All was quiet in the kingdom as Persephone and Doouge walked through the marketplace that was once alive but now sat dormant. No children were laughing, only the clanking of armor and the contents of villager’s stomachs being forced out could be heard. The fruit stands sat unattended and their contents rotting, making the smell of death ever so pungent. A few birds chirped sadly as they watched the couple trudge the dusty road to the doctor’s home that sat on the outskirts of the kingdom. The princess had told her father she had to be certain she knew exactly what needed to be obtained in Pallow’s forest. Pallow, who was said to be the Spirit who protected the ancient life that thrived in the forest outside of Berkshim’s marble castle.
Persephone had yet to find any comfort in Sir Doouges words and instead let thoughts drift in and out of her mind. Nothing could possibly be as beautiful as her homeland had been, even in shambles her home was more beautiul then any land she’d ever drempt of. As they walked past an ill kept rose garden, memories of a time when the garden was great brought a sting deep in her heart.
“Shhh….,” a young and spry boy with bouncing blonde curls and soft blue eyes hissed as he pressed his hand to young Persephone’s mouth. The hour was late and the full moon reached through her bedroom window. She had an instinct to scream but when she realized it was her sworn young knight who sat beside her she bit hard on his finger.
“Ouch! What was that for!?” Doouge snapped, slightly too loud. Persephone quickly regretted her action as footsteps sounded in the hallway.
“You need to get out of here! How did you even get in here?” She could see the young boy hanging in the gallows for visiting a princess at this time of night.
His eyes sparkled like royal topaz and a bright white grin broke across his face, ” it’s ok, I’ve got it all under control. My father is standing outside and keeping guard. I have something to show you. If you can keep quiet, come with me.”
He jumped down from her bed, she heard the clunk of his boots hit the stone floor. He placed a finger up to his lips and motioned for her to follow. She spoke no words but slid out of the bed with grace. For some odd reason young Doouge went to a corner and began inspecting the floor.
“What on earth are you doing?” She growled at him, still groggy from sleep. He shot her a glance that she assumed meant, I thought you said you’d be quiet. She merely nodded and let him continue picking the stones of her floor. Suddenly he seemed to find the right stone as he sighed happily and tapped it three times. The floor began to fall away, leaving a hole large enough for a decent sized man to fit in. Almost as though sensing the princess’s desire to scream, Doouge took her hand and pulled her to his chest, plunging into the hole. The hole closed just as they fell through and prevented any noises from being heard.
They tumbled down a long tunnel, Persephone screaming and the young knight laughing hysterically. There was a soft glow growing brighter towards the end of the fall and twigs and roots began snapping at their clothes as they moved towards the light. The two rolled out of a bush and Persephone suddenly realized where they were.
“How did you do that?” She gasped as the sweet sent of the rose garden filled her nostrils, everything came into view with help from the moon’s light. The garden was miles from the castle and nobody was allowed there but royal blood. Typical Doouge smiled a wide smile, ” my father told me the castle is magic, I didn’t believe it but here we are! We will find every exit from the castle so you can escape if ever the time comes.”
She marveled at the garden under the moonlight. Every shade of the rainbow was visible in the garden’s botanical array. Each rose held it’s own unique smell that was no less sweet then the last. As she plucked a sole white rose and twirled it in her fingers a small prick from a thorn made her drop the rose and suckle the wound. Tarnished with red, the rose sat abandoned beside the ivory archway where the two children stood and marveled the night sky.
Since that day they had found many holes in the castle, there was at least one in every room, each one leading somewhere new in the kingdom. She was going to miss her castle and the adventurous young man she had come to see as her best, and only, friend. They had made it to the old doctor’s home; a small cottage surrounded in flowers that seemed to bloom too big for their stalks, herbs that made the air aromatic when touched, and abundant fruits and vegetables. The whole atmosphere changed, suddenly the marriage seemed years away and all that mattered was the sweet woman that the princess had grown very fond of in the weeks leading up to her current visit.
To Be Continued….