Chapter 27 – Taken: By Surprise
Chapter 27 – Taken: By Surprise
She ran as hard and as fast as she was able.
Something was wrong, she could feel it in the pit of her stomach.
Another wave of dizziness washed over her. She paused for a moment and tried to clear her head, but nothing worked. A familiar wave of panic washed over her. She forced herself to take a deep breath and continue towards the Embassy.
What had Alexandria been thinking?
Why had she gone to the Rramnon Embassy alone?
Why had the guards let her?
Tilly didn’t know the answers to those questions.
All she knew was what the guards had told her. The Princess had left early that morning, and promised to return before lunch.
That was two hours ago.
Tilly had woken up with a jolt, at noon, which was when the feeling of panic first assaulted her. The doctor had informed her, that it was just a side affect of her seasickness, but this was nothing like the familiar queasiness of her time aboard the ship.
As the minutes ticked by Tilly was positive that something had gone wrong.
She wasn’t exactly sure how she knew; she was just hoping that the Nobleman living at the Terrafein Embassy would believe her. Tilly couldn’t go to the Rramnon Embassy alone and request to see Alexandria; she didn’t have the social ranking to demand such a thing, but a representative from Terrafeuw did.
During the nauseating two-week journey, Tilly had learned much about her Mistress. One of the things that Alexandria had confided in her was the blood treaty between Alminia and Terrafeuw.
If the Alminian guards wouldn’t believe her, perhaps a Terrafein Noble would.
Dizziness rolled over her again and Tilly had to lean onto the wall to keep from falling down as she inched herself forward.
Her head was pounding.
Her legs still acted like they were on the ship.
She could feel sweat dripping down the back of her neck as she looked up.
There it was, just a few buildings away.
“Thank the Sky.” Tilly sighed in relief.
She forced her uncertain feet up the steps and pounded impatiently on the door.
Finally the butler answered. “Excuse me, sir, is the ambassador in?” She asked between large gasps of breath, “I need to speak with him...or...or her as soon as possible.”
“Name please, Miss.” He asked in an extremely bored tone.
“Tilly Ferguson of Alminia, sir. I’m the-”
The man didn’t let her finish. “One moment please.”
He left the room, and Tilly’s exhaustion increased ten fold. She noticed a small bench a short distance away, and made her way towards it.
She didn’t expect to see the young man that walked past her.
Tilly had to be hallucinating.
It was the only explanation.
Why else would he be there?
He didn’t seem to notice her standing in the middle of the foyer, but she was positive that she recognized him.
He stopped walking, and turned around slowly. But, before his eyes found hers, Tilly’s world went black.
~~~ Change Character Focus
“Noah!” Phillip’s voice called urgently.
Noah rushed quickly down the stairs. Something was wrong, he could hear it in Phillip’s voice. Several possibilities rushed through his head, but he would have never expected to see Tilly passed out in the foyer.
“Till?” He wondered in a concerned confusion as he rushed towards his friend. “What are you doing here?” He asked even though he knew that she wouldn’t be able to answer him. He looked towards Phillip, who looked back at him in bewilderment, “Did she say anything before she fainted?” He asked?
“She mistook me for you,” Phillip explained, “but before I could even turn around she collapsed.”
Noah and Phillip looked up simultaneously and noticed that King Freddrick had walked in with the butler.
“The young lady fainted Father.” Phillip answered flatly.
“The young lady said that she had to speak to the ambassador as soon as possible.” The butler informed them, “I believe that she came on urgent business.”
“Tilly what happened?” Noah wondered softly.
“Noah,” Phillip asked perplexed, “How do you know her?”
He paused for a moment, and tried to think rationally. “Her name is Tilly Ferguson.” He finally answered. “She is a friend of mine. She works at the Alminian Palace as the Crowned Princess’s escort.”
“Do you know why she is here, son?” King Freddrick asked.
Noah forced himself not to react to being called son. He racked his brain and tried to remember.
Then it hit him. “The letter.” He realized in a ghostlike amazement.
“What letter?” Phillip questioned.
“Several weeks ago, after I regained consciousness in Ohrim, I sent a letter home.” Noah explained as he ran a hand through his hair. “I was startled by what had happened and I didn’t think straight. I had asked for someone to come and prove my innocence.” He paused for a moment and looked down at his unconscious friend, “Still, if Tilly came for that reason,” He wondered, perplexed, “why is she here and not at the Rramnon Embassy?”
It didn’t make any sense.
The butler moved Tilly’s limp body to a chaise lounge in the nearby sitting room, and after a few moments she opened her eyes.
“Noah?” She asked in a confused voice. “You’re here?”
“Yes Till,” he comforted, “I’m here.”
A vale of confusion blanketed her eyes, “Why are there two of you?”
