Chapter 17


Cassandra turned abruptly to the call, facing Prince Hadderi as he came forward. He bowed deeply before her, taking her hand and kissing it gently, pricking it once on the knuckle and once on her wrist. 

"Prince," she replied, curious as he straightened to meet her own eyes with his dark ones, deep and full of mystery. "How do you do?"

He bowed his head once again.  "I am fine, thank you, Your Highness."

A silence dropped between them; Cassandra looked about, uncertain. "Umm..Sir," she cleared her throat. Gazing straight to him, she continued, "Why is it that you have decided to come here?"

Hadderi cocked his head smilingly, "Do you find my arrival an oddity? Or just me myself?"

"Oh, no!" answered Cassandra hurriedly. "I was simply wondering...." She trailed off, also uncertain on how to finish her own statement or clarify her own self.

"As earlier explained to your father, Your Highness. I am here to represent my nation, acknowledge your own, the birthday of one of your sisters, and to introduce myself to your eyes," he replied smoothly. Each of the words rolled off his tongue, each said with his oily accent, yet, somehow, with perfect precison as if he had planned the answers to this convseration. "Too, I would like to see the King's tribe of girls with my own eyes. There has been many a tales about the beauty of his daughters."


"Indeed. And indeed, my expectations have been fulfilled, or perhaps even more so," he said slyly.

"You fancy Marie, do you not?" inquired Cassandra bluntly.

The exotic Prince laughed. "You are a clever young woman, are you not? Your beauty is certainly different then your sisters--you share a different dame, and her own style of beauty rubs off on you." The Princess colored with a slight blush, yet refused to lower her eyes. He stepped forward, scanning her with an observing gaze. "You have a different sort of beauty then the Majesty of Her Highness, Marie. The tales of her have been passed from mouth to mouth over the leagues. It has been said she is a Goddess in human form, graced with the wonders of some enchanted creatures with the powess of undeniable charm. I have not been disappointed."

"It seems that you are quite taken by her," Cassandra said slowly. "Do you not have beautiful women where you come from?"

He chuckled once more, "You are an amusing one, Your Highness. Of course there are beauties. With raven hair and honey eyes, sly, sweet lips and the voices of songbirds, the bodies of cats, atheletic and elegant. There is no denying that there are beauties to rival those of your nation or your blood."

Cassandra was silenced, wondering. After a moment, she began, "Why have you approached me, then, Your Highness, if I was to just ask you questions? Surely that was not your intent in calling me out." 

"You are set in chains, Cassandra," he advanced upon her, his voice dropping to a soft murmur. The intoxicating smell of his aroma, the thick smell of his...beautifully masculine perfume washed over her. She stiffened slightly. "And you only see inside your cell, you limit yourself to the path that has been limited to you. You have been formed as others have wished. This is not an unusual thing in these times, in this sort of atmosphere, where royalty, blood, crown matters so much."  The Prince took a finger, gently running its tip over her cheek. "But, you have a heart filled with fire, yet set alight. Somewhere within you, there is magic, just as there is deep within the bowels of the earth. At some point, there will be a turning point in our world's history. You will have to decide if you are the play a part, or if you are to be a slave to your title and your choosen path."

Cassandra swallowed, uneasy. "M-magic?" she whispered. "Is there--is there such a thing?"

"Yes, but as of late it is sparse...or that it is not is weakened. Everyone, everything has its own magic, it is just having the ability to harness and use it," muttered Hadderi, his eyes looking deep within her, as if digging around inside her to see all of what she was made of. "And, some things, some people, have more then others. You just have to recognize it."

The End

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