The high ceiling of the hospital wing loomed over me as I lay beneath the white sheets. I stayed there for some time after I had woken up and found myself in a white nightgown. A bandage hugged my stomach area, and my head felt fuzzy as I tried to recall what had happened and how long I had been asleep.
The last thing I remembered was Dem speaking to me, but I couldn’t register what he said. I was hurting so much then, it was like everything was on fire when the blade drove into me. But now, however, the pain was replaced by a cool numbness, as if ice had extinguished the flames.
Rain tapped against the windows opposite to me, but the rain wasn’t as chaotic as the storm from before. Instead, the rain provided a calmer rhythm that tempted me back to sleep, but I sat up, awake and alert now. Although a dull pain still throbbed around my head.
Azure’s head rose above me, her blue eyes widening with contentment. “I’m so glad you’re awake.”
“How long have I been out?” I asked.
“Nearly a week.”
“A week!?” I exclaimed, slapping my hands onto the mattress in disbelief.
“Yes, unfortunately, but it’s wonderful that you’re awake. Everyone was so worried, especially Prince Demetrius.”
“Dem . . .” I mumbled and took note of the hairpin left on the nightstand. “Where is he?”
“In the throne room, but you’re too weak to go see him if that’s your intention.”
“Is there another audience? Did anything happen when I was out? What happened to Lady Faye?” I asked abruptly.
“Lady Faye is on trial due to her attack that night. The trial is going on right now in the throne room. It’s the second trial since the incident.”
“The second?” I asked. “How many trials are there going to be?”
“I can’t say,” Azure said, “I’m sure it won’t be going on for much longer.”
“I hope so.” I frowned and looked around the hospital wing before spotting Sybil talking to a nurse. She was also dressed in a nurse’s uniform and even had her hair tucked underneath a cap. When she saw that I was awake, Sybil excused herself and rushed over to my bedside.
“Thank goodness you’re awake, my lady. How are you feeling?” She asked once she came to my bedside.
“Tired, but I think I’ll manage,” I answered.
“Are you in any pain?”
“Not at all, only sore.”
“Mmm, it’s best not to move too much in case the wound opens up,” Sybil remarked, wiggling a finger. “I recommend resting a bit more—”
“No, I’ve rested enough,” I said. “It’s been almost a week.”
“Miss. Suzette,” Azure said, “it’s best if you do what she says. You’re still recovering.”
“But. . .” I paused, trying to find an excuse and then I said, “what about the trial? Shouldn’t I be there to testify? Is there any news about the verdict?”
Sybil huffed. “Apparently, Lady Faye claimed that the ring took control of her. In which case, it caused her to act abnormally and attack you and the prince.”
“Wait, what do you mean by that?” I asked, taken aback. “The ring forced her to attack us?”
“That’s what she insists,” Sybil said.
“That’s ridiculous, Lady Faye had bad intentions long before the wedding. The ring has nothing to do with it. Please, allow me to go to the throne room so I can speak.”
“I don’t think that would be wise in your condition—”
“I can’t let her get away with whatever she’s planning,” I stated firmly. “Please, let me go, everyone has to know the truth!” The other nurses began to look my way but I didn’t care. Anger swelled in my chest and I clutched the sheets to the point where my knuckles turned white. Grogginess kept hold of me but I tried to shake it away. My body was also pulling me back, but my mind and heart yearned for me to get up and go.
Sybil and Azure exchanged worried looks and my anger changed to hopelessness as my eyes burned with tears.
“Please,” I begged. I released the sheets but tension still gripped at my hands as if invisible chains weighed them down.
Sybil rubbed her temple and faced the floor. Finally, she turned to me and said, “Hold on.” before moving to the opposite end of the room where cabinets lined the wall. She came back with a small vial of red liquid and handed it to me.
“This will give you extra strength once you drink it, but it won’t last long. After court, you’re getting back here and resting some more. Understand?”
“Miss. Sybil, I don’t believe that’s wise,” Azure argued.
“I’m sorry, Azure, but I have to do this,” I said and drank the medicine. It had a very bitter taste that caused my tongue to burn, but the grogginess had disappeared and a warmness coursed through me. When I settled the vial down, I noticed that Azure had pushed over a wheelchair with her tail and scooted it to my bedside. There was hesitation in her eyes, however.
