[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Brent’s Story)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY.

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Brent gasped as he came to, hearing his mother’s screams quickly died down. He slowly lowered his eyes to his hands. His entire body was engulfed in what resembled a deep, dark blue flame, nearly the colour of the midnight sky. The edges of it glowed a significantly brighter blue. The dark blue flames quickly died out as the blood all over Brent, from his face to his hands to his feet, disappeared. 

Brent turned to the mirror across from him looking at himself. It wasn’t just his hands engulfed in the flame-like energy – it was his entire being. His body tingled with varing sensations. Sometimes it felt prickly, while other times it felt no different than someone running their palms over his skin. He felt hot in parts and cold in others. 

He had no idea what was going on. 

His head turned back to his mother. 

As soon as the flame-like energy faded, reality hit Brent like a sledgehammer. He fell to his knees and tears poured from his eyes. He let out a scream of his own.

His mother was dead.

And he killed her. 

*** 

Brent was wrapped in a heavy, warm blanket, as two of the servants sat next to him. He cast his gaze down to the floor. He had been moved to another room while the royal phyisicans exammed his mothers body. He lifted his head only when he heard a soft click on the door. 

“Brent!” 

Brent felt the warmth of a hug around him before he could even blink. Princess Angelica, the daughter of the king & queen, his best friend, and (hopefully) future wife, wrapped her arms around him. He could feel from the dampness on her cheek that she had been crying. Brent hugged her back, while looking up. To his surprise, the king and queen had also showed up. They too walked up to him and gave him a hug. 

“Poor child,” said the queen.

“We are so sorry for what has happened.” The king stroked Brent’s head. Brent was on the verge of tears. 

“Your highness, neither one of you had to be here.” 

Everyone looked over. An older woman with a stern expression had entered through the door. 

“Bedelia, this child just lost his mother.” 

“We simply asked you to decide what to do with him in the morning.” 

Brent could barely breath with how tight Angelica was hugging him. Brent could feel warm tears falling down her cheeks again. The king stopped touching his head and the queen let go of him, instead placing a hand on his back. 

The king lifted his head. “We have already made a decision.”

“Oh?” 

“Brent shall stay in this castle. He shall continue his studies as is and will be assigned caretakers until he turns 16. From there, his duties as a servant will be increased, although he is free to continue his studies in his open hours.” 

Brent stared right into Bedelia’s face. What a fake smile

Bedelia pushed up her glasses. “Are you sure, your highness?” 

“Are you questioning me, Bedelia?” 

Brent held back the smirk that wanted to grow on his face. I’m supposed to be sad. Well, I suppose I am in fact sad…but her face. 

“Ah…I apologize, your highness. I spoke out of line.” 

“Please pick the best servants for the job.” 

“Yes, your highness. I shall assign him them in the morning.” 

Brent returned the leer Bedelia gave him. Angelica, who was still clinging to Brent, watched the silent exchange. 

The king walked into the next room, where the murder of Brent’s mother had taken place. It was full of numerous staff, each doing their part to access the murder scene and figure out the next moves after it – after all, her blood was splatter all over the floor and on the surrounding beds. Brent’s mother at this point, however, was placed underneath a sheet, hiding her terribly mutilated body underneath it. He stood tall as each person turned their attention to him and bowed. The king turned to two knights. “Sir Inwyn, Sir Scotrick, please house Brent in your quarters tonight. I suspect the boy will have dreadful nightmares and we will need to figure out his proper relocation tomorrow.” 

Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick knelt down in front the king. “Yes, your highness.” 

“Very well.” 

The king returned back to the room with anyone else. He extended his hand to the door, where Inwyn and Scotrick still knelt. “Brent, you will be sleeping in the knight quarters with Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick. It is of uptmost importance that you are safe.” 

“Thank you,” quietly replied Brent. 

He turned towards Angelica, who met him with a faint glint in her eye and the two of them rubbed their cheeks together. The softness of her skin raised his mood just enough for it to be pulled back down by the reality that he would never see his mother again. 

*** 

Brent had been relocated to a mixed servant sleeping quarters with his own bed in the corner of the room with a beautiful view of the sky. It wasn’t as nice as the room both he and his mother had been generously granted by the king and queen, but it was agreed that he shouldn’t be alone, especially with the trauma still fresh. Still, the room itself and the corner he was in was more than enough. It was a beautifully furnished room for the more high-ranking servants who had more responsibilties in comparison to the rest, but with that, a lot more freedom. 

Brent leaned against the light gray walls and looked up, seeing the waning cresent moon above. The stars above the castle glittered brightly, but that was to be expected considering that Astral Isles got its name for such a spectcale, afterall. Something about seeing it all made him begin to relax, forgetting his troubles.

Until he heard the whisperings near the crackling fireplace. Two of the woman servants had been looking over to him and Brent had noticed something was odd, but he couldn’t figure out what. His attention had faded and turned to the sky instead as they talked about how the day had gone. It seems they had watched his attention turn to outside because their idle chatter suddenly changed tone. 

“Bedelia said to keep an eye on him, but is it even safe to do so?” 

“Do you really think a child his age could kill his mother like that?” 

“What if he gets upset at us? I do not want to end up like her.” 

“To think he could even do such a thing…it doesn’t seem possible.” 

“It is not more strange that the child had no blood on him? You saw the room – it was everywhere.” 

“Could he have just entered?” 

Another servant in the room walked over to the couches around the fire place with the two woman servants were chattering. He leaned over in between the two of them. “I heard his father was involved with some evil magic.” 

One of the servant woman gasped. The other one clicked her tongue. 

“Where do you get your information from?” inquired the one who had clicked her tongue.

“I heard from Bedelia as they were sorting his mothers things, they found some letters. She said they were dreadful and burned them.” 

Brent grasped his pants tightly as the blood drained from his face. His mind thought back to the shoebox his mother always had on her desk and the letters she was always writing. The box itself had been packed with letters from his father. And now they were gone. 

Tears streamed down his cheeks. I wanted to read those one day. 

