Chapter 10: Betrothed

Chapter 10: Betrothed

A Chapter by Gosia

            May and Levi barely made it to the top of the Thoen Stronghold when very agitated Hilda intercepted the girl, dragging her away from her bodyguard. Her usually graceful and stoic face was now full of worry as she was staring May down, noticing her disheveled clothing covered in dust and green stains from the grass, the ruffled hair and dirt under her fingernails.

           

“You look like a village harlot, Maewyn,” Hilda commented, her voice slightly trembling from poorly concealed nervousness. The old Lady quickened the pace, ushering the girl to nearly run at her side. “We need to clean you up.”

           

May tried to regain some control and make Hilda slow down, but the grip of the skinny fingers was surprisingly strong for an elderly Lady.

 

            “Wait, did something happen?” the girl asked, feeling edgy because of Hilda’s unusual behavior.

 

            May nearly fell face-flat onto the marble floor as the old Lady stopped all of a sudden and firmly grabbed the girl’s shoulders. She bit her lower lip and looked May in the eye, her gaze death-serious.

 

            “Maewyn, just a moment ago Lord Abrran arrived,” Hilda said quietly.

 

            “Abrran?” May repeated, trying to remember where she heard that familiar name from. Seeing her confusion, Hilda decided to help her with that.

 

            “Your betrothed is here.”

 

            May blinked, staring at the old Lady while her brain was sloppily making a connection. The princess’s betrothed…

 

            “Damn,” May whispered, realizing what it meant for her. She didn’t have much time to ponder about her rather poorly-looking situation for Hilda pushed her inside the princess’s chambers. Before May managed to utter a word of protest, the Lady grabbed a damp cloth and began vigorously rubbing the girl’s face, trying to get rid of the dust.

 

            “You can’t possibly meet Lord Abrran looking like that!” Hilda huffed, shaking her head with disapproval. “Now, listen. Lord Abrran met you two times already, so please refrain from conversing with him too much. Remember your manners; you should be pure and beautiful like a flower, graceful like a good spirit. Gentle, polite and shy �" that are the qualities of a well-raised young Lady.”

 

            Hilda paused and gave May a stern look, the look which expressed her doubts about May’s ability to behave like princess Maewyn had used to.

 

            “So… this Abrran guy, who is he exactly? And why is he even here? I thought he was to show up months from now!” May asked, making Hilda sigh heavily with worry. The woman took a calming breath, trying to keep her cool.

 

            “I do not know, Maewyn. Surely he has a good reason to come to the Thoen Stronghold unannounced, but it is a matter which should interest neither me nor you. He is here not for the wedding thought, I am positive. Now, there are some things you should know. Lord Abrran is the eldest son of Duke Royse, the ruler of neighboring dukedom Karhadon,” Hilda explained patiently as she began brushing May’s tangled knee-length hair. “He is a bright young man, excels at swordsmanship and is a perfect gentleman. Please do try not to offend him with your unLadylike behavior. Speaking of which… you used to be a demure well-mannered Lady with voice which made people cry from happiness, skilled in playing flute and mandolin. You and Lord Abrran met several times already and exchanged letters, therefore watch your tongue around him.”

 

            May winced when Hilda forcefully pulled a strand of her ridiculously long hair.

 

            “Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell him that I lost memories?” she asked uncertainly.

            Hilda paused brushing and straightened her back.

 

“If the truth came out that the princess of the Thoen family is not in her right mental state, your father, the Duke, would lose all respect, the pacts with our allies would be broken. You are the Duke’s only child, Maewyn, and an heiress to the Thoen family. The dukedom of Farn needs Lord Abrran to protect our lands when Duke Thoen will no longer be amongst the living, and he needs a healthy wife to bear him strong sons,” Hilda responded. May flinched at the mere thought of sons.

 

“Maybe you could tell him that I’m sick,” May suggested; the idea of meeting Maewyn’s fiancé was quite unsettling.

