Chapter 1 - The Calm Before The Storm
Sunlight burst through the room as she drew back the curtains with a jerk; the heavy material lagging in its movements. The day was beautiful with the sun shining bright with no clouds for it to hide behind. From the window, the busy courtyard was visible as servants and soldiers milled about their day. There was to be a feast that night to celebrate the upcoming addition to the royal family. She took a moment to watch as a servant bumped into a soldier. The young girl's load fell to the floor and her lips moved quickly in apology. What surprised her was that the soldier the girl had run into stooped down and helped her pick up the sheets that had fallen out of the basket she had carried on her hip. It brought a smile to her face. There was some hope for the Telmarines after all.
The moment quickly ended and she turned away from the window with a content sigh. Gazing around the room, she had to let a frustrated groan escape her chapped lips. Clothes littered the stone floor mixed with armor and weapons from the previous days late night training. 'Lazy Boy.' Quickly, she went about the room picking up the clutter mumbling about how lazy her charge was. Even after eleven years, he still refused to pick up his stuff after a hard night's training session. The armor went back on its stand ready to be polished later, the clothes by the door to be laundered and the weapons went at the foot of the bed in a
His shoes went back into the wardrobe where she headed to grab some clothes for the day. It was filled with clothes of the same style. Trousers; that either had ties up the side of the legs or were just plain trousers. Under tunics; colors varying in white, grey/silver, black, brown, blue or red and the style of them was the exact same. Fancy over shirts; these had different patterns of all different colors and each style of the shirt was different. Picking out a worn white tunic, black trousers and a shirt to go over she closed the wardrobe quietly. On her way to the bathroom, she smiled at the young servant setting up a meal on the table. She was a cute girl of seventeen and was infatuated with her charge. She had the dark hair and tanned skin of her people but her eyes were a stunning green that she had complimented her for in the past.
The bathroom was warm and full of steam from the scalding hot bath they had brought in. It was the first thing that they brought in the mornings so the temperature had to be hot so as not to be too cool by the time it got used. Next to the brass tub, a table sat with towels already on it ready to be used. She set the clothes down underneath the towels so they would not get wet. To check that the temperature was just right she stuck her hand in and sighed. 'Perfect.' Sweat was starting to form on her upper lip so she took it as her sign to leave the muggy bathroom.
She dried her hands as she left and closed the door behind her. Now came for the fun part, waking up her charge. Ambling over to the four-poster curtained bed, she stopped at the edge. Allowing a mischievous grin to stretch over her face, she ripped open the curtains. A startled cry echoed through the room as the bright light hit the bed. The young man that had been sleeping had been facing the currently open curtains. Typically, she would shake him awake in the morning but today he had slept in and the sun was happy to help her wake him. She had a difficult time not falling to the ground laughing as he shoved a pillow in his face.
"Fif or mintis." His words were muffled by the pillow he held to his face and she chuckled knowing exactly what he had said.
"No, my liege I will not grant you five more minutes of sleep. Doctor Cornelius is expecting you in two hours." The pillow came away from his face and he glared at her grumpily. She smiled at him as he swung his feet over the side of the bed and scuffed them on the floor all the way to the bathroom. As soon as the door shut, she got to work stripping his bed of the sheets and replacing them with the new set she had brought in. She made short work of it and when he came back out, she was just putting the decorative pillows on.
"I am going out on a ride today if you wish to join me, Dris. You may carry my afternoon meal." He gave her a teasing smile to which she rolled her eyes.
"I would be glad to carry your lunch my Prince. When should I meet you in the stables?" She asked approaching him her hand out to take the towel he had been drying his hair. He handed it over and sat down to eat his breakfast.
"I'd say half past noon should do." She stayed in the room with him as he ate chatting with him, keeping him company. This was normal. Many of the other servants said that she and her charge were attached at the hip. She went with him nearly everywhere he went. Most of the time a female hand maiden did not serve a man of noble blood, it was typically a younger boy but she had been the exception. The Prince had argued that she was the only one he trusted to do the things she did for him because his parents had been the ones to assign her to him. He had won that battle, though many of the other Lords thought it improper. Neither of them cared if it was a scandal or improper, he was not king yet so it hardly mattered. He still flirted with the court women and did his duties so no one ever said a thing about removing him from her care.
There was a short knock on the door that stopped their conversation immediately. Without invitation, the visitor entered. It was the Prince's uncle, Lord Miraz. The man came in and said good mornings and she quickly got up and curtsied. He brushed passed her and took the seat she had previously occupied. Miraz hated her. She had been the one to show the Prince his tyranny. She straightened back up and moved to stand behind the Prince's seat looking at his uncle. His eyes roamed over her body and it sent unpleasant shivers up and down her spine.
