Chapter 11: Troublemaker

I flinched back as I heard the anger in Trina's voice, preparing myself for the worst. It seemed almost bizarre that she was so concerned about me without having known me very long, so I couldn't help but feel flattered at the same time as being terrified.

I quickly looked behind me to see Hazal still grimacing into the darkness, seemingly unaware of the real storm approaching from Trina and instead staring after the human one. Trina marched down the steps before swiftly gathering me up into her arms.

"I was so worried! Rose sent me a message when you left so I was expecting you back much sooner! Did something happen? Are you okay?" Her concern was overwhelming and I felt slightly blind sighted; hadn't I just been preparing for a scolding? Where had her rage gone?

I didn't get a chance to speak however as Trina started issuing orders. "All right now everyone inside! Hazal, you take Lilliana's things; she must be exhausted after carrying them around all day. Penny has come over to join us for dinner so Hazal you're more than welcome to stay over too." Still wrapped tightly in Trina's arms, she all but dragged me back into the house as Hazal took my things and silently trailed after us.

Penny greeted us from just inside the doorway, concern evident across her forehead. "Are you quite alright Lilly? You seem a little pale." I managed to mumble out a small consensus as Trina was still crushing my entirety to hers.

Once we reached the kitchen Trina popped me down onto a chair and finally I could breathe again. Hazal and Penny trailed into the room while Trina stood before me, hands on hips, looking thoroughly unimpressed.

"Now young lady, do explain yourself." I blinked at the sudden reversal back to anger, had I always been so slow to pick up mood changes or was she simply too temperamental?

I smiled sheepishly. "Well, I was walking along the route Rose suggested for me when I ran into a soilder-" Penny gasped quietly "- and then he started harassing me a bit but this man named Storm came along and helped me, then he walked me back."

Trina's stern gaze melted and her position relaxed. "Are you alright? Did the solider hurt you in any way?"

I hesitated. I didn't want to complain too much but my ribs were still quite sore. It would be silly to not say something now and then suffer for it later, but then I really didn't want to cause any unnecessary concern. I chewed on my bottom lip, internally debating briefly.

Finally, I sighed and decided to tell the truth – or at least some of it. "I think my ribs may have been hurt, but nothing too serious." I hoped anyway.

Trina nodded as if she expected as much. "We'll call over the doctor. No, no, no resistance – I'm having someone look at you!" She quickly shot down my rebuttal when I tried to insist I wouldn't need a doctor before walking into the shop. Surely I was just creating more problems for everyone. I snuck a look at Hazal but he was gazing out of the window, seemingly either unconcerned or unaware of my condition.

Irksome. So having a stranger who helped save me walk me home was not okay, but having potentially fractured ribs was nothing to be concerned about? Irritated, I turned away and blew at my fringe in a puff of frustration. Really, what a confusing fellow.

I watched as Penny unpacked and organised the things I had gathered on my trip today. I winced as I tried to stand and help her, not quite realising the extent of my pain until I had nothing else to distract me – or really, no strange men attacking or pulling me into bushes I supposed.

I stayed sat where I was, suddenly exhausted and ready for bed. Living life awake was turning out to be a lot harder than I remembered. Or was I simply out of luck? Maybe fate had never really meant for me to wake up and was now attacking me for it. I frowned, musing over this possible explanation.

Maybe Hazal awakening me was actually a coincidence? What if some flaw in the spell meant it had ended at just the right moment, allowing me to join the real world again? Or, I flinched internally, maybe Hazal really was my true love in the most romantic sense of the phrase, but since I'd never really done anything in my life to deserve true love the Gods were punishing me.

None of these options were particularly optimistic. I was sure there could be plenty of other possible causes and explanations, but at that moment in time I could really only think of negative ones – so perhaps it would be best to stop thinking of them altogether. I sighed, if only my sleep those hundreds of years had actually been a real sleep.

But then a new thought struck me, what if not being asleep was actually a blessing in disguise? What if I had awoken that day, with absolutely no idea what was going on or how long it had been? I'm sure I would have been devastated; my family had been my entire life – if I had been asleep I never would have heard their final goodbyes, never would have met my descendants or they're families. Perhaps being awake meant that unlike the real sleeping beauty, I had the ability to gain knowledge and understand what was really going on around me without being completely overwhelmed.