Noah looked back and noticed that Phillip standing nearby watching them. There would be time to answer that question later. Currently, he needed answers of his own. “What are you doing here Till?”
“When Richard showed me your letter, I panicked. I passed it on the King and Queen.” She explained, her voice slightly uneven, “When the Princess found out about your kidnapping, she agreed to come and help release you.”
“Why would the Crowned Princess come herself?” He heard King Freddrick asked suspiciously.
Noah didn’t have the time to fully answer the question. Knowing that Annabell was in Jodan had grabbed his complete attention. “Till?” He asked his tone serious, “Why are you at the Terrafein Embassy?”
“During the journey, Princess Alexandria told me about the blood treaty between Terrafeuw, and Alminia.” Tilly explained, her voice slowly returning to normal. “I hoped that the ambassador would be able to help.”
“Help you with what?” Phillip asked stepping closer.
Tilly looked back and forth between Noah and Phillip in bewilderment. “Am I hallucinating?” She eventually asked.
“Tilly,” Noah pleaded, “please concentrate. What do you need help with?”
“She left this morning, alone, to speak with the Rramnon Ambassador. She was supposed to return two hours ago.” Tilly explained, “I fear that something might have happened to her.”
Noah’s heart stopped beating.
He didn’t have to ask Tilly whom she was talking about.
“Noah? Are you alright?” He heard Phillip’s voice ask. “Noah!?”
It couldn’t be true.
It wasn’t happening.
Why had he sent it?
Realization hit Noah harder than any punch from his masters, “This is all my fault.”
~~~ Change Character Focus
Philip didn’t understand what he was witnessing. He remembered Noah’s story from the other day about the Princess Alexandria choosing him as a suitor. It had been the reason why King Heralf had mistaken Noah for him.
But that didn’t explain Princess Alexandria personally being in Jodan, or Noah’s reaction.
His double had fallen silent, but he was clearly angry.
Noah looked like he wanted to take down the entire Kingdom of Rramnon, single-handed.
Something was going on. There was something that Noah was hiding from them.
What was it?
The moment Phillip told the young woman named Tilly that he and Noah were two different people she passed out again.
“What do we do now?” He asked Noah as they left the unconscious girl in the conservatory.
“I don’t have a plan.” Noah admitted. He was shaking slightly, as if it took all of his strength just to appear calm, “but I need to do something.”
“Noah, you need to calm down.” Their father cautioned.
The thought surprised Phillip.
When had he accepted Noah as his brother?
Did that mean he trusted, Noah? Even when he was clearly hiding something?
“Do you have a plan?” Noah questioned earnestly, pulling Phillip out of his mental deliberation.
The King’s blue eyes darkened. “Yes.” He stated somberly.
“What is it?” Noah asked, the desperation in his voice baffled Phillip.
Freddrick was quiet for a moment, as if deliberating his idea. “We wait.” He eventually answered.
“I don’t understand.”
It took Philip a moment to realize that both he and Noah had spoken at the same time.
“If the Alminian Princess has actually been taken, then King Heralf must have something to do with it.” He informed knowingly. “If he wants something, then he’ll make contact. If he doesn’t, then he’ll let her go.”
“Do you think that I could break her out, father?” Phillip offered, “I got Noah out, perhaps I could...”
His father raised a hand to silence him. “No.” He commanded. “It was too much of a risk to let you go the first time. Now that they believe that Prince Phillip escaped, they’ll be waiting for him try and rescue the Princess. If, that is, she has actually been captured.”
“How is waiting a plan?” Noah demanded.
Phillip was surprised at the pain that coated Noah’s voice. Did Noah have feelings, for the Alminian Princess? But then what about Lady Annabell, the girl that he had spoken of the other day. Had Noah fallen for two women above his rank, while he was a servant?
Was that his secret?
"If.” King Freddrick answered, stressing the word if, “If she has been taken, we need to wait until we know his demands before...”
“He’ll want Phillip.” Noah interrupted knowingly. “He kidnapped me, solely because he thought that I was Phillip.”
A knowing look came to their Father’s face, “That’s too risky,” He cautioned, “I just found out that I had a second son I’m not-”
“Keeping this a secret,” Noah interrupted again, “means that I’m not a...a prince. I’m still just a servant. My life doesn’t-”
“Noah,” Phillip cautioned, realizing what Noah was proposing, “He’ll kill you, if he suspects foul play.”
Noah clenched and unclenched his fists, as if trying to grasp something. “Philip,” He said quietly, “You’ve already risked your self. If anyone’s going, it’s me.”
Silence enveloped all room. All three of them seemed to be at a stand still.
