins.

“Left chamber, half of you. Other half, right!” Someone yelled. The group split, and I realized that they were headed towards the princess’s rooms.

Another scream, and a crash, and the clattering of glass echoed in the halls as doors were forced open. I pushed my way through the guards, and found that the room was a disaster. Tables were overturned, mirrors and glass vases and windows were shattered, and spots of blood were splattered over the floor.

Guards took their places over the room, calling for the princess. Two men stayed behind at the door, talking to another who had just come from Mai’s room. Keira was nowhere in sight.

A whimper came from the doorway, and I saw Mai standing in one of the guards arms, tears streaming down her face. Her hair was a mess, frizzy and falling out of her pins.

“Found her!” A door screeched open, and four of the guards ran towards it. I followed them.

“Someone send for her nurse, she’ll know what to do.” One man yelled, obeyed by a younger man who ran out of the room as fast as he could.

I was in shock. The princess, whose unusual strength would have saved her, was lying on the ground in a pool of blood. The dark red, sticky stuff that no one wanted to look at. Besides her, a guard with muscles that were almost impossible to get without being drugged, got down on his knees and pressed two fingers to her neck. The girl moaned, and the man looked up.

“Get her up. Someone get the king.” He put one hand under her head, and another on her back. I clenched my fist as he picked her up, moving his hand a bit lower down her back. He moved swiftly as he carried her back out to her bedroom. The door was shut behind them and bolted back into place as he set her down on the bed, carefully moving his hand from under her head.

A rush of people entered the room; the nurse, her sister, the king, and a few more guards.

“What happened?” The king demanded. The nurse, Silvia, rushed to the princess’s side with a basket of clean linens. She picked one up and motioned for Mai to join her. The princess ran to her sister’s bedside and took one of the white sheets, tearing an edge off. She handed it to the nurse and watched closely as the woman wrapped it carefully around Keira’s head.

“We have no idea, your majesty. We heard screaming, and loud crashing noises. We got here as soon as we could- and this is what we found!” The guard replied to the king, who was red with anger- and fear.

“You saw no one in the room, correct?” He asked, reaching for the hilt of his sword. The guard nodded.

“No one. We sent men out to scout the other rooms, the hallways, and the passageways. So far, nothing has come up.”

“I want the guests moved to my chambers. Send servants to prepare the room, and guards to stay close.” The king ordered. Men flew out of the room, running down the hallways. Two locked the doors to Mai’s room, and another two stayed at the doorway to keep watch.

“Silvia, Mai, you will stay here tonight. Silvia, if you need anything, you are in full control of the men here. Request food, blankets, and medicine. Do not be afraid to call on me.” The king told the nurse.

The men around the room let their jaws drop a bit, but closed their mouths as the king walked past them.

“And you, Keira, stay strong.” He bent down and kissed his daughter on the forehead, and strode out of the room, his boots making a loud stomping noise on the way down the hallway.

“Well, I suppose that’s that.” Silvia finished tying a knot in the fabric, just as the blood began seeping through. “I need more cloth, I can’t have the linens being ruined. And a bucket of water, and soap. And you,” Silvia pointed to one of the guards, “lock the doors to the balcony, wash room, and every other room that is not being used.”

The men obeyed. Three men walked hastily out of the room, making their way down to the servants quarters to request what was needed, and another two began locking doors, while Silvia continued to order the men around.

I sat there, watching all the commotion, wishing that I could actually do something for once.

 

*

 

“Someone broke in? To the princess’s chambers?” I pushed aside the wine glass and platter of pastries as my father paced around the room, his arms behind his back.

“Yes… We’re not sure who, though.” He stopped, turned to me, and laughed. “I highly doubt the princesses will enjoy a fat fiancé.”

“Like they will care. At least I can wield a sword- Keira might be impressed by that.” I rolled my eyes and shoved a chocolate-covered strawberry into my mouth, letting the chocolate melt on my tongue.

“You hope Keira will like that.” He began, taking the platter away from me. “You might just have to be a little romantic with her, but I’m afraid that is your weak spot. There is no hope!” He joked.

“There is plenty of hope, father!” I replied, laughing. I brushed crumbs from my lap as I stood up, and walked to the door. “I’m going to see the princesses, make sure they’re okay.”

I reached for my sword and pulled on the doorknob, only to find the door locked.

“They locked us in until further warning.”

“A wonderful way to treat guests!” I yelled. I threw my sword down, letting it clang on the ground.

My mother strode in, pulling her robe closer to her. Her hair was in long waves, and I noticed her wrinkly face.

“Actually, I’m quite delighted that they locked us in- or locked whoever broke into this place out.” She covered her mouth as she yawned. “Remember the one time we had a break in at the palace of Brened, and they put us even closer to where the break in happened?”

My father laughed. “I do, and I refuse to ever visit that place again.” I rolled my eyes as mother walked to him, taking his hand in hers.

“I must get some rest before tomorrow, I promised princess Mai that I would accompany her on a tour of the gardens in the morning.” She smiled, kissed my father lightly on the cheek and walked into the other room where she and my father were to spend the night.

“Goodnight, mother. Sweet dreams.” I smiled as my father walked with her. He stopped at the door, and looked back at me.

“Daven, get some sleep. You’ve got to be up for the hunt in the morning.” He winked at me and walked into the room. I nodded slowly as he shut the door, and looked down at my hands.

I wanted this whole ‘marriage’ thing to be over with. Yes, I enjoyed women and loved to spend time with them, but this constant search for the perfect woman is driving me crazy.

I reached for the candle that was sitting on the table and picked it up. I walked over to my bed and pulled the covers back, set the candle on the nightstand, and climbed into the bed. I sunk into the mattress and leaned over to blow out the candle, then rolled over as the smoke from the small fire rose into the room.

I was asleep in seconds, only to be greeted by nightmares and the cold of the night.

 
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