A/N: Sorry the last chapter was so short you guys. It sounded a lot longer in my head I guess. I promise to make this one much longer and spend much more time on it. I cringed when I saw how many typos and mistakes there were in the prologue and first chapter alone. This one will hopefully be much better. We’ll get to know Dani in this chapter… she’s going to be a main character, so I do hope you like her…. enthusiasm.
Chapter Two381Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡkmQUr9Y25h
I thought that Dani might crush me to death. The princess was much stronger than her dainty appearance would make it seem. But I was able to escape the hug after a few moments.
“Dani, how in the world did you become a princess?” I asked incredulously. They had last seen each a few years ago when they were much younger. I believed it was at the girl’s tenth birthday celebration when we last spoke to one another
“Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard, King Hadrian passed away, bless his soul. With no heirs, and his brother not wanting the crown, he relinquished it to my father. He’s only been king of Ianda for a year,” Dani recited, her voice only going down in excitement when she mentioned the late king’s name.
I pulled Dani into another hug. “I’m sorry. I knew your family was close with the king,” I said. Instead of trying to crush her bones, Dani gave me a real hug.
When we parted we were surprised to see the queen approaching us with a perplexed look on her face. “Princess Cedany, what are you doing with the… help?” The queen gave a short glance at me before her full attention was on Dani.
Dani looked almost insulted by the comment, but quickly hid her expression. “I met her in my kingdom a few years ago, and I find her to be a trusty servant. Is it alright if I request her to be my personal attendant while I am visiting, your highness?” Dani asked.
It was clear that the queen wanted to say no. She did not like me, though she had no known reason not to. But I knew it was my eye color that raised the queen’s hackles. She had only seen that eye color once in her life, on her dead daughter despite never holding her.
“But of course, Princess. I cannot imagine denying you such a simple pleasure,” As the queen spoke her voice was hard, not betraying any emotions she held.
Satisfied with this, Dani ran as quickly as a lady could pull off into the castle, pulling me behind her by the hand. I knew exactly which room the princess was staying in; I had been one of the many maids preparing it for the past week.
Though Dani had no idea where she was going, she lead us. She could barely contain her giggles when we ended up going to wrong way. I internally sighed. This girl had not changed. Though she had risen in the ranks of society, she hadn’t brought up her level of maturity around a friend quite yet.
We eventually found the room in the east wing of the large grey castle. It was a very large room, big enough to fit my own tiny home into it almost twice. It was decorated elaborately in reds and pinks, and I looked at the ribbon work along the walls proudly. I had spent hours on making it seem as though there were real pink ribbons on the red-toned wall.
“Oh my,” Dani said, taking a look around the room. But I did not see a single negative emotion flash across her kind features.
“Do you like it, princess?” A voice sounded from behind them. Dani quickly dropped my hand when she saw it was the prince. I retreated to the side immediately. We did not want to raise suspicion. A maid was not friends with the royalty she worked for and the last thing I needed now was the prince breathing down my neck.
“I absolutely adore it, Prince Cassius,” She answered. It seemed as though her smile grew bigger, despite how impossible I thought it would be to do such a thing. She truly cared about the prince, and he her. I suppose that was why they became betrothed so early in the search of a bride for the prince.
The prince smiled a handsome grin, easily taking Dani’s breath away. “Please, call me Cas, princess,” He said to her.
I couldn’t help but feeling like I was intruding on a special moment.
“Only if you call me Dani,” The princess replied. I smiled at hearing the nickname I gave her all those years ago. She had hated it at first; it was nice to see that had changed.
“As you wish, Dani,” The prince said.
It was interesting to hear their conversation right outside of the door in the seating area as I helped unpack her things once a few of the servants had brought her stuff up. They talked a small things, with the one comment or two on bigger problems. But there were not many big problems in this kingdom, thus, not much to talk about.
I stopped listening in on the talk once they started to talk about their wedding details. In two years, on the princess’s sixteenth birthday, they would get married. Then two years after that, Prince Cassius would take the throne.
It made me happy to hear that Dani was happy, but it hurt that she would be so close to the people she knew I hated at the same time. I had told her my secrets, and despite knowing them she had accepted an engagement to the prince. I couldn’t blame her though, the prince truly was charismatic and got everything he wanted.
