The flour-covered guard saw me running over, “You better hurry! The gala is about to start!”
“Are there any Ladies in the room?”
“Yes, they have been waiting for you.” He opened the door and the other Ladies-in-Waiting pulled me inside.
They chattered with amongst themselves as they tried to help me get ready. They told me a black dress had appeared on my bed while she was away. A couple helped me get it on, as another set was attacking my mess of hair. After the dress and undergarments were securely on, they pushed me into a sitting position on my bed, as they then went after my face and finished my hair. Within fifteen clicks, they were completely done with me. I stood up and walked over to the full-length mirror.
I did not look like myself, but then again, I needed to look like royalty to convince the king and queen to let me go. The dress was elegant, a formfitting bodice then led out to a sparkly skirt. The bodice was adorned with lace and more sparkles, but not so much to destroy the integrity of the dress on my body. I was not happy about the neckline exposing my neck, chest and upper parts of my breasts, but I would deal with it. The skirt shimmered and glinted like stars on a night sky. It too had lace, and as with the bodice, it accented my figure.
My face was covered in makeup, but not as heavy as the other Ladies wore it. They did just enough to hide impurities and to make me glow. My eyes were darkening to match the rest of me, becoming a deep sapphire blue, almost matching the hue of the eye shadow the Ladies had put on me. My cheeks were a dark pink, the blush going along with the natural color in my cheeks.
My hair was a lot better than anything I could have done myself. It was braided into two braids, before being pinned up into a bun. I did not see a hair out of place, which surprised me because I had hell putting it up on my own.
I turned and faced the Ladies. They had looks of fear on their faces, not quite sure about what I was going to do or say. I smiled sweetly to them, before speaking in a calm voice. “I owe you all a lot for this.”
They Ladies’ faces brightened, as the tension of the years of me being there melted away. The girl I helped earlier handed me a pair of black shoes, different from the ones I had given her earlier. “Here. They would look better on you than on me.”
I put them on and noticed they fit perfectly. I then smiled to them all, “Cannot keep the royalty waiting forever. I am pretty sure they would love to enjoy the company of you lovely Ladies.” I followed them out the door and the guard grabbed my arm gently.
“M’lady, you have changed.” He looked directly into my eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“You have grown up a lot. When you were first brought here, I was sent to guard the door when you tore up that Lady’s face. Even as I have watched you grow up, I have seen it with my own eyes. Thought you still wish nothing of them, you have helped them. I have not seen them this joyous and determined to make themselves better since you have been here.” The guard let me go. “I just wish we all could tell your father how much you have grown.”
I smiled to him, “He knows. That is where I have been going at night. I see him and the Prince stole the blades father made for me.”
The guard grinned and produced the blades from behind his back. “I saw them and the Prince had left them on a table. I recognized the handicraft as your father’s and figured you knew who they belonged to.”
I was going to hug him, but realized he was still covered in flour. Instead, I gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you…”
He handed them to me, “Do not worry yourself about it. I would rather see them in a fighter’s hands than in a spoiled prince who can barely handle a sword, much less two.”
“Might I ask you a question?”
“Do you know that you look like the Lord Mikall?”
“That thief lord?”
He looked both ways, “Do not tell anyone, but he is my brother. Before I became a knight, he taught me how to survive and well, old habits die hard.”
I smiled, “Secret is safe. I best get to the gala. I have to request to become an emissary.”
His eyes widened, “Why do I have the feeling like I am going to hurt you?”
“It is to where my brother was sent. The King demanded a bride to exchange all of the knights who were sent into his kingdom. I want to save my brother and the others.”
He sighed, “One thing I have learned from you. Once you have set your mind to something, nothing in Ancial will stop you. Want me to pack all of your clothing and items?”
“If you would please?” I smiled, thankful that he understood me.
“I hope you know what you are doing, child.” He put his fist to his chest and bowed to me.
“And may your daughter grow up to be as strong as the other Ladies. They will be the best Ladies one day, matched to no other in ‘diplomacy’ and maybe make a couple of treaties with foreign powers. It is time for the wars to stop and the lands can finally be at peace.”
“Best be going, child. I will pack everything, which means you have to give the blades back.”
“Honestly, truly?” I did not want to give them back up.
I handed them to him, before I heard a Lady yell for me to hurry. I sighed, turned and bolted to where the other Ladies stood. They asked me what we were talking about and I told them that I would explain it later. They accepted that answer, as we all walked through the doors.
