Adventure in a Virtual World

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Warning: Contains a brief but intense scene that may be disturbing to some readers.

Chapter 20 (v.2) - Violation

Submitted: May 11, 2016

Reads: 151

Comments: 1

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Submitted: May 11, 2016

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A few steps inside the castle doors I stop and look around. I’ve been in and out of the castle more times than I can count but I never stood long enough to admire anything. A long burgundy rug stretches from the entryway to the far end of the room, where the throne sits in all its glory. It may not be made of gold and the design a simple one, but to me that is just fine. A throne symbolizes authority, a good throne symbolizes humbleness, a great one does both.

Lining the walls are portraits of lords and ladies who previously resided here. Below the portraits are engraved placards with their names and title. Floating near the ceiling above each portrait are different colored lights. I study each portrait and compare them to the light above. I come to the conclusion that each light represents who they were as a person. Either that or the colors just looked cool so a spellcaster just tossed them up there.

“Um, Shana… are you skipping breakfast then?” Tracy asks.

Oh right, I forgot I wasn’t alone. My stomach growls. “No, I’m coming.”

“Are you looking for something?” 

In the back right corner there are two placards with their names scratched off and no portraits above. “Huh?” I turn to look at her.

“You keep staring into the corner over there.”

I wonder if those belonged to my parents. “Oh that. No, I didn’t find what I was looking for.” I take her hand and head for the stairs before she can ask anymore questions. “Let’s go eat.”

As we enter the dining hall I notice that it’s almost completely empty. Hesire and Zoe aren’t here and there seems to be only one of the servants working. Normally there are at least forty between my party, the staff, and the soldiers; but today there’s just ten plus Prince Aaron. The prince seems lost in thought while nibbling on a sweet roll. A large platter of sweet rolls sits on the table before him and appears to be the only thing for breakfast this morning.

“Ah, there you are ladies. Please sit and help yourselves,” the prince says through a muffled mouthful. Classy. He gives an apologetic look and swallows. “Forgive my rudeness, I am a bit preoccupied this morning.” He explains that preparations for the ball are behind schedule so he assigned tasks to anyone who wasn’t particularly busy to help make up the difference. The soldiers were to patrol, as apparently it’s not uncommon for fights to break out before a big event. Even though the ball is for the noble families the rest of the citizens of Calemdor throw a kind of festival of their own. Most shops will cut their prices to attract more customers, especially the ones with the deep pockets. I find myself mesmerized as the prince tells us more on the history of Calemdor, back to the origin of the annual ball. 

Just over six-hundred years ago Calemdor was built on the orders of the king. As a twentieth birthday present, the king gave his only son rule over the new city. The prince loved his city and every last person living there. After years of living in Calemdor he observed a slowly dwindling population. Nobody visited his city and he feared that one day he would find himself alone. To show appreciation for his loyal subjects, still living there, he spent all his personal resources on throwing a festival. The festival was such a huge success that every year it drew in more and more people. Within ten years the population was booming. 

A hundred years later Calemdor was one of the main political hubs, second to only the capital itself. Lords and Ladies from all over Strauss would attend the festival, slowly shaping it to meet their standards. The duke residing there at the time saw what was happening and was afraid that if something didn’t change, the tradition of the festival would lose all meaning. His solution was to throw a party for the nobles. The common folk retained their rights over the festival and they could run it however they saw fit. Both events have survived to present day.

So the ball was made for selfish nobles. Why does that not surprise me

“It is also tradition for all members of The Flaming Vanguard to bring a date,” the prince adds.

“Whom is not another member of The Vanguard… unless you marry her that is,” Devlin says winking at Elliot. Elliot looks over at Tracy with questioning eyes and slightly raised eyebrows. Oh please tell me he’s not seriously asking her like this. 

“What?” Tracy asks realizing we are all staring at her. She looks at Elliot. “Are you serious?” He slowly nods. They look into each other’s eyes, having an entire conversation without speaking a word. 

Tracy finally speaks, “Well… I guess, why not?”

Devlin and I share a ‘look’. I can tell now that he had only been joking when he suggested it. Is this really happening? It soon becomes clear that they are dead serious and soon ask how to go about getting married. I listen in shock as the prince explains the process.

“But that being said I am sure Devlin would agree that an engagement alone would suffice. It is a tradition after all, not a law,” the prince says.

“Absolutely. It is clear you two care deeply for each other and you are both so young. Take my advice, do not rush this and enjoy your time together until you have given this more thought.” The couple concedes to Devlin’s advice, showing a hint of relief hearing his words.

