[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Brent’s Story Part 2)

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  shot up from his bed. He felt as if he were buzzing. He slipped out and opened his curtians. The rising sun greeted him with its gentle, warm glow and the night sky seemed to wave good-bye. He opened up the windows and took in the fresh air. The last bit of grogginess he was experienced washed away with the breeze that brushed his face as it poured in through the window and flooded his room. 

Brent quickly got dressed and left, rushing down the corridor. He walked into the servants quarters and looked at the servants schedule one more time with nervous anticipation, only to be grinning up to his ears.

Listed on the schedule for the late afternoon was Brent assisting Angelica with her ball gown. I cannot believe it is still here. I cannot belive it did not change. 

Brent couldn’t fathom how he was fortunate to have been assigned such an important duty. It didn’t even bother him with the fact that he wasn’t going to be the only one – Bedelia and Natalia were both going to be there too. Okay, sure, he didn’t really like the idea of Bedelia being there, but just the fact he was even going to be within the vicintiy to assist with Angelica getting ready for the ball was more than enough. This was exactly why he needed to get the choker done today. He tapped his pocket, checking to make sure it was still in there.

Brent quickly skimmed over the rest of his schedule – he was to first help set up the ballroom with the final touches for tonight’s ball, then the kitchen for additional ballroom preparations. From there, he was to report to the dressing room and be on stand-by beside Princess Angelica’s newest dress that was to arrive later today. 

Brent began to tremble. He could not wait to get the day started. 

***

Brent stared up at the dress that had been wheeled in not too long ago. He could only imagine what Angelica would like wearing it, with its boned top and skirt made of layers upon layers of tulle. And what he could imagine, he knew she would be absolutely beautiful, even if she continued to look miserable at the ball. 

He pulled a small book out of his pocket and leaned against the wall. The book’s cover appeared to be well-loved with its rough edges and fading ink. The binding appeared to be curling, but the book held together surprisingly well. It was simply tilted “Air Magic Notes”. Brent had no idea if he had any genuine magic power – although in all honesty, he suspected he did – but the book was interesting to him. It was written by King Aerlden, before he was king – back when he was just a simple court mage. The notes were brief and to the point, but detailed enough for Brent to follow along. A part of him longed to try them for himself, but fear of him causing harm stopped him. 

I wonder how much of the ability described in here is a natural gift or due to hard work? Brent looked at his own hand. He wjggled his fingers, as if trying to warm them up somehow. A faint blue glow began to surround his hand. His stomach clenched, noticing the faint outline. 

“Brent, bring the dress, now!” 

Brent jumped, whipping his head towards the door. He stuffed the book back into his pocket and ran behind the dress. “Yes, ma’am!” he replied, watching Bedelia promptly turning her back to him. Brent’s heart pounded as he pushed the dress out the door. 

Brent stumbled forward as Bedelia swiped the dress from him and whealed it behind the partition. 

“Natalia, get back here!” yelled Bedelia. 

Natalia and Brent exchanged smiles before Natalia raised her hand. “Yes, Ms. Bedelia!” 

Just before Natalia slipped behind the curtain, she said, “The princess requested her baby pink folding fan with the dark pink sparkles. I need you to grab it!” She winked and disappeared behind the paritition. 

Brent mumbled “yes” under his breath as he turned his attention briefly to the curtain. Although he couldn’t see anything in detail, he could still see the outline of Angelica’s body. He watched the sihollhoute of her bathrobe drop to the floor and her standing with nothing on, surrounding by both Bedelia and Natalia on either side. He smirk spread across his face, which quickly softened as his heartbeat dropped. I can’t even see how she fully looks, but I can tell she is just so beautiful. He watched Bedelia and Natalia quickly dress Angelica just like a doll.

Brent suddenly felt jolted. He looked around, only to remember there was no clock in the room. Her fan! He ran out of the room, down the corridor, going one floor up to Angelica’s bedroom. He quickly, but quietly opened her door and slipped right in. He held his breath, feeling as if he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He walked over to her armoire and opened the double doors. He turned his head to his right, scanning the long row of folded fans hanging off from it on hooks. He spotted the requested fan, grabbed it, shut the armoire, and slipped back out of the room. 

Brent’s eyes met with Angelica’s as he entered back into the room. He couldn’t even breath a word. His face lit up as he watched her’s do the same. Angelica skipped up to him, exclaiming, “Oh, Brent, you brought my fan!” 

Brent presented the fan to Angelica. “Yes, of course Princess Angelica, anything you desire, I will do my best to fulfill your request,”

Brent shivered ever so slightly as Angelica brushed her fingers against his hand as she was taking the fan out of it. They looked at each other right in the eyes: Brent’s was just screaming about how beautiful Angelica looked. Angelica’s seemed to be asking him what he thought about her. 

Just as Angelica finished removing the fan from Brent’s hands, Bedelia stepped in between them. She leered at Brent, who returned it right back to her. Bedelia slightly turned her heads towards Princess Angelica, keeping her angered gaze on Brent. “Princess, there is no time!” 

“You keep saying that! It’ll take no time at all – just watch,” said Angelica. She yanked the tie that was in her hair, allowing her wet hair to settle on her back.

Brent silently snickered watching Bedelia become speechlessly flustered as Angelica walked passed her to the lit vanity. With swift movements, Angelica used her fan and air magic to quickly dry her hair and flair out her her bangs. His smirk grew as Angelica whipped her head back at Bedelia with smugness. “I told you it would not take me all that long.” 

Bedelia clicked her tongue.

Brent laughed internally. 

Brent’s attention briefly turned away from Angelica, who was putting on her tiara, by Natalia who let out a whispery gasp and ran out from behind the partition, holding a pair of heels from behind the partition. 

“I would say my outfit is complete.” 

“Oh, but princess! Your shoes!”

“Thank you, Natalia.” 

