Amelia’s POV ~
This is all I can think of after being ripped from my slumber.
A blaring crash disrupting your sleep sure sounds terrifying, especially when it’s followed by a series of barrage fire.
Imagine knowing what hides within the darkness. Knowing that the monster hiding behind all the smoke surrounding me is far more blood-curdling than a ghost—someone far less merciful and much more inhumane.
Traumatized, I barely manage to convince myself to open my eyes again. That, however, isn’t a great step on effacing the conjecture that happens to be unfolding before me. I know what’s happening, and surely I know what to do. My mother explained it to me thousands of times before. Even then, I’m utterly petrified.
I don’t have to leave the room, let alone my bed, to know what’s going on outside. The cries and the monstrous groans shaking the earth right beneath my feet sure explains the predicament I’m in for, yet thinking of going through with this makes my blood run cold.
I fumble off my bed, feeling that the covers gave me some kind of protection. Feeling that these cotton sheets would protect me from the hell ascending outside, though I know better than that. I know I have to protect more than just myself. That’s the only thing that somewhat keeps me going.
I tiptoe across the room, afraid that somehow my footsteps will give away my whereabouts to the enemy, even among all the mayhem outside. My feet take me to my first destination, where a thick leather robe lies neatly folded atop an armchair. My fingers tremble as I pull open the cabinet of my work desk and grab the hidden weapon holster. I fasten it around my waist, right over my nightgown. I reach for the rapier behind the table in which my mother instructed me to hide it weeks ago. At its side was a steel dagger. As my fingers skim the delicate shagreen of the blade, its frigidity flows throughout my body as if my fear wasn’t enough.
I shiver at the chilling sensations and slip the weapons into their appropriate pockets. I grab my robe and drape it onto my shoulder; the fabric slides on smoothly. I double-knot the waistband, giving it a few tugs for security. I inhale, hoping it’ll calm my nerves down. Exhale. However, it had no effect on me.
Smoke currents through the windows and into my lungs, irritating my throat and arousing a fit of coughs. I shake my head and hurry to the nightstand abreast of the bed. Upon it stands a glass of water, its rim covered with a napkin. I quaff the remaining drink down. The lukewarm water doesn’t provide the effect I’m after, but it pulls me somewhat back into reality. Glancing around the room, I realize that I am lost in my own world of fright and dismay. But wait. That’s where they want me to be, and I have to be aware that I am needed here.
I shake my head once more and dart to my mirror, hastily parting my unkempt hair into three sections and braiding them away from my face. I reach for a ribbon to bind them with. However, as an abrupt, strenuous thud has the ground quivering, my ribbon slips through my fingers, and I have to support myself against the dresser to prevent me from falling.
I pull back, since apparently that was not the wisest thing to do, as the mirror pummels right at my feet, shattering into a million shards with a piercing crash. All my belongings crash under the heavy weight of the glass. A gust of wind blows on me, along with the consequences of hitting the chair that was placed in front of the vanity table. The mirror falls right on the chair and breaks tragically. A shriek leaves my mouth before I can stop it, but I fortunately bring my palms over my face. Because, judging by the shards of glass wedged into my forearm, I would not like the outcome.
My sleeves are dampened with blood now, the painful wound becoming unbearable to stand. My heart pounds aggressively inside my chest, and I wince at the pain. Blood rushed on my head, nearly blocking the chaos outside. I try dislodging the glass from my arm at once, but the pain is so profound, I decide it’s best to leave them there. And those welled tears had already made their exit, wetting my face.
I close my eyes and inhale deeply, blocking off the potent stench of the smoke. This is not time to show weakness. I have to do this. I wrap my fingers around the piece of glass and start pulling it off. Luckily the fragment had not pierced too deeply; it’d just slit the skin slightly.
Maybe the panic I’m experiencing is making me overreact. Yes, that must be it.
I am stronger than this. Timidity was well beyond my list of attributes. I’m only shaking because I was woken up improperly, and my brain isn’t taking it well. Yes, that should be it. I’m not entirely myself because I’m just not fully yet awake. I’ll have to wait for the sleep to wear off; nevertheless, as a smashing sound groans around the castle, I’m certain it’s going to be a fast process.
