So. I thought something like this would happen. But all my tactful suggestions in His Highness' ear made almost no impact.
Although, having said that, the Princess seems decided to hate Aiden no matter what.
And now she's run off. Well, not if I can stop her.
Don't ask me how I know. I just do. It's something I can do, some kind of pagan sixth-sense that was supposed to be mumbo-jumbo, or at the very least to have died out centuries ago with the last of the Druid Circles.
The Princess will use the eastern gate, by my guess. It's unguarded because of the banquet - damned imprudent, but there you go. She can't have left yet - she only left the dancefloor a minute ago. If I run, I may yet catch her.
I walk as casually as I can past Aiden. Should I tell him? No, I decide. If I can handle this with no one but myself knowing, all the better. Having him come after her is hardly going to improve their relationship.
It's dark outside, but I've got good night-vision, always have. I only have to wait a moment before I hear hooves on the cobbled courtyard. She's going at quite a lick; a gallop by my reckoning. Her face is pale in the moonlight.
I don't say anything, just step calmly out into her path. She can see I'm here. The gate is too narrow for her to pass me. She'll have to stop in a minute or attempt to mow me down, and the horse will throw her before that happens. She knows this. She's a good horsewoman.
'Get out of my way,' she hisses, that presumptuous, ordering tone in her voice that marks royalty. Don't get me wrong, I like my Prince. But sometimes they do take the obedience of others for granted.
'Your Highness, may I speak with you?'
'Who are you, stranger?'
'Nathaniel Firebrand, a servant of His Majesty The Prince Aiden Windlord.'
She snorts. 'Oh, him. Did your master send you?'
'No, My Lady. I came of my own accord. I must speak with you.' I'm laying the formalities on a bit, even she can tell that. But it pays to be formal, sometimes, if you wish to keep your head. Quite literally.
'Go on then. Speak. I can see I'm not going to get any peace before you do so.'
'Thank you, My Lady. Now don't you think you'd better get down off that horse?'
'Do not presume to tell me what I will and will not do.'
'No, My Lady. I understand how you feel.'
'Do you?' There's a challenge in her voice. I rise to meet it.
'Yes, I believe I do. But I am not here with the intent to speak of myself. I wish to talk to you about the prudence of this escape.'
She gasps slightly. 'How did you-?'
'Don't worry, none of your friends gave you away. But please, Your Highness, consider. My master is not a bad man; he is a a very good one, for that matter. And he does love you. But even if you are determined not to return his affection, there are ways of making your feelings known and accepted without resorting to such drastic measures. I have seen people forced into such actions as this and, believe me, Your Highness, it does not always work out as they planned. So please, Your Highness, come back inside.'