Dad was in a deep conversation with the king. Granny was talking to the queen and I was having a panic attack but managed to hide it. Every time I took a bite of my food I thought I might choke, I took a sip of my tea and thought I might spit it out, whenever someone looked at me I thought I would babble. The thing that bothered me the most was the pain in my chest, it felt heavy and my heart raced. It’s just because I’m nervous, I told myself. What else would it be?
I had gotten through my eggs and toast without making eye contact with anyone or getting involved in a conversation. When someone started talking I feared that they would say something to me and I’d be completely blank. I sipped of tea and and the it nearly slipped from my hand because I just felt a shock. Thank Virgo that no one noticed. I rubbed the spot where it hurt, I tried to slow down my breathing because Granny was now staring daggers at me.
“Mother, when is Alec getting married then?” Princess Lydia asked. Queen Sophie glared at her daughter, suddenly the stones in Lydia’s collar bones lit up. How can that not kill her? Unless the stones are from her constellation their deadly for her. The stones would end her life in seconds but they don’t, then they must be from hydra or Serpens. Still it’s painful to watch them inside of her.
“We will find out soon” the queen answered, looking at me.
Granny fixed me with a stare, as does Dad. Prince Keegan smiles wickedly. The king looks satisfied, as if my misery brings him joy. I glance at Prince Alec and he looks at me with disgust, he loathes me. He wears his hatred like a cruel second skin. He doesn’t want this but he can’t say no. He wants me to refuse so I can suffer. I know what to say I just don’t know how. After the servants have cleared the table, we all walked out of the dining hall. Everyone walked there in silence. Everyone except me and my grandmother.
“Annabelle,” Granny whispers. I stepped beside her, “Just say yes” she said softly.
I knitted my eyebrows, “What?”
“Say. Yes” Granny said through gritted teeth.
“The king is going to ask you if you want to be a Hydra or not” Granny informed. “And you have to say yes”
I simply nodded my head. “Why is he asking me that?” I whispered to Granny.
Granny rolled her eyes and huffed. “The king will ask you because that will finalize your decision”
The thrones are empty, none of us have taken our seats yet. I try not to shiver. It’s just from the cold. It’s just from the cold, I told myself.
“We need to discuss the wedding arrangements, father” Prince Alec says to the king.
“That can only be if Antonio’s daughter will make the right decision” King Jaxon says.
He’s making me feel stupid like this. Did they practice what to say, just to make me feel like this?
“Don’t worry she will” Granny confirms.
“Her time is up” Queen Sophie says.
“Annabelle,” King Jaxon calls. “Are you willing to be a Hydra or not?”
Granny grabs my hand and squeezes it. Her fingers wrap around my hands and she’s digging her fingernails into my flesh. This is it. It’s terrible fate either way. My mouth felt dry despite all the liquids I had. I feel my breakfast up my throat, I might throw up like I did this morning.
“Is she going to answer or not?” Prince Keegan muttered under his breath. That irritated me. The way he looked at me irritated me.
“She’s just nervous” Granny tried to cover up for me.
“It’s simple answer” the princess said in a sweet voice. Why can’t I talk? I think to myself.
“She’ll do it” Granny almost shouts. She sounds absurd.
“Mother!” Dad scolds.
“The girls must answer herself otherwise I will take it as a no” teh king explains.
“Forgive me, Your Majesty” Granny ducks her head.
“Honestly Magda,” Queen Sophie says to Granny “I thought we discussed what your grand daughter was suppose to say. I thought you would have taught her better then this”
That opened my mouth, “What are you talking about?” I demanded.
“Mother, what is the queen talking about?” dad asks.
“You’re going to make me do this anyway so what’s the point in asking” the words are out of my mouth before I know it.
“King Jaxon, Annabelle is not listening to me” Granny starts. “Perhaps you could......” Granny trails off.
“I thought you were the right person for this job, Magda” the king says. “Instead you have embarrassed yourself”
“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?” I begged.
“Your grandmother has been serving the royal family for years now,” Queen Sophie informs. “and you were supposed to be obedient and do as your told” she adds.
“Your going to make me do this anyway” I hear myself say. Why am I saying this? I do not want to say this.
