The rest of supper and dessert was practically quiet, then I returned to my room. Sitting on my bed lay a silk pink nightgown. It was cold and slippery to the touch. I searched the room for a bathroom or something with some privacy in case the witch maid came back. In the corner there was a tri-fold stand with thin parchment paper type material resembling Chinese rice paper. It stood about 6 feet tall and about 8 feet wide. I quickly grabbed the dress and ran on my tiptoes behind it. I don’t know why I ran like that, it’s not like I’m trying to sneak downstairs for a midnight snack after mom told me not to. I let my hair down from the braid Logan had so finely done to it. The wavy locks fell down the back of my neck. My body felt as if it sighed of great relief when the silkiness of the nightgown loosely hung on it. Behind the changing wall sat a bowl with warm water. The steam curled and wisped away as it rose, and the warmth felt good on my cold cheeks as I washed the sweat off. I rang out the towel and placed it on the table next to the bowl of water which was cold now, but not because it sat there too long, but there was a cold breeze which flew through the room. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sudden insecurity, as if someone was watching or listening. However, no one was there. I tiptoed back into the bed and there was a note lying neatly on my pillow. The paper, an ivory shade of white, had wrinkles on every inch of it as though it was crumpled up to never be used again.
We must speak together privately! You have much to hear and I have much to say.
Upon your arrival today, many things have changed. I cannot say in this letter.
Please meet me after supper tomorrow evening in the servants quarters precisely at 9:30; the Queen will arrange a tour for you, so you’ll eventually know where to find me.
I have someone whom you need to meet.
Also, burn this paper once you have finished -- For privacy's sake.
The next morning, I was abruptly awoken by the same witch maid. She whacked me in the butt with a broom of course straw. It felt as if I was being poked with needles. I don't think she cared for me much. She threw back the curtains with such a hard throw the rings on the curtain rod screamed. Instant pain flooded my eyes as I tried to shield them with the sheets, but the maid wouldn’t have it.
“Up,” she demanded, whacking me again with the broom. “Up, I said,” You are to have tea in the garden with her Majesty before today’s activities.”
Her voice was not pleasant at all, which made me even more unwilling to remove myself from my bed. Clattering of dishes sparked my curiosity. I threw the sheets to the side then saw Logan standing across the room with a tray of biscuits, a cup of milk, and an apple. A steaming, hot tea pot and upside down cup with a spoon balancing across it sat beside the plate of biscuits along with a bowl of sugar cubes.
“Her Majesty did not know whether you had a taste for coffee, so there is a potful if you would like it,” said the maid flatly. I slid off the tall, warm bed and walked over to Logan who had been standing by the table with her eyes to the floor since she arranged the things on the tray. So badly my mouth wanted to blurt out about the note, but my mind kept me quiet. I did not trust the witch maid and didn't want her to know about Logan's communication with me. She already kept communication between us as minimal as possible. “Her Majesty was glad the dress fit you, so she made more in that size for you. I had Logan bring them to your room last night,” she gestured to the wardrobe along the far wall. “Logan will help you get ready.”
I began pouring the dark liquid into the tea cup. “If you don’t mind me asking,” I paused for a moment, observing to see if the witch maid had any interest in what I was about to ask her. She remained pulling curtains back, dusting the mantle, fluffing pillows, then began making my bed. I continued. “What time is it?”
She paused briefly, the squished pillow in her hand almost seemed like it was going to burst by the way she was fluffing it. Her foul eyes met the innocence in mine before replacing the pillow and replying with a stern “Quarter ‘til nine.”
“Thank you,” I smiled as I stirred my coffee. Next, my eyes landed upon the wardrobe across the room. The polished wood shined under my fingers’ touch. On the inside, however, held twelve fine gowns of all colors. The light blue dress caught my attention instantly. It’s velvet exterior most ravishingly suited my liking. Logan smiled greatly as I held the dress up to myself and twirled around with it. Once it was actually on me, I hadn’t imagined anything so beautiful on myself. Logan retreated back to the wardrobe and returned with a pair of identical shoes which matched the dress perfectly. My face lit up with joy.
Logan escorted me outside to the gardens where a lovely iron table and chairs awaited under a bright white pavilion. The Queen shaded herself with her black lace umbrella leaning against her shoulder. Her red lips curled into a smile as I approached.
“Good morning, my dear,” she greeted. “Please, do have a seat,”
I curtsied. “Thank you, Your Majesty,”
“Are you well this morning?”
“Yes, thank you,”
“There’s something I can not understand about you, my dear,”
I sat there quiet unsure what to say.
“You have no recollection of your origin world, yet you have excellent manners in mine, how can such a contradiction be possible, my dear?”
“I aim to please, Your Majesty. Also, I’m a quick learner to adapt to your sense of manner in this kingdom.”
“While we’re on the subject, would there be any slight chance of getting a tour of this lovely palace? I mean, the garden itself is quite enchanting and I can't imagine what the rest of the palace may look like. The rooms I have been exposed to already have been exceedingly divine.”