"What can I do for you uncle?" The Prince's voice was even and betrayed no emotion. His body was tense though.
"Not you nephew, your hand maiden. My wife requests your presence." She simply nodded but inside she was screaming not be left alone with this man. They said goodbye and as she followed him out, she looked back at the Prince her gaze screaming 'Help me.'
The Lord walking beside her had a slow pace and it made her antsy. The way his eyes raked over her body made her want to empty the contents of her stomach. He had a wife, a pregnant wife. Yet his gazed at her lustfully. She quickened her pace not caring if it was rude to do so. His chuckle echoed in her ears, scaring her. Luckily, before anything could happen she reached the door and knocked. She entered with the invite and boldly closed the door in his face.
"Thank you for coming, Drisana." She turned around and smiled at the Prince's aunt.
An hour or so later she exited the room with a smile on her face. Prunaprismia had only wanted to talk to her about being there when she had the baby. Apparently, the other servants had told Prunaprismia that she had delivered more than a couple of children in her stay at the castle. This was true she had been around long enough to see many a mother through a healthy childbirth. This gave her an advantage and the Prince's aunt knew that. She would be in the room when the gender of the baby was discovered, giving her the chance to help the Prince escape if she needed to. Prunaprismia had always been fond of her nephew and had a feeling that her husband would do something rash for the throne so she had an unspoken agreement with Drisana to get him out if her child was a boy. Drisana had made her a promise and she was going to hold her to it.
Horses whinnied as she entered the stables glad for the company. The mare that Drisana frequently rode stuck her palomino head out of the stall in greeting as she. Freya was a calm tempered horse who was easy to ride; her gaits were smooth and rhythmic. She always enjoyed riding Freya. She gave the mare a groom before saddling her up, talking to her as she went. Freya would bob her head and snort as her responses bringing a smile to her face. In the stall across from Freya's was the Prince's horse that was pacing in her stall. Destrier was a beautiful black Friesian a wild horse she had helped the Prince at a younger age train. Her gait was not as smooth but her body was more muscular and built to drive carriages. This horse was special to the Prince. Destrier had come at the perfect moment in his life to distract him from all the pain and suffering of his parent's deaths. She remembered that day all too well.
The night had dragged on and she could not sleep. Light was beginning to show on the horizon as the sun began to rise. Something had been nagging at her all night forbidding her to sleep, as if she had forgotten to do something highly important. Shaking her head, she threw her feet out of bed and onto the cool stone floor of the servant's quarters. Careful not to wake the other girls she crept out of the room and into the dark hall. Her feet were bare and she only had on her nightgown with a random over dress thrown over the top. She had no idea where she was going, allowing her feet to guide her. She stopped by an unveiled window and looked out. The night sky was clear but no stars could be seen. The moon was full and outshining them. Down in the courtyard, soldiers stood at their posts looking like they were about to fall over from lack of sleep. Something caught her eye as she was about to turn away. Across the courtyard, a figure was walking looking suspicious. His shirt was a dark brown but on his sleeve was a much darker patch and on his belt was a dagger. She focused in on the man's face and was not entirely surprised that it was Lord Miraz. All she had to do was wait to see who had suffered at his blade.
Screams echoed through the night sending shivers down her spine. Screams she recognized. Her feet slapped across the stone as she ran towards the screaming and stopped dead in her tracks when she found the right door. The doors were wide open, allowing a full view of the bloodbath within. The once white sheets were now crimson and the color dripped to the floor slowly creating a puddle around the bed. On top of the two figures was a small boy, the one who was screaming for help. Upon seeing the boy, she ran forward and pulled him off the bed.
"No! Get off me! Let me go!" He screamed and he kicked at her but she did not let go. He fought her as she gathered him up in her arms and sat back against the wall by the bed.
"Shush, shush little Prince. It is going to be okay. You're safe." She soothed in his ear trying to get him to calm down. Finally, the fight was out of him and he fell against her chest sobbing for the loss of his parents. The blood pool grew bigger and bigger reaching her dress soaking the light material to a crimson color. She did not care. The boy she held in her arms was more important that her dress.