Brent watched Angelica lift up the bottom of her dress high enough to expose half her calves. Natalia knelt down and slipped on the princess’s heals. Bedelia walked away from Brent and moved closer to Angelica and Natalia. 

“You are lucky that we have such efficient staff. Now, put on your gloves. We best be going.” 

Angelica slipped on her gloves and turned to Bedelia with her fan. “You and Natalia are dismissed.” 

Natalia stood up and bowed. “Yes, Princess.” 

“Thank you for all your help.”

“You are too kind.” 

Natalia passed by Brent, gave him a smile and a wink, and exited out of the room. Brent couldn’t stop smiling. 

Brent moved closer towards Bedelia and Angelica, entering into their vision fields. 

Angelica raised her head. “I dimissed you as well.” She bore her stare into Bedelia’s eyes.

Bedelia turned her scowling face towards Brent. “You are to head to the kitchen next.” 

Brent’s smile disappeared, his face seeming blank of emotion. “Yes, ma’am.” 

Angelica moved beside Brent, immeditately causing him to relax his body. “Bedelia, I dismissed you, not Brent. I understand that you are head of all servants as appointed by my parents, but I am second to my parents in terms of final say. He is to stay with me until I dismiss him.” 

“Princess Angelica, the cooks need help preparing the feast for tonight.” 

“Brent is to stay with me until I dismiss him.” 

Bedelia paused for a moment, leering at Angelica. Angelica and Brent both leered back.  “…as you wish. But please be aware, I shall bring this up to your parents.”  

Bedelia walked past them and out of the room.

Brent and Angelica stood there in complete silence, listening for the footsteps to completely disappear down the hall. 

“Is she gone?” 

Brent first started walking backwards, but soon pivoted and poked his head out the door. He looked both ways down the corridor, seeing no one in sight. The corridor was so empty, it was as if it was keeping a secret. He pulled himself back inside and flashed a smile at Angelica, still holding on the doorframe. “Yes. No other servants besides from myself in sight.” 

Brent watched the layers of Angelica’s dress bounce up and down as she scurried towards the door. She grabbed his hands and gently pulled him further inside, getting him out of the view of the door. “How do I look?” 

Brent’s gaze softened, looking at her pink multi-layered gown. It had been finished up only a few hours ago in a rush – from Brent’s understanding it was missing a few minor finishing touches, but there was no time left to out them out. The top of her gown appeared to be similar to a corset and pushed her bosoms up and together. Ruffles ran down the seams of the top. Her sleeves exposed her shoulders with longer pieces cascading down that flowed behind when she walked. Spilling out from the bottom was layers upon layers of sparkly tulle, making it hard to distguish one layer from the other. 

Brent grasped Angelica’s hands tighter, pulling them closer to his face. “You are the most beautful lady in all the land as always, Princess. Shame I couldn’t accompany you.” 

Angelica gave him a solemn smile. “Such a shame, indeed.” 

“I’m sure there will be many fine gentlemen to your liking.” 

Brent lowered his & Angelica’s hands. He began to take a step back, physically distancing himself from her. The scowl that appeared on Angelica’s face halted him from doing anymore. “Why are you distancing yourself from me now?” 

Brent forced a big smile on his face. “I’m just concerned about your future.” 

Angelica removed one hand from Brent and place it on her hip, slightly turning away from him. She lowered her head, gazing into his eyes with a succulent pout. “Do I even have to say it?” 

Brent’s toes curled looking back into her eyes and he bit his lip. 

The edges of Angelica’s mouth slightly turned upward. “There are no other gentleman but you.” 

Brent mirrored back Angelica’s smirk. He lifted her hand up to his mouth. “Good thing I’ll still be there when you get bored, ya?” 

Angelica giggled in return. “I might just have to bother you then.” 

Brent kissed her hand. “I welcome it.” 

The two gazed back into each other’s eyes and each other lips slightly quivered. The air in the room suddenly seemed to have a strong electric current with a hint of fire. The two turned away, still holding each other’s hands. Brent placed his heart over his chest. Calm down. It’s just Angelica. That’s all. 

Brent slightly trembled. His body lightly tapped the wall and he felt the distinct pressure of a filled bag in his pocket press into his hip. His eyebrows popped up and his heart rate changed from one form of excitement to another. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Yes! I almost forgot.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small, blue-velvet bag. 

“Oh?” Angelica said as Brent plopped it into her hand. She opened it with her other one and gasped. “Brent!” 

Brent clapped his hands and pointed them towards her. “I have been slowly working on it during my downtime when I could not spend it with you. Once I knew the colour of your dress, I could not help but make you something that would compliment it.” 

“You didn’t need to do this! You should have saved your money!” 

“Perhaps, but I wanted to shower you with a gift.” 

Brent’s smile grew as he watched Angelica lift up the rose quartz choker her had worked on in the air, looking over it at every angle. “Are you aware,” said Angelica. “that rose quartz is associated with love?” 

The two of them exchanged smirks. Brent’s chest slightly puffed out unconsciously 

Angelica lowered the choker to the level of Brent’s chest. “Please, assist me with putting this on around my neck.” 

Brent lightly clasped it, brushing hands for a moment with Angelica. “As you wish.”

Brent walked behind Angelica. He felt shaky again and he could feel heat flush across his face, reaching to gently lift her hair out of the way. He then unlatched the choker and put it around her neck. His skin against her…goodness, he wanted to kiss her neck! He finished putting the choker on her and fixed her hair. “Are you able to turn around?” asked Brent unusually quiet.

Brent could see as she face him that she was just as red as she was. Brent took in a deep breath and breathed out slowly, calming down his body. “As I suspected – it looks stunning around you.” 

“Thank you, Brent, for the kind gift.” 

Brent got down on one knee (in all honestly, he could barely stand – Angelica was just that beautiful to him) and kissed her hand with shaking ips. ‘It was my pleasure.” 

