Chapter 2 - Arriving at Rykiss
It was early in the morning and the bright warmth of the sun had already begun to beat down upon the lands below, bringing about the promise of new growth and rejuvenated life.
A grand procession had just arrived at Castle Woodsend after a long journey up from the South with a royal meeting having been arranged between the Kingdom of Rykiss’ ruler, King Greggory, and the powerful Warlord King Draxus who ruled over majority of the Southern lands. King Draxus was no ordinary man and had become quite infamous over the past ten years or so. Many who knew him feared him. None would dare to challenge his rule and a rare few had managed to survive his wrath; King Greggory was one of those who knew and feared Draxus.
Standing high above on his own private balcony, King Greggory watched as around fifty or so black horses and large black carriage rolled up to the base of the staircase, which lead up to the castle’s main entrance.
As he stood watching over the movement below him a sudden warmth began to surround him, along with a familiar scent as two loving arms wrapped around his waist from behind. It was his beautiful wife, Queen Katherine.
“You don’t have to do this, you know.” her gentle voice spoke from behind him, making him smile.
Greggory let out a long and exaggerated sigh.
“Yes, I do... times have been extremely hard for our people of late. The last thing they need now is a possible war added to their troubles. Especially one we cannot think to win.”
Releasing her grip from him, the Queen moved around to his side; turning his face with her hand to meet her gaze, ever so gently. Her warm smile was somewhat comforting to him.
“You and I both know the type of man we are choosing to invite into our home. The possible dangers this meeting can cause. Is it really necessary, Greggory?” she asked with furrowed brows.
Lifting his hand to cup the side of her face gently, King Greggory forced a smile to mask his inner worries.
“Katherine, how many times do we have to discuss this? You know how powerful this man is, the forces at his command. We cannot risk him becoming our enemy. This meeting is to negotiate a peaceful solution... for us all.”
“For us to kneel before a tyrant? I still don’t agree with it.” she snapped, rolling her eyes and pulling away from his hand. “I’ve seen his army and all of his power. We have nothing to fear from him.”
His voice was a whisper now intended solely for his ears alone, “My love, if only you know the half of it...”
“And what of Lillian, have arrangements been made to ensure her safety for the duration of these negotiations of yours?” Katherine interrogated.
“Of course, my men will ensure she remains hidden inside the castle the entire time. She will be nowhere near any of this. I promise, you have nothing to worry about my love.”
He pulled her in for another hug and added “I take it you still wish to remain here in our chambers until their departure?”
“Yes. I want nothing to do with this... madness.”
He nodded and then kissed her tenderly on top of her head.
“I’ll ensure things run smoothly and that he and his forces are gone from here as soon as possible.” he assured her with another smile. “You have my word.”
“I’ll hold you to it!” she taunted with a deviant smile. “Don’t think you being King gives you some sort of immunity to being punished, my lord!”
Greggory smiled at her sarcasm.
As the two leaned in together to share one last kiss, the King stepped away and straightened his robes.
“Well, wish me luck!”
“Good luck, my love.”
With those assuring words, Greggory smiled as he began to make his way down to meet and greet his arriving guests. Queen Katherine was left standing on her own to watch the procession below.
It was clear that this morning was going to be a difficult one; unfortunately they had no idea of just how difficult!
Meanwhile, great efforts had been made to ensure that the Princess was kept as far away from all of the drama as possible and she was sitting at her desk, brushing her long golden hair in the mirror in front of her. Several guards had been posted by her door this morning, which she found quite unusual, but pushed the worry aside easily. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened before, after all.
Lillian had no interest in all of the boring politics her father engaged in on a daily basis; she was eager to get down to her large flower garden and begin another day’s work of careful pruning and sampling in the smells and surrounds of such a magical place. It was one of her few escapes from her dull and at times depressing life.
Reaching down she grasped the handle to her bedroom chamber door and turned it, but paused in concern when she realised that it had been locked! She had been locked in her own room! Who in the entire Kingdom would be brave enough to do such a thing to her? Then it clicked; her father!
Lifting her clenched fist toward the surface of the wooden door, she slammed it down twice and angrily shouted out for someone on the other side of it to hear.
“Excuse me! I demand to know why this door has been locked!”
She paused for a moment, awaiting a reply.
“Sorry your majesty. We’ve been given strict orders from the King to ensure you remain in your chambers until this evening.” A faceless voice explained. “Again, my apologies Princess. It’s for your own safety.”
“My safety!” she shouted back, angrily. “What are you talking about? This is ridiculous!”
But this time there was no reply and the infuriated Princess pursed her lips tightly together, hitting the door one last time for good measure. She groaned loudly and turned back around, her emerald green eyes catching sight of the balcony doors. A possible escape route, she thought to herself.
As this was not the first time Lillian had been locked in her room, she had other means of escape in mind immediately after being told she had been ordered to stay, and the balcony was the next easiest way.
After a careful climb down a nearby tree, Lillian finally placed her two delicate feet down onto the soft strands of grass below and tidied her hair as she checked to make sure that no one had sighted her. After all, she had just broken one of the King’s commands! When the coast was clear, she quickly stepped across towards the nearby corridor and began making her way down toward the flower garden. She had no idea of what was currently happening at the other side of the castle, but would soon unintentionally find out.