The Shadow Chronicles (Competition)

The newest king of Edrenor, Samuel Tygar, seems like the perfect solution to all of the kingdom's problems. But for Samuel's sister, Genevieve, the problems are only piling higher and higher. (Entry to the Red Queen Competition)

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1. Chapter One

Part One: The Secret of the Shadow

 

Kingdom of Edrenor, present-day:

     Genevieve scurried down the hall, her light dress brushing against the polished marble. Her satin slippers padded her footsteps as she sneaked past brilliant ballrooms and behind colossal columns. Every once in a while, she would check behind her, watching for invisible trailers to step out of the darkness, and every time she would sigh a little in relief, compose herself, and once again start on her trek. As she neared the end of her journey, though, she became more carefree, glancing back less and less and moving quicker than ever. Rounding the final corner, she walked straight out into the middle of the hallway, expecting no opposition from the flickering candles sitting at their posts. She strode down the cardinal-red carpet, about to reach the final steps, when she was stopped with a cry from behind her-

     “Halt, intruder!"

     Genevieve froze in place, closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, and then turned around. Discarding the sick feeling in her stomach, she stammered, “Uhm, hello. I-I’m not actually an intruder, as you might have guessed already. I was just, um…"

     “Princess Genevieve! What are you doing out here so early this morning? I would never have expected someone of your age to do something as foolish as this. I demand an explanation!” A guard shouted up at her from partway down the hall, where he was accompanied by five others.

     “Well, I, uh.. I was just.. I was just looking for, um..."

     "Looking for what, exactly?” Genevieve’s head spun on her shoulders as she reached for some answer, any answer...

     “Sir?” One of the other guards held up a piece of white fabric for his captain to inspect. “A maid did find a shawl of Miss Genevieve’s in the library as she was cleaning this past night, sir. Perhaps this is what she was looking for?"

     Genevieve’s eyes widened in excitement. “Yes, actually, as a matter of fact, yes, I was looking for that, and, as you can see, I was just heading to the library just now to look for it. I had noticed it was gone last night before I went to bed, and I just couldn’t sleep, knowing that it was in there, just sitting there on a table, gathering dust and whatnot, so I came down here to get it.” She rubbed her fingers and thumb together through her nightdress as she waited for the head guard’s reply.

     “Well… I suppose that’s fine, Miss Genevieve. I’ll have one of my own walk you back to your room for safety’s sake.” He nodded toward the guard carrying her shawl, and he stepped forward expectantly.

     “Oh, that would be just wonderful, sir, thank you very much. I'll head back to my room, then.” She stepped back down onto the scarlet carpet, and walked towards the guards. Before he left, however, the head guard delivered a final message: “You know, of course, that I’ll have to report this to your brother."

     Genevieve’s breath caught in her throat. “Wh- my brother? I’m sure you don’t have to do that, sir; we’ve got all this figured out, I think we need not worry him about such a trivial matter."

     The guard shook his head. “Everything that goes on in this castle must be reported to the king; you should know that better than anyone. Don't think you can just go around doing whatever you want because you're the princess."

     Genevieve’s smile quivered, the queasy feeling in her stomach rising once again. “I assure you that I won't be doing any of that, sir. I suppose I’ll be going now, then?"

     The guard returned her smile. “Yes, of course, Miss Genevieve. On your way, then."

     She followed the guard carrying her shawl away from the others, still reeling from what had just happened. As they rounded the corner, her legs buckled under her and she nearly fell, with only the guard’s quick reflexes stopping her.

     “What’s wrong, miss? Are you feeling alright?” He helped her over to the closest wall and she slid down it, collapsing at the bottom like a broken doll. “Do you need any help? Should I go get someone?"

     She sighed and rubbed at her eyes, then looked up at the guard and offered a weak smile. “I’ll be fine in just a few moments, thank you. It’s just that all of it just got to me, right then, but don’t worry, please. You’ve been more of a help than I ever assumed any of those awful guards ever would be, and that certainly deserves its own merit. I think I’ll need a bit more time until I’m fully back up on my feet, so if you’d like, you could join me down here. If it isn’t too much trouble for you, I mean,” she offered.

     “Sure, I guess.” He pressed his back against the wall and slowly slipped down it, keeping his legs straightened so that his shoes skidded on the floor. “Sorry about that- it’s a new uniform, still pretty stiff, and I’m not supposed to get any creases in it. I suppose you’ll be wanting this back?” He offered her the shawl, and she accepted it, pulling it around her shoulders for warmth. “So, why are you so afraid of your brother?"

     Genevieve stared at him, puzzled. “What do you mean?"

     “Well, from what I’ve heard, he isn’t that bad a guy.” He glanced up at her, his eyes filled with curiosity.

     “Well, why do you care? It’s not too often a palace guard asks me about personal relationships such as these."

     His eyes darted away, and he shook his head before replying. “Look, I'm sorry. I guess I didn’t think that out very well. I guess I only care because you both seem like nice people, so I can’t understand why you wouldn’t like him. He didn’t do anything absolutely horrible, did he?” He stared at one of the buttons on his jacket, picking at it with his thumbnail.

     After a few moments of almost-complete silence, Genevieve spoke up. “No, he didn’t, but you’re right. I shouldn’t have been so harsh with you, and I apologize for that. If you’d like, I suppose I wouldn’t mind telling you about my brother."

     “If you’re not comfortable with it, you really don’t have to, honestly. It was my fault for trying to pry into your private life."

     Genevieve glanced back over at him. “I think it would be helpful for me, actually, to tell someone what I’ve been thinking. But first things first: what’s your name?"

     “Charles. Charles Sartre. And I’d ask you yours, but that’s a bit spoiled, huh?" He half-smiled over at her and shrugged his shoulders.

     “Charles Sartre, a name fit for a king. Well, Charles Sartre, my story begins back when my brother and I were only children…"

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