I’ve been delayed on posting these. The first section is combined of the layering challenge – weekend’s #9 and #10. The second section is of the rope challenge.
A young girl entered the bedroom. Her brown eyes quickly scanned the stone walled room to find it empty except for the large canopy bed and a desk. She stepped to the bed and ran her fingers over the white bedclothes, feeling the different rises of the fabric. Her eyes gazed around the room again, looking for something. Her bare footsteps hardly made a sound on the wood floor as she walked quickly to the opened window. A cool summer breeze blew across her skin as she looked out into the night sky. She shivered. A wave of loneliness settled in her stomach as she took a step back. She was truly alone.
A small flicker of the candlelight drew her attention to the desk. On its surface was a blank piece of parchment with a quill resting in the inkwell. The girl absently toyed with her dark hair as she leaned over to stare at the parchment. Words slowly took shape as if a ghostly hand formed each letter with careful grace. Large black letters formed the words “I’m finally free”.
A knock sounded on the door. The girl quickly stepped away from the desk, but stood in front of it blocking the view from the door.
“Yes,” she said. Her voice shook with nerves.
“I’m sorry to intrude, my lady,” called a female voice through the door. “The King requests your presence in the great hall.”
“I’m…” the girl started. She took a deep breath. This was the start of the downhill slop that was to come. “I’m not my sister. I am Adraya.”
The door opened to reveal a short plump elderly maidservant. Adraya’s sister’s handmaid. She gave a short bow to the girl.
“I beg your pardon, my lady, but where is Lady Freda?”
Adraya sidestepped away from the desk and motioned towards the note. “She’s gone.”
The woman read the parchment with her eyes freezing on the three words. She handed the letter back to Adraya.
“I must inform the King.”
“Yes.” Adraya, moved to sit on the bed.
“May I request your presents to accompany me to the King’s hall?”
Adraya drew in a deep breath and released it slowly.
“I shall accompany you.”
The maidservant led them out of the room and into the stone hallway. It was a dark, gloomy walk with only a few torch lights guiding their path. The castle was built with less windows in the floors closer to ground level to protect the hold during war time. However, it caused a lack of fresh air, leaving the rooms smelling musty.
There was a tall wooden door off to the side of the main entrance hall. Behind that door, Adraya knew the king conducted all of his business. There were whispers among the servants that the king had more visiting parties from surrounding countries with rumors of war and alliance requests. The girl wondered if it was the rumors that caused her sister to flee.
The knock of the maidservant on the doors left an ominous sound reverberating around the hall.
“Come in,” called a deep voice from behind the doors.
Adraya reached out with shaking hands and opened the door.
The room was dimly light by a handful of candles. The dark rich colored rugs and tapestries didn’t help the ominous atmosphere.
A broad man in deep purple robes sat at a desk, hovering over a stack of parchment. His eyes rose to watch the ladies enter the room.
The elderly maid stepped forward, giving the king a deep bow.
“I deeply apologize, your Highness,” she said, staying in her bow. “Lady Freda was not in her rooms.”
“Where is she?” he growled.
“I am not sure.”
“Then have the guards search immediately,” he answered, turning back to the topmost parchment.
The maid stayed in her bow and walked backwards to the door, then exited quietly.
“Father,” Lady Adraya. He didn’t show any signs of recognizing her. Adraya pressed on. “Father, my sister left a note on her table.”
The king raised his head to stare at his daughter. She step forward and placed the letter before him. He read over the words and sighed.
“She finally left,” he mumbled. “She had threaten to for so long.”
“As you know, I have no son,” he said. A tightness settled in Adraya’s stomach, but she knew it was wrong to interrupt him. “My cousin, Albert, is to take the throne after me.” Adraya nodded. She knew the line of succession. “However, we are on edge of a war with the Blackscott to the north. They’ve had several harsh winters and dry summers. They look to expand their boundaries to feed their people. I’ve made a treaty with Kalspots to aid us should the Blackscotts press too hard. Lady Freda knew she was to be offered in marriage. The King of Kalspots and his sons are older and married. I believe Freda’s hand was to be offered to a knight.”
“What is to happen now?” Adraya asked.
He exhaled deeply. “You’ll have to go in her stead.”
The growing tightening Adraya felt exploded within her. She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry. She wanted to run away as her sister had done. This wasn’t fair, her mind shouted. She knew some day she would be in an arranged marriage, but she hoped it was to someone within her own country.
“I’ll ask for a delay until you are sixteen,” he said. Adraya quickly calmed herself and bowed her head.
“As you command, I will do,” she stated with all the strength her upbringing expected of her.
“Good,” he said. “If Freda cannot be found, it shall be so.”
I thought of a metaphor for a story idea. Since I’ve never written a suspense story, I’ll go with that. The idea is of a girl who is being stalked, by what she thought was a stranger. At the same time frame, she starts dating this guy and finds herself falling for her. A group of friends tell her that she should invest in someone as much as she has with a stalker targeting her. One of her male friends (and ex-boyfriend) becomes concern over her welfare. The new boyfriend is jealous and suggests that maybe the ex is the stalker. She starts looking at the new boyfriend as her rock to sanity. The stalker increases his attempts to scare her and the ex steps up trying to help her. The twist is that the stalker and the new boyfriend are one and the same. The ex ends up saving her and she refers to him as her rope of safety in the time when she needed rescued most.
Just an idea.
L. R. Mauck