He slid down off the wall and laid on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. His body trembled and withered in pain. He opened his mouth to wail, but choked it back. I can’t…I cannot cry…mother…mother…MOTHER. He sniffled, pulled himself towards his pillow, and buried himself under the covers, hoping it would smother his sobs. 

*** 

Brent sat slumped in his chair. He let his arm and the book in his hand fall to his lap as he looked off in a daze. Once again, he withered in pain and agnoy. I killed my mom and people know, he thought. I killed her and I don’t know how I did it, but everyone knows I did it. He wanted to start screaming and crying again, but he wasn’t alone. He couldn’t do anything like that. Everywhere he turned, he felt like at any moment, someone was going to point out he killed her, no matter how little he knew about doing it. 

Princess Angelica, who had been grabbing a book off a nearby shelf, turned to him. The arm that held the book she just grabbed fell to her side and she held her fan to her heart. “Brent? Are you alright? Are the lessons boring? Or is the library too stuffy?” 

Brent sat up and turned to her, grabbing her hand with the fan. “I am okay, Princess Angelica. I’m just still sad about my mother.” 

Angelica’s eyes swelled up and she hugged him. “I’m sorry she’s gone. I hope they find whoever killed her.” Her embraced tightened around him and the agony within him increased. 

I killed her! I killed her! I killed her! 

Brent’s hands balled, grasping into Angelica’s dress as he hugged her back. Angelica simply hugged him tighter. 

After a good minute of embracing, Angelica stuck her fan into her pocket, placed her book on the ground, and knelt down beside Brent in the chair. She placed her own hand on his and looked up with a sparkling smile. Her indigo eyes seemed to reflect the stars that appeared at midnight in the sky, lighting up Brent’s heart. A smile spread across her face. “I love you.” 

Brent’s heart warmed. “I love you too.” 

Brent’s face blushed as he watched Angelica’s do the same. He lightly grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips, giving it a soft kiss. 

I can’t keep hurting like this. I’m going to end up hurting Angelica… 

Brent’s grab on Angelica’s hand tightened as he looked up at her red face that was partially blocked by Angelica’s free hand. I can’t let anyone know. No one. I need to do better! 

***

Brent could remember when he first met her. Him and his mother were newly arrived at the castle as the new servants to the king, queen, and their only daughter, Princess Angelica. He could still remember the golden-haired girl with indigo eyes giving him a smile that rivaled the brightest star in the sky. He may have only been 6 years old, but it seemed so obvious that Princess Angelica was to be his future wife. He announced it that day to the king, queen,  his mother, and the princess herself. Looking back, he was certain that was when the king and queen took a liking to him – how often is it that one child says to another they will take care of them for life? He also remembers his mother profusely apologizing to the king and queen for his “rude” behaviour, but the king and queen seemed not to mind at all. The most amazing thing to him was that Princess Angelica seemed to agree.

As far as Brent and Angelica were concerned, they could open admit their love to each other without consequence. As his 15th year has gone along, he more recently started to question more things, especially with the increased sophistication of the study material in front of him. Bedelia would be aflutter if she knew I was being taught more about how the kingdom is run. He couldn’t help but think he was in the running for Angelica’s husband. 

He let a romantic sigh. 

It was followed by a girlish giggle from across the room. Brent looked over at Princess Angelica who sat across from him, books sprawled out around her. Placed in front of her was a large journal and a smaller one. 

“What is so funny?” 

“Your sigh resembles the village girls sighing as Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick passby.” 

Brent laughed in return. It bounced off the walls of the library and right back to their ears. A single tear fell from his eye, he was laughing so hard. “I-I can see why you would say that.” 

“What was so dreamy that you were thinking about?”

“You.” 

Brent gently smiled at Angelica, watching her face flush. Angelica took out her fan and hid her face. “Do tell, what were you thinking about me?” 

Brent stood up and moved to the seat across from her, grabbing her free hand. “I was thinking back to the day we first met and I knew you were going to be my wife one day.” 

Angelica’s eyes slowly batted. “Go on.” 

“I have noticed that my studies have grown outside of what one would expect for a servant boy such as myself. It seems the king and queen have made it a priority that I learn about how the kingdom is run.” 

Princess Angelica put down her fan. Her eyes were wide. “They’re…they’re what?” 

“I am being taught how the kingdom is run. I suppose it could help me to be a better servant,  but the material is so detailed. I feel that I would be halfway to running the kingdom myself.” 

Angelica put her fan to her mouth as if she was covering it with a fan. “Thank the stars Bedelia doesn’t know that!” 

Brent laughed. “Quite right! She would be mortified if she knew. I can already hear her objections now.” 

Princess Angelica and Brent laughed for a moment. 

Angelica then lowered the fan from her face and looked at Brent with her indigo eyes. Brent’s breath was stolen from him and everything else seemed to fade away other than Angelica herself. He watched her lips brief purse before she spoke. “Brent, we are both coming up to our 16th year next year and I have been wondering about marriage between us. I love you as I know you do too.” 

Brent stood up and leaned over the table, getting closer to Angelica’s face. “There has not been one moment since I met you that I did not want to spend my life with you – not as your servant, but as your partner,” 

Angelica’s angelic smile lit up Brent’s heart.

“Angelica,” he said. “What if I discuss the possibility with your parents tonight?” 

Angelica’s eyebrows lifted. “How fast!” 

“Can it really be so fast if it has been since we met as children?” 

Angelica giggled. “I suppose not.” 

I must arrange to speak to the King and Queen right away when I have a moment to do so. Would it be best to find a private time? Brent’s face showed a hint of grimance. But if I do, would others be scared I would do what I did to my mother? 

Immeditately, he squashed that thought down. No, no, private or not private, I will respectuflly ask the king and queen for Angelica’s hand in marriage for next year. 

