Chapter 13: Heated Moments
Ignatius’s spirits were lifted like the sun rising in the early morning. A smile of amusement graced his lips as we make our way around the building to the back of the barracks. Their reactions must have gave him satisfaction as he was practically humming in delight.
“Do you take pride in provoking others?” I question as we approach a wooden door covered in vines and weeds.
Ignatius removed his hand from my shoulder to step in front of me. He looked down at me like I ruined his moment of triumph.
“Through this door is where they keep the wolves. I expect you to show me,” Ignatius changed the subject, dodging my question.
My response was a simple head nod as a strange gut feeling overwhelmed me. He opened the door to a dark hallway only lit by the torches hanging on the walls. The howls and whines of the wolves echoed inside making my heart sink.
“Lord Ignatius! What a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t expecting you!” A young man hopped up off a stool to stand proudly in front of Ignatius.
The young man bent over to bow in respect happily. “It’s been awhile my Lord! Shall I ready your horse?” He lifted his head with a generous smile.
“No need,” Ignatius walks past the short brunette man to grab some of the dangling keys hanging from a hook. “How are the contenders doing?”
“They have an unusual determination in them. I think it is because the Princes from Aridor are firing them up!” The young man shouts in glee.
“It is quite a funny story actually,” The young man starts as Ignatius fumbles the keys around in his gloved hands. “Prince Ayden declared in front of the rest of the Princes that he will be fighting for the hand of the Princess named Artemis Grenefeld.”
“What?!” Ignatius eyes went wide in anger while my mouth dropped in agape. “She is not in the Uniting!!”
“All the Prince’s lost interest in any of the other available Princess’s. It angered Lord Cloud, but they refused to choose any, which halted the events until this morning when Lord Cloud gave them a proposition. Have you really not heard?” The young man had a shocked look on his face as Ignatius’s anger grew.
“What was the proposition?” Ignatius practically growled.
“That if any of them wishes to have the hand of Princess Artemis Grenefeld, they have to defeat you in battle.” The young man whispers lowly afraid that Ignatius will snap.
“Those fools believe they can defeat me?!” Ignatius shouted with rage fuming in his eyes.
Ignatius took in a deep breath and heavily let it out. The room filled with an uninviting warmth making the wolves howl and cry loudly. It was already hot to begin with, but with Ignatius angry his temperature heightened.
“Silence!” I spoke loud with an authority hoping that the wolves would actually listen. It was my opportunity to show Ignatius without standing face to face with a wolf. It could possibly contain his anger right now if he saw what he’s been waiting to see.
The wolves desperate calls quieted down right on cue. The racing of my heart that had been thumping against my chest relaxed with ease. I turned my body to face the wolves in their cages and they were all sitting patiently awaiting my next command.
“Holy mother load of wild gooseberries! You’re the wolf whisperer!” The young man shouts whilst clasping his rough hands in mine. “It’s an honor Princess Artemis! To think I would meet such a wonderful woman! My name is Klency! Teach me everything you know, please!!” He begs, dropping to knees with his hands pressed together like he were pleading for his life.
“That’s enough Klency,” Ignatius steps in pulling the young man from the ground.
“Yes my Lord! Forgive me! I was out of line! I deserve a beating of hundred whips!” Klency’s dramatic sacrifice caused Ignatius to roll his eyes.
Suddenly, a loud smack sounded and the young Klency was on the ground. He held his reddened cheek from Ignatius striking him hard across the face. A gasp escaped from me shocked that Ignatius just hit him.
Klency’s brown eyes held tears, but not from what I had thought they would be from. Instead he looked up to Ignatius in adoration. “My lord,” He whispers out happily, “I did not deserve such a wonderful punishment by your own hand.”
“Then do not touch her again,” Ignatius warns and Klency’s face becomes serious as his hand shoots up over his heart.
“You have my word my Lord! I will not touch her again!” Klency pledges.
I swallowed harshly, gripping my hands on the bars that held the wolves. I almost couldn’t imagine what would happen if Klency broke that promise. He was a brave young man to stand up to Ignatius like that. They must be somewhat close. I haven’t seen Ignatius interact with others, so it was difficult to know what kind of person he was.
Ignatius didn’t seem to be bothered by Klency’s presence. In fact, he acted naturally around him when we got here.
“Forgive him, he is a masochist. He can’t help it,” Ignatius tells me. The realization hit me. It wasn’t that Ignatius felt comfortable around him, it was Klency that made it normal. He’s does not fear Ignatius, since he seeks out pleasure from the pain he can receive.
“Klency, keep an eye on her Highness. I have some business with Cloud to resolve. I will return shortly,” Ignatius hands the set of keys to Klency walking past us.
“Yes sir!” Klency salutes as Ignatius leaves without another word. He stands there frozen in place until we no longer hear Igantius’s fading footsteps.