Angelica whipped out her fan from a pocket hidden underneath all the tulle and began to fan herself. Brent’s face mimicked hers, both of them turning beet red. 

***

Brent turned the corner heading towards the stairwell. After taking a moment to scan the area with his eyes, he collapsed to the ground and loosely curled. He looked at his own hands. She’s so beautiful. She is so beautiful. I don’t want her with anyone else. I don’t want her to be with anyone else. I want to show her just how much I love her now. A kiss would even suffice! Keep still, my body! Keep still, my heart! The day isn’t even done yet and I’m already excited in more than one way and hurt in more than one way. He covered his face. If I keep feeling like this, is this going to cause those blue flames to come – no, no…don’t think about Brent, do not think about it. 

“Uh, are you a’right?” 

Brent looked up, seeing Natalia a few feet from him. His already flushed face became redder as he jumped up. He pushed himself off the ground and dusted himself off. “Yes, yes, I am fine.”

Natalia raised an eyebrow at him as doubtful smirk spread across her face. 

“What?” 

Natalia continued to smirk, their expression seeming to tighten up. She leaned her head forward and placed her hand on her hips. 

“…” Brent pursed his lips before letting out a gigantic sigh. “Fine, I am not fine.” 

Natalia slid closer to Brent and leaned into his shoulder, covered her smirk with a hand. “It’s about Princess Angelica, isn’t it?” 

Brent groaned. He whipped out his arms and stepped before Natalia. “Natalia, Angelica is just so…just so beautiful and I love her so much and I just…I just…habbajabaaaah….!!!!!!” 

Natalia guffawed. Tears began spilled out from her eyes. She slapped the tops of her thighs. “‘Habbajabah’?! You are that lost for words towards the Princess?” 

Brent threw himself onto the wall. “Ugh…” 

Natalia whipped her tears and slapped her thighs. “Goodness,” she said. She slapped Brent’s shoulder. “you are a man in love!” 

“You don’t think I don’t know that?!” 

Natalia began to smirk again. “Could you perhaps be feeling more than that towards Angelica?”

Brent’s face went pale. Natalia laughed back with delight. “Awww, Brenty here is turnin’ into an aduuuult.” She poked his cheek and flicked her wrists as if she was screwing in a nail. 

Brent shoved Natalia away lightly. “Shut your mouth, Natalia.” 

Natalia slapped Brent’s back. “Come on. I was asked by Bedelia to fetch you.”

Brent rolled his eyes as he pushed himself off the wall. “Oh great.” 

Brent began walking down towards the stairwell, Natalia following short behind. 

“So, did you and the Princess finally kiss?” 

“I said shut up, Natalia.” 

“Oh ho ho! So you did?”

“No, of course not!” 

“But you both want to, don’t you?” 

“……….”

The most Brent could do was hold his breath and hope the redness on his face would disappear by the time he reached the kitchen.

***

Brent stood at the snacks table, reloading his tray with the reach variety of savory and sweet appetizers available to the guest. While the guest could certainly get it themselves, Brent and the other servants were there to serve from any part of the ballroom. The snacks were going at a steady pace and the guests seem delighted by the new varieties. Brent carefully selected the snacks he believed the guest would like the most. 

“Brent!” 

Brent’s brow scrunched for a moment, being pulled out of his mental zone. He turned and saw both the King and Queen standing behind him, 

The Queen had a fist lightly pressed against her chest. Worry was written across her face. “Have you seen Angelica anywhere?” 

Brent was taken aback. “Not since the ball started. I’ve been serving guests all night, so it has been hard to keep track of her.” 

“Do you know where she might have gone?” asked the King. 

The Queen huddled up near the king, but continued to look at Brent with expectations. 

Brent paused for a moment. She didn’t look none too pleased earlier in the night. Where might she have gone? “I don’t think she would have gone very far.” 

The King and Queen exchanged concerned glances. The King then outstretched his hands to Brent. “Are you able to look for her?” 

Brent grasped his fist and placed it of his heart. “Of course! I will find her and bring her back right away.” 

The King shook his hand. “If she is safe, there is no need to bring her back.” 

“Why?” asked Brent. He then covered his mouth. “Oh! How rude of me to ask for more…” 

The Queen giggled. “’tis alright Brent. You can ask.” 

Brent bowed. “Thank you, your highness.” 

The King cleared his throat. His face suddenly appeared solemn. “If she is safe, you do not need to bring her back. We have noticed with each passing ball, she seems to become increasingly unhappy. If she does not want to finish the night, she does not have to.”

Brent nodded before bowing once more “Thank you for answering the question, your highness. I shall go look for her.” 

“Thank you, Brent. Please report to us after you have found her, when you have a chance.” 

“Yes.” 

The King turned around and left. The Queen smiled at Brent and walked closer to him. Brent looked at her shining eyes. She lifted up Brent’s hand and lightly held it. “Brent, please make our daughter happy tonight.” The Queen the walked off. Brent stood for a moment, turning red, before going off into the crowd. 

He first scanned over the crowd, carefully threading through them. She is definitely not in here…if I was her and didn’t want to mingle with the crowd, but did not want to get into trouble in the morning, where would I be? His eyes ran across the side of the room and turned to the giant glass doors of the balcony. As holes in the crowd briefly opened up, he could see the sparkle of pink tulle tinted blue by the moonlight out on the balcony where not much inside lighting reached. Ah! The balcony! Of course! 

He opened the door and walked through it. His face lit up, seeing Princess Angelica safe and sound, leaning over the banister of the balcony. 

“I thought you might be out here!” 

Brent’s shoulders sunk watching Angelica look of her shoulder with a pout chock full of annoyance and exhaustion. Angelica let out a groan,

Brent walked beside her. He glanced over his shoulder at the glass doors. Probably not a good idea to touch her back in front of all the others… He let out a silent sigh. “The King and Queen requested I come and find you. You ahve been missing for a long while and they are becoming worried.” 