“I am not too fond of this idea,” Azure said, “but I will admit that I admire your confidence. Please use this wheel chair just to be safe.”
“Thank you.” I smiled and Sybil helped me into the chair.
“I’m not fond of this idea either,” Sybil said, “but to be honest, I never really liked Lady Faye and hope that we get this settled.”
“Yes.” I agreed and Sybil rolled me out of the hospital wing.
“There’s also something else I need to tell you,” Sybil noted as we traveled down the hall.
“What is it?”
Before Sybil answered, we saw Sir Jarrick marching down the opposite end and he froze in his tracks.
“Lady Suzette? What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m going to court, I have to speak on my behalf,” I stated with some firmness to prove a point.
Sir Jarrick frowned, taking a moment to consider while I stared and clutched my hands together. Finally, Sir Jarrick bowed his head and said, “Very well, I’ll accompany you.”
Sir Jarrick came to my side and we continued to the throne room. While we did so, Sir Jarrick asked, “How have you been feeling?”
“Alright, Sybil had just given me medicine—”
Sybil continued, “She’ll be returning to the hospital wing right after court in case something goes wrong.”
“It’s still not wise to be up and about though,” Sir Jarrick said, “however, Prince Adrian wanted you to be involved in the court, but since you hadn’t woken, the court continued without you. Fortunately, your sister has arrived to help testify for you.”
“Wait, Sophie’s here!?” I exclaimed, my voice bouncing off the walls.
“Yes, she arrived just last night.”
“Where was she? Did she say?” I asked desperately. I was ready to dash out of the wheelchair and go to her, but that would’ve been reckless.
“In a couple of worlds, but she didn’t say much about them,” Sybil answered. “She was mainly asking about how you’ve been and so we had to tell her what happened.”
I bit my lip, I couldn’t imagine how frightened she must’ve been.
“Is Dem with her?”
“Yes, he has also been taking care of her in your absence,” Sybil said.
I sighed with relief. “Thank goodness. How’s Dem been?”
“Not too well, honestly,” Sybil admitted. “He has been so worried about you that he had always visited the hospital wing every day.”
“He did. . .” I mumbled and thought back to the hairpin resting on the nightstand. I smiled lightly and then Sybil stopped the wheelchair when we got in front of the double doors of the throne room.
Sir Jarrick reached for the door handle and turned to me. “Are you ready?”
I held my breath and nodded. “Yes.”
He opened the door and instantly, dozens of eyes stared right at me in shock. Some murmured amongst each other, while others were frozen in place. Lady Faye’s and Lord Caius’s faces were drained of all emotion except for surprise. Then my focus turned to Dem who smiled with contentment, and then to Sophie.
Oh, Sophie, she was in tears. I didn’t want her to see me like this, especially after being separated for so, so long.
“Lady Suzette,” Prince Adrian called, “are you well enough to be here?”
“Yes, please forgive me for my tardiness,” I said. “I’m ready to speak and hopefully end this case.”
Sybil guided me down the hall while all the eyes were fixated on me. Sir Jarrick walked beside me but then stepped back when we approached the center. Once we stopped, Sophie threw her arms around me and I hugged her back. Thankfully the audience allowed us a moment, but I wanted so many minutes more to just hug my sister.
“I’m so glad you’re alright,” Sophie whimpered, tightening her hold.
“I’m glad you are too,” I told her and kissed her forehead. I finally broke the hug but we still held hands and faced Prince Adrian. He rose from the throne and said, “Lady Suzette, as you likely know, Lady Faye claimed that the ring cursed her and forced her to do unspeakable acts, however, we have clear evidence that that is not true. What do you say about this? Remember, everything you say in this room is the truth.”
“You want the truth?” I inquired and looked right into Lady Faye’s eyes. For the very first time, I saw genuine fear in them. “The truth. . . is that Lady Faye is a vile person, and so is Lord Caius.”
Lady Faye flew to her feet. “How dare you, you insolent little—”
“Allow Lady Suzette to speak,” Prince Adrian intervened and gestured a hand to me. “Please continue.”
“Thank you.” I nodded and cleared my throat. “During the audience when Lord Caius demanded the ring and His Majesty refused, I saw Lord Caius ready to draw a weapon. Lady Faye threatened me to keep quiet about it, if not, I would suffer consequences. Since I somehow got in her way on the night of the incident, she kept her word and stabbed me.”
