Chapter 1: The Maiden
Firm knocks on the carriage door startled Alexa and the other maiden.
Cordelia, the Bride, held her breath, then exhaled carefully, knowing that outside, her husband-to-be, Prince Magnus von Wutenfall, probably wanted to greet her for the first time. They had arrived at the border of the two kingdoms, and the noble groom was there to escort his future wife to the castle. The Prince and his men met them on the road, next to the frontier's outpost, by the morning.
'Ah, if he had crossed borders and met the Bride's retinue two nights ago, then he would have been of some use! Or would have he died, too?' Alexa mused, looking at her bandaged and aching hands.
Lady Cordelia opened the sliding window, trembling in anticipation. Alexa curiously peered outside. She wanted to know who Lady Cordelia was promised to.
A handsome face showed up.
Alexa's violet eyes met Prince Magnus's golden eyes immediately. Shock widened the leonine gaze. Before she could think of any reason for this reaction, the door was fully open. Alexa was violently pulled out of the carriage by the sleeves of her cloak, getting out of balance in the process.
Cordelia shouted, "Prince Magnus! Stop! Stop! Please!"
Alexa fell, face down, but at least was agile enough not to have her face plastered on the muddy ground. Turning on her fours, she tried to get up, but as the maiden's hands were wounded and bandaged, she could not use them for support. Her hooded travel cape fell forward, making her blind for a moment.
The prince once again turned the maiden with a tug of her cloak, causing her to lie flat on her back. He stood menacingly upon her, with Alexa between his legs, pointing the sword at her neck.
They faced each other again. Alexa just wheezed but didn't beg or scream.
Cordelia rushed out of the carriage,
"PLEASE, YOUR HIGHNESS CEASE THIS! STOP! WHAT HAS THIS GIRL DONE TO BE TREATED THIS WAY?! I BEG—DON'T HURT HER!! SHE SAVED ME TWO NIGHTS AGO!!" the bride pleaded, on the verge of despair, not understanding the reason for the sudden violence against her new friend.
Alexa dared not look away from the lion's eyes of the Saxon Prince. The damsel understood a little more than Lady Cordelia. She realized that her face attracted both and either hatred and passion since she was a child.
The handsome, dark-haired prince sighed, apparently annoyed that he had to deal with his bride before dealing with Alexa. In her thoughts, Alexa thanked Cordelia for being there. But on second thought, if it weren't for Cordelia, none of this would happen in the first place.
"Who are you?" his voice was deep, and naturally, he spoke with the hard accent of his people. Although she could speak the language of the Lower Saxony people, Alexa was sure they would have a hard time communicating.
Starting with the fact that he was above her, with a sword pointed at the damsel's chin! Alexa, however, had her back in the cold, fetid mud, and was surrounded by hostile soldiers and a mad prince.
The Greek maiden thought of many things to do and say, but given her fragile condition and health, the best thing to do was…
She coughed and raised her bandaged, now muddy little hands to her face. Her best ally was Lady Cordelia's compassion, who was struggling to get the Prince's attention.
"Coff Coff Coff… Coff Coff"… Alexa rolled a bit for extra dramatic effect.
She hated it, but as the mercenary who accompanied her journey until days ago would say, 'honor is disposable'.
He would have laughed at Alexa's situation, the bastard.
As she raised the filthy rags toward her face, the Prince pulled the maiden off the ground by the hood. At this moment his bride intervened, and grasped his strong arm, trying to keep Prince Magnus from hurting the petite lady,
"No! Don't touch her! Don't do it, Your Highness! She is my friend, she is… my lady-in-wait! What are you doing?!"
Alexa could not prevent her own preservation instinct and also held the arm of the Saxon prince, struggling to make him stop accidentally strangling her, as he was pulling her by the hood. Her hands hurt as if a thousand needles stung her. Only then Alexa moaned, in pain.
"Who is this creature? What kind of nonsense is that?!" the man roared, taking his bride's hand away from him. Both faced each other.
Alexa, sitting on the damp ground, watched the couple, who should get married in five days, on their first meeting.
The prince wore black, with a dark green cape. He didn't look much alike the blond people of the North. On the contrary, he had dark, striking eyebrows and large green-golden eyes, the features of his face Apollonian as a classic statue. If not for his angry and nasty expression, he was a handsome man of Southern descent, Alexa imagined.
Lady Cordelia, on the other hand, paled in the face of her husband-to-be's strength, vitality, and beauty. Nowhere could the combination of her features be considered beautiful. She was too tall, too thin, too wan and pale. Her eyes were faded blue colored, just as her lips were discolored and fishlike, and her teeth, large. But Alexa considered Cordelia's sweet voice, full of kindness and innocence, her best asset.
The prince, however, showed neither kindness nor innocence.
'Poor Cordelia,' the maiden found herself thinking as she stood, watching the noble couple's clash of glances. Naturally, the man won, his intense gaze dominating the delicate-minded bride. Cordelia turned her gaze, but pleaded once again,
"Please don't mistreat her, I beg, my Prince. I'd be dead today if it weren't for Lady Saskia."
The arrogant prince even tried, but didn't hide his indifference to his bride. 'Maybe if she was beautiful? She's so sweet and so innocent…!' Alexa really wished Cordelia had a better destiny than consorting the arrogant Prince. She had never heard about his tiny kingdom before some days ago.
And yet it wasn't over, Alexa knew, but before the Prince answered his bride, they heard the galloping of horses. One of the men warned,
"They are messengers, my Prince!"
'Meh meh meh', Alexa thought peevishly, mimicking the words by the back of the prince. The maiden could indulge this much after the events of the last minutes. She had rolled in the mud; she was stinking, and she was freezing. She had gone out of her way and was now stuck in a most complicated situation. And now she just met a jerk with a title, wanting to drag her face to the ground for no apparent reason.
Titles! What are nobility titles when death comes to everyone?
He couldn't possibly know what had happened, could he? Worse than that… would he possibly know who Alexa really was?
"Your Highness, the castle is in turmoil. Your brother Prince Alexander… He's dead!" said the messenger who wore the same uniform as most men around the Prince.
For some completely nonsense reason for Alexa, everyone's eyes turned to her.