“…I hate these kinds of parties.” 

Brent laughed and looked up towards the sky at the twinkling stars above. They’re beautiful. A different kind of beauty than Angelica, but still so beautiful. After a moment’s paused. “Is that something a Princess should be saying?” 

“Don’t judge me, Brent.” 

Brent smiled. “As you command!” 

Brent turned to Angelica as she was pushing herself up from the banister.  “Why can’t a Princess complain about something so…shallow?” 

After a quick glance at the bustling ballroom (nobody’s actually going to care…right?), Brent took a step closer into Angelica’s personal space. His fingers curled and uncurled a few times. He wanted to touch her lightly to comfort her, but he wasn’t so sure if he was actually allowed to do that. He turned around and leaned his back against the banister. “It is because you are a Princess.” He flashed his palms into the air, saying, “Princess Angelica, Lady of Astral Isles.” 

“Lady, huh?” 

“Yes, and a fine one at that.” Brent smirked, leaning on his side. 

“Oh, you flatter me!” Angelica exclaimed, covering her face with her fan. 

“But it’s true! Having known you since we were 6, I can assure you that it is not just flattery.” 

Brent and Angelica exchanged looks. Brent’s heart rate was beginning to rise again. The moonlight was adding to her allure. Brent wanted to reach out and caress her cheek, softly kiss her lips, and just show her how much he loved her and would never leave her side. The sudden eruption of laughter back in the ballroom brought him back to reality: I am just a servant boy who cannot marry the Princess. 

“What are you thinking about?” 

Brent grasped the banister with a single hand and looked out to the castle walls. “I’m just thinking you’ll make a fine Queen and Wife one day,” he lied.

“…I’m…I’m sure I will.” 

“There are many suitors here for your hand, you know?” 

“Did my father and mother request you to come get me? For just that reason?” 

Brent jumped up and extended his free hand towards her, “No, Ang —” 

“I understand that one of the aims for the ball tonight was to continue to assist in helping me find a suitor. Even though my parents know fully well who I want to be with, they still are attempting to give me an option to choose. Yet, they know my choice full and well. Do you understand how difficult it is for me? I can’t be with the one I love and I won’t choose someone I don’t. I’ll most likely end up being forced into a marriage to some stuffy, rich nobleman who I could never love.”

Brent’s heart sunk even more, watching Angelica’s eyes glaze over. “Angelica,” he whispered. “I know fully well of that hurt because I can’t be with you either.” He felt as if his own eyes were about to gaze over. However, the Queen’s command echoed in his head: ‘Brent, please make our daughter happy tonight.’

Brent suddenly perked up. He brought his hand on the bansiter closer to Angelica’s and linked their thumbs together. “The King and Queen just want you to be happy, but they also want to do what they feel is best for the kingdom.” 

“I know they do,” said Angelica. She sighed and turned to the castle walls. The ballroom suddenly seemed silent, allowing the sounds of the night to fill up the air. He could clearly her Angelica say under her breath: “Why couldn’t you have been born a noble?” 

Brent placed his hand on top of her’s and grasped it as tightly as his heart felt. “I would if I could.” 

Angelica whipped her head and stared into Brent’s eyes.

I love you, he thought. 

Suddenly, pouring out from the ballroom was a waltz. The heaviness in the air around them blasted away as the air was filled with the layers of instruments. Angelica and Brent both shivered, feeling the tension leave their body. 

“How beautful!” remarked Princess Angelica. “I have not heard this one before.”

Brent’s face lit up. “Ah, I heard from Oran that there would be a new waltz performed today.” 

“Did he say that now?”

“Yeah, he did. He told me a weeks ago.” 

Brent turned back to the ballroom, observing the partnerships that had suddenly formed and the dancing pairs inside. It quickly became apparent who had come to the party with a partner and who hadn’t – numerous beautiful noblemen aligned the walls, looking on the ballroom floor, as if eagerly awaiting their own princess. The few young ladies who had no partners seemed to be eying the men, but it looks like they paid no mind to them. 

“Looks like they’re waiting for you,” said Brent, placing a hand on Angelica’s shoulder. He pointed towards the noblemen lined up against the wall during the wals. 

Brent was yanked forth by Angelica by his wrist and made to face him. “As Princess of Astral Isles, I order you to dance the waltz  with me!” 

Brent lifted his free hand towards the noblemen, his mouth agape. “But, the noblemen –” 

The deeply irritated glare from Angelica’s eyes prompted the Queen’s words to echo in Brent’s mind once more. He couldn’t help but suddenly smile wide. “As you wish, Princess Angelica.” He got down on one knee, gently holding her hand. “May I have this dance?” 

“Yes,” replied Angelica. She placed her other hand into Brent’s. “You may.” 

Brent stood up, his smile growing even wider. “I’ sorry I’m not dressed for the ocassion.” 

Princess Angelica’s unrestrained laugh was even more pleasant to him than the music playing in the ballroom. “As if I care about that!” 

Brent laughed back. “You’re right!” 

The two exchanged playful grins just before Brent started to gently lead the dance.

***

The ball might have been a week ago, but Brent was still elated from the pure fun he ended up having with Angelica that night…an elation that quickly came crashing down when he saw his schedule. “Are you joking?” huffed Brent. He flipped through the schedules from the previous weeks and everyone else’s, quickly comparing them to each other. She’s doing it again! Brent tore the next week’s schedule off from the board, took one glance at the current week’s schedule and ran out the door.

“Hey, where are you going with that?” asked one of the servants. 

Brent ignored them and continued to run down the corridor and up the stairs. He found Bedelia on the third floor, directing the placement of new flower arrangements, just as this week’s schedule had said. Brent jumped right in front of her and stabbed his place on the schedule. “You’re doing it again?”

Bedelia’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Did you tear the schedule off the bulletin board?” 

“You overscheduled me again.”