The herald announced our entrance to the rest of the gala, “Now entering, the Ladies-in-Waiting.” Everyone turned to see the grand entrance of the sexual emissaries of the kingdom.
I noticed head nods as we passed, a sign of recognize of our status. Many of the men in this room had at one point been with one of the girls to seal a treaty. Even some of the wives had once been one of the Ladies, before being asked for marriage by the ambassadors, lords and kings. Our parade went straight to the King and Queen, curtsying to the Royals.
I bowed, having never curtsied in my life. There were five children of the king and queen, the Prince and four princesses. The princesses laughed at me, but the Prince’s intense hungry gaze never left me. I stood back up and spoke clearly, “Your Majesties, I have a request and need to speak with you in private.”
The king held his hand out to me, “Can it not wait until after the gala?”
“No, your highness, it can not. It has to do with your army and if you want the entire room shall know.”
The king’s eyes became mean, “You are stepping out of bounds, waif.”
“And you sent your armies of a suicide mission instead of sending a worthless daughter of yours to the Demon King.”
The king stood up, “How dare you-”
“Your highness, choose your words wisely. Remember, you are in a room full of allies and lords.” I looked straight into his eyes, causing him to sit back down. “Since it has been seen you care much more for a spoiled brat that would trade you for a glittering jewel than for your hard trained army, who would give their lives for you. ”
“Do you have a point, waif?” He growled.
“Yes. Send me in her stead. The Demon King demands a bride in trade for your army that you foolhardily sent to their deaths. Think about it. You get your army back, you finally have an excuse to get rid of me and your daughters stay in your kingdom. You have nothing to lose.”
The king thought about my words for a tick. The idea of finally getting rid of me was a sweet bait and getting his army back was a hook. “You have a deal, waif. You leave tonight.”
“I go alone.”
“You will not!”
“Your men can escort me to the border, but I will go into the kingdom alone. His men will take me to him from there. He will release the army and a man named Hiku will be leading them.”
The Prince stood up, “Father you cannot do this! I was going to choose her!”
I looked to the Prince, “I want nothing to do with you, and if you had not caught that, then I truly feel sorry for this kingdom if he is to be the leader of it.” I looked to the king, “At least teach him how to fight. If I can kick his arse, then he is pathetic.” She then looked to the queen, “I wish you would teach him how to treat the Ladies. He almost broke one of them and she has yet to seen the end of her virgin night. She is still useful to the kingdom as a wife and he almost broke that.”
The queen looked to her son, “Is this true?”
He glared at me, but admitted the truth, “Yes, it is true.”
“I take my leave, your majesties. Long live the king and queen of Ancial.” I turned on the ball of my foot and walked to the door. The royalty parted before me, letting me not have any problems with leaving. I went through the door and waited until the doors closed before taking the shoes off. I bolted down the walkway towards the room to change and leave this hell once and for all.
I went into the room and ordered the flour-covered guard out, so I could change.
“So they let you go?”
“The bait was too good for them to pass up.” I heard him close the door behind him. I started to strip out of the dress, having a little bit of problems with it. I did not hear the door open, as an intruder slipped into the room. I was pushed onto my bed, face first into the blankets. He put his hand to my mouth, blocking my chance at screaming for help. I felt the dress rip as the intruder took a knife to it and the undergarments. I felt the cold air grip my now naked body.
“Thought you could get away?” I recognized that cold voice.
He flipped me over onto my back and I looked up into the Prince’s eyes. I knew what he wanted and I would be damned if I would give it to him. I had a hand on the bag the guard had packed and I felt around for my blades. He released my mouth, before he gripped my wrists, not letting me move. He put his face into my hair, inhaling my intoxicating scent. “Truly beautiful.” I was going to scream, but the Prince knew better. “Go ahead. No one will hear you. They are all at the gala and the guard friend you have is now knocked out at the door.” He saw the ring on my finger and just laughed. “Promised to someone? They will not want you after what I do to you. Years of rejections, insults and pains you have caused me will be my revenge on you.” He pulled the ring off, but he had to release my hand.
I grabbed the ring from his hand, “Take me to him!” The ring flashed once and in an instant, we disappeared in a flash of light, as another guard came into the room. He saw the look in my eyes before we vanished. He went to tell the royals what had happened.
