Part 2 - A Wonderful Night
Night fell over Everlyn, soft and mild like any Spring night. Putting down her book she looked out of the tall window and the sweet perfume of flowers reached her, dragged in by the soft breeze. The starry sky over her head shone like silver and soon the moon would rise, as if it were born from the darkness that was the Silver Forest seen from afar.
However her attention was caught by the two small figures that, down below, stood on the front courtyard. Leaning forward a bit more she watch as they were accepted into the Royal Palace. Allana had never seen them, nor the uniform they wore, and she couldn’t help feeling curious about the two strangers. To tell the truth she couldn’t even remember the last time Everlyn had received any guests.
The knock at her door startled her and she quickly sat back of her bed, waiting.
“Lady Allana! Could you please open the door?”
“No!” she answered dryly, recognizing Dana’s voice.
“Allana …!” the voice sounded threatening now, but Allana couldn’t care less.
“No! No! No! And if you want to come in you’ll have to break down the door!”
“Allana!!” Dana insisted, this time shouting her name but the door remained closed.
“I won’t open it! Didn’t you say I was grounded? That I had to stay locked up in my room? Well then! I’m complying with my punishment!”
“Allana! You … show me some respect!”
“It’s no use, Dana! I will not open it!” the Princess replied, crossing her arms and averting her gaze, as if Dana could see her through the door.
“Is that so? Then you shall stay in there until morning! You hear me? And no dinner for you!”
“Bah! Big deal!” the girl grunted and she heard Dana’s quick footsteps storm across the corridor which only went to show just how angry she was.
Allana held her book and sighed. Who needs dinner anyway? Not me! This is so boring … Well, at least I won’t have to talk to Heric.
She laid back, looking at the starry sky outside, and took a deep breath.
“But I would really like to know who those strangers were …” she muttered to herself.
Suddenly sitting back up a smile brightened her face. What a wonderful idea!!
Leaving her book behind, she jumped from the bed dropping to the ground, looking for what she had hidden under bed, sometime ago. Her small hands touched a soft package and her eyes gleamed with excitement! It was still there!, she concluded pulling it from under the bed. With urgent and clumsy gestures, she untied the string that tied the package together and pulled away the leather cover to reveal a few pieces of clothing. It was a uniform like those wore by the boys that helped around the palace and that she had secretly ‘borrowed’ it sometime, last year.
Without further delay, Allana changed clothes and tied her long hair into a braid, wrapping it around her head. Over it she placed the small cap with the green feather that all the servants wore and looked at herself in the mirror. Everything was in place, she happily verified.
Walking towards the door, she opened it and peered into the corridor illuminated by numerous torches. No one in sight. And so, she closed the door behind her and quickly made her way towards the stairs.
Once back on the first floor, Allana took the corridor that would take her to the dining hall. She expected to find their guests sitting at the table, discussing with Heric what had brought them there. She would watch them from the door, hidden amongst the shadows. And just for a few moments, enough to see their faces.
“Excuse me, please!” she immediately stopped, her heart beating too fast, and turned around, fearing she’d been found out, keeping her head low. Somehow she had to get away, but how?
The one that had called her walked towards her, and Allana squeezed her hands nervously. The sudden sound of a warm laughter surprised her, granting her courage to raise her head, only enough to see who had called her.
He was a young man, dressed in black pants and a dark-red velvet tunic with small golden buttons. He wore mounting boots and his hair was as dark as the night, although a few strands glittered with a silver color amongst the darkness, as if he were older than his young face would lead one to think.
“I wonder … Could you please help me? As strange as it may seem I don’t know how to get back to my quarters,” he continued, awkwardly scratching his head even though he seemed amused by the whole situation. However, when his black eyes looked directly at her his smile vanished immediately. Allana, on the other hand, tried to look away but couldn’t, as if she’d been hypnotized. And suddenly a crazy thought crossed her mind. She knew him!
Unable to move she saw as his hand rose towards her, to touch her face, and once again her body didn’t obey her, even though she tried as hard as she could to step back. However, right before he could touch her, another voice echoed through the room freeing her from that strange enchantment.
“Sir Denon! I’ve been looking for you.”
The girl dropped to her knees as soon as she recognized the frail and shaky voice of her own mother, and lowered her head like any other servant would have done before his Queen.
“Your Majesty …!” the young man said softly, bowing deeply.
Lidya looked at the servant boy for an instant and then back at her guest.
“Is something wrong, my Lord?”
“No, not at all. I mean … well, the truth is I believe I got lost, Your Majesty,” Elian replied, smiling lightly which made Lidya return his smile with a much fainter one. “I was precisely asking this young boy for directions. I fear the wonders of your palace have led me astray in such a way I forgot to take notice of my surroundings.”
“Oh, I’m truly flattered. But please, do follow me. I will personally lead you back to your chambers. And on the way maybe you could tell me news from the South Kingdoms you’ve visited?”
Elian smiled with a small curtsy and followed the slow, uncertain footsteps of the older woman.
Allana took a deep breath and, as soon as they had left the room, ran back to her own bedroom.
Once back to safety, she locked the door and got undressed, storing her servant clothes back under the bed. In her nightgown, she slid under the covers that awaited her and smiled at the moon that now floated high in the sky, feeling rather pleased with herself.
Well, that had been a close call! And yet she couldn’t help wonder who that young man was … Probably some nobleman from a neighboring Kingdom, with that boring talk about how wonderful the palace was. Bah! He’d sounded so much like Heric that it made her sick to the stomach. And she was certain they’d make sure to introduce him to her the following day. She hated that kind of situation! She really didn’t want to meet him! If only she could stay up there … But she knew it would be impossible. Besides she was already starving as it was. Nothing would make her miss breakfast the following morning! If only Selina could take her place. She always had fun with that sort of thing …
Nonetheless, the moment she closed her eyes his face was there once again and Allana had no choice but to acknowledge that those black eyes were strangely familiar and frighteningly enticing.