Enchanted Twelve: Cecilia Ch. 03byRedHairedandFriendly©
The sound of music filled Cecilia's ears, but did little to stir her heart. She felt unease, more so than any other night she'd come to the enchanted world of Oarthland. Cassius, she knew danced with one of her sisters, which she wasn't sure of, but it was not that knowledge or lack of it, that concerned her. The air around her seemed different. The smell of it. The feel of it. Even the temperature had changed. To the best of her knowledge, no one seemed to notice, or if they did, they didn't seem at all worried.
Cecila licked her lips, tasting the wine she'd drunk and moved a few inches from the wall where she'd been leaning. Her fingers reached slowly forward, found the chair Cassius had whispered would be to her left and slipped down into the feather-stuffed cushion. She exhaled softly, moaning as she felt the tension in her body ease slightly. Her hands moved lazily down to her feet, where she proceeded to slip her feet free of her slippers.
Cecila turned her sightless eyes to the voice that came from her right. "They are tired and worn," she admitted, then rose slightly, only to be stopped by a firm hand on her shoulder."
"Remain seated then, for why weary your feet more than necessary?"
"Thank you," she answered back, still trying to run through her memory and connect the voice with someone she'd met before. Seconds passed quickly as she waited for the stranger to speak again, when he did not, she frowned slightly and turned away.
"Do you mind if I sit next to you?"
"Not at all," she answered. A snap of a finger seemed to echo in her ear and then shuffles from what Cecilia assumed to be servants' feet could be heard. She listened as a chair was placed beside her the stranger gave his thanks to those that had done his bidding.
"Cassius seems to be enjoying himself."
"Is he? I can't..."
"Well, that Sire is pretty obvious to those around me."
"Aye it is. Would you like for me to describe to you what your Prince is doing?"
"It is not necessary," Cecilia admitted, "you can though tell me your name and why you have chosen to seek me out."
A soft chuckle poured from the man's lips and coated Cecilia with a sense of dread. "I am Warren, you met my mother..."
Cecila's brow furrowed. "Your mother?"
"Yes, your Aunt... Aunt Angora."
The youngest Princess of Westingfield felt the blood drain from her face, her stomach twisted in a knot and for a brief moment she swore the world she lived in had tipped on its axis. A fluttering of warm breath brushed across her ear as Warren whispered, "Come with me cousin, for there is something you need to see."
Cecilia felt a firm hand on her arm and winced from the strength the stranger possessed. "Do not fight me on this, for you will cause a great scene. You can not see the men I have placed within the exits of this castle, nor the ones that are mingling closely to the ones you hold dear, including your precious Cassius. Do not make me signal for them to take up arms and destroy all within their reach."
Cecila's skin blanched further. The contents of her stomach rolled and pitched as she nodded her head and rose with as much calm and grace she could muster under the circumstances. She walked barefoot along side the man; her gaze, sightless as it seemed to search out for someone, anyone, yet there was only a foggy gray mist that had existed all her life. She heard the music of the orchestra, the clink of goblets being lifted in small toasts. Laughter of both feminine and masculine depth bubbled from various places within the room, and yet she made no move to seek aid from any she passed. The threat to her family and her love she knew was to be taken seriously.
The couple slipped from the room, Cecilia counted the steps, and cataloged the turns. Her feet were soon growing more cold as they moved from the heated level of the castle to a more dark and cooler climate. The breeze from the wind lifted her hair from her shoulders and sent it splaying across her face. She pushed it away, stumbled on a small stone and winced softly.
"Ahh, you forgot your slippers."
"You seemed to be rather rushed. Slippers were the last thing on my mind," Cecilia muttered under her breath, "Cassius will seek you out and..."
A deep throaty laugh erupted, invading the night air. "That is what we hope. We hope all of them come, every Prince, Princess, Lord, Lady, King...and Queen."
"But how? None but us sisters enter into this world. We leave here and return home, no memory of our visits, yet when we arrive here, all of it returns to us."