The Prince and I arrived in the dungeon of the King’s castle. Hiku saw the Prince on top of me. His face was red with anger, as he ripped the Prince off me. I moved away, as far as I could within the closed space. The Prince slammed Hiku into the cell bars, adding extra force to his head, knocking him out. He jumped back on me, readying himself, “Even the strongest man in the kingdom can not save you now.” I was trapped with nowhere to go and without any kind of protection from him.
“No, but I can.” A deep voice came from behind him. I knew that voice, as I had just heard it not an hour ago.
The Prince turned to see the Demon King standing above him. The King picked him up and saw me. Our eyes met, “You… I did not think anyone would arrive this quickly.”
“Was not by my choice. I would have rather had time to prepare myself for this.” I explained as I sat up. I looked around the cell and saw Hiku rub his head. “Hiku!” I was right next to him within an instant. “Are you okay?”
He nodded, “You do realize you are without clothes, right?”
I looked down and blushed, “Kinda sorta ish?”
He took his shirt off and gave it to me. “Here.” I put it on and he looked to the Prince. “What in the seven hells in wrong with you?”
The Demon King held the Prince off the ground, “Who is he?”
“He is the heir to the kingdom of Ancial.” Hiku and I said at the same time.
The Demon King snarled, “When I said I wanted a bride, I did not mean a male.”
“He is not your offering.” I stood up and looked up at him. “I am.”
He looked down at my partially clothed body, inspecting me, I guessed. “We will see about that. Out.” He ordered me.
“No,” I stood my ground, “Release the army first.”
The Demon King was not used to anyone talking back to him, “I will keep my end of the deal tomorrow morning. It is to dangerous to release them at night here.” He growled.
“Then let me say good bye to my brother.”
“Wait. If that is your brother, why were you under him?” The Demon King was confused.
“That is not my brother. That is an arsehole who thought he could control me.”
“I will explain it in a tick. But this knight is my brother. That is why you saw me the first time.”
“Then you are not of noble blood? Your king sent me a commoner.”
I growled, “Do not call me that. I told you. I will explain in a tick.”
“You will explain now!” The Demon King threw the Prince into the cell and dragged me out of it.
“No.” I was dragged out of the cell and it was locked behind me.
Hiku went to the cell door, “Please forgive my sister. She does not understand boundaries between royalty and those like us. That and she is as stubborn as a dwarf.”
The Demon King looked to Hiku, “Then you can explain.”
“Hiku does not know.” I told him, glaring at him.
“Okay then,” The Demon King was starting to realize he was going to have to be patient with this. “Explain or I will have my men kill him.”
I let out a string of curses at the Demon King in eight different languages.
The Demon King laughed at this, “Well, at least she is smart enough to know eight of the thirty languages of the world.”
Hiku smiled, “Oh, she knows all thirty but those eight have the worst curses as far as she has learned.”
The Demon King bent down to meet my eyes, “Now, tell me what I wish to know and you can see your brother.”
I looked back at Hiku who just nodded, “Might as well enlighten everyone of this plan of yours.”
I sighed, “As you know, I am not one of King Dustrene’s daughters. The rings that both Hiku and I wear were created by a wandering gypsy. She made them so he and I would be able to communicate when I was captured.”
“Captured? Hold that thought.” He turned to one of his men, “Release the one called Hiku and we shall continue this in my study.”
One of the guards pulled Hiku out of the cell, and the Prince made a run for the open cell door. The Demon King slammed it shut in the Prince’s face. The Prince yelled, “If my father knew about this-”
“You would be tried for rape and lose your chance at the throne. And from what I saw, your mother is going to have another male child.” I told him.
The Prince took a step back, shaken at this news. “How do you-”
“I have seen more in my nineteen years than you will in a lifetime.” I turned and looked to the Demon King, “You do realize that we will have to send him with the army, right?”
“’We’ do not have to do anything. I have not accepted you as a bride, so you will not tell me what to do.” The Demon King grabbed me by the shoulder and pushed me forward. Hiku stayed by my side, as the Demon King and the guards followed behind them. The Demon King assessed me from behind, making mental notes to himself, though I heard him somehow. Not too bad. Pretty, nice body, intelligent, loyal and has a potential. He looked down at my backside, noticing it exposed below the shirt. And has some meat on her. He smiled in spite of himself as Hiku blathered to me what had happened between our times apart.
I looked to Hiku for tick, “Hold that thought.” I turned and walked backwards, “Stop staring at my arse and stop assessing me. I am not an item of furniture that you are thinking of bargaining for.” I saw his face turn slightly red in embarrassment, before I turned back around to listen to Hiku’s stories.