As for the panic that I had when she first saw Dani, it had faded. After seeing how she treated the queen and the prince, I am not worried that she’ll tell the truth. If her feelings grew tremendously for the prince, then I might have something to worry about. But for now I was safe.
“Hey, Cenna?” Asher poked his blonde head into the room.
I looked up at him, “Yes Asher?”
“When are you leaving tonight? I need to head into town and get something for my little sister and you said you would help me look.” Asher’s little sister was an adorable girl, and had a bad habit of getting so excited that the pitch of her voice got too high to understand. But everyone loved her; whenever Asher brought her to the castle she always got a smile from everyone and lots of adoring looks.
“I’m leaving around ten. I can help you look for a bit, but I need to get home before midnight. I only get Saturdays off, so I plan on catching up on some sleep,” I answered.
Asher nodded his head and left the room. It was adorable how much he cared about his little sister. It was just the two of them, since their parents died a few years ago due to a sickness. It was mysterious and sudden, but the small epidemic was gone as soon as it had came. It had still claimed lives though, and my family had Asher and his little sister Katrina live with us until Asher got a job at the castle a place to live. He was thirteen years older than his four year old sister and planned to marry soon so he would have someone to help with Katrina.
My parents had worried that he would ask for my hand, but I assured them he was like a brother to me. And he really was. He had even denied any plans of marrying me to my face.
Ten o’clock came much faster than I had thought it would. I had been chatting for about an hour with Dani after the prince had left her to retire to his own room. We talked about the last few years of our lives. She was excited to hear about anything I told her. We laughed together as we grew into the routine of old friends.
Asher met me at the servants’ entrance to the castle, chatting about his little sister. “She wants something nice, but nothing I can’t afford. She would really like a necklace, but she said a stuffed pony would be good as well.” He was going on and on about her constantly changing wants.
I laughed at his words. Such a grown boy was acting like his little sister, so confused on what he should get her. “Well, why don’t we get her a necklace with some kind of horse on it? She would be able to keep it for years, and it is a good way to remember the past,” I said, my hand going to my own necklace hidden under my dirty clothing. My aunt had given it to me the day she met me and took me to my parents.
“That’s a great idea!” Asher exclaimed, his expression on his face almost saying that everything made sense now.
We were just getting into the town when our conversation stopped. The usually loud and bustling town square was eerily silent. The events of the shoppettes went well past midnight. Where was everyone?
Asher stepped closer to me, as if trying to protect me. “I think I should walk you home, Cenna,” He whispered. I merely nodded in reply.
We stuck close to the sides of the square, being as silent and inconspicuous as we could be. My house was at the edge of town, only a few minute walk from the town square. I had it in sight when I was caught by surprise by a cloaked figure.
He had suddenly appeared in front of us, no explanation given. Asher reacted and pulled me closer to him like he often did to his little sister, and I told myself to get on his case about that later.
“Are you Innocentia of Sovera?” The cloaked figure asked in a deep voice. It was much too deep to be human, and I knew his true voice was being masked something.
“Depends on who’s asking,” I replied. I was nervous, but it was hard to bite my tongue when a random man regarded me in such a demeaning way.
“You do not yet need to know my name. Are you Innocentia?” He pressed.
I nodded, “Yes, I am.”
“Good. Come to the Black Lake before dawn tomorrow,” He spoke before immediately turning away.
Asher stepped forward. “Hey! Do not speak to her in such a way!”
His words made the cloaked man stop. He turned his head a bit, before letting out a dark chuckle. The laugh made my hair stand on end. This man was not good news.
As quickly as he had come, he was gone. Asher asked me if I was alright before we continued the walk home. We reached my door within a few minutes, and Asher gave me a small hug which caught me by surprise.
“Don’t do what that man said, alright? He doesn’t seem like a nice guy,” He warned me.
I backed out of his hug, and I could see the hurt on his face. “I know you think you’re protecting me, and I thank you for doing that, but I can handle myself Asher,” I told him. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Cenna,” He bid me farewell as I closed the door on him. I couldn’t help but feeling as though the cloaked man really had wanted me to go to the Black Lake, and my curiosity began to burn even though the exchange had just happened.
I was going to the Black Lake, no matter what Asher or anyone had to say.