"Yes, but last night you stole something from my mother."
Cecilia pulled back and stared blindly at the man who held her. "We stole nothing! She began screaming and threatened us and..."
"Enough!" Warren shouted. A low whistle filled the night, followed by the sound of carriage wheels. "My mother has a gift for you and yours. You will return to her castle and then I will return you to the water's edge."
"I will go nowhere with you!" Cecilia shouted and jerked once more against the strong anchor of her cousin's hold. She opened her mouth to scream, but felt the air in her lungs rush out as a solid and firm punch to her stomach was delivered.
"My men are still inside, do not tempt me..."
The threat did as the stranger had desired. Immediately Cecilia became the agreeable captive to a madman. She walked with him to the carriage and allowed him to assist her into the conveyance. She sat down on what she felt was a leather-covered seat. Her fingers remained clasped together tightly and she listened as the man gave quick orders then settled into the seat across from her.
"Will your men leave my family alone now?" she asked.
"They will return to Westingfield safely, yes."
"I said you will return also. I give you my word."
Cecilia sneered, but chose to keep her words and thoughts to herself. She counted the seconds and then the minutes. Eventually the carriage came to a halt and the doors were opened. Warren exited and then gripped Cecilia's hand firmly. He helped her out, slipped one arm around her slim waist and kept her pressed against him when she tried to pull away. "Shhh, pretty cousin Cece. I'll not harm you," he whispered against her temple.
The young Princess took a deep breath and tried to calm the beating of her heart. She knew where they were. The smell of her Aunt's Castle would forever be locked within her. They entered the castle and immediately she sensed the evil that lived within the stone walls.
"Ahh, my mother's most trusted serving girl... Is she more agreeable now that you have informed her of my arrival?" Warren asked a figure that Cecilia could not see, but did sense. "Good, let us go," he said and led Cecilia once more through the castle where the night before all had seemed to reek of danger. The stench was still there.
They paused and Cecilia listened as her captor knocked on a door and was rewarded entry. She chewed on the inside of her lip as they stepped over the threshold and into another room.
"My son," Angora whispered, "you brought me the weak one?"
"The others were preoccupied, mother."
Cecilia's eyes slanted at the reference to her being weak. She was anything but weak, she told herself, and straightened her back and shoulders to prove it. "What do you want with me?" she hissed, pulling free from Warren's hold. She stood there proud, yet inside fear threatened to consume her.
"I only wish for you to take a message to my sister..."
"Yes, it is simple really. She has a piece of me, I need it back. If she returns it then I will close the portal and all of you will be safe."
"What does she have? Mother has never ..."
"She knows what she holds! She will return it to me, or I will make tomorrow night the final night for all of you!"
"I can not help you," Cecilia stated as calmly as she was able, "I will have no memory of this night when I awake."
A cackle left Angora's lips. "You will remember. Drink this," she whispered, and then snapped her fingers.
Cecilia heard the footsteps of a smaller person and then felt her hand being lifted up. A glass, warm and fragile feeling was soon placed in her hand. "Drink all of it and when you leave this world you will remember all and will be able to do my bidding."
"Yes, you will go to your mother, my traitor of a sister and tell her that I will destroy all if she does not bring back to me what I seek."
"I do not trust you," Cecilia whispered. Her hands clutched the drink; its contents shook violently within her shaky grasp.
"You shouldn't," Angora whispered, "but you have no choice really. Warren will destroy every Princess before they leave this world if you do not drink the mixture now."
The image of her sisters lying in pools of blood seemed to come out of nowhere, and Cecilia tipped the glass to her lips. She drank deep, noted the bitter taste, but forced herself to continue swallowing every ounce of warm liquid. When she was done she felt the heat of the beverage blanket her. Her eyes closed and her body felt limp. Strong arms were suddenly supporting her and as she felt her body being lifted up into the air, she told herself that all would be well. "You said..."
"I did not lie cousin. You will not be harmed... now sit here, while mother and I have a talk with you..."