Chapter 26: Startling Revelations
After the fourth time of falling off the horse I gave up the idea of trying to control it. The moment I would touch the reins the stallion would break into a routine of wild and harsh movements, stopping only when I would fall off its back, but surprisingly it would not run away till I get back on, and would trot harmoniously until I try use the reins to steer it again, so I gave up on the idea of guiding it. I did not had any idea where I was going, but then I would still have no idea where I would be going even if I manage to make the horse steer to my commands, all that I knew in that moment was that I was worried to death about Vincent, but I was afraid to go back in case I cause him more trouble than provide help.
Exhaustion had set deep in my bones, taking into account the fact that I had not stopped to eat or sleep in days it was plausible. According to my rough calculation of sunrises and sunsets it was most likely the third day in a row that I spent on the horse back when the forest scenery began to fade into the background. An opening through the dense clusters of trees could be seen. The horse took me through the clearing into the gardens of a huge mansion before coming to a halt.
The loud neighing of my horse brought an almost instant reaction from the residents of the majestic mansion. Around half a dozen guards armed with swords, and bows with arrows strung in; ready to attack, surrounded us, weapons aimed at me.
“That horse belongs to the prince,” said a tall, and slightly overweight man with sandy hair, a sharp nose, a cleft chin, and a pair of weary eyes sizing me up.
His words made no sense to me, and as I was pondering over them as well as any possible ideas that would get me out of this not so pleasant situation when Adrian strode out of the expertly constructed stone made building of the mansion. He waved a finger, and all the weapons trained on me were lowered. The men encircling me broke their formation as Adrian approached; providing him space to step closer to me.
“Ms. Black, what brings you here, and more importantly how you found your way here?” asked the curly haired lord standing in front of me.
“It is a long story,” I croaked.
My throat was dry as sand in a sunny desert day, I had not had a fill of water since the moment I had left the small house in the market street I was living in for weeks.
“You are weak, unfed, and under rested, Ms. Black, we can talk over dinner.”
Receiving a weak nod of approval from me, Adrian led me inside the mansion, not before giving the black stallion behind me a curios glance and a pat on head. The mansion on the inside was just as stunning as on the outside.
Thick, artfully carved and polished wood paneled the floor causing our feet to create light sounds as they hit the wood underneath. We walked through dimly lit hallways decorated with numerous portraits; of people I do not know of, that lined the walls. My eyelids were becoming increasingly heavy with waves of much needed sleep hitting them, so I was unable to look around more and appreciate the beauty of the building which seemed to hold thousands of years worth of history, and countless stories.
As no immediate danger threatened my existence, adrenaline that had kept me going for the past days seeped out of my blood stream leaving me extremely tired. It was a laborious task just putting one foot after another in trail of Adrian. On heels of Adrian I entered a room which was lit much more brightly and smelled so heavenly that my empty stomach began to growl. On inspection I realized I was standing in a kitchen with a huge table laid out with dishes of food; most of which I had never tasted or even seen before.
“Darling, we have a guest.”
Adrian’s words pulled me out of my reverie, and I saw that there was one other person in the room other than him and me; Genevieve. On meeting her eyes I could see all the emotions she was going through clearly, there was love, concern, worry, and guilt. She pulled me into a warm embrace, and tears began to stream down both our cheeks.
After an intense session of cleansing our souls at the hands of speedily flowing tears, followed by talking out all that had strained our relationship over the course of past few weeks, Genevieve and I took seats on the dinner laden table where Adrian was already seated; waiting for us to join him.
Without wait I dug into my food, as did the other two. My taste buds were overwhelmed by all the heavenly flavors. Genevieve had always been magical with culinary, now after days of going hungry I could feel her magic over riding my senses. After polishing off three servings of extremely delicious food, I helped Genevieve clear away the table and do the dishes, ignoring her protests.
With a steaming cup of mint tea secured between my hands I made myself comfortable on a chair turned to the small fire dancing in the realms of the soot covered fireplace. Folding my legs under my body, I sipped onto the tea, waiting for Genevieve to shoot me with all the questions she had. Her face showed it clearly that I was right and she was loaded with things she wanted to know and ask from me. It did not take long for the volcano to erupt; and the questions to start flowing out.
“Eleanor, are you going to kill me with all the suspense?”
“What do you mean?” I asked feigning innocence even though I knew very well what she meant.
“You are enjoying it far too much for your own good.”
I laughed at the frustrated expression that was painted all over her face as I continued to toy with her curiosity for a while longer, before I finally caved in to all her threats and pleading, and gave her a rundown of everything that had happened in my life since the moment she had stepped out of the house with Adrian. Her ‘oohs and aahs’ were a regular feature between my narrations every time I mentioned Vincent.
I was just finishing up telling Genevieve how I was saved by Vincent in the market before he put me on his horse that led me to the very mansion we currently were sitting in when I was punctuated by a loud of string of curses; which on turning around I found were let out by none other than Adrian who was standing in the door with a weird expression masking his features.
“Did I hear it right, Vincent came out to save you?” Adrian asked angrily while making his way towards me.
“Uh um yes he did save me.”
My words seemed to enrage him all the more, and he let out a few more choice words before turning around and yelling names of the people who I supposed were the ones that had provided me a very warm welcome earlier with bows and arrows. Within no time two men came running to the room we were in, and bowed in front of an enraged Adrian.
“The prince has been seen in the market street where we provide Lady Black with a residence, and several men were hot on his heels. We need to get to him before anyone else gets a chance to get to him and hurt him. Scout the whole city for any trace of him and bring him here the moment you get your hands on him, disregarding any of his orders or requests.”
Adrian issued the orders to his men, who without a word of disagreement nodded and left at the same pace they came in at.
“What in the world is going on, Adrian?” I asked, utterly confused.
“Adrian, I said tell me what is all this racket about?”
“Just shut up, and stop pestering me.”
The change of his tone and his dis-respective behavior caused my blood to boil.
“Lord Adrian Vergara, I am not your slave girl for you to talk to me that way. ”
As the anger in my eyes burned stronger, I witnessed Adrian calm down and let out a frustrated sigh while running his fingers through his now more than usually disheveled locks.
“I am sorry, I am just worried.”
“Worried about what?”
“Prince Vincent running around the town like he is not a wanted person and the whole army of Estercrest Empire is not out for his blood. He has a reward of one million gold coins over his head, he cannot just run around in streets full of people, he could have been beheaded by now if someone ever recognized him. I know he was there to save you, but still it was very stupid of him.”
“What the hell are you talking about? I am talking about the normal guy Vincent who is my friend not some prince Vincent.”
Adrian let out a loud laugh, before stopping abruptly and looking at me straight.
“How naive can you be you are talking about the same person in two different roles? Vincent the prince and next in line for crown of the Estercrest empire is also the Vincent who saved you and has been saving you since the very start.”