Brents brows furrowed further burrowing into Bedelia’s eyes, rummaging around to gauge just how honest she was being. Even though it surprised him that she seemed genuinely surprised by him taking the schedule right to her, he remained angry. Then he watched her display a slight bit of nervousness with a quick glance over the shoulder at the other servants who were curiously eyeing them both. She forced a calm smile onto her face. 

“Brent, I have not overscheduled you,” she said. “I schedued you for the tasks because you are the most reliable one for the job.” 

“Am I really all that reliable?” said Brent, almost seething. 

“Of course. You are the youngest employee we have,” explained Bedelia. She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “You have a bright future ahead of you. Now, put the schedule back on the bulletin. I’m sure others will be looking for it.” 

I don’t buy it. Brent forced a smile. “Yes, right away.” He turned around and walked back down the corridor. He looked over his shoulder, seeing Bedelia look at him with a hint of contempt. He turned back forward, expressing his own for her clearly on his face.

***

Brent did not want to get up from his bed. He turned his head away from the sunny window and closed his eyes, praying to himself that he would just fall back asleep. Then a burst of energy sped through him and jolted up. “I’m off today,” he gasped. 

It had been a bit over three weeks since Bedelia upped his schedule (and only his). He had probably gone to every corner of the castle the past three weeks at this point and was certaintly exhausted. He, however, was finally given a day off – one of the officially mandated ones by the King and Queen. 

The King and Queen had made the decision to give their servants rotating days off every 4 to 6 weeks for increased quality of life. It gave them a chance to get outside of the castle and engage with friends and family who are in the surrounding villages. No one knew exactly when their next full day off was going to be, but they could make a guess. It had totally slipped Brent’s mind.

Of course, he felt supercharged now, despite the lack of decent sleep for the past several weeks – whether Bedelia liked it or not, Brent would finally get a chance to spend time with Angelica. It’s not like they had any concrete plans. After all, he hadn’t seen her in a while. However, he was certain that his company would be enjoyed. 

Brent sat down at his desk and looked over his jewlery-making materials. Is there anything that I could make for her today? He began to pick through each rock, gem, metal, and piece of fabric he had slowly. He then stopped, clacking a hematite onto an onyx mindless. “There’s nothing…” he mumbled under his breath. 

He stood back up, unconsciously slipping the hematite into his pocket. “Well, a morning in the library would not be such a bad idea.” He grabbed one of the few journals on his desk and headed to the castle’s library. It didn’t take too long for him to arrive, as it was only a floor above where his room had been. 

The library seemed otherworldly this early in the morning. The only light was coming in from the windows which aligned the top of the walls. It filled the room with enough light to see, but there were still parts that were shrouded in darkness. No one besides Brent was inside the library, adding to the pregnant silence that seemed as if it would burst at any moment. 

Brent gently tossed his book onto one of the sudden tables scattered throughout the library and turned on the lamp in the middle of the table. He flipped through his notes and stopped short of the last few pages. “Ah.” History of the Isles of the Stars Volume 5. Brent let go of the notebook, fanned its pages as he stepped away. 

Brent ventured towards the darker parts of the library. His fingers gently ran over the spines of each book as he walked past each section, eventually stopping in front of the history section. He reached over to the lamp on the wall beside it and turned it on – it was far too dark to read any of the spines. His eyes skimmed each of the first few letters. His face lit up as he noticed the volume. “Ah, here it is!” Just as Brent pulled out the book, another book to the right of him a good distance away fell from the shelf and onto the ground. He jumped. 

Brent froze in place for a moment before shivering. “Hello?” he called. No one answered. 

Brent, holding the history book close to his chest, walked towards the fallen book. He peered into the shelf it had fallen from – it had a solid backing, just like all the other shelves in the library. He squatted down in front of the book and cautiously touched it. “There’s no way it could have fallen…” he said under his breath. Was it not put back on the shelf properly? Or is it something else? 

Brent lifted up the book. The cloth binding was standarded, but there was something about the deep black of the cover and the silver engravings that made it seem more luxurious. Brent shifted to his knees as he turned to the book’s spine. The Intracties of Dense Other World Magic. “What a boring title!” Brent let out a quiet laugh, flipping through the book. His eyes skipped around with each word. Despite his surface thoughts, something deep within him began to brighten. And that made him wildly uncomfortable. 

Then he saw it from the corner of his eye. 

His hand began to glow that infernal blue flame that had lead to his mother’s death. He gasped and dropped the book. Immeditately, the blue flame disappeared. He looked at his hand and began to cover. What? Why? WHY? Why did that blue flame show up? No, no, I don’t want to hurt anyone. His eyes glazed over and he could hear his mother’s sudden screams of intense agony. His body twitched and trembled…but then he took a few deep breaths and began to calm down. Although he didn’t eventirely calm down and the screams of his mother echoed in his mind, he was able to stand up. He ignored the book on the ground and went back to the table where his notebook was resting. 

***

By the position of the sun, Brent knew it was early afternoon. He had been in the library the entire time, taking notes on more of the history of Astral Isles. The library, while not particularly full, had more hustle and bustle in it now. All the lamps were now on and every part of the library was illuminated. He had grabbed a quick drink of water and was making his way back to his seat. Angelica should be free right about now, but I suspect she still would not be out of her room just yet. He scooped up the books from the table – including the history book he was in the middle of reading – and headed on out. 

He made a quick stop to his room, placing the books on his desk, and made his way to Angelica’s room. His more neutral face began to light up just simply at the thought of the Princess. 

He walked up a few flights of stairs and entered the corridor to Angelica’s room. He watched another servant leave the room and go further down the hallway into another direction. Brent scanned the hallway for signs of the other servants. His smile grew wider realizing he was in the clear. He hurried his step to Angelica’s room.

