Chapter Three386Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡseEYtsnC2c
I quietly walked through the common room in my house. It was a small but nice room, with lots of seating for my parents and five brothers. The house in general was small, and it was a wonder my parents took me in the first place with five children already present, but it wasn’t cramped.
I had already made it past my two youngest brothers, who I shared a room with. It may seem inappropriate for a girl to stay in the same room as two boys but I had a curtain to section off my part of the room so it was never a problem. I spent most of my nights at the castle as a servant. However, sneaking past Peter and Thomas was no hard task; they slept like the dead. They snored louder than all of the people at a political conference could speak at once.
It was getting past Cedric, my oldest brother, and my mother that I was worried about. Their rooms were not too far from the common room and I had to be completely silent in order to not get caught. My father was already out at his blacksmith workshop, along with the last two boys, Gavin and Zayne. In order of oldest to youngest it went Cedric, Peter and Thomas were twins, Gavin, Zayne and then myself. Zayne was barely a year older than me, so I spent most of my free time with him.
The only reason I had to worry about Cedric was because his ears were like a bat’s. Despite being our father’s apprentice and hearing a loud boom of a hammer all day long, his hearing was fully in tact. With Papa, we often had to repeat ourselves.
I had my hand on the door knob and I was turning it slowly. It made a low squeaking noise and I shied away from the noise. I just had the door open to the cold morning when a tall person slammed it shut from over my hand. I turned around and glared up at my tall brother.
“Where are you going, Innocentia?” Cedric asked in his usual monotone voice. I could still hear how groggy he was through his lack of emotion, so I knew that I had just woken him up.
I shifted from foot to foot. “The Black Lake?” I told him, but it sounded more like a question because my voice came across so quietly.
“No,” Cedric said simply.
I wasn’t surprised by his reaction. “What do you mean ‘no’?” I asked him.
“I mean, no. I know that the man is waiting for you there. Asher told me.”
I was going to kill that boy. “Of course he told you.”
Cedric rolled his eyes. “He cares about you. Of course he’s going to tell me.”
“But I have to go. I don’t know for sure, but I think it has something to do with my family,” I told him.
He shrugged. “Then by that logic I must go as well.”
I shook my head. “No, I mean my family, Cedric.”
He stopped blinking after this statement. That was how he conveyed shock. His eyes were the only thing that showed real emotion on his face. Why it was that way, no one really knew. It was just who he was.
“Fine,” Cedric came back to life as much as his personality would let him. “But I’ll be there in a few hours if you haven’t returned home to come find you. Do not go into the water.”
I nodded. Everyone knew not to go into the water.
I headed out, Cedric saying he’d cover for me with our mother. I doubted that. That boy could not lie to her even if he tried. He was such a momma’s boy.
My thoughts turned darker the closer I got to the Black Lake. I had to leave town and venture into the forest, and with no sun it was a bit hard to see. No one went to the Black Lake anymore; it had once been a beautiful place that everyone got their water from but they say a witch cursed it, so whoever drank from it would be cursed. No one was stupid enough to figure out how they would be cursed by testing luck.
The Black Lake had turned into an eerie and sinister place. People who went missing often wound up on the shore of the lake, no pulse in their body. I had only been once, and it was when I was a little girl. It was a terrible memory I did not want to go back to.
The lake was coming into view now, and I could feel my heartbeat quicken. I couldn’t see the man I had met last night. I walked closer to the large lake, not getting too close. I was on the shore, staring at the water. It truly was black, but it was, in a way…
“Beautiful?” A man asked from my left. I shrieked and jumped back. I quickly covered my mouth and glared at him when he started to laugh.
He did not have his hood up now, and I could easily see his features that were illuminated by the moon. He was not a man, but rather a boy my age. He was handsome with sharp cheekbones and a curious blue gaze. His black hair was ruffled, probably from always wearing his hood. But I cared not for looks right now; this teenager had played me!
I turned away and starting walking back towards the forest. The boy easily caught up with up with me and had a fake innocent look on his face.
“Why are you leaving? Don’t you like me?” He asked, giving a sarcastic pout.
I glared at him once more. “No, I don’t. What you did was mean. I thought you were going to give me some useful information and it turns out you were just playing a stupid prank.”
He walked in front of me now, effectively stopping me.
“Wait. I’m sorry if it came across that way. I really do have some important things to tell you, but I just thought I would, perhaps, lighten the mood by not dressing so mysteriously,” He told me.
“I care not for the mood. Tell me what you want me to know and then be on your way,” I demanded. This boy was starting to irk me.
He sighed, as if regretting coming here himself. “Your parents are not really your parents. You are the youngest daughter of the king and queen, and they wanted you killed.”
My breath caught in my throat, and it was surely not because of what he thought it was. “How did you know that?” I questioned him.
He looked confused. “What? No ‘Oh my gosh I’m a princess’?”
“No, I knew that. How did you know?” I pushed.
