lovely CI by AtomicPanda at TDA.
Chapter 1. Fiery Prison
Again she wandered her garden. Walking to the rythm of her heartbeats, feeling how her breath went easily in and then out, clearing up her frenzied thoughts.
Every entrance and every exit was guarded by a dozen armed men, but other than that she was quite alone – just as she preferred. The second she was in the center of her beloved garden, she could not hear any sound from the outside world.
She paced back and forth, back and forth. More restless than usual.
Birds were chirping, flowers were blooming and the sun made her crimson hair resemble a sea of rubies. But even though it was a beautiful morning, she couldn't see it. Today she had heavy things on her mind, so with a bowed head and furrowed brows she continued to pace without aim.
«Damn him,» she cursed low through her teeth. Fire was shooting out of her beautiful green eyes, and her elegant hands were clenched into tight fists.
«Damn, damn, damn!»
For a slight second she stopped in her tracks and gave an unsuspecting rosebush a swift kick, then continued walking aimlessly. She had been doing this meaningless routine for most of the morning, and she had quite forgotten how many hours had gone by.
«Intolerable, vile, horrendous man!» Her words were no higher than a whisper, but even the smallest creature would have felt the rage emerging from her very core.
«Your Majesty?» The voice came from behind her, and she froze.
Before turning around, she closed her eyes and when she opened them again her expression was changed. Now, when she turned around, a fabulous smile lit up her entire face.
«What is it?» she inquired. Even though the guard was kneeling down, she could see that he was a tall man.
«Your Majesty, your father requests that you dine with him at his table tonight. His Highness says I am to escort you to your chambers, in order for you to change to a more appropriate attire.» He made no eye contact, but she wished he did. She bet with herself that he had fine eyes.
«I will be right along. You may wait for me at the main entrance of the garden.» The guard did not move a muscle.
«I said, leave.» Her tone was hard, and a flash of green lightning shot out of her eyes. For a moment both of them bathed in the silence, then the guard slowly raised his head and gave her an apologetic look.
«I beg your pardon, Your Highness, but my orders are to not let you out of my sight until you are safely back in your chambers.»
She was right, he did have fine eyes. Because of this - even though her insides were boiling with hot rage - she continued to smile charmingly down at him.
«I am the Princess, am I not?» she asked, and stepped toward the kneeling guard. He looked confused, and - to her pleasure - a little intimidated as she approached him. He bowed his head again when she was only an arms-length away.
«Y-yes, Your Majesty,» he whispered.
«And this is my garden, isn't it?» Even though her voice was as quiet as his, her tone was colder than ice.
Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. «Yes, Your Highness.»
Her cold smile could make the bravest soldier turn and run. As for the guard, his voice was trembling, and the Princess could smell his fear. A smell she favorited, second only to the rosebush she'd kicked mere moments ago.
«Then I should be able to decide when to leave, don't you agree?» Unlike the guard, her voice was now strong.
«I-I..I've b-been -» Sudddenly another guard stepped into the center of the garden, and the second he saw the Princess, he made a quick bow.
«Your Highness, you are to be escorted back to the castle. King's orders.»
Her smile faded. She could barely contain her rage, and she knew he could see in her green eyes all the words she didn't verbalize. He boldly held her stare for several seconds without looking away.
In the end the Princess gave up, and gave a quick nod. «Very well,» she sighed defeatedly.
Without another word the two guards walked to either side of her, and began leading the way through the maze and out of the garden. Once the garden was behind them, the rest of the guards gathered all around the Princess, resembling a gigantic protective circle. They marched like this until they reached the main entrance of the castle.
The Princess swept the castle with her eyes, and felt a chill run down her spine. Romley Castle was the greatest she'd ever seen in her life(not that she'd seen many others; even then only in paintings), but even though it was beautiful, no one could ever imagine the hideousness of what happened within those walls. To the Princess, it felt as though her guards were leading her into her own personal hell; a fiery prison.
Suddenly, when she stepped through the entrance, most of the guards stopped. Only a selected few had the honor of escorting her all the way to her chambers, and they would stand guard at her door until the very second she poked her nose outside. They were like flies on a sweaty forehead, and just as irksome.
When safely inside her bedchamber, she ran to her bed and grabbed the nearest pillow only to press her face to it and scream.
«Princess Gabriella? Are you ill?» The servant girl hurried to the bed and looked with alarm at her mistress.
Gabriella removed the pillow with a heavy sigh. «Calm down, child. I am well.»
The servant's face brightened immediately, and she started chatting away about the most borish subjects. Gabriella didn't listen. She let her body fall across the bed, and closed her eyes tightly. She pictured her beloved garden, and it's heavenly silence.
«Princess Gabriella? If I may interrupt Her Majesty?» The servant's voice cut through her day-dreaming and reached Gabrielle's ears. «Princess?»
«Yes, girl, what now?» She didn't mean to sound quite so harsh, so she gave the servant a quick smile as she sat up straight.