Collective gasps roused around me, followed by harsh murmurs that set the room into a frenzy. Dem’s shocked face twisted into a look of great fury, and Prince Adrian expressed a similar sentiment. Sophie covered her mouth and shook her head. Lady Faye remained calm in her seat, while Lord Caius couldn’t sit still. He briskly wiped sweat off his brow and his eyes strayed to every direction imaginable.
“You were going to attack my father?” Lord Adrian finally spoke. His tone thick with rage and delivered the entire room to a halt.
Lord Caius tugged and fidgeted with the collar of his robe while keeping his head low.
“Speak, Lord Caius!” Prince Adrian’s patience snapped as he demanded in a booming voice.
Lord Caius prolonged the action until he finally gave in and grabbed his head, dropping his cane in the process.
“Yes, yes I was going to attack His Majesty!” he cried and hid his face in shame.
“Father!” Lady Faye shushed.
The crowd resumed their frenzy but Prince Adrian raised his hand to silence them. “That’s enough. Lady Faye. . .”
“Yes?” Lady Faye asked, feigning innocence.
“Did you threaten Lady Suzette?”
“I . . .” Lady Faye hesitated upon witnessing the anger in Prince Adrian’s eyes. His calmness had slipped and there was no point in lying anymore. Lady Faye had nothing at this point to defend herself with, and so she raised her head high and nodded truthfully.
“So, you admit to attacking Suzette with the full knowledge of what you were doing?” Prince Adrian asked.
“. . .Yes,” Lady Faye voiced but it was more subdued as she bowed her head. Prince Adrian crossed his arms and his fingers dug into his sleeves. He stared down at Lady Faye with nothing but disappointment and he shut his eyes.
“Lady Faye. . .” Prince Adrian said in a surprisingly calm voice, but frustration lingered at the edge. “It’s unfortunate that things had to turn out this way. As your husband and future king, I am gravely disappointed in you. There was a sliver of me that had hoped to eventually love you, so I would be able to reign over this kingdom with you by my side. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.”
“My love. . .” Lady Faye stuttered.
“Enough with the bluffing,” Prince Adrian ordered. “All you and your family cared about was power which was why this marriage was set up in the first place. You attempted to attack my father, you threatened and attacked The Madam’s granddaughter, you attacked my brother, you stole the ring and tried to fabricate this ridiculous story because you care more about your reputation than anything else. You never loved me, you only love yourself and your pride.”
“My Lord,” Lord Caius had dropped to his knees with his hands raised. “I pray of you. . .please forgive us, we—we were wrong in everything, we shouldn’t have been so foolish, it was wrong, all wrong!”
“You’re right,” Prince Adrian said, “however, I cannot forgive you, and never will. Everything you did and lied about is intolerable in this kingdom. With that said, I hereby strip your family of your status and banish you from the country.”
There was so much anguish on Lord Caius’s face that it wouldn’t have been a surprise if he fainted. He shook his head in disbelief and was ready to plead again, but Prince Adrian gave a signal for two of his guards to take Lord Caius’s arms and drag him away.
“No, please, no!” he cried out as he disappeared from the hall. Two more guards headed in Lady Faye’s direction, and so she stood up with her back straight and head still turned to Prince Adrian.
“I tried to love you too,” she spat before she was dragged off.
Lord Adrian quietly watched her go and waited for the doors to close before putting his head in his hands and declaring, “Court is dismissed.”
“How are you feeling?” Sybil asked me once I settled back in bed.
“I’m getting groggy again,” I admitted with a shy chuckle.
“Ah, the medicine’s wearing off.”
“It appears so.”
“Well, at least nothing bad happened when you were out and about. That was very brave of you,” Sybil remarked and turned to Sophie, “and you too, Sophie.”
“Thank you,” Sophie said. “I was so worried that I was going to do something wrong. . .but I’m glad everything turned out fine. Now you just need to recover, Sue.”
“Yes,” I agreed.
“I’ll leave you two to talk,” Sybil said. “I’m sure you have a lot to catch up on.” Sybil left the hospital wing and Sophie turned back to me. Tears were evident in her eyes, but she graced me with a warm smile that quivered as she was ready to cry again. I allowed her to cry again as we embraced once more. Tears rushed down my cheeks too and we hugged for so, so long before we had to let go.