“Don’t talk to me like that” she sneers.
“So, it’s true” Dad looks at his mother with hate.
“Yes, it is” Granny confirms.
“How could you?” Dad sighs.
“Enough of this” the king says. “Annabelle,” he starts “You can pledge yourself to the Hydras and we will welcome you into our family or you could reject my son and you will meet a terrible fate”
I sucked in a deep breath, and breathed out. “I apologize for anything that I did or said that may have offended you but if you could just slow this down.....if you could delay the engagement I could perhaps get to have a few days of.......” freedom. I was going to say but I didn’t dare.
“We got your answer” Prince Alec said.
“Annabelle, we are leaving” he nearly shouts. “Let’s go”
“You are not going anywhere” King Jaxon says.
“You will stay in the palace until you come of age and then become a Hydra” Queen Sophie demands.
“She is not staying with you! She is my daughter and she will not stay with you!” Dad yelled. I had never seen him like this before.
“Guards!” The king calls. “Take her away” he demanded. Dad blinked and snapped back to reality.
My heart falls into my stomach, my knees are shaking. I slowly take a few steps back but someone grabs me from behind. Two guards, each grasping one of my arms and dragging me towards the doors. A scream escapes me, I kick and try to fight them but they’re stronger than me.
“Help!” I shout and repeat that a hundred times.
“Put her in the castle dungeon” the king yells.
No one moves from their places, Granny looks smug and wicked, the king is holding back Dad and he whispers something in his ear which makes Dad stand still, the rest of the royal family are satisfied and triumphant. It’s sickening to me.
“Let go of me” I demand. None of the guards answer. “Someone help” I shout. The bright chandelier forces me to shut my eyes, I fight the pain but the tears stream down my face. I slip from their grasp and try to run but they reach for my hair, one of them pulls me by it and throws me to the floor. I scream and fight them with all the energy I have but to make it easy for themselves, one of the guards presses a cloth against my nose, the strong smell knocked me out.
I peal my eyes open and sit up quickly which I immediately regret doing. It sends a pain up my back and travels through my whole body. My neck is numb and difficult to move. The dress I’m wearing is ripped and stained with dirt. I must have twisted my ankle because I can’t move my foot.
I look around and that’s when I realize, I’m in the dungeon. It’s colder than ever, my breath turns to mist whenever I breathe. The dungeons are below the castle, I guess and it’s getting colder. I try to get up with the help of the stone walls around me, I lean against them and observe my injuries. I take of my coat and roll up my sleeves, my arms are bruised, I’m still dizzy from when they knocked me out, my lip is bleeding and there’s bruise on my forehead.
I pressed my face against the bars and squinted my eyes to observe my surroundings. I was in the last cell of the dungeon. The bars were rusty and I quickly pulled my face from them.
“Hello?” I choke. Then clear my throat, still hurts from all the screaming.
“Hello?” I repeat.
No one answers. The rest of the cells are empty or maybe not, I can’t see a thing because my eyes are still adjusting to the darkness and dust. There’s a light coming from the other end of the alley. There are eight cells across mine and seven next to me.
“Is anyone there?” my voice echoes. No answer. How long was I asleep? I ask myself.
My hair is a mess, it sticks to my forehead and I brush it out with my fingers. I hear footsteps, someone walking towards me, they get louder.
I back away from the iron door, a tall figure stands on the other side. He’s wearing boots and an army green uniform with medals at his breast.
“Tell the king that the Virgo girl is awake” he says to someone at the end of the room.
“What are you going to do with me?” I hear myself ask before he walks away.
“That is up to the king,” he informs, hands tied behind him. “and your betrothed” My stomach churns at the last line. I’m leaning against the dirty walls made of rock. My knees buckle and I fall to the floor with a thump.
“How can you sleep?” someone asks. Their voice is weak and it’s coming from the cell across from me.
“Who’s there?” I left myself and run my hand over my face to wipe the dirt off.
“A person” they answer with a humorless laugh.
“Show yourself” I demanded.
