After an eventful night recalling what I’d overheard to the Queen, nothing had actually occurred. They either decided not to carry through with it or they had been discussing a later date. Whether it was the first or latter situation, the idea still frightened me to think about. I skipped breakfast today, deciding to instead explore the maze of white rose bushes I’d noticed the previous day out the back of the palace.
Making my way out, I’d grabbed another dress from the closet, but today it was a vibrant purple colour matched with a pair of whimsical striped tights that resembled the ones I wore often back home. Reluctantly adding a pair of heels to get out of the palace before slipping them off to carry once more, I made my way into the maze and slowly started my seemingly endless journey of trying to find my way out.
After what felt like a couple hours of aimless wandering, I heard the soft click of shoes on the stone. Making my way cautiously towards the sound, faint muttering slowly came to my ears. “Hello?” I called softly, looking around all the bushes. “Is anyone out there?” Immediately the footsteps and muttering stopped, which caused me to stop as well. “I’m sorry if I frightened you I just—“ I was cut off when I screamed as a hand rested on my shoulder from behind and I quickly turned around.
Looking up at the figure that had approached me, it was a gentleman of a rather tall height, with wavy blond locks and a particularly chiselled face. He chuckled softly when he realized I’d been silently staring at him for several moments, which quickly broke my train of thought and brought my attention back to his piercing blue eyes.
“Enjoying the view?” He asked with a rather cocky smirk, flipping some hair off his face. “I uh… I was just frightened is all.” I covered quickly, “I didn’t expect anyone else to be out here.” His head fell into a small nod, smirk still tugging at the corners of his lips. “You were so afraid you couldn’t do anything but stare at my chest?” He asked, my eyes drifting down now that I realized he wasn’t wearing a shirt. His chest was perfectly sculpted, scattered with tattoos of Latin words and symbols I had never seen before. “I’ll take that as a yes.” He said as he stepped forward, once again breaking my train of thought. He fell into a low bow, slowly pulling his posture back up to the previous state. “I have heard much about you, Shae. My mother talks about you frequently.” He said simply, his smirk now becoming an honest smile. “I had hoped I could meet you before you left on your journey.” “Your mother? I questioned with a slight tilt of my head, “Who’s your mother?”
“My mother, well adoptive mother, is the Queen. She took me into her care when I fell to Wonderland 18 years ago.” He said, head falling into a small nod. “So, you’re the Prince then?” He shrugged, “I suppose so, I prefer to go by Rhydian though.” He said simply, beginning to lead me through the seemingly endless maze of white roses. “Shall I assume that’s your name then?” I asked in a half-hearted way of teasing, to which he chuckled softly. “It’s the name my mother gave me; I didn’t remember anything about my life previous to Wonderland when she found me.” This time it was my turn to allow my head to fall into a small nod, “So you’re from the land above like I am and now you’re the heir to the Wonderland throne should I stop Alice?” Rhydian chuckled softly, fingers running through his hair. “It would seem so, Shae. But don’t let that pressure you, I’m certain I’ll find a way to get my mothers crown back should you not want to continue. I realize what a large task it can be.” I slowed to a stop in my tracks, hands moving to rest on my hips as my heels swung at my side. “Are you saying you don’t think I can handle stopping Alice on my own?” I questioned, my brow furrowing into a slight frown. “I’m simply saying it’s a lot for a girl to handle.” He said simply with a slight shrug, stopping to look over his shoulder at me. “Now we should get you back into the palace where it’s safe, wouldn’t want our saviour getting herself hurt before the big journey, would we?” He asked mockingly, his smirk returning as he wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me along towards the palace.
By the time we reached the inside of the palace, I had reluctantly returned my heels to my feet and Rhydian was still dragging me through the palace towards the west wing where all the bedrooms were located.
“Where are you taking me?” I groaned as I was pulled half-heartedly through the marble halls. Although I didn’t mind the perfectly chiselled arm that was around my lower back, his attitude could certainly use some improvement. “Just shut up.” He growled in response, “You’ll see when we get there.”
A few doors later he roughly opened one and shoved me inside, causing me the stumble in and quickly loose my balance in the heels, grabbing hold of the dresser I nearly fell into for support. He stepped in after me, closing the door quietly before turning to face me as he let out a breath. I simply stared at him in disbelief, bewildered that a guy like this could be so easily in line for the throne after a Queen as good-hearted as Mirana is.
“What do you want with me?” I insisted, my eyes following him as he crossed the room to a wardrobe on the opposite side. “Why have you brought me here?”
“Oh, just shut up!” He growled, grabbing a plain white shirt that did nothing to hide the dark marks of his tattoos once it had been pulled over his head. “Do you want them to find us?” He asked rhetorically, rolling his eyes sarcastically afterwards.
“I’m not sure yet.” I replied simply, arms crossing over my chest as I regained balance, “I don’t know why I’m here yet.” My eyebrow twitched up, mimicking an expression my father held often while trying to get information out of myself or my brothers when something goes wrong.
“I need you to take me with you when you leave with Terrant tomorrow.” Rhydian said bluntly, his arms crossing over his chest to match mine. “And why should I do that?”
“Because I said so!” He growled quickly in response, fingers combing anxiously through his hair and tugging on the ends as he finished his statement.
I was slightly taken back by the desperation hinted in his voice, the corners of my lips tugging down into a slight frown before shaking it off.
As he pulled his hands out of his hair, leaving the untamed blonde waves and curls a tangled and frizzy mess, he flicked his eyes up to meet mine, a hint of sadness echoed through the deep blue orbs under the undeniable frustration that lay overtop. “This is the land that I will rule one day; it should have been me that was chosen to save my people, not you.” He said, head shaking slightly in distrust. “I won’t take no for an answer. I will get you from your room in the morning when we meet Terrant, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.”
He eyebrow flicked up in question, arms still wound tightly over my chest. “And what if I don’t want you coming? This is after all my journey, not yours. You might just slow me down.”
“I said,” he growled, fists clenching at his sides, “no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And that is final.” He finished through gritted teeth, his eyes darkening as he continued to watch my closely.
Concealing a gulp of nervousness, I simply shook my head and stood my ground. “No, Rhydian. I shall see you in the morning to say my goodbyes and that will be all.” My head fell into a simple and quick nod, turning on my heels and making my way quickly to the door.
As my hand gripped the doorknob, the silver blade of a sword pierced through the door, only barely missing my temple as it sliced through the wood easily. “I said, I will pick you up at your room in the morning.” Rhydian growled from behind me as my eyes nervously fell shut. I felt the blade being quickly jerked out of the wooden door, the blonde boy’s breath ghosting over my ear. “Have I made myself clear?” My head fell into a nod once more before I yanked the door open, making my way into the doorway before his hand tightly grasped my arm, surely leaving an already darkening bruise in its place. “Goodnight, Shae.” He said, breath dancing over my neck, making my hair stand on end. I could practically hear his smirk in his voice, his eerie, seductive voice only making my heart race that much faster. “I’ll see you in the morning.” Immediately after, he dropped my arm and slammed the door shut behind me, the force of it closing on my heels enough to send me toppling forward into the floor. I quickly scrambled to my feet, running and stumbling through the halls as I bit back tears.
By the time I’d reached my room, my vision was completely blurred over my tears and I could barely walk straight in the heels I’d had to wear all day. Closing and locking the door behind me, I immediately slipped out of my heels and collapsed into the bed, curling up with the pillow and letting the tears that had been threatening to fall slip over my cheeks and stain the pillow I was hugging tightly to my chest.
It took barely any time before I’d fallen asleep into yet another restless, dreamless slumber. . . .