Guards ran in and saw the mess. They all froze for a few moments before one of them ran off to get help and the others came closer to inspect the damage. The king and queen had been killed. Their throats slit in the night when they had least expected it. She smoothed out the boy's hair and rested her chin on his shoulder. A guard crouched down to look her in the eyes, the look he gave her was almost accusatory but his eyes softened when tears welled up in her eyes. He knew she had not done this, he knew it was not her fault. He knew that she had just been the one to find the distraught Prince.
"Take him back to his room. My men will guard outside the door." His voice held authority and she could only nod as he helped her up from the ground. Her dress dripped the blood of the king and queen but the other servants would clean up the mess she made as she walked towards the door. "and miss..." He walked towards her handing her a dagger. "Do not leave his side until I come to get you. I'll have one of my guards fetch you some clean clothes."
"You beat me." The Prince's voice brought her out of her memory. Looking up he had a broad smile on his face as he got closer, carrying a basket. He did her the favor of tying it up behind Freya's saddle as well.
"Your aunt had only needed me for a moment, sire." She replied dipping her head in respect. He was standing close to her, close enough that she barely had to step forward and she would be right up against his chest.
"Will you ever call me by my birth name?" He asked as he swung up into his saddle. She had lost count long ago the amount of time he had asked her this question. It was not that she did not want to call him by his first name it was the fact that there were too many ears to hear her say it.
"Perhaps, my Prince but patience will have to be your friend until then." She too swung herself up into her saddle gracefully. She caught the eye roll that he gave her and she chuckled to herself.
They started out at a slow pace as they left the castle not daring to destroy their meal. It took a while to reach their destination but they did so in silence basking in the sun's rays. They passed through the town smiling at the people as they passed. They adored their Prince; he was their hope to a better future. The town had been a fun place to visit in the past but now it was dreary and dull. The life had left it since the passing of the king and queen. The children had stopped playing, the market had stopped buzzing and the windows and doors were always kept closed and locked. It saddened her to see such misery in the town she used to love so much.
Outside the town was a small forest that she used to explore with the Prince in his childhood. His mother and father would take her with them every time they went. She would keep him busy while they talked. To this day, she and the Prince still visited the same clearing, going there every chance they got. Today was one of those chances. His day had been empty aside from the mid-morning tutoring and a feast that evening to celebrate his aunt's upcoming addition to the royal family.
They came into the clearing and she smiled at the fond memories that filled her mind. 'Oh how I miss the old days.' She sighed as she dismounted. They set up their blanket as a team and unsaddled the horses to use the gear as back rests. Their mares were allowed to roam free and graze while they talked and ate their food. Time seemed to pass by a little slower as they sat and talked like old friends. They were friends though they tried to hide it from his uncle. It was against the rules to treat a servant as an equal. The noblemen thought it improper. They did not care though. They went about their lives being friends stealing their moment's one at a time. They hid it easily from the noblemen but the other servants and staff knew of their friendship. Miraz had tried for years to find a flaw in her but could never find one that could stick. He wanted her dead for the reason that he knew that she had the power to turn the Prince against him and she would if she ever needed to but she figured he could do that on his own.
"How were you lessons today?" She loved hearing about his lessons. Cornelius would tell him all about all the ancient Narnian tales, the forbidden ones. She used to tell him stories as well when he was younger and when she looked different. Back then, her hair had been a dark auburn red and her eyes green he never recognized her from the change she had made to stay by his side just before his parents had been killed. Now her hair was long and a dark brown similar to that of the Prince's hair and her eyes were a pale blue. She looked like she could be the sister of the girl the Prince once knew even though the two hand maidens he had ever had were one and the same.
She watched everything around them. The forest, the sky, the ground, the horses, the Prince. Her eyes and ears tuned into everything around her not missing a sound. Therefore, when the sun began to slowly fall into the evening she made the suggestion to head back.
"Can we not stay any longer?" She was already picking things up but his hands grabbed her wrists gently stopping her movements.
"We could and would if there wasn't a feast tonight." She saw the look of disappointment on his face and so desperately wanted to give in and just stay.
"I had forgotten about that." He said pulling his hands away allowing her to continue putting things away. After a moment, she chuckled. "You make it so easy to lose track of time and forget that I am a Prince." Her cheeks unexpectedly heated up. She quickly busied herself with cleaning up the mess they had made causing him to laugh. More heat flared in her cheeks as he got up and saddled the horses once again. Their stuff was picked up just as quickly as they had set it up.
"Race you back, Dris." The Prince teased, using her nickname. He mounted his mare and turned her in a circle so she was facing the right way.
"Good luck prevailing, Prince Caspian." She had already been mounted and she took off laughing at the look of utter shock that had taken over his face.