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Staring hard at the end of the road, I couldn’t figure out where to go. People walked to and from and I was at a loss. Standing here within any destination in mind.
I sat on a rock and tried to make my mind wandering in the world of thought. It was getting late already and I knew how dangerous the night could be especially for a lady as young as I was but do I really have a choice?
My mind went blank as I sighted a group of men coming towards me. It was dark already and you could hardly see anyone. I was too weak to stand up and run.
They reached me and one of them who appeared like the leader jerked my face up to meet his. I was weak…too weak!
He pulled me up and removed some strands of hair from my face before his lips curved into a smile
“What a pretty face! Such soft skin. What a good catch!” He laughed and the others also came to feel my skin. I tried to plead but I couldn’t find the voice to do so.
“Let go of her!” A cold voice commanded from the darkness and the men left me to face it’s owner whom I couldn’t see his face clearly.
“You dare command us? I bet you don’t know who we are” the leader said as he approached the stranger.
“You’re no match! Let’s put you to your place” the leader hissed in anger and he started an attack. Who was this stranger risking his life? I really feared for him. He was no match for these men.
But to my surprise, he dealt the leader punches, carefully dodging his before swiftly throwing him to the ground defeated. Seeing this, the others attI cked him too but apparently he was good in martial art as they soon laid groaning in pain before my feet.
“Are you alright?” That cold voice!
He stood before me inspecting with his eyes. I lost my voice. Was this beauty? You heard me right! This man was too handsome or should I say beautiful? Breath Crystal!
“Y-yes!” I stuttered after finding my voice. He was standing inches from me and his cold eyes made me shiver. I quickly pulled away from him trying to clear the awkwardness.
“Why are you out here all alone?” He asked, this time his voice wasn’t so gentle.What should I say? That I was lost? Sent parking? Or
“I really appreciate what you’ve done. You should leave me alone now and continue on your journey. Don’t waste your time on an homeless girl” I spoke as I turned to walk in the other direction, leaving him standing.
“Homeless? I can’t leave you all alone you could
“Homeless? I can’t leave you all alone you could fall into danger again. I don’t mind if you come with me”
Did I hear right? Who’s this stranger? How can he let a stranger like me go with him? Or does he has something evil up his sleeves? But come to think of it, he risked his life to save me from those people and if he has not shown up, I wonder what would have become of me.
Well, it’s not like you have any choice, Crystal. You could fall into more serious danger again or even freeze to death in the cold of this night.
“Alright. Fine I’ll come with you” I replied as I snap back to consciousness. He was already walking few steps away from me. I had to run to catch up with him. But…I felt my head grow thousand times it’s normal size and throb of deep headache while my legs grew weak. Before I faded into unconsciousness, I felt some hands around me.
I woke up to the ray of light that peeked from the curtains into the royal blue coloured room. Wait a second…this room is unfamiliar. How did I get here. And this soft bed was too smooth against my skin. When was the last time I slept in such a fluffy bed? Wasn’t this dream too sweet? And this pink flowery gown? Did I own it?
Realisation hit me hard, throwing me off the bed. Yes…I remember that stranger asking me to go home with him, I couldn’t remember anything else since I went unconscious. He must have brought me here right? What about my dress? I don’t remember wearing this beautiful one. My eyes wandered through the spacious room. It was beautiful and feminine, and spoke of royalty.
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Where was this stranger? I wondered as I got into a pair of flip-flops by the bedside before walking out of the room. Outside the room was a hallway which led into a beautiful garden.
“Wow!” I exclaimed as I stood before the most beautiful and gigantic Castle you can only dream about. Flowers adorned the path which led from the garden to the castle. In the middle of it was a water fountain. It was really mesmerizing. Where really was I? Am I finally dead and inside a paradise? How sweet!
An angelic little voice called.
I turned round to see a beautiful little girl standing behind me with a rose flower. On her fine blond hair settled a silver crown. She was dressed in shiny pink gown. A cute smile adorned her little face.
“I’m Anna. I guess you’re the Miss Adam talked about. What’s your name please?”
“Crystal. Who’s Adam? What’s this place?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Oh?” She looked surprised before her face curled into an adorable smile.
“This is Madora. Kingdom of the Seven Hills. You’re in the palace. You know, I love roses” she paused and sniffed in the scent before continuing.
“I love you too. Please accept this rose from me” she stretched out the rose towards me and I couldn’t help but smile as I accepted it.
“Princess Anna! Where are youuu?” A sing song voice called out and she giggled. Princess?
“That’s my mum, Miss Crystal. Got to go before she gets mad at me. Would see you around some other time, bye.” She waved and ran off.
I felt the flower she gave me for sometime before my eyes trailed off to a group of maids working. Can someone tell me if this is a dream? My aunt and cousin aren’t in this dream of mine but where were they? I had always lived under shadows before they pushed me out yesterday.
The scars on my back would always serve as a reminder. I was meant to please and not complain. I was never exposed to the outside world. I was always in their beck and call.