«Princess Gabriella, I was just wondering what you wished to wear tonight when you are to dine with the King?» She was looking at Gabriella with big, innocent eyes. And for a moment, the Princess gave her servant a critical look. She was small, with tiny limbs and petite features. Her brown hair was flowing down her back, and her huge, dark eyes looked almost too big for her face. She was not pretty, the Princess concluded to herself, and felt better. She was used to being the most beautiful in any room, and she was still to learn otherwise.
«My father adores the green dress, doesn't he?» Gabriella asked her plain servant. The girl smiled widely.
«Oh, the King sure does, Princess Ga-» she started to answer, but Gabriella held up her hand to stop her.
«Well, then I will not wear it. Bring me the red one.» The Princess' green eyes sparkled with mischief, her grin being almost on the verge of evil. The servant girl looked perplexed for several long moments, and didn't quite know what to do, nor what to say.
«What's your name, child?»
The girl jumped at the sound of her mistresses' voice.
«Erm.. I am, m-my name is.. S-Sarah, Your Majesty.» Sarah curtsied and looked more confused than ever.
«And how long have you been my chambermaid, Sarah?» Gabriella locked eyes with the girl, and waited for her to answer. Sarah was obviously intimidated by the Princess, something that almost made her feel like chuckling. But only almost.
«Oh, erm. Three weeks tomorrow, Princess Gabriella.» Sarah was bowing her head, avoiding Gabriella's stare. Probably because of the rumors that had been spread about the castle by other servants about how the Princess' eyes were able to set fire to people's soul. Gabriella smiled at the thought, and looked even more intently at her servant.
«Then you should know that I frown upon pleasing others.» A devilish grin played in the corner of Gabriella's lips, and she took a step closer to her dumbfounded maid. «Especially my father.»
Dumbfounded silence poisoned the room, until Gabriella decided to interrupt it.
The servant girl looked up, her mouth open.
«Bring me my dress.» Gabriella's smile turned into a fierce glare. «The red one
After opening and closing her mouth like a dumb codfish, Sarah bowed her head, turned her heels and almost ran to do her mistress' bidding.
Gabriella laughed a cruel, little laugh as she watched her servant disappear into the other room. At last, when she was alone, she walked to the mirror and stared at her reflection.
Silky red, gentle curls had gotten loose from it's original place on the top of her head. They rested against her shoulders, and tickled her full bosom. The thick, dark eyelashes framed her emerald green eyes and made them appear even more bewitching. Her broad mouth showed a fine row of pearly white teeth when she smiled.
Her appearences had always been important to her. To her father. She was always the most attractive girl at any ball, and her father never failed to give her the grandest entrance of all – in order for eyeone's eyes to be drawn to her.
With a sneer Gabriella turned away from the gilded mirror, and started to undo the intricate buttons on her gown.
«Here it is - as Your Majesty requested.» Sarah, the servant girl entered the room with three other maids. They swarmed around Gabriella, chatting along about nothing of interest. They undressed the Princess and then changed, pampered, pulled, tied, buttoned and in the end, stared admiringly at the stunning sight before them.
«Oh, you look beautiful, Princess. If it's not too bold to say,» exclaimed a young girl with crooked teeth, and she could barely contain a sigh. The other girls nodded in agreement, though Sarah didn't dare to look directly at her.
After a look in the mirror, Gabriella had to agree with them. This attire pushed her breasts upward, making them look almost on the verge of falling out. The dress was of red silk, and daringly cut in the back, where it looked as if only a few threads held the entire creation together. Her father, the King, hated this dress for the exact same reasons she loved it.
She reached her hands up to her long, blood-red locks, and with a few swift movements her hair fell down in a rush of red, causing her to smirk.
«There we are. I'm ready now.» Gabriella walked to the door, opened it and floated down the corridor. Her armed guards were - of course - right beside her until the very moment she stepped into her father's dining room. They only used the Great Hall for larger parties, but she wished for the vast and airy hall now as she dreaded the dark, ominous, windowless room she was about to enter.
«Daughter.» A low, grumbling noise arose from a dark corner in the room. And out of the shadows emerged her father, the King. He looked as dark and ominous as the room he inhabitet; his black hair almost covered his eyes, and the candles made the diamonds on his fingers twinkle as if alive. Gabriella avoided his green stare, refusing to be reminded of their one likeness.
«Good evening, father.» She bowed her head slightly, and walked to the table. It was three feet long, decorated with flowers and golden place settings - one on each end.
While she sat down on her chair, her father stood still. Staring at her; displeased. Even though she didn't give him a single look, she could feel his dismay. After she had sat down though, the King walked briskly to his own chair and sat down as well. His eyes didn't leave her figure for a moment. However, Gabriella simply refused to meet his gaze, and instead focused upon the servant who filled her goblet with wine.
«Do you deliberately seek to disappoint me, my dear daughter?» he questioned and took a large gulp of his own wine.
«Not at all, Your Highness. Whatever makes you think so?» Still avoiding his stare, she put grapes into her mouth. Her tone was bored, and she knew her father was getting more annoyed by the second. It was all she could do to avoid revealing a viscious grin.
«Very well. I have some interesting news for you.» The King started shuffling food into his mouth. «This is a damn fine bird,» he muttered to himself through a mouthful, and he finally looked away.
