Princess Cordelia of Wellspring stomps from her mother’s throne room in a huff, leaving the audience. How dare she propose a marriage that she herself didn’t approve of?! The long winding halls of the palace were no trouble for the blonde to traverse through, this wasn’t her first over-the-top exit from her mother’s tyranny. Her chambers were fast approaching—thank the heavens. It was her one place that she could retreat to without being harassed by her parents, or, her servants.
It would be chaos if her mother decided to go through with this retched engagement. Lifting up her luxurious midnight skirts, Cordelia haughtily steps up the stairwell to her sleeping quarters, enraged. She shuts the tall carved door with all her might as it makes a mighty clang across the palace halls. the force sways a vase on a nearby table. With one dramatic huff, she throws herself onto her canopy mattress. Her long braid miraculously stays in place, framed around the top of her head in an elegant manner. The loose curls that once framed her face were now buried in a pillow. Enraged tears flow down from her cheeks as she lifts her head from the silken sheets draped around her. Her teeth grit together when she curses her own mother. Even though it felt satisfying at the moment, the Princess knew she couldn’t stay sulking in her silken laced sheets for long. She walks over to the window and stares down below at the houses spanning down below. How lucky they were to live lives of their own, without their mother’s domineering influence—exploiting her own daughter youth and virtuousness for the kingdom’s benefit. They did not need an alliance with the St. Antilla Islands. They were a nation of free and loving people, but who was to say that its king was the same? The language was fun to speak, but that was a stretch. She was not going to be the queen of some other land just to speak their tongue.
Back to her awful husband to be. She feared the worst; what is this man was old? What if he was mean? Things that her mother likely never considered when she set up the arrangement. Her mother had ensured that Cordelia was dolled up for their meeting, her in her long twisted braids and her midnight dress that shimmered when the light hit it just right. He was handsome in his own right, dark features and a charming smile …and he wasn’t too old, but there was an angle to his face that tipped Cordelia off. He didn’t seem like a modern man by any stretch. She had the worse fears crawl through her head. God, what If he was …rough with her in the bedchambers? What if he wanted a large brood—no, that was enough.
Cordelia curls her fingers into tight fists. She would not stand for such foolishness. She wasn’t going to stay in the palace where she was nothing but a prisoner.
Cordelia raids her jewel-encrusted box and grabs the drawer full of priceless family heirlooms. If her parents were going to treat her like currency, then they were clearly mistaken. On a rough impulse, she throws the items, as well as a pouch of gold shillings into an embroidered satchel. She would leave these castle walls. This was the last time she would take direction—from anyone!
Now, if the guards took their break, she might be able to access a slim hallway that hardly got much use in this day and age.
She waits until midnight hits before plotting her escape. She slips into a pale blue dress, forgoing the petticoat. Her satin day dress would have to do—it made her look like a noblewoman at best. Donning her navy blue cloak, she slings it around her shoulders and waits for the time she knows the guards will be distracted. She opts to take the flat shoes to prevent making noise on the cobblestone. It wasn’t unusual that the Princess decided to take an evening walk, but she always had been chaperoned. In this case, however, such was never be allowed. No one in their right mind would allow Cordelia to escape. Taking one last look at her surroundings, she takes a deep breath. Not one ounce of her being would miss this place.
Cordelia opens her door carefully, clutching her satchel carefully to prevent noise. She tucks it under her arm as she sneaks along the dark palace corridor, the dim candlelight of the halls catching on her velvet blue cloak. One guard was patrolling the halls, but he didn’t seem too attentive, taking his time admiring the landscape. Cordelia holds her breath as she lines her backside against one of the hall pillars. The clank in his armour gives away that he had changed his activity, deciding to continue with his watchful duties. She shimmies around the pillar as he makes the round, waiting until the soft clank fades from earshot. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much time. Cordelia proceeds along her way to the east wing, where a ladder would bring her to the storage area. If she were lucky, there might be a window she could crawl out of.