An interesting perspective, but not overly comforting – I couldn't help but just wish the underlying cause had never happened at all. If I had prevented my sisters from casting that spell, we would have been annoyed at each other for the smallest amount of time before going back to playing our usual silly games and none of this would have ever happened.

Then my mother's necklace wouldn't be in the hands of that dreadful woman. I glanced across at Hazal again to see he still wasn't paying attention to anything. If I told him about the truth – or at least some of it – about his fiancés necklace, would he help me get it back?

I pondered this briefly before shaking away the thought. Hazal and I were basically still just strangers to each other, even after all of the things we'd been through together. If I was going to try and gain his help I'd have to build some sort of connection or relationship to him first.

I almost snorted. Right, because waking me up from an eternal slumber wasn't a connection enough.

Ruckus in the shop interrupted my thought process. Trina's protesting voice was accompanied by the sounds of heavy feet coming through towards us in the kitchen. Penny leant back against the counter alarmed as Hazal finally snapped to attention.

Two armed soldiers marched into the room swiftly followed by Trina. Her lips were taut and she looked visibly upset. Seeing the soldiers gave me flashbacks to earlier this afternoon and I had the sudden desire to flee. I stood up shakily, ignoring the pain in my chest as Penny stood beside me and Hazal melted into the corner of the room.

One of the soldiers spoke in a booming voice, his spear standing as ramrod straight and tall as he was. "Are you the girl who was attacked by a footman today?"

I nodded, terrified but hopeful. Perhaps they were here to administer some justice to Mr. Greasy?

The soldier nodded as the other one moved towards me. "You are under arrest for the unlawful attack and abuse towards the crown. Please do not resist."

My eyes practically bulged out of my head, under arrest for being attacked?! How was this feasible in any dimension ever?

Penny and Trina started protesting as the second soldier manacled my wrists, shoving me forwards so that I was stood between the two of them. I looked around wildly for Hazal, wondering if he'd be able to save me again like he did with Bianca previously.

I couldn't see him. Checking around the room as much as possible from where I stood, it was clear Hazal was gone. Where?! How?! How dare he?! How COULD he?! I felt acutely betrayed and tried to fight back the tears. Maybe he was just making a plan to rescue me later on? He knew I was completely innocent.

Each soldier grabbed one of my arms and I started to struggle violently, which only made them tighten their grip. Panting, I gave up, hanging from their grip as my lungs and ribs protested. Damn that Mr. Greasy! He'd pay for this. Forlornly, I watched the house disappear as they carried me backwards like a doll out of it. Trina and Penny called out reassurances but I was really past the point of hearing them.

What a truly awful day.

~X~

I awoke early the next morning in my little cell. It wasn't too bad as far as cells went – only minimally grubby, certainly not as bad as the castle dungeons. Father took my sisters and I down there several times to remind us that crimes had consequences, so we must be just in our judgement as only those who had committed terrible deeds deserved to live in such hell.

Which, surely I did not. It wasn't even me who had landed the blow on Mr. Greasy; Storm was the true perpetrator. I tried to ignore the desire to tell the guards this little fact. Selfish, stubborn and proud as I was, he had actually saved me and this fate was far better than whatever Mr. Greasy had surely planned for me.

I huffed. If only his manners and attitude hadn't been so atrocious, then maybe this would feel more worthwhile.

I sat on the floor; legs splayed out at random angles. No one was around to see me; the cell was completely stone except for the heavy wooden door at the front. I stared up at the ceiling, noting with disappointment the limited cracks there were available for me to count. Now really, what kind of cell didn't provide cracks for detainees to count? It was at least something to stop the mind numbing boredom.

So far nothing really had happened. The soldiers last night hadn't said anything else to me after we left the house, just silently carried me to a horse drawn cell that had no windows. Honestly it was just a glorified wooden box on wheels. We then proceeded to travel for an unknown time (but it felt extraordinarily long to me) till we reached what I assumed to be some kind of law station. Without any courtesy, they simply lifted me out of the portable cell, down some corridors and then into my new one.

Dinner had been served at some point, lights out was shortly after that, then nothing.

I hated tedium, which was ironic I must admit, as I'd just spend 334 years lying still in one bed the entire time. You'd think I would have learnt patience in that time but if anything it made it ten times worse. I wanted to go outside! To feel the breeze and the sun on my face, hear the birds as well as watch them flutter and play about, touch anything – everything! My senses were delirious with disuse.