*** 

Brent’s heart raced as he brought out the butter cookie and jam to the dinner table. The King, Queen, and Princess Angelica were all eating at the dining table together in the dining hall. Surprisingly, their table was smaller than one would expect in a castle. This was done on purpose – the king desired more intimacy between his family, so he swaped the long table for a short one. The table was plenty big, fitting the everyday feast for the royal family, but it was still small enough for conversations. Brent loved seeing, even from a distance, the way the royal family interacted. The King and Queen were just a lovely couple and you could tell just how much they genuinely loved their daughter – it didn’t seem like a lie or a chore, but genuine. Brent only hoped that he and Angelica could be just as lovely as her parents. 

Brent gently placed the small platter of cookies onto the table. He breathed in through his nose and held his breath, attempting to calm his nerves. He was both excited and anxious all at once. He could feel Princess Angelica’s bashful stare bare into him. The King and Queen attentively turned to him. 

“You requested an audience with us?” asked the Queen. 

The King let out a laugh. “Angelica here insisted it be quiet, in a much closer setting.” 

Brent swallowed and moved closer to Angelica. He nervously took her hand and looked at the King and Queen. “As you know, p-princess Angelica and I-I t-turn 16 n-next year…” said Brent. His body was trembling. 

The Queen covered her mouth as a delightful grin spread across her face. The fire from the fireplace seemed to dance in her eyes as she excitedly  pushed the King’s shoulder. The King looked intrigued. He extended his hand towards Brent. “Brent, there is no need to be nervous.” 

Brent put a hand over his heart and took a few deep breaths, still holding onto Angelica’s hand. “Thank you,” he said to the king. He increasingly trembled less and less. “When I first met Princess Angelica, when we young children, I loved her right away and I boldly declared that she would be my wife one day.” Brent turned his head to Angelica, who looked into his eyes deeply. “My love for her has never left. It has only grown as time has gone on.” 

Princess Angelica’s cheeks flushed a light pink. “My love has also grown over time.” 

Anticipation swelled as Angelica and Brent looked into each other’s eyes. The Queen clinged a hand tightly to the King’s cloak, both of them looking eager to hear more. Brent and Angelica finally looked at the King and Queen and said simultaneously: “We love each other.” 

“That is why,” said Brent. “I am asking now to marry Princess Angelica next year.” 

Silence. 

Then the Queen squealed with absolute delight! The King clapped his hands together and lifted them into the air. “Oh, tell him, dear!” 

The King cleared his throat. “Brent, your propsal is more than what we could have hoped for. One of the reasons we decided to continue your education was for this possibility. You have repeatedly demonstrated your devotion to our daughter. I can only imagine the devotion you would have to the kingdom. The love you both have for each other is clear as the stars in a cloudless sky.” 

Brent and Angelica’s hands tightened their grasp in participation, carefully watching the King’s expression go from a pleasant smile to a much more stern expression. They held their breaths. 

“We cannot make arrangements now, but we will let you know our decision regarding your marriage propsal for our daughter when it comes closer to the time.” 

Brent and Angelica lowered their heads a bit.

The King then smiled once more. “In the meantime, please, continue your studies.” He then extended his hand towards an empty chair, “And please, have a seat. Indulge in some butter cookies with us.” 

Brent bowed his head and took a seat right besides Angelica. “Yes, sir.” He kept his hand on Angelica’s as he used his free one to eat a butter cookie. 

***

Brent and Angelica sat next to each other in the library, discussing the day’s lesson with each other. Although they were not learning the same things, they liked to exchange what they had learned with each other anyway. Brent had been learning more about the history of the kingdom and how it was run through each generation. Princess Angelica had been studying air magic, a royal family specialty – after all, the only way you could truly reach the stars was through the air. 

The servants and knights who were spread around the library quietly whispered amongst themselves. Brent and Angelica knew they were all trying to be quiet, but in a place like the library where it was normally so silent, it was easy to hear their comments.

Since talking to the King and the Queen regarding the marriage proposal, Brent and Angelica were even closer than before. When they spent time together, whether it was studying in the library, having tea, or Brent simply accompanying Princess Angelica somewhere, the two of them were always within each other’s personal space, to the point it seemed to overlap. Brent and Angelica no lonnger had the desire to hide their love from everyone, especially with the marriage proposal out in the open. 

After Brent inquired about marrying Princess Angelica, the few servants and the knights that had been in the room had told the others about it in casual conversation and knowledge of it spread throughout the castle. They both could hear that there was a range of reactions – from those who were in disbelief at Brent’s boldness to those who couldn’t help but gush. 

Brent pointed to a series of words in gold ink written in one of the books in front of him. “I find it fascinating that air magic used to play a much bigger role in the kingdom,” he said, tapping the words. “just thinking we were almost renamed ‘Isles of Winds’ is such a delightful oddity.” 

Princess Angelica nodded. “Oh yes. Such a strange thing to do! It’s not like most of our subjects can use air magic the way we can. I suppose that King Aerlden couldn’t help his joy. After all, it was his specialty.” 

Brent nodded, taking notes on the text. Princess Angelica leaned onto his shoulder as he wrote down. “Is it true he stopped appointing court mages?”

“Yes, that is true,” replied Princess Angelica. “That is because he was a mage himself.” 

She took out one of her fans and closed her eyes as she turned to a bookshelf across the room. “Come to me old book of ye; Sir Aerlden’s diary,” she chanted. One of the books from the top shelf slowly moved from the shelf and seemed to jump off from it. Brent jumped as Angelica jolted up and out of her seat, watching at the old diary fell to the floor. 

Just as Princess Angelica let out a yelp, Bedelia appeared and caught the book. She pushed up the bridge of her glasses as she handed the book to the princess. “Princess Angelica, you must be careful with priceless articles such as this. It’s a diary, yes?” 

Princess Angelica frowned. “Yes.” 

Bedelia then moved over to Brent’s side, who glared at her. She leaned in and scanned over the materials her was reading. She then scoffed. “What are you doing with these?” she lifted them up, seemingly horrified. “These are for royal families eyes only.” 

“Give those back!” snapped Brent. He stood up from his seat. “It is a part of my curriculum.” 

“Bedelia, I order you to place the books back down,” commanded Princess Angelica. “You may go inquire about Brent’s curriculum with Taliesin and address your complaints to my parents.” 

