The Islands of Bloodstone

Chapter 1: Mistake

He slipped subtly through the halls ofSeabrook House. Of course, he'd studied the maps so well that he could maneuver his way blindfolded. Three minutes past two in the morning. He had made it to the Royal Hall, where the infamous Lords and Ladies of Forcenna slept.

Silently, he observed from a corner.

The guards seemed to have dozed off. Within moments, the new guards had come around the east corridor. Five past two already? They shoved the sleeping ones off on their way, watching them before taking their positions. This was his chance. He ran surreptitiously along the walls, counting each door until he reached number seven. After picking the lock, he opened and slid through the door, closed it softly behind him. Instantly, he caught sight of her.

Princess Katherine lay on her side, breathing softly beneath the cover.

She tried to scream, but the man threatened to slit her throat. Now he had her bundled up in her own sheets, a gag stuffed into her mouth. The oddest thing was, he had looked just as surprised as her upon seeing her face, as she his. Although he was masked, it was still a great surprise having an intruder in her room. He left the body on the ground and swiftly opened the nearest window, which sat just above a nest of ferns. He came back and studied her for a moment, frowning.

She simply glared at him and struggled in her mummified state. Sweeping the body up with extraordinary ease, he jumped the few feet it was to the straggly bush. She kicked and thrashed about with amazing force, even causing him to wince. Lord, he didn't think the girl could cause such a commotion. Quickly, he ran to the waiting carriage and slipped inside.

"Move!" The chariot started at a steady pace. He set the body across from him, watching her. Who the hell was she? This wasn't Katherine, the whore. She was even strong enough to land a kick or two.

"How long 'til the docks, Rice?" He called over his shoulder.

"Eh? Won't take much longer now." replied a gruff voice.

The masked kidnapper looked back to the girl. He wouldn't tell her they'd captured the wrong person. That would simply give that face the satisfaction and boldness it needed to try and escape. This was definitely not Princess Katherine. This other girl had the blackest hair he'd ever seen, reaching her waist. He himself possessed nearly the same color, slightly lighter. The lightest blue eyes set in a pale face glowered at him fiercely. She wasn't beautiful. She was simple. Completely plain.

Cynthia Manning had kicked and thrashed about. Not that it had helped. Where was he taking her? The man had the nerve to steal her away from her home. Why the little…

She caught him staring at her. She glared angrily, cursing him in her mind. She could tell he had ebony hair. He wore all black, as well as a pale white mask. Probably stolen from a masquerade ball. She looked away and leaned her head back against the cold chariot. The night air came warm, caressing her neck. Why was she being taken from her home? Her youngest sister, Sera, would literally die of worry, fragile as she was. Cynthia was merely a Lady in court. Not like a search party or anything would be sent out for her. Perhaps he would ask, no, demand a ransom. Damn well he'd get it. A kick where it counts, that'd be his bloody pay. The wind blew fiercely this time, catching her off guard. She would have gasped, were it not for the gag, when her head smacked against the edge of the window.

Cynthia could have sworn that he'd twitched. The tiniest shrug of his right shoulder. But when she scanned the masked face, no sign of fault marred it. She glared at her captor through most of the journey. He sat casually, arms folded, chin tipped toward chest, and watched her wearily. The thump of horse feet stopped. Suddenly, he towered above her, a wooden flask in his hand.

After that, she couldn't remember anything.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" Cynthia had awakened. Her arms groped helplessly around in the dark, trying to find something. She suddenly paused. Something? What was she trying to find? She could've sworn she knew what it was a minute ago. Oh, Lord. Now she remembered. Some bastard had kidnapped her. Where was she now? "Hello?" she called again.

The room pitched. The room? As a door opened, letting a stream of light in, the room took another leap, dropping her to the ground. She saw him clearly now, not just the mop of black hair. His mouth was set grim in a tawny-gold face while clear emerald eyes watched her resolutely. He could easily be six feet, considering that he was forced to stoop to get through the door. "You slimy oaf! How dare you kidnap me from my home!" She struggled to her feet, using the wooden wall as support.

"Good afternoon," was his smooth reply.

"What the devil do you mean 'Good afternoon'? You've kidnapped me and you don't have the courtesy to explain why?" She would have continued, had he not interrupted.

He said, "You haven't given me the chance to explain why."

Logic. Good Lord, she hated logic. Cynthia paused for a few seconds. "Well?"

He blinked. "Well, what?"

"Will you tell me why the devil I'm here?" She was ready to wring his bloody neck.

"My crew and I need the money to sail. Isn't it obvious?"

Cynthia ground her teeth together. "No. It is not obvious."

It wasn't her fault that she was cranky. Truly, it wasn't. If only they'd given her a decent bed. She glanced at the bundle of blankets on the ground. Or a bed at all, for that matter. She needed a plan. There was absolutely no way she would spend even a minute on a filthy ship as a ransom of all things. It was equivalent to calling her a piece of cargo, nothing else. She glanced up again. Escape wouldn't be too difficult, especially with such and idiotic guard. Oh, he was nice enough to look at, but Lord knew what kind of brain the man held--if he held any at all. Then again, he must have been intelligent enough to kidnap her from such a secure location. Perhaps her escape plan should be a bit more intricate than screaming hysterically and feigning illness…

"Miss?" He was curious as to the happenings of her brain at the moment. Her face was so deep in thought that he was reluctant to snap her out of the reverie. His resolve immediately hardened though--among other things he refused to acknowledge--when he realized that her mind would be completely on escape.

Cynthia, on the other hand, was considering screaming hysterically at the moment, just to see his reaction. She opened her mouth.

He cocked a brow.

She emitted an ear-piercing shriek and thrashed about the room, waving her arms.

He blinked. "What the devil is wrong with you?"

Cynthia swung around blindly until her fist "accidentally" connected with his chin. He grabbed her wrists and swung them above her head one-handed. His eyes narrowed, and though Cynthia was shocked at their closeness, she stuck her chin out and glared back at him. Gray eyes bore into blue. She realized then that his eyes were not just one shade of gray, but several hues of silver.

"Sir, if you don't take me home this instant, I refuse to spare your pathetic life. Either way, I will escape and you will regret ever meeting me." She jerked her arms away and shoved past him.

He swiveled her around and drilled a finger into her shoulder. "Look, princess, understand that escape is completely impossible. There will be no prince in shining armor to come to your rescue. Hell, your prince is probably strutting around, polishing his goddamn armor at the moment."

"How dare you!" Cynthia shrieked. "You're insulting the entire female population with that little savior scenario."

He snorted. "Evading the truth?"

"You are obnoxious, impractical, and ignorant to the extreme! Women don't need men to survive. As of now, I am proudly declaring my independence and absolutely refuse to bind myself to vicious males such as yourself. You are cruel, and, and…"

"Run out of words, have we?"

Cynthia kicked his shin. She would have aimed higher had he not grabbed her leg and sent her toppling backwards. "Oof!" She kicked out once again, and this time, her heel connected with his knee. He rubbed his knee and scowled.

She struggled to stand, all thoughts focused on escape.

Just a little historical piece that I began a couple of years ago. I have two other stories going, and working on other things helps me focus and overcome writer's block, which has been happening a lot lately. Feel free to criticize. I know it's not historically accurate, so remember that this piece is just for fun. :) Comment away!

--M.T. Duhaime