He opened the door a crack, looking into her wide-open room. He quietly sighed, relieved to see Angelica inside, fully-dressed and with no one else around. He opened the door more and slipped inside, closing the door behind him. His big smile started to shrink as he got closer to her. Is she alright? Angelica appeared to be staring at herself in the vanity mirror. Her shoulders seemed to droop slightly and her face matched it. 

“Angelica?” Brent said, standing behind her.

Angelica jumped and turned around. “Oh, Brent! I didn’t know you were here.” Her eyes seemed to glint a slight bit, but Brent could see she was still distant. 

Brent wanted to smile bigger, but he felt resistant. What’s going on with her? Brent then let out a sigh.  “I’ve been busy for the past few weeks. Bedelia’s been working me hard recently.” He put his hand behind his head and began to scratch it. “I think she might have seen us all the ball. She seemed moody all week.”

“Ah yes. I have heard we were seen, but I heard my parents also defended us.” 

“That’s good to know,” remarked Brent. “You know, the Queen requested that I make you happy that night.” 

“Did she now?” Angelica smiled, but her gaze turned away from Brent. 

Brent nodded. “indeed she did….Angelica, your hair is a bit messy. Mind if I help you?” 

Angelica sat down in her chair in front of her mirror. “Go ahead…”

Brent grabbed a hair brush off from the vanity mirror table and began to run it through her hair. Her locks were silky smooth and slightly wavy. The flowery sent seemed to relax his own nerves, although, he could tell they weren’t relaxing her. His heart danced a little with excitement, but just like with his smile, he was resistant – something seemed too off about Angelica. 

“I know we haven’t seen each other in a bit over the month, but I must ask…are you a’right?” Brent asked. He placed his hand on Angelica’s  shoulder, leaning a bit forward as to place his chin slightly above her head, allowing him to get a good look at her face. “I noticed you seem a bit distant.” 

Brent leaned back and removed one of his hands as Angelica whipped around to him. “You noticed?” The glow in her eyes seemed to be coming closer.

Brent smiled. “Of course I noticed. Anyone would.” 

Angelica then turned back around, seeming to return to her previous state. “Oh, I suppose that is true…” 

Brent frowned. He returned back to brushing her hair. By the stars, she is BEAUTIFUL, even when she is not smiling like the brightest star in the sky. “What are you thinking about?”

“It’s nothing to worry about.” 

“It is something to worry about,” protested Brent. “It is causing you to be highly unlike yourself.” 

“I don’t really want to say it…” 

Brent’s own shoulder’s dropped, even further than Angelica’s. “Is…is it something you feel uncomfortable talking to me about?” Is there even someting like that? 

Angelica turned to Brent. Brent could see the worry in her eyes “It’s not that. It’s more that I am worried about upsetting you.” 

Brent gently smiled at her. “Angelica, there is nothing you can do that will upset me.” 

Angelica laughed. “Alright, alright, I suppose I can tell you.”

Brent perked up. “I am listening.” 

He felt like he wanted to sink when the brief smile from Angelica’s face was switch for a solemn expression. “I was thinking about your mother, Lillian, most recently…”

Brent froze for a moment. The memory of the blue flame showing up in the library crawled up his back and his mother’s painful screams started to cut their way through the forefront of his mind. He took in a quiet deep breath and turned his gaze to the floor. Why would she be thinking about…oh. “It is close to her death, isn’t it?” 

The screams from her death was replaced by an embarassed “BRENT!” in his head. Oh goodness, he remembered just how many times he embarassed his mother, especially with his love for Angelica. Despite the repeated embarassment, she took great care of him. Despite the haphazard schedule of the servant life, she made sure all his needs were met repeatedly and always ensured that, even though it often caused her great embarassment, he had playtime with Angelica. (It probably helped too that the King and Queen loved him so much too.) If he was in the mood to tear up, he would have, but nothing came out. 

“I knew they were just rumours,” mumbled Angelica.

Brent came out of his fond rememberance of his mother. “…rumours?” 

Angelica turned back towards the mirror and flipped all parts of her hair that she could to her back. Brent felt confused, watching Angelica turn up her nose. “Yes. There was a preposterous rumour going around that you killed your mother and it was done through the means of evil magic you inherited from your father. Ridiclious. You would never murder your mother.” 

Brent frozen once more. By the stars, please do not let me look guilty. He moved his gaze towards Angelica’s hair, hoping he was acting as normal. He lifted up the brush and put it to her hair. “Of course I would ever murder her. I loved her very much.” 

“Of course.” 

“Was that what was bothering you?” 

“Yes. A bit ridiclious, yes?” 

Brent paused for a moment, gently stroking her hair. “I suppose,” he replied back, almost in a whisper. 

“You suppose? I think it absolutely is!”

Brent and Angelica looked at each other through the mirror and began to laugh. 

Brent’s chest seemed to swell with love and he hugged her over her shoulders. “Feeling better now?” 

Angelica touched his hand holding the brush and face flushed. Yes, thank you for uplifting my mood and taking time out of your day to check on me.” 

“It is truly my pleasure. Anything for you.” 

Brent released his hug on her. Angelica turned to him with curled lips. Brent gave her a confused smile back. 

“You are to join me in the courtyard for tea today. Bring me tea, but do not put it together – I am looking to practice my magic today.” 

Brent’s brows raised, then his lips, and then he grinned. “As you wish.” He grabbed Angelica’s hand and kissed it. 

***

“What are you doing?” asked Aaron, one of the chefs in the kitchen. Brent was inside of the herbal storage room, opening jars and placing different herbs and spices into small bowls placed on a tray. On the tray was also two tea cups, a tea pot, and a bowl of lemon slices. “I thought you were off today.” 

“I am.” 

“Bothering the princess again?” 

Brent smirked. “She demanded my company today. It is almost time for us to meet.” 

“When are you supposed to meet?”

“An hour afternoon,” replied Brent.

Aaron leaned back out of the door. “It’s 10 minutes past.”