Bedelia’s lips slightly pursed as she gently placed the books back down in front of Brent. “Very well, Princess Angelica.” 

Princess Angelica regally lifted up her head. Bedelia bowed her had, but at such an angle for Angelica to not see her gaze. 

Brent straighted out the books Bedelia returned as he looked over his shoulder. Bedelia’s glare was burning into him. He returned it back to her. He watched her eyes narrow.

“I shall go speak to Taliesin about this,” she annoucned. She then turned to Brent and leaned into him. In a low voice, she said: “Do not forget your place, boy. You are here to do nothing more than serve.” 

Bedelia quickly disappeared behind the bookcases. 

Brent slammed the table with his fist, causing Angelica to jump. Angelica quickly sat down next to him, wrapping her arms around his. She looked at him, concerned. “Brent, what happened?” 

Brent shook his head. “She told me to ‘not forget my place’.” 

Brent turned to look into Angelica’s gently smiling face as she lightly stroke his hand. “Your place is besides me.” 

A smile spread across Brent’s face. 

She’s right…my place is besides her. Brent took Angelica’s cheek into his hand. “And your place is beside mine.” 

***

“Brent, the King and Queen would like to see you,” said Bedelia. Brent sprung up from the floor he had been scrubbing. He turned to Bedelia, seeing a small, smug smirk on her face. His initally giddy excitement quickly faded, being replaced by a skeptical curiousity. 

“Yes, right away,” he replied. He placed the sponge back onto the cleaning cart and rubbed his hands dry. He then scurried past Bedelia, whose gaze he could feel on his back as he disappeared down the hallway to head to the throne room. 

Since Brent was only a few corridors over from the throne room, it didn’t take him very long to get to it. He soon walked through the large double doors, greeted by a gasp and the opening of a book. 

“Ah, yes, Servant Brent,” said Arwinwalde, tapping his finger inside of the book. “The King and Queen shall see you now.” He then raised a trumpet, announcing Brent’s arrival. Brent’s face flushed as the trumpet echoed off the tall walls of the throne room. 

Brent walked down the carpeted pathway up to the raised platform where the king and queen stood. Brent immedtiately felt like washing himself off – there was something about their solemn looks that made him feel dirty. He stopped a few feet away from the King and Queen’s platform. 

“Hello, your royal highnesses,” greeted Brent, bowing. “I have heard that you have summoned me from my duties.” 

The King signaled Brent to come forth. Brent stepped closer, only stopping when the king lifted his hand to stop him. “Do you know why we have summoned you here today?” 

Brent paused for a moment. “If I had to usher in a guess, I would say it was either about the marriage propsal or Bedelia finally complained about my school being unfit for me.” 

The King and Queen let out a laugh that cut through the serious atmosphere for a moment. The King’s lips curled. “It is not about Bedelia’s complaints, but I have heard them. Your studies shall continue as is, so you do not need to worry about that.” 

Brent laughed back. “Could I guess this is about the marriage propsal?”

The lighthearted cut in the atmosphere quickly disappeared. Brent could feel the weight once more. Oh, how badly he wanted to shake to get it off from him!  

The Queen let out a sigh. “Brent, we love you. We really do.” 

The King nodded in agreement. “We acknowledge that you are the first choice for Angelica and you are our first choice as well. However…”

  Brent held his breath.

“…upon further reflection, we must decline the proposal.” 

The colour sunk from Brent’s face. “Is…is it alright to ask why?” 

“Yes,” replied the King. “We came to the conclusion after taking the future of the kingdom into consideration. As you are aware from your studies about the history of this kingdom, there are no others in my family besides my younger sister who has renounced her rights to the throne and my daughter alive other than myself. We need to ensure that Angelica marries into a partnership that not only can provide us with descendants, as this kingdom is a hierarchy, we also need to ensure that her ruling king is of high enough status to ensure compliance from those living in this kingdom. Therefore, we cannot accept proposals from anyone less than a noble.” 

Brent had no idea how he was standing up. He was trembling as the words sunk into him. He covered his mouth, manging to let out a small “oh.” Brent could feel the distance between them. How…how could I forget status? Then another question floated up into Brent’s mind.

“M-may I ask what the difference is between myself and Princess Angelica getting married a-and both of you?” 

The Queen and King exchanged awkward looks. The King looked at Brent stern. “I had special circumstances. As you know, I was third in line and I was not expected to ever run the kingdom, so I chose who I fell in love with, which was a peasant woman. However, Angelica does not have the same luxury as I do. She is an only child and will be ruling after us. I hope you understand.” 

Brent nodded. “Y-yes…” He covered his face. “I-I’m sorry for asking such a propsterous thing in the first place…” 

The King and Queen immeditately jumped to their feet. The King put a hand on Brent’s shoulder and the Queen knelt down to look up into his face that was simultaneously both pale and flushed. “Nothing you asked were proposterous,” assured the King. 

Brent continued to tremble. He bit his lip as he felt his eyes beginning to water. I do not need tears right now! Come on, me, get it together! Calm down…calm down…calm…down…

The Queen turned over to one of the servants across the room. “Natalia, can you please bring him to the guest room two corridors over? And Enela, please inform Bedelia that Brent will be off for the remainder of the night.” 

A purple haired woman ran right over to Brent, placing a hand on his back. “Sure thing, your highness. Come on, Brent, let’s go to the guest room.” 

Brent started to follow Natalia. Brent stopped in his tracks, just as he stepped off the platform, and turned to the king and queen. “Does Angelica know about this decision?” 

The Queen cast her gaze downward. The King shook his head. “No, she does not. She will know after dinner.” 

Brent nodded and continued to follow Natalia out of the throneroom, unaware of the King and Queen’s troubled expressions.

*** 

Brent sat on the bed, still trembling, albeit a lot slower and more in bursts. Natalia sat down next to him. She folded her hand into her lap and leaned forward, giving him a smile. “Hey, I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Natalia. I recently got promoted from low-level servitude to mid-level. I’ve heard so much about you!” 