“Go left.” We followed his orders, complacent now that I was back with my brother. “Second door.” Two guards stood at the door to the study. They opened the door and let us inside. He spoke quietly to the guards, “No one in or out, unless I am with them.” The guards nodded, shutting the door behind him.
I sat on a couch, next to Hiku, who was tense. The Demon King sat in a chair across from us, as a glass of thick red liquid appeared beside him. “Now, please continue your story. What do you mean by captured? Wait, please start from the very beginning name, age, and full background please.”
I took in a deep breath, “My name is Twilight Dawn and I am nineteen summers old. I was found wandering as a child, when I was only four summers old, by my adopted father Dyne, the blacksmith. Hiku is the natural son of Dyne, therefore my brother. One day, Hiku and I were wandering through town, where met a group of children who were caught stealing. We bailed them out and the children became a part of the family of the town. Well, the bastard Prince found me one day, wandering by myself. He convinced his parents to take me in as a Lady-in-Waiting.” I grinned grimly, “I thought they were trying to break me and I ended up tearing two guards to pieces when they tried to bring me in. Father and the town tried to petition my release but the king and queen would not hear of it. So, I escaped and they also tore the town down trying to find me.” I looked up at the Demon King. “That is what I mean by captured. We made a deal that I could leave at night, in exchange for me not to escape again.”
The Demon King looked at me thoughtful. “How was it I was able to see you the first time?”
“The gypsy’s ring lets me see what Hiku sees and vice versa. I just did not realize that others could tell the difference when we looked through each other’s eyes, nor did I know I could speak through him.” I looked to Hiku, “Did you?”
He shrugged, “Then again, I can never fully see what you do, just bits of blurry vision and cracked voices.”
The Demon King smiled, “Well, this has been an interesting day. Why did you decide to come?”
I thought about it for a tick, “I promised Dyne I would get Hiku home, no matter the cost. When you told me that the king had not given you one of his children, I took matters into my own hands. I convinced the king to let me become an emissary to your kingdom, instead of sending one of his own spoiled brats. It worked out for all parties except maybe yours.” I looked directly into the King’s eyes, “You were supposed to be deceived into thinking I was a child of the king, but plans changed when the Prince tried to break me. I did the only think I could think of and used the ring. I had no idea it would work, but something told me I had to try.”
“So that is why you are here early and why I felt the strength of a powerful magick.” He mused. “Now that I know you secrets, why should I keep you?”
I smiled, “Simple, it is not going to be that easy to get rid of me. I was willing to trade one hell for another and no way in the seven hells am I going back there. You basically have no choice in the matter.”
“I do not?” The King was amused at my story,
“Either take me as a bride or as a servant, either way, I am not going back to that place.” I folded my arms across my chest.
The King took a sip from his glass. “You would rather spend your days with Demons that with humans?”
“Yes.” My answer was curt and a bit forceful to my ears.
“So be it. You shall become my personal servant, and if I choose to later, then you can become more. Do you understand and agree?” He took another sip.
I looked to Hiku’s color-drained face, “I have to do this. I promised father I would get you home.” I left out the part that I was supposed to be coming home as well.
Hiku grabbed my hands in his, “I understand, though I wish it would not have to be this way. You are a good sister but a better friend.” He hugged me and whispered into my ear, “Just please be careful.”
I hugged him back, “As I always am.”
He let me go, “Do what you need to.”
The Demon King raised an eyebrow, “You are willing to give your sister up just like that to a Demon?”
Hiku sort of smiled before answering, “Do you know the saying ‘the only reason the stubborn night allows the dawn is because they can not live without one another?’ Well, she is stubborn enough to never let the dawn rise.”
“Ah. Then I understand.” The King looked to me, “Very well then. I seem to have my answer and I will keep my end of the deal. At dawn tomorrow, my men will escort your king’s army to the border.”
My eyes flashed straight to green, “I am going with.”
His eyes became darker, “What?”
“I am going to make sure you keep your end of the deal. You may a King, but still a Demon and I have to make sure all goes as it should. After I see them to the border, I am yours.”
He thought about it, “Fine then. But you will be fully clothed and I will be going with, to make sure you do as you said. You maybe a female, but you are still a wily human.”
I put my hand out, “Then we have a deal?”
“Just as long as your king does not attack my lands again, yes.”
“And if he does?”
He just grinned as he took my hand, “We will go to war.”
I knew what that meant. If Ancial went to war with the Demons…
Ancial would fall.