Lilee opened her eyes and light flooded the room. She laid there squinting at the sunlight trying to figure out where she was. She was on a soft, comfortable, and warm bed. The room had bright tapestries on its walls, velvet curtains around its windows, and paintings with gold frames.
“Wow” she thought. “I’m dead.”
“Hehehehe!” She heard a distant giggle.
She sat up and her head started to pound. Her head fell into her hands as she held it like it was about to explode.
“Nope, nope. Definitely not dead.”
“Hehehehe!” She heard the same giggle.
She opened her eyes, turned to get off the bed, and saw her sword laying on a table in front of her. Lilee approached her sword cautiously. She remembered the last time she tried to wield it and how it burned in her hands. She stood as far back as she could, reached over, and poked it. Nothing happened. She carefully picked it up and left the room to find the mysterious giggle.
She walked into a hallway with crystal chandeliers, windows big enough to be doors, and a long purple carpet leading to a set of double doors with a crest. Lilee stepped closer and touched the golden dragons on the crest. This place reminded her of a story she read in a book she stole from one of the older kids, Caprice, at the orphanage. It was about a princess that lived in a castle. She didn’t get very far before Caprice realized that Lilee stole it and found her hiding in a closet as she was trying to read it. Caprice yanked it out of Lilee’s hands and hit her on the head with it. Lilee rubbed her head thinking of that painful memory.
The giggle was coming from behind the double doors. Lilee unsheathed her sword and pushed the heavy doors open.
“Hehehehe! And remember, hehehehe, that time you wore my father’s dress robes?! What were we?! Five years old?! He was so angry!” giggled Denisey.
“Hahaha! I think he was only angry because I got jam on it,” chuckled a man sitting next to Denisey.
Denisey looked up and saw Lilee.
“Well, good morning, sleepy head!” said Denisey as she motioned Lilee to sit next to her.
Lilee was confused. She was in a dining room with a table big enough to seat 50 people, and Denisey was being nice to her.
“I must be dead,” Lilee thought to herself.
“Put that thing away,” Denisey pointed to Lilee’s sword. “Come over and meet my cousin, Broderic.”
Broderic stood up and pulled out a chair for Lilee.
“You were very brave last night, child,” said Broderic.
“What’s going on?” asked Lilee. “What happened last night?”
Broderic walked back to his seat and passed a window along the way. The sunlight penetrated him a bit, kind of how Denisey looks in the sun.
“Are you transient too?!” blurted Lilee.
“Lilee!” scolded Denisey.
“It’s quite alright,” said Broderic. “She should know.”
Lilee was half staring at Broderic with her mouth open and half staring at the food in front of her.
“Go ahead, eat! You must be starv…”
Broderic didn’t even finish his sentence before Lilee had a roll in one hand and some chicken in the other and started ripping it apart. She reached for a gold jeweled goblet to drink whatever was in it so she wouldn’t choke on her big bites. She hasn’t had a decent meal since she left Mr. Micha’s house.
“So, yes, I am a transient like Denisey,” started Broderic. ”This is my castle. Denisey’s isn’t too far from here, but no one is there now… after Denisey was murdered a curse swept over our land, Lankrin. The same thing happened to the kingdom of Mossen. Denisey was supposed to marry their prince. Slowly, everyone became ill. No one could find a cure for this mysterious illness. I fell ill too, but I didn’t die like the others. I woke up one day and everyone was gone… and found myself like this.”
“But last night, I heard Denisey scream. As if you were hurting her!” growled Lilee.
“I was wrong,” said Denisey. “There are some unsettled spirits here. Broderic thinks they might have tried to curse us too. He saved us last night.”
“They only come out at night,” said Broderic. “Which is why you must leave before sunset.”
“What about you?” asked Lilee.
“I can’t seem to leave the castle grounds,” said Broderic sadly. “I think I am imprisoned in my own home.”
Lilee wiped her mouth with her sleeve as she looked over and Denisey. She sat nicely with her hands folded on her lap, like the princess in her book. She has never seen Denisey act so lady-like before or heard her giggle. Or even smile for that matter. Denisey was happy to see a familiar face and reminisce with her cousin. Being around him brought out the things her parents taught her. Lilee felt sad that Denisey wouldn’t see them again like she hoped.
“Let’s get you guys going now,” said Broderic.