Now his expression was blank. He hadn’t seen that coming, and he didn’t know how to react.
“It is none of your business on how I came to know these things. I thought you would perhaps appreciate the information, but it seems as though you are ungrateful,” He told me before he turned away to start walking. For a moment he paused and whispered something so low I could barely hear him. “My name is Terryn.”
I didn’t say anything to that; he knew my name already, and I never wanted to see him again.
I had sat at the shore of the Black Lake for a few minutes as the sun was just coming up before I saw my brother coming out of the woods. I rolled my eyes. Of course he wouldn’t wait as long as he said he would. But I wouldn’t give him a hard time about it. He was always overly-protective of me. All of my brothers were, but he was more than the others.
He looked relieved to see me safe and alive. Instead of reprimanding me about not coming home, he surprised me by sitting down next to me silently. We just watched the lake together. I had no idea what was going through his head but he looked like he wanted to ask me a question.
After a bit, he finally asked me, “Did the man have anything for you?”
I shook my head, my throat closing up. I had gotten my hopes so high only for them to be shot down. I don’t know what I wanted to hear from Terryn, but I knew I didn’t want to hear what I already knew.
“Shh, it’s alright. Don’t cry.” Cedric pulled me into a hug. I hadn’t even realized that I really was crying. I don’t do it often. So why was I doing it now?
I buried my head into his shoulder. “I’m sorry for not coming home, Cedric,” I said as I tried to stop my tears.
He pulled back, a small smile on his face. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you apologize for not listening to me.”
I punched him in the arm and laughed. I wiped the tears away and acted as though I hadn’t had any in the first place. “Yes, and it will be the last as well,” I teased back.
An idea sprung into my mind, so I quickly got up and started to run into the forest, knowing exactly what his reaction would be.
“Oh no you don’t!” He scrambled to get up before easily catching up to me. He swooped me into his arms, causing me to shriek in surprise. I hadn’t thought he would completely lift up off the ground.
I crossed my arms and looked at him sourly. “Put me down,” I ordered him.
“Nope,” He replied.
“Please?” I gave him a pout and he didn’t even budge.
He took me all the way home, despite almost tripping more than once with me in his arms. The stubbornness of my brother was impossible.
Once we got to the front door, an evil grin came to his face. “Here ya go,” He said and suddenly let me go out of his arms. I fell harshly on the floor and landed on my rear end. My legs had fallen asleep so I had a hard time even attempting to move them, much less stand up.
Meanwhile, Cedric was laughing his head off, “Ha! Y-your face!” I could hear laughter coming from inside as well. Oh great, my mother had seen.
I finally managed to stand up and gave him a playful shove. My backside might hurt, but I had to admit it was pretty funny. That didn’t stop me from barging in on a scene of my mother red in the face from laughing as well. I was pretty annoyed at the both of them. They could both be so immature sometimes.
Mama was an average woman, leaning on the pretty side. She shared Cedric’s brown hair and green eyes, but that was where the similarities stopped. Mama’s features were soft and rounded, unlike Cedric’s sharp and pointed face. She was also a plump woman, but how could one blame her when she had given birth to five boys and a stillborn?
I maintained the sour look on my face and dropped into a chair in the common room. Mama seemed to calm down a bit and she came to sit beside me.
“Honey, that is why you don’t trust your brothers with your well-being,” She said, eliciting a cry of denial from Cedric.
“Mama! I am shocked to hear your thoughts of me,” He teased. He put emotion in his face only for our mother, and it was one of the many things that brought a smile to her face.
“Oh hush boy. Do you need something cold for your… landing area?” I had to give her credit, Mama did try to keep a straight face when she said that. It didn’t last long however because soon she was giggling like a young girl.
“No Mama, I’m fine,” I told her, trying not to smile myself.
She controlled her laughter and got up off of the seat. “You do know I love you, right Cenna?” She asked as she went back into the kitchen.
“Yes, Mama, I know. I have always known, and I will know that for many years,” I told her the same as I always did when she asked that question. It would be impossible to replace a woman such as my mother. I couldn’t even imagine what my life would be like without her.
A loud knock came at our door, and Cedric immediately went to answer it. Standing there was a small-boned messenger I recognized from the castle. He was a snob and believed himself better than a servant, so I never really talked to him much.
“Yes?” Cedric asked in a polite tone.
The messenger pulled out a scroll, unrolling it to read what was written. He cleared his throat before speaking. “Dear Innocentia, we the Prince Cassius of Sovera and Princess Cedany of Ianda, invite you to tea at midday today. Please wear formal attire,” The messenger relayed.
My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Is that it?” I asked him. It was a rather short message.
The messenger nodded. “Yes, it is. Good day,” He said, turning around a going back out into the street. Well, he didn’t want to stay long.
But why was Dani inviting me for tea? And with the prince’s agreement that I should be coming as well? I don’t know how to feel about this, but I don’t think it will end well.