After the “festivities” finally came to an end and the servants started cleaning up the mess, Rosalia excused herself in the most refined princess-like manners she could to make her father and mother believe she had changed her demeanor due to her mother’s speech. Because the last place she wanted to be was locked in the tower, and forced to marry someone she really did not like.
Once out of sight of anyone who would tell her parents about her behavior she stomped off to the castle library to rant to herself in peace and think of a way to get out of the castle. Once in the library she headed for the most secluded area and started blowing off steam, or at least tried to.
“What are they thinking? The last person in the world I want to marry is that sniveling weasel. He does not even stand up for himself when he should!”
During one of these rants she managed to knock over a stack of books covered in thick dust that had been sitting on a shelf. “Just great! Now I have a mess to clean up!” She thought as she coughed and sneezed from all the dust in the air. Picking the books up in frustration an old map fell out of one of the books.
"What is this?" She said looking at it she quickly recognized it as a map of the ancient catacombs under the castle, but she had not heard of anyone ever mapping them successfully.
The castle was built on the foundation of an ancient fort that had once been situated on the hilltop the castle now sits upon. The fort was from a different age when the evil dragons terrorized the world, and when the region was ruled by a great empire. The catacombs had served as both a sewer for the fort bringing in fresh water and draining out the waste. Which it still does just not as elaborately as it once had. As well as a secure storage for supplies and arms, but no one in the history of Anglicia had ever successfully mapped the labyrinth of tunnels, for they had been designed so that only those who built them and those of that military would be able to navigate them to enter or exit the fort or get to the secured supplies. There were rumors though. That supposedly the descendants of those solders stationed at the fort kept the knowledge of how to navigate the tunnels. Even passing on actual maps of them. Now it seemed those rumors where
Looking over the books that the map had been stashed away in, Rosalia recognized who they had belonged to. Sir Christopher, he had always treated her as a little sister and an equal when she showed interest in the techniques of the knights and told her the legends of the Dragoons, especially of the female Dragoons, and their battles against the evil dragons & dragon halflings and their protection of the people, the young good dragons, and the outside world. Much to the chagrin of the Queen. It had always been rumored that Christopher’s ancestors had been officers in charge of the fort. Now it looked like those rumors were likely true. This was the answer to her prayers. She could escape from the castle unnoticed, and no one would realize how she escaped the castle. When they finally did she would be halfway to the border (in disguise of course) away from her father’s agreement, the castle, and the life of a princess.
Rosalia tidied up the mess she had made and then hid the map in her clothing. After that was done she left the library with her godsend. Keeping one hand on it at all times to make sure she did not lose it. Once she made it to her chambers and found no one there she quickly hid her map before Augustina came to help her remove her dress. A few minutes later Augustina entered her room.
“I am sorry about the news Rosa.” Augustina said with a sad look, “I know how much you dislike the prince.”
“Well, there is nothing you or I can do about it.” She did not want to tell her friend about the map. Not that she did not trust her friend, but that out of her concern for he safety she would be bound by duty to tell her parents about any escape plans.
“Perhaps you can change him?”
“That will happen around the same time as when the Price of Darkness renounces his evil ways and reconciles with God.” She said sarcastically.
With that they spent the rest of the time with small talk about other things going on in the castle. Once alone in her room she took a closer look of her map. Studying it late into the wee hours of the night. Trying to figure out where all the entrances and exits of the catacombs were located on a general map of the realm. As well as trying to figure out what the map’s symbols indicated, and what the important spots were that were marked. As she finally climbed into bed she giggled and thought, “Now I have a way out. All I need to do now is prepare to get out of here.”
In the morning she decided that one key piece of information she would need to know was when her father had planed her “arrangement” to be. After wandering around the castle for awhile she found him alone in the castle’s conference room looking over recent reports from the knights in the far reaches of the realm on deamon activity. Entering the room she over heard him say to himself “Why are they increasing in activity after all these years?”
“Father, I was wondering when my marriage is to take place?”
He looked up and sighed, “And why do you want to know that now?” he asked.
