Here ya go! MR chapters 11-14 and Chapter 15 is well under way (I may even post it tomorrow, Lord Willing anyway)
Go here for the first 10 chapters if you missed them: https://kristinadianeware.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/midnight-run-chapters-7-10/
I couldn’t decide what color the walls of the castle were, in fact they almost seemed to change colors as I looked at them. I laughed to myself that was just silly, it had to be my imagination. The garden was immaculate, looking perfectly manicured yet completely natural at the same time. And the smell, I had no idea what kind of flower it was, but it smelled heavenly. It was deep and rich, closing my eyes for a moment I realized it reminded me of chocolate, a kind of warm and soft scent, the kind that made you relax and feel at home. Opening my eyes I saw a brown looking flower, I decided that must be the one, I went over to it, to get a better look. The petals looked like a soft velvet, and were softer than rose petals, it grew on a kind of bush, and there would be three or four of the flowers grouped together, I bent over to smell it. A chocolate scented flower, I had never even considered such a thing, it was amazing.
I turned around and Kilava was standing behind me grinning like the Cheshire cat, or the cat that ate the canary I couldn’t decide, but what I did know was that he looked very cat like, and very smug.
“What are you grinning at?” I asked him
“You,” he said with a smile “You look at everything with amazement, with fresh eyes, you see the tiny little details that we all take for granted because we live here. It’s refreshing, that’s all.” He finished almost embarrassed
“So is this my house?” I asked to break the silence between us; I was determined to make a fresh start…
“This is the royal palace, yes. It has stood for time out of mind, no one knows how long really. Every Queen we’ve ever had has lived here, along with her protector and council. But each Queen adds something different to the palace to make it her own. Your Grandmother added the brown flowers you seem so fond of, she loved the smell of fresh chocolate, it must run in your family.” He ended with a smile
“Did you know her?”
“You’re Grandmother?” I nodded “Yes, I knew her, I grew up here, in this palace and I’ve lived here since I was just 5 year’s old, learning to be your protector. But that was a long time ago. She was an amazing Queen, everyone loved her, and she will be greatly missed. You look a lot like her…” he trailed off glancing towards the palace.
I was grateful for it because I was fighting back tears again, I wasn’t a crying person. But losing your life, your family, your home, and a Grandmother you never knew all in one day would make anyone cry. I felt his arms wrap around me as he patted my back, “It’ll be ok, you didn’t really loose a life you just gained a new one.” I could heart his heart beating; he was so warm and strong. I felt myself relax, he was right, I could still talk to my parents, I had been warned I might be Queen one day, this wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, but in a way it was a million times better. I was so deep in thought I almost didn’t feel his lips brush against my forehead, and I tried to pretend like I hadn’t noticed. I stepped back a little to look up at him, “Shall we go inside?” I asked trying to sound normal and calm, when I was anything but that now.
He let me go rather reluctantly, and took my hand again. I was working very hard to keep my thoughts under control until I had a moment alone, so I tried to focus on my surroundings. The chocolate smelling flowers, the color changing palace, anything but how hard his palm felt against mine, it was hard. Until the Tiger stepped out in front of me, and then I knew I wasn’t thinking of anything else. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t make a sound, I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. I was petrified. There was a full grown tiger standing on the garden path in front of me! I wanted for Kilava to pull me away, to run in the other direction, to do something, anything! But he just stood there next to me trying not to smile. Then the tiger walked up to me, and flopped over onto its back with all four paws up in the air, it looked like a giant kitten. Kilava bent down and began to rub its belly, and the tiger just purred and wiggled on the ground in front of him.
“It’s ok Eravest, she’s quite tame. She was your Grandmothers companion animal. Go ahead, you can pet her. She loves to have her belly rubbed.”
