“Oh gods!” I woke up to Liber’s large frame yanking me out of the bed. She threw me against the wall, “What is going on here?!”
I looked to the bed, still too groggy to understand her words. Then I realized there were two other bodies in the bed. I felt safe for once in my life, and I realized how this must have looked. “Ma’am, I swear nothing happened!”
She slapped me across the face, “This could create a scandal within Histrek! These two are to be married and here you are sleeping with them!?” Erick and Hiku both sat up and looked at her. She bowed to them, before grabbing my hair and forcing me into a bow as well. “My pardons for waking you, my Princes. This girl apparently does not know her place. She will be punished as is called for.”
Erick yawned, “Liber, we chose to sleep here. She tried to kick us out, but we refused.”
Hiku smiled, “She is still untainted, if you wish to check the sheets. She was hurt and we escorted her to her room. We wanted to keep an eye on her, but when we started to doze to sleep, we figured the best way to keep an eye on her was to sleep next to her.”
Liber shot up, pulling me with her. She looked from them to me and back to them. “Get dressed.” She commanded me as she pushed me into the lavatory.
I nodded, not willing to attract further anger from her. I was quickly dressed and was fixing my hair, when Erick opened the door. “Liber is scary in the morning.”
I held a ribbon in my mouth to tie the ends of my hair. I just nodded, before I realized that he was still in his undergarments. I blushed and turned away, trying not to look at him through the looking glass. I had to take a quick look as he leaned against the door. His broad chest was smooth and distinct lines edged his muscles. As I fought to stop staring, I happened to notice that his abdominal muscles rippled and created a strong line from his pectorals to under his undergarments.
“Like what you see?” He just grinned at me through the looking glass.
I closed my eyes tightly, though I could still see him in my mind. I quickly tied off the ribbon in my hair and blindly pushed passed him. What waited for me in the room was no better than what I saw in the lavatory looking glass.
Hiku’s hair was mid-back length and blue-black, instead of the brown tinted black of Estein. He did not have the large muscles of Erick, but he was still toned and defined. His white skin reflected the light in the room, making him seem to glow slightly. Again, I caught my eyes drifting towards male parts.
I moved quickly to the armoire to hide the increasing red of my face. I pulled out the painting and looked at it. I ignored the figure in the background, and stared at the lady on the water. Her face was sad and the glow coming from her hand is what caught my attention. I lifted the painting up to the light streaming into my room. There was a shadow behind her hand and part of her arm. I gasped and set the painting face down on the bed. I looked to the two Princes who gathered beside me. “There is something inside the picture.”
I lightly touched the back and found the indentation around the object. I grabbed both of their hands, so they could feel it to. Erick mumbled, “What do you think it is?”
I shook my head, “I do not know… Do I have your permission to open the back?”
They both looked at each other, before nodding. “Just be very careful with it.” Erick told me, before pulling a dagger from his boot. He handed it to me and I carefully set it against the back of the picture.
Hiku grabbed my wrist, stopping me from slicing the backing. “Let me try.”
I nodded to him, as he reached down through the back of the painting and pulled out a piece of sparkling glass. He handed it to me and I held it up to the light. It was the size of a handheld looking glass, though you were able to see through it.
“What do you think this glass is for?” I asked my companions.
Hiku grabbed the book, “Can you read it now?”
I looked through the glass and tried to read the text, but it was still to no avail. I shook my head, “Still cannot read it.”
Erick pulled me into a hug, “Then I guess we have to find someone who reads Gaeliious.”
“We?” I pulled away from him, “Is there a mouse in your pocket? I told you that I am going alone.”
“Do you think that now we have found our Princess that we are going to let her go that easily?” Hiku grinned to his friend.
I looked at my feet, trying to find a way to leave them behind. Yes, they could help me, but being with me is more dangerous than anything they could have imagined. “We leave tomorrow.” I lied to them.
They both gave me a hug, “We will tell our fathers that we are going to explore the world before we become Kings.” They both laughed to each other as they left my room.
