Under the Sea (p.2)

Ilirea stared up at the cathedral ceiling of her sleeping chambers, wishing the day would already end. The only time she was alone- the only time she was truly free to think for herself- was during the peaceful solitude of night’s darkness. The night was her cover. The night was hers.

“Princess Ilirea, Heir of Ephemeral, your father the king requests your presence at tonight’s banquet in your honor. He also bid me to remind your Highness that a decision about your Highness’ suitor of choice is to be announced tonight, and your King requires your choice be brought to him before the banquet of honor begins.” The small, weaselly looking squire squinted at her. “Does the Princess have a response for his Kingliness?”

“Tell my King that I do not and will not have an answer to his questions. I will attend the banquet if I must, but I will not be announcing my betrothal to any man, Prince or otherwise.” Illirea flicked the tassel hanging from the side of her bed irritably. The whole ‘your highness’ thing bothered her. She liked the perks of being royalty- never having to sleep hungry, or on the pokey straw mats many of the villagers had to deal with- but she hated the special titles. They made her feel presumptuous and pompous and… She just didn’t like it. “You’re dismissed,” she added when the annoying squire didn’t leave. His eyes widened and he hastily bowed, then turned and hurried out of the room. She glowered after him until he was out of site, then sprang out of bed and grabbed the canvas bag she’d prepared in the  last hour. It was packed with two sets of riding attire, the most informal she had, and some very basic strips of cloth to tie back her hair. In the bottom of the bag was a weeks worth of provisions, food and water. Ilirea wasn’t generally a doer- she was a wait and see-er- but she wasn’t about to wait and see what happened when her father learned she’d refused his orders. Her father was a good king and a good man, but he had quite the temper and she didn’t want to be around to see it.

Ilirea dug under her bed for the maid’s outfit she’d snatched and quickly removed her own bright, soft, silken royal garment and donned the servant’s attire. She pulled the hood of the cloak down low over her face and raced from the room and down the corridor, avoiding servants and royals alike, finally bursting from the back doors of the castle and racing towards the village and the hut which her beloved Na’in shared with his good friend E’lim.

I couldn’t believe my best friend had hidden such a huge thing from me for so long. I mean, a prince? Son of king Andreas, Prince of the Pacific, and he had the nerve to tell me his life was hard? How could he be so blind? King Andreas was the kindest king in all the seven seas!… Wasn’t he?

“Doesn’t matter,” I mumbled, netting up the crumbs from my meal and burying them in the trash heap. “The truth always comes out, that’s what pa says.” I grabbed my rake and left the hut, latching the door firmly behind me. I’d finished my shift at the bakery, but it was harvest time in the gardens of the fair city of Ephemeral. The whole village pitched in to help bring in the crops before they spoiled, or were picked through by scavengers or wild sea horses. The village depended on those crops to survive.

“E’lim! E’lim, wait!” i turned at the sound of my name, startled. The only person who generally called me away from work was my pa, and my pa did not have the voice of a maiden. A startled gasp escaped my lips as I saw the princess racing towards me, her eyes darting nervously around.

“Princess.” I bowed low to her Majesty the Princess of our fair kingdom Ephemeral, irritated at being held up. I had much better things to do than worry about her and Na’in’s tift and… Well, actually, no I didn’t. There was nothing of more importance than the ruling heir and her choosing a king at this time, especially with the whispers of war spreading like an oil spill through the kingdom.

“Don’t call me that!” She cried out, panicked. “Right now, I’m not her Majesty the Princess of fair Ephemeral! Right now, E’lim, I’m Ilirea, and I need your help!” She placed her hands on my shoulders and pulled me out of my bow.

“Alright… Ilirea.” Her  name sounded alien on my tongue, it’s informality seeming an unholy transgression against her person. “How can I be of assistance?”

“Pretend for a moment I’m your friend, and speak to me like a friend instead of a superior!” Ilirea pleaded. “There are those in this village who are looking for war, E’lim, and mobs tend to break out when formality is used.”

