After riding through Avana for what seemed like an unbearable amount of time, Zahra found herself looking up at an exquisite and intimidating castle. "We're...we're going there?" she asked, voice suddenly unsure.
"What, is the fireball afraid?" Adrian teased.
Holding her head high, Zahra shrugged. "I've seen worse." Allowing herself to be taken from the horse and led through the castle doors, Zahra looked around and tried to get her bearings. I'm in the middle of an enormous castle for what seems like no reason at all. I wonder...is there any way of escape?
Adrian's touch was gentle as he propelled her forward. "Trust me - the castle is much more beautiful on the inside than on the outside."
"That's not saying much," Zahra replied, irritated. "It looks like a prison or something from the outside. An upgrade is to be expected."
Chuckling to himself, Adrian tugged on Zahra's flaming red hair. "That's alot to say when you're not so comely yourself."
"I'd never want to be considered 'comely' by a fool such as you," Zahra retorted, "so thank-you." Proud of her own spunk, Zahra set her shoulders back and walked with as much arrogance as she could muster.
"Come on, little lady," Adrian said, leading Zahra up a series of steps.
As soon as they had reached the doors that led to the throneroom, Adrian and Zahra stopped. "Now, listen," Adrian said, voice hushed. "The man you're about to see is not the king himself. The king is off at battle and the queen is dreadfully ill, so their son, Prince Alexander, guides the kingdom in his parents' stead. Mind you, the prince has been labeled as somewhat of a disgrace, but as he is the oldest of his siblings, protocol has it for him to rule when his parents are indisposed."
Uncaring, Zahra shrugged. "What does it mean to me?"
"I don't know. I guess I wanted to give you a bit of background so you're not entirely displaced." Adrian stopped, thinking for a moment or two. Finally, he continued his whispers. "I want you to keep in mind that Prince Alexander is not your ordinary prince. He's had a rough life - granted, most of it is his own fault - so he's not exactly...erm...approachable."
"You mean I can't see him?"
"No, you'll see him. But I can't guarantee that he'll be civil. I mean, he'll be polite and all, but he's terribly cold and mysterious. Just don't push any boundaries, you hear?"
Zahra snorted. "Would killing the prince be considered pushing boundaries?"
"You'd better not," Adrian chuckled. "After all, he is my closest friend."
Confused but not willing to show it, Zahra found herself prodded into the throneroom.