Two nights ago, there was a blizzard that visited the Regaleria Kingdom. Snow falling heavily on the sky covering every track visible. The lush green mountains transformed into white crystal cones, bald trees seen everywhere, and even the beach that once boast its blue-green vibrant color changed into ice.
Apparently, King Garlow hated snow. That was the only thing that Lianne agreed about him. The pureness of the white snow didn't suit the stark contrast of his dark demeanor. Winter always visited the kingdom every year, and Lianne knew this was the only time that drives the King out of his own castle.
Just five days ago, he left for Arlington along with Lord Jared which was just two days sea voyage away from Regaleria. He had another chateau there which was half the size of the Regaleria mansion. At this time of year, Arlington had an opposite weather, warm sunlight with easy breeze, much better than the ice cold winter of Regaleria.
Lianne felt for the first time ever free of the mansion's emotionally-devoid royal residents.
What more could she ask for?The prince of whom she disliked was in Veirsalles;unknown as to when he would come back, hoping he would not come back;and the King, to hell he was, was also not in the mansion.
It would take for Garlow almost three months before he'd be back, in time with the winters passing and spring coming again to her dismay. Spring was supposed to be a joyous cycle of weather, if only not for his arrival. Nevertheless, for now, she could take advantage of everything. She could graze the magnificence of the palace mansion to her hearts content and even, maybe. . . just maybe. . . find a way out of the mansion.
That night, she was on her own room reading a novel when she caught a glimpse of her window pane's frozen state. The wind outside was still strong accompanied with freezing snow falling to the earth. Surely, they would have to clear a few pathways after the snow would abate, and surely, many maids would complain of such tiring task.
This seemed to be the same thing that happened a few years back. Just by looking at the pureness of the white snow, she could never forget how deadly and dangerous it was at the same time.
She was thirteen back then. Recalling one day, there was a blizzard that hit the kingdom unexpectedly, as strong as the one two nights ago. Lianne was out in the west wing field in her usual place when it started. No one did notice her absence aside from Lady Faye and the prince himself.
It was such a strong blizzard that no one dared to look for the princess outside and even concluded that the young lady would have been just hiding somewhere inside the mansion. But, Prince Ruen who was seventeen back then did not resolve to such a conclusion.
Princess Lianne tried to force her way down the path to the mansion, but her frail body could not fight the cold. The last thing that she remembered then was seeing a shadowy figure before falling into unconsciousness. Subsequently, she got a high fever and was mostly unconscious for two days while staying in one of the guestrooms of the mansion.
The next morning, she woke up and realized she wasn't in her own room. Lady Faye was on the receiving room sitting in a sofa chair when Lianne opened the bedroom door. The young princess would have been relieved upon seeing her mentor, but it was much to her disappointment when she saw the prince sitting across the other side of the wide sectional, positioning himself like some lazy, weary-laden beast.
Lady Faye asked her to sit at the sofa and handed her a hot chocolate mug to sip on.
Though she was feeling restless on every constant, unmarred stare of the prince, she didn't dare to make a conversation with him, but during the entire time she stayed, she noticed him cringe in pain every time he uses his hands.
It was only then that she surprisingly saw sore, red blisters on the palm of his hand when Lady Faye dressed the wounds openly inside the receiving room.
The young princess did not further inquire on how he had gotten such blisters, but she was astonished when she heard from Lady Faye's conversation with the royal physician that the prince did in fact went outside the snowy storm in order to find her and managed to carry her while unconscious back inside the mansion.
Somehow, she felt thankful to him for saving her life, but in the end, no words of gratitude was said.
The princess placed down the novel she was reading and left the comfort of her own room to the main kitchen for her dinner. It was still snowy and the atmosphere outside was dark giving the whole kingdom a gloomy feeling.
As she reached the main kitchen, to her surprise, she found that there were no servants present. Odd. Really odd. The kitchen was so devoid of life that the princess felt an instant foreboding feeling. Where are all the servants anyway?And Lady Faye. Where is she?
She quickly left the kitchen and surveyed the entire first floor of the mansion for any person, but to her alarm, she could find no one.
Again, she proceeded to scout the second floor, from the study room and royal library located at the west wing to the guest rooms at the east wing of the mansion.
She could find no servant in the hallways to her apparent dismay.
This time, she decided to proceed to the third floor of which she had never step foot since she was brought in Regaleria. It could be possible that all of the servants were in the throne room, but for what reason when she knew that Garlow was in Arlington as of the moment?
The crown prince's room was in this floor while Garlow's room was entirely in the fourth floor for himself. If she were to wander around this part of the mansion, she should do so this time when these men were away.
She cautiously strolled towards the enormous portal of the throne room. It was such a huge door about three meters high and heavily adorned with gemstones, diamonds and gold flakes.
In its center, there it was carved the crest of the kingdom and letters of what spelled'King of Kings'.
She shook her head in mocking amusement as she instantly recognized to whom the words were meant to.
Upon opening the huge half of the door with a bit of effort on her part, she saw to her astonishment the massive hall with unlit chandeliers and empty, unoccupied seats.
" What. . . what on earth?" Lianne whispered to herself as she gradually took in the scene in her front. " Where is everybody?"
A gleaming light atop her head on the ceiling then started to shine catching her attention. Her eyes widened as she realized it was rather supernatural for it to happen, but surprisingly enough, it didn't frighten her.
She stepped inside the hall to get a closer look at the now fully charged light.
It intrigued her more when she saw the very source of the light was a single emerald pendant painting.