“Tell me everything of what you’ve been up to,” I said, but my voice was choked up from the tears. Fortunately, there were tissues on the nightstand and I grabbed a handful.
“No, I think you should tell me first,” Sophie insisted. “I want to know about your relationship with Dem.”
My face instantly felt warm. “What do you mean? We’re only friends.”
“Then why are you blushing?” Sophie asked with a giggle.
“I have a fever,” I quickly lied.
Sophie touched my forehead and she grinned. “It’s not good to lie, Sue, you’ve always told me that.”
I huffed, that was true. “Fine, I fancy him a little.”
“Ah, that explains this.” Sophie picked up the hairpin from the desk. “He’s really kind, he told me that you taught him how to dance and he gave you sword fighting lessons. It’s sweet. I think the sweetest thing was that he stayed by your bedside making sure you were okay.”
“He told you that?”
“Sybil did,” Sophie said, still smiling.
“Did you meet anyone nice, Soph?” I asked, hoping to take the focus off me and give her a chance to be enamored
“Yes, in one world I was at the circus and I made friends with most of the people there!” Sophie said contentedly. “I met a girl named Molly who taught me how to dance on top of an elephant.”
I looked at Sophie in confusion. “You. . .danced on top of an elephant?”
“Yes, it was fun, actually,” Sophie said. “Molly was so nice to me and so was everyone else.” She looked away for a second, as if she were hiding something, before adding: “Oh! I got in contact with Aleck. He wanted me to stay at the world to wait for him, but I couldn’t wait any longer since it’s been so long. I knew it was wrong for me to leave, but I had to find you.”
“Well, there’s a way here that you can talk to Aleck. A friend of his can contact him through a mirror in his lab, perhaps soon you can talk to him and explain what happened. I’m sure Aleck will understand.”
“I hope so,” Sophie mumbled and sat on the bed. She still had the hairpin in her hands and observed it quietly. I then noticed the bracelet wrapped around her right wrist.
“Where did you get that bracelet?”
“Molly gave it to me,” Sophie answered.
“She must’ve been a great friend to you.”
“Yes, she is,” Sophie said. “I miss her though. . . I want to see her when we get the chance. You’ll like her a lot, and everyone else I’ve met.”
“I’m glad to hear you’ve met some good people,” I said. “I was worried about you being alone.”
“I was alone for a bit,” Sophie noted. “but it wasn’t for long. I’m so happy we’re together again.”
“I’m happy too.”
“Now we can find grandma,” Sophie continued. “Oh, did Cordelia ever give you grandma’s necklace?”
“Yes, she did,” I said. “Would you mind getting it for me? It’s in my room on top of the dresser. Sybil can direct you there.”
“Certainly, I’ll be right back!” Sophie hopped off the bed and disappeared from the room. When Sophie had gone, Dem walked right in. He had changed from his fancier robes at court to something simpler.
“It’s great to see that you’re getting better,” Dem commented. “Though, it’s best that you don’t do anything else for a while.”
“I’ll make sure of it,” I promised. “I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing, I had to stand up for myself.”
“And you did,” Dem said, “now we don’t have to deal with Caius and his family anymore. The next thing now is Adrian’s coronation. Hopefully that won’t be as chaotic.”
“Oh.” My heart sunk at the realization. “His Majesty passed away, didn’t he?”
“Yes,” Dem answered solemnly, “it happened a few days ago but we kept it a secret from the public until the right time. We needed to wait until the court idiocy was over before we could properly mourn.”
“Might I ask,” I said quietly, “with all that had happened recently. . .did His Majesty go in peace at least?”
“Yes,” Dem answered, “my siblings and I were with him until the end. He wasn’t in any sort of pain, only tired, but tired in a way that you were anticipating a goodnight’s rest. His last words I recall. . .were ‘thank you’.”
“Thank you. . .” I repeated under my breath. King Simon wanted me to tell that to grandma when I see her again. It’s unfortunate that he never got to meet her again in the end, but he was thankful regardless. Thankful for everything that she had given him. . .
“Sue!” I heard Sophie call, cutting me from my thoughts, “I got the necklace!” Sophie ran up to the bedside and handed me the necklace.
“Would you like to wear it first?” Sophie asked. “We don’t see the memory unless we wear it, correct?”
“I believe so,” I said, “why don’t you wear it first?”
“Are you sure?”
I smiled and handed Sophie the necklace.