“I would but it’s dark so you can’t see me”
The figure stepped forward and rest their head between two of the bars. The boy looked weak and had bruises and cuts all over his body. His clothes were ripped and stained with dirt and blood. His blonde hair was streaked with brown, that must be mud, his eyes were grey like a storm and I couldn’t see the Signs on his wrists otherwise I would’ve known what constellations he belongs to.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Nathan” he tries to smile. “Nathan Pisces”
“I’m Annabelle....” I told. “.....Virgo” I added reluctantly.
I can’t tell in the darkness but his expression changes, he’s shocked and joyful but he covers it up.
“You’re a Virgo?” he asked blissfully. His eyes nearly popped out and he’s half smiling.
“Thank the Stars” he says under his breath. I knitted my eyebrows suspiciously.
“Do you know how long was I out?” I asked him.
He scratched his head in confusion, “They bought you in here yesterday morning”
Yesterday. “What time is it now?” I cursed myself for asking that, what a stupid question to ask. How would anyone know?
“How would I know?” he says. His tone reminds me of someone.....Amara. She says that all the time.
“You sound like my friend” I told. I’m glad it’s dark enough to hide my weak smile.
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“Good thing” I sighed.
“How long have you been here?” I asked him.
“A few days” he yawns. “It’s probably night time” he added, stretching his arms.
“What makes you think that?”
“Because I’m tired and sleepy” he answers.
“Why are you here?” I wondered.
“What?” he asks in confusion.
“I mean....” I correct myself, “....why were you thrown in the dungeon?”
“It.....ummm......it’s....it’s complicated” he stammered.
I decided not to ask anymore questions. I wasn’t sleepy and it was better for me not to sleep, I had to avoid the nightmares and having nightmares in a dungeon would be even more terrifying. Nathan fell on to his bed and snored. I crawled to my bed and slipped of my coat, crossed my legs on the mattress and used the coat as a blanket. My head was resting against the wall which was made of rock and bricks so it pierced my head.
Pisces. The first thought that came to me, I thought about Pisces. I wish I could see it in the sky. Nathan reminded me of Amara, he gave me Aries vibes.
Hours passed, I was still wide awake. It hurt me to think about what had happened. Granny and Dad, both watched me in pain but they didn’t do anything. Deep down maybe I expected this from my grandmother but Dad. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, just hard to take in. I wondered what Amara, Lyra, Tristan and Lewis think happened to me, maybe they would think that I left without telling them.
Fatigue came over me, the veiw of the cells faded into something else.
I’m sitting at the edge of my bed, the bed I have at home. It looks the same, the curtains are flowing in the cold wind coming from the floor to ceiling window. Someone is standing outside, I slowly approached the window. The same woman I see is standing with her back to me. I step into the cold, I’m barefoot and dressed in white as is the girl in front of me. She spins around when she hears me coming to her.
“Why do you keep showing up?” I ask her.
“The Stars are beautiful” she said.
The kingdom was silent and the stars were the only source of light. No street lights.
“You didn’t listen to me” she says to me.
“I didn’t know how.......” I hesitated.
“Next time you have to do what I’m telling you” she says. “Run away”
I have no idea what she means by that, when will I get the chance?
“I should have listened to you” I admitted.
A smile spreads across her face, “I’ll leave you to stargaze before you have to go back to your cell”
She vanished in a ball of light and I had to shield my eyes, this time my hands were safe because I tilted my head and I hoped the bright light wouldn’t burn my hair off. Virgo and Ophiuchus were my friends that night, I moved them around. It made me drowsy but I didn’t care.
I woke up hoping I’d be in my bedroom but I was still in the uncomfortable bed in my cell.
“And the girl is awake” Nathan said, his voice full of relief. “You’ve been asleep forever”
I rolled out of bed and fell with a thump. There was a tray and a glass sitting on the floor. I took a sip of the water, it was rusty, the fish they had served me was under cooked. I was starving and devoured it within seconds. It was hard to swallow and it didn’t give me the energy I needed. Nathan refused to have his meals because sometimes they served fish, when this occurred he gave his fish to me and I gobbled it down. His constellation represented two fish so he had never tasted seafood before. Other times they served vegetables with watery chowder.
I knew this is where I was going to be for the next few days, as soon as I turn eighteen King Jaxon won’t wait a minute to turn me into a Hydra.