The Red Sapphire

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Chapter 27

The city was in an uproar as word had reached them about the tragedy in Dykelands. It was hard for the carriage to get anywhere as all roads leading to the palace were jammed. Aliana tapped her feet impatiently and looked out the window every few minutes.

“Keep your head inside princess.” said the guard for possibly the hundredth time. She could sense his growing annoyance, but she really needed to get moving. Milos’s life could depend on it.

The palace was just in sight and it was an easy walk from here. “Oh hell with this.” She opened the door and stepped outside.

“Princess it would be better for you to remain inside.” said a guard appearing at her side immediately.

“I need to speak to the king urgently. The palace is just right there, I will walk the rest of the way as it will be nightfall before we move.”

“It would only be a few more minutes and it will be dangerous...”

“I am walking and if you are concerned with danger then two of you come with me. The driver can take the carriage up himself.” she said and started up the hill. She looked in the periphery and noted that two of them were scrambling after her.

Walking wasn’t much better but at least she was moving. Ten minutes later she was at the palace gates which had even more soldiers lined up around it as they tried to bar the crowds from entering. She approached one of the guards.

“I need to get inside now.” she said.

“You and the rest of Garion lady. The king will not be taking visitors at this time.” he said pushing her away.

“It is obvious you don’t know who I am sir, considering I’ve been kept inside since I arrived, but I need to see my father-in-law, the king.”

The soldier sneered and then he touched another of his colleagues. “This girl claims that she is the Arnayan whore.” he and his mate guffawed loudly.

Ire flared up within her. In two quick motions, she held the guard’s sword at his neck. Several soldiers surrounded her immediately all pointing their weapons at her. “Open the gates now or you will regret denying me.”

“If anyone will be regretting anything it will be you. I can’t wait until this over so that I can personally have you flayed.”

Where were her stupid guards when you needed them? “Very well then.” she said dropping the sword sticking it in the earth. The guard stepped forward and she punched him in the nose. She felt a satisfying crack.

She then grabbed the sword and made little work of the next guard that surged forward. With one flick of her wrist, his sword now belonged to her. She twirled both weapons dramatically and pointed them outwards circling the guards. She’d forgotten how much she’d loved sparring. A good way to dispose of pent up anger and they had made her plenty angry.

Another soldier stepped forward to challenge her when a voice from inside the gates called out. “What is going on? What is the meaning of this?”

She recognised the man from the palace, Hardling she believed he was called, and was the Captain of the Guard.

“This wretch is making a pest of herself. She was claiming to be the Arnayan princess and wanted to enter the palace grounds.” said the guard she’d punched. Aliana smirked as she still noted the blood streaming from his nose.

Hardling looked at her with startled recognition. “This wretch as you said soldier is the Princess Aliana and the wife of Crown prince Milos. Pay your respects you imbeciles!” he roared and each of the soldiers who only few minutes wanted to skewer her on their swords dropped to their knees and bowed.

She could feel fear blooming around her as by now she was sure they were all picturing themselves swinging from the city gallows.

Captain Hardling approached and he too bowed. “I apologise on behalf of my men Your Highness.”

“All is well, Captain. You may stand. All of you.” she said the soldiers around her stood. “They have never seen my face before and don’t know me, so they were only performing their duties.” she handed him the swords. “However, their swordplay was atrocious, see to it that they improve. They are responsible for securing the lives of all who live in the palace.”

“Your Highness,” he bowed. “I will see to it that all present will be dealt with severely.”

“No need for punishment Captain. Hard times faces us all I need to know is that we have men ready to do all that is necessary to protect Crown and country.” she stopped in front of the guard who’d pushed her. “Do not fret soldier, I find the title of the Arnayan whore quite endearing. I do enjoy being my husband’s slut.” she smiled at him as his eyes widened in shock.

“Get back to your posts!” barked the Captain. He handed the swords back to one of his men and then followed her through the gates. “You left with guards and a carriage this morning princess, how is it that you are here alone?”

“The carriage was stuck in the line of others trying to get here, so I walked. As for my guards,” she shrugged. “I suppose I was being difficult while getting here and they thought I needed a lesson of some sort.”

“I see,” he said. “And Prince Milos? He left with you this morning.”

“He stayed behind in the Dykelands. That is why I needed to speak with the king urgently.” her former worry resurfacing.

“I will personally accompany you to the throne room preventing further delays.” he said as he increased his pace to match hers.

“That would be welcomed Captain.”

“I must ask, but were you really going to fight all fifty of my men?”

“If that was what it took to get in. Then yes.”

He let out a gruff laugh. “It is good that I came then, because I have the feeling that you’d have succeeded.”

“You can bet your stars on that Captain.” she said smirking.

“The throne room.” he said. As she was about to enter he added. “I am now beginning to understand why Prince Milos chose you to be his wife princess. I look forward to serving you as Queen.” he bowed slightly and then walked away.

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