Swiftly making it down the ladder, Cordelia is greeted with hay bails and storage crates lining the walls. Moonlight reflects along the sides of the crates—she notices an open window alongside the tower of boxes. She pulls up her skirts while tying the satchel to her waist, positioning her feet alongside the angles she could step on. She makes it to the window—it’s higher than she anticipated. Well, as fearful as she was, there was no turning back now. With one leap of faith, she jumps from the window, bracing herself for impact. The grass below didn’t shield much of the impact, hurting her knees as she stumbled to the ground, but it could have been a lot worse. She sneaks alongside the shrubbery and into the wooded pathway—she saw servants traverse this path often when she was in the courtyard. Hopefully, she could make it through the thick brass gate. By a miracle, it was just left open. Wow, if her parents found out about this …they’d have this guard’s head! A pang of regret hits her when she thinks of her kind-hearted father. He doted on her ever since she was a small child—and to leave without even saying goodbye hurt her a little. But, he didn’t stop her tyrannical mother from preventing her misery. It would be a mistake that the King and Queen would have to live with.
Cordelia musters the courage to step through the gate. Once she passes this threshold, she would be free.
And did she ever feel it when she passed through the iron gate door.
Looking at the town below, she saw the bright lights of the nightlife. It dazzled her to see it from this view; it looked like there was a celebration going on—how exciting! Cordelia braces herself as she edges alongside the steep hill—she couldn’t tumble down and allow the contents of her satchel to spill open. If she was going to live like a pauper, she would need a place to stay for the night.
Cordelia arrives at the Seascape Inn and Tavern, which from the outside looked like a respectable place. It was located outside the town square, where most of the crowds were cheering and dancing—so she might be able to slip past the crowds without suspicion. She opens the door; instantly holding her nose at the smell of sweat and …some alcoholic beverage she couldn’t identify. It was a rowdy place, but she was hungry. Perhaps she could get a nice plate of finger foods and a glass of her favourite drink.
“Excuse me.” She walks up to the counter, nerves settle in as she debates her course of action. Was she doing this correctly? It was hard to guess. The barmaid laced in a tight corset and green skirt lifts up her head, examining her briefly.
“What may I get thee?”
“A sprinkle of your finest Rose Wine.” She lifts up a finger. “And your finest wrapped nut and cheese gougères.”
The barmaid gives her a wicked look as a laugh soon follows. “We ‘aint noble folk you know. Ye’ have to settle for something less intrusive, princess.”
Cordelia freezes, feeling her throat clam up. Impossible! How did this simple woman see her through her disguise!?
“I-I’m not a princess!” She says in her sternest tone.
“Well o’ course you ain’t, gel. She be a right shrew, that bitch of a whore.”
What? Cordelia blinks.
“Princess Cordelia, good riddance she’s being carted to The Islands of St. Antilla. She’s drained more of our coffers than her mother before her. That function they threw for her nineteenth birthday had the whole town halted for business—all for some ungrateful spat. Marrying that king will be the best thing she’s ever done for Wellspring.”
Cordelia recalls being displeased sure, but that was because of the arrangement that her thoughtless mother threw her into. That wasn’t her fault! Despite her temper boiling to unfathomable levels, she had to remain calm. If these people found out who she truly was, she might be burned at the stake.
“How about I take one of your finest drinks instead.” She would rather not discuss her own apparent ungratefulness with the barmaid.
“Spring’s Ale ye reckon.” She cleans out a mug with a well-used rag. Cordelia flinches as she carelessly pours the ale into the glass. “Now what brings a noble lady like you to this ‘ye tavern?”
“A n-noblewoman? Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Now, don’t be foolin’ me gel. Most your age with that pretty face of yours would end up on their second babe by now—and don’t think I didn’t notice it under that big old ‘ood of yours. Speaks of a woman who wishes to save ‘erself for a special wealthy man.” She winks, as she hands the mug to Cordelia. Well, that was a crude way of putting it.
“You don’t say?” Cordelia frowns.
“Just be careful that the men ‘round here don’t notice your beauty, or I cannot promise you’ll remain virtuous for long.” Her laugh signifies it to be a joke, but… something tells Cordelia that this woman was attempting to spare her from unwanted attention.