“Hey!” A voice called and there stood…that stranger! His black hair shone under the clear sky. His cold voice was like ice, gentle yet intimidating. He was handsome in his princely suits. He shared a strong resemblance with Anna.
Wait…was he a prince? How bad Crystal for you not to have known.
“T-thank you for yesterday” I broke the icy silence as I suddenly felt embarrassed with his piercing gaze. He smiled. His eyes held some warmth.
“It’s okay. Please come have breakfast with me. I guess you’re hungry” his voice was too commanding, leaving me with no room to reject.
I must have failed to notice some maids arranged a table with two chairs opposite each other. I earned some envious glare from some of them which made me tremble.
“Your… your highness? Why didn’t you tell me you’re a prince?” I asked as we sat to eat.
“Because it doesn’t matter if I’m one. I need not scare you. Your name?” was his simple reply.
He actually a prince and he risked his life for me? What if something had happened? How could he save a commoner like me? I wondered as we finished quietly.
“My prince…His majesty sends for your presence” a young man who I suspected was one of the palace guard announced before leaving quietly.
He stood up from his chair and walked round to me and offered his hand. I couldn’t help a little blush. I felt so embarrassed as he took mine in his and kissed the back of it.
“I’ll get you to see my parents now” he replied, my hand in his as he walked me towards the castle.
“What’s this nonsense, Adam?!” A voice thundered as we walked towards an elderly couple who I guessed were the royal family. I only heard about them and not thought of ever standing before them. I shivered as their intimidating glares were sent at me. I flinched.
“What’s my crime this time, father?”
“Why did you leave the confines of this palace last night without even a guard? You fail to realize you’re the crown prince and should behave as one” his father roared.
“Father? When has it become a crime to get some air outside?”
“Adam. It’s high time you changed. You’ve grown into a fine young man fit for a prince. When do you plan on concluding your marriage with Mirabelle?” It was his mother who spoke this time.
“I don’t love her. I don’t have an idea about this forced marriage. Marrying her is just to please you. She can keep waiting for as long as she wants”
His parents regarded him seriously before they finally focused on me.
“Who are you, young lady? Are you a new maid here?” His mother asked sternly.
I was confused. What should I say? I was melting under their gaze and he doesn’t look like he would be saying anything anytime soon!
Her eyes were sharp as she sent intimidating looks at me. I never even thought of what to say.
“Mum…this is Miss Crystal, she’s the lady I told you about. I want to have her as a personal maid. Please mum!” A little voice cried.
I recognized the angelic little girl from earlier as she rushed in. She had the same facial features like the queen.
“Don’t tremble, Anna and I already planned this” Prince Adam whispered into my ear.
I watched the queen stared at her
“Are you sure, princess? Because the last time I checked, you always refused to have a personal maid”
“Please grant her wishes” the king who had been silent all along said before redirecting his gaze at his son.
“I want to have a word with you in private, Adam” he walked off, while Adam followed behind after sparing me a smile.
“I’ve heard all that you said, princess and your request has been granted”
“Thanks mum! I love you like roses” she squealed excitedly while her mother winked at her.
Then the queen walked gracefully towards me, her deep eyes staring at me suspiciously. She looked so elegant in her royal blue gown adorned with silver stones which shone. I had to admit she was beauty itself.
She stood inches before me the air was consumed by her scent which spoke of luxury. I bowed my head as a sense of inferiority washed through me.
“What’s your name, young lady?” Her rich toned voice asked after a while of scrutiny.
“Crystal, your highness”
“Hmm…I see” she was silent for a while as I felt her eyes wandered through me.
“What have you been feeding on? I can see how pale your skin looks”
Her voice held a hint of mockery which almost made my eyes moisten up. How could she? I know I’m a commoner who isn’t worthy of her presence, her face is only something I should just see on books and not in reality. But…but how could she hurt me so much with her words?
Or doesn’t she think I’m a human? Yes, I’m a human with the most fragile heart because of how much this poor heart of mine had gone through, having spent all my life with my aunt and her daughter. Well, maybe I’m just a slave who shouldn’t have any feelings. I’ve grown used to being hurt and I never thought much about it but now, I couldn’t help it since it was coming from someone else, not my aunt or her daughter.
I thought maybe they were the only ones who could hurt me so much with their words…but now, this woman too? Do I look so horrible that hurtful words are being thrown at me? If my heart were a glass, I guess it would have broken into several pieces long time ago.
“You look starved but your eyes are as bright as crystal indeed. You’re actually pretty, I must say. Now listen to me. I want you to be a good maid to my daughter and you won’t get on my bad side but if I find out that you’re actually here for something else, I’ll make you regret every air you breath”
Then she whispered “Don’t try to weave your way into my son’s heart because he already has a woman who’s better off. He doesn’t have eyes for you and he wouldn’t even if you try. I don’t want to see you anywhere near him. Just focus on your job as my daughter’s maid and we’re good. Don’t forget, I’ll be watching you.
