Chapter 14 - Leaving Home
Lillian was surprised to wake in an empty bed the next morning, but welcomed the chance to relax a little on her own as she stretched out her naked body amongst the comfort of her surrounding pillows and blanket.
It had been a long night for her given her circumstances.
Not only was she forced to lose her virginity and experience her first ever sexual experience with such a dangerous man, but she was intrigued by the intimacy they shared. There was something between them that she was starting to notice; a spark which seemed to ignite when they were together. Perhaps she was merely imagining it.
She wasn’t entirely sure.
She let out a loud groan as her eyes began to acclimatize to the brightness of her surroundings.
After taking her time to get out of bed she made her way to the heated pool and slowly submerged herself in it’s scented water. Her long golden hair slowly sunk beneath the surface as she closed her eyes and leaned back into the liquid’s warmth. As her head dipped underneath the surface the world around her seemed to silence and all she could hear was the sound of her heart beating loudly, over and over.
A sudden sound caught her attention as she quickly rose from underneath the water and opened her eyes to see a figure approaching from the doorway.
It was one of her handmaidens, a familiar brunette she recognized as Gretta.
“My lady, King Draxus has requested that I ready you for your immediate departure. It seems that you are to leave us today.”
Lillian felt her heart sink as the realization dawned on her; she was being forced to leave her home, the place she had resided her entire life and shared many happy memories. As Draxus’ Queen she would be expected to travel along with him on his journey of conquest, wherever that may take her. She had never once ventured beyond the great gates of Rykiss; it appeared that this would indeed be a day of firsts for her.
With a small sigh, Lillian exited the pool and Gretta assisted her to dress and prepare for her journey.
The soldiers sat atop their black stallions, all waiting patiently for their new Queen to arrive; they were set to depart any minute now. The large black carriage was ready for departure as King Draxus swiftly emerged through the main entrance, accompanied by his King’s Guard soldiers, General Shasharan and his third in command, Zaar who marched along behind him.
Noticing Lillian was nowhere to be seen, Draxus became frustrated as he turned to his General.
“Where is she?”
“Master, I’m afraid your Queen has not yet arrived. But I have been informed that she is due to arrive at any moment.” Shasharan reported. “Perhaps she is saying her goodbyes.”
Draxus scoffed, shaking his head.
“I don’t have time for this.” he turned to Zaar, “Go and find her. Make sure to inform our Queen that her King is waiting for her.”
Remaining silent, Zaar replied with a bowed head as he marched in the opposite direction, back into the castle.
The General could see the obvious frustration boiling over in his King and felt he needed to say something to try and calm him, or at least change the subject to kill time. He remembered something that he had been meaning to ask Draxus since yesterday.
“My lord, may I ask you something?”
Draxus did not make eye contact as he replied dryly.
“May as well...”
“You know I would not dare question your leadership choices, that I hold you with the highest of respects as my leader and my King...” he paused.
Draxus could sense what was coming next as his left brow rose.
Shasharan continued, “I wonder why you chose to make this particular woman your Queen?”
“Do you not approve of your new Queen, General?” Draxus taunted with a grin.
“Of course I do, it’s not that. She is quite exquisite, her beauty is beyond compare. It’s just...”
Shasharan paused, unsure of whether he should continue to pry.
Draxus turned to face him, sensing this caution.
“Go ahead, General.”
As Shasharan stepped closer to his King he looked around to see who was nearby. It appeared that he was trying to ensure his next words would only be shared between the two of them.
“Master you surprised everyone in that meeting, including myself when you requested the Princess’ hand in marriage. You’d not yet even met the girl and you wanted to make her your Queen... why?”
Draxus grinned; his friend and ally had noticed after all.
“Sometimes I think you know me too well, Shasharan.”
“Is there something I should be aware of, master, something about our new Queen I should perhaps know?” he enquired quietly. “You know you can always confide in me.”
Draxus thought to himself for a moment, not quite sure of whether he should agree to confide in Shasharan or not. In truth, the General was a trusted advisor and probably should be aware of the truth about Lillian, but Draxus feared news spreading and reaching the wrong ears. Perhaps now was not the right time.