At once, Gabriella felt much more at ease, and had to bite her lip to refrain from sighing in relief. She didn't answer him, she only ate several grapes, not touching the roasted bird on her plate. Servants came with more food, and after seven courses, it was finally time for dessert.
They didn't utter a word to each other before this, and Gabriella enjoyed the silence - though not the company. Suddenly, half-way through the dessert, she looked up from a delicious berry-creation only to find that the King was staring at her again. His black hair was falling into his eyes, and the furrowed brows gave him an angry look. The Princess swallowed hard, and shifted in her seat.
«You told me you had news, father. What news did you speak of?» She held her head high while finishing her dessert. It didn't taste as tempting anymore.
«Oh, yes. That's right.» The King put away his golden spoon and dried his mouth with a silk sheet. «You remember my dear friend, Lord Marbury, the Duke of Salvertine?» This time it was Gabriella's turn to furrow her brows in anger.
«Yes, father. You told me this morning of him visiting us here at Romley Castle. Have you forgotten?»
The King grinned, baring his yellow teeth. «No, I haven't forgotten, sweet daughter.» He was licking his plump lips, resembling a satisfied wolf.
«But you do have news about Lord Marbury? May I ask which sort of news?» She nodded to a servant and he refilled her goblet with wine. She then sipped it for a while before setting it down. After several long seconds she turned her emerald eyes only to meet her father's identical ones.
«A great turn of events. He's bringing another one of his nephews along with him.» He let the words hang in the air, waiting for them to hit Gabriella. They didn't. The Princess pretended not to know of her father's plans for her, though the scullery maid had already told her the news that very morning.
«Oh, really? Whatever for?» The tone was controlled, her hands steady and her eyes seemed believably calm.
«For you, of course.»
«For me? Pray tell, why does he come for me?» She cocked her head slightly to one side, and forced herself to blush. She was mocking him now. The King was not amused.
«Don't toy with me, child. I don't have time for your little games.» While fiercely gabbing his own goblet, his eyes were digging into Gabriella's very soul.
«It's been a great while since Lord Marbury came visiting the last time. It's about time he returned. But seeing as how you behaved toward his nephew the last time... Needless to say – I quite understand why he hasn't come back sooner.» The King's eyes were shining with anger, and Gabriella was forced to look away. Her body now trembled with anger.
«This time I will not be as tolerant. Let that be a warning to you.» Her father pointed a bejewelled finger at her, and even though there were three feet of solid wood between them, Gabriella felt his words burn through her flesh.
«We will have a ball,» he informed as he looked away and continued with his half-eaten dessert.
Fury was boiling in Gabrielle's body.
«You're sorely mistaken if you believe I'll do this again.» Emotions poured through her voice, and she despised how weak she sounded.
«I believe, child, that you will do whatever your King asks of you.» His cold words hit Gabriella in the stomach, knocking the air out of her lungs. He didn't even give her one look, he just continued to shove spoons of berries into his mouth. She was disgusted at the sight.
«I will not go along with this one more time,» she hissed deadly, and tried to catch her breath. «I'd rather feed myself to the werewolves in the Forbidden Forest.»
The King locked eyes with her for a second, and his lips curled into a cruel grin before he slowly got to his feet.
«If you don't do this, girl, I'll arrange the feeding myself.» After spitting out the last words, he turned around and walked across the room.
«I will not do this!» she screamed as she jumped from her seat, but her words were too late. The King had already exited the room, and she was alone.
» The sound of her hoarse scream echoed about the room, only reminding her that nobody was listening. Nobody cared. Wet sensations ran down her face and landed on the cold stone floor. Angrily, she dried her eyes with her sleeve, strode towards the exit, and slammed the doors behind her.
After safely returning to her chambers she leaned her throbbing head against the door.
Other than her own pounding heartbeats, she heard nothing.
«Are there anyone in here?» While holding her breath, Gabriella listened to see if she could make out any sound. There were none. She inhaled slowly, afraid to disturb the silence.
«I won't do this again,» she whispered to herself as a mantra, and fought to keep her emotions under control.
Memories flooded every particle of her body, no matter how hard she tried to push them away. Flashes of faceless men, the nephews of the vulture Lord Marbury. They outnumbered her, surrounded her, drowned her.
Many years ago, before his coronation, her father had loaned a great deal of money from this animal. Owing money to a sort of man like Lord Marbury was dangerous. Even though the whole country was on the verge of starvation, and the royal vault was as empty as a hollow grave, Lord Marbury continued to live in a wealthy state he surely didn't deserve, nor appreciate.
«If he believes I'll willingly step into my own grave, he's sorely mistaken.» She refused to go through another ball where she was forced upon the company of another one of Lord Marbury's vile family members. Dept or not, she wouldn't pay for her father's financial troubles. Not anymore.
Alas, the Princess had no hope of fulfilling those wants. What she wouldn't know yet, however, was that her life would truly take an unexpected turn because of it.
I know, completely different from what I usually write, but I hope it was worth the read.
Please tell me what you think.