Brent cracked a smile. “Y-you have?” 

“Yes, all about you and Princess Angelica.” Natalia swooned. “It’s just absolutely romantic. I’ve seen the way you two interact from a distance and it’s so clear that you are very much in love. Not to mention, the way the King and Queen treat you, geez, you would almost think you were their own son!” 

Brent laughed, then falling backwards onto the bed, looking up at the ceiling. “Thank you, Natalia.” 

Natalia leaned back and looked up herself towards the ceiling. After a good moment of silence, she said, “I’m sorry that they rejected the proposal.” 

Brent felt himself started to tremble again. “T-they’re right, you know. I am just a servant boy a-and Angelica has a very important duty to this king…there’s no way for us to be together.” 

Natalia frowned, sitting up, turning to Brent. “Look at you, using the Princess’s name so casually! You two could always elope, you know?” 

Brent scoffed. “Angelica would never do that.” 

“You think?”

“I know.” 

Natalia let out a sigh. “I’m sure you two will figure out something, even if it takes a long while.” She then sat up, brushed off her dress, and gave Brent a thumbs up as she walked out the door. “I’ll be rootin’ for ya!” 

Brent waved at Natalia. “Thanks…” 

The door shut. Then Brent cried. 

*** 

Brent stood on the balcony, on the upper levels of the castle. The stars glittered brightly above and the wind ruffled his curled hair. The cool breeze felt even colder on his face where the trails left behind the tears and he had just finished crying once more. He rubbed his face as he absentmindedly stared at the patrolling guards in the distance rearranging their formation to walk back. 

“BRENT!” 

Brent turned around as Princess Angelica’s hysterical voice ripped through the air. He couldn’t even get a word out before she was in his arms. They both fell to the ground. Angelica’s tears prompted Brent’s own to begin tumble down once more. He held her head tightly and bright her close and they cried together. 

They sat in silence on the floor, Angelica holding him even tighter. 

***

Their tears had long since dried up, but they still sat on the balcony floor, holding each other close. Angelica laid her head on Brent’s shoulder and Brent’s head on her’s. Brent stroked Angelica’s hand with his. They both stared blankly. The stars had already notably shifted before they said any words to each other. 

“They said no,” said Angelica.

“I know.”

“I really thought they would say yes.” 

“As did I. But that was a ridiclious thought…”

“T’was not!” 

“Your parents said the same thing…”

“I just…I just don’t know how they said no.” 

“Well, as they explained to me…” said Brent. He took a deep breath. “you have an important duty as the only heir to the kingdom. To ensure the kingdom listens to you, you need to marry someone of a higher status than I and no lower than a noble.” 

“But I only want you.” 

“I want you as well.” 

“My mother was originally a peasant woman.” 

“I am aware. I asked about that – your father explained he had a special circumstance which you do not have.” 

Angelica tightened her grip on Brent. “I…I do not like this at all. I’m the Princess of Astral Isles and I can’t even choose my own husband because of something as abritery as ‘he’s not a noble’.” 

“What do you suppose we do?” 

“I do not know.” 

Brent laughed. Angelica shot him a glare. 

“Oh, I am not laughing at you.” 

“Then what might be so funny?” 

“One of the other servants, Natalia, suggested we elope, but I informed her that you would not be for that.” 

Angelica laughed. “You are correct about that.” 

“You’ve always known about your duty as the only heir to the kingdom and have been keen on seeing it through.” Brent looked into Angelica’s eyes. “I’ll be with you, even if it is not as your husband.” 

Princess Angelica sat in front of him, leaning angrily into his face. “Do not say that to me. You are going to be my husband.” 

“How do you suppose?” 

Angelica sat back down next to him, leaning on his shoulder once more. “Hmm…perhaps we should just wait on my parents.” 

“You think?” 

“They do not have to decide right away. They could always change their mind in a year or two, you know?”

“And if they don’t?” 

“Well, I’ll just have to wait until I take over the kingdom then.” Angelica then sat herself up regally. “You better be prepared if that is the case then – we will not have much time to produce heirs than if we got married much earlier.” 

Brent laughed and grabbed Angelica by the back of the head, bringing their foreheads together. “I love you.” 

“I love you too.” Angelica smiled back. 

They held hands, gazing into each other’s eyes. Brent then turned his eyes towards the stars. “You know, Angelica, even though everything makes so much sense to me, I still cannot shake off us being together in this lifetime.” 

Princess Angelica turned her gaze to the stars. “Yes, I cannot shake that either. That’s why I said to wait on my parents. It is just painful know we have to wait.”  

“Yes…it is painful indeed.” 

Brent and Angelica hugged each other close. They stayed that way, dozing off.

In the morning, they awoke with aching bodies and a large blanket over them. They nuzzled each other before they parted for their proper bedrooms in the morning. 

***

Brent raised an eyebrow at the posted servant schedule. For the first time in forever, his study hours had changed. Not by much – two hours later twice a week, while the remainder stayed the same. He took a look at the previous week’s schedule and went to find Bedelia. 

Bedelia was in the kitchen, finishing off supervising a partial crew shift in the kitchen’s cleaning department. Brent pushed through the doors and into the back. “Ms. Bedelia?” he called. 

“Yeeees, Brent?” 

“Is there a reason why my study sessions were shifted two hours down twice next week?” 

Brent could see through Bedela’s forced grin. He frowned in response as she extended her hand out to the side, as if pointing to an explanation. “I needed to shift your hours down because you are needed elsewhere in the castle during those hours.” 

Brent forced a smile back at her. What are you up to? “Ah, I see. Will they be changed back?” 

“Yes, I will be able to do that next week.” 

Brent nodded. “Thank you.” 

He turned on his heel and left. His guts were yanking him in all different directions. He did not trust her one bit. He just needed to wait and see why he couldn’t trust her now. 

***

“I was thinking we could go have tea in the garden tomorrow,” said Angelica. “It is to be such a lovely day outside again. We can study and review together.” 

Brent’s face went dark. “I can’t.” 