“I just found out about you,” Freddrick reiterated, finally breaking the silence. “I lived twenty years of my life, thinking Heralf had taken your mother away from me. I can’t just let either of you go. You are my sons, and until we are certain that something has happened to Princess Alexandria, you will both be staying put.”
His words had the ring of finality to them.
Noah raked his hands through his hair. “I’ll promise to remain here until we are certain of what has happened to her, but...” He took a deep breath as if to steady himself, “I can’t just... I won’t...”
“Noah,” Phillip asked, still wondering what secret he was hiding, “what’s really going on?”
He looked over at Phillip and chuckled slightly, “Perhaps one day I’ll be able to tell you.”
~~~ Change Character Focus, Later
Alexandria sluggishly opened her eyes and was instantly disoriented.
Where she was?
What happened to her?
She felt terrible.
Her head ached, her mouth was dry, and her eyes stung from the light shining in through the small window.
She was curled up on a cold bare stone floor, and was freezing.
Alexandria tried to push herself up into a sitting position, but a wave of nausea forced her to lie back down again.
It was dark, how long had she been asleep?
Her pounding headache told her that she hadn’t been asleep. She had been unconscious.
What had happened?
Alexandria’s memory was hazy, and she couldn’t seem to remember the events that led to her laying on the cold stone floor. She recalled arriving at the embassy, but then she somehow got captured.
She had been captured.
She knew that much.
The condition of the room conveyed that much.
It was rather bare and the stones did little to ward off the chill from the sea. There was a tray, in the corner, that appeared to have food on it, but she wasn’t in any condition to eat.
Slowly, Alexandria tried to sit up again. She used a nearby wall to keep herself steady.
Eventually her mind began to clear, and her memories began to return.
~~~ Earlier that Day
She went to the Embassy on the last day of September, arrived promptly at eight thirty in the morning, and had hoped that someone would be able to give her some answers.
Alexandria had ended up waiting two hours for the ambassador to come and greet her.
He was a stout man, around his late thirties, and her was clearly bound to the rules of social conduct, just as all people of Rramnon were known to be. Alexandria found him to be an unyielding man. He insisted quiet repeatedly that she had been misinformed. There weren’t any Alminians or Terrafeins staying in the Rramnon Embassy.
She was in the process of being escorted out of the building, when King Heralf crossed her path.
King Heralf had left Alminia early, for business.
What business did he have in Jodan?
“Your Highness.” She greeted as he walked pass her. She added a small curtsy when he turned to acknowledge her greeting.
For the briefest of moments he appeared confused by her presence, but he quickly hid it and offered her a court nod. His dark green eyes sparkled with some unknown emotion, “Greetings, Princess Alexandria.” He smiled and dismissed the ambassador.
She couldn’t remember actually meeting the King of Rramnon, but there was something eerily familiar in the way his eyes watched her.
“Please forgive my intrusion, your Highness.” She continued, as she forced her hands to remain still. “I was hoping that you would be able to assist me.”
“How might I be able to do that?” He inquired, seemingly perplexed by the situation.
“I received a letter from...a friend requesting that I meet him here.” Alexandria informed. “However, when I informed the ambassador, he became rather insistent that the person I inquired about couldn’t possibly be here.”
King Heralf looked at her curiously, “A friend of yours,” He clarified, “here?”
“Yes.” She admitted. “He asked that I...visit him before he left.”
“I regret to inform you, Highness,” he said as a strange smile found it’s way to his face, “but, your friend, is not here.” He continued walking and motioned for her to join him. “Pardon my asking, Princess, but aren’t you suppose to be entertaining suitors at the moment?”
“I suppose you believe that it was rather impractical for me to come all this way.” She countered.
He seemed to contemplate her statement, “It must have been an urgent message to cause you to abandoned your duties.”
“I fear what might have happened.” She confessed.
Why was she telling King Heralf this?
“Tell me, Highness,” he inquired slyly, “this Terrafein friend of yours, what does he looked like?”
“Why do you ask?” She wondered suspiciously.
“If he is indeed in trouble, I can ask my men in the city to be on the look out.” He offered, “If he is in Jodan, we might be able to help you locate him.”
Alexandria glanced carefully in King Heralf’s direction.
It didn’t make sense.
She was positive that the letter Tilly gave her had been from Noah. There was no doubt that he had been in trouble, perhaps he still was, and yet -
King Heralf called Noah her Terrafein friend, but she had never mentioned Terrafeuw to him.
“How did you know?” She inquired carefully, “How did you know that he was from Terrafeuw?”
It was the last thing that Alexandria remembered asking.
For the briefest of moments she couldn’t breath. Her lungs burned and her eyes stung as a strange and horrifying sensation evaded her senses.
She was terrified. She felt her hands trying desperate to remove something from her mouth, but her efforts were futile.
Soon after that everything went dark.