The After Effects

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New Quarters

Harper wasted no time in exploring the rooms. The banana muffin still clutched to her chest as she went in and out of rooms.

Our new quarters consisted of a shared living room, filled with a giant and really comfortable looking sectional couch. The couch faced a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooked the courtyard. Which consisted of a beautiful garden and clear dirt paths that led in twisting trails around the garden.

To my surprise, there were people walking around the garden, dressed to impress and carefree as they chatted.

Three doors stemmed from the living room. One leading to a shared bathroom, which was massive and filled with barely used bathroom stuff. The other two doors led to bedrooms.

The door on the left was clearly the master. A bigger then king-sized bed was laid against the far wall, a black fluffy duvet that looked heavenly covered the bed along with twenty-some pillows. The headboard was mainly blacked and outlined with what looked to be real gold. A wardrobe, a dresser, and an armchair were the main furniture. A mirror, uncracked and spotless, caught my attention. The room was decorated with paintings and rugs like much of the castle. What a gorgeous and expensive room. Another floor-to-ceiling window was on the right side of the bedroom, heavy blackout curtains were thankfully provided. The room had a black theme to it, and I loved it.

After gawking at the room some more, I turned to find Harper.

Spread out on the guest bed, she had a beaming smile on her face as she finally ate the muffin.

Her room was decorated similar to mine, just on a smaller scale and with a normal-sized window. Her room theme was sheer white, which I thought fitting as it matched her silvery-white hair.

"You like it?" I asked.

All I got was a nod and muffled yes thanks to the muffin stuffed in her mouth.

Turning back around, I went back into the living room. Still stunned by the beauty of the whole place. How could something so beautiful have survived the craziness that the Plague brought?

I stepped up the huge window and caught sight of the dimming sky. The day nearly done.

Sleep pulled at me, but instead of giving in, I began a new studying of the whole place. A thorough, searching, study. From top to bottom, I checked the place for anything unusual and out of the ordinary.

Once satisfied that the living room, bathroom, and my room were secure, I went to Harper's room.

I chuckled as I saw her passed out, snoring, on her bed.

Her face peaceful and completely at ease for what could quite possibly be the first time in years. I walked over to her wardrobe and got an extra blanket out of it for her. Then I covered her with it and tucked her in.

I spent a few minutes watching her sleep. Which admittedly felt creepy, but the rise and fall of her breathing was so comforting. I couldn't help it when my hand reached out and tucked a wild strain of hers behind her ear.

"Goodnight Harps." I sighed as I got up and shut her bedroom door.

What have I gotten myself in to? I shook my head at the craziness of my day.

Realizing I needed my stuff at my old lodging, I crept out of the quarters.

Stopping briefly to instruct a guard to watch our door, I made my way out of the castle and back to the Lodge.

A new lady stood at the front desk in the lobby. Her pleasant smile making me roll my eyes.

"Hello." She greeted me and I responded with a nod before climbing up the stairs to my room.

Everything was where I left it, my drying clothes, backpack, many hidden weapons, and my new clothes. I packed everything up, strapped my weapons to me underneath my cloak, and left the room with no second thoughts.

Already having paid for the room, I didn't bother even stopping to talk to the lady. In fact, I pulled my hood up just so I could avoid her altogether.

My trek back to the Castle was peaceful, the sun setting and people drifting back to their homes. I felt as if someone was watching me, but chalked it up to being someone staring at my strange gray cloaked figure.

The guards bowed as I entered the castle. Making a "quick" stop at my room, I left my bag there, before heading to the castle kitchens.

A few cooks bustled around, cleaning up from dinner and preparing for the morning meal.

"Excuse me." One of the helpers turned to me. "Who are you? We don't give away free food. " The young boy's eyebrows scrunched in question as he glared at me. I bet him to be around sixteen or seventeen, which doesn't make him that much younger than me.

I'm sure my appearance makes me seem like a beggar.

I brought my hands up and took my hood off. The boy crossed his arms and opened his mouth to probably yell at me to get out. Only to close it when the main cook turned around, having noticed the commotion, and gasped.

"Lady Bjerke!" The cook said, shock and fear coating her voice.

Instantly, everyone turned to me. As one, they all bowed, besides the young boy. He glared at me with confusion and arms crossed, trying to figure out why they were all acting like that around me.

The main cook straightened and grabbed the boy, roughly, by his arm. "I apologize for my boy... He doesn't get out much." The cook hurriedly spoke. Panic making her breath harder.

I realized it was because she was worried.

I raised my hands slightly, and didn't miss the slight flinch everyone made, before speaking. "It's fine. I don't need everyone to bow to me. In fact, I insist you don't. It's weird." I faked a shudder and a few awkward laughs rung out around the kitchen.

"What may we do for you?" The cook asked as her son stood dumbfounded next to her.

I glanced around the room, noticing everyone was staring, and spoke. "I missed dinner and came down looking for a snack." That's an understatement, I haven't eaten since last night.

The cook was shocked by my simple request. "Of course. I insist you go out into the dining room while we make you something."

Noticing that everyone was still in my presence, I figured I should leave them alone as she suggested.

Right before the kitchen door shut behind me, I heard a hissed voice. "That's the Acer, you dummy."

Ugh, that title will never leave me alone, will it?

I entered straight into the dining room, the giant room making me feel small. I paused when I saw the figure at the end of the long golden and glass table.

"Well, this is a surprise." King Samuel smirked at me from over his golden goblet.

Wonderful. I groaned.

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