So…here I am.
You know, when I asked for a chance to meet a Knight in Shining Armor, this was NOT what I meant. I paced up and down the single oval room as the wind howled outside the shudders. It was cold and miserable in the towers one room. There was a comfortable bed (well, better than the pile of hay I'd been using) and a sturdy table (better than the floor I was used to), which had a magical plate and goblet that filled with anything I liked to eat and drink. I was also dressed in layers. It took me a while to get used to them, but the layers were fine silks and it even had LACE. Can you imagine, little, pathetic me in LACE! I laugh thinking about all the other people I know and how they always scorned me. If they could see this finery with me in it, well, they sure as the devil wouldn't be scornin' me no more.
What's the point of being this nice if I'm stuck in the clouds? I looked out the tower window and I saw small lumps of rock poking out of the clouds that are beneath my window. My mother always did tell me to be careful with my words; who knew? I had been walking from one barony to another when I sat down to rest my sore feet. My feet were so thick with calluses the only thing sore were the middle of my feet; apparently the arch on my feet are too deep. I had a man once say he was a doctor and offer to fix them, but I ran. I don't trust anyone, much less anyone willing to break my bones.
Yeah, to continue the story, I sat to rest my feet when an old man came and sat next to me. He wasn't close enough for me to be uncomfortable, but he started to talk to me. No one talked to me unless it was to tell me to get out of their way. Truth be told it was that that should've tipped me off. Something was wrong if someone was willingly talking to me…but, for some reason I was drawn into conversation with him. It felt so good to complain to a listening ear about how my life sucked. To have someone who looked at me while I talked and seemed to really care about the words coming out of my mouth. I'll admit that I cried a bit. My feelings may be hardened and stiffer than an oxen yard, but that didn't mean that I wasn't privileged to shed a tear or two. The body has to do what the body has to do.
But then I made the mistake, I guess, of wishing to meet a kind man, a knight in shining armor! I'd hear tales of hero’s from the battlefields and the code by wish they lived. I wished to be the recipient of that kindness if only once. Just once and I'd be happy the rest of my life. The old mad had looked at me in the eye and smiled.
"My dear," he said softly. "Is it really only once? Once you've tasted it, you won't be able to live without it."
"I don't know," I said now smiling myself. "I've never received kindness from anyone…accept you old man. I am grateful for you."
"But you can live without me," he said his smile turning almost devious. "So, I'm willing to guess that what you're craving is not kindness at all."
"You're starting to speak in riddles," I said raising an eyebrow. "I just want someone to look me in the eye, like you, and be honestly kind to me. So I thank you. I'm happy I met you."
But the old man shook his head, laughing, he said, "I shall show you."
And just like that- in a flash of light- I ended up here. I was once told that magic was false and not true. I also heard that those who practiced magic were to be burned for the sake of the holy. I didn't sense anything bad from the old man, but I wasn't too sure what to make of all this. But, growing up where you have no power whatsoever, you tend to just go with the flow no matter what.
Forever passed. Or what felt like forever anyway. The cold air stayed cold, but after a while I began to grow accustomed to the climate and knew when the cold was a warmer cold than freezing cold.
My hair had been short because I'd cut it to sell for food, but now my hair reached long past my shoulders and to my waist even! I usually cut it when it reached my shoulders, but I had nothing to cut it with. Having long hair felt odd and I noticed too often that it got in my way; while I ate, while I slept, and even while I did simple exercises to keep myself busy.
When it wasn't freezing outside, I opened the heavy wooden shutters and let the wind blow through. It was frightening to see how high up I was. The earth was so incredibly far away! I had no idea I was afraid of heights until I came here.
One morning there came a loud clang at the window. I looked over to see a grappling hook good and taut at the window seal. I snuck over and, peering over the side, I went slightly dizzy, but before it became too bad I was able to make out a black dot making its way up the tower wall.
I immediately looked around the room for something to protect myself with even though I knew perfectly well that there was nothing. I guess I could throw the cup and the plate at him, but I would starve or die of thirst if it went out the window. I ended up hiding behind the foot of the bed because I couldn't fit under the bed.
I heard the person clamber through the window and practically collapse against the wall, trying to catch his breath. I peeked over the end of the bed to see a rather handsome guy in light armor, mostly leather, and he had a dagger at his side. If I could get that dagger, I'd feel safer, I thought trying to formulate a plan. The man stood up with a great sigh and looked around; his eyes rested on me.
"My princess, I've come to rescue you!" He said this as though he hadn't been winded a moment before. "Come and I'll-"
"I'm no Royal," I said frowning and standing. "You obviously have the wrong tower."
"What?" He looked confused. "But an old man told me there was beautiful princess here waiting for a knight in armor to rescue her!"
"This old man have silver hair tied back and thin facial hair?" I asked raising my eyebrow.
"Y-yes, that's him. He told me-"
"He's the one who put me in here without my say so," I said in the most country drawl I could muster. "This must be a game of his. I ain't a royal…or a princess."
"Oh," he said scowling. I could almost hear the gears working in his head. "Well, then, I'll be going."
"Mmm, okay then," I said. This guy was looking for a princess, I was not one, so it made sense that he'd leave in search for a real one.
"I will leave the rope so you can get down; this is a rather cruel joke," he said already scaling down the wall. I was about to tell him that there was no way I was going to hang this high in the air with nothing but a rope, but he was already too far down.
This incident occurred many more times. Every time the poor soul found out I wasn't a princess, they left. A couple stayed to eat with me before they left, and that actually made me rather happy. Most were kind while others pitched a small fit before leaving. I realized that I really liked this out of the way tower. I had plenty of food, a bed, and no one judged me! I couldn't be happier.
