Chapter 19: Shadowed by Death
“Be careful at all times; never let your guard down for even an instant. Avoid talking about your adventures at the royal castle, it will keep you safer. Take care of yourself, and if you need something, write to me without any hesitation.”
With that Adrian jumped on the back of his horse, ready to ride into the sunset.
“What about the princess?”
I could not help but inquire.
“I will get her to a place where she will be safe and well tended to, you should not worry about her in fact you have never met her.”
That being his parting words, he kicked the beautiful stallion in to a trot, which turned in a full blown run just as the party of two crossed the boundary of Carter estate. Just as Adrain and the young princess vanished into the thick clouds of dust, Genevieve came running to me, having received the news of my arrival from one or another of the servants employed by her father.
“Who was that?” She asked, eyeing the spot where dust still hung in the air.
In response to my noncommittal reply, her eyes narrowed and anger flashed across her beautiful features.
“Eleanor Edmund Black, you better spill all the beans right this very moment. Do you have any idea how worried I was about you? I could not stop thinking about the possibility that the next time I see you, you will be like Andre; being presented in a coffin.”
Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks any moment, so, I pulled Genevieve in to a tight bone crushing hug, which she returned with same fervor, leaving me gasping for air.
“I will tell you everything, alright, just first let us deal with your parents.”
Her only response was a few eager nods, which were good enough for me.
“What explanation did you provide your parents with, on my behalf, before I left?”
“Something that goes like this, Francis’ wife was very sick, and he was called home immediately, and you being the person you are, would not back down on the demand of going along him.”
“You are a genius, how did you spin that story anyway?”
“Yes, I know I am genius and very amazing,” said Genevieve, with a flip of her beautiful dark curls. Gone was the utterly emotional Genevieve from few seconds ago, and I would not say I was not glad for it.
Grabbing my arm, Genevieve dragged me down the hallways of Carter Manor; layered with thick, expensive, and expertly designed wooden panels, leading to the parlor where I assumed Mr. and Mrs. Carter were.
Fire crackled in the fire place as the flames danced around, giving rise to sooty smoke travelling up the chimney of the parlor, scent of buns and cinnamon tea wafted between the four walls of the spacious room, while Mr. Carter enjoyed a book ignoring his wife’s talk about some dress she just got made for herself. The two pairs of eyes quickly settled on me before widening a bit with surprise, as Genevieve and I walked in.
Before either of us got a chance to voice our thoughts, a young servant came running in with panic and fear cloaking his face.
“Master Carter, there are men attacking the estate, they have already killed a few of the maids and servants that were near the gates.”
He said all in a single breath.
Blood drained from the faces of Genevieve and her mother, while a baffled Mr. Carter commanded for his hired few soldiers, for the protection of his home, to launch an offensive against whoever the attackers of the Carter estate were, but the meager personal army of Mr. Carter did not prove very useful. Within no time we could hear the screaming of maids, and clanking of swords with more clarity than we would have ever wanted, indicating that the assailants were closer to the parlor, where we were taking refuge.
Just as the blood curdling screams on the other side of the door stopped ringing in our ears, the wooden door lay shattered into pieces on the floor. At least ten to twelve men armed with swords and knives, dripping blood on their trail. filled the room.
“Take the Black girl, and kill the rest,” commanded one cold voice, making all the men spring into action.
A hand grabbed my hair tightly causing my scalp to light up with pain. I let out a few curse words expressing my views on the situation, elbowing the man attached to that hand in stomach with considerable force making him groan with pain, and loosen his grip on me. Turning around, I kicked him, with as much force as I could muster, in his man hood sending him on his knees; writhing in pain. I did not even get a chance to turn around when my cheek hosted an iron hard slap resulting in my severely ringing head. I was not over the impact of the first blow yet, when another hit came on my other cheek. With the force of the hit I fell onto my back, hitting my head on the floor hard. Tears sprang to my eyes due to the pain, but my ego would not allow me to show any weakness to these men, so, I pushed the tears back, and got up slowly. I could taste the copper of blood in my mouth, but I ignored it, and grabbed the vase decorating the now broken table next to the door, and smashed it on to the head of my attacker, leaving him in a mess of his own blood lying on the floor.
Picking up his sword, I turned around to be met with the horrific scenario; Mr. Carter lay still and lifeless on the floor with a knife protruding his heart, his cold eyes stared right into mine, on his left two men were pounding into bruised and bleeding body of Mrs. Carter, sating their hunger, while her mouth moved but was unable to produce any sound, tears stained her cheeks. Averting my eyes to the other side of the room I witnessed men grabbing Genevieve down, who seemed unharmed yet, other than few cuts and tattered clothes.
In my analysis of the surroundings I got carried away enough to not be able to dodge the hilt of sword aiming for my temple. The moment the sword and my body came in contact, warm liquid oozing from my skin began to trickle down my face, darkness spread in front of my eyes, my knees gave out and my legs buckled under my weight. I waited for my body to hit the floor and more pain searing in my whole being, but it never came. A pair of strong arms went around my body keeping me from falling. It was too hard to open my eyes, but I managed to do so, to find one of the numerous men who had pledged allegiance to me, days ago, holding me, while Genevieve clung to an arm of Adrian like a frightened child as he with his other hand swung deftly a sword, dealing death blows to two men, and ward of attacks from others while his companions beheaded them and any other of the surviving men; from the band of men who had attacked the Carter estate.
Once all the men wanting to kill us were dead, Adrian put his sword back into the sheath attached to a belt holding his black pants. He got on his knees next to Mrs. Carter; picking a piece of a broken glass lying on the floor he held it close to her nose. After passing of few seconds, his head dipped as he declared her dead. Genevieve broke into tears and her body racked with sobs, which brought back Adrian’s attention to her. Seeing her state of dress, he quickly rose from the floor, took off his shirt, and made Genevieve wear it. Genevieve put on no resistance just clung to his huge frame and kept on weeping. Awkwardly putting his arms around the crying woman, Adrian looked my way and spoke up.
“We need to get going Lady Black; this place is no longer safe. They were here to get you once they will come again; once they know of their first failure, but before that happens we need to be on the move.”
“Who are the ‘they’ you are referring to?”
“All the enemies of the prince who want you dead or captive,” he answered, without sparing me a glance.
Bending down a bit, he scooped Genevieve in his arms, and began to walk out of the house which was now a picture of destruction. The man holding me followed his suit, and walked along him while carrying me. In any other circumstances I would have objected to be carried around, but at that moment I did not even had the energy to keep my eyes open, which kept dropping shut no matter how much I tried to force them open. I lost the battle with the darkness and it took me in its embrace as my eyes closed shut.