With the conversation over and an empty platter before him, Prince Aaron moves towards the door. He gets halfway across the hall before turning on his heel and striding back towards me.

“Will you please join me upstairs Miss Belrose?” he says just loud enough for the others to hear. My face flushes and I shoot him a glare. It’s probably bad form to give a prince attitude but I can tell he is up to something. Despite my inner protests I decide to follow him. As long as I don’t have to run this time. 

We head up the spiral staircase to the fifth floor but instead of taking a left like the last time, we take a right. Around the outer circle we walk until we arrive at a pair of doors that are as wide as four normal ones. Prince Aaron opens the door for me and gestures for me to go in. The room is completely empty except for a wood framed couch, under a lone window, and a small round table in the very center of the room. On the table is a vase with a single rose. The light colored polished wood floor reflects the sunlight from outside, filling the room with dusty sun beams. 

“It is quite peaceful, no? Empty of all distractions with only a single essence of beauty at the very center.” He runs a finger along the rose petals. His tender touch seems to make them glow. He turns towards me, takes my hand and leads me to the couch. For a little while we just sit there in awkward silence. 

He still hasn’t told me what we’re doing up here. 

He reaches towards my face, brushing the back of his hand along my cheek as he tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “Beautiful indeed.” 

He slides his fingertips down my neck, a shiver runs down my spine at the touch. Slowly he traces outward along my collarbone to the fabric covering my shoulder. I look into his hypnotizing soft blue eyes as his left hand slides along my side, beginning at my waist, while his right slips the fabric off my left shoulder. 

He leans in. “I want you to attend the ball with me,” he whispers into my ear. I can feel his hot breath. 

His hand continues to slowly wander up my right side, fingers outlining my ribs. He has resumed his gaze into my eyes, once again locking me in a paralyzed state. My stomach does flips as he drifts closer to my chest. He gently cups my breast while staring into my eyes, waiting for me to show a reaction. A single tear runs down my cheek, momentarily his hand withdraws but then moves to my shoulder to fiddle with the fabric. A smile creeps across his lips as he exposes my right shoulder. Proud of himself he takes things a step further and reaches his hand down to the inside of my thigh, slowly working the bottom of my dress up until my bare skin is exposed. My body tenses up and I begin to panic, his intentions becoming clearer.

This isn’t funny anymore. Please. Stop! I try to pull away but he forces himself on top of me. Even with our eye contact broken fear has me frozen in place. I thought maybe he was just playing around, teasing me. If he’s playing some kind of game, it’s a cruel one and I don’t want to be a part of it. 

“I will always be with you. I love you my sweet darling girl,” he whispers before forcing his lips onto mine. Those words. Those were my mother’s words.

The tightness in my chest is lifted as I push him off of me. With him no longer holding me down I get to my feet and try to run but he grabs me by the ankle and I fall against the table, the vase shatters on the floor. Once again he tries to force himself on top of me but I’m ready and slap him across the face as hard as I can. My eyes play tricks on me as I swear there’s an aura around my hand.

He stops and leans back into a crouch, one hand raised to the bright red welt left by my hand. “Ah, I see. Now it is all starting to make sense.” He stands and strolls to the door and places one hand on the handle before turning back to me. “The Vadim Council will be in attendance tonight so you ought to be on your best behavior. Oh and be a dear and clean up this mess will you?” He exits the room and closes the door behind him, leaving me as shattered as the vase. 

I stumble into the hall, the prince is nowhere in sight. There are voices coming from down the hall though and they sound angry. The pain in my ankle as I limp along is nothing compared to the wound to my pride. I continue on towards the voices, praying that the prince isn’t with them. As I round a corner my knees buckle and I collapse to the floor. As I lay there the voices grow louder.

“How long were you planning on waiting?!”

“Once I was sure he was out of danger.”

“Right. This danger you refuse to tell me about, to tell anyone about!”

“If anyone knew they would be acting just like you are now and it would not be a secret for long. I had to wait until he had woken up at least.” 

Are they talking about Landon, but why would that be a secret?  

“How long has he been awake?”

“A few days.”

“A few days?! You’ve been keeping him prisoner up here for days. What the hell Hesire?”

“He could have left at any time—”

“Did he know that?”

“—besides he wants tonight to be a surprise so you can not tell her.”

“Tell her. Tell her? She’s not the only one involved!”

“Zoe, I forbid that you speak of this.”

“Forbid me huh? Quit treating me like I’m a child.”

“I am sorry Zoe, but you are my younger sister now. No matter how mature you think you are.”