“Princess,” A deep voice calls out startling me. “Over here!” The voice whisper shouts from behind a wooden door farther down the corridor.
I squint my eyes trying to make out the figure of a man slipping out the door. The tall figure walks into the flickering light of the torch. His greens eyes shine brightly as his raven black hair glistened under the flame.
“Clyde?!” I say his name subconsciously, then turn around to find Klency smiling and waving at him.
“You better hurry, Ignatius will return soon.” Klency reminds me with a warm smile.
Clyde’s hand wraps around my wrist as I am pulled into a warm embrace. His fresh pine tree smell filled my senses, soothing me instantly. Everything about him felt so right when we touched, but I was still upset with him. My arms push him away, but his rock-like body did not go far.
My attempt to give him a glare failed when he pressed his forehead against mine. “I am so sorry, please forgive me. I didn’t want to tell you that we were previously betrothed. I would never ever steal you away for my own selfish reasons to have you or to be King.” A tumble of words come out quickly as he pulls back to look me in the eyes.
“No matter how badly things get, I will get you away from here. Far away, just trust me.” Clyde proclaims just before he notices the scar on my arm.
“Did he heal you again?” Clyde asks darkly, his eyes turning into a burning hatred.
I looked away and nodded, not sure how else to react or answer him.
“Princess, please refrain from being injured. I am afraid you have some kind of importance to Ignatius. I don’t want him healing you anymore,” Clyde demanded without a single gentleness in his voice.
“What do you mean?” I question him now interested in what he had to say.
“Allow me to explain,” Klency interrupts grabbing my full attention, “Lord Ignatius is much like the others when it comes to his special abilities. He can summon fire to enforce fear on us, but he can also heal. I have seen him heal an injured horse, but never a human. You see, for Ignatius to use that healing power he has to show affection towards the person or animal. The more serious the wounds the more affection he has to give to heal it completely.”
“Then you mean—”
“It is exactly what he means,” Clyde cut me off, “After they took you away to get you first aid they explained to me that Ignatius would be healing you. I have never known that he could do such a thing. I went to be by your side, but when I arrived he was still in the process of healing you.” Clyde paused closing his eyes remembering exactly what he had seen.
“Ignatius had you completely stripped to nothing as well as himself. Seeing the both of you completely naked in front of me reminded me when Ayden tried to take advantage of you. Before I could act, Ignatius explained he had no desire to think of you in a sexual way.” He finishes with a sigh.
I was mortified, frozen in my spot next to Clyde. Trauma consumed me entirely. I couldn’t believe that it happened, and in front of Clyde as well. Blushing would have been no problem, but my face turned as red as a beet. I know he hadn’t meant to see me naked, I could tell now by the look of the mild shock on his face when he saw my expression just then. His cheeks flushed pink upon realizing that he had admitted seeing me naked.
My hand moved on its own, mimicking what Ignatius did to Klency minutes ago. My hand smacked across Clyde’s face as my embarrassment hit me hard. The feeling was like falling to ground with the air being knocked out of me. I wasn’t even sure why I had done it slapped him.
A full blown sweltering heat wave burst through my every pore and triggered tears to fall from my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him, especially him! That blockhead. He should not have told me he saw me naked. First Ayden and now him! Even Ignatius!
My mind scattered like a rabbit, but a deep voice drew me out of my dazed state of mind. “Princess?” Clyde quietly called for me.
“Clyde, you realize her shock is deep because she holds strong feelings for you.” Klency speaks out for me, but his words alone didn’t explain how I truly felt.
Or is that how I felt? Did I have undefined feelings for him?
My head sinks into my hands ashamed that even Klency had seen right through me. The strength to stand against someone with my pride had all vanished, my true feelings were pouring out of me. Ones that I did not know existed. All because Clyde was making my emotions come in different waves.
He was attractive in my eyes, but his secrecy made me angry with him. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed after finding out he saw me naked?
What is wrong with me?
A pair of arms fold around my chest. Clyde envelopes me from behind bringing me closer into his body. “I have to go, if it is possible, meet me here later tonight.” He says and vanishes. The warmth he gave me turned into a cold loneliness.
Ignatius and myself returned to the tower where his room was in utter silence. He kept his word and allowed me to roam freely about his room. However, I sat in the same spot next to the window looking far out in the distance. I couldn’t recall how long I had been sitting here, but it was long enough to see that the orange rays in the sky indicated the sun was setting.
Ignatius was once again sound asleep in his chair softly snoring. Everyday will feel like deja vu until I have no idea when. Just sitting here watching the sun rise to see it set at the end of the day. Carelessly gazing at Ignatius’s sleeping form to soon see him disappear in the night.
The question was, did I have the courage to venture off to the barracks while he steps out for the night? It was risky. I wasn’t even sure I could face Clyde again in the same day. The memory of my embarrassment today was seared in my brain forever, tormenting me.