 

“That is out of the question, Maewyn,” Hilda said sternly. “You are to greet Lord Abrran in good health and behave in his company accordingly. Now, let’s change this hideous rag into something more presentable. After all you are to attend the royal feast.”

A moment later May’s eyes nearly popped out of the sockets as her ribs nearly got crushed by the most devious torture device ever invented �" the corset.

 

“Not so tight…” she whined when Hilda kept tightening the laces. “It huuurts!”

 

 

 

            May stood before the entrance to the huge dining hall of Thoen’s palace. With a richly-embroidered, heavy dress on her back and an elaborate hairstyle, she now resembled a true princess.

 

            “Do you remember what to say?” Hilda made sure, whispering to the girl.

 

 May nodded, frantically memorizing the lines she had learned a moment ago. The elderly Lady nodded and pushed her towards the royal table.

 

            Cautious not to tangle in the multi-layered overly long dress, May made way towards Duke Thoen. The man’s green eyes brightened when he saw her and he gave her an encouraging smile. May responded with a faint, nervous grimace and seated herself at her fake father’s side. The Duke nodded with content at the sight of her proper attire.

           

“My child, have you begun regaining your memories?” he asked quietly, his lips barely moving as he spoke. May shook her head.

 

            “I need more praying, I guess,” she whispered back, wondering when the priest from the temple would have the translation of the scroll. With the princess’s fiancé showing all of a sudden, she was even more eager to return to Baltimore as soon as possible.

 

            Then the crude yet melodic sound of horn filled the room, announcing the arrival of the guests from Karhadon. May shifted on her chair and held her breath as the knights in capes with red fish on white entered the enormous chamber. They stepped aside, making way for the one who had to be Abrran.

 

May stared at him with wide-opened eyes and slightly slack jaw as he approached the Duke’s table. Duke Thoen stood up and May did the same.

 

The man who was presumably Abrran looked like he was in his mid-twenties. His attire was fancy, quite feminine though �" he wore a colorful wide-sleeved robe reaching the ground. It was definitely very expensive with precious jewels and gold sewed everywhere on the fabric. He was tall and his perfectly shaved face was quite handsome. However, it had that delicate expression, which reminded May of a doll or someone who was addicted to plastic surgeries.

The Karhadon’s heir walked gracefully towards Duke Thoen and the men exchanged, what the girl learned was a traditional greeting, saying each other titles and slightly bowing their heads.

 

“Lord Abrran, son of Duke Royse, the heir of Karhadon, welcome in my home. Accept the place at my table,” Duke Thoen said solemnly.

 

“Duke Thoen, I shall be glad to share a meal with you,” the newcomer responded, bowing his head with respect.

 

Then Abrran looked at May with longing, casually flipping his braided shoulder-length hair of the color of pure gold. The girl did her best to appear shy and glanced downwards desperately trying to make her cheeks blush. Inwardly, May was cursing the whole foreign world, wishing she could be somewhere, anywhere else in this moment. She bowed with all the grace she could manage.

 

“My Lord,” she said in her softest voice, not stopping the cursing in her mind. “I am grateful that the fate let us meet again. I am most impatient for our families to join in the sacred bond of our marriage,” May repeated slightly gagging on the remembered lines.

 

Speaking about marriage to some guy she saw the first time in her life was just too awkward, even though she had to admit, that Maewyn’s fiancé was a looker. So far Abrran didn’t seem to suspect a thing. He smiled at her with his dashing smile, showing all of his teeth and told her the similar nonsense she had said to him.

 

            Once the courses arrived, Duke Thoen took on himself to keep Abrran occupied and entertained him with a meaningless conversation. Every time the Karhadon’s heir attempted to speak with May, her father intervened and responded in her stead. The girl couldn’t help but feel extremely thankful to the thoughtful Duke. Her only task was to look good, which meant being like an ethereal being, the real princess had seemingly been. Sitting still like a shadow was unexpectedly tiring and she wished the feast to finally end..