Princess Angelica was taken aback. “You can’t? Well, why not? Is this about the other day?”

“No,” replied Brent. “at least, I don’t think so.” He let out a sigh, laying his head down on the table. “Bedelia shifted my study sessions tomorrow and three days from now down two hours.” 

“She did what?” 

“It may be perfectly valid,” defended Brent. “She says that there is work I need to do elsewhere in the castle. It appears it’s cleaning the upperrooms in the castles, which, as you know, do take quite a while. Perhaps she was genuinely considering my study needs.” 

Princess Angelica looked skeptical. “Or it could be something else.” 

Or it could be something else,” echoed Brent. 

***

The next week came and Brent sighed relief at his schedule, excited to see his studies were restored once more to their proper time. He exited the servants quarters with an electricfying skip in his step. He walked down the hall, looking as if he was about to break out into a dash at any moment. She said she was going to be waiting on the balcony, yes? A smile began to stretch itself across his face. 

He then stumbled backwards at the sudden body that stepped out of the shadows right in front of him. 

“Hello, Brent,” greeted Bedelia. Her voice was low and nearly croaked. The dim torches that lit the hallway only lit her partially – half of her was still hidden in darkness. 

Brent’s genuinely smile became a forced one. “Good evening! You startled me there.” 

“And where do you think you’re going so late at night?” 

“Princess Angelica requested me this evening.” 

“Are you sure now? Did you not see?” 

“See…what?” 

“There was an executive order from the king and queen that all staff must go to sleep at certain times depending on the shift that they work that started today. It was on the bulletin.”

“No, I did not see that. I will have to take a look when I go back.” 

Bedelia walked up beside Brent, looking straight down the hallway. She pushed up the brim of her glasses. “I suppose I can let this slide for the night, after all, who knows how much longer the princess will see you for.”

Brent’s mind first felt twisted in knots, then his stomach twisted and rage began to surface deep within him. He quickly took a deep breath as Bedelia took her leave and disappeared down the hallway. “What I am I doing?” Calm down, me, killing Bedelia on accident won’t do me any good. 

Brent shook his head, clearing away his thoughts and continued down the hallway. He turned the corridor, went up the stairs, and went down another hallway. At the very end was the entrance to the balcony, He walked through its double doors and was greeted by Princess Angelica’s soft smile that was illuminated by the waning moonlight. 

Brent immeditately grabbed her hand, got down on a knee, and kissed her it. He then lifted his head and his eyes met her’s. Angelica’s lips were now covered by her fan, but Brent could tell by the rest of her face that she was smiling. 

“What was your schedule for this week?” inquired Angelica. 

Brent grabbed both of her hands and stood up. “My schedule has been restored!” 

“How wonderful!” 

Brent’s shoulder’s dropped, looking over Angelica’s. “Bedelia caught me in the hallway. She said there was an executive order from the king and queen?” 

Princess Angelica nodded. “Yes. My parents were talking about it. From my understanding, they will be hosting a series of balls soon and want to ensure the staff is in tip-top shape for it.” 

“Balls?” 

“Yes. I am to have numerous dressed made up for them.” 

“You are going to look beautiful.”

“You’ll be one of the first I will show, of course.” 

Brent followed Angelica as she gently guided him with her hands over to a table. Brent pulled out her chair and she sat down. Brent sat across from her. Angelica pushed a book towards him. Brent opened up the knapsack hanging off his shoulder and pulled out his school books. He placed them beside the book Angelica pushed towards him. 

“Make sure you leave some room,” said Angelica, gesturing her hand in a sweeping motion. “I have tea coming.” 

“This late?” 

“Well, yes. We did not get to last week, so why not do it now?” 

Brent laughed. “’tis true! I will admit.” 

“Did someone order tea for twooooooo?” 

Brent looked up at the friendly voice and his face lit up. “Natalia!” 

Natalia slid the silver tray onto the table. “Look at you, getting special treatment.” She placed a hand on her cheek. “I’m still so sorry about what happened that day…” 

Brent grabbed Angelica’s hand. “At least we can still see each other in some capacity.” His eyes met Angelica’s curious gaze that seemed even more alluring under the moonlight. “We both decided to see if her parents will come around.” 

Natalia squealed. “Ooooh, I hope soooooo! You two are just the cutest. I know you two are super young, but just…just look at you both!” She then let out a romantic sigh. “I’m cheering you two from the sidelines.” 

“Thank you, Natalia,” said Angelica. 

Angelica turned to Brent, extending her hand out towards Natalia. “Natalia has recently been assigned as my personal assistant.” 

Brent’s eyebrows raised. “Already?” he turned to Natalia. “I thought you just started helping in the royal court room?” 

“Oh, I did,” replied Natalia. She flashed Brent a V-sign with her fingers. “I guess they were just so pleased with how I helped you both that day, they assigned me to be Angelica’s personal assistant. I’m primarily on the night shift, but sometimes I do other times as well.” She leaned forward and placed a finger to her lips. “Do not tell Bedelia of the help, okay?” She winked. 

Brent and Angelica were both confused. 

“I know you helped me,” said Brent. 

Angelica pointed to herself. “You have been very helpful so far, but I don’t recall seeing you other than the morning that day.” 

Natalia stood up straight with a big grin plastered on her face. “I was the one who covered you in blankets. You’re welcome!” 

Brent and Angelica gasped. 

*** 

Brent grumbled in his head, cheek in hand, sitting in the servant commons. The rest of the servants, save for Natalia who sat beside him, didn’t seem to notice his unusually obvious scowl. Brent normally showed his emotions a lot quieter, but he just seemed to be radiating them today. It had become increasingly harder for him to hide it – he managed to make it to three weeks without a schedule change, then all of a sudden, his schedule started to change. It was just minorly annoying at first – that strange two hour shift-down schedule for his studies returned. Then his study days started to disappear. And now he was only studying three times a week and they were never aligned with Angelica’s anymore. 