“Stop bothering me and let me work, maid!” I yelled, pushing her shoulder roughly. She stared at me, shocked, her hand on her shoulder. Her lower lip started to quiver. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘Now I’ll go to jail for the rest of my life for doing as she said.’

“I only need a minute of your time, Sir!” She cried out, sounding surprisingly like a village maid. “Just give me one minute!”

“There’s not a minute to be spared when the crops are in need of harvest,” I replied coldly.

“Where can I find Na’in?” Princess asked in a low voice, looking up at me with wide, hopeful eyes. “I didn’t see him in your hut.”

“I’ve no time for your silly claims of love, girl. Are you daft? I must be on my way to the harvest!” Some passing young men snickered at me, one thumping me on the shoulder.

“You tell her, E’lim!” he laughed.

“Will do, Reilly.” I waited until he’d left before turning back to the Princess. “I have no idea where Na’in is,” I told her honestly, “And even if I had, Na’in specifically forbade me not tell you of his whereabouts. He’d probably be upset simply to learn I told you that… He left.”

“What!” Ilirea gasped, placing her hand over her heart. “He… he left!” She looked up at me, her eyes wide and tearful. “I- I suspected as much, but I guess my heart just… couldn’t accept that he’d ever…” She closed her eyes, clenching her hand in a fist over her heart. After a long moment and a deep breath, she opened her eyes and looked into mine. “Pray tell, did he give mention of any place he might visit?”

“I’m sorry, Pri- Ilirea, but he didn’t tell me of any place he might go… He did ask me to tell you, though, that… No matter what, He’ll always love you.”

“Well.” She squared her shoulders and adjusted her pack. “I guess I have a lot of ground to cover if I plan on finding him then, huh?” She looked me in the eyes and smiled. “Thank you, E’lim, for being such a good friend to him and for speaking for me, especially in these times when it could get you in a lot of trouble.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” I bowed low and kissed the princess’ hand. “I hope your travels treat you well, and you find swiftly the want of your heart.”

“Thank you, E’lim.” Ilirea touched my cheek gently. “I must beg of you one last thing.”

“Anything, my Princess,” I replied, rising from my bow.

“I need this letter to be given to a castle servant for the his Sovereignty the King in two weeks time.” Ilirea removed a leather envelope from her sac and handed it to me. “Would you make sure it gets to them?”

“I will, Princess. You have no need to worry for the safety of your letter. But now, you must leave, for I truly do need to work the fields for harvest, and any longer will seem suspicious. We don’t want to start a riot.” I grinned, hoping to amuse her with my light hearted joke, but the look on her face was one of pure terror. “What?” She pointed a shaking arm behind me. I spun around and gasped. A large, unruly group of Mers were gathered behind us with various sharp instruments- pitchforks, rakes, swords, and even torches were brandished in our direction.

“What, uhm… What now?” She whispered in my ear with a nervous smile. Her hands twisted the top of the bag nervously.

“Now, my Princess… We flee.” With a mighty yell, I chucked my pitchfork at them and grabbed her hand, swimming as fast as I could away from them.

“They’re getting closer!” the Princess screamed, her gait faltering. I pulled her along at my speed, my eyes searching frantically for an escape. “There!” Ilirea screamed, suddenly veering off down a side street.

“What-” I gasped, slowing my speed. “Princess, we can’t steal the horses of the tradesmers! It’s unethical, and they need their horses!” She turned to me, irritated, and shook her head.

“I be the princess, lad,” she snapped. “Not stealing! Requisitioning!” She swung up onto a pale green mare with sea shell tack. “If you plan on living, now would be a good time to grab a mount!” She cried, spurring the mare forward, away from the village and towards open water. For a moment I stood there, staring back up the alley we’d come down. ‘Maybe they didn’t see us,’ I thought. Suddenly I heard yelling and saw torch light. The villagers stormed into the alley, screaming their blood rage as they thundered towards me. With a fearful yelp, I grabbed the manes of the nearest horse, a magenta mare with kelp tack, and spurred her hastily after the Princess.

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About ProjectPerfection

This year, my last of highschool, this blog will be used as prep for NaNoWriMo and hopefully will keep me on track through all of it. Feel free to drop me a line anytime.
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