Monday, January 10, 2011

Grimmer Fairy Tales-- Part the Ninth

Lady Vivian deeply inhaled the cleansing air as she and Catalena strolled through the forest surrounding the castle. Today was the first time they were allowed beyond the castle walls. They were warned to remain close to the palace, a warning Lady Vivian heeded after their unfortunate experience in the dungeon. Three nights passed since Catalena left her chess match with the prince unfinished. A strange part of her was unhappy with this situation although she could not begin to discern the reason. The memory of those enigmatic onyx eyes haunted her. There was little doubt Prince Dragos lived in a world of treacherous secrets, a world where she would do well to tread carefully. "Do you hear something?" Lady Vivian queried as she rose, freshly picked flowers in hand. Catalena shifted her focus from her thoughts to the world around her, the unmistakable sound of hoof beats drawing closer. "Perhaps one of the guards out for a ride," she suggested, unaware of how mistaken her supposition was. A coal black stallion crashed through the trees barely five yards from where the astonished women stood. Both horse and rider were silent as a tomb, the mysterious knight dressed all in black, a helmet covering his face. Without warning, the rider spurred his horse, charging at them, unsheathed sword in hand. Catalena shoved herself and Vivian into the shrubbery, out of the way of their attacker, but his malicious intention towards them was abundantly clear. Catalena had been quick, but not quick enough to avoid his blade which nicked her arm leaving a painful, bloody gash in its wake. Catalena warned her companion to remain on the ground and out of sight while she grabbed a thick branch which had fallen from a nearby oak. The rider turned his horse, preparing for another assault as Catalena stepped onto the path. The branch was nearly as tall as she, and she held it upright like a staff, fearlessly waiting in the open. The rider paused, examining her, before charging at full gallop. Catalena held her ground. The earth shook with the thud of hooves, the metal of the blade winking in the sunlight as it swung in a dangerous arc. At the last possible moment, she stepped out of the path of the charging beast and angled the branch like a javelin, striking the rider across the chest. The knight tumbled from his horse to the ground, sword flying from his grasp. Catalena wasted no time, furious at the attempt on her life. She heard the rider gasping for air as she pinned him to the dirt. A knife was sheathed on his belt and she snatched it having learned from a young age although men were stronger, a weapon in her possession evened the playing field. Without contemplating her actions in her rage, she ripped off the helmet, eager to expose the face of the coward who dared attack unarmed women. The shimmering onyx eyes which greeted her took her completely by surprise as she came face to face with Prince Dragos. He subtly smirked at her, either in admiration or irritation she could not tell. The royal guards appeared from nowhere and dragged her off him before she had a chance to remove herself. The prince got to his feet, retrieving his knife the guards took from her grasp. Catalena said not a word, unable to understand what transpired and for what purpose. "What would you like us to do with her, my lord?" a guard asked, waiting for an order so he could appropriately respond to the strange situation. "She goes to the dungeon. The punishment for attacking a member of the royal family is death," Prince Dragos responded, mercilessly sealing her fate.

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