I stared at the glass in my hand. “They cannot go with me. It is too dangerous for the future Kings. I doubt their fathers will let them go with me.”
I started to pack my bag, planning on leaving today, to avoid them interrupting my plans. I grabbed all of my belongings, leaving the painting on the bed. I also left the uniforms here, taking only the clothes I started with, the talismans, the dream catcher, the glass and book. I put on my face mask back on, as was customary for public wear. I put on the jacket and its hood, hiding my features, before binding my feet. I took one last look into the looking glass, making sure I was covered from head to insteps.
I took one last look at the room that was my home for the last few weeks. I sighed and walked out into the hallway. I ran towards Liber’s quarters to let her know what was going on. She would inform the Kings and if I could avoid the Princes, I would be on my way without delay.
I knocked on her door and waited for her to let me enter. I opened the door and saw her crying on the floor. I dropped my pack on her bed and ran to her, “Are you fine, ma’am?”
She looked up to me, “I lost my position because of you. The Princes threatened my station here to protect you.”
I felt my face become pale. “How can I fix this?”
She pushed me away, “You cannot.”
I sighed, “Ma’am, I am leaving to continue my journey. I will not leave until you get your position back.”
I turned, grabbed my bag and walked out the door. I looked to the ceiling, “Kitarr, may I be able to fix this.” I ran towards where the Kings usually held their tea, hoping they would be there.
I ran up the stairs and barged in the door. I found the Princes talking to their fathers. I bowed to them, “Sirs, permission to speak?”
The Kings looked to their sons, then looked to me, “You may speak, Princess.” Sebastian growled.
I gulped, “I had hoped they would not tell you that. I apologize for lying, my Kings, but I did not want to cause more of a stir than what was necessary.”
Monsieus gave me a hug, “We are just glad someone of the royal family has survived.”
“Sir, my parents are still alive. They have just been captured. On that, I found what I was looking for and am ready to leave to continue my mission.” I felt tightness in my chest, not used to this much display of emotion.
“So we heard.” Sebastian was curt with me. I understood why, but it still hurt.
“Then with your permission, I would like to leave my servant duties. Also, with your permission, I would like to have Liber’s station granted back to her.” I glared at the Princes.
Monsieus looked at me confused, “She has never been demoted from her station.”
My jaw dropped, but I was able to compose myself, “I think that someone has spread a rumor to her that she would be losing her station. Maybe the Princes would not mind telling her that everything is alright. It would give them practice talking with the servants.”
The Kings looked to each other, before Monseius shrugged and smiled, “I think that is a marvelous idea.”
I bowed to the Kings and Princes, “With your permission, I would like to pack so I may leave early tomorrow.”
The Kings nodded, Sebastian spoke, “You are dismissed, Princess.”
I cringed at the way he spat my title. I turned and walked out the door. Liber was standing there, waiting for me. “Why did you do that?”
“Because you taught me things I never knew. You helped me when I needed it and gave me a chance to learn. You did not deserve to have your station stripped of you and I had to fix it if I could.”
She hugged me tightly, “Thank you.” She quickly let me go, “So are you the Nevarrian Princess?”
“Yes, ma’am.” She started to bow to me, but I stopped her, “Please. I am not worthy of the title until I save my people. Thank you for everything, Madam Liber.”
“You are leaving now?” She knew my intentions.
“If I do not, the Princes will follow me and I do not want them to be in danger.”
She winked at me, “I will stall them for you. Now get going.” She hurried me along, before she effectively blocked the door for me.
I ran through the halls and found my way to the courtyard of the Citadel. I took one last look at my home for the last few weeks, before nodding my head once in salute and running towards the stables.
I opened the door and slipped inside of the stables. I found the stable master, a grizzled older sir with a patch over his right eye and a few fingers missing from his left hand. His white-gray hair stood up at all ends and his beard was down to his chest. I smiled to him, “Sir?”
He looked at me with his good eye, “So, the Nevarrian Princess is ready to leave?”
I gasped , “Who told you?”