See my daughter to her room, I’m sure you already know your room in the other building which is the servants quarters and you’re only allowed to leave her sight only if she’s asleep. Other than that, you’ll have some days off though. You can leave with her now. And don’t forget to feed well for that skin of yours” she spoke every word with so much emphasis to make sure I understand.
“Yes, your highness” I curtsied like I’ve watched ladies do in those movies I sometimes sneak into my cousin’s room to watch with the pretense of busying attending to her.
“Show her to your room, princess”
“Alright,mum” the little girl answered excitedly as she held my hand and led me out. Her words still continued to repeat inside my head.
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We walked through the staircase which led into a beautiful hallway. She stopped in front of a door and I entered the room after her. The room was beautiful, painted pink with several princess stuffs.
My eyes settled on a piano by the side of the room and they lit up with admiration.
“Can you use the piano? Please play me a song” she pleaded. I didn’t notice she must have seen me staring at it longingly. That was the first time in many years I’ve seen one again. The last time was when my parents were alive. My father gifted me a piano on my eight birthday.
I couldn’t resist it as I sat before it. Letting my thoughts flow as my fingers worked on the keyboard, a soft music played. It was ‘Canon’ one of my favorite.
I didn’t know how long it went but when I was through, I heard someone clapping. I turned to see Anna with a smile.
“Thank you, Miss Crystal. Never heard a nicer tone”
“Really? Maybe we could play this often if you don’t mind”
“I really don’t. Miss Crystal?”
“Yes, princess?” I squatted to her level.
“Adam told me everything” she said, I was confused for a while.
“He told me everything about yesterday. He brought you here. You see, I love my brother so much that I tell him everything. He also tells me everything too. I think I’ve found a friend in you too, right?” She asked. I nodded and she continued.
“That’s why I want you to become my friend. I know my mum can hurt sometimes with her words but she doesn’t mean it. I’m really sorry for how she spoke at you”
I was surprised. How could a little girl talk so much? And so reasonable too?
“How old are you, princess?”
“Seven” she replied. “Do you mind playing hide and seek with me?”
“Alright” I closed my eyes with my palms and I guessed she ran to hide. Then I searched until I found her curled inside a doll house.
“Found you!” I giggled after a while of searching. We burst into laughter.
“You cheated, Miss Crystal. It’s unfair!” She made a puppy face and I pinched her
She threw a pillow at me which I caught in mid air. “You know what? I’m not playing with you again until you promise to dress my doll”
“Okay, I’m sorry” I replied and she burst into laughter.
“She fell for my trick”
“Oh?” We burst out laughing.
The door opened and we turned to see Adam behind us. He looked so angry when he entered before his face melted into a smile on seeing Anna and I running round the place. He was too handsome. I felt suddenly stupid for running like a kid.
“Adam!” Anna ran to him on seeing him and he scooped her into his embrace.
“Thank you, Crystal for making my sister so happy. She rarely smiles” he beamed that charming smile at me and I nodded back with a smile.
“Don’t try to weave your way into my son’s heart!….he already has a woman who’s better off …” I remembered those words and my heart fell. I wondered what she meant. I never even planned on getting close to him.
“Miss Crystal? Please give us an answer” Anna called out to me and I broke out from my thoughts.
“Oh sorry…hmm what?”
“We’re going to an amusement park next week. Will you come with us?” She asked.
I thought carefully for a while “Let’s see if that’ll be on my day off” I replied. I remembered visiting those places with my parents before they died and we used to be one kind a happy family.
“Now let’s act a movie, Cinderella. You’re Cinderella, Adam is the prince charming and I’m the evil stepmom”
Adam and I turned to stare at each other.
The day ended quickly while I watched Anna sleeping before I left for the other building which was the servants quarters. When I tried to find my way to my room which was the sixth door by the left, I bumped into a group of maid.
“Let’s see who we have here,” one of the said scornfully and the rest of them laughed before stopping before me.
“Excuse me. I need to get to my room, ladies” I tried to weave through them, thinking they didn’t know they were standing on my way but a hand pulled me back.
“Where does this riff raff think she’s going to? You dare not walk out on us” they glared at me intimidatingly. This people were sure going to be trouble. I don’t even know them. Why does everyone i meet treat me this way? Do I look so horrible?
“Imagine we have to set chairs and table for breakfast before this b*tch”
“Yes, she’s happy she got a chance to eat with him”
“She even has to eat with the Handsome Lord! What nerves!”
“He even got to kiss her hand! How dare she!”
“She must have some charms”
“How about we teach her a few lessons?”
They kept on talking while I watched, confused. I couldn’t fathom what they mean.
“I’m feeling sleepy right now and I got alot to do by morning. I don’t know any of you and I wonder who this person you’re talking about is. It’s obviously not me. Why don’t you go get the prince to have breakfast with you, if you so wish? Or can’t your charms work on him too? Weak charms!”
I forced my way through them and entered my room, slamming the door shut. I guess they never expected that. But I wasn’t going to let them have the chance to pull me down. I’ll stand up to them or else they’ll keep on doing it.
My eyes moistened when I laid on the bed and few tears escaped my eyes as I forced myself to sleep.