I was still freaking out on the inside, but I bent down and slowly reached out towards the tiger expecting to feel sharp teeth or claws any moment. But I didn’t, I just felt soft tiger fur, I could feel her purring against my hand. I rubbed her belly and her chin and she just purred harder and harder. Then just as suddenly as she had appeared and laid down, she got up, rubbed her head against my palm, and walked away. I sat down on a bench nearby to attempt to regain some kind of composure. “Are there any only wild animals running around I need to know about?” I muttered under my breath
“Well, there are all kinds of animals here. Some are tame; some aren’t, just like in your world. Although most of the dragons aren’t tame, and even the ones that are tame aren’t pets or play things.” He said as he walked away towards the palace. I jumped up and ran to catch up with him.
“Dragons?! There are dragons?”
He just smiled and continued walking towards the palace, before I could insist he explain the doors to the palace opened and I got my first glimpse of the inside of my new home.
The person who let us in appeared to be a footman of some sort; I made a mental note to ask Kilava about how the house worked later, it would be important to know. He bowed low to me and as I walked into the palace I noticed it seemed the whole house had gathered to greet me. I was mildly surprised to see that all of the servants appeared to be male. They all bowed to the ground as I entered the palace. I was more prepared this time and I bowed my head towards them so that they could rise. I looked around what appeared to be a grand foyer; it had a tall ceiling with a balconied second level above my head. A grand staircase lead up to the second level in front of me, and to my left and right there were doors into what I assumed were other rooms. One of the closest servants walked up to me and bowed low again. “Welcome home Queen Eravest, I am the head of your household staff, please do not hesitate to let us know what we can do for you.” He bowed and backed away
“Thank you, I truly mean that, Thank you. I am sure I will be very happy here.” I found myself replying while trying to smile. They were all so kind. But I was still fighting of the feelings of homesickness.
“Would you like to see your new bedroom?” Kilava asked my softly
I nodded not trusting myself to talk, I seriously had to get over this whole crying thing it was way over rated. I tried to swallow back the tears, “I’d love to see the rest of the palace!” I tried my best to sound perky and happy. I’m not sure how good of a job I did. They all bowed to me in unison and began to disperse; I assumed going back to their various jobs and whatnot.
“Shall we?” Kilava asked extending his hand once more to me; I could only nod my agreement and place my hand in his. I was beginning to enjoy the warmth of his hand, it was almost like a security blanket, and as soon as the thought cross my mind I began to laugh out loud and couldn’t stop. Kilava smiled at me and lead me to the first door on the right hand side of the foyer. What was inside took my breath away!
He opened the door to the most magnificent library I had ever seen, it was a long room, with a high ceiling with book cases down both walls all the way to the ceiling, with giant bay windows, it had soft looking couches and seats with pillows scattered out around the room. It was a room of my dreams, I walked over and picked up a book, I was relieved to see it was printed in English, and hugged it to my chest. I always felt more at home in a library, I felt then that perhaps I could make this place my home…I spent several minutes browsing the selection, I was pleased to find just as many old ‘classics’ as I did new books.
“Who do these books belong too?” I found myself asking
“Why, you of course my Queen, everything in this palace belongs to you now.” He answered with a smile
“Everything?” I found myself asking him
“Well, most everything, the animals seem to own themselves and the owners…”
I nodded my head, I could understand that, most animals besides dogs couldn’t be owned, they owned you, or they were your partners.
“Do you want to see the rest? The library won’t go anywhere, I promise.” He said with a cocky smirk on his face as he took my hand and led me out of that room and across the foyer to several other rooms, including a sitting room, a dining hall, and a ballroom. We finally headed up the stairs, and down a long corridor, at this point it was dark outside and I could see the moon and stars through the many windows. I had a feeling I would need a map to find my way around this place for a while, it was huge and some of the hallways seemed to never end. Like I literally couldn’t see the end on some of them! This place just radiated power and magic…I could feel it deep down in my soul. It seemed to take forever but we eventually stopped in front of a set of double doors. A man, whom I assume was some kind of footman I really needed to ask, was sitting next to the doors, when he saw us he jumped to his feet and bowed low to the ground before opening the doors to admit us.
We entered into a receiving room of sorts, full of chairs and little alcoves in which to sit, we weren’t alone though, when we walked in 4 girls ranging from several years younger than me to several years older than me bowed at the waist. The oldest one of the group walked forward and Kilava introduced her as the head of my ‘chamber staff’. She was the person who would see to my schedule, my wardrobe, and my needs. So far they were the only female staff I had seen, and I made yet another mental note to ask Kilava about it. There were so many things I didn’t understand yet…
I must have gotten lost in my thoughts because when Kilava cleared his throat to get my attention I jumped, “Don’t do that!” I said as I tried to catch my breath
“I’m sorry your highness, but as I was saying, it’s rather late, you should retire to bed as you have a long day ahead of you tomorrow. Your rooms are through the door to the left, I am across to the right. Your ladies will make sure you have everything you need to sleep well, and I’ll make sure you are well guarded throughout the night.” He bowed lowed and kissed my hand before turning on his heel and walking across the room to the set of doors on the left and quickly going inside of them. I turned back to my ladies, trying not to let the disappointment show on my face. They lead me into a huge bedroom; it had huge windows, book cases, soft chairs, and a giant four poster canopy bed. Everything I had ever wanted in a room, it was almost as if it had been designed for me. At this point it wouldn’t have surprised me if it had been. I was so tired I couldn’t even see straight, I hadn’t noticed till that moment how tired I truly was. My ladies helped me change something I wasn’t thrilled about, into a soft white nightgown and get into my bed. I must have fallen asleep as soon as I closed my eyes, because the next thing I knew I was having the most awful of nightmares, the black haired man from the day before was chasing me and no matter how fast I ran I couldn’t get away from him. I woke with a start, heart pounding, and sweat dripping off my face, sat bolt upright in my bed and looked around the room. Everything looked dark and foreboding and I had the strangest feeling that I was being watched again. I opened my mouth to call out when the door to my room burst open and Kilava ran in, sword draw looking fierce in the moon light. His hair fell loose around his face, and his chest was bare. He prowled around the room like a panther, making no sound, checking behind the curtains and even under my bed before letting the sword fall to his side. He breathed a sigh of relief and walked over to where I was kneeling on my bed ready to run at any moment, “What happened?” he asked me softly
“I had a very bad dream; it was just a dream…” I trailed off; I didn’t know who I was trying to convince more, me or him. “The man from the woods was chasing me down a hallway, and I couldn’t get away from him…who was he Kilava? What does he want with me?”
“He’s an awful person, but you don’t need to worry about him now, you should sleep. You have a really long day tomorrow. There will be lots to do, lots to learn, you need your rest.” He stood up to go but I grabbed his wrist
“Please, don’t leave just yet; sit with me for just a little while? Till I fall asleep again?”
He pulled a chair from across the room to beside my bed and sat down with the sword laid across his lap. I lay back down and tried not to stare at him, his skin and hair looked even lighter in the moonlight. He was very muscular too I noticed. I tried not to stare; I closed my eyes and tried to sleep again. I could hear him humming a song soft and slow, and before I knew it I was asleep again. This time without dreams of any kind, I was just too tired to even dream.
I was woken but something standing on my face. At first I thought maybe I had stuck my head under my pillow or something, but then I realized whatever it was, it was warm and soft and heavy! I opened my eyes to find a pair of bright green eyes staring back into mine! Shocked I sat up in bed trying to figure out what was going on. There was a panther in my bed. A tiny baby panther, in my bed! She jumped up in my lap and just sat there staring up at me, as if she were waiting for me to say something to her.
“She’s been sitting there for about an hour now…” I jumped, looking around I realized it was the youngest ladies maid; she was standing at the foot of my bed staring at me too.
“Um, hello….” I trailed off I had been so tired last night I hadn’t caught her name, now I felt bad…
“It’s ok, My name’s really long, but everyone just calls me Lily and since you are the Queen you get to call me Lily too.” She said with a grin on her face
“Does everyone here read minds?” I muttered
“I don’t read minds majesty, I feel emotions…”
“Emotions? You know what other people are feeling?” I asked her, I knew by this point I shouldn’t be surprised by anything, but it seemed everything was going to surprise me. Everything here was so different, so magical, where everything at home was so plain and boring…
“Yes, I read emotions, it’s my gift” she said with a half-smile on her face, “and I think this panther has chosen you as her own.”
“What do you mean ‘chosen’ me?” I asked I looked down at the sweet little panther, well I guess I couldn’t really call her little, even though I knew she was a baby she had to be the size of a fully grown domestic cat. She had lain down in my lap staring up at me with her big green eyes. I looked down into hers and I swear I felt something brush against me, in my mind, I put it off; I had enough to worry about without letting my imagination run wild.
“She’s chosen you to be hers your majesty, she wishes you to be her companion. It’s traditional for every Queen to have a companion. For now she’ll be your ward, and when she grows up she’ll be your friend and even your protector.” She said, sounding far older than she looked…
I heard a knock at the door and looked up, the head of my chambers, who I had met last night walked in. So far she was the only person I had seen that looked over 25; she appeared to be in her later 30s early 40s. I wondered how old she must actually be. I wondered how old any of them must be…and I wondered if I’d be old before Lily even appeared my age. This world was so completely different than my own.
“Your Majesty” she looked like she’d been trying to get my attention for a few moments, I really had to stop spacing out like this
“Yes, I’m sorry, I was just thinking…” I replied
“I have a few dresses here, if you’d like to pick one to wear to breakfast?” she indicated to the two other ladies who were holding four dresses total.
I stood up; keeping the little panther nestled in my arms to get a closer look at the dresses. The first dress was a deep wooden brown, with long flowing sleeves and a beaded bodice, the second was a bright purple cut in the same fashion. The third dress was pink; I barely looked at it before going onto the fourth and last dress. It was the most beautiful shade of blue I had ever seen. I reached out to touch it, and the material felt soft and cool against my fingertips, it was rather warm outside even though it was early morning, it was much shorter than the other two, it looked like it would hit just below my knees. It had a low cut bodice, and a tight cinched waist, and it seemed to change colors as I looked at it. It was beautiful.
“I think you should wear that one too…” I jumped, I hadn’t even noticed Kilava walk in, he bowed to me and gestured at the blue dress. “I think that one would look best on you, I think you should wear it” he said again
“Ok, I’ll try that one on” I was afraid it wouldn’t fit; I mean it looked like the kind of dress that needed to be tailored to you. Lily held my panther, how strange of a thought was that ‘my panther’, while I stepped into a bathroom/changing room and my ladies maids helped me change into the dress. It fit me perfectly, and I knew then they had probably had it made for me. The dress was so light, and soft, it felt like no material I’d ever known. It didn’t weigh me down, or smother me. It was perfect. They braided my hair, and pulled it back away from my face. And gave me a pair of flat heeled leather boots that went up to my knee. I hardly recognized myself in the mirror as I passed by it. They had done an amazing job.
“It looks perfect.” Kilava said with a smile, he was standing there holding the baby panther; I looked around for Lily “She had to go to breakfast, so I offered to hold her for you.” He explained. “It’s rare for a Queen to be chosen so quickly, and I can’t remember the last Queen who got chosen before her coronation…”
“When will that be, the coronation?” I asked, the little panther woke up at the sound of my voice and leap out of Kilava’s arms. She pranced over to me and leapt up before I could stop her into my arms. I looked down expecting to find holes in the dress where she had extended her claws, but the material still looked flawless. It appeared brand new…”How?” I exclaimed
“Things are made differently here, you’ll find out soon enough.” He smiled “And as for your coronation, that will happen in a weeks’ time; to give you a chance to become familiar with the ceremony and the people, and to make arrangements and such. Now, I am finding myself rather hungry, and I think your friend is too, perhaps we should go to breakfast?”
He extended his arm out to me and I placed my hand in his, and together we left the room. I had no idea what to expect for breakfast. Or for that matter the next week. But I was ready to learn.
Let me know what you think!!