Thursday, 17 March 2016

Chapter 2 - Frederick

Marry! She is Garolina in the flesh! I could never say no to those green-blue eyes. And her love for the people of Amnos Os is only surpassed by her mother's. She makes my heart bleed, young Annise. My baby girl. Though she is more womanly with every waking moment.

Albert is sweet on her - any blind man could see that! He's a gentleman, no doubt, but is he worthy?
Is he worthy?
He certainly isn't a prince. Born of Garolina's maid-servant. She was unmarried and little more than a child herself. There were complications during birth, and she died that night. I took pity on him. He was such a happy child, unaware of the circumstances of his birth. Sir Freowine raised him to the Knights' Code.
He isn't a prince, but he is a gentleman.

But he isn't a prince. No royal blood flows through him anymore than a chicken!
Nay, he is not worthy. Nought but the highest of kings is worthy of Annise!


"Father, I am going with Albert to the courtyards." A flurry of emerald green skirts and honey blonde hair storms into my library.
I look up. She stops just in front of my desk, and her face softens into a childlike grin, the seal of her jests.
"Please, do I have permission?"
I carefully consider my choice of words. After my decision, I cannot let them together alone until I speak to him.
"'Tis a strange thing that you should ask. I have nearly finished my duties for now. I myself shall be seeking the fresh air." Her face drops. I can tell she wants time alone with him. "Pray, wait and I shall join you both."
"Thank you, Father." But she's saying something else with her eyes.


We walk by the lake. The late afternoon sun dyes the ripples gold, and Annise, her keen eyes shining with a fire, must sing of it. Albert walks silently on my left. I have been strategically seperating them both. Annise doesn't seem to mind too much, but Albert is rather unsuccessful at hiding his sulking emotions.
"Is not the day fine?" Annise's melodic voice rings out. "Father! Albert! The sky is bright, the grass is fresh. Does not the breeze kiss your face?" She laughs and runs ahead. Then she stops abruptly, spinning on her heel. "Come, be merry!"
I look at her, slightly shaking my head. A partially surpressed chuckle escapes. She half-heartedly skips back to us, but the fire has left her eyes.
"You are both being awfully sullen." She falls back into place and is silent. I look back at her.
"Sweeting, you know well I cannot run as a young buck anymore. I have matured into a magnificent stag, but I do not run."
She remains silent. It seems she inherited her mother's stubbornness as well.

But it is not long and she's singing again. She speeds up, and spins back to face us, continuing her pace backwards.
"Albert, at least you may join me." I glance across at him. His sour expression is melting into his charming smile, as he abandons me for my daughter.
I can still see them. They caper up the path, almost in a dance.
Maybe he is worthy of her. There is only one way of finding out.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


I don't know where I am. I scream. No one hears me. No one is here. Or no one but him. I can't see anything. It's so dark that I can close my eyes and feel the black.
I try to run, but I don't trust my legs. Instead, I crawl until I find a wall. Feeling my way along the wall, I search frantically for the door.
I hear footsteps, echoing through the darkness. No, no, don't be back yet! I panic. I don't know what he'll do if he finds I've freed myself from the ropes. I freeze. I want to move somewhere he won't find me, but my body refuses.
The footsteps are getting louder, louder, but I can hardly hear them over the sound of my heart pounding. I feel my muscles tense. I can't move.
There's a click. The door slowly squeaks on its hinges.
"Good morning, Princess," his mocking voice utters. "We have a long day ahead of us." He moves towards the timber beam I was tied to. He stops.
"Where are you, Princess? It would be a shame if you have escaped." I hear the dull ring of his freshly drawn dagger. I feel myself quiver. I suddenly feel a warm sensation spreading where I sit. I can't stop it.
"Where are you, Princess?" He's moving towards me. I cower against the wall. My muscles are sore and cramped, and I can feel myself exploding. I try unsuccessfully to stop the flow.
Please don't find me. Please don't find me. Please don't find me. It becomes a chant in my head.
My skirts are soaked. I hold my breath. Please don't find me. His heavy boots move across the stone floor towards me, clomp, clomp, clomp. Please don't find me. He stops. I know he can't see me, not in this light, but I don't dare make a move. I can't. Please don't find me.
I feel myself slow up, and finally, I stop. I still can't hear anything. Maybe he can see me. Or maybe he has gone. No, he hasn't gone. He's still here. Please don't find me.
I hear him breath in. It sounds more like a wolf sniffing the air than a human breath. "I know you're here. I can sssmeeell you," drawing the word out with a hiss. He starts moving again, making splashes as he stomps through my excretion. "So you couldn't hold it in? I knew you were pathetic."
He stops again, but I know he's right in front of me. He's found me. I feel a heavy boot land on my knee with excessive force, pushing it downwards into the floor. I scream in pain.
"Shut up, you little harlot! You'll scream more that before I'm done with you!" He crouches down over me, licks my ear, and hisses menacingly, "And your precious Albert isn't coming. He's dead." He wipes something warm and sticky off his dagger on to my arm. It is blood.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Chapter One - Annise

It's late. I should be asleep, but it's so cold that my shivering is keeping me awake. I huddle deeper into my bed, and silently wish Elle would come back to re-light the fire.
The wind is howling through my window. It was shut, but the cold air succeeded in forcing it open, snuffing out my fire in its excitement. I would shut it, but I don't want to leave my bed.
As I draw my blankets over my face, I think of all the poor people living outside the castle walls. On a night like tonight, surely many people will die. I wish I could stop it, but I can't. At least, not until I am Queen.
I close my eyes and pray for their souls.