To make it even worse? He couldn’t even voice his complaints to Bedelia. Oh, he tried. But every single time he would catch her, she would disappear or suddenly become unavailable. At this point, he was certain the schedule change was done on purpose for some sort of nasty reason that Bedelia would never actually admit aloud, not with everyone else around and listening. 

Natalia placed her hand over Brent’s shoulder. “What’s been going on with you? Every time I see you lately, you look like a cannon about to go off!” 

Brent didn’t even turn to her. “If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t seen Princess Angelica at all for the past month.” 

Natalia nodded. “Yeah, I did. What has happened to your schedule?” 

“I swear she is doing it on purpose…” mumbled Brent, glaring at Bedelia, who was standing up on the slightly raised stage at the back wall of the servant commons. 

The servant commons was where all the servants could unwind after a long days work, eat together, and spend their leisure time. Originally, the part of the castle the servant commons was in was a weapon’s storehouse, however, the current king and queen felt the weapons would be better stored elsewhere and had them moved to a storehouse closer to the knights quarters. With space left, they had it converted to a space where the servants could enjoy life just a bit more. The stage was put in only a few years ago, per the request of some of the more musically and theatrically-inclined servants, who wanted a chance to practice. Of course, it ended up being useful for other things such as the announcements like Bedelia was about to make. 

Bedelia held up her hands and the whole room went silent. Most of the servants turned their attention to her, although a few continued with whatever they were doing. 

“I am pleased to announce that starting at the beginning of the new year, the king and queen are hosting a series of eight balls throughout the year in order to help Princess Angelica find a suitable husband.” 

Brent’s eyes met Bedelia’s and his face became pale. Although Bedelia’s smile seemed genuine, Brent could see the curls of a smirk at its very edges. Natalia gasped rubbing Brent’s back. 

Bedelia continued. “The King and Queen asked each and every one of us to do our part in ensuring that the balls are a success. The first ball is the week after the new year starts, therefore preparations are to start next week. Expect your schedules to change accordingly.” Bedelia clapped her hands together. “That is all.” 

An excited wave of chatter rolled across the room and Brent felt like he was drowning in it. He stood up and left as fast as he could. He clenched his fist as he made his way down the corridor. 

“Hey, wait up! Brent!” 

Brent stopped with a huff, seeing Natalia not too far behind him. 

“Where are you going?” 

“To the dungeons.” 

Natalia was taken aback. “Dungeons? Why would you need to go there?” 

“To scream.” 

Brent stomped a foot forward. “Did you see how she looked at me? She was mocking me. It was written all over her face.” 

Natalia sighed, putting a hand to her cheek. “I did. I know she’s notorious for being old fashion, but she’s just being outright cruel.” 

“I suspect she has been purposely avoiding me and now she’s mocking me…” 

Brent glared at Natalia as a huge grin spread across her face. Natalia leaned forward. “I suspect it won’t be too long before Princess Angelica raises a complaint.” 

Brent tilted his head. 

Natalia walked next to Brent, elbowing him in the arm. She winked and stuck out her tongue. “She’s already started complaining to me.” 

Brent’s anger dissipitated as he laughed. “Of course she would.” 

“I’d give it another week or two.” 

***

Natalia had nailed it – Princess Angelica had lodged a complaint to her parents, who in turn worked with Bedelia to create a better schedule for Brent. He could tell Bedelia was not happy about the whole thing, but tolerated it as an order from the King and Queen. 

While the timing of his schedule did not change all that much, the nature of his tasks did. From his understanding, the King and Queen agreed to keep his current studies where they were (after all, they would be completely phased out not too long after the first ball of the year as he was turning 16), but required him to assist Princess Angelica periodically throughout the month. They also stated that Princess Angelica could request him at any time with no issue, including outside of curfew. 

Brent’s current duty? Rearranging Princess Angelica’s closet. 

It honestly wasn’t what he was expected to e doing the day time, but it was better than nothing. Best of all, Princess Angelica was right there with him. 

“Oh, Brent, could you push those three to the back?” requested Angelica, signiling with her closed fan. 

“Yes, right away!” 

“That dress can go over there.” 

“The one on the right?” 

“Yes, the purple one.” 

“Yes, Princess Angelica.” 

Angelica giggled.”Brent, it’s just us right now. You do not need to call me ‘Princess’.” 

Brent sighed, resting his face on the purple tulle of the dress he had just grabbed at the base of the mannequin. “The last thing I need is for Bedelia to come in here and scold me for not using it.” 

Angelica slapped her closed fan into her other hand. “Princess’s orders. You are to call me ‘Angelica’ except under more official circumstances.” 

Brent pushed the purple tulle dress towards the back corner. He didn’t even smile – he almost seemed to ignore Angelica’s order. He fluffed out the dress a bit, as the part his face had rested on had flattened and walked back to where Angelica was standing. 

Angelica grabbed his hand. “Brent, are you alright?” 

“I’m starting to have doubts…” 

“About what?” 

“That we will actually be together. As you know, the balls aren’t just for show and good relation – they are so you can find the perfect husband.” His right palm loosely balled and he placed it over his heart, casting his gaze downward. “I do believe it’s time I start calling you Princess Angelica.” 

Angelica’s face reddened scrunched. “Brent, don’t doubt us! There must be some way for us to be together, without abandoning the kingdom.” 

Brent forced a smile. ‘Ha, you’re right. I’m sorry, Angelica.” He kissed her hand. “If it is alright with you, I shall call you ‘Angelica’ in private, but I shall put your title when others are around.” 

“I don’t really like that, but I suppose it’s fine.” Princess Angelica began to fan herself and down-casted her eyes. “It wouldn’t be all that polite if you called me just Angelica in front of all the guest at the ball.” 

Brent laughed in response. 

Angelica then lead him to the left side of the room. “Now, let’s move all the purple dresses to the back, starting in size order. The one you just brought back there is from my childhood, so I would say start with the section next. Simple, yes?”

Brent overlooked all the dresses, spotting a small group of even smaller ones. “What about those?” 

Angelica looked over and turned back to him. “Oh my, it looks like I missed those. Could you move those too? Before the other one?” 