He just grinned, flashing his mouth of missing teeth, “You lived here for a few weeks as a servant. You know how fast gossip flies.” I kicked the stable dirt with my foot. “So, which horse do you need?”
He grabbed my arm and we walked through the stables. I found a mule and a brown, black and white paint stallion that would help me speed up my journey. I heard a sound from the end of the stable, “Sir. Which one it that?”
His face darkened. “It is a mare that no one seem to be able to get near. She bites at the stable lads and has effectively terrified most of my staff.”
I released his arm and ran towards the mare, before he could stop me. I threw open the stable door and closed it behind me. The mare scrapped the floor with her hoof, giving me a warning. I am sure that if horses could growl or snarl, I would have heard it. She was beautiful, a mixture of white and grays with speckles of dark gray on her hindquarters.
I slowly walked up to her, lowering my mask, so she could see my mouth. “Shh. Easy girl…” I stopped moving towards her, but kept my hand extended. She pawed the ground some more, but her ears perked up. “Everything is fine, love. I am not going to hurt you.” I took another small step forward. She lowered her head and pawed the ground. I caught a white patch on her forehead and knew what she was. She tried to rear up on me, but I bolted to the side, out of the way.
I stayed within her sight, but I heard the stable master whisper, “Get out of there, Princess. She will hurt you!”
I smiled to the horse, “I know who you are and you, my love, do not belong here.” Her ears perked up, as I kept in her sight and moved towards her. I was taking a chance, knowing this horse could easily shatter a bone. “Do you remember me?”
I lightly touched her neck, before she snapped at my arm with her teeth. I wrapped my arms around her neck and held her tightly. I whispered in her ear, “I can get you out of here, if you can trust me.”
I backed away from her and waited for her to make the decision. I stood next to the doorway, where the stable staff stood, watching me and the horse. I held my palm pointed out to her, offering her a way out of here.
She took one step, then another and another. She stood half a finger away from me, so all she had to do was stretch her neck a little. She bowed her head and pushed against my palm, telling me her decision. I turned to the stable master, “I will take her, the stallion and the mule.” I smiled to him, as I opened the door to her stall and followed her out.
The stable staff all stared at me as if I had grown a second head. The stable master composed himself first, “I will get a saddle for them.”
I smiled, “None for the mare. She trusts me and I do not want to destroy that trust with a saddle.” The mare neighed to the stable staff, letting them know who was boss.
With the mule holding basic supplies such as a tent, some weapons, a way to cook and food, I handed gold to the stable master. “This is for the horses and supplies.” The mare walked beside us, as I hugged the stable master. “Thank you for everything.”
The stable master grinned, “You do not want to look behind you.”
I jolted as I felt a feathery touch crawl up my spine. I let go to the master and whipped around. The two Princes were sitting on top of a pair of horses. Hiku sat on top of a pure white horse and Erick on a black one. I sighed and looked to the master, “Who told them?”
Lumin ran forward and bowed, “They demanded to know where you were, Princess.”
I could not be mad at him for telling on me. He had to live here, whereas I was just passing through. “Do not worry yourself over it, Lumin. They can be a terrifying pair.”
He nodded quickly, “Will you be fine out there?”
I hugged him tightly, “Do not worry, my friend. I will stay safe and I will make sure the Princes are safe as well.”
He nodded to me, hugged me back, before pulling away, “I ask permission to accompany you on this journey.”
My eyes widened but I needed to ask, “How well is your seat? How would you be able to help?”
He smiled to me, “I can ride the mule and, my princess, I can hunt and fight with a bow.”
I looked at my feet, before looking back to him, “What does Liber say about this?”
He grinned, “She is the reason I am asking to go with.” I nodded to him, before he ran to tie his pack to the mule, and hop into the saddle.
I hopped onto the back of the stallion and the mare stood beside me, questioning to five additions to our travelling party. I whispered to her, “If they touch you, I will flay them?”
She whinnied loudly in approval and I felt the stallion shudder. I led him forward and hoped I was making a good decision taking them with me.