After Eleanor tended to Adelaide’s wounds through the night, and Adelaide showed such calm courage in the face of pain and danger, the two women have grown closer.
But all is not well in the castle, and the King has learned Adelaide is missing from her cell and is willing to kill those who aided her.
Will Eleanor betray her new friend?
Will Adelaide be discovered and executed for baseless crimes?
Find out in the next instalment of The Knight…
A Princess, A Knight And A Tyrant King.
When war is brewing she must fight or die…
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A loud clanging tore her from sleep.
Eleanor rose above the deep dreams, torn out of her sweet slumber as the din became louder and ever more demanding. She looked around the room, trying to register what was happening. She was in her bed, but she wasn’t alone.
The beautiful face of Princess Adelaide rested next to her, still asleep, unmoving. Her cheeks were red and her face was hot to the touch. She wouldn’t wake for a while.
Eleanor pulled herself out of bed and walked to the window. All the bells of the castle and the churches were ringing out. In the square below, there were guards and people, running, searching, turning over hay carts, and charging out through the gates. With icy dread, she realised what they were looking for.
Eleanor snatched up a robe and dressed quickly. She had to be sure. She had to find out what had happened and discover how much danger they were in.
She gave a last glance to the Princess, but couldn’t resist rushing over and laying a gentle kiss on her forehead, before closing the curtains on the bed and heading out of her room.
One of the guards from the night before was there. He was pacing back and forth, clearly concerned.
“Where is the other one?” she demanded.
The guard spun around to look at her. Relief and then fear flashed across his face.
“He… He bolted, ma’am.” He bowed slightly as said the words.
“Bolted?” she said in confusion. “You mean he ran? Why would he do that?”
“The bells, ma’am, they go off when a prisoner escapes.”
“I know that!” she snapped irritably. She was all too aware of the reason behind his fear, but not yet willing to admit that she shared his concern.
“We helped ma’am! We helped her escape and come up here!” His voice was rising in panic. She knew he was right, but she also knew that panicking wouldn’t help either of them.
“Pull yourself together, boy!” He was probably older than her, but she knew he needed to be put in his place. “The prisoner has not escaped! She won’t even wake up! It is hardly treason to put someone to bed now, is it?”
He snapped to attention. “No, ma’am.” He said.
“Now, we shall go down to Court and clear up this issue ourselves, understand?”
He nodded, and she headed off down the corridor, as he followed like a loyal puppy.
She was nervous. Eleanor didn’t know what repercussions there would be for moving a prisoner, for going against her father’s wishes. She took a deep breath to calm herself.
“What is your name?” she asked the guard, hoping that she could distract herself for a moment.
“Bly,” he replied “Edward Bly, Ma’am.”
“Well, Edward, I need you to stand with me on this,” they stopped in the corridor, just outside the door to the great hall, she could hear a lot of voices in the room beyond and needed to find the nerve to enter the room “whatever happens, we are in this one together.”
He looked at her with wide eyes; he was just a dungeon guard, a low-ranking guard with little experience, he wasn’t used to facing danger and certainly not going against the King, but at Eleanor’s words he seemed to find strength, he rolled his shoulders back, standing up to his full height and nodded to her.
She stepped forward through the doors into the great hall.
It appeared the entire court and council had been roused from their beds. People were rushing back and forth. Her father stood at a table, leaning over a document, talking intently with Geoffrey de Tours, before dismissing him with a flick of the hand.
Geoffrey turned and, as he saw Eleanor, he bowed and then just as he went to leave; he glanced at Edward, narrowing his eyes for just a moment before sweeping out of the main entrance to the Grand Hall.
Eleanor took a deep breath and walked up to her father, curtseying as low as she could manage.
“Father, if I may ask,” she said, standing but keeping her head bowed low, “what is all this commotion? Have we gone to war?”
He was silent for a moment before answering. She could feel his eyes upon her and fought the urge to look up and meet his gaze.
“The prisoner has escaped,” he said finally.
“The Princess?” she asked, knowing the answer.
“The Princess,” he replied.
She was going to have to push much harder to gain any more information.
“I’m sure she will easily be found,” she said.
“She will be,” he said. “And then she will be killed, along with every man that aided her escape and all of her attendants, who are being rounded up, as we speak.”
“But Father!” She said, looking up at him before she could stop herself. “She is a princess. Is this not an act of war?”
He turned, staring down at her. She dare not move under his glare.
“The ‘Princess’, as you still call her, has been found a witch, and we will burn her as a witch.” He turned away as if that were an end to the matter.
“A witch!” Eleanor gasped, “but how? From what source did you discover this?”
She felt a hand on her arm, and turned to see her mother, but threw her off and turned back to her father. His anger was flaring red in his cheeks, but her fear had been replaced with outrage.
“A weak maiden defeated every challenger!” he boomed at her. “Every man of superior skill and strength, no woman of God, could do this, and then she slips through iron bars like a snake! She is a witch, and the council have agreed.”
Eleanor felt sick. She knew this was not true. She knew he had forced his council to come up with something, anything, which he could use to avoid keeping to his word and handing those castles back to Perrigor.
“The council!” she spat. “It took you and the council all night to come up with that pathetic excuse to murder her!”
She was on the ground before she realised, a sharp throbbing pain all down the side of her face. She choked in the pain, feeling as if her eye were about to burst.
Her father stood over her, his hand still shaking in rage. The room had gone silent, and even her mother had stepped back and out of the way of the King’s wrath.
“I should have married you off years ago.” He growled at her and then signalled to Edward, “Take her to her chambers and keep her there.”
Edward nodded, and helped Eleanor off the ground, escorting her out of the small door, and back to the cold stone corridor leading to her room.
“It appears we are in more danger than I had expected,” she whispered, trying to keep calm, but there was a waver in her voice.
They reached her chambers, and she turned to the guard again.
“Thank you.” She tried to smile, but it stung her cheek and she left him to pace the corridor as she entered her room.
The bed was empty, and for a moment wild panic twisted in her stomach, but then she saw Adelaide, up and out of bed, standing by the window. The light fell on her gentle beauty and Eleanor thought her an angel, despairing that anyone could consider her a witch.
“They want me dead, don’t they?” she asked, turning from the window to look at Eleanor.
She wanted to lie, to tell her that everything would be well, that she would be safe and unharmed and free to do as she wished. But as those beautiful blue eyes stared straight into her soul, she knew she could only ever speak the truth to her.
“Yes,” she admitted.