Like lightning flash, she was dumbfounded when she realized that the painting she was staring now was the very emerald pendant she wore when she was eleven years of age, the time when Garlow attacked the Vhillana Kingdom.
With just that bit of memory, flashbacks after flashbacks of memories began to drown her thoughts in a swirling rapture of light, and it suffocated her, cutting the air from her lungs.
A deep, rather hungered breath awoke the princess from her sleep. For a moment, she was confused and felt wary of where she was.
She hastily scanned the familiar furniture in her room and soon realized that she was in her own bed, sweating heavily.
" Huh, just a dream, " Lianne commented calmly but that didn't steady her trembling body.
" You are oddly silent this past few days my dear, " Lady Faye commented to the princess who was sitting near the countertop holding a potato peeler on her right hand.
She only responded the Head Servant with a slight smile. The dream that night had been occupying her thoughts for days without end and it proved to be something she could not just deny;it was after all a part of her past.
For whatever purpose the dream wanted to convey to her, she had to make it sure to get a glimpse of that painting on Garlow's throne in some way or another if it was truly an actual painting, though she knew full well it was a difficult task.
" I hope you'd not be this silent when Lord Cain arrives, " Lady Faye proceeded to announce catching Lianne's attention.
" He's coming today?" the princess inquired with a worried look on her face. For some reason, she didn't want to entertain anyone at the moment.
" Why?You do not want to see him?" the Head Servant questioned further.
" No. I. . . I just don't feel well today that's all. "
" Ah, no wonder you are so quiet, " Lady Faye declared. " Then, you should go to your room immediately and take a rest. I'll tell Lord Von Cavill to meet you next time. "
" No, Lady Faye, " Lianne immediately countered. " I. . . I'm fine. It's okay, I'll see him today. "
Lady Faye steadily stared at the princess for a second hoping to catch the reasons for her odd actions, but she dismissed it all when the princess then stood up and bade herself exit.
The old woman was confused as to the princess'recent behavior. First, she noticed her staying in her own room for almost two days;second was finding the princess wandering around the first floor of the mansion as if observing every servants activities, and then now, being too silent.
This would be the first time seeing the princess act like such, even when Prince Ruen was at the mansion. She had to do something in order to find out what was bothering the princess now.
It was afternoon when Lord Cain arrived at the Regaleria mansion. The roads have been cleared of snow by the servants and was safely passable, but considering that the winter season was coming to an end, it took them little time to do the job.
" How have you been?" Cain asked the princess in a jovial manner to which the latter instantly noticed.
" Fine, actually, " she lied. " How was your business trip in other cities?"
She deliberately chose a new topic not wanting to discuss her own current situation. She swept the plates of her peach yellow gown as she sat at a cushioned chair in the main parlour located right side of the foyer.
Lord Cain would have wanted to find a more private place for them to talk, but it was Lady Faye who suggested they stay in the main parlour.
" All a dull time I might say, " Cain replied. " Business isn't my hobby, but since father is too busy in the City of Olga, I guess he left me with these duties. "
Lianne slightly laughed at his account. " You're good at that however. "
Cain scoffed in response. " Was that even a compliment?"
He was sitting adjacent to where she sat, only the tea table separating them apart. He was wearing a black unbuttoned coat with a white long-sleeved shirt, coupled with black pants to fight the cold weather away. His overall appearance made him look mysterious but urbane.
" At least you get to travel whenever you like, unlike me, " the princess retorted back, leaving with her words a sense of disappointment and regret and Cain couldn't dismiss it easily. The expression on his face changed from a jaunty manner to that of a serious one.
" What would you give just to be able to see the world, Lianne?" he asked, his eyes staring directly at her.
She looked down on the floor feeling rather conscious of his frankness, but it made her pause in deep thought.
" Everything, " she managed to answer lightly. " I always wanted to be free, you already know that. "
Cain continued to stare at her. " Yes, of course. "
As if there was no other topic left to discuss that they were both out of words.
Lianne seemed to be uncomfortable with the silence between them that she continuously sipped on the tea prepared by Erza for them.
Suddenly, Cain stood up from his seat and quickly caught the princess'hand and pulled her up to stand.
" Come!" Cain demanded, guiding the princess out of the parlour room.
Lianne was greatly surprised by his actions and went on to ask while being led out of the foyer and into outside of the main entrance of the mansion where his stallion was waiting, attended by Paul, the stableman.
" Lord Cain, where are we going?" she cried.
" A ride, " Cain replied as they stopped in front of his stallion's tied reins.
" You know I'm prohibited horse riding again!" Lianne shouted as she was nearly in disbelief of Cain's persistence.
" Says who?" Cain arrogantly queried.
" That man, " Lianne replied in a low tone as she paused to watch Cain's reaction.
For a moment, the young lord stopped and seemed to think deeply. Then, he pulled out the reins from the metal post and began to lift the princess up the saddle of his horse to her surprise.
" Don't worry, " he confidently said and then winked at her.
" No!Lord Cain wait!" she complained meekly to no avail. Cain was already sitting close beside her, her right shoulder touching his hard chest. She could feel her waist and buttocks in between his legs and felt the manly physique clearly evident as they set out on their journey.
" Hold my waist well, " Cain ordered as his magnificent stallion began to trek the snowy path out of the mansion's gates.
" Where are we going?!" Lianne questioned, fear beginning to flood inside her.
Satisfied, Cain smiled in response and said, " To where I live, the Soulisse Mansion. "