 

However, May couldn’t stop observing Maewyn’s fiancé, at least out of the ordinary curiosity. At the first glance Abrran appeared to be an attractive man �" handsome, charming, eloquent and kind. However, there was a snobby feeling about him, mostly about the way he commented on the poorer subjects. He reminded May of the most popular boys in her school �" he had good looks and charm, but was slightly obnoxious. Abrran was not quite her type �" she’d prefer a more modest and sensitive guy for a boyfriend.

 

“Abrran, what is the real reason of your visit?” Duke Thoen asked Abrran suddenly, his voice quiet so that only people at his sides could hear it, including May. The princess’s fiancé scratched his chin thoughtfully, uneasiness reflecting on his face. Before responding to the question, he looked around if no one beside Duke Thoen and his daughter would hear what he had to say.

 

“It started one lunar cycle ago. The peasants started disappearing. At first it was a villager or two who didn’t make it home from fields and sea. Then it got worse; entire settlements got empty as though their inhabitants disappeared. Our soldiers inspected the sites, but they found no clues, no tracks, not even signs of resistance �" it was like the people just walked away.” Abrran paused, nervously combing his hair with his fingers. “A few days ago we lost contact with Karhof, one of our main ports. It turned out that the people disappeared as well, over eight hundred fishermen.”

 

May felt a shiver go down her spine while she was listening to Abrran’s tale. She glanced at the Duke, who knitted his eyebrows and leaned towards the young Karhadonian.

 

“Most unsettling. What does Duke Royse expect of me?” May’s supposed father asked. Abrran looked cautiously around before focusing back on Duke Thoen.

 

“My father wishes to confirm that the alliance between Karhadon and Farn is still strong, strong enough to face any enemy together, like eight decades ago,” Abrran whispered.

 

Duke Thoen paled stiffened. Slowly, as if in a trance, he pushed his cup with wine away.

 

“Like eight decades ago,” he repeated, his voice was calm, but May could hear well the unrest creeping into it. “Abrran, are you certain that… that they are behind the disappearance of your subjects?”

 

“Most likely,” the Karhadonian replied. “This doesn’t look like a doing of humans. If it’s like eighty years ago, we must be prepared, more prepared than the last time.”

 

            Duke Thoen reached for his cup and filled it till the glass was nearly overflowing. Trying to mask his nervousness, he quickly took a gulp.

 

            “Farn will come with aid if needed,” he announced.

 

            May was sitting quiet the whole time, not wanting to interrupt the conversation between Abrran and Duke Thoen; she felt as though she was listening to something she really shouldn’t have. However, her curiosity got better of her.

 

            “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened eighty years ago?” she asked against her better judgment.

 

            Both Duke Thoen and Abrran flinched, startled by her sudden question as though they forgot she was even here. Her fake father wrinkled his forehead, his green eyes expressing disapproval.

 

            “Maewyn, I think it is time for you to retire for the night,” Duke Thoen said firmly in a patronizing tone. “Young maidens such as yourself should not concern themselves with grim matters of wars and politics.”

 

            The Duke’s words were like a bucket of cold water dumped right onto May’s head. Before the girl could come with a retort, the Farn’s ruler gestured for servants to come to escort May back to her chambers. She gritted her teeth, glaring at the two men with barely restrained anger, but clenched her jaws �" arguing with those men wasn’t worth it.

 

            “Goodnight,” May hissed out and turned on her heel. Clenching her fists, she stalked towards her chambers, leaving the servants behind.

 

            “Please, let that damn translation be ready,” she muttered under her nose, repeating the sentence in her mind like a mantra �" she needed to stay calm if she was to get out of this wretched place. The door to her chambers nearly flew out of their hinges when she forcefully opened them and then they rattled when she slammed them close.

 

            “God, I want out of here,” she whispered. “Or goddess, whatever. I’ll pray to that Illiana figure if it helps me go home.”

 

            May sighed, thinking that she was in a bad mental shape if she began talking with herself. Absentmindedly combing her hair, she made her way across the room, trying to free herself out of the heavy dress along the way. As she was struggling with the corset, she caught a glimpse of something with the corner of her eyes, of an item which wasn’t here before.

