Three weeks. Three weeks have elapsed since my ferocious rose managed to escape. How and where had the time gone? Every second that she was away fueled my anger. Every breath she took without my permission was an insult to my sanity. How dare she? How dare she run away?!
“Bancroft, calm yourself. We will find her. That is a promise,” Aboloft vowed, but his words meant nothing. He had his woman with him, he had no idea about the battle that was taking place inside me. He did not know how difficult it was for me to breathe, for my heart to beat knowing that Hildred was out there in the open world.
“How dare she? It’s been three weeks and we have no clue where she is,” I barked, glowering at my friend who stood there along with Mavon and Eldon. How could they just stand there and do nothing? Were they even my comrades? No, I did not believe they were. If they were loyal to me, if they knew what Hildred meant to me, they wouldn’t be standing here like a bunch of old horses and would be interrogating and punishing every individual they could get their hands on. I should’ve known, they were all selfish. In the name of love, everybody became selfish.
“The guards are looking for her. There is a bounty on her head, Bancroft, someone is bound to come forward and tell us where she is hiding,” Aboloft responded.
“If there is a bounty on her head then why hasn’t anybody stepped forward? Why hasn’t she been captured by now?” I demanded. At this moment I was envious of Aboloft; he had his woman with him, he did not need to worry about her.
“There are numerous towns and villages, Bancroft, searching every single one is bound to take some time. Have some patience, Hildred will be found,” Mavon stated, as if that was going to extinguish the fire burning my insides. I wished to destroy the whole world and drag Hildred back to Sodora. I vowed to myself that once I had her back, I would make sure she never dared to escape me again. I would do whatever it took to make sure she never even thought about escaping.
“Then we should be out there searching for her instead of sitting here and doing nothing! God knows where she would be, or what she must be doing,” I shouted, not caring if anybody heard me. I could not stop pacing around the room, my legs were restless, wanting to move around and search for the only woman who was mine. Why did she have to run? Did she not understand that it was the biggest mistake she could’ve made? The fury in me wanted to come out, and it wanted its freedom on the one person who was not here.
Oh my fiery rose, once I have you, then no one will be able to save you.
Punishing Hildred was crucial as she needed to understand that escaping was not an option. She had to know that leaving me was nothing but a mistake. She had to realize that I was the only one who could keep her safe and love her. The world was a dangerous place and may God keep her safe when I couldn’t. I knew sitting here while the guards searched for her was not the right thing to do. She was mine and I had to go and bring her back to me.
“The guards will find her and then you can punish her for running away from you. Keep her prisoner in your dungeon, that will terrify her enough to never run again,” Eldon suggested. The dungeons of Sodora were the worst; so much so that they were rumored to be famous when telling scary stories to children at night. However, despite all that, I believed that the dungeons which Eldon had built in his Kingdom were the worst of them all. It was a good thing that Lorelle was sleeping in Eldon’s bed and not in the dungeons, otherwise she would lose her mind.
“I will punish her once I have her.” I marched towards the door. “That’s it, I refuse to wait for those guards to find her, I am going to do it myself. She is my woman and I will be the one to capture her.”
“Bancroft, that is not a wise decision,” Aboloft said, stopping me. I turned around and glared at him.
“It’s been three weeks, Aboloft, or have you not been aware of the sun rising and setting? Do you have an inkling of what I am feeling right now? She was supposed to go back with me to Sodora after this war was over. But when I go to see her, I see Ethel in my chambers crying her heart out and telling me that Hildred has escaped! And days have gone by and so far I have no idea where she is or if she even alive! So do not tell me what is right and what is not because you do not know how I am feeling,” I shouted.
The thought of Hildred hurt or even dead was something I was forcing myself not to think about. She was everything to me. I had waited so many years to have her and when she was finally mine she chose to run from me. Hildred was not supposed to run; my rose was supposed to stand by my side as my Queen and rule the entire Kingdom. That’s what my mother’s visions told me, that was what she saw.
When I read about a gray eyed woman who was destined for me, I refused to believe it. Yes, my mother had a gift but I was still unsure about the authenticity of it. However, when I saw Hildred for the first time, when she a young lady, I could not help the strange feelings which blossomed in my heart for the young angel with gray eyes. And so I waited for years, waited for her to grow up so we could, one day, be together. But now, all my patience and restraint had been washed away.
“On the contrary, I know exactly how you feel. Eldon and Mavon may not know the turmoil you are currently suffering from but I know, as I have suffered the same way, and not just for three weeks but for eight long years.” He was talking about Sabina, the woman he loved since childhood. “And Hildred ran away, she did not tell you she was leaving, my Bina told me never to see her again. I just stood there as she walked away from me, I could’ve stopped her but I did not. Hildred did not give you a choice to stop her, she ran away.”
“And she will pay for that. She will pay a hefty price for doing this!” Picking up a vase from the table I hurled it across the room. The sound of smashed ceramic was like music to my ears, but it was not the music I wanted to listen to. No, my ears yearned for the sound of Hilded’s screams as I punished her for leaving me. I would hear that sound again. Her screams were my favorite songs and I would hear them again.
“You can punish her however you wish but right now you need to stay focused and look forward to Hildred’s return because I can promise that she will return,” he repeated his earlier statement.
I shook my head. “No, I will not wait here anymore. I have to go find her. Three weeks is a long time; God knows where she will be right now.”