"Princess Annise!"
I spin on my heels and search for the face which belongs to the deep, melodious voice. Of course, he is standing with Father. As our eyes meet, he strolls over to where I am standing.
"Sir Albert. Good morning." Albert has been my best friend throughout my whole life. He's seven years older than me, but growing up in the palace, neither of us had any other friends.
He bows slightly out of duty and respect, even though I ask him not to every time.
"Your father and I have been assessing the damage of last night's storm. Can you believe there were only twenty-three deaths in total by morning?" He is genuinely pleased, and I must admit, it is a lower rate than I had expected.
"Albert, must I remind you again not to bow for me? I love you as an equal and I will not have you treat me as if I am above me. But I am pleased for the people. Not tremendously, though. That's still twenty-three less people alive than yesterday."
A half teasing, half serious smile dances on his lips. "Annise, must I remind you again that you are the Princess, and thus you are above me. And you worry too much for the people. King Frederick has already done much. We cannot do any more until we know what they need." His face turns solemn. "Yet I know you are right, as always. It saddens me also to learn of even one more death in our kingdom." His eyes turn glassy, as if he knows more than he told me. I choose not to press the matter. Experience has taught me that he will eventually let me know.
I stand, looking around the court. I have spent all my sixteen years here, yet I still do not know who everyone is. Of course, I know my father, King Frederick. He stands by the far window, entertaining a small crowd with his sharp wit and genius for storytelling. Any moment, the hall will erupt with raucous guffaws and my father's own rolling laughter.
I scan the room a little more. Women aren't supposed to be in court, but Father has always insisted I come, even from the day I started walking.
I waken out of my memories back to the present. Albert is still beside me. I look up at him and reminisce at the cheeky boy with an impish grin, always with a plan to scare the maids or get into mischief in Father's library. Father never did mind, but Mother would always respond, "You two will be the death of me." And she was right.


We were playing under the banqueting table after the guests left from a long feast. I was three. The maids had already cleared off the table, but they hadn't taken the table cloth out yet. Albert instructed me on the art of building a fort. We each took an end of the long stretch of fabric and began wrapping it around one end of the table. Once we were satisfied with our work, we squeezed in and hid for a time. I am not sure how long we waited, but after a while we heard screams from somewhere in the castle. I was terrified, but Albert helped me crawl out of our mess. After a while of running, we found Father. I will never forget the look on his face.
When he saw us, he started crying. I have never seen anyone cry as hard as he was at that moment. He grabbed us in his strong arms and held us to himself until we were crying as well.
No one knows how it started, but there was fire that began near mine and my mother's rooms. No one had seen us for hours, and Mother assumed we had started the fire. She didn't tell anyone her intentions. If she did, no one would have let her go into the scorching room. When they started cleaning up the mess, they found her body.
That day, plans were made for a new castle on the othe side of our kingdom.


"Are you okay?" Albert asks softly. I realise I have been silently crying for quite some time. Wiping the tears away, I look up at him and smile weakly.
"Yes," I answer. "Just remembering Mother."
He puts his arm around my shoulders in a tight, yet gentle embrace. "It wasn't your fault. You didn't know what was going to happen." He stares off into the distance for a while. There are tears in his eyes. "She was a good lady." He looks back down at me, smiles slightly with a quick squeeze, then lets go and makes for the stairs.
"Wait, Albert!" He stops three stairs up, looking down and waiting for me to explain my exclamation. I run up to him. "I do not wish to stay here anymore. I'm not feeling well."
He looks concerned, but doesn't ask any more questions. He takes my arm and escorts me up the stairs.
"I do not mean I am feeling ill. I am just overwhelmed with memories. I do not think I will be able to hold a normal conversation today." I begin crying again.
We reach the top of the stairs and stop simultaneously, though no words passed between us. He takes me in his arms and holds me until I'm calm. He strokes my hair, as I cry into his shoulder.


There is a knock on my door. I throw my silken blue robe around my shoulders, move toward the door, and rest my hand on the cold handle. Who would be visiting me now? The door hinge creaks as I open the door.
"Just checking to see if my baby girl is okay. Albert told me you were a smidge upset this morning." I fall into my father's embrace and let him dote over me, telling me over and over how much he loves me. I have lost my mother, and I miss her greatly, but I don't know what I'd do without Father.