Anything but sit here, in an empty room with nothing to occupy my interest.

I hadn't slept well, there was no bed or straw to lie on and the floor was the same stone as the walls and ceiling.

I frowned. This was a very strange cell indeed. It was small and narrow, and it smelt more like dust than dungeon.

…huh…

I knew it was too clean to be an ordinary cell, but yet it was sparse enough to be considered cruel – even our dungeons provided those criminals a bed to sleep on. There was little to no noise outside, and I hadn't seen any other cells like this when being carried through those corridors. In fact, I hadn't seen any cells at all. The only doors that lined the walls were too lavish to belong to a prisoner.

That's when I realised with some amazement that it wasn't actually a cell. This room I was contained in was actually just an empty cupboard. I stood up and paced around.

It surely must be! There was no handle on the inside, or even a grate in the door for them to check on me or give me meals. The walls didn't have any kind of grate for ventilation and it was far too dry – most of these kinds of places were underground.

So where was I? I hadn't managed to see the outside of the building when I was brought in, it was dark and they had pulled up right outside the door. From the little I could tell though, the building had seemed somewhat grand compared to that of the rest of the village.

I decided to knock on my door, perhaps someone outside could provide some insight. Walking right up to the heavy wood, I lightly tapped it with my knuckles. My thoughts were far braver than any of my actual actions – I couldn't quite bring myself to be as demanding as I wished I could be.

I paused, listening with my ear against the door. It was silent outside, not even the shuffle of someone stood guard.

Perhaps I was alone? Maybe they thought me so insignificant that I didn't need a guard to watch my only escape route?

Well then, I mused, this would be a rather good opportunity to try to escape. No one had brought me breakfast, which meant either I wasn't getting one or someone would come later. So I could wait for someone to potentially come and then try and escape after, or I could try to escape now and risk someone noticing my escape sooner if they brought food for me after that.

Hmmm. Difficult, but my desire to be free of this stone cupboard was immense. Okay, I would try to escape now and then if that fails, wait for someone to come, somehow knock them out and then make my escape for it.

I tried not to dwell on the fact that if it came down to a physical match, I would most likely be squashed like a fly. Intelligence was somewhat a strength of mine, so if it hadn't disappeared over the last 300 years perhaps I could make good use of it now and escape before there was any need for brute force.

Feeling along the edges of the door, I tried to find a weak spot. There was little to no light in my cupboard, so I would have to go off of touch alone. Slowly, I started tracing as much of the wooden door and frame as possible.

It seemed fairly standard but good quality, which was both a blessing and a curse. If it was standard it meant there would be no complicated lock systems to figure out, yet as it was good quality it was heavy, thick and harder for me to move. Just as I was really getting into the concentration zone needed, I heard approaching footsteps.

Damn! I hadn't thought through plan B properly yet, how do I best incapacitate this person? I fretted, panicky as I hurriedly tried to think of the best course of action. I quickly moved backwards, away from the door as I heard it unlock.

It swung inwards and I blinked in the bright light of a lamp, squinting as I tried to see past the glare. It looked like just an ordinary guard from what I could see of their silhouette. I started to brace myself, I had to at least try to break free.

Before I could even step forward, another man came out from behind the first. Stepping into the light (and into the only personal space I had left in this tiny closet) a tall man with a very stiff goatee bent down to examine my face.

"So, you're the troublemaker?" His voice was light and airy, deceiving compared to his muscular stature. It took me a moment to actually absorb what he had said. Troublemaker? Hmpf, how dare he. I had done nothing wrong.

I folded my arms and lifted my chin, glaring at him. Some little voice in the corner of my mind whispered that my pride would be the death of me, but I squashed it out of stubbornness. This town seemed to be bringing out all of my worst qualities but I couldn't bring myself to control them just yet. I must be out of practice.

The man smirked before straightening up. "I believe you have already been introduced to my son, Hazal. I am Greynoth Kenui, his father and Mayor of this town. Welcome to my home, Miss. Troublemaker."

I gaped. This was definitely not what I had been expecting.

~X~


WELL, this update is out embarrassingly late.

If you're an old reader who still made the effort to read this chapter then Thank You. I am in awe of your patience, I hope it didn't disappoint you.