A chill ran down Sabrina Abbey’s back as she descended a grand set of marble stairs. She linked arms with her father who smiled proudly at her and whispered words of assurances. “Your mother is beaming down on you this very moment. You’re the right Abbey for the job, I’m certain of it.”
Sabrina returned King Damien’s smile with a more nervous grin. “How could you be so sure father?”
Damien laughed. “Because you are after all my daughter. “
Sabrina resisted the urge to roll her eyes at her father’s misplaced confidence. Luckily the lanterns and décor in the ballroom was enough to steal her attention away from doing just that.
A quartet of men were positioned on an incline sawing away at a majestic song. Long rows of tables were adorned with Abbey Hall’s finest china and silverware. A rare feast of lamb, grapes, fresh bread and mutton stew and homemade berry pies brought a pleasant aroma to the room. But Sabrina was much too nervous to think about eating. Her anxiety picked up as her father led her into the midst of a smiling, expectant crowd of royals and more frivolous commoners.
After a few glasses of aged wine Sabrina began to relax. In fact for a few forgotten moments she had basked in the adoration of her guests. She even returned their smiles and curtsied as her father introduced her to various royals. Sabrina knew which ones were the important ones. It was easy as they were all marked with the same violet eyes that only and always ran in the Abbey offspring. For these people Sabrina reserved her most sincere flattery. She even kissed and hugged them though she hated the physical exchange that took place at most of these lavish events. This ceremony was a rare exception. In only minutes Sabrina would be inducted to the throne. She would transition from the role of Princess to the role of Queen. This is what she had been born for. It was her legacy. Tonight as she danced and twirled in her long white open backed satin gown she would converse maturely and secure connections and allies as a princess and carry them out as queen.
The coronation was minutes away. Sabrina’s palms itched. As she danced her eyes drifted to the throne moved out of the throne room for the ceremony. On it lay a beautiful diamond encrusted tiara that had once belonged to her late mother. At the end of the night, she would kneel at her father’s sword before he placed it on her head. Before he announced her as Abbey’s Queen.
In spite of her nerves Sabrina smiled in anticipation. She allowed herself to become giddy with intoxication as various suitors attempted to sweep her off of her feet. Her grace had even overcome her reluctance to dance with her wretched cousin Mortimor who was always staring at her with a disturbing fixation. As they danced his breathing became ragged an uneven. He was so open and crude about his affection towards her that even some of the other guests gawked at them. His meaty hands became bold as they roamed her back, causing Sabrina to go still and frigid. She cleared her throat loudly. Mortimor hadn’t taken the hint but luckily his father, her uncle Desmont had interrupted their dance to cut in.
Desmont was a younger more conformed version of her father. He had the personality of an ant. Boring but harmless. “Are you excited Sabrina?”
Sabrina nodded politely. This close to Desmont, she could see all the pores on his hawk like nose, and note the reciting hairline in his greasy black hair. His violet eyes were unreadable at times, but tonight they were narrowed and concentrated. Sabrina wondered if he was also stressed out over Abbey’s future in her hands.
Perhaps it was hours or only minutes that had gone by when she noticed the tiara had been moved. Perhaps it was the strands of blonde hair that had escaped the delicate braid down her back, or the way her eyelids felt heavier from the wine she had consumed that made the passing time feel longer than it really was. She tilted her head curiously just as a gentle hand clasped her elbow dragging her away from one of the various suitors she was dancing with. “Father?”
“I know. The crown is missing,” he whispered into her ear.
Sabrina stifled her own surprised cry with her hand. Hearing her father confirm it out loud made her slightly more sober.
“ Not now Rina. Now you must attend to your guests and try not to draw any attention to our current situation. You don’t want to start your reign as queen with anything but displayed confidence.”
“Hush now Rina. You know we have enemies, aye?”
“No buts. It is simply a cruel trick meant to thwart you and dishonor the Abbey name. I have my men looking into the situation now. I shall ride back to the citadel to check in on them.”
“Let me come with you father,” Sabrina begged.
“Rina, it’s too risky. You’re a moving target for anyone with a grudge against me today.”
“Father please. I am to be Queen in just a couple hours. Do you mean to hold my hand and shield my eyes for years to come?” She protested.
Damien sighed. “When did you become such a voice of reason?”
Minutes later Sabrina followed her father on horseback to the citadel. It had been the first time she had ridden this late at night. But her father refused an escort or carriage as it would only draw unwanted attention.
Sabrina had felt secure in Damien’s presence, just as she always had. Abbey’s king was a strong fighter and skilled swordsmen. Though that didn’t stop Sabrina’s heart from skipping a beat as her father’s stallion True reared backwards and kicked his front legs into the air. As a rule animals could always sense danger before men.
-“Turn back Rina.”
“I said run!”
Rina stayed frozen with horror as her eyes followed the trail of her father’s gaze. It was dark, but not so much that she couldn’t see the sniper’s stationed on the roof of the citadel. Abbey had been taken over.
Sabrina heard the gunshot far before her mind could process what was happening. And once it had it was too late. Suddenly she was being knocked off of her horse. She hit the hard ground with substantial force before her body went limp and her eyes rolled into the back of her head.