Hours slowly went by and Ignatius had left the room with two simple words. “Don’t leave.”
I responded with a nod, but I couldn’t keep that in mind. I decided that I will go to see Clyde after all. Just a few more hours and I will leave. Not knowing where Ignatius goes will be bothersome, but if I am caught I could say I was looking for him.
It would be easier for him to see me as the naive girl he believes me to be. Although, facing Ignatius was just as embarrassing. He had no idea that I knew what he did to heal me. Just the thought of imagining our naked bodies embracing each other sent me off the deep end.
The act was courageous on his part and I would like to thank him for it, but how could I do it without turning bright red?
I lifted my head to view the sky above. As the stars moved slowly, so did time. Using my hands I brought myself off the floor. Taking in a deep breath I relaxed myself to find the courage to move.
My feet glided across the room with ease until I stood directly in front of the dingy old wood door. The hesitation in me began to increase as my hand reached to open the latch. With one last easy inhale, I yanked the door open afraid that Ignatius would possibly be standing there.
Only the emptiness of a corridor and a set of stairs remained. A cold breeze blew against my back while making the flame on the torches whip around wildly. I reached my hand out to grab the torch to give me light when descending the stairs. It led down like it were bringing me into a sea of darkness.
With each hesitating step my anxiety grew. This moment evokes memories of when I would try to sneak out of the castle late at night only to be caught by the guards. It futile to even think I would step out of the castle walls. Now, there would not be any guards standing in my way. It was worse.
Reaching the last step, I cautiously poked my head out in the massive room. There was nothing but an unending dark abyss standing in my way. There was only a sliver of hope that could get me out of here. I remember the way Ignatius led me, but the pitch black view made it difficult to tell where I was heading.
Lifting the torch in front of me I guided my way around the crumbling walls and through the caved in corridors. The coldness had began to fade away the farther I would venture out. A strong wave of heat blasted in my face.
Could Ignatius be up ahead?
This way was the only exit and entrance I knew of. If Ignatius was up ahead, how will I get past him?
I nervously gulped as my feet carried me towards the radiating heat. In the distance, my eyes made out a soft glow coming from an opening of a doorway. Silently and stealthily, I inched my way to the opening to see where the light was coming from. Curious as ever, I couldn’t resist to see what was in that room.
Slowly, I pressed my back against the wall nearly out of breath from the panic spiraling in me. Quietness surrounded me, until a faint moan echoed lowly in the room. Contemplating on what to do, I hear the moan become deeper. With a surprising effort, I peeped my head around the doorway where the glow was coming from.
I gasp dropping the torch to the ground. Without thinking or even hesitating, I rip the door open to sprint inside. Ignatius laid slump against the wall, his body glowing like embers of a slowly fading fire. Sweat dripped profusely down his face and chest. He groaned out in pain again not realizing that I was here at his side.
He was using his nails to claw into his forearms making blood pour out in large amounts. Not sure what to do, I quickly pulled my dress up and started ripping the fabric in large pieces.
Ignatius’s body trembled violently as he kept mumbling words. “Stop... stop the pain...I can’t leave them...I can’t!” He cried out like he were having a nightmare.
“You are wrong... I did not do it. You can’t blame me!” He kept repeating his words incoherently as I gently take his hands in mine.
The feelings of his hands felt like a hot iron burning, but I couldn’t just leave him here helplessly like this. He didn’t fight against me when I began wrapping his bleeding arms. Instead, he peeled eyelids open revealing his orange eyes.
“You really are an idiot,” He mumbles out in hoarse voice.
“Save your breath,” I tell him as I tightened the fabric on his arms.
Ignatius had no strength to move, he just laid there vulnerable. His eyes fixated on me with no emotion lingering in them. It was like staring into what death would be like.
“Get out of here, before I hurt you.” He snapped angrily. “Get out!” His voice boomed, bouncing off the walls.
Ignatius screamed out in torture again as I observe the pain in his tired eyes.
“No,” I refused.
Somehow, I felt indebted to Ignatius. He saved me from the suffering of my wounds and I wanted to return the favor. He could have let me die, but instead he healed me.
Fearlessly, I grabbed his shoulders and forced him against my chest. I nuzzled his head in the crook of my neck even though the heat from his body was burning me.
“This is what Cloud meant by me aiding you through the night’s, isn’t it?” My voice spoke softly.
“Just leave... me here,” He croaks out between heavy intakes of air.
“And leave you to suffer alone?” I questioned, pausing for a moment. I really was about to say it. “Knowing that you took care of me when I was down.”
Ignatius’s body flinched at my words. “How—”
“Clyde told me everything, even though I wish he hadn’t. However, I am grateful for what you did that day as well as today.” I thanked him and it felt deep down in my heart.
“You really are naive.”
Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹
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