“Well, you read my mind. How does it sound if I personally give you a tour of the palace right after tea?”
“That sounds splendid, Your Majesty,”
The Queen grinned like I haven’t seen her grin before. From then on we only made small talk while the servants poured the tea and the occasion was over within a few short sips and bites of biscuits.
I followed the Queen’s long train into her study, there she kept her “most time consuming hobbies” as she called them. Shelves of tiny bottles with glowing liquid lined one wall. To the other side sat a lite fireplace. It's flames danced and twirled before vanishing into the flu. As my eyes looked at every singled bottle my eyes were drawn to a single rose on the mantle. It stood under and glass lid and hovered over the base. Gold sparkles circled around it as if it was magical. The Queen explained this rose once belonged to a poor lonely beast who once dreamed of falling in love, but never gained the courage to hope someone would love something so hideous.
"The Beauty and the Beast." I muttered under my breath.
I don't think she heard what I said because she simply let out a sigh before explaining the story behind it. “To the most regrettable ending, the beast no longer exists. His heart so painfully hurt and yearned for love it couldn’t bare it any longer,”
“Oh,” I lowered my head. The Beauty and the Beast didn’t end like that. I was terribly confused at the moment. Beside the rose I saw a shoe; a shoe made of glass. Cinderella. “What about this one?” I asked curiously.
“A girls most prized possession are her shoes, and this one was wore by a maid whose prince charming found her by only using her lost shoe,”
“Did she get her happy ending, then?”
“Oh yes,” the Queen chuckled. Her straight smile sparkled in the fire light. “Her and her Prince charming live in the kingdom bordering ours. A lovely couple,”
She didn’t sound very convincing with her last statement; almost with a hint of jealousy. I pondered the information I was just given. One story ended completely wrong than what I knew and the other ended exactly how it's suppose to. How confusing.
“This is my favorite of all the collection,” the Queen boasted as she walked to the other end of the mantle. There lied a plump, red apple, with a single bite taken out of it sealed in a glass box. It hadn’t a single speck of brown as if it was freshly picked. Snow White. However, when Snow White took a bite of the apple she fell into a deep sleep. The prince saved her and they lived happily ever after, but, something seemed like that wasn’t the case. Before I could say anything the Queen was right at my side gleaming at the apple like it was a trophy. She pulled out her handkerchief and wiped the glass free of dust.
But before I could give my reply, a short rap on the door stopped me. The witch maid from this morning stepped in and curtsied.
“Pardon, Your Majesty,” she stuttered.
“Yes, Miriam, what is it?”
Miriam? Of all the names I had thought could possibly been hers, Miriam was not among them, but I digress. Miriam explained there was an unavoidable situation the Queen must attend to immediately, however, Miriam was to finish my tour of the palace. The look we exchanged with each other made me want to run and hide. The rest of the tour, neither of us enjoyed, however, the palace was outstandingly beautiful.
The tour ended in the Great Hall or the throne room as I called it. Miriam was as annoyed as ever; she took no interest in any of my questions and brushed them away like dirt on the floor. To my disappointment, Miriam skipped the servants quarters, not sure if on purpose or no interest in sharing that part of the castle.
“Due to the Queen being unavoidably detained, she will be dining out this evening,” said Miriam as she trudged toward the exit. “If you wish, you may have dinner brought to your room,”
“Thank you,” I said plainly. Miriam didn’t acknowledge my words; she just continued toward the kitchen in silence. I slunk down the marble hallway toward my bedroom, every hallway I turned into there seem to be fewer and fewer guards than when I first arrived. This was either normal or suspicious, I thought. As I reached my bedroom door, reached out for the doorknob, then I suddenly paused as if something was keeping my hand from grasping the metal handle. A voice at the end of the hallway caught my attention. Looking back over my shoulder I saw no one had come around the corner as I tiptoed closer to the door. It stood slightly ajar, but as I was right out side the door I could see someone just inside about a foot away. The figure was shiny as it was metal.
“The Queen wants him tonight,” I heard the voice hiss. “Or she’ll have us searching all night,”
The snake like hiss was a voice I would never forget; It was Lucifer’s. Another voice, one which I didn’t recognize, began arguing with him.
“Well, if you would have handed him over to me in the first place he wouldn’t have escaped,” the unfamiliar voice exclaimed. His voice was soft, but stern.
As I peeked through the crack in the door to see if I could get a look at the person Lucifer was talking to. Instead of seeing the mystery man, I saw Lucifer holding his black, shiny helmet under his arm revealing his face. My imagination of his appearance hadn’t disappointed me this time. His face had a scar stretching from his right temple, down his face just missing the corner of his eye and ended on the jaw line.
“We never thought the prophecy...” Lucifer began to argue back before he became silent.
“What is it?” Lucifer asked suddenly. No one replied, then suddenly the door slammed shut in my face as if they knew I was watching. The sudden motion knocked me over and I hit the cold, hard floor with a thud. Sitting there for a second, I pondered what I just saw and heard.
