“Crown prince! You are Crown prince of Garion!” said Aliana as she was still in shock.
“So, it would appear.” said Milos who had the audacity to look surprised as well. He touched the captain and motioned for him to stand. “What happened to my brother Genos?”
“I am sorry to be the one to tell you Your Highness that Prince Genos is dead. Murdered by who we think were Arnayan assassins.”
“Dead?” said Milos as shock suddenly got mixed in with pain and denial.
“His pyre was lit at dawn.”
“But Arnay would never do something like that.” refuted Aliana.
“Wouldn’t they? Five days ago, the ambassador comes to court demanding the release of their missing princess when we had no princess to give, our prince winds up dead. That was too much of a coincidence and a definite act of war. As of today, we are at war with Arnay. Soldiers have already started for the border and all incoming traffic into the city are to be thoroughly searched to prevent any further threat to the crown.” he said looking at Aliana as if she were no better than pond scum.
“We are happy to see you returned Your Majesty as the succession was in question and now any turmoil between the noble houses will be extinguished. Timely too, as now we can focus on exterminating our true enemies.” finished the captain as he pointed looked at Aliana.
“This cannot be true.” she continued to protest.
“Genos cannot be dead.” whispered Milos.
“Didn’t you hear anything else he said?” she said going up to him. “Arnay is currently at war and you are fixated on the death of your brother.”
“My brother is dead!” he said shouting at her. His eyes were red rimmed with tears and madness. “My brother is dead, and our countries are at war because of you!” he said as he shook her with each word and breaking sob. “So yes, princess I heard everything that was said.”
“Milos stop it! I have nothing to do with your brother’s death.” she said as she struggled to get free of his vice like grip. He let go of her abruptly staring at his hands like they weren’t his own.
“Your Majesty, what should we do with the princess?” asked the captain.
“Take her to her room and get me to the palace without delay.” he said wiping his face with the back of his hands and then walked away.
“Milos! I am not your prisoner!” she shouted as the soldiers pushed her below and followed after.
“Your room?” asked one of the guards flatly.
“I need to speak to Milos.” she said.
“The prince doesn’t wish to speak with you. Your quarters? We could do this the easy way or the hard way. The prince spared you from hard way Highness, don’t tempt fate as I am sure you will not be so lucky this time.” His grip on the shoulder tightened.
“Fifth door on the left.” she relented. “I will walk no need to push.” she said freeing herself from his hold and ambled along the passage. When he got to her door, he shoved her in and closed the door behind him.
She tried the knob, but it wouldn’t turn. So, she was a prisoner then. “Spider my foot!” she cursed and then went to sit on the bed.
She has been travelling with the prince of Garion for days and didn’t know. He slept of floors and ate sloppy rations, nothing royal about that all. What was he doing parading as a magistrate in Arnay? And why was he missing from his own country for two years? So many questions and no answers she could figure out without talking to Milos herself.
Her eyes caught a piece of folded paper on the table. She stretched over and took it up. She gasped as this was the likeness of her mother. This was a little different though as her mother’s eyes were always kind, while this woman’s were fierce and why did her hair seem to be on fire? How well had Milos known her mother that he could draw her with this amount of accuracy?
She folded back the picture, placing it in her pocket. The next few days if she lived that long, were going to be unpleasant, she could sense it. She blew out the lamp and flung herself down on the bed. She was going to have to figure out how she was going to get herself out of this mess.