“I just figure that I should know the date of my own wedding.”
“I suppose so,” he put down the reports he had been reviewing, “It will be two months, after your ceremony.” He looked back down at the reports and then back at her, “Is there any thing else?” he asked.
“No, that’s it.” she said rather cheerfully trying to act like she didn’t have a problem with it, and it worked.
“Good.“ He was relived at the apparent change in her attitude, “I have some important matters I must discuss with my council later, so go inform Sir Simon I need to speak to him and to come here, and after that stay out of trouble like a good girl.”
“Yes, Father.” she said before leaving the room, “I have no intention of going through this whole absurdity.” She thought to her self as she headed to the knights’ training room where Sir Simon was usually at this time of day over seeing the instructing of new knights and the castle soldiers. “Sir Simon, my father wishes to see you without delay.“
”Thank you princess.“ He said with out looking away from those he was watching during instruction, “Now run along. This is no place for a princess.”
Rosalia bit her tongue after hearing that remark.
“Of course, Sir Simon.” she spoke maintaining her composure to keep up the image. Once he left she snuck back in and smuggled out one of the backpacks the knights used for long trips.
“No place for me!” she thought as she grabbed it, “I have half a mind to tell him off, but that would only blow my cover to mother and father once he told them. Now I need a hiding place for this.”
She temporarily stored it in her chambers. Until the answer came to her in a spark of inspiration while looking at her map of the catacombs that evening.
“Right inside of the catacombs! Just after the guards post at the entrance! Right after the night guard falls asleep!” During one of her late night wanderings, she discovered the night guard to the only full sized entrance to the catacombs in the castle, had developed the habit of sleeping during his first hour or two of night watch, and only she knew of this.
That night while the guard slept, as he usually did, she quietly slipped past him, and checked out a spot just a few ways into the catacombs that was marked on the map. It was a small alcove. Just large enough to hold the backpack, and anything else she would need, and it was well out of sight from the guards.
For the following week after that she gathered the other things she would need to get through the catacombs, and the journey afterward. She took some of the presoaked torches, a lamp and a couple of small jars of lamp oil from the castle storerooms. As well as some of the miscellaneous gear the knights tended to use on trips. She also took a small dagger and some light armor, some maps of the local and regional areas, and documents she might need from the castle’s library. On last day she gathered food and rations from the castle’s pantry.
Once everything was ready, she made one more trip around the castle picking a small pouch of gold coins from the castle treasury. Despite being the princess her parents avoided giving her any money knowing what she might use it for. She also took any small nondescript items she could to sell to merchants for gold coins, and additional equipment later. That night before she left, she left a sealed letter on her desk for her parents, it read,
“Dear Mother and Father, forgive me but I cannot do what you wish me to do. I know it will cause you pain, heartache, and anguish, but I have to do what my heart and soul tells me to do. I wish I could have stayed and been the daughter and princess you wanted me to be but we are all made as He desired us to be. And I must be the woman, I am meant to be.”
Deeply your daughter,
After everyone had gone to bed, she sneaked down to the entrance of the catacombs, and past the sleeping guard. She gathered her gear together and finished organizing it before continuing. Once she had everything together and was out of sight of the light from the entrance lamps she lit her lamp, and started to follow the map to a spot marked as a way point on the map, at least that’s what she thought it meant.
As she made her way deeper into the maze she followed the markings on the map and walls, and avoiding and temporarily disabling the traps marked on the map designed to confuse her. While she was scared by the silence of the tunnels she was glade the only thing crawling around in this part of the tunnels where bugs and rats. For a good hour and a half she kept navigating them until she made it to the spot on the map. Here she found what looked like a solid wall but after searching for a spot the map pointed to in a drawing and pushing a lever hidden as
a brick on the wall, and it opened with a long creaking sound revealing a large room.
When she entered the room she realized it must have been part of the old fort’s armory. Scanning the room with her lamp revealed the weapons had long rusted and rotted beyond any blacksmiths ability to repair.