“Whose fault is that? I had to be the one to chase after them but I’m not the one who let them all leave!”

“You do not understand—”

“Shana! Oh my god, what happened?” Zoe asks as she jumps backwards after nearly tripping over me.

“—the circumstances... Shana?” Hesire kneels by my side and helps me to my feet. 

Zoe rushes forward and pulls up the front of my dress and slides the straps onto my shoulders. 

“Who did this to you?” Hesire demands.

I open my mouth to speak but no words come out. I shake my head; there’s no way I can tell them what happened. I physically can’t. I blink with teary eyes and weakly say, “I’m fine.” 

“Zoe, take her into my study and lock the door,” he says urgently.

“Why, what’s-”

 “Do as I say!” Hesire bellows.

Zoe grabs me by the arm and leads me to the innermost ring and drags me into one of the rooms. As soon as we pass through the threshold a red wall erects itself in the doorway behind us.

“A barrier spell? What is going on?” Zoe mutters to herself. I look around the small room. There’s nothing in here. We’re in an empty room barely bigger than a closet. What is going on? 

After what feels like hours the barrier fades and Hesire returns. “It is safe for now. You will be spending the rest of the day with Arino and Carmen and you are not to go anywhere without at least one of them with you. Are we clear?” 

I nod.

Hesire and Zoe accompany me down to the third floor meeting hall where Carmen and Arino sit waiting. Hesire reaches into his robes and pulls out the Belrose necklace and places it on the table between the two and motions for me to sit down. 

“Put that necklace on and no matter what, do not take it off,” Hesire commands. He looks at it almost as if he fears it. “Zoe, please secure the wards.”

Zoe, who is still standing by the open doors, snaps her fingers and the doors slam shut. A golden mark resembling the letter ‘z’ with a vertical line through it appears where the two doors meet. 

“Does this have something to do with His Highness giving us the slip during breakfast?” Carmen asks rolling her eyes. “Baby-sitter is not in my job description.”

Carmen’s words take a moment to sink in but it raises a question in the back of my mind. “What do you mean gave you the slip? He and I walked out together in front of everyone.” A pain shoots through my head as I speak. 

“Shana, you never showed up for breakfast,” Arino says looking at me sideways.

Hesire pinches the bridge of his nose and bows his head, then raises a hand for silence. After a moment of thought he raises his head and concludes: “Her memory was altered.”

“To alter someone’s memory takes an incredible amount of magic though. We would have sensed the presence of someone like that if they were here in the castle,” Zoe says shaking her head.

“Someone yes, something not necessary,” Hesire counters. “Shana, do you remember anything unusual happening this morning?”

Besides being molested by royalty? “There weren’t many people in the dining hall and Tracy and Elliot plan to get married?” I wonder if it really happened now, it did seem a little far fetched.

“Hesire, she was not there when they made the announcement,” Arino says gravely. 

It really did happen?

“Which means whoever did this, was. Did anyone else leave the hall before Prince Aaron?” Hesire asks. Carmen and Arino shake their heads in unison. 

“You can’t possibly mean…” Zoe’s voice trails off in disbelief as she realizes the implications. 

My head reels as I try to make sense of what’s going on. They continue to discuss the situation, offering up theories that wouldn’t implicate the prince. Suspecting royalty of such acts could have deadly consequences if they were to accuse and be mistaken. Without knowing what happened in that room they can’t be sure of anything. Still unwilling to accept that the prince is involved, they change the topic to how they will handle my safety. Even if they can’t decide where the threat is coming from they agree that my life could be in danger. When Arino suggests that I don’t attend the ball I rejoin the conversation.

Hesire starts to speak but I interrupt him. “He told me that the Vadim Council will be attending the ball and I’m supposed to be on my best behavior. I think it has something to do with this,” I say clutching my necklace.

 Zoe sits down at the table across from me, her face pale white. Hesire stands up so quickly he knocks his chair over. He begins pacing, a troubled look on his face. 

“If that is the case they will be watching. If she does not make an appearance tonight there is no telling what will happen,” Carmen says thoughtfully.

“There is no telling what will happen if she does go!” Arino yells as he stands and slams a fist on the table.

“If the Vadim are coming to Calemdor to see the girl then she has no choice!” Hesire fires back.

A loud pounding and the rattling of the door handles interrupts their shouting match. Zoe and Carmen leap to their feet, weapons drawn. Arino takes a position a few feet from the doors and gives a nod. With a snap of her fingers Zoe dispels the seal and the doors fly open. 


© Copyright 2018 T.J. Little. All rights reserved.

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