Arya had been summoned and Mouse was told that she could not come, though she ended up ignoring the order and following anyways. Arya was scared and Mouse wanted to be by her side, to protect her.
She silently followed the small group as they made their way down the Great Hallway. The group stopped at a few doors along the way, adding Arya's brothers to their group before continuing towards their destination. Mouse hung back a little as they stopped before the doors of the Great Chambers.
The Great Doors slowly opened and the Royal Children were ushered inside, the heavy doors closing behind them, cutting Arya from Mouse's line of sight. Her fingers quickly but carefully ran along the old, wooden carving on the wall that she was hiding beside and she smiled as she felt the catch click beneath her fingers, opening a hidden passageway that she quickly slipped into.
Mouse had discovered it by accident one day months ago as she was waiting for Arya to come back out of the room that she was forbidden to enter. She was going to tell Arya about it, but she had forgotten about it after seeing Arya's distressed expression when she had finally emerged from the room. Arya had refused to tell her what was wrong or what had happened to upset her, her worry causing Mouse's exciting discovery to slip from her mind. She had actually forgotten about it until now and was thankful that she had found it again.
I am not being left out this time! she smiled to herself as she made her way through the dark passageway. Though it was almost pitch black, Mouse had no trouble finding her way. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness as quickly as a mouse's would. She couldn't help but smile again as she reflected on how much her name suited her.
When she heard the muffled sound of voices through the walls, she knew that she was getting close. Up ahead, light spilled into the dark passageway and Mouse found herself hurrying towards it, a rush of adrenaline flowing through her body as she knew that she was about to discover what the secret was that Arya had been hiding from her. She found a pair of holes in the wall and when she looked through them, she could see the whole room perfectly.
Arya and her brothers stood uncomfortably around the large bed in the center of the room. Palace Physicians darted around the room, pausing only when a powerful, commanding voice echoed through the room.
"Come closer, my Children," the powerful, yet scratchy voice called out. Mouse watched as Arya and her brothers stepped closer to the bed. As Arya shifted her position, Mouse noticed the cloth that was tied over her mouth and nose, her brothers wearing cloths as well. Actually, now that she noticed it, everyone in the room was wearing them. Mouse subconsciously brought the collar of her shirt up over her nose as well.
Turning her attention back on the large bed, Mouse realized that there were two figures lying on it. One of them was a female, her body so thin and pale that she almost looked like a skeleton, her pale blue dress falling unevenly on the abnormally small body. Mouse almost gasped out loud when she realized that she was looking at Arya's mother, Queen Andrea. Almost all of her once beautiful chocolate-brown hair, the same colour as Arya's long, wavy hair, was gone, and what was left was frail and dull. The only colour on her face was a pale red stain that trailed down from her nose. The man beside her, whom Mouse realized must be Arya's father, King Terian, looked even worse.
His once large, built frame had diminished to a size close to his wife's. All of his shiny black hair was gone. Mouse could see lines of pain etched into his weary, thin face. The sight of the once healthy and beautiful rulers reduced to what she saw before her horrified and disgusted her. She had to force herself to stare at the skeleton-like figures lying on the bed, so close to death that Mouse could feel it hanging in the air.
"Arya, my sweet," King Terian's raspy voice called out as his grey pain-etched eyes searched his children's faces till he found the one that he was looking for. "Come. Take my hand." Mouse watched as Arya stumbled forward and knelt by her father's side. Her hand gently reached for his hand and as soon as it touched his, she broke down in tears. She grasped her father's hand in both of hers and wept openly at her father's side.
"Hush now, my Child," his voice cooed as he struggled to raise himself up. He then placed his other hand, using what little strength he had left, over his daughter's. "My time here is coming to an end, my sweet. Do you remember what we had discussed if something were to ever happen to your mother and I?" Unable to speak, Arya nodded her head, Mouse suddenly realizing that this must have been what Arya so distressed about months ago.
"Good," King Terian sighed as he fell back into his pillow and closed his eyes. After a few minutes when he didn't open them again, it seemed as if he had passed away, but suddenly his eyes flew open and he began to cough violently. One of the Physicians stepped forward to cover the King's mouth with a piece of cloth. When the King stopped coughing, the Physician pulled the cloth away. It was covered with fresh blood. Mouse watched as Arya turned away and covered her eyes, trying to hide the tears that were trailing down her pale cheeks. The King sank back into his pillows, this time keeping his eyes open. He once again sought out Arya with his eyes, and when he found her, he declared the last words that would ever fall from his lips.
"At my passing, I declare my daughter, Princess Arya Hope Everely the first, the heir to the Throne and my successor," the King's words echoed off the walls and fell on the stunned ears of all present in the room. Mouse noticed Marcus' body stiffen and heard the muffled gasps of many of the Physicians. Her father's eyes locked on Arya's for the last time.
"May you be a strong ruler, my Child," he blessed one last time. With saying that his eyes fluttered, then shut for ever, as he breathed his very last breath. The room fell silent at the passing of Keiento's greatest Ruler. The Queen had passed away peacefully during the King's speech, so Arya and her brothers were left stunned, standing at the foot of their deceased parents' bed, as the last members left of the Royal Family. Mouse stood entranced as well, feeling stunned and confused as her mind tried to process what she had just witnessed.
Finally, one of the Physicians broke free from the spell they were all entranced in to go and announce the passing of King Terian and Queen Andrea and the news of who was to be their successor. Mouse watched as Arya turned to her brothers and embraced the younger as they both wept, but when she reached out for her older brother, he turned away from her. As he turned away, Mouse saw the hurt and anger blazing through his eyes, as well as the sorrow and confusion in Arya's eyes.
The scene before her disappeared and suddenly she was falling into darkness. She opened her mouth the scream, but no sound came out. As she fell into the endless depths below, she suddenly found herself surrounded by a multitude of people... no, not people. Corpses.
Their empty eyes stared at her as their arms reached out, trying to grab her, their cold fingertips brushing against her skin, making shivers run down her spine.
Suddenly, she was running, her feet on solid ground. She could hear the ominous moans of the creatures that were closing in behind her.
"Go away!" she screamed over her shoulder at them. She came to a sudden sharp stop as her body collided with another's and knocked her to the ground. She looked up, scared to death of what could be before her, and saw a hand reaching towards her.
Her body relaxed as she realized that the hand was not reaching for her, rather just extended towards her, an offered hand to help her to her feet. Behind the hand was the smiling face of King Terian, so healthy and full of life. His shiny, black hair gleamed as he took her into his embrace. He held a hand up at the corpses following her.
"Be gone!" his powerful voice commanded and the creatures instantly disappeared, evaporating into a puff of smoke.
"Thank you, Your Majesty," she bowed her head, trying to hold back the tears in her eyes, as she stepped back out of his protective embrace. His finger lightly tucked under her chin and raised it, and Mouse suddenly found herself looking into his kind grey eyes.
"Protect her," he pleaded, his hand lightly grasping her upper arm, his words urgent. "Protect her!"
"I will," she replied, rapidly nodding her head. "I always will."
"Protect her!" he repeated, confusing Mouse.
"I said I will!" she insisted. "I promise you I will! I promise with my whole life!"
"PROTECT HER!" his voice boomed like thunder as storm clouds began to form around them. Mouse watched with horror as the man before her slowly morphed from the healthy, beautiful King into a hideous, degrading corpse, his warm hand that was gripping her arm turning cold and lifeless. Then she screamed.