It wasn't long until I found the Prince. All I had to do was ask a trembling maid where I could find Elijah and the woman skittered off, returning with the blond man in tow. He smiled at the shaking woman before dismissing her, turning to me with a grin.
"What can I do for you, Cloud?"
"Two things," I told him, holding up two fingers. "One; help me schedule my lessons. I'm ready to start focusing. Two; take me to my family. I should speak with them." I chewed my lip, then stuck up a third finger. "And if you don't mind, I'd like to see what your search parties have already come up with."
Elijah paused, thinking it over, before sighing. "We'll leave in fifteen minutes. Clean yourself up."
He turned to leave, but I lunged forward and grabbed his wrist. "We?"
The Prince tensed, and I slowly let his hand go. He returned it to his side, face forward as he begrudgingly answered.
"Your parents -- your mother, I suspect -- deserve a visit from a royal who knows what's right."
His words processed in my mind as he walked away, footsteps heavy. I collected myself, pulling my hands into my chest before running to my room. Mom can't be in trouble with the Prince. She didn't mean to... To be mean, I thought, pulling on leather clothing similar to the ones I wore when Kai first stumbled upon our little family. After brushing back my hair, ridding it of pieces of wooden weapons, I tied it back and rushed from the room. Gathering outside the castle was the Prince and three other warriors, free of the guards' uniform, all on horseback.
"Is that her?" One asked, glancing from me to the Prince. Elijah looked over and nodded, eyes quickly passing to something else. The warrior who spoke slid down from his horse, handing the reins to a comrade.
"Hello, Miss Rose. I'm Travis," the warrior said, taking my hand and bowing above it. Flustered, I curtsied in response.
"It's nice to meet you, Travis."
The other two frowned before following suit, the Prince ending up with three sets of reins along with his own. Travis moved to the side to allow his friends to greet me, a strange curtesy that surprised me.
One with shocking platinum hair gently kissed my knuckle as he bowed. "Miss Rose, you're very lovely. My name is Shade."
The one next to him, with the blackest hair I'd ever seen, grinned and pulled me in for a hug, which caused me to tense before awkwardly hugging back. "I'm Andrew! You seem like a good person, Cloud!"
Blushing, I curtsied for both of them before glancing at the Prince who was staring at his horse's mane. I scowled, Travis laying a hand on my shoulder. His hair was similar to mine in colour, and his eyes were a warm brown shade. "You will be riding with me," he informed me, leading our little group back to where the Prince had their horses. The three warriors mounted up before Travis extended a hand to me. Something clicked in my head, unknown to me, and when I took his hand, prepared to awkwardly climb up, I easily jumped up and settled in side-saddle.
"Impressive," Travis murmured as he nudged his horse into movement, unable to see my bewildered look as we followed the others to the top of the path leading down Mythic Mountain. I sighed, smiling and watching the Valley passed by.
It was peaceful enough to distract me from the events to come.
Riding through the marketplace on the way to the Rose farm was a hard experience. People stared at our group, since the boys each had some sort of marking of being royal, and most of them recognized me. Some knew me personally and looked worried -- others knew me as the supposed halfblood daughter of Alice and Jeremy Rose, an evil spawn of the devil. I kept my eyes forward, imagining Terrance, Warren and Charles. Picturing the day when I found Terrance and got revenge on Darkbloods.
I ignored the snippets of their conversations, my blood tingling with warmth as we rode by. It occured to me that some of them may attack, but I didn't expect them to try to use their power on me while I was riding with the Prince.
Instead of causing a scene, I kept my head down and focused on the sound of horse hooves on the pavement as we trotted closer to the home that I loved.
When the cabin-like household came into view, I began to tear up. Travis sent me a gentle smile over his shoulder, pulling up beside the Prince as the four boys guided their horses to the side of the road in front of the Rose home. I slid down before the rest of them, taking shaky steps toward the front door. I felt out of place as I raised my hand to knock, knuckles scraping against the rough door.
Warren, with dark bags under his eyes and greasy, unwashed hair, opened the front door with his eyes on the ground. Seeing him so distraught caused my tears to fall, and I jumped at him, arms wrapping around his waist. I heard him gasp before the air was squeezed out of me, his voice rough as he whispered my name repeatedly, crying as well.
"Warren, what's going on?" A scared voice belonging to Charles asked. Warren and I separated enough for me to look around him at the sibling I resembled the most. Charles' broke down instantly, falling into my arms in a puddle of tears. The scene caught my father's attention, who appeared with my mother in the doorway to the living room.
"Kids? Who's there?" My father asked, unable to see me squished between my larger brothers. They moved so that my parents could see me; dressed in high quality leathers, clean and well taken care of.
"Hi, Dad," I choked, unable to greet my mother. It didn't matter -- my father was already wrapping his arms around myself and my brothers, suffocating us all as the air was squeezed from us and our tears nearly choked us. We stayed like that for several minutes before I heard the four boys arrive to the front door and I pulled away, wiping my eyes and cheeks. Charles and Warren clung to me as I turned to look at my mother.
"The Prince is here with three of his warriors to speak with our family," I told them, but it was directed at her specifically. She was still acting strange it seemed as she disappeared into the living room, leaving me to escort the Prince and warriors inside, my brothers and father trailing behind us.
They all brushed past me as I hesitated outside the door, staring into the room I'd spent so much time in.
Andrew held back from the others, stopping beside me. He still looked ridiculously happy.
"You can do this, Cloud," he told me.
Then he pulled me inside.