Narcissa wasn’t having a good week. With her visit from Phedio, Damia convincing her to let her escape the tower and escort the Prince home with the story about the death of the Crown Princess and her son becoming too soft for her liking, things weren’t looking too good. She was beginning to wish she had never taken the job to start with; it was causing her far too much stress, even if the publicity was good.
She sat in the kitchen, staring into a cup of coffee, trying to think what she was meant to be doing that day. Kidnapping princesses was a full-time job, but it didn’t seem to entail much work apart from keeping them locked away and fed, and that was Vincent’s job.
As the thought of her son popped into her head she looked outside at the position of the sun in the sky. It must have been nearly midday, but Vincent still hadn’t come back from giving the Princess her breakfast. She hadn’t been worried to start with when he hadn’t returned as soon as he had delivered the food; she assumed he had begun talking to her captive, something worrying but not overly so. At this time he should have been preparing the Princess’s main meal of the day, but he hadn’t come back.
Getting to her feet, Narcissa walked over to the front door and poked her head around it to see if she could see her son lazing around outside. There was nothing to be seen between the house and the line of trees marking the beginning of the forest to her right. Still relatively unworried, Narcissa walked towards the tower and as she grew closer she could hear an irregular series of bangs. She turned around the corner of the tower and saw that the main door to the tower had been left open.
‘Stupid boy,’ Narcissa complained. ‘Why did I have to give birth to an idiot?’ She entered the building and began to ascend the long twisting staircase towards the room at the top of the building. Her heart began to beat a little faster when she saw that the first door leading into the room was ajar. Carefully pushing it open, she continued walking, unsure of what she was going to find when she entered the main room.
When she did walk in, her jaw dropped to the floor and her eyes nearly popped out of her head. The room was a mess, clothes were thrown all over the floor, the bedcovers were hanging down from the wooden frame of the bed, books were thrown everywhere and the chairs and table had been knocked over. But thing that shocked her most was the sight of her son, tied to a chair and gagged in the middle of the room, a black eye beginning to form on his left side and cuts up his arms.
‘What happened?’ She had intended to scream it, but the sound only came out as a sort of pathetic whisper. Vincent let out a series of grunts and moans before his mother crossed the room and removed the gag from his mouth. ‘Start talking.’
‘I came in at my usual time to deliver breakfast and when I got into the room I couldn’t see anything,’ Vincent lied. ‘I thought the Princess must still be asleep under the covers because the bed was in quite a mess, there was no way for me to tell if there was a person in there or not. After I pushed the door shut behind me, the Princess attacked me I was hit on the back of the head. I dropped the tray and fell to the floor. I fought back of course, I didn’t fancy being beaten to death, that’s why the room is in such a mes-‘
‘Get to the point. Where is the Princess?’
‘She beat me Mum. She overpowered me, gagged me and tied me to this chair. I had the keys to the door downstairs with me and she took them and ran. She said something about trying to get back home but I didn’t want to argue with-‘
‘Shut up you idiot!’ Narcissa’s blood was boiling as she heard her son describe the escape of one of the most valuable captives in the Known World. ‘So what you are telling me,’ the fairy said through gritted teeth, hair floating high and her eyes filled with fire, ‘is that you were beaten up by a girl, tied up and gagged without struggling enough to make it awkward, and you sat silently as you watched her escape!’
‘That about sums it up.’ Vincent said sheepishly.
‘You imbecile! Do you know what you’ve done?’ She began pacing the room muttering to herself under her breath. ‘I’m going to be executed for this. Plotting to kill the King’s eldest daughter and heir. That’s treason! Even if I’m not Ferserian. I’ve got to find her.’ She headed for the door, her stride full of purpose.
‘Mum!’ Vincent called after her. ‘Could you untie me?’