 

             Curious, she walked over to the nightstand and picked up a piece of paper; it was addressed to her. She broke a seal and stared at the neatly written runes.

 

 

My Lady,

 

I will await you at the temple tomorrow.

 

I have good news.

 

Your loyal servant,

Arnstein, the priest of Goddess Illiana’s temple

 

 

Good news! May gasped, as she read the message �" she had no doubt, that the priest wanted to convey, that the messenger from his acquaintance had arrived and brought the translation of the scroll. Fortunately the priest’s note was vague, so that no one of the castle would suspect the princess of some shady things, like reading scrolls about portals to another world. May folded the piece of paper, her smile growing.

 

            “I’m going home!” she squealed, clutching the letter triumphantly.

 

 

 

Elsewhere

 

Eren pulled his knees to the chest, holding a sob in. When he glanced at the roast stick, that had been placed right before him, his stomach rumbled, reminding that it was the supper time. However, the child looked away, ignoring the tempting smell of the food.

 

“Eat,” one of his captors, the big bald one, commanded in a sharp, annoyed voice. He picked up the stick and brought closer to the little boy.

 

Eren shook his head, refusing to listen to him. The tall man gritted his teeth and left the child, apparently tired of his defiance.

 

The boy bit his lower lip, as tears began welling in his honey-colored eyes. He squeezed them shut and clutched his sapphire necklace, praying to mother goddess Illiana for someone to save him from the clutches of the demons. He wanted to be free and to see May once again.

Eren put his arms around himself. He shivered slightly, but it wasn’t the cold wind that made him tremble �" it was the men. There were two of them: the huge, muscled oaf with a shiny bald head and a prominent goatee, there was also the shorter and slimmer one. The bigger one looked stronger, but the shorter one was the one who terrified Eren the most. He spoke rarely, but his mere presence was intimidating. The boy wished he could get away from him. Even now he could feel the man’s gaze boring into him.

 

It was not long till he returned to torture the boy with the never-ending questions. Eren stiffened as the man strode towards him and stopped right before him. The child focused his gaze on the tips of his boots, too afraid to look up.

 

“If you do not eat, you will die eventually,” the man stated the fact. When he didn’t get any response from Eren, he continued. “Do you have a death wish, boy?”

 

Eren clenched his teeth, gathering the last bits of courage, and looked up.

 

“You can’t make me help you!” he exclaimed passionately, standing up. The tears began welling in his eyes. “I won’t! You can kill me if you want, I don’t care! My family is among the dead anyway!”

 

Eren felt his legs wobble under him, partially from fear, partially from the weakness of the hungering body. The boy glanced at his captor, but the man stayed calm, reacting to his outburst only with rising his eyebrow.

 

“Do you refer to the dead humans as your family?” he asked amusement in his voice, but the eyes icy-cold.

 

Then, his hand darted out at an amazing speed and he snatched Eren’s chin, making the child look him in the eye. Reluctantly, Eren did so. A mocking smirk crept onto the demon’s face.

“Well, well, golden eyes. How interesting.” he said quietly. “It looks like the blood of my race runs in your veins as well, although watered down.”

 

Eren froze at the horrible statement. The blood of the demons’ race in his veins? The boy remembered the whispers of the servants; they had used to gossip that he was an illegitimate child, that his uncommon abilities came were a work of a demon or some curse, that he was a demon seed. Every time Eren had asked his mother about those rumors, she would only smile sadly and tell him not to let them bother him. However, mother never had said flat out that the servants’ talk was a lie… Could it be… could it be that the servants were right all along, that the demon was speaking the truth?

 

 Eren stared at his captor, horrified. The boy refused to believe it but deep down he felt that it must be true. He shook his head violently, refusing to believe his words, but his reaction only fueled her captor’s amusement.

 

“It seems we have a half-breed here,” the man laughed and freed Eren, leaving him be at last.