I reach for the ribbon once more and cautiously wrap it around my forearm. Blotches of crimson bleed through the silk, but it’s nothing too concerning. Carefully I strip another ribbon from what’s left from the shattered mirror stand and tie my hair.
Heading for the closet to my right, I swing the doors open and frantically start searching for a scarf. I search behind the neatly-hung luxury dresses, through the shelves on the side but there was nothing useful. The shelves in the bottom of the closet catches my eye, so I crouch to look there. My nightgown prevented me from sitting all the way, making me quite uncomfortable. I reach for a piece of glass that had flown all the way to this side of the room and slash the cloth on both sides, all the way up to my knees. It’s not like anyone will notice—particularly in a state of war.
Nonetheless, we’re talking about men—Foxcolt’s men to be exact. Rage ignites within me just at the thought of them and the horrific stories of the aftermaths of their attacks. The fact that they cherish and look forward to abusing, torturing, and taking the lives of innocent people, my people, in the most diabolical ways possible provoked the devil in me. I welcome that side more than ever now; for I pray that they awaken my soul that was eclipsed by this innocent princess act all the time. Well, most of the times...
I furrow my brows in confidence and determination as I grab one of the longest scarfs inside the shelf and wrap it securely so that half my face was covered and the smoke was somewhat blocked from entering my system. The fabric wasn’t the most comfortable, even though it was a soft cotton cloth. Anyhow, the thought that maybe I would get used to it prevents me from removing it. Although I knew I barely stand wearing socks let alone a scarf around my face, sacrifices must still be made.
I rise on my feet and cock my head at the window. The crashing sounds draw nearer as the seconds whisk by, sustaining enough force to burst my windows open. Unwelcomed winds stream in, hauling leaves and gunpowder along with it. I refuse to turn away as the leaves lash at my skin and my eyes begin to sting, my hair and clothes whirring and whipping behind.
I was invincible. Willpower overwhelms my being as I stand there, gazing obliquely at the small figures that approach our castle. A smirk makes a way onto my face as sweet adrenaline pulsates through my veins.
Oh, yes. The sleep is definitely wearing off now.
Amelia pushes the huge doors open, and wind sweeps her hair back. The windows in the wall before her are open for some reason, giving a clearer view to the inner garden. The temperature isn’t the most comforting, but she shakes it off. She heads for a pair of arms that would bring her the warmth she seeks for.
People are scampering up and down the hallways. She can see them wandering in the garden and can even see people panic in the hallway of the first floor; some are alone, some are holding children in their grasp, but all of them hold the same terrified expression. A young maid trips and falls right in front of Amelia, intruding on her dreadful haze.
Amelia’s heart clenches. The young maid tries to get up, but all the bags in her hands prevent her from doing so properly, and she falls back onto her elbows. Her hair is matted, and her face is drenched in tears and sweat.
“Are you alright?” Amelia crouches beside the young girl, holding her hands. All the maid can do is nod. Her chin wobbles as her eyes, possessed with terror, were looking down.
“No, no! Look at me!” Amelia softly scolds. “Where is your family?”
“D-Down...” The words get stuck in the girl’s throat.
“Were you heading there? Why are you still here?” Amelia demands so that she could try to help her in some way.
“I was j-just taking s-some things with me. I thought I-I would need them,” she stutters.
“There are enough supplies in the hideaway. Now hurry!” Amelia orders as she helps the maid up.
The maid obeys immediately and runs down the hallway. Amelia waits for her to at least arrive at the stairs so that she could be sure she would be all right for now.
Amelia loves her people. She loves them more than she could ever love herself; however, not many of them are aware of that. In fact, more of them see her as just a simple object to put a tiara on. She always fought for a chance to prove herself, to let everyone know that she’s worth inheriting the crown—but that isn’t the easiest. At least, not after she’d just blown her first chance.
Amelia clenches her fists in pain as her heart does in regret. As much as some twisted part of her brain enjoys the suffering, the reasonable side tells her to do the right thing—maybe not the smart one, but definitely the right one.
“Search the floor,” she mutters to herself at an attempt to help her realize what she should do.
Amelia isn’t going to search the castle for the enemy. No—she’s looking for people who were left behind for some reason.
She searches room after room as her heart pounds, relieved at the fact that she hasn’t found anyone, all of them hopefully safe in the hideaway.
Anxiety has always played a great part in Amelia’s life, tearing her piece by piece in more than one way, such as now, for example; instead of finding shelter in her mother’s arm like she’s been craving, she’s here wandering to someone’s still non-existential help with the enemy getting closer by the second.
Amelia’s brain is a mess. Her thoughts blow around like dust in a dust storm. What catches her attention, though, is a certain thought, a certain logic that might as well be true—and that scares her. Her observation might as well not be correct, but Amelia is never a trusting person to begin with. Her rage boils from the bottom of her gut as she feels blood rushing to her ears.
Amelia immediately starts running toward her mother, to the unprotected, the thudding of her feet on the soft carpet barely heard as wind gushes in her ears. The adrenaline pulsing through her veins, on the verge of numbing her every sense. She arrives at the first floor in seconds.
The lobby she is now walking on has no carpets. The temperature has decreased, and she can sense the fresh scent of air better now that she is panting. Moonlight shines bright, entering through the large windows on Amelia’s right. She walks on the curved path, around the circular garden, getting closer to her destination.
The basement is apparently built to shelter the royal family throughout attacks, but of course her father would never allow himself to hide while his people out and fighting for him. That would be a knife right through his dignity and honor. And that’s saying something, because you see, dignity and honor were seen as Amelia’s family most precious treasures ever—those traits being inherited generation by generation, years by years, centuries by centuries.
But somehow, Amelia got more than that. She has a pride that could kill her—and probably will. But she is a wise woman, even if she’s still young.
On the other hand, the King had prayed for a chance like this, an honorable death—giving his life to protect his family and loved ones. However, knowing that the royal couple were blessed to marry by love, they happened to be soulmates.
And the only reason why the queen waits for Amelia by the entrance of the basement is so that she can protect the women and children if by any chance someone were to find this place. Also, though everyone hopes otherwise, if this battle is fatal to the castle, they will use a pathway which leads to the village and somehow survive. The queen will never rest in peace knowing that her daughter had to rule her people all on her own.
“Amelia!” the queen cries, opening her arms for her to embrace. Fear is not a trait of Queen Ayla, but when her daughter’s life is at stake, it’s different.
“Mother!” Amelia hurries to her mother’s embrace like that would be the only escape of this hell.
“My dear daughter, don’t be scared! That monster cannot do anything to you. Neither he nor his minions will get to touch even one strand of your beautiful hair, not while I still breathe.” She hugs Amelia close and pats her head.
“That’s what scares me, mother.” Amelia’s sniffles, her chin quivering. “What if you stop breathing? What if something happens to you? What if you—” Her voice breaks into sobs.
She can’t help the tears that flood from her eyes. Her loving mother not being any more? Her warm, tight embrace cold forever? Her big, caring eyes closed eternally? Her strong body forever immobile? That isn’t possible. Amelia can’t bring herself to imagine happiness without her. Just the thought of it brings such immense pain that the tears are unstoppable. She tightens her arms around her mother.
“This is not a time for tears, princess!” The queen leans back, wiping away her own. “People don’t cry when they’re strong enough to withstand the challenge.” She smiles, her tear-stained cheeks rising and revealing that enchanting smile of hers.
“But mother, they’ve already destroyed the surrounding walls. It’s just a matter of time before they reach the main gate,” Amelia’s voice trembles. She feels herself letting her guard down, but she only does so when she is near someone she trusts and loves, so it’s okay.
“Sweetheart,” her mother says, gently grabbing her by the shoulders, “Are you on your right mind?” The queen’s words take her by surprise. “Remember, Amelia. You’re the princess.” She kisses the top of her head. “You are a leader. Is that how you’re going to help your people?” She arches her eyebrow giving Amelia an encouraging smile. Amelia’s lips stretch into a huge smile.
“Hell no!” Amelia cheers, bringing a palm to her face to wipe the tears away. The emotions she feels at the moment are vehement, and it feels like they’re all tied up, forming a knot in her throat. She swallows it down and feels her senses kicking back in.