Cordelia sips her drink softly—mm—it wasn’t bad. Nerves start to creep in when she realizes that she’s not in her element. As a result, she drinks more, downing the ale at quite a speed. She slams the ale down on the table, noticing that she was mostly ignored. Right. She unties the satchel from her waist and leans it by her feet—the weight slowly starting to bother her waist. She takes a further sip of the spring ale until her mug is empty.
“May you offer me lodgings for the night?” She asks, less shy than she had been before. She forgets about her hunger as it’s washed away by the pleasant sensation she feels in her temples.
“Are ye sure it’s fit for someone of your nature?”
“A bed is a bed.” She says, less concerned with comfort as she reaches for her satchel—confused when she sees that it’s no longer by her feet. H-How?! Cordelia whips her head around. To her surprise (and anger), she sees a possible suspect weave around the exit—a mop of dark hair being the only detail she notices. She hops off her seat, trailing the man as best she can in her condition.
Cordelia accidentally trips over a chair leg, catching herself on the table. No way would this man get away with his ghastly crime, she needed those valuables! Cordelia storms after him, leaving the tavern in haste. She calls out to him in her native tongue, but instead of the man quickening his pace, he stops and turns to face her. She followed him to the wooded path lining the kingdom gates. The moonlight gently outlines his frame, revealing just how tall he is. For a thief, he wasn't dressed too poorly, but she couldn't ignore the definition of his arms. God, in what world could she take him on? Especially in her tipsy state.
“Give me back my satchel y-you hooligan!” She demands, but his handsome face frowns in confusion. Hell’s bells, she mutters to herself. Now wasn’t the time to be scoping out the man. She waves her finger in the air. “You will heavily regret your actions!”
He gives her a once-over, taking the initiative to lower her cloak’s hood with a single finger. Flustered, she takes a step back. Her eyes narrow at him; unimpressed with his actions. His unusual violet eyes give off a twinkle as he examines her.
<That pretty mouth of yours would be much more useful elsewhere.> He raises an amused brow as he takes in her features.
<Excuse me?!> The thief is taken aback as his lips part, the playful grin washed away from his face entirely. <I don’t know what that means, but my mouth is just fine where it is!>
<Y-you speak Antillian?> The thief stutters.
<Of course I do.> She crosses her arms. <After all, I’m being shipped off—I mean!> She covers her mouth.
His brow raises in confusion as he combs his dark hair away from his face.
<Don’t give me that stupid look. Hand me back my things!>
<Not so fast.> His frown replaces his surprise. <Don’t forget you’re in no place to negotiate.>
<I’ll have you know I take no directions from any low-life—>
He grabs her wrist as soon as she raises it, leaning her against the stone fence. <A little woman such as yourself won’t do well to take on a man of my size.> His voice growls. <Now, if you would close that mouth of yours, I could explain what it is that I want.>
She wasn’t sure if it was the ale clouding her judgement, or, if that swirl of delight she felt in her gut was indicating her attraction to this man. His close proximity was tantalizingly delicious—no! He had her things, and she needed to get them back. This was no time for poorly timed flights of fancy! He stole her items for the love of god!
<You can’t order me around.> It’s her turn to growl. <You aren’t the first man who’s tried to intimidate me by force.>
He keeps the position, eying her intently. <I can smell alcohol on your breath.>
<Don’t change the subject!> She snaps. <Give me back my things, or I’ll report you to the authorities!>
<Oh, no no no. I can’t have you do a thing like that.> His cool tone sends brief chills down her spine. <If you’re not going to behave, I’m going to take matters into my own hands.> He uses his legs as a bridge to prevent her from escaping, binding both her delicate wrists with his hands. He forcefully turns her around, using the rope around his waist to constrict her wrists behind her back. <I’ll make it a little easier for you. You comply to my demands, and you may survive. If not, well… I can’t promise that my friends will be so kind as to spare you.>
God! Cordelia’s heart pounds against her chest—in pure unadulterated panic as he scoops her up with one arm, planting her on his shoulder. She fumes when he gives her a sharp pat on the rear. She would have screamed, but… she didn’t want to find out what kind of fun his friends had in mind… She only knew one thing.
This ruffian was abducting her!