I ran back to my bedroom, slipped inside, I sprawled out on the bed and before I knew it I drifted to sleep. Next thing I knew, loud pounding noise aroused me. Standing by the door was a boy, tall, skinny and shaggy black hair surprisingly well kept up with. Then I saw her, rushing to my side; Logan.
“We need to leave,” she urged, tugging at my arm. “There is much to explain, but I can’t give you answers right now,”
Logan was talking. She was TALKING. How was this possible?
“We need to leave,” the boy exclaimed rushing over. “Now!”
“But--” I began.
“Logan. You. Come here,” the boy pointed at both of us impatiently.
I turned around filled with rage at his sudden outburst, but I lost my train of thought when I saw him pull aside an old, dusty tapestry which revealed a hidden door. It popped open with a press. Logan lit the candle on the table, then grabbed my arm and dragged me into the tunnel. The boy followed behind us shutting the door behind him just at the door of my bedroom burst into pieces as guards stormed the room. Once the door shut, we were in complete darkness except for the flame of the candle. We stood there for a second listening to the guards yell at each other and knock furniture to the ground.
“Where does this tunnel let out?” I asked. My voice bounced off the brick walls. The sound continued down the tunnel repeating my words. This was going to be a long tunnel.
“You wouldn’t know,” the boy snapped in a hushed tone so strict I had to take a step back to keep myself from an immediate punch in the face he well deserved. “You haven’t been here long enough to know these tunnels. I doubt you even knew they existed.”
“You’re right,” I stated bluntly crossing my arms across my chest. “I didn't know they are here. Wait, I know where I've seen you before. You and I were at the diner with that book."
His green eyes gave me an upward glance of annoyance as he tried to focus on searching through his bag with the dim light of the candle.
"Where, the hell am I, and why can't I get a straight answer from wither of you?"
“Paeyton, I said I’d explain later,” Logan sighed grabbing my arm to tug me along again. “Right now we need to hurry before it’s too late to escape,”
“Escape? Escape to where?”
“Just shut up and get a move on,” he spat as he pushed my shoulder which made me bump my head against the short ceiling of the tunnel as it curved down into the walls. He was beginning to get on my nerves.
“Excuse me?” I retorted. rubbing my head.
“Paeyton, come on,” Logan pulled at my arm again. She had quickened her pace, and with her hand still grasping my wrist I could almost barely keep up. I kept my mouth shut until we had reached the end of the tunnel. The hem of my dress damp from tramping through puddles. A set of stone stairs ascended upward toward a wooden trap door. Logan blew out the light of the candle as the old, rusty iron hinges squeaked from the movement. The dark night sky which was sprinkled with stars greeted us once the door was fully open. Logan stuck her head out of the opening, then scanned the surroundings. I wanted to look too, but the boy pushed me to the side to join Logan. I opened my mouth to protest, but I immediately kept my thought to myself.
“Okay,” the boy confirmed in a hushed tone. “We’re clear,”
Logan offered me her hand as I tiptoed up the rest of the stairs and out the trap door. “Paeyton, follow Zane to the forest, and I’ll be right behind you,” she promised.
All I could do was nod, the silent night started filling up with the sound of clattering armor and horse hooves.
Zane grew impatient. “Come on already,”
I turned around and he was already halfway towards the forest’s edge. I grabbed the skirt of my dress and began after him and didn’t stop until he did. He took cover behind a giant pine tree. The truck itself was big enough to hide the three of us, however, when I turned around to finally ask Logan what the heck was going on, she wasn’t there. Zane leaned against the edge of the tree trunk watching anxiously in the direction we just came from. He muttered to himself words I couldn’t understand, but among the misty darkness he saw something.
“Come on, Logan,” he muttered. I peered from the other side of the tree trunk, and to my utter dismay my eyes watched as Logan tumbled into the dewy grass with two arrows driven into her back. I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing. My mind didn’t want to think about that figure being Logan. Not a single word could come out, only the shriek of complete agony escaped between my fingers covering my mouth. My thoughts were interrupted when Zane abruptly tugged my arm just as an arrow hit the tree only a few inches from my face. The crimson color of the fletching on the arrow looked so dark as if dipped in blood. Silhouette figures arose from the misty horizon as Zane pulled me deeper and deeper into the forest. Arrows whizzing beside us, driving themselves into trees and the damp earth.
We ran deeper and deeper into the forest, with only the moon light as our guide. “Wh...where... are we…. going?” I stuttered. I looked up between the trees and the full moon was directly above us. The misty air rose around the trees and between the bushes as we darted around trunks and roots. We finally stopped in the middle of the forest, at the edge of a small pond. I stared at my reflection as another tear dropped off my nose and landed in the water. The ripples expanded, then softly disappeared. It was just the two of us now; Zane and I. Logan was gone, and Black knights were looking for us everywhere.