They got up and walked through a different set of doors. Broderic led the way and Denisey walked next to him. Lilee fell a few steps behind as she admired her surroundings. She has never seen anything so grand in her life.
“Is that YOU?!” laughed Lilee, pointing at a painting.
Denisey and Broderic turned around to find Lilee pointing at a painting of Broderic. Denisey went over to pull Lilee forward.
“That’s not polite…. HAHAHA! Look at you!” exclaimed Denisey.
“My MOTHER made me do that!” Broderic said as he blushed at the embarrassing painting of himself. He was playing a flute while standing next to a white horse and some swans in a forest.
Denisey continued to giggle and started to walk back to Broderic.
“Wait!” shouted Lilee. “That’s MY sword,” she pointed as the painting again.
Denisey stepped back. She looked the sword in the painting that was hanging from Broderic’s scabbard and then at the hilt of Lilee’s sword. Denisey looked up at Broderic, who now stood next to her.
“You killed me,” whispered Denisey.
Broderic threw Lilee across the hall and into a stone wall. She laid motionless. He pinned Denisey against a wall and drew a dagger to her neck.
“Yes! Yes I did, and I thought I got rid of you for good!” yelled Broderic. “It should’ve been MINE!”
“What should’ve been yours?” asked Denisey.
“Lankrin! You were supposed to be married off, but your father and the King of Mossen had something else in mind. They wanted to unite Lankrin and Mossen and make you QUEEN! I was next in line to rule Lankrin and your father robbed me of that!”
“My father had Lankrin’s best interests in mind. Mossen’s army was stronger and would protect Lankrin! He was doing what was best for Lankrin!”
“Your father was a heartless idiot!”
“How could you say that?! My father raised you like a son after your father passed. He was a strong and noble man!”
“Your father was weak. You should’ve heard him beg for his life before I chopped off his head!”
“You did what?!” roared Denisey. She punched Broderic and wrestled him to the ground. She pulled out her dagger and managed to cut Broderic’s arm as he ran past her. She leaped and tackled Broderic to the ground.
“Tell me the truth, you selfish piece of shit! What happened after you murdered me!” demanded Denisey.
“I don’t know how that child,” he motioned at Lilee, still lying motionless on the floor, “ended up with my sword, but I beheaded the King of Mossen and your father with it. After I killed you, a flash of light threw me into the forest. I don’t know what happened, but no one knew I had killed you yet. Your father and the King of Mossen were at your castle discussing the murder. I walked right in and killed the King. Your father tried to reason with me, that silly man. Once his blood touched my sword, the same flash of light, but bigger and brighter this time, pushed me back to my castle. The light swept through the lands and killed everyone. I don’t understand why, but I woke up and my sword was gone and I’ve been cursed to stay in my own castle! And those spirits last night, they were trying to keep you away. That stubborn kid sure put up a fight.”
Broderic kicked Denisey off of him. She stood up and slashed Broderic’s face with her dagger. Broderic punched Denisey and fell to the ground. She rolled aside, but Broderic managed to stab her stomach. Denisey gasped in pain as her dagger fell out of her hands. Broderic took it, grabbed Denisey by the throat and held her up.
“You were spoiled by your father. If I were a son to him, then why did he make you queen instead of making ME king?!”
Denisey gasped. She couldn’t move with Broderic’s tight grasp around her neck.
“I couldn’t kill you with my sword, maybe I could with your dagger,” he said as held it up.
The room started to spin as Denisey closed her eyes.
“Maybe I will get to see my parents again,” she thought to herself.
She fell to the floor.
She looked up and saw Broderic towering over her and dropped her dagger. A long green blade was protruding from his body. Lilee pulled out the sword and chopped off his head. Broderic fell to the floor and disappeared.
Lilee stood there with wide eyes and blood dripping down her face from slamming into the wall. Her sword was glowing green and so was the rest of her body. The sword hummed.
“AHHHH!!” Lilee screamed in pain, but didn’t let go.
Denisey got up and tried to pry it from her hands, but it burned her.
“Let go, Lilee!!”
Lilee looked like she was in a trance. Her eyes got wider as she screamed. The sword dropped and so did Lilee. The green glow faded. Denisey kneeled next to Lilee. She wasn’t breathing.
“NO!!” screamed Denisey as she punched the floor.
She closed her eyes and tried to find Lilee, like the first time she saved her.
Denisey opened her eyes to see Lilee’s lifeless body and closed her eyes again.
Denisey shook her.