 

The boy curled into the ball and squeezed his eyes shut, praying for the nightmare to be over. The words of the demon kept swirling in his head, the memories of the servants whispering appearing over and over again. Soon he felt the tiredness overwhelming him. On the edge between consciousness and dream he heard the voices of her captors.

 

            “Aedain, if the kid doesn’t eat and starves himself to death…” Eren heard the rough voice of the big oaf. “If he dies before the eclipse, we’ll never open the Uaimth Dorchadais. Without the guardian, the door won’t open and the key, only a human can touch it safely, right?”

 

“Baltar,” another voice, the cold one, put an end to the bald one’s talking.

 

The large demon instantly grunted, but bowed his head respectfully. The shorter of his captors was clearly the one in charge and the bigger one listened to his every command.

 

But, the day travel with the monsters and missing his supper wore the fragile body of the little boy out. He didn’t even know when he fell asleep.

 

The two demons were observing him warily; Eren began thrashing on the ground, moaning and clutching his necklace, as though it was making him feel safe.

 

“May…” the child moaned in his slumber.

 

The bald one leaned on his axe, looking at the child with a hint of pity and curiosity.

 

“I wonder who this May is,” he muttered, his eyes fixed on the sleeping boy. “A woman probably.”

 

The shorter of Eren’s captors glared at his companion with annoyance.

 

“Of course she is a woman, you idiot!” he hissed out. “Your nose must have picked the smell of a human female clinging to the boy, just as mine did.”

 

The bald man furrowed his brows, looking baffled.

 

“Of course it did. I just didn’t think…” he continued, but his superior interrupted him.

 

“Your brain has not produced a single thought in the last century. It would be surprising if you learned to think now,” the shorter of the demons snapped, silencing his companion.

 

The leader stared at the child, as a plan began forming in his head. The boy seemed to stubbornly refuse to cooperate and threatening his own life seemed to be insufficient. Therefore, if he wanted to obtain the spear, he needed to provide the child with a proper… incentive, preferably in a form of the person, the half-breed boy kept whining about.

 

The man smiled to himself, pleased with his own brilliant idea. He removed his cloak and dropped it onto the sleeping child before turning to his underling.

 

“Baltar, watch the boy,” he gave the command, before approaching his faithful winged steed. “Meirch, I require your assistance.”



© 2013 Gosia


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Reviews

Overall, a decent chapter. Not much going on here save May sometimes making uncharacteristic remarks but decent. I liked how you imbued the demon with quite a bit of personality despite him not talking much. In previous chapters, I couldn't really connect with this character but now I quite rather like him. I have an image of a powerful yet surprisingly noble creature in my mind. I'm rather excited to know more of him and I do hope later chapters will give me what I want. Something tells me he won't end up as a characteristic bad guy.


Posted 10 Years Ago


Christopher Angel

10 Years Ago

;) Villains are far more fun to write and imitate than the goody two shoes hero types
Gosia

10 Years Ago

So true. Their POVs are great to write. I often find myself laught maniacally when I do it ;-) Even .. read more
Christopher Angel

10 Years Ago

Heh if they're half as interesting as I think they'll be, I'm sure to enjoy reading about them
The horse was cute. I like that the demons aren't really demons, they're just the OG inhabitants. There's a point where you say "crept" when I think you meant "creeped"

Posted 10 Years Ago


Gosia

10 Years Ago

Yeah, I guess you're right. And how can you call a beast cute? Secretly I share your opinion though... read more
JR Darewood

10 Years Ago

I liked how it was scary but playful at the same time, like a pet.

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Added on August 19, 2013
Last Updated on October 1, 2013


Author

Gosia
Gosia

Poland



About
Hello, my name is unpronounceable for most of humankind, but fortunately it can be shortened to Gosia. I’m an university student in my twenties, about to face the real life very soon. I’ve.. more..

Writing
Chapter 2: The Lady Chapter 2: The Lady

A Chapter by Gosia