Then he happened to climb into my room.
He stumbled in- by then I could tell when someone was climbing and I was ready with a drink and some food on the table.
"There's food and drink here once you've caught your breath," I said. I was sitting on the bed with the table in front of me so that the Knight could sit in the only chair.
"You are kind," he said with a grin as he moved to the chair. "A princess with a kind heart."
I laughed, "that's where you're wrong, Sir. I'm no Princess."
He scowled as he drained the goblet and started on the food before him.
"What do you mean you are not a princess?"
"I'm not," I replied. "Some old man put me here as a joke."
"The rope is there," he said, "How come you have not left and saved people the trouble of coming here?"
"Well," I said shrugging. "If I leave the tower is still here and there will always be people to climb that wall. Don't you think it's better that there's at least someone here instead of having poor souls climb up all that way and not have anyone be here?"
"I see," he said turning his attention to his food. I'd spent a while coming up with that excuse. The last time I told a Knight I was afraid of heights, he had tried to carry me down. I was not used to being touched and gave him a fair few bruises before he
finally let me go.
"Do you want to be a princess?" The question came out of nowhere and I didn't know how to answer it.
"I don't know," I said after I thought about it for a while. "Why?"
"I can get you out of this tower," he said, "And in return-"
"The devil couldn't make me leave this tower," I replied now giving into the truth. "I'm also mortally afraid of heights."
He stared at me like I was speaking another language and standing on my head. He opened his mouth a few times but always shut it as though he couldn't quite bring himself to say it.
"You're in quite a fix," he said finally. I shrugged.
"I like it," I said. "No one bothers me really, and its quiet, and those who do come up are mostly kind. No one was ever kind to me before I came up here, but now I get it almost every time I see someone. And I'm not hungry all the time. And-"
"I can get you out of the tower," he said again, staring hard at me. I scowled at him.
"Maybe I don't wanna leave," I said firmly.
"Do you want to be a princess?" he asked again. The look in his eyes clearly told me that he wanted me to say 'yes'.
"Why?" I asked again.
"Forgive my selfishness, but I need a wife," he said locking eyes with mine. "If not, a betrothed. We need not get married so long as I can hold off the joining of my country with the other so I can settle the major problems with the treaty. You see, if my country rushes into this…I feel as if there's something we've over looked. My intuition is rarely wrong, but I need time. If I can get you out of this tower without you being afraid, will you pretend to be by wife?"
This was a lot to take in. I was not pretty enough to even be considered middle class, never mind royalty! It was laughable! But he looked very confident that he could get me out without making me afraid. I kind of wanted to see that.
"This is only pretend?" I asked and he nodded. "Fine. Let's see what you can do."
He beckoned me toward the window and I made sure I was looking straight and up, not down. He grabbed my arms, not hard, but it still made me jump. He wrapped my arms around his neck so that my hands clasped in front of his throat. Then he bent forward and lifted my legs up to rest on his hips and I was clinging to his back.
"Don't be so stiff," he said turning his head to the side a bit. "Hook your ankles in front because I'll need both hands to climb down. Also, don't hold on so tight around my neck, or you'll choke me."
Right…its not good to choke the man that's the only thing connecting you to a flimsy rope! This was a really bad idea!
"Close your eyes," he said and I didn't need any urging. I could tell he was climbing out the window and my heart jumped into my throat as in my mind I saw the long drop down.
"Keep your eyes closed," he said; before I was able to tell him that it wasn't working he added. "So, what's your name?"
"Huh? Oh, ummm, i-its, ah," I had to think for a moment. I was too busy thinking about the drop that I had plumb forgot my own name. "I-its Sabilla."
"No," I snapped, I hated that name. "Sah-Bil-La. Sabilla, What's yours'?"
"Quin," he said panting slightly. "Prince of the Kingdom of Halron. Second in line to the throne."
"Only second? Then why are you part of a treaty?" This was not like the stories I'd hear on the streets.
"My older brother is already betrothed," he said simply. "I'm actually a military man myself, being the second son, but I was forced home in order for this treaty to be made."
"You don't trust your enemy," I said starting to get the gist. Being a commoner and lower than dirt I didn't know much about politics, but I knew that when one person has been fighting another for a while, then it's natural for them to mistrust each other.
"No, I do not," he said quietly. "We've been fighting for too long and are too different for them to suddenly decide to draw up a treaty. Things like this take time; it's just too soon."
He was seriously uneasy about it. I guess if he was desperate enough to try to get me to pretend to be his wife, then he must really be in a bigger fix than I had ever been. I also didn't know much about the military or wars, but I'd been in a few fistfights. So I could see why the guy you had been beating up suddenly wanting to be friends would be a bit awkward.
"We’re here," He said suddenly interrupting my thoughts. My eyes snapped open to find that I was on solid earth once more.
"So," he set me down, "how did I do Princess?"
"I see," I said looking up and then down at the ground. "You made me think of other things to distract me from what was happening. That's clever."
"It works well with almost any fear," he said. "Of course its not a cure, but it helps when things need to get done."
That was very clever. I quickly stored that information into my memory for my own uses later.
”So, Princess Sabilla," he said bowing and holding out his hand. "May I escort you to your new home?"
I blinked a few times and wondered what in the name of the angels I'd just gotten myself into. I couldn't pretend to be civil. There was just no way. I was a street urchin at best. Lower than that even!
"A-are you sure?" I asked looking at him hard. He straightened up and gave me a calming smile.
"If I wasn't sure I would not have bothered to take you out of the tower," he replied, his hand still out for me to take. I took a deep breath and took it.
I was in for it now.