“All in due time, General...” Draxus turned and patted Shasharan on the shoulder in a friendly manner. “All in due time.”
Meanwhile, Lillian was with her parents in the flower garden; her favorite place in the entire castle, spending their final minutes together before her inevitable departure.
“I don’t want to leave.” Lillian’s voice was soft as her father held her in his warm embrace.
Tears were shared between the three as they stood closely huddled together as a family. In truth no one wanted this to be happening but the harsh reality was, there was no other choice.
As Greggory pulled away from her, his eyes glassy and red, he forced a smile and watched as Katherine wrapped Lillian in her arms. Among many thoughts circling within his head, Greggory was worried about one more than any other; it was quite likely that this would be the very last time that they would ever see their beloved daughter alive! The thought like a dagger to his heart as he stood beside his wife.
“Promise me you will stay safe.” Katherine whispered to her daughter, who was still wrapped in her warm embrace.
Lillian nodded, “I promise, mother.”
Katherine then pulled herself away from Lillian and began straightening her hair and wiping a stray tear away from her soft rosy cheek. Lillian sniffed, forcing a smile to hide her obvious fear and anger; she wanted to remain strong in front of her parents. The last thing she wanted was for them to go on worrying about her for the rest of their lives. She needed them to know she would be ok, even if she herself wasn’t entirely sure that would be the case.
A sudden voice startled them as all three turned to see Zaar standing about two metres away from them. His posture showed that he was in a hurry.
“It’s time,” he held out a hand for her to take. “Come. The King is waiting.”
Looking back to her parents, Katherine could see that Lillian was beginning to allow fear to take over once again and she knew she needed to do something to prevent it. Lillian needed to remain strong now more than ever.
Taking both of her hands firmly, Katherine looked deeply into her daughter’s beautiful emerald eyes and said two words which seemed to echo inside of Lillian’s head, even after she had spoken them.
“Will I ever see you again?” Lillian asked with furrowed brows.
“Who knows what tomorrow will bring, my dear.” Greggory chimed in with a smile. “Never lose hope.”
“Be the Queen you were born to be.” Katherine added, squeezing Lillian’s hands inside of her own.
Before Lillian could say anything in response, Zaar stepped forward and calmly took Lillian by the hand, nodding to both the King and Queen as he began to lead their daughter away towards the waiting carriage at the front of the castle.
A heartbroken mother and father were forced to stand and watch as their only child was slowly lead away from them, for a future they would have no say in. Their grief-filled expressions said it all as Greggory held Katherine around both of her shoulders, half in an effort to comfort her, but also to keep her from giving chase. He knew how much Lillian meant to his wife; she was her reason for living.
And now she was gone.
As Zaar appeared at the entrance to the castle, with Lillian following along close behind him, both King Draxus and his General moved across to their waiting horses and mounted them with ease.
Staring down from his massive giant black stallion, Draxus met Lillian’s gaze for a moment until she looked away from him. She did not seem impressed; the clear evidence of tear marks staining her rosy cheeks and her eyes red from all of the crying she had been doing. Zaar led her across to the carriage and opened the door, assisting her with one arm outstretched to step up the steps and climb inside. Once she was inside, he closed the door behind her and moved across to where his horse stood waiting for him to mount.
Draxus took one last look around, then deciding they were ready to make their move, he made the command loudly for all to hear.
With a hard whip against his horse’s neck King Draxus led his company forward as they slowly began to make their way down the rocky road, on their way to their next destination. Draxus himself led the way along with General Shasharan, Zaar and the King’s Guard following along closely behind him, then the heavily guarded carriage and the remaining soldiers behind.
Sitting inside of the carriage now, Lillian watched with great sadness as Castle Woodsend, her home, began to grow smaller and smaller as they continued along the winding road. Fighting back tears, she closed her eyes and focused for a moment on her breathing instead. With a deep breath in, then a long exhale she found she was beginning to calm herself down...
That was until a feminine voice suddenly spoke.
Lillian looked up in both surprise and fright to see a pale woman with long black hair and white eyes sitting opposite her on the seat.
“It’s nice to finally meet you.”