“What are the nearest towns and villages and how far away are they from Quopia?” Eldon asked, eyeing Aboloft.
“There are a few villages outside of Quopia, around twenty villages. And as far as I know there are ten towns, if not more, as it has been a while since the guards have informed me of any new developments,” Aboloft answered.
“Is there a way you can take over the land that is currently being occupied by those towns and villages?” Eldon questioned.
“What will take over of the territories do?” Asked Mavon, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“If those territories belong to Aboloft then we can interrogate every person and have them come forward and tell us if they have seen Hildred or not. Once they know that they are under the rule of a King, they will be more forth coming with their information,” Eldon explained.
“I do not think Aboloft needs to invade any new territories. We can go and demand information from everyone. They all know who we are, I think they will speak once we demand it,” I argued.
Aboloft nodded. “Bancroft is right.” He paused, looking at me. “When would you like to go?”
“You do not need to come with me. Hildred is mine, therefore, I must do this alone.” I told him.
“No. I will accompany you. You brought my woman to me and now it is time to return the favor,” he said.
“You need to stay here, Aboloft. Sabina is still healing from what happened to her. You need to stay close to her,” I reminded him, even though I was sure he had no forgotten.
“The entire Kingdom is guarding her, Bancroft, trust me she is safe,” he argued.
“I think Bancroft is right, Aboloft. You need to stay with Sabina. You know she wishes to see you every time she wakes up from her slumber. If she finds you missing, then she will worry. And no one wants the Queen of Quopia to worry,” Mavon interjected. I agreed with him. Sabina was in a delicate condition and she needed Aboloft by her side.
Aboloft sighed. “Very well. I shall stay but you must take my guards with you. The people will provide information easily once they know that death is knocking on their doors.”
“And once you have her, I will be more than happy to tell you how to keep her locked inside your castle forever,” Eldon offered. I couldn’t help but glare at him. Eldon was the worst out of all four of us. The man was the epitome of cruel and I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world was Lorelle going to survive with him.
“I think I know how to punish my woman, Eldon. But if I need any new techniques I will be sure to ask you,” I replied, drily. Once I had Hildred back, I would go and visit Lorelle and see how she was doing.
“Good, so it is settled then; Bancroft will go and search for Hildred along with Eldon and I and the army of guards provided by Aboloft,” Mavon said, taking me by surprise.
“What are you talking about? You two will not accompany me.” This was a mission I needed to accomplish on my own. I wondered if an entire army would frighten Hildred, forcing her to run away. But once I knew where she was, then there would be no place she could use to hide from me. I made the mistake of leaving her by herself, I would be dead before I made the same mistake again.
“Aboloft is not accompanying us, but we will come with you. It will be easier for us to find her when the whole world will know that we are searching for her,” Mavon explained.
“Actually I am just coming with you because I need an adventure,” Eldon said with a shrug.
“Why don’t you go and wake Lorelle. Give her a nice kiss,” Aboloft suggested. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the mockery in his words.
“If I kiss her then she will die, you know that,” Eldon countered.
“Why don’t you tell us the real reason why you refused to go back home,” Mavon requested.
Eldon sighed. “I will go back home. I am just thinking about what I will do with my Queen when I will see her again.”
“You will know when you see her.” I told him. “Alright, so it seems as if Mavon is accompanying me because he believes that we will be able to find Hildred faster and Eldon is coming because he needs entertainment.”
“Not entertainment. I am coming because I am furious that Hildred dared to escape and we must find her as soon as possible…and because searching for her will be an adventure,” he corrected, appearing affronted.
“Great, I am pleased to hear it. We must go now.” I turned to leave the chambers but was stopped by Aboloft.
“Bancroft, it is the middle of the night. You must not go right now. Go in the morning. Right now I would suggest to get some rest because tomorrow will be a long journey,” he said.
“If we go right now we will have the element of surprise. And when people are afraid, they tend to yield easily,” I stated. I doubted sleep would come to me, it hadn’t for the past three weeks so tonight would be no different.
“We will have the element of surprise even if we leave at dawn. No one knows we are coming and our position as Kings will make it easier for us to find her,” Mavon reasoned. Why couldn’t they understand that I had to find my rose right now? Every second that passed made it all the more difficult for me to live. I had to find her and take her to Sodora, the whole Kingdom was expecting her.
“Mavon is right, Bancroft. Leave at dawn. For now, get some rest so you are ready to face tomorrow,” Aboloft stated.
“I will be ready to face anything tomorrow.” I told them all before I opened the door and strode out of the room, leaving my comrades and heading towards my chambers.
Once I was alone in my bed chambers, I removed my shoes and begun the process of removing my jewels. It was while I was removing my rings did I notice something which had not been there before. A small box sat on the table and it looked as if it hadn’t been touched. With a frown, I picked up the box and opened it to reveal what looked to be a brooch.
What was this brooch doing here? Whose was it? Did someone misplace it? All these questions ran through my mind as I looked at the intricate piece of jewelry. If someone had misplaced it why had they not come looking for it? How long had this been here and why had I not seen it before?
The brooch, however, did not keep my attention for long as my mind once again took me back to the woman who was supposed to be sleeping with me in my bed. I eyed my bed as I thought of my rose, wondering when I would see her again. But I knew one thing…
It would be very soon.