Then just before she was going to turn to leave she noticed a wooden door. With curiosity getting the better of her she went to open it. It fell backwards and shattered into splinters. While she was startled by that, it was what she saw next that shocked her back to her senses, and had her questioning them. It was a suit of armor that was made for a woman and a pair of swords that were in pristine condition. While the frame that had supported them looked as if a colony of termites had held a festival with the wood and the metal of the frame had rusted to dust the armor and swords looked as new as the day they must have been made.
“Well,” she said to herself “No one will mind if I borrow these.” Powerless to stop herself as if controlled by an outside force she took off the light armor she had been wearing and tried on the suite of armor. It was similar to the heavy full-plate armor the knights used, yet this armor seemed to be extremely light, and yet still hard and resistant to blows. On the chest there was a strange symbol that she assumed belonged to the long forgotten empire. It was a large white dragon grasping a large ornate cross. Once she had the armor on she strapped on the belt for the swords, and after practicing with her new equipment for a few moments put her backpack back on, and grabbed her lamp.
“Got to get moving. I have wasted to much time here,” she thought. Although in the back of her mind she really felt it had been worth it.
She continued to follow the map north toward the exit. The tunnels started to change as she walked. Now the floor’s channels no longer had stone coverings like the center ones had, and she could hear and see the flowing water. By the smell in this part of it was fresh water. The remainder of her trek was fairly uneventful other then the occasional small monster that would startle her when she turned a corner. She was easily able to dispatch them with her new swords. Then there were the various harmless creatures that made this part of tunnels their home. A few fluttering bats that had not left the tunnels would occasionally fly by her. She knew they were harmless, but they still gave her a fright when one would fly a little to close to her head.
As she neared the exit, she heard the sounds of something. Something that made her skin crawl. She quickly turned out her lamp, and hide in a small cove in the side of the tunnel before whatever was making the sound detected her, and there she resisted in the dark continuing to hear the sound. It was a scraping against the walls combined with a low moaning. She stood there waiting until her eyes had adjusted enough to the darkness to make out what was making the
“An armor deamon?!” she thought. “Sir Christopher told me about those a long time ago. Vile creatures not from our world if I remember correctly. Not the kind to give a person a fair chance if they can help it. And what is he doing here so far in the kingdom?” As she continued thinking and watching him.
The armor deamon was preoccupied with what it was doing for if he knew she was near by he would have attacked her. Tearing at the tunnels he was trying to mount some kind of altar. The low light from a torch he had shoved into a crack in the wall danced around revealing his ruddy skin, red horns and the crimson colored armor he was wearing.
She continued to watch it wanting to make sure it had not detected her. “Good. He has not noticed me, yet. To get out of here I have to get past him. Which means I am going to have to kill him.” Without thinking she lit one of her torches and pitched at the deamon catching him completely off guard, she then drew both her swords and lunged at him, piercing his armor and chest killing him instantly.
“I can not believe I just did that.” She said breathing heavily.
She started to withdraw her blades from his chest, thinking about what she just did. And while she did not like to have had to kill him she had no choice. Most of the deamon race had long ago given themselves over to the Prince of Darkness. They were frequently causing trouble in most places where people lived. Then she felt a new feeling, one she had not felt before. A strange sense of satisfaction. Not the satisfaction of a kill but the feeling of good over evil.
It was at that moment she finally knew her purpose in her heart. To help the people by fight against evil that sought to destroy or corrupt. Somehow she had been drawn to the armor and swords as a moth is drawn to a light without knowing it. She stood there cleaning the blood off her swords, thinking of names.
“Rose...? Rosette! And...? Christopher! Rosette Christopher will be my new name in this life I have chosen.” It was at this moment Rosette Christopher was born.
It was at that moment she decided, one that would be familiar while at the same time different. To hide herself from her parents who might want to stop her, and to honor her friend who in the end, lead to her escape and to discover her destiny.
This is only the end of the story for Princess Rosalia Tudor of Anglicia, but this is only the beginning for Rosette Christopher, who has just become a heir to a legacy bigger then she can even begin to imagine.
© Copyright 2011 David S Flythe
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