Brent laughed. “Yes, of course.” 

***

Anticipation and nervousness ran high all day long at the finishing touches on the castle were completed for the first ball of the year. It seemed like everyone was holding their breath as the regal guest started to pour into the ballroom, dressed in gaudy, extravegant fashion. The King, Queen, and Princess Angelica all wore equally gaudy fashion to the guests. 

The King raised his hands as he stood on stage, the Queen and Princess beside him on either side. “Thank you all for attending the first Astral Isles Ball! We host this in celebration of our relationship with all of you, and, more over, to find the best suitor for my daughter. As you know, my only child – Princess Angelica – turns 16 years old later this year, the age of marriage here in Astral Isles. So, I ask all the young lads out there, please, do not hesistate to get to know my daughter better. That is all. Let the ball begin!” 

Cheers erupted from the ground. 

Brent was hoping the shaking he felt and the nausea in his stomach wasn’t show outside of himself. He stood in alignment with numerous other servants, all dressed up and holding trays of numerous snacks and drinks. He took a deep breath and stepped out of alignment, along with several other servants, and they began to flood onto the floor, mingling in with the guests. 

Brent glanced just off to the side of the stage. Princess Angelica seemed to glow. Her hair was tied up in an elegant bun and her dress was long and looked warm, perfect for the colder winter night outside. Around her were numerous young noblemen, all around Angelica & Brent’s age. The sheepish smile on her face and the light pink flush of her cheeks made her look absolutely beautiful.

Brent solemnly smiled, turning his attention back towards the guest. She’s so beautiful, the way she is looking at them. I know we are in love, but is it enough for us to last on? 

***

“Can you believe that they both only met me for one night and decided that they were going to marry me?” asked Princess Angelica, as Brent brushed her hair. 

“Angelica, I declared that you were my wife the first day I met you.” 

Angelica clicked her tongue. “That’s different. I agreed with you.” 

Brent silently laughed. 

Angelica turned to him. “Are you alright? You seem a bit down.” 

“It’s nothing.” 

“Are you bothered by the proposals?” 

Brent placed his hand on her shoulder. “How could I be bothered? You were so beautiful that night, I am surprised you only got two!” 

“Me? Beautiful? More than usual?” 

“Yes. You seemed to glow.” 

Angelica scoffed. “Glow? That’s how you saw it?”

Brent brushed the back of his hand against her cheek. “You were glowing like gold glitstening in the morning sun. Your cheeks were light flushed pink. The smile on your face was light and kind, yet inviting. You seemed almost timid.” 

Angelica glowered. 

“What?” 

“Brent, I was overwhelmed because I suddenly had fifty young men all trying to talk to me at once and I was being showered with compliments left and right. That might have been flattering, but there was nothing more behind it. In all honesty, it was tiring and I’m embarassed my father is attempting to pawn me off.” Angelica sat on her knees and turned around to face Brent in her chair. She was scowling. 

Brent placed Angelica’s hair brush back on the dresser, while looking at her. “I do not think your father is trying to pawn you off. He knows it’s better for the kingdom for you to marry someone who is of nobility or royalty.” 

Angelica let out a sigh, letting the upper half of her body collapse onto the back of the chair. “I know that. You know I know that. But you also know that we’ll still be together some way.” 

“I know, I know. You’ll drag it out as long as you can.” 

Angelica perked up. “Yes, that’s right.”  She then leaned into Brent’s face, inches away from it. “Then we would have to hurry and produce heirs for the kingdom, but it’s much better than one of the stuff nobles that were at the ball that day.” 

Angelica then sat back down in her chair, facing the mirror. “At least you love me.” 

Brent hugged Angelica from behind, who light grabbed his arms in return. He could smell the floral-scented shampoo in her hair and feel the softness of her fingers. “That I do.” 

“Whoa! Good thing I’m not Bedelia.” 

Brent jumped and let go of Angelica. Both of them whipped around, seeing Natalia at the door. They both breathed a sigh of relief as Natalia approached them.

“You two are just sooooo CUTE!” she gushed. 

“Natalia, you aren’t supposed to be here until evening.” 

Natalia nodded. “Yes. However, the King and Queen specifically requested me to switch with Brent. The chimneys need cleaning and Brent is one of the few servants who can do it efficently and quickly.” 

Brent nodded in agreement. “That is true. It’s actually quite fun.” 

Princess Angelica grabbed his hand. “Is it more fun than being with me?” 

Brent touched her hand, sending her sneer. “Are you really asking that?” 

“Now, now,” said Natalia, clapping her hands twice. “you guys gotta split for now. The last thing we need is Bedelia to walk in and see how intimate you two are being…am I right?” 

Brent and Princess Angelica both instantly blushed. “I-intimate!” 

“I saw how Brent was embracing you, Princess,” teased Natalia. 

Angelica grabbed her fan from the dresser, flicked it open, and hid her blushing cheeks with it. “We weren’t doing nothing more than a hug. I wouldn’t do anything more than that until we are married, you know.” 

***

Months had passed, Brent’s 16th birthday had come and gone. The King and Queen kindly granted him his own room and Angelica a new pair of work clothes. His studies had officially ended, although he was able to continue them in his leisure time. He had decided to take up jewlery making. He would work at it at night, illuminated by numerous candles. He didn’t really know what he was doing, but he wanted to make something anyway. 

He had watched Princess Angelica’s glow at each of the balls lessen each and every time.  He couldn’t interact with her all that much, with him simply being there to serve, but he felt like he had to do something for her sake. He was carefully drilling a hole through a tumbled rose quartz. He then thread a wire through the hole, wrapping it on the left & right sides of the crystal. He then thread the wire back through to the top and twisted it carefully into a loop. From there, he thread it onto the choker he had sewn and put together the previous day. 

Brent held up the choker in the candle light, admiring his craftsmanship. I hope she loves it

He gently folded it and put it into a small, velvet blue bag. He put it into his clothing pocket, blew out the candles, and went to bed. 

*** 

End

To Be Continued…

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