Brent’s eyes widened as he slammed the last jar of herbs back onto the shelf. “Thanks, Aaron.” He stood up and grabbed the tray. He rushed by. Aaron sighed as Brent slipped out the door. 

Brent walked out the door of the kitchen that lead outside. The door itself lead outside to an outside oven area that was used for grilling and baking in a large stone oven. However, there was a gate to the right-side of the area that one could walk out of and head towards the gardens, which was exactly where Brent was heading towards.

It wasn’t uncommon for the royal family to eat outdoors during nicer weather. Princess Angelica in particularly loved to have tea in the garden’s maze. 

Brent pushed through the gates and turned into the garden, walking through the maze of crimson roses and deep green bushes. The maze itself was expertly crafted – many servants have gotten lost when trying to head to the gazebo in the middle. However, Brent was familiar with the pattern at this point. He turned each corner without hesitation and soon, the cream-coloured gazebo with the light green roof appeared full-bodied in his view. 

Brent grinned seeing Princess Angelica casually leaning back in her chair reading a book. As he approached closer, he could hear her mumbling the words of the book underneath her breath. 

Brent walked into the gazebo. “Is that such a way for a princess to be reading?” he asked, placing the tray down onto the table. 

Angelica sat up straight, grabbed her bookmark, and shut her book. She gave him a crooked smile. “Is that really anyway for a servant to greet their master?” 

Brent grabbed Angelica’s hand, got down on one knee, and kissed it. “My apologizes, Princess Angelica.” 

Angelica placed her book onto the table as Brent stood back up. They both exchanged laughs before Angelica stood up and pulled out one of her fans. Brent watched curiously as she walked around the gazebo in silence. His eyes continued to widened, watching sparkles of yellow, blue, and pink appear from her fan and run over the walls of the gazebo. Just as they disappeared, walls of solid light flashed and quieted down. Brent walked over to the wall and touched it. Light reverberated on the invisible wall. “It’s solid?” he said in disbelief. He stepped out of the way as Angelica came around once more. 

After a third time around, Angelica sat back down in her seat. “Well?” 

Brent touched the wall again. “What…what is this?” He watched the solid invisible wall light up underneath his fingers touching it. He ran his finger hard against it, causing a line of light similar to a meteor run across it. He poked the wall a bit harder, finally noticing that it wasn’t completely invisilble, but had the faintest lights of yellow, blue, and pink pulsating through it that became brighter with each touch,  He looked back at Angelica. “Did you jsut shield us?”

Angelica smirked. “I put up warding from prying eyes. Wouldn’t want someone interrupting us now, would we?” 

Brent’s mouth dropped. 

“Sit,” commanded Angelica, pointing to the chair across from her with her shut folding fan. Brent obeyed. 

Brent sat in silence as he watched Angelica stand back up and look over the ingredients. He watched her longer, slender fingers remove the lid of the tea pot, unfold her fan every so slightly, and do a circular motion above it. Brent quietly gasped, watching steam rise from the pot. He then watch Angelica tap the air above each ingredient.  “Lavendar for relaxation, rose petals for love for us and for the self, and some earl gray for balance and joy,” she said. With that, each ingredient floated into the air and into the pot. After that, she unfolded her fan fully and directed the lemon wedges towards the steaming teapot, then quickly shutting her fan and squeezing the juices from them. After one final twirl to heat up the pot even more, she was done, she poured the tea into the cups and put a few tablespoons of coconut milk. To Brent’s surprise, once Angelica was done, she used her finger to direct the magic that swirled the coconut milk into the tea. 

Angelica took a sip and Brent watched her whole demeanor change – her intenseness from the concentration completely withered away and she looked like she was melting into her seat. 

“Brent, it’s your turn now.” 

Brent took the cup in his hands, looking at Angelica and then at the cup of steaming tea with awe. “Thank you, Angelica, this is too much.” He carefully brought the steaming tea to his lips and took a slow sip. The mixture coated his tongue and down his throat. All of him seemed to warm up in waves. Every part of him became relaxed to the point he couldn’t help but grin. He placed the cup back down for a moment and scooped a few more tablespoons of coconutmilk and a bit of sugar.  I can’t believe she made all of this, plus the shield, without a word. When did she practice all of this?! 

He looked at Angelica. “Angelica, I am impressed how you made this. From the shield to this tea – you did not even have to say a word this time!” 

Princess Angelica scoffed. “This time?” She then laughed. “The last time I did anything like this was a bit more than three years ago. Of course I have improved.” 

Brent lifted the tea back to his lips. “And improved much, you have.” He took a sip. 

“Don’t flatter me so much without my fan in my hand!” 

“But you deserve it all, Angelica.” 

“It’s perfectly blended, I would say/” 

“I would say that as well.” 

“The herbs you picked out, I must say, were what we just needed.” 

“I thought they would be.” What else would she need than something to drink to relax?

The two of them melted further into their seats with each sip they took. All of the tension that had been left in Brent’s body from earlier in the day – no, even earlier than that – completely disappeared under the warmth of the tea mixture. His body trembled in waves, ending at the bottom of his feet. What intentions did she inject into each ingredient? I had my own, but there was no way that I had influenced it too. Just how powerful has she gotten in her practice? 

After letting the thought linger a bit more, Brent asked, “what else have you been practicing?”

Angelica stood up and grabbed her fan. Brent quickly placed down his cup and partially stood up, reaching out a head towards her. Wait, what is she doing? “You don’t need to demonstrate! You can just tell me.” 

“I think it is more fun this way, don’t you think?” 

Brent’s heart fluttered seeing the wonderous glitter of excitement in Angelica’s eyes. Why am I even… Brent’s eyes glanced down at her tea. “That may be true, but what about your tea?” 

“It’s just as easy for me to warm it back up.” 

Angelica then moved her fan in a large c-motion above her head. As she did so, she chanted, “flower snow, appear right here, rain down upon me, out of air.” 

Brent looked upwards to the roof of the gazbo, only to be hit in a face with a flower. He brushed it off from his face and let it tumbled to the ground. He looked up, seeing an array of flowers falling at different speeds towards the ground. He looked over each flower and frowned. What are all these flowers? He looked at the ones that had scattered onto the table in front of him. Not a single one he knew the name of and had never seen tem before. He sat back in his chair in disbelief. What have I been doing with my own life? 

A single red rose landed in his lap. He lifted it up with both of his hands and looked down with it. A warm smile spread across his face. Loving her. He looked up at Angelica, who snapped her fan shut. 

“What do you think of that? Perhaps it’s not as useful as tea, but that doesn’t matter. I think it’s quite beautiful.” 

Brent, without a second thought, stood up, walked up to her, and placed the rose in her hair. “You are beautiful.” 

Brent’s heart began to race watching Angelica’s cheeks flush. He pressed his lips together to prevent them from begging for anything more than looking at her face. He could see Angelica’s doing the same. Brent’s toes curled and he held his breath. I don’t doubt that she is my wife, but with our current status, I wish I could do more…

“If only we could kiss,” said Angelica, casting her gaze off to theside 

Brent turned his own gaze off to the other side. “Don’t you think it’s best to wait for your wedding night?” 

“Don’t you mean our wedding night?” 

Brent laughed. “Yes, our wedding night.” 

Angelica, her gaze still turned to the side, smiled. “In that case, yes, yes I do.” 

Brent then grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips. He kissed it gently, lingering on her skin more than he normally would. He then looked into directly into her eyes, as she had turned her’s back to him. “Let this tide you over until then.” 

“Ha… 

Then a bell tolled throughout the garden and the two of them frowned.

“What will you being doing today?” asked Brent, seeing the utter disappointment written on Angelica’s face. 

She rolled her eyes. “I’m doing a full review on the history of the kingdom.” 

“Again?!” 

Angelica giggled. “Yes, again. They want to be sure that the future queen is ready.” 

Brent held her hand, as if getting ready to escort her. “Shall I accompany you today?” 

Angelica hung her head. “No, not today. I’m being taken outside the castle walls to the local library in the village. From my understanding, they have a history collection we do not have here and it will fill in some gaps in my knowledge.” 

Brent frowned once more. “Aww…what a shame. I suppose when I have a chance, I should check that too.” 

Angelica stood close to him, wrapping her arm around his. She gave him a sly smile. “Getting ready to be my king still, I see.” 

“By the stars, I am.” 

Brent looked into Angelica’s eyes, seeing his own burning fire reflected back to him through her’s. The gaze was then broken by a sudden kiss on the cheek. Brent blushed. “A-angelica?!” 

Angelica held his hand and stood in front of him. “You always kiss my hand – who says I cannot kiss your cheek?” 

Brent bit his lip smiling.

“Now, clean this up. I must be going.” 

Brent nodded. “Yes, right away.” 

Angelica snapped her fingers. The barrier around the gazebo fell and disperased. Angelica put her fan into her pocket and grabbed her book and ran off. Brent fell into his seat, holding his cheek. She kissed my cheek… After a good moment’s pause, he had another thought. Why hadn’t she done that before?  

Brent grabbed his tea and finished drinking. He then gathered up all the materials onto the tray and left for the kitchen. 

He entered in through the side door that he had left through before. He walked in through the kitchen and went to the washroom. Despite it being his day off, he took it upon himself to clean the dishes. He didn’t mind at all, especially after having the relaxing drink and the kiss as a reward. 

He continued to sit with the relaxation and the way the kiss made him feel all through washing the dishes. His eyes seemed distant, but the relaxed grin on his face indicated that it wasn’t a bad thing. He finished washing the dishes and putting them aside to let them drip off and dry. He wiped his hands on a towel and turned towards the door. 

“There you are!” 

“Huh?” Brent saw one of the servants in the doorway. “What is it, Cerlyn?” 

Cerlyn yanked on her bun of ruby-red hair as she frowned. “I was told to get you from the maze.” 

“Oh, I’m off today.” 

“Gosh, I hate that place,” complained Cerlyn. She pushed back locks of her hair back onto the top of her head. “I guess I had just missed you.”

“I guess.” Brent shrugged. 

“Anyway, Bridget broke her arm on the way down to the storage rooms and was told to stay off work for the next 48 hours while the magic fixes everything. I know it’s your day off, but would you be able to finish off her shift? It’s just scrubbing down the storerooms.” 

I already studied and spent time with Angelica…. Brent nodded. “Sure, I would be happy to. I don’t have anything else to do today.” 

Cerlyn grined. “That would be great! Thank you!” 

***

The smile plastered on Brent’s face seemed to hum a silent tune as he scrubbed the dark, stone walls of the storeroom. The tea he had drunk with Princess Angelica not too long ago filled him with joy and relaxation he had not felt while doing his work for a while. 

However, the sudden slam of the heavy door to the storeroom made him jump, nearly dropping the large sponge in his hand. He turned around, only to find himself quickly cornered by Bedelia. The old woman’s face twisted as she leaned into his. 

“What were you doing with the princess?” 

“Excuse me?”

“What were you doing the princess? Neglecting your duties once again? Trying to tempt her?” 

Brent, extremely uncomfortable with the lack of distance between himself and Bedelia, ducked underneath her arm and took a few steps back. “What kind of absurd accusations are those? I am off today. Am I not allowed to see her?” 

“Do NOT talk back to me, Brent – you are not to go near the princess.” 

“She requested me specifically. Is it not our duty to –” 

“Don’t play ignorant with me, boy! There is not a soul in this castle who does not know that you are attempting to lead her astray.” 

“What?!” Brent’s brows furrowed. He opened his arms and opened his mouth, getting read to fight back. 

“Once you are finished with this, report to the servant quarