Into the Woods

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

"Such wild curls," Bella smirked with rueful affection for the little redhead as she fought to catch and contain each springy strand of hair. A bit of a challenge though it was, braiding Sophia's hair was still fun. It evoked feelings of nostalgia for days long past, when she and Celine would sit in the Montagnes' chateau garden and braid each other's hair and make crowns of flowers. She thought there was an evident trend running in this family, of rich luxuriant hair, and secretly wondered if Jaron's hair was as full and silky.

"It does look lovely; that dark color suits him." The thought slithered into the forefront of her mind like a snake through grass. "What would I give to run my fingers through it?" A smirk twitched on her lips, then the realization of her own thinking set in and her face fell. Her deft fingers paused the barest instant in Sophie's hair as she scolded herself for her foolishness, trying for a look of unassuming innocence before ever-perceptive Landon could notice. She quickly finished and tied off the auburn locks.

"I don't know about all that, but if you grow it out, I'll braid it for you. I'm sure you'd look dashing." The redhead grinned, setting Sophie loose with her newly fancy hair. As the older sister, she simply couldn't let the little ones have all the fun and reached back over her own head to fashion her short hair to the best of her ability. It was harder to braid one's own hair, especially without a mirror and when there was less length to work with. To save trouble, it she let the bottom stay loose, opting for more of a half-up do. Of course, no such style was complete without ribbons; and they would help keep the plaits from unraveling besides. A quick trip to the frequented dressing room produced ribbons in just the right colors to match each maiden's dress.

Bella still sported the style when she entered the den, bringing some of the splendid minty tea Landon prepared. The blue ribbons matched her dress and complimented her copper hair, orange in the warm light of the crackling hearth. All the while she read, one hand subconsciously toyed with the ends of one ribbon and the hair it tied, leaving the cup of tea largely untouched as a result.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
"Well, I have a surprise for you young girls. " Landon let on as he stood straight up, lifting his elbows off the island and drawing out Sophia and Amarinda's curiosity as he circled around the kitchen to open a perfectly unsuspicious island cupboard; inside lay a mysterious dome shaped object wrapped in a thin linen cloth. The cloth stretched wide yet with a flat surface and was bigger than the blonde mans own head, so he carried it with both hands and promptly set it on the table. Lifting the cloth, he revealed a lustrous silver dome resting upon its silver plate. "I picked this up from town today. Unfortunately, in all my years of culinary arts, the recipe has so far eluded me." The blonde chef seemed devilishly suspicious to the princess, even more so if he truly did set out all the way to town just for one measly dish rather than make it himself. "Recipe...?" Sophia pondered any hints hiding therein Landon's words, "But that could only be..."

Sophia's heart nearly leapt from her chest as she lifted the silver dome off the plate; she knew what lay concealed, could taste the gooey delicacy on her tongue, all that was left was to see it for herself. Sophia garbled her words at the sight of the buns, giving rise to a frantic din in lieu of being made speechless.
"Cinnabon's!?" She finally blurted out, staggering back upon her seat. After all, her reaction was justified. Even if he knew the recipe, cinnabon's were the last thing Landon would spruce together in his kitchen, based solely on the princess's somewhat obnoxious, unladylike obsession with them. Unbeknownst to the girls, the delicious buns weren't Landon's idea. Or rather, he was inspired to make an exception for the sticky buns place in his kitchen on that particular day.

"Landon," The prince began, "I need you to look after the children this evening." The blonde chef stood perplexed therein the prince's study. He felt a bit uneasy as Henry lead him to the study; the day was already surreal and out of the ordinary after the passionate exchange between Imogen and Amarinda. Now the prince was asking to see Landon in his study. He couldn't remember the last time the prince asked him for anything other than to be left alone. His gaze pierced Landon with that same blank, distant look in his eyes. Perhaps he hoped to intimidate Landon into cooperating. "Ah, yes, of course, your majesty." It was clear to the prince Landon had cordially held his tongue. Additionally, it was clear to the prince Landon knew that the prince knew he was holding his tongue. After all, among the few attendants left in his service, Landon was by far the brightest. "This is important." The prince added, or perhaps confessed, "Imogen needs a break, and Bella shouldn't have to watch them all on her own."

And so, the cinnabon's would suffice as Landon's bargaining chip. "You girls can have as many as you'd like, but," Landon began, taking a seat at the dining table, "You have to stick with me for the rest of the day, and do everything I say." He shot a stern glance at Sophia, "So no following Bella around," with that, he turned to Amarinda, "and no wandering outside the castle grounds." Despite the gooey goodness Landon used to entice her, Sophia couldn't help but object for her sister who she found most important. "Follow Bella where?" asked the princess. Landon wondered if it wasn't obvious, a devilish grin creeping upon his face, "Well, I believe she has a date with the prince." With that, all eyes in the kitchen fell upon the copper haired maiden.

At least, Landon assumed that was the case. Since when did the prince care about the well being of his kin, or anyone really? And what was there for Bella to do besides spend time with Sophia? No, on that particular evening, the prince wanted Bella all to himself. So why then as she sat there in the den, book in one hand and ribbon in the other, did he not budge and stare deeper into the cackling hearth before his grand armchair? He asked himself that same question as he stood up in search of an answer, crossing towards the sofa Bella read upon. To his dismay, he already knew the answer; Bella terrified him. "What's with the book?" Jaron blurted out. He recalled the night before, when she fell asleep beside him, precisely where she sat now. How the idea of her resting upon his shoulder left Jaron beside himself, trying to decipher what it meant, and how devastated he was to realize it meant nothing at all. "Is that it, then...?" Jaron thought to himself, gaze fixated on the book in Bella's hand, "You're gonna sit there and rot away with me...?"

It was clear to the prince that Bella seemed to think this was her way of not leaving him, of keeping her promise. The thought turned Jaron's insides out, she wasn't more than a fly on the wall with a pretty face. "Does this place tire you...? What more do you want from me...?" Fortunately for Bella the prince appeared like a silhouette standing there beside the sofa with the hearth behind him, just as he had earlier whilst staring out the window. However, he was fixated on her now. She could not easily discern the furrowing of his brow or beads of sweat sliding down his temple, and how the idea of sitting in the den all night listening to fairy tales inspired the image of the burning sun that would soon rise the following morning; how the thought set his irises ablaze with blood red flames. "Did you mean to fall asleep here reading fairy tales again? Is that meant to keep me company?" He posed the questions firmly, his tone spiking between each syllable.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

"Date? Date?! With Jaron? Certainly not!" Despite the book before her eyes and its words pouring steadily from her lips, those were the only words that really registered in Bella's mind. What would make Landon think that tea was a date? Of course, she was none the wiser to the chef's meeting with the prince and couldn't imagine what she said that might make him think that way. On top of that was the jab that Amarinda took at her just that morning, accusing Bella of flirting with the royal bachelor. As if one such as she could ever hope to catch the eye of a man of his caliber! The only reason he paid her any mind now was because she forced his hand.

"My word! They really do think that!?" The maiden felt a cold tremor of dread, her cheeks flushing with warmth. "It's not like that." Memory called forth the image of them atop the hill the previous night, her hand just touching his. "It's. Not. Like that." Too she recalled their embrace in the corridor of the west wing, his smiling face and the laugh she heard for the first time. "It's not like that!" She remembered her promise, in the garden and just as their shared dream fell apart, and how she'd embraced him each time. "IT'S NOT LIKE--"

"Huh?" Bella blinked down at the book in her lap, gaze shifting to the shadow on the edge of her vision. His deep intonation registered an instant before his looming visage. As her eyes found his red irises in the dark, a cold rush swept through her veins. For a moment, it was like their first meeting; then his words set in. Bella opened her mouth to speak, hardly a breath passing between them before Jaron spoke again. "What do you-- I don't--" Dread gave way to disbelief, to embarrassment and indignation. So caught off-guard was she that she could hardly form a coherent thought, let alone refute the prince's denigration. She took a breath, closed the book. Just enough light made it past his form to highlight the blush burning on her face.

"I'm sorry; I didn't know you disliked my reading so much." There was an obviously affronted edge to the redhead's tone, though her voice didn't rise above normal speaking volume. "You only need to tell me if I'm bothering you." She cast her gaze aside with reproach. What did she want from him? What did he want from her? What else could she do for him? Just being in his presence was like walking on thin ice; there was no telling if or when something she might say or do would cause him to break. Annoyance subsided, replaced in her eyes by concern as she looked back up at him. She slid the book slowly from her lap to the seat beside her. "Are you alright?" Bella asked reflexively, knowing full-well that he was not. The last time the prince was like this, he hadn't been drinking blood. She blurted out softly before she could stop herself, "Do you need blood?" Only earlier she had cursed herself for sleeping so long and having not given any; and she likewise cursed herself again. She stood from the sofa.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
Jaron appeared to be someone else as he stood there in the den berating poor Bella, who only seemed to be doing what she thought was best for him at any given moment. To think the man standing therein the den castigating Bella was the same man who had sincerely entreated her to console a grieving Amarinda would be absurd, if not counterintuitive at least, to anyone oblivious of the esoteric circumstances that bound Inverness' residents to the estate that might have witnessed the prince's seemingly unprovoked outburst. The simplest explanation is to see him not as a man but a monster, who's decisions were incomparable to any human being with rational ideas and behaviors. And so had that beast made its presence felt, then, therein the den before Bella? Was it the lack of blood streaming down its throat that had taken the reins and vexed innocent Bella, who only meant to keep it company? Was it Jaron? Or was it nothing more than a night stalking, blood sucking, inhuman thing with a mouth it used to speak while it wasn't licking its teeth in lethal anticipation.

For a brief moment, Bella's words lingered in it's thoughts. Jaron was certainly averse to fairy tales and superstitions of that nature. It made sense if Bella's reading aloud of one might irk the prince. And yet, was it not he who claimed to be in Bella's debt? All he seemed to think about since her promise was how she was the best thing that had ever happened to him in what felt like a century's passing, how she didn't deserve to throw her life away and live solely as an infinite source of vitality. No, it was not Bella's reading the prince disliked. It wasn't her that bothered him. He despised that feeling between them; how he could sit so close to her and yet feel as if the ocean and all its salt lay between them. How it felt like he would never reach her in time before she finally found enough sense to leave them all behind.

Jaron wanted to communicate these feelings to her, to apologize for the rudeness in his outburst. Perhaps now was the time, she might even understand him. For a terribly brief moment he felt the muscle's in his face relaxing as the suns flames faded from his mind; it was no easy task bearing all that anger in the face of Bella's concern. He couldn't stay angry, not with her staring at him. That was until she spoke up again.
"Yes, indeed..." It said, speaking in a significantly tamer tone, brow furrowing once more as a second wind fanned the flames in his eyes, "Blood, I do need it, Bella." It stepped forward, less than a dozen inches now from Bella's face, not taking its eyes off her as it slowly leaned forward, lifting Bella's book from where she left it upon the sofa. It continued to speak calmly, albeit not without gradually rising volume, nor without eventually shattering that calm façade, "When you've finished your story, I deeply implore you to find Henry and give him some blood!" Whilst pronouncing the last syllable of his sarcastic request, Jaron finally turned his gaze away from Bella; red irises fixated on the flames, he watched as her book flew from his hand into the hearth, the sound of a hundred pages flapping and flailing against each other meeting an abrupt halt, consumed by cackling firewood and the ignited leather that held together what used to be a fantastical story, yet would shortly thereafter be reduced to kindling and ashes.
 
Last edited:
  • Spicy
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

"No, of course, you do." What pervasive color that remained on Bella's face was sapped away almost all at once, leaving her complexion ghostly pale despite the warm glow of firelight dancing sporadically across it. "I didn't mean--" Her lips parted as though she might speak, but she could find no words in her apparent bewilderment and so merely blinked in aghast silence. It seemed she was torn on how to respond, her eyes still reflecting concern despite the dawning consternation furrowing her brows and turning down the corners of her mouth. Perhaps, if she could have held onto that indignation, she would have returned Jaron's scathing glare and passive-aggressive manner as she had done in their last confrontation. Perhaps she could have assumed the practiced air of detachment that she put on in the face of Amarinda's beratement. To try to do so now would have been a vain effort. All she could think about as she followed the Prince with her eyes was what she had done to set him off in the first place.

The book in Jaron's hand was but a shadow on her peripheral vision with her gaze locked directly on his red irises. Only as he straightened again did she steal a glance at it; and even then, it didn't register quickly enough that he might do something to the book for her to make a move. Time seemed to slow as she watched the book leave his hand, cover spreading like wings and pages fanned haphazardly as it flew to its flaming demise. As if she couldn't quite believe what she just witnessed, Bella shot a frantic look at the empty space on the sofa. Indeed, the book was gone; it wasn't some twisted hallucination or trick of the firelight. Her heart skipped a beat, the air rushing from her lungs, panic rising as she turned her eyes to the hearth.

In the fire, the book lay open, pages down on the burning wood. It was old, enough so that its title was lost entirely, not a trace left on its worn leather binding. The pages, while unwrinkled, were yellowed with age, the edges so dull that they could no longer give even the slightest papercut. They caught near instantaneously, black flakes flying away to join the build up of ash and charcoal. The cover took longer to burn, the surface charring from contact with the flames whereas only the corners really caught fire. Bella lunged towards the fireplace, something between a shriek and a wail tearing from her throat. There might have been a word in it, albeit indiscernible, garbled by horror and grief. She searched briefly for something - anything, she could use to rescue the book, snatching the wrought iron poker from its wrack beside the mouth of the hearth with such reckless abandon that the metal contraption and all the other tools that hung upon it crashed onto the stone.

It was a hasty, chaotic endeavor dragging the book out of the fire without damaging it further with the poker. The curved protrusion caught on the pages as Bella attempted to turn the book over and ripped them easily in their compromised state. Rather than do any more harm, she knocked the book off the burning logs and out onto the cold stones, abandoning the poker with another raucous clamor of the pile upon its landing there. The redhead crashed to her knees, grabbed at the book to turn it over. Hot as it was, she withdrew her hand with a yelp, dropping the book onto the carpet right-side up. Another search for something to stifle the burning with yielded nothing within reach but her voluminous blue silk skirts, which she gathered up and thrust upon the book, beating upon it with hands spread flat in rapid succession. Then carefully she pulled the fabric away, revealing smoking ruin. She sucked in a ragged breath that was half a sob, reaching out her already stinging hand to touch the livid black pages. A number of pages in the middle of the book were gone, enough to expose the threads that bound the pages on the inside of the spine. The immediate surrounding pages were burned to various degrees, some being half eaten away and others merely ashen gray about the margins with the words still legible. The cover had burned at the corners mostly and was covered with a layer of black that left smears on the carpet and Bella's hands.

"How could you!? Why even--?!" She screamed in her head, unable to speak as she turned a glare on the Prince, starry-eyed with anger. Gingerly collecting the gift, she stood, not bothering with the mess she made, and crossed back over to Jaron. It was debatable whether she was visibly shaking or if that was an illusion caused by the quaking firelight. Without word, Bella plucked her still-full tea cup from the tray and, with a swift upward motion, flung the cooled minty brew onto Jaron's face. She didn't even bat an eye. She let her arm drop by her side, the delicate china tumbling from her hand to break on the carpet; then she blew out the door of the den like a storm cloud on high winds.
 
Last edited:
  • Nice Execution!
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
To think the prince could act so absurd; no self control or discipline necessary to reign over such impulsive, petty fury manifested out of thin air. Surely he could do no worse after setting the particularly heinous bond between fire, leather and decade old paper on detrimental display. "She's turned out mad..." thought the prince as he watched the iron poker Bella equipped dance between burning logs. Jaron's petty fury had subsided in the blink of an eye, or rather therein Bella's cry whilst she realized what he had just done. With that the prince proved the worst may indeed have yet to come; what was such seething rage that could fizzle away in a moments notice? Like a ruptured volcano bursting into the sky. The initial shockwave of hot lava, leaving clouds of ash and soot in its wake. Then that was the prince, ready to burst at the slightest grasp of impetus. Unpredictable, fierce and bad for your health, especially the closer you are to him.

There was no remorse on Jaron's behalf as Bella fumbled about the hearth, nor was there any as she gripped the smoldering leather, and still none as she batted smoke away with her skirt. He only seemed perplexed by the ordeal, raising a single brow at the forge house maiden huddled before the hearth, even slightly cringing at her desperate efforts. "--Over a bloody book!" He held fast his puzzled gaze in the face of Bella's spite, having already long forgotten what triggered his cruel intentions in the first place, and looking rather dumb at that. A sharp grimace forced Jaron's eyes shut and left him wholeheartedly dumbfounded. The dripping of cool minty tea down his chin felt so uncanny, he couldn't begin to react and merely listened to Bella's brisk footsteps carry her away. Standing therein the den, he couldn't erase the image of ashy black stains on Bella's hands and skirt from his minds eye, the frantic prodding of the iron poker, the slight yelp as she grazed the smoldering leather.

The entire ordeal played several times over in his mind, perhaps in an attempt to understand it. It was, however, quite clear he should assume the sound of hooves meant horses, not zebras. Bella hadn't gone mad, and it was evidently not some bloody book the prince chucked into flames. Somewhere between the fairy tales and flames, Jaron crossed a serious line, biting off more than he could chew, albeit what line that was he couldn't say. Slowly, he opened his eyes and ignored the tea dripping down his cheeks, hoping the past few minutes were just a weird dream, they certainly felt like one. The black smears upon the stone and carpet alongside the metal tools strewn beside the hearth proved otherwise. The most damning aspect of all was his failure to recall what had even set him off in the first place! All he could remember was sitting miserably before the hearth in Bella's company. Now he stood miserable and alone, wondering why she couldn't just read the damn book.

A knock thrice upon Bella's bedroom door accompanied a familiar girthy tone of voice that followed shortly after. "Miss Montagne," Henry called out from the hallway, "Are you all right?" He stood patiently, waiting for Bella's consent before seeing himself through the door. The captain carried an assortment of medical supplies upon a silver tray, even sporting a bucket of soapy water that hung from his arm. On the tray lay a fresh squishy sponge, too. Oddly enough his steel clad uniform was missing, he was garbed in a tan shirt, pants and brown leather boots for some reason or another. Somehow, he still looked bigger without all the hulking metal draped over him.

Even as Henry seemed somewhat aware of the odd ordeal having just occurred in the den, he didn't offer much in the way of words. It wasn't his place to judge, especially regarding someone as selfless as Bella, who by now had earned the right to do as she pleased on castle grounds, or so Henry felt. "Ah, I see," He muttered whilst glancing at the ashy smears upon her hands and skirt, and that was it. "Looks fine, but we should check for burns." With care he set the tray upon the bed and the bucket on the floor, postured to take a knee, then hesitated, glancing towards Bella as if he just barely noticed she was there.

"May I?" He gestured eloquently to the stains upon her hands, again waiting for Bella's consent before proceeding treatment. "A little toasty, but you'll live. I'll let you take it from here. If you'd like, I can run a bath." By his unusual witty remark, Henry almost seemed to be enjoying himself as he tended to Bella, handing her the sponge. The truth was he had treated many an injury in his years, and the prince's frantic demand to check on Bella left Henry quite skeptical in regards to her health. All he knew was Bella "--threw herself at the fire over a damn book!"

"Miss Montagne," Henry began all of a sudden, hesitating for a moment so as to begrudgingly hold back any ill-remarks in mind towards the prince, evident by a slight twitch of the cheek and a tired sigh. "The prince sends...." Henry abruptly grew silent, followed by another reluctant sigh. It was clear as day and written all over Bella's face no accident had occurred in the den, the prince's malicious stench clung to the air. "If he even lays a hand on her..."

"Jaron wants to apologize, he was hoping you'd speak with him after you've cleaned up." The captain frankly stated, butchering the prince's fiendishly eloquent message he hoped Henry would impart and even regarding his highness by name, a grand offense. With that Henry straightened his posture, crossed his arms firmly and remained astute standing before Bella, raising his chin before addressing the forge house maiden. "I can tell him to put a sock in it, if you wish." Despite any hint of sarcasm or humor one might assume in his tone, the captain seemed completely serious and indignant.
 
  • Wicked
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

Somewhere between the den on the easterly side of the grand entrance hall and her room on westerly side, Bella's initial fury subsided, giving way to what could only be described as shock. From one set of doors to the other, brisk footsteps seemed to lose their purpose, the short distance from the bedroom doors to the bed she sank down upon an idle trudge. Who wouldn't be shocked by such a malicious act that was, by any rational faculty, unprovoked and thereby uncalled-for? Had anyone else bore witness to the event, could they have imparted to Bella exactly what caused the prince's temper to flare? Was it something she had done or said? Was it her fault at all or had the prince simply released his rage upon her because she was there?

So engrossed was she in this rumination that Henry's presence might have gone unnoticed if he hadn't called out from beyond the door. If not for the general stillness, he might not have heard her beckon him in, having not the heart to speak at all much less at a volume that could be heard through wood and stone. Her somber gaze remained upon the ashen leather-bound ruin where it rested in her lap, among the black stains and smudges it left on her skirts. The answer to the captain's question hardly required verbal expression; the look in her eyes, whereas she spared him a fleeting glance as he entered, was answer enough. She held out her hands without word, too, and only shook her head in response to the offered bath. There was nothing she wanted in that moment except perhaps to understand why.

"Can he fix it?" The words were soft yet waspish. Bella squeezed the sponge in her hands. She'd finished cleaning the soot from her skin and took to delicately wiping the leather cover. "Perhaps he can turn back time and undo it? Or perhaps he can rewrite the burned pages? What do I tell Sophie?" Her voice rose, wavered, and all at once dropped off. "No," simultaneously an answer to her own rhetorical questions and the request to speak with the prince. "No. I don't want to see him." Another shake of her copper head, more vigorous this time. A hard line had been crossed, a line Bella wasn't even aware existed until now for no one had ever gone so far to hurt her. And hurt she was, more so than any previous time that she and the prince butted heads - more so than when she poured a pot of tea over a girl's lap for speaking ill of her family.

Had the book not been a gift from Sophie, would it still have bothered Bella so deeply? Indeed! Who wouldn't be upset at having a beloved thing thrown into a fire or otherwise abused? Books held a special significance to the maiden; they were worth far more than any riches a prince could ever accumulate. They should be treasured as individual works of art, for many hours of labor and deliberation went into every volume. They were more than just paper and ink, more than made-up stories and dreams. They were valuable life experiences, lessons to learn from. The book's status as a gift only added to the pain of an already contemptible action.

"Tell him however you like." Bella nodded curtly, thinking to herself that Jaron could not only stuff a sock in it, but choke on said sock for all she cared. Of course, that certainly wasn't true. Anger masked the growing hurt, provided protection from further pain as well as an excuse to ignore the pain inflicted. Such mean-spirited thoughts were hardly her nature and she admonished herself for them later, albeit feebly. It didn't occur to her at the time to think that perhaps the prince felt similarly, which may have caused him to act out so. Despite understanding his loneliness and deep loss, she couldn't fathom his temper. The word temper hardly began to describe the deep-seated rage, a seemingly separate entity that stemmed from something else. Regardless, there was no reason to behave that way, to hurt someone out of heated ire.

The redhead did not return to the den that evening, or the following day or the day after that. A few days turned into several, which turned into a week in the blink of an eye. Not once during that time did Bella step foot into the whole of the east wing or anywhere else she was likely to find the prince. No reference to or mention of His Highness by name or otherwise would she entertain, spurning or outright refusing to acknowledge when anyone spoke of him. Persistence in pursuit of that topic was met with a surprisingly stony look. An effort was made to put on a lively face for the children's sakes. The time that would have been spent with Jaron was instead spent in their company, or Sophie's at the very least. When she left them to their own devices, Bella worked outside in the garden or helped exercise the horses, anything she could to avoid potentially running into him.

Over the course of that time, the book lay untouched on a table beside Bella's bed.
 
  • Sympathy & Compassion
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
One after the other, fragments of glass, wood and precious metals scattered in every direction upon supreme impact; baroque cabinets, golden shelves and all their endless ornaments, tables, chairs, tea sets and paintings, no tangible thing was spared, everything shattered and chased after itself, one after the other. Sophia's gift to Bella hadn't sufficed it's desire for destruction. It wanted more; that ghastly, ugly thing. That black hole of a man, if you could call it one. Surely not in that moment so alike to the flames of a hearth, discriminating against nothing, ravaging anything. Except it wasn't bound to burning logs, but the maniacal beast for a prince instead, ready to burst at the slightest grasp of impetus, much like the fragmented décor and furniture strewn around his person. There, inside the beast, Jaron fought to escape himself again.

It goes without saying he didn't relish the struggle as he caught his breath for a moment, beads of sweat running down his temple. Always an atrocious sight; all Jaron could think of were the flames of the hearth, he saw them in Bella's eyes. They made him scream at the top of his lungs and finally sent him reeling to his knees, gasping for air, bits of glass crunching beneath his weight. He felt dizzy and he had to drink soon. Bella was the only one to ever bear witness of the act when she let him take directly from her forearm. It was also one of the rare times he didn't wash it down with a chaser, usually wine or ale. Jaron missed Bella, that was what he tried so desperately to forget. "At this rate, there'll be nothing left to wreck." He thought, that ghastly fury eclipsed by his longing to see her amber gaze. "You fool, messing with the fire like that." Jaron pulled himself straight up, breathing deeply.


"Bella, if you ever need something, or want something, you tell me." He suddenly recalled his words to her just the other night, "No matter what it could be, do you understand? Whatever it is, if you want it, I'll do everything within my power to make it happen." He couldn't fathom how she felt the need to throw herself at the hearth over a nameless book nor the pain he saw in her eyes, unlike any he had witnessed before from the fiery-headed maiden. The prince started for the door, or where it used to be. The sound of glass bits and splintered wood crunching followed his brisk steps into the corridor. His bedroom was just around the corner, he crossed directly through towards the end table on the farthest side of his bed. Moonlight poured into the chamber, it was the only light source therein until Jaron opened the top drawer and reached for the special mirror inside. "Show her to me." He ordered, gripping the small peculiar looking glass by its handle. "Perhaps he can turn back time and undo it? Or perhaps he can rewrite the burned pages? No, I don't want to see him." He heard Bella say, her somber gaze and copper hair clear as day behind the glass hand mirror, illuminating Jaron's own dreary face.

"If it's so damn important, why didn't you just say so?" That was the initial idea spurring Jaron's rampage upon the various rooms therein the east wing. A naive take, really, to think one might find success reasoning with it, that ugly thing, the maniacal beast for a prince. Or perhaps Jaron was just looking for any excuse to wreck the lavish things of the castle, as if he needed one. More so it was a mixture of the two, and he knew it, albeit wouldn't readily accept it. "And what if she did say something, you fool?" Jaron confessed to himself, tearing his despondent eyes from the looking glass, "It makes no difference when you're acting that way." There was a moment of clarity in the prince's self-reflection as he stood shrouded in shadows beside his bed. The mirror dimmed as Bella disappeared behind the glass, albeit not before Jaron stole a glance at her wiping the seared leather with a sponge. "I never meant to hurt you." He said to the fading image of the fiery-headed maiden, and as he spoke the words the clarity they evoked embedded itself inside him, his duty made clear as day, or rather the moonlight pouring through the glass panes, their glint reflecting off the prince's ruby eyes.

The days following passed in a blur, and Jaron lost all sense of time. Unbeknownst to Bella, restoring her gift from Sophia to its original state, before char and soot, was well within his caliber; he poured every ounce of his mind, body and soul into the arduous task, as was essential under the law of equivalent exchange. There would be no shortcuts, no barking orders at Henry or sending Landon to fetch some things from town, Jaron was on his own. To cut corners in the practice of alchemy would be to put ones task, even ones life in danger, albeit the latter being exclusive to more grand mediums of equivalent exchange.

That is to say, it was not simple like spell weaving or potion brewing, those things permitted shortcuts. A veteran of destruction magic could conjure flames in the palm of their hand whilst reading a book in the other, paying little to no mind for the arcane task at hand. Two vastly different sets of ingredients could very well concoct the same elixir. Alchemy demands the mind, body and soul to be in tune with ones self; near perfect alignment with ones senses, and the invisible link betwixt their senses and God. It demands too a profound understanding of God and the alchemical principles within everything. Yes, everything.

Essentially, the successful engagement and application of alchemy was a therapeutic task. Jaron was thankful for that, it brought some peace of mind. He didn't realize it, but those blurred days spent perusing old tomes, sourcing the necessary materials and their transmutation, aligning his self with God and the world, it brought a tranquility the likes of he had never experienced within all his days of Inverness. He wouldn't dare admit it to anyone, but there was a sense of belonging he found too, as was common in a haze of limerence. It was a fleeting sensation, and once the smoke had cleared and Sophia's gift to Bella lay upon the center of Jaron's transmutation circle, dread embedded itself into every crevice of thought his mind may conjure. He'd sooner place the book back where he found its charred equivalent beside Bella's bed than hand it to her in person and face the music. And yet, were all his efforts not in pursuit of forgiveness and closure?

Steadily, the prince rose to his feet, book in hand. He raised it up to his eyes, gave it a once over, flipping through the pages and didn't think twice about its perfect condition, aloof to how dilapidated the book originally was. It seemed as brand new as the day Sophia plucked it off the shelf over a decade ago, and it was only brand new in the sense of the princess having never set eyes on it before. He could only hope its fresh appearance wouldn't deceive him; that every page and word was accounted for, too, for there was no way he could say for sure, having never read it. Not sparing a second thought about it, Jaron started out the door, careful not to knock over one of the many wax candles meticulously placed along the lines of the transmutation circle. He worked in some nameless room in the east wing, having only set up the space within the past hour. Moonlight accompanied the dim candles and followed Jaron out the door, the sun had just descended beneath the horizon when he undrew the curtains.


"Show her to me," The prince ordered, his special mirror in hand. The looking glass illuminated his face with the image of Bella and Fritz trotting along the grassy fields of his estate. With that he placed the mirror atop its bedside table, not hesitating to make his way to the stables. He waited somewhere along the tree-line where the shadows would swallow him and held a long gaze towards the fields. Jaron refused to play his hand until Fritz was stabled at the very least, so as to avoid an awkward disposition. Having moved with endless zeal for the past week, he felt odd all of a sudden shrouded along the tree-line, watching Bella approach from the distance. That peace of mind he found engaging in alchemy was long gone, his apparent success in the effort already forgotten. Whereas a glimpse of a different, more vibrant man might have shimmered during his engagement with alchemy, there was no trace of it. Perhaps it was back, that ugly thing. It sucked the life from Jaron, something they had in common; draining of ones vitality.

He knocked thrice upon the wooden beam at the stables opening, causing Piper to perk her ears up. She brushed the dirt beneath her with a single hoof, nickering in the prince's direction. Jaron stood up straight, moonlight casting his shadow down the stables. He looked quite similar to that looming visage he displayed that loathsome night in the den, stood before Bella just as he was now, albeit much farther away. With that, he crossed towards her as delicately as he could, his black leather loathers hardly left a trace of sound if at all. He appeared disheveled, his hair could use a slight brush, the sleeves of his white linen dress shirt had been rolled up disproportionately, and part of it remained untucked from his black slacks. There were clear signs of either restless sleeping or a lack of it entirely, evident by the bags under his eyes and the general lethargic air about him. The book remained in his left hand, he hadn't released his grip on it since he departed from the transmutation circle. "This is yours, right?" He finally asked Bella as soon as he was in arms reach of her, trying to come off as indifferent, as if he hadn't gone through a tremendous effort to bring it to her.
 
Last edited:
  • Nice Execution!
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

On the back of the black beauty, Bella found the first glimmer of genuine happiness she felt all the long day. To deem it the very first was perhaps unfair, for spending time with Sophia made her happy; however, there came with riding a certain freedom. On the broad back of a horse, the in's and out's of daily life became trivial, mere specks of dust that could be swept under the rug and forgotten. The undulations of the land beneath hooves, whether at a trot or breakneck gallop, offered a comfort comparable only to that which lulled a child to sleep in a rocking chair. The evening wind ran cool, autumnal fingers over face and hair, brushing the ocean of meadow grass this way and that like the pile of fine velvet. It carried a faint yet distinct scent, a crispness that foretold of vibrant colors and falling leaves; it lifted weighty acrimony and sorrow so Bella's heart could take its proper place in her breast. To ride, arms spread wide and nose to the wind, was a release. Every day that passed, she craved it all the more, longed after it as she had a certain company only some days ago - the same company she had been avoiding.

All was quiet in the stables, aside from the horses' soft breathing; even the jingling of saddle and harness, bit and stirrup, muffled to conform to the return of the dreary mood. The flames guttering in mounted lanterns did little to brighten the night-darkened structure, spurned by the shadows cast by the moonlight pouring through the open doors. The lack of light did not disturb the copper-haired maiden as she stabled the black stallion and replaced the tack in its proper designation upon the wall. Long she stood before his stall door, running gentle hands over nose and neck, desperately clinging to what remained of her fleeting peace of mind. How she wished she could ride longer! - but she had ridden multiple times today, in order to exercise all of the horses. They were tired and needed to rest.


Three knocks upon the doorframe turned the copper head with the same brief alarm that erected the horses' ears. There were no footfalls to warn of any coming, welcome or otherwise. Bella knew the figure stood in the doorway at once despite any distinguishing features were cloaked in shadow; and at once her stomach tied itself in knots. Her feet shifted her slightly to the side as Jaron approached, just the few mere inches necessary to hide her face behind Fritz's neck as he swung his massive head towards the prince. A childish gesture, really, as if he would disappear simply because she could not see him; although, that was hardly her line of thinking in the moment. She didn't want to see him as he was in that moment, so resembling the prince she last saw in the den a week prior. Looming. Repelling. Frightening. Still the prince drew closer until he stood but an arm's breadth away and Bella found that Fritz no longer blocked his view of her, or hers of him. Her eyes closed the barest instant before looking directly into his, shining with a doe-eyed reproach in the thin white-gold light that reached them.

The shadows gave way in close proximity, no longer was he a monster but a man. An apparent shred of a man with his tousled hair, the disheveled nature of his shirt, and the exhaustion on his sculpted face. He looked worse for wear than she left him and Bella knew concern for him in spite of herself. Her lips parted the slightest bit in preparation to speak, but he beat her to it, the extension of arm and object in her direction causing her to draw back as if to avoid a knife being pointed at her throat. Her gaze drifted down from face to shoulder, following the length of the arm to the hand and the object it held, which she immediately recognized as a book. She drew back again, a full step this time, eyes wide with shock and awe. Could it be? The idea that the prince would come all this way just to hand her a random book seemed absurd, but how? Exchanging an apprehensive glance between man and book, Bella took it.

Over and over she turned the book in her hands, clockwise and counterclockwise, top over bottom and back to front. It was without a doubt a book, not a mere illusion that would fade away and reveal, say, a paving stone from the garden path. The size was correct, as was the thickness from cover to cover and the weight of it. The egregious difference was that this book was new whereas her book had been in decent condition for its age. This book had a cover of supple leather in a color that was almost burgundy whereas her book had a cover of a duller brown that cracked at the joints from her opening and closing it. This book had pages of creamy parchment while her book had pages that were quite yellowed. Most notably this book the prince presented had gold-leaf on the raised bands of the spine and in the embossed title on the cover. Bella's eyes nearly boggled out of her head. There was a title on the cover! She tipped the book so the moonlight caught the words of which there were three.

"Call of Overland," The name was a breath on her lips. She ran a finger delicately over the shallow engraving, opened the book. There was the end sheets, the title page, then the first page. Bella drew an audible breath. Indeed, it was her book, complete and intact! She flipped to the middle that was only just missing, so astonished to see it there that she turned the book over again, as if she expected to see remnants of the scorching. Bella cast a look of uncertainty at Jaron. Part of her wanted to ask how; however, the rest knew the answer and dared not venture into the subject. She was quite wary of magic since the incident in the room hidden behind the wardrobe in Jaron's study. She dared not return to it despite he told her she could if she so desired. Would this book do the same thing as happened then, if she tried to read it? Well, surely not, else it would have already done so.

"Thank you." Bella held the beloved gift to her chest. Even after a week, she still felt raw about it, but mayhaps she could let it go and allow the rift between them to heal.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
All the days Jaron spent toiling over the book flooded into the forefront of his mind. Despite Bella’s brazen attempts to salvage it from flames, she didn’t seem exceptionally grateful to the prince, or rather grateful enough, so he thought. After all his efforts, a measly thanks was all she had to offer? Albeit he wasn’t sure what to expect in handing her the restored thing, Jaron was nonetheless disappointed in the entire affair. “No, thank you.” He retorted, failing to hide the sneer plastered across his pale face flickering by the stables dim candles.

“If I had known the book was so important that you should splash tea across my face in spite of it, I might have thought twice about kindling my hearth with it.” Jaron remarked, making no effort to conceal the disdain in his temperament as he leaned back, propping himself against the wooden gate beside Fritz’s stall. His resentment for the book was clear, there was no evidence of remorse in his statement. Perhaps he might have thought twice for Bella’s sake, so what of it if he wasn’t the least bit sorry now as he was than. “I don’t understand how you’re so upset over a bloody book.He groused, directing his eyes to the ground as he couldn’t stand to look at the book for one more second.


It felt a little like a dream every peek Bella stole at the renewed gift, which she did several times in the mere moments she held it. Every time, the reality settled in a little more and the wellspring of happiness in her heart bubbled to life again. She smiled, her fingers grazing the rounded edges of the cover, a soft expression she hadn’t the chance to turn upon the prince before he soured it. Her head snapped up, brows furrowed at his bitter tone.

“You might not have to think twice if you didn’t take other people’s things and throw them in fire, important or no.” Bella narrowed her eyes, inclining her chin a defiant fraction. For all the trouble he apparently went to in order to restore the book, which might have indicated a modicum of remorse, the prince rather sounded like he would very well have burned the book again from the obvious scorn he held for it. “Have you never read one? If not, perhaps you should give it a try?” She shook her head, flabbergasted. Incredulous! Who would attempt to make amends only to start an argument?


“I should sit and daydream of adventure like a rustic buck after his chores? Then I’ll be like you, absent from the mind without the faintest clue who I speak to.” The prince lashed at her, darting off the wall passed Fritz until he was just shy of the forge house maidens copper fringe, a loathsome smirk crept upon his lips and he returned Bella’s narrowed eyes, “I see why you found yourself stumbling around the woods in the rain. You always seem to have your head lost in the clouds and your feet stuck in the mud.” He backed away from her, gradually circling the ground in front of Fritz’s stall whilst jeering at the copper-haired maiden, clinging to a few syllables as he spoke to relish in them parting his lips that much longer.

“It’s a miracle you haven’t lost yourself on horseback dreaming of bedtime stories.” Jaron glanced at Bella briefly as his eyes wandered the stables, he seemed intent to ridicule her incessantly.


“Books are more than just daydreams and bedtime stories. They’re lessons, experiences.” Bella forced out around the knot in her throat. The prince’s words stung; not like throwing salt in an already open wound, but as a javelin might as it pierced flesh. She stood affronted and surprisingly resolute in the face of ridicule, not shying away even as the prince leaned in close enough for his disheveled hair to displace a few strands of her own. Any concern or compassion felt for him evaporated the instant he ventured upon insult. Now, her palm burned with righteous fury, and might have wrought it upon the prince’s cheek had it not been occupied by the book.

“Perhaps even you might learn a thing or two if you could find within you a modicum of refinement just long enough. Then, being born to class apparently does not account for taste.” Flames kindled in Bella’s eyes anew, fueled by hurt bulwarked by anger. Unable to stand the sight of the prince, she turned towards Fritz, who blew unhappily at the tension he was caught in the middle of. Taking a palmful of oats from the bag by the stall door, she offered them to the stallion, who ate them quickly. She grabbed the small bucket used to scoop them from its place on top and filled it halfway. “Better to be happy with my head stuck in the clouds than to be a miserable fool with my head stuck up my ass.” With that, she dumped the oats over Jaron’s head and thrust it into his hands as she blew past him into the night.


The devious smile on Jaron’s lips only curled in satisfaction, made stronger by Bella’s fervent display. His circling about halted and he stood still at arms length from the fiery-headed maiden once more, staring at the space she occupied as she crossed towards the black stallion beside him. He mulled over all the possible insults that enveloped his thoughts and almost left him giddy, scoffing at her rebuttal, the dark pall beneath his eyelids deepening as his chin fell. The prince opened his mouth eager to spew more malign degradation, yet managed no more than a befuddled groan as his shoulders flinched up. His eyes crossed briefly whilst following the stream of oats running down from the top of his head. Their trail bounced off the bridge of his nose before making their descent to the ground below.

By the time Jaron could gather his thoughts and deduce Bella had dumped the grain on his head, she was storming passed the stables gates into evening dusk. He turned round, oats flying off his shoulders as he caught a brief glimpse of her back before she was out of sight. The prince opened his mouth once more, craving one last barb in Bella’s regard, another befuddled groan exhaled in its place as Fritz began to slide his dense, lengthy tongue up the side of Jaron’s neck, cleaning off the stray bits of grain that stuck to his skin. He grimaced, quick to step away from Fritz’s stall, albeit not before the black stallion could steal a few nibbles from the small pile of oats atop the prince’s shoulder.

“You damned child!” Jaron bellowed, hastily brushing at every trace of grain on his person he could find with his hands, I’LL SHOW YOU WHO THE FOOL IS!The prince roared after Bella as his head shot upwards, expecting the fiery-headed maiden to be standing before him. That ugly, twisted expression of his face subsided as he realized his yawping fell upon no one else but the horses. Fritz lifted his head, too, and snorted at his disheveled prince as if to say he needn’t shout for him and the other horses to hear His Majesty.
 
Last edited:
  • According to Plan
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

Along the dirt track, across the garden and through the kitchen Bella flew, a careless stray ember following a trail of kindling to set a carpet of dry leaves and grass ablaze. The prince's last words did not necessarily fall on deaf ears, though the livid redhead did not turn back to spew more spite at him much less entertain his urge to do so at her. No thoughts or glances did she spare for anyone she passed on her way back to her room, allowing doors to slam in her wake whereas she usually closed them carefully. Unlike a week prior, her temper did not wane with the distance she crossed. It built up like a wall of rising tide and came crashing down by way of Bella snatching a pillow off her bed and releasing into it a scream that rivaled the shrill of a boiling tea kettle.

When finally the sound ceased, Bella lowered the pillow still clenched in white-knuckled hands. She swallowed, her throat raw, and gulped a few heaving breaths. Her eyes fell upon the book where she tossed it onto the bed. In that moment, she could hardly stand the sight of it, the joy it brought her overshadowed by grief and outrage. How dare the prince take that away from her! Her temper swelled and at once she burst into a violent storm of weeping. It lasted only briefly, albeit it left the redhead feeling a great deal more miserable rather than relieved.

Any knocks upon the door were met with a voiced desire to be left alone - please, for Bella wanted nothing and no one but her family. An intense longing broke over her, especially for the comforting arms of her sister. She wanted to lay her head on Celine's lap and feel her gentle hands stroking her hair as Loretta once did. Most of all, Bella wanted her beloved Farren. She missed his steady, placid calm and the way he would nose about her hair and face with unconditional affection. They were never really far from her conscious mind, even if Bella would not entertain them there, a fact that only made her feel worse. It hovered over her all the night, robbing her of restful sleep.

Bella's homesickness subsided very little over the subsequent days, which she spent still avoiding His Highness with more effort than before. The third day following their exchange, she took quill and ink to paper, penning a letter home. She divulged no details about anyone but herself and certainly didn't mention the fight. She only told how she missed them and asked after their wellbeing; a simple gesture that alleviated the weight on her heart. The trouble was figuring out how to send it. She could not burden the ever-busy Landon to drop his tasks to deliver a letter, neither could she ask Henry. Then how?

"Sophie?" The self-proclaimed older sister searched high and low for the young princess, eager to ask a favor of her menacing little friend. When her search failed, she addressed the Monarch directly in hushed tones. "Psst! Are you here?" Bella whispered, looking all around for the orange glow in the shaded hallway. "I know we haven't exactly gotten off on the right foot, but- please! I need a favor! Won't you come out? Can you even hear me?" She stood clenching the folded paper between index fingers and thumbs, growing disheartened with each passing second the butterfly didn't appear.
"I just thought that, if you could make a dress, perhaps you could send a letter?"
 
  • Sympathy & Compassion
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
A long, round pout tug on the princess' face as she stood on the other side of Bella's door, eager to be by the forge house maidens side. It disheartened Sophia to see her agitated, she knew Bella didn't deserve all the trouble the prince put her through, quite like the rest of them. "Bella, is everything okay?" Landon called from the princess' side, he knocked a couple times on her door, pulling a frown of his own as she insisted on being left to sulk by herself.

Even Imogen peeked out of her seclusive state to check on Bella, bemused to see the fiery-headed maiden storming across the gardens paved walkways to the castle. "What's wrong?" Sophia asked, apparently just as puzzled as the chef and the reclusive housekeeper since neither seemed to have an answer for the princess that wouldn't state the obvious. She furrowed her brow at them, displeased, but would not pester her self-proclaimed older sister if being left alone was her truest desire. She knew what that felt like all too well.

Despite her best efforts to cheer up Bella, there was little the princess could do to quell the relentless gloom that grasped hold of her. It seemed the dull, desolate Inverness air finally choked the light out of the copper-headed maiden, much as it had the rest of them. One needn't be a genius or keen to the senses to understand what troubled Bella, clearly it was not mood swings born from mental sickness, she craved for the thing everyone at the castle longs for all the same; to be home again, as far away from Inverness one could be.

Such a feeling was contagious in their circumstances, it spread like careless stray embers to the castle denizens, leaving them to fend for themselves against the big inescapable gloom. Often, Sophia was most successful in the fight against it, as she always had a trick up her sleeve, or rather above her head, poised atop the hood of the princess' forest green cloak, ready to flap its vibrant, shimmering orange wings and take flight as the Monarch typically would.


The Monarch's striking glow reflected in the princess' hazel eyes as it fluttered overhead. It seemed to appear from thin air, a faint glitter like hue trickling off its orange wings whilst dispersing into the air. "It's you!" Exclaimed the sulking princess as she shot upright from where she lay upon the bedroom floor. "Where ya been all this time?" Sophia asked earnestly, her small pudgy face began to shine like grass on a dewy Esterwell morning, as the sun crept passed the horizon, stretching its all encompassing vibrancy across the meadows.

Unbeknownst to Sophia, her lonesome brooding rarely went unnoticed, if ever it did. Yet, why the Monarch had been missing until that particularly desolate Inverness morning was presently a mystery. It descended from above, hovering parallel to Sophia's glimmering irises. "I knew you'd come back." Confessed the princess, her shock and awe fizzling into a beaming grin. If the magic glowing butterfly would persist in its mysterious nature, so be it, Sophia was simply glad to have her companion back at her side. For a time the butterfly was the light of her life, both figuratively and literally.


"I dare not to compete with Bella for your time, princess." That familiar, disembodied voice made itself heard again, similar to that which advised caution in Bella's discovery of the prince's secret room. The thought of Bella sunk Sophia's beaming grin down to that familiarly round pout that tugged on her face for most of the past few days following the fiery-headed maidens quarrel with the prince. Sophia's eyes fell to the floor; the orange shimmer therein fading, "Oh, Bella? She seems so ill. It's just not like her, she even refuses to entertain any regards for Jaron. She promised to be with him!" She broke from her distraught train of thought, a glint sparkled in her eyes just as the big inescapable gloom took its hold, "Oh, surely you must have found a way to make her better! That's why you're here now, isn't it? So we can fix her together?"

Despite Sophia's best intentions and much to the Monarch's dismay, it settled to perch atop her shoulder, not eager to dispel the young girls postulation. "Forgive me princess, there's nothing you or I or anybody can do for Bella, besides the prince. He's wronged Bella, so only he can make things right." With that, the princess groaned, crossing her arms indignantly. "Frogs sake, he's always up to no good." She mused, pursing her lips. "I do bring good news, little one. I've seen Horatio prowling deep in the wood," At the sound of the all too familiar name, Sophia's countenance burst with glee. She shot up to her feet, nearly flying off the floor as the Monarch twirled around the princess' spinning body,
"Oh, Horatio, my kitty! Such good news, indeed!" Sophia declared, skipping and prancing in circles, as if mere mention of the aforementioned kitten alone justified song and dance.

"Where is he?" She asked, eyes gleaming as she finally slid to a halt before the butterfly perched atop Sir Snugglefists, Sophia's pearly white and dashing stuffed bunny, perpetually sat at the tea table. "I lured him home with salty trout. You'll find a basket of treats in the kitchen, best to take it before anyone see's." The princess knew better not to question the Monarch's methods, perhaps it wasn't necessary for her. There was an unshakeable trust between the two, like that between a parent and child. She swung her green hooded cloak overhead and darted out the door with relentless faith; the pitter-patter of her tiny shoes echoing throughout the vast, inescapable gloom on her way to the kitchen.

She slid to a halt again, this time with Bella in her sights. The princess observed curiously, puzzled to see her self-proclaimed older sister whispering to air as she stood idly upon her path to the stairwell. Surely Bella would be no hindrance to Sophia's notorious treks into the woods? Nay, she felt her sisters demure nature and gentle soul would be essential in the matter and peeked her head out from around the corridor, "Psst, I see you." The princess teased, quick to round the bend and approach Bella, the Monarch's glow illuminating the copper-headed maiden from where it perched atop Sophia's bright auburn hair. "What's that there?" She asked, gesturing to the paper clutched in Bella's grip. A letter home? Well, she was relieved to hear it, presuming Bella was on the brink of breaking her promise to the prince and ready to abandon everyone entirely.

Much to the princess' surprise, the Monarch remained silent and aloof to Bella's request. Neither of the two redheads could speak with confidence on the Monarch's intentions, as far as Bella knew the glowing winged critter couldn't even speak, for how could she have known it was the Monarch who advised her to retreat from the study in her discovery of the secret room? It spoke with no body to perceive of like a relentless specter. A pensive silence ensued and Sophia felt obliged to delegate on the Monarch's behalf, for it was her head the thing perched atop of, and it was her kitten it lured from the forest with salty trout's. The two seemed to move and act as one, in that sense. The princess mustered the courage to speak and held fast Bella's amber gaze with her own curious demeanor, "How's about this, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours?" With that, Sophia divulged only what Bella needed to know; a beloved kitten had returned home to its neck of the wood, and Bella should tag along into the misty forest with a basket of treats like Red Hood on a trek to grandmothers house.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

"EEee-!" The single syllable squeaked softly from Bella's throat as the princess broke the silence, her bright head whipping round to find the child rounding a corner. "Sophie," she breathed, glad that it wasn't someone else who happened upon her pacing the hallway and whispering seemingly to nothing. Whenever the Monarch was involved, it only served to make Bella look and feel, or feel as though she looked, insane. No other could see it except Sophie, no other knew of its existence; and no other was likely to believe any babbling about a magic butterfly. At least, that's what Bella thought, given Imogen's reaction to her claim that first day in the castle.

"I, er," Bella flushed, exchanging glances between her adopted younger sister and the folded letter in her hands. "It's a letter.. to my family. I hoped that your, um, friend could send it." She paused to chew her lip, feeling under the innocent hazel gaze that she had done something shameful by writing it, like it was a betrayal. Of course, the intention of breaking her promise never crossed the redhead's mind regardless of how badly she missed her family and she would quickly dispel any doubts Sophia posed to her. The princess didn't seem to mind the letter at all, much to Bella's relief.

Dread ushered its way in quickly when Sophia proposed that Bella join her on a trek into the woods, dotting beads of cold sweat down her back and blanching her face. The sun was not yet at its peak in the sky, yet the fear of stepping foot beyond the tree line persisted. She wondered that the child wasn't afraid, recalling how skillfully she traversed the maze of shadows and entangling brush. Too, she recalled how the Monarch saved her and Liza that terrible night. Perhaps if the Monarch would be there, they would be safe. Confirming this, Bella acceded to her sister's bargaining, thinking secretly to herself that the child was too clever for her own good.

"Lead the way," The copper-haired maiden encouraged the Monarch from the saddled back of the black stallion. She arranged Sophie to sit in front of her, secure between her arms, the basket of goodies for the cat in her own small embrace. Fritz tossed his luxuriant mane, snorting enthusiastically at the idea of a change of scenery. She urged him forward, guiding him after the orange glow while allowing him to pick his way as best he could. If an animal so skittish as a horse could trot into the woods with such exuberance as he, then Bella could allow herself to relax.

Fritz stopped short of a sheer drop, some yards beyond where the trees staggered farther apart. There might have been a clearing there once; however, the land formed a basin where it ought to have been level. Whether some force of nature created the hole or not, Bella was unable to determine. It looked a little like a hole a dog might dig, if a dog so giant existed. Then again, there was a collapsed tree at the bottom on the far side that very well may have been the result of a mudslide. Bella squinted and frowned, watching the Monarch flutter over the edge and down out of sight. What in the world was a cat doing in the bottom of a hole? What made this bug think that leading a little girl down a steep cliff was okay? Well, it wasn't some average bug; it was magic. There was no telling what abstract schemes it might conjure.

"I'm not sure about this." Bella remarked, quite apprehensive of allowing Sophie to go down there. Still she hopped off of the stallion and helped her sister down. "Where even is this cat?" A peek over the cliff revealed nothing that even resembled a feline, just the edge of a hole in the cliffside. "Maybe try the fish?" With consent, she removed a trout from the basket and tossed it over the edge.

There came the sound of pebbles stirring and from the hole appeared a paw. A giant paw. Then another. The toes spread out, tips of claws glittering in the sunlight that warmed the moist dirt, before a pair of ears appeared and obstructed their view. A giant cat emerged from the hole, back arching into a stretch as bushy, feathery tail curled to stand upright. He - for his sex became quite obvious with his tail erect - had a coat the color of fresh cream with patches of warm pale gray like smudges of dirt on the backs of his ears, down his tail, and on his feet. He was full of coat, or perhaps a little rotund in the belly. Honestly it was difficult to tell.

"My word, he's huge." Bella gawped. Horatio inhaled the trout she dropped and cast his yellow-green eyes upon the maidens whereas he extended his pink nose in their direction to have a sniff.
 
  • Love
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
A dazzled Sophia nearly flatlined at the sight of Horatio. She was certain he was the best cat in the world, that nothing could ever replace him as he brought endless joy into her lonely life. She hopped down from Fritz, squealing and teetering towards the basins edge, scrunching her round cheeks together with closed hands as if her face might pop and relieve her of anticipation for what the cat might do next. Perhaps yawn drowsily, or clean itself; forming a hairball in his belly with his sandpaper tongue and puffy cheeks. He opted to sit instead and toss his head back for a deeply drawn out, piteous meow, and Sophia couldn't stand to see him uncuddled. She burst and took off, mewling after the cat as she flew passed the basins cliff, sliding along the moist excavated dirt, mindlessly dirtying her clothes and shoes.

Horatio offered a lighter, nippy quick meow in response. He sat patiently and seemed about the size of a small shed; there was nothing quite like him, it seemed. Sophia's wailing and abrupt, reckless trip down into his former territory failed to trigger any notions of fight or flight for the giant cat. He imprinted on her as a kitten, when he was slightly smaller than her low heel black buckle strapped shoes and frilly lace socks.

Fritz suddenly, softly squealed, albeit not for the princess or her pet, but the white mare and her white rider that could be heard rustling through the underbrush of the dense forest, finally breaking passed the staggered trees that served as Horatio's doorstep. Fritz sensed them before anyone else, perhaps excluding the Monarch, and acted accordingly, taking a few steps to brush against Bella as he nickered to say she ought to turn round. "Horatio's home." Liza declared out loud, seemingly amused, her white mare reeling back her swift gait through the woods to a soft and silent, unbothered walk as her hooves enjoyed every step upon the forest towards Bella. Fritz seemed a bit shy at the white mare's presence, moving so Bella would stand between them.

“S-Sophie!?” A near-equally dazzled Bella stammered out, the child’s squeal drawing her back to her senses albeit not in time to catch her before she slid down the slope of loose dirt to greet the cat at the bottom with reckless abandon. She sighed, dismay slowly pulling her lips down at the corners as the realization set in. She brought a perfectly clean princess out into the woods and would be returning to the castle with a dirt-stained wood sprite. For a moment, she knew sympathy for she understood Imogen’s long-time struggle; and briefly she wondered if Loretta often felt the same.

Amber eyes widened in alarm at the black stallion’s alert, turning them upon the tree-line behind to see what unsettled him. Fortunately, it was not one of the creatures from that fateful night that yet haunted Bella’s dreams, but the dashing heroine who fought a vampire and became one herself. “Liza?” The redhead could hardly hide her surprise. She hadn’t seen Liza since she hit the silver-haired young woman over the head with a pillow, the morning she and Jaron woke from their drug-induced five-day-long sleep. Perhaps it was for the best that Liza had kept her distance, considering that she was the one who dosed them.

Despite the fragile trust between them, Bella offered a smile that was both a greeting and a reconciliation. Had she known that Jaron started the physical altercation between himself and Liza, she might have sided with her; although, dislocating the prince’s arm hardly seemed necessary regardless. Still, it was hard to dislike such a charismatic personality as Liza, even if Bella no longer fully trusted her.

“What brings you back?” Bella asked, if just to clear the air, as she turned to comfort Fritz. Her tone suggested her hope that there were no hard feelings.

The silver-haired vampire hadn’t taken her eyes off Sophie’s beloved Horatio, a reminiscent gleam flickering beneath the voguish black floppy sun hat; its wide circular brim slightly bounced up and down in tandem with her white mares swift gait. Peculiarly, she sat upon her mare clad in travelers apparel, as opposed to the rather esoteric and exorbitantly elegant wardrobe she had so far been witnessed donning; the white linen shirt, black skirts and orange-black striped ribbon pinned to the top button of her collar with a bronze brooch almost seemed like a costume on her body. Secretly, the hat was somewhat unnecessary, as the only discomfort the sun brought down on her was that she felt in her eyes as its vibrant glare hit them. It did, however, compliment the outfit.

Liza hopped down her mare, trusting the white stallion to behave, knowing she would, lest something out of the ordinary should linger. So far, their only threat was death by hairball, but Horatio wasn’t quite ready to cough one up yet. She approached the basins cliff, peculiarly silent, not like the charismatic monster slayer Bella knew, offering no clever quips or wisecracks. Liza merely folded her arms, tilting her head to the side, watching Sophia nuzzle Horatio’s tall, wide chest with her face, then slowly turned to face Bella, as if she suddenly noticed her there.
“You penned a letter to your family?”
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

Bella kept her back to the strangely-dressed adventurer, only watching sidelong as she came to stand beside her near the edge. From expression to body-language, Liza seemed stand-offish. Perhaps she caught word that the copper-haired maiden was avoiding the prince again and came to investigate it? The thought begged the question: why should Liza care if Bella and Jaron weren’t getting along at any given time, aside from the fact that she and the monarch conspired to lure her there to whatever end? Bella cast her gaze over the edge, as well.

“I did.” She confessed easily, the hand stroking Fritz’s sinewy neck becoming still. “I didn’t tell them anything, if that’s what concerns you.” A pause as she contemplated why it mattered that she wrote to her family and how exactly Liza knew about it already. “The little menace told you, I take it?” She spoke in such a way that it sounded more like an accusation than a question, not that she really needed to ask. It almost made the young woman’s sudden appearance less of a surprise.

“Liza,” Bella started, paused again, “I’m sorry about before. I didn’t really think about what I was doing, in the moment. I just- my only thought was that I needed to help Jaron, whatever that entailed.” Feeling the warm flush of her face, she turned again towards Fritz to hide her embarrassment. “I’m glad you left when you did- er, I mean, I was worried he would do something brash if you had stayed. That’s not to say that you need any help defending yourself.” The maiden faltered, recalling the prince’s abhorrent actions only a week ago.

“I can understand.” Liza offered in reply, not taking her blue ocean eyes off Bella’s countenance, even gazing at the back of her copper head transmuted by sunlight; a strawberry blonde tint glinting beside the enchanting vampire, who caught a brief glimpse of her fluster from behind the shadowy veil of her black floppy brim. They had only spoken of Jaron once before, during that fateful morning before Bella and the prince shared a cup of rich ezineme tea. Mention of His Highness hardly evoked such a reaction as it seemed to now. “Mmm, indeed. Well, as far as His Majesty goes, it seems my influence hardly makes a difference, if I say so myself. Although, I see what you mean. It was a sensitive moment for you two.”

As unwarranted Bella’s apology felt to her, Liza oddly found solace in it, and kept Jaron’s initiative aim to strike her cheek with the back of his hand to herself, so as not to soil his character anymore than he already has. “I’m afraid I can’t accept your apology.” She began vacantly, inching towards Bella, homing in on her, hoping to switch the subject back to her letter and prevent Bella from dwelling on the incident any longer, albeit it was a fruitless effort harassing the affair from her mind entirely. Surely, questions and their desired answers would inevitably arise in Liza’s presence, as she seemed the only one who could truly answer them, or at the very least satisfy Bella’s curiosity for the time being. Nevertheless, Liza continued to delay the inevitable for whatever reason, “It’s unnecessary, you were only doing what felt appropriate, for Jaron’s sake. I can never fault you for that. Just know I would never lay my hands on anyone if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.” Liza opened her mouth to continue, faltered and pursed her lips momentarily, the last bit a slip of the tongue. She hoped Bella wouldn’t linger on the words, inferring the prince had provoked the altercation.

“With that said, I would never expect you to jeopardize the sanctity and secrecy of His Majesty and his royal estate. However, my honor demands I read your letter, just as your mind demands to write it. This is no matter of trust or reason, only loyalty to the end. Can you see the grave nature before us?” Despite her still casually folded arms and tame demeanor, Liza spoke in a precise, coldly manner, eyes piercing Bella’s amber gaze as a grim silence ensued.

Then instantly all at once, her arms fell, lips curved into a smile and a warm air emanated off her face. She reached out a hand cautiously, giving Bella’s toned upper arm a friendly squeeze as a gesture of faith, “Relax, I’m only kidding.” She began, retracting her arms back across her chest, “Of course, we trust you Bella. I’ll deliver it for you in confidence. For Celine, Robby and your fathers eyes only.” Liza assured the forge house maiden, beaming at her gentle pale face. It was perhaps the warmest Bella had seen her since waking up the morning after their altercation with Millicent.

Necessary? What was that supposed to mean? Bella raised a brow, question clear in her gaze as she looked curiously back at Liza. Had the prince indeed done something deserving of a dislocated arm? Surely not! He hardly seemed the type to raise a hand to a woman, much less enter a woman’s personal space. Bella could very nearly count on one hand the number of times the two made physical contact and none of those instances were what she would term physical altercations. Well, perhaps that wasn’t entirely true? Then, he probably hadn’t meant to push her down that early morning she made her promise; he was simply trying to free himself of her grasp.

“I see..” She murmured, failing to defend the prince’s honor against even herself. If not for his throwing her book in a fire and proceeding to get in her face about it for the sheer sake of arguing, she would have wholeheartedly refused to believe - nay, vehemently denied! - that he was capable of doing something so lowly as striking a woman. Now, she found some part of herself questioning it. Her eyes narrowed, investigating the silver-haired vampire’s eyes, as though looking hard enough would enable her to see beyond the handsome façade.

“I can see the delicacy of the situation, but I’m afraid I haven’t much a clue as to its gravity. No one has given me any answers that don’t lead me in circles.” Bella produced the letter, magician-like, from some hidden place on her person, prepared to hand it over. If it was for the safety of the prince, of Sophie - of all of them, then she would allow Liza to read it. She only just held it out when her hand dropped, the serious atmosphere deflating. “I swear. You all are just as bad as my family.” Bella shook her head at her own naivete and wondered if Liza was the one who taught Sophie to play tricks. She no less gratefully handed the folded parchment over. “Who’s ‘we?’ You mean you and the monarch? Or is there some other mysterious entity I don’t know about?”

“It was about the tea, wasn’t it? That morning in the hallway?” She asked after the briefest silence. “Was the tea another trick you and the little menace conspired to pull on me? Why go to such lengths?”
 
  • According to Plan
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth

Something like that,” Liza thought to say, caught off guard by the redhead's sudden line of questioning, and sighed, downcast. “In all fairness, my tongue has a way of getting the rest of me into trouble. Indeed, His Majesty was concerned for your safety to say the least.” She sucked her teeth and brought her gaze up, but couldn’t look Bella in the eye, peering sidelong at the blackness of her white mare’s gentle eyes instead, “I don’t enjoy leading you in circles, none of us do.” She rubbed the back of her neck, it was perhaps the most off-guarded Liza the redhead had witnessed yet, despite that grisly night in the woods with Millicent, “It was a dirty trick, Bella, I’ll admit that any time of day. But you were getting nowhere, you could barely stand in the same room with him. I was just trying to bring you two closer together. I-”

Another long, piteous meow cut the dashing heroine off. Horatio lay on his side, purring upon his moist dirt bed as Sophia hummed a hymn whilst rolling back and forth along his body. Fortunately, the giant cat had enough sense not to playfully swipe at the princess with his massive claws or nibble on her with teeth like stalagmites. Even his sandpaper tongue may have torn the girl asunder; he alternatively nuzzled her with the tip of his nose, and that was always enough to satisfy him and send her reeling all over again. “Someone needs a bath.” Liza jested, gazing over the basins cliff again, then turned back to the redhead, "I'll take that. Let's not keep them waiting." She offered warmly whilst gesturing to the letter in Bella's grip.
 
Last edited:
  • According to Plan
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

The redhead maintained a somewhat solemn, focused gaze upon the silver rider of the white mare, her mind wandering back to the five-day-long dream as it had many times since she woke from it. For a while, it seemed she and the prince had grown closer; they even shared an embrace there in the corridor after the aforementioned incident with the pillow. Her last words to a young Jaron moments before the dream ended replayed: "Whatever happens, I'll be with you." Yet for all the progress they made, all the distance closed between them, it felt like they had regressed to square one. He was not the Jaron she sat with on a grassy hill under the stars; he was the vile-tempered prince as cold as the marble he appeared to be carved from.

Wait. Bella blinked, reeling. Why was Liza trying so hard to bring her and Jaron together, much less at all? Why was it so important that she felt such drastic measures as poisoning their tea were necessary? Bella opened her mouth to pose the questions only to close it again, attention drawn to the princess and her giant cat with renewed dismay for the girl's dirt-covered visage. She could only imagine the talking-to they would both get if Sophie was spotted as such.

"Sophie, come on, we should go!" The older sister called over the edge of the earthy basin. "We need to get back before anyone notices we've gone." While she didn't think a great hullabaloo would be raised over the issue of the princess sneaking out, which she had done many times, Bella did not exactly have permission to bring her out into the forest. The last thing she wanted was to endanger the child she cared for so fondly. Still, the tone of her voice betrayed her uncertainty. Turning to Liza, Bella extended the letter. "Thank you. I hope it's not out of your way." She smiled with unforced gratitude. It occurred to her that she still didn't know what brought Liza back to their neck of the woods and hoped that the delivery of her letter was not an inconvenience.

"Dirt dobber." Bella shook her head with rueful affection over the state of her adopted sister's hair and clothes. The child might as well have thrown herself in a pile of dirt and had a roll like a horse. If anyone noticed they were gone, well, they didn't raise a fuss about it; although, it would likely be discovered quite easily by the trail of soil they left in their wake sneaking to draw a bath. "You, miss, need to take a little more care out there. Don't go throwing yourself over cliffs or down ravines. We don't want you getting hurt." She scolded, gently and with an air of humor, while she washed and combed Sophie's luxurious auburn ringlets. "Funny that it seems we haven't been found out yet. Maybe we'll go completely undiscovered if I can sweep up the dirt before Imogen sees?" Jokes aside, it did strike her as curious that the two girls had yet to be confronted. Perhaps everyone was busy?

After cleaning up as much of the trail of guilt as she could find, thusly sweeping the secret escapade under the rug, Bella replaced broom and dustpan and took Sophie in hand to the kitchen to grab a bite of lunch. Had the door to the dining room not been cracked, allowing their voices to carry into the kitchen, she might not have known everyone had gathered there. She pulled the door, allowing Sophie to run in past her while she mustered the nerve to step beyond the threshold.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth

"Smells like raspberries!" Exclaimed the princess as she darted through the kitchen, hooting the reddish-pink fruits name with glee; one only need to stuff their face with a basket of raspberries once to easily recognize the soft fruits scent as it wafted through the kitchen and up both the redheads noses. Bella may have gleaned from the sound of idle chit-chat floating through the air; surely the grand dining hall was occupied, and by more than a simple duke and duchess and their hulking defender. If only it could be so outlandish to assume such an easygoing atmosphere as that which could be felt lingering in the casual voices floating through the air of the aforementioned castle denizens; even the mesmerizing aroma of a fresh pie suggested a relaxed ambience, Bella could safely assume each inhabitant shared each others friendly company therein the dining hall. Undoubtedly, with the exception of the maniacal prince, who was like a rain cloud on a bright sunny day, casting cold, grim dispersions on everything in its path, tainting the suns vibrant rays beneath a grey, gloomy veil.

Everybody glanced at the two redheads between tasteful bites of firm yet flaky crust coating the raspberry delight, as simple a treat as it was profoundly delectable. As chatty the dining hall sounded from the kitchen, it seemed the redheads had scared every tongue into retreating down their respective throats. "Delicious
raspberry pie!" Declared the princess, no less gleeful than she was just a moment ago. "I saved you a seat, Sophia." Amarinda spoke up, who sat farthest down the vast dining table, her back to the tall window-panes reaching the chandelier that hung adjacently, an empty chair and plate between her and Tobias on their side. Imogen sat closest to the edge nearest the kitchen door, across their blonde chef and the hulking defender sat beside him. "Nice of you to join us." Landon mused, eyes glossing over the copper-haired girl following after their princess. Peculiarly, Imogen stood up to greet Bella, "Madame, would you like a slice of pie?"

Sophia trudged along the dining hall, downcast, half-expecting some irrefutable quip or pestering scolding in her regards. She left behind her green cloak in a vain attempt to appear as a well-behaved, obedient princess who could never act so unseemly nor do no wrong. Batting her hazel eyes across the table, there was an uncanny silence, as she always met reprimands for sneaking off of castle grounds. Even more so unusual, however, was the sunlight bathing the dining hall, pouring in from the exposed glass typically hidden behind sumptuous drapes bizarrely drawn to enjoy the sweet pastry dish. Bella's reclusive few days suffering from homesickness, and subsequently the maniacal prince's own secluded evenings and nights, had inspired the castles denizens to, literally and figuratively, shed some light on one another. To see them in harmony was remarkable enough to evoke a similar mystique that could be expected of a particular monarch butterfly.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: Ashi

Ashi

Cat Lady of Questionable Sanity
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
  4. One post per week
  5. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Action-adventure, adult characters, alternate universe, anime, crime drama, cyberpunk, darker themes, drama, dystopia, eastern, edo, epic quest, fairy tale, fantasy, feudal, futuristic, grimdark, heian, high fantasy, low fantasy, magic, modern, modern fantasy, modern scifi, paranormal, psychological, romance, scifi, supernatural, urban fantasy.
Bella.png

All too peculiar, the copper-haired maiden thought to herself as she stood, lingering in the half-open doorway of the grandiose dining hall. In all the time she spent at the castle, even before the fated promise, never had she witnessed the whole lot sitting together at the sumptuous table together. Landon and Imogen always sat in the kitchen, or so she thought, up until that point. What in the world possessed them now that they sat at the prince's table with the young duke and duchess so casually? And what of a pie for lunch? Had Landon lost his senses? Well, getting the princess clean had taken a while. Perhaps they merely finished with lunch and moved on to dessert?

By far the most egregious peculiarity shone directly into Bella's amber eyes, causing her to squint after the dim, rosy light of the candle-lined corridors she just passed through. The heavy drapes that remained historically closed so as to enable the prince to come and go were open, bathing the dining hall in pale light like a mist. She cast her gaze all around, seeing the vaulted room clearly for the first time. The rich walnut shade of the walls no longer looked black, the gilt outlining the panels shone whereas it looked brassy and brown in the dark. From where she stood, she could make out the carved details of the mantlepiece over the fireplace, which she hadn't noticed before.

There seemed a great many things that she failed to notice about the dining hall that were, figuratively and literally, coming to light. In all the time she spent at the castle, too, Bella had only ever been in the dining hall less than a handful of times. She never used the shortcut Jaron showed her, across the room and up a flight of stairs, to get to the east wing. In fact, Bella rather avoided the place, for the most she saw of it was not in her meanderings about the castle but in her dreams. The rich beauty of the dining hall was besmirched by nightmarish images, by tragedy. She recalled this with a bump, closed her eyes for the barest instant, then slowly closed the distance to the nearest empty chair.

"Sure." Bella's voice sounded creaky in her ears, as if she wasn't sure of anything much less whether or not she wanted pie. It did smell delicious; even the kitchen still smelled of the tart berries and flaky crust. Perhaps a piece of Landon's culinary expertise would be enough to distract her from the echoes of horror?

Certainly not. Sitting in the awkward silence that ensued once the redheads arrived to interrupt everyone's afternoon, Bella found it difficult to enjoy her slice of pie. Her eyes bounced from her plate to random spots about the room, seeing not the various gorgeous particularities they landed upon but the terrors still fresh in her mind's eye. The half-eaten pastry, bright red filling smeared about the plate, was rendered inedible once she fancied the blood-spattered table around it, the filling itself might have been blood. Her face paled, or perhaps that was simply the light washing out her already fair complexion? The fork she laid across the plate with nary a clatter.

"So, what brings you all to gather in here?" Bella cleared her throat, tried to distract with her honest curiosity so she could inconspicuously nudge her plate away. She managed a short laugh, "Are you holding a meeting?"
 
  • Love
Reactions: marcy

marcy

strummy
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Genres
moth
Imogen didn't hesitate to brandish the cake spatula and scoop Bella a slice, plating the fresh pie for the copper-haired maiden before gingerly setting it beside her own. At Bella's question, the castle staff and royal heirs looked at one another, as if to convey their thoughts by a mere glance in each others direction. Something appeared to amuse them, or rather they found Bella's innocent countenance amusing. They seemed content allowing Landon to speak on their behalf, as their shameless chef somehow always appeared more sound of mind than anyone else, "If only this was so interesting. We're just filling our stomachs." He admitted almost with a hint of disdain eerily similar to the prince's own spiteful outlook, albeit far less ruthless. Imogen spoke up, affirming on their behalf, "Amarinda's had the brilliant idea to draw the curtains in the prince's absence for some time now, I suppose we decided to listen."

The housekeeper appeared like a brand new person sitting beside Bella, easily discernible from the anxious wreck Bella met the day she stumbled into the entrance hall. "Indeed, they've finally given into rationality." Amarinda jested from across the table, beaming at the housekeeper. She seemed just as enlivened if not more so, Bella's influence effectively radiating off the two. "No use letting a perfectly sunny afternoon go to waste if His Majesty won't join us in the dark." Henry added bitterly, having grown less fond of the prince's behavior by the day, directly as a result of his disregard for Bella. "How fortunate for you."

The prince's voice boomed across the vaulted dining hall, echoing through the vast castle interior. There was no mistaking it, that ghastly thing, somehow the dining hall seemed a little darker; an invisible shadow loomed over every tangible thing as the white linen of the prince's shirt coupled with the light-tone of his skin outlined the shadows across the vast space. Less than half of the drapes in the dining hall had been drawn to let in the sun, marking the point where the long row of empty chairs began to occupy the castles reluctant inhabitants, starting with Tobias and the princess sat beside him, hazel eyes widened as she scarfed down a mouthful of pie. Jaron seemed to be addressing Henry, who sat across from Bella. Despite his grim demeanor, the prince looked revitalized, the soft blue glistening of his eyes and stench of alcohol suggesting recent consumption. "It warms my heart to see everyone in such high spirits!" It bellowed, casting his uninviting gaze across the dining hall. Jaron's face flared up as his eyes landed on Bella, "It doesn't surprise me to see you playing house with these sorry halfwits!"

A stiff and restless silence ensued in the face of the prince's tyranny, his aggression truly knew no bounds. "I've had enough of your childish antics, from now on you'll quit avoiding me under my own roof. And you'll fix these damned blinds this instant!" Declared the prince, his tone crisp and firm, yet no more pleasant on the receiving end; he looked a lot less friendly than he sounded too. Surely the vein swelling on his temple would burst any second, or the whites of his knuckles would tear apart by sheer force, perhaps his jaw would pull a muscle by clenching his teeth so tight.
 
Last edited:
  • Spicy
Reactions: Ashi