Lila rushed through the halls of the castle. She had been searching for Karmella for some time, but to no avail. Time was passing quickly, but the handmaiden could not find her friend. As she quickened her pace, Lila took a second to relish the moment. She was really going through with this. In a few hours, she, Dimitrius, and Karmella would be miles away, and they would be able to start a new life. Lila felt serenity flow through her, and for once in a very long time, she felt truly happy.
Suddenly, a piercing scream shattered Lila’s reverie. She stopped in her tracks; she knew that voice. Lila turned around and ran in the direction from which the scream was coming. She raced as fast as she could to the dining hall. Lila reached her destination just in time to see Ulric viciously tear his knife across Karmella’s throat. The handmaiden fell to the floor.
“No!” Lila screamed, running to her friend’s side, “Oh my God, no!”
Blood gushed out of the gash in Karmella’s throat, and she gasped for breath. Lila felt tears welling in her eyes as she tried to stop the bleeding. Karmella grabbed her friend’s hand, squeezing in pain. Lila’s tears flowed freely.
“Help, somebody, please!” Lila shouted at the emptiness around her. Karmella squeezed her hand once more, causing Lila to look back down. There was so much blood.
“You’ll be okay, Karmella, I promise. Everything will be okay,” Lila whispered so only her friend could hear. Just then, Dimitrius ran into the dining hall, pushing Ulric and Fendrel aside, and coming to rest on his knees by Lila. The king, queen, and Giselle rushed in behind him.
“What has happened here?” The king shouted, stunned by the bloody handmaiden. Lila could only point at Ulric, whose grin had not entirely left his face.
Life was slowly leaving Karmella’s eyes. She gently lifted her hand to Lila’s face, cupping her cheek softly.
“No! No, Karmella, don’t you go! Don’t leave me here!” Lila begged, “I can’t do this without you! Please don’t leave me!”
Karmella could only gasp for breath that would not come. As she weakened, Lila grasped her friend’s hands, pulling them both into Karmella’s lap.
“Please, don’t go. You’re my best friend,” Lila whispered softly. It was then that Karmella squeezed Lila’s hand as the life left her eyes, leaving nothing but a hollow body covered in dried blood.
Lila felt the color drain from her face. She shook Karmella’s lifeless form, a hopeless attempt to revive her. Breathing became more and more difficult, and Lila was soon gasping for air. She turned to Dimitrius, who pulled her into his arms. Lila could do nothing but sob heavily.
A few moments passed before Lila caught her breath. She looked up to see Giselle crying quietly, her hand over her mouth. The queen was holding the princess in a small attempt to comfort her. The king was silent. Then, Lila turned her attention to Ulric and Fendrel, and she was immediately filled with rage. They took her best friend away, and for what reason? Lila shot to her feet.
“What have you done?” she screamed at Ulric, tears threatening to fall once more. Ulric took a step forward.
“The servant’s death was warranted. She was having an affair with the prince, right under Princess Giselle’s nose! What I did was the right thing!” he spat. Lila suddenly felt dizzy. Dimitrius grabbed her hand. Giselle noticed the action, and a small hint of clarity appeared on her face.
“What you did was misguided!” she shouted, “It wasn’t Karmella!”
King Andres stepped in between Lila and Ulric. He put his hand out to steady the handmaiden.
“What proof do you have of this?” he asked Ulric, his voice low. The king’s tone was not lost on Ulric.
“Fendrel heard the prince declare his love for her. They were planning on leaving before sunrise,” he said carefully. Lila felt tears spill over her eyes. This was all her fault. She caused Karmella’s death. She felt sick, but she could not keep herself from speaking.
“You ignorant waste of space, it wasn’t Karmella! It was me!” Lila shouted. The room immediately grew very still and quiet. Lila looked at Giselle, and the hurt in the princess’ eyes threatened to break her down.
“How could you do this? Both of you?” Giselle cried. She looked at Dimitrius.
“I thought you loved me,” she whimpered. The prince sighed.
“Giselle, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have lead you on…I shouldn’t have stayed here,” Dimitrius said softly, letting go of Lila’s hand. The handmaiden looked up at the prince, her eyes widening. King Andres took the moment to speak.
“Prince Dimitrius Cane of Enderth, you come into my kingdom, propose marriage to my daughter, and then go behind her back with a servant!” he shouted, “You have embarrassed yourself and your crown. Word will be sent to your kingdom, but you will not await the response in one of this castle’s rooms. As for you, Lila, you have only brought lies and trouble into my kingdom. You will face your punishment tomorrow morning. I hope you are not fond of your head, for it will be gone within the week. Ulric, take the prince and the servant to the dungeons. Fendrel, call for Karmella’s body to be removed from the dining hall.”
Lila felt the blood drain from her face. Karmella was right all along, she was going to die. She had risked her life and Dimitrius’ life, and they were both going to pay for it. Lila looked back down at Karmella’s lifeless form. Lila was to blame for all of this. As Ulric grabbed her arms and began to lead her towards the dungeons, Lila spared one last look at Giselle. The princess was crying once more. Lila felt another rush of tears. Now, she had truly lost everything.
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