I felt my hair sliding through my tears as the wind whipped around me, swirling my dress and bringing with it the pelting rain of the planting season. Two of Pentsmont's Knights guarded the heavy oak door to the room behind me, forbidding me to join my brothers as they faded into the distance. I was angry, harboring a passion that I had barely discovered since my first encounter with Ella after my father's death. How could I cope with no one here to mourn with me?
Although I had been admitted into Percival's chambers to hear the battle plans, I was permitted no further. I knew only that our home had been overtaken. A kitchen servant close to our royal family had escaped amongst the fray and arrived in Pentsmont a few hours after Stephen's man had brought him the news. Ella had dissapeared the same day, and it was with her that I was most angry.
Since her arrival into the presence of our family, each of us had come to know her, learn from her, and trust her. I knew that both of my brothers cared for her in their own way, but it was Percy she paid the most attention to. Now I felt in the very depths of my angry spirit that she had played them. Her attention to his every move and word was not that of amorous feeling, but that of a fox watching a helpless animal. How dare she betray us! How dare she betray me! The softer side of my spirit, the emotional and womanly side, held hope that it was not true. Perhaps she had nothing to do with this at all, and she had merely gotten lost in the nearby forest at an inconvenient time. After all, when we were home she would dissapear for several hours, in her soft leather clothing, and return with clear eyes and smelling of the deep forest. I had envied her freedom and skills. But now, which should I believe, the anger or the hope?
Within an hour of the departure of our armed forces and all of the men that had accompied us to Pentsmont, a loud knock came to my door.
"Leave me in peace!" I screamed, not wanting to eat or be questioned by bothersome and unfamiliar folk. After a few moments of silence, however, a much softer knock came to the door. Deciding that it must be a servant and perhaps I may be hungry soon anyway, I bade entrance to the unknown guest.
"Princess Agatha?" The voice belonged to Percival's betrothed, Adrianna. My breeding had taught me to be gracious to those of similar status, and I attempted to soothe my irritation with humility.
"Lady Adrianna... have you come to set me free?" I could not help hiding my bitter humor, knowing I may not have anyone else to talk with for several days.
"Princess, I only sought your company to ease both of our minds. Perhaps we can help each other's loneliness in the sudden absense of your brothers..." It occured to me then that she may have no idea what had caused Percy to leave her Father's court during the wedding preperations.
"Please, call me Agatha. We are nearly sisters." I gave her a smile and gestured to a seat next to my own. "...Are your rooms near here?"
She blushed slightly and shook her head, "We need not suffer small talk. The truth is I need answers. I realize that you are a kind and wise woman who is close to her family. Much of my family has moved on to other kingdoms, and I am the only left of my Father's children. I was betrothed to your brother as a promise to bring peace and hope to this dying land." She spoke fervently and clearly, not as one used to having chatty conversations. "I can see in my father's troubled manner that something is wrong something that will effect us gravely. Please tell me what you know."
"I am sorry, Adrianna, but I do not think it wise at this time. My brothers have left me here... and although it was not my wish to stay, it is with great hope that I await their... safe return." I forced a smile, hoping she would be satisfied with my denial of her request for information. She nodded, as if expecting this as my answer, then from the folds of her lovely sky blue skirts she produced a small letter, sealed with my brother's ring. Holding it out to me she said very softly,
"I was given this by my chambermaid and I do not wish to read it. My experience with courtship is small, but I do not believe that my betrothal to your brother is in earnest. I fear that he is breaking our engagement and this is what troubles my father so greatly." Her eyes slowly moved from the letter in her delicate outstretched hand to my meet my eyes. "Please take this for me and read it in privy. I trust you will use your discretion to determine if it is news I should hear. Thank you, Agatha."
By the time I realized she was finished with what she had to say, she had quietly leapt up and swiftly removed herself from my room, leaving the sealed letter behind.