Sabrina clutched at her face as a slender hand jostled her awake. She hadn't only been dreaming bad dream but reliving a hellish memory. One she replayed frequently in her sleep.
The maid attending to her offered her an apologetic look. Sabrina scowled in return. It had been months since her father’s passing. The loyalty of the late king’s servants was wavering as the new King Desmont ruled with such strict authority.
There was to be no talking about the displacement of the former princess. Her father’s passing came with horrid timing. Sabrina hadn’t been properly coroneted before King Damien was assassinated which resulted in the crown going to his younger sibling Desmont. Desmont who knew nothing about politics and governing an entire kingdom. Desmont whose shallow wife Kamona insisted on keeping crisp appearances within the castle walls. Only a fortnight after King Damien’s passing and she had already staked claim on the fine garments and rare jewels that had once been Sabrina’s mother’s saying that the finest of embellishments should of course go to the ruling lady of the house so as not to confuse the servants.
The lack of respect towards her parents’ memories had not gone unnoticed by Sabrina, though it wasn’t the first thing on her mind when she woke up each morning. No, there was only one thought that guided her with such a fierce passion; finding her father’ killer. And once she had she would administer justice herself.
Sabrina sat up in bed and waved the servant away. She no longer was to be fretted over. She didn’t mind the lack of attention as it only worked in her favor. She tied a makeshift sheath around her thigh and housed one of her father’s sharpest daggers in it. It was one of the few items she had managed to get her hands on before Desmont.
As was expected of her she took her seat at the long table in the dining hall to break fast with Desmont and his family for appearances sake. It was clear the only person who wanted her there was Mortimor who basically devoured her with his greedy pig eyes from across the table. A wave of nausea and disgust chilled Sabrina at her core. It was all she could do to keep her porridge down.
King Desmont smiled encouragingly at his son. “Aye, you two will be a fine pairing. One our people would approve of!”
At that moment Sabrina forgot how to swallow, and began choking on porridge. After one of the servants poured her a mug of water and the coughing fit dispersed she mustered up the courage to look her uncle in the eye. “I- I’m sorry. Uncle?”
“Morty wishes to make you his bride,” Kamona injected. “Why, I can’t exactly be certain, but I do know your father left you a hefty inheritance so I won’t argue with that.”
Mortimor grunted something inaudible while he busied himself with a chicken leg.
“I am flattered, really,” Sabrina lied. “Though my father had his own prospective suitors for me, none of whom were you cousin Mortimor.”
Mortimor stopped chewing and actually set his chicken leg down. Her uncle narrowed his eyes at her. “I’m afraid the circumstances have changed entirely due to your displacement. How could you refuse Mortimor? Marriage to my son would only put things back in perspective again. Tell me do you wish to be Queen someday Sabrina?” He asked calmly but firmly.
Sabrina hesitated. Of course she wanted to be Queen, and she knew she wasn’t in the position to turn down Desmont’s offer of marriage to his son. “No. I could never!” The outburst was unexpected by all in the room even herself, but she had wholeheartedly meant it. She would rather sell her soul than have to take Mortimor for a husband.
Her uncle laughed, nervously at first and then his hysteria turned into a manic cackle. “Of course you have to marry Mortimor.” Enraged, he threw his fist upon the table. She had never seen her Uncle so worked up. “I am the King and I demand it! If you refuse you mine as well just run away from Abbey Hall as you will be as good as dead to me!”
Mortimor and Kamona remained silent but nodded in agreement.
Sabrina stood up and pushed back her chair. “The truth is you are a repulsive family. I am ashamed to have to share the Abbey name with you! If I have to run to spur the advances of your grotesque offspring then so be it!”
Enthralled the new King pushed his own chair aside. In a swift motion he threw his mug of ale across the room. It hit a concrete pillar and splattered the floor with sharp pieces and liquid. “You little bitch,” he growled. “I offer security for your future and you dare insult my family!”
- “Why so hostile Uncle? After all didn’t my father’s untimely death secure your own future?!”
The King’s eyes reduced to slits. “You dare accuse me of such an act! For your information my men are on the hunt for your father’s killer right now, not that it will do you any good one way or another.”
Sabrina’s rapid heartbeat began to slow. “You know who killed my father? How dare you withhold this information from me! Who..” She paused briefly to catch her breath. “Who is it?”
A wolfish smile spread across King Desmont’s face. “We have adequate reason to suspect it was a mercenary by the name of Jarrod, also known as The Survivor.”
Sabrina’s fingers began to twitch in anticipation. Without caring to know anymore she took to memorizing those names. Jarrod, The Survivor. Once she found this Survivor guy she was going to kill him herself. Slowly, agonizingly. He would not survive her. She would use stealth and deceit to give her an upper hand.
The King demonstrated a well-practiced calm as he crossed the room to her. His cheeks were red from screaming. “I mean you no anguish during this grieving period Rina,” He said reaching out to touch her shoulder.
Sabrina shrugged away from his hand. “My father was the only one I allowed to address me by that name. Don’t call me that.”
Her uncle smiled and ignored her comment. “It would be wise to obey me, our kingdom grieves with us after all. Running away would only add more fuel to the fire, don’t you think?”
Sabrina bit her tongue so hard it began to bleed. She glanced away from her uncle, refusing to meet his eyes again.
“Rina,” The King sang out again hoping to gain her attention once more.
Sabrina ignored him as she starred daggers at the floor. It was a nickname given to her by her father. When he used it was an endearment, When Desmont used it, it was a lick of poison. “Don’t call me that.” She repeated through gritted teeth.
She could hear the humor in her Uncle’s voice as he spoke. “Why not? Your father used to address you as so.”
Sabrina laughed bitterly. “You are not my father, not even close.”
“You are wrong dearie. According to this Kingdom I am the closest thing there is to our dear late Damien. How could you not agree?” He cupped her chin in his large hands and forced her to look up at him.
“Because I have half a brain!” Sabrina spat.
Desmond’s nails began to dig into her flesh creating claw marks on her cheeks. “Your mother thought the same thing before her death.”
The comment baffled Sabrina and threw her off guard. “And just what do you mean by that?’”
-“I am just warning you Sabrina. You threaten to turn your back on me and you will find yourself in exile. Marriage to my son would be a more favorable option wouldn’t you say?”
Sabrina glanced over at her cousin Mortimor, who was now gnawing on a barely cooked leg of a lamb with a slab of meat hanging from his chops. “Perhaps marriage is the more favorable option.”
King Desmont nodded satisfied with her response.
Before Sabrina could rethink it a sarcastic retort was escaping her lips. “Marriage to a swine that is, but marriage to that is inexcusable!”
Fed up with Sabrina’s insolence the King ordered a few of his men into the dining hall. “Show my niece to her chambers.”
Sabrina smiled smugly as two of them grabbed her arms and ushered her out the room. There was something so sweet and satisfying about getting under her Uncle’s skin. She was sure her father would agree.