Chapter 4: A Queen's Wrath
Deanna was face to face with the man she saw in the courtyard. Aeon was his name; captain of the guard and his master was Prince Maxim. It was such a shock to face them that she literally forgot her name as she stared at their handsome faces. Deanna was so distracted that she didn’t notice the Queen and Helena walk up until it was too late.
“Deanna!” She could tell by the Queen’s voice and her face that she was in trouble. In deep trouble.
“Come Deanna.” As much as she didn’t want to follow the Queen she knew there was no other choice. Helena gave her panicked glances as the two of them followed the Queen silently. She was still silent when they went inside. Deanna was starting to get scared. She wondered if she could sneak off to her room, but she could tell by the look the Queen threw over her shoulder that she had to follow her until she said otherwise. Helena and Deanna followed the Queen her study.
“Shut the door, Helena,” the Queen said. Deanna’s heart hammered in her chest. Helena closed the door slowly. The room was silent for what felt like hours. The only thing Deanna could hear was her own breathing that she desperately tried to keep even.
“What do you think you were doing,” the Queen asked calmly.
“I was in the gardens,” Deanna whispered, “Picking flowers.”
“You were with one of MY suitors!” the Queen suddenly exploded. Faster than Deanna could see, the Queen grabbed a leather strap from her desk drawer. Deanna knew the strap all too well.
“Hold her Helena!” the Queen shouted.
“But Mother she didn’t mean-“ Helena tried.
“Hold her!” the Queen screamed. Helena yelped as her mother hit the strap against the desk with a loud whack. Helena gave her dear sister an apologetic look before doing as her mother told her. Deanna obediently leaned over a chair and Helena braced her on it.
“Just breath through it,” Helena told her. Deanna didn’t need to be reminded. She was punished for something or another all the time. The first sting of the leather strap on her back made her gasp and cry out in pain, but the second and third she was able to clench her teeth and breath through it as her sister suggested. She got fifteen lashings before the Queen sighed and threw the strap to the floor.
“I hope you have learned the faults in her ways,” the Queen finally said, allowing Deanna to straighten up.
“I have Queen Mother. I am deeply sorry,” Deanna lied. The Queen nodded and waved both of the girls off.
“I’m sorry sister,” Helena whispered once they were out of the Queen’s study.
“Tis not your fault, Helena,” Deanna replied.
“Let me dress your wounds at least,” Helena said.
“Go to bed,” Deanna told her, “The lashing was not on my bare skin so they should be, but mere scratched. I do not feel pain anymore.”
“If you are sure then,” Helena sighed, “Good night dear sister.” She quickly kissed Deanna on the cheek and retreated to her own room. Deanna sighed. She was in pain fore the sting of the strap still bit at her skin, but she hated seeing Helena worry about her. Honestly they probably were just scratches. Deanna walked slowly back to her room. It was very dark and the castle was quiet. All the guests were in their rooms. Save for a few guards the common areas were empty. Deanna felt relief as she climbed up the stairs to where her bedroom was. Her room used to be right next to Helena’s. She often would sneak to her room when she had nightmares and fall asleep in her arms as she said soothing things and rubbed her back. Deanna smiled at the memory. She was so distracted she didn’t notice a man standing in front of the door next to her own until it was too late to turn around.
“Good evening,” the man said. Deanna jumped. She looked up at the man. It was the one accompanying the prince of Summoner, Aeon. It was their fault that she received such a merciless punishment. She did not feel like making small talk.
“Good evening,” she replied rather coldly.
“You are the second eldest daughter to the late king yes?” the man questioned.
“Yes,” Deanna said, “What importance is it to you?” She couldn’t help, but notice that he said second eldest daughter to the late king instead of second eldest princess of Albarel. That’s how all her siblings were referred to. As prince or princess. She was a mere bastard.
“I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” the man said with a deep bow, “I am Aeon. I am here with Prince Maxim of Summoner.” Deanna was a littler taken back by the bow. It had been a while since anyone had bowed to her. She was either too friendly with people so she did not require them to bow or people were tainted by the Queen’s hatred of her and refused to bow. Aeon looked up at her as she stood there silently looking at him. Now that she was up close she could see just how handsome the man she spotted outside her bedroom window was. He was built very muscular and his height was a little intimidating up close. His beard made him look older, but she guessed that he was only two or three years older than Helena. He had striking blue eyes that seemed to freeze her to one spot. Finally she noticed she had been staring again, drinking in the sight of him. She closed her eyes again to snap herself out of the spell he had put her under. Why did he affect her this way.
“It is very nice to meet you,” she said, recovering from her shock. Aeon stood up straight.
“If I may, why were you in the gardens so late?” Aeon asked.
“I enjoy walking among the flowers,” Deanna replied with a shrug, “They smell nice, look pretty, and provide many uses from decorating a room to having healing properties.” It was Aeon’s turned to be surprised. He was not expecting such an in depth answer, but he recovered faster than she had.
“They seem to make great tiara’s as well,” he smiled. Deanna looked confused, but quickly realized the flower crown she had made earlier still rested atop her head. Deanna snatched it from her head and turned a delightful shade of red.
“I apologize for the sight you must see,” Deanna said looking down.
“Nonsense,” Aeon argued as he plucked a rose petal from her hair and showed it to her, “More women should decorate themselves with natures beauty.”
“Is that how women decorate themselves in Summoner?” Deanna questioned. Aeon frowned.
“No,” he replied, “It is very cold there. Flowers do not bloom in such abundance as they do here.”
“That’s a pity,” Deanna replied, “But I heard you kingdom is blanketed by beautiful water crystals each winter. It is dreary and grey here.”
“The snow is a beautiful sight,” Aeon agreed, “However, I wish I could see more roses there as well.” Deanna smiled up at him. Such a beautiful smile she had with pearly white teeth hidden by peachy pink lips. He skin was tan and her hair was the color of the bark of the large elder trees in Summoner. Her eyes were dark and deep and seemed to never end as he looked down into them.
“Well, I must bid you goodnight, sir,” Deanna said with a graceful curtsey.
“Goodnight, Princess Deanna,” Aeon said with another deep bow. She again looked at him in surprise.
“Aeon,” she whispered as if to test his name on her lips. And a wonderful test it was. He never appreciated his name before until it spilled from her mouth. She gave him a brief smile before disappearing behind her door. Aeon stood there for a moment before returning to his room. Max sat on the bed.
“I thought you were going to look for- What’s the matter,” Max said, “You look ridiculous with a smile like that on your face.” Aeon looked down at the rose petal in his hand. Deanna the bastard princess of Albarel was not what Aeon was expecting though the rumor that the Queen had a deep grudge against her seemed to be true. It was very strange that the girl’s room was in the tower meant for guest instead of with the rest of the royal family. He also noticed that there was something wrong with her back. He had seen her long before she saw him. He noticed her walk up the stairs. She was hissing in pain with each step and groaned with relief once she reached the door to her room. She did not look in pain when they had met her in the garden earlier. She must have been punished by the Queen for some reason. His suspicions were almost proven when she turned to go into her room and he saw slight abrasions and tears on the back of her dress as if it had been hit repeatedly by something.
“Aeon,” Max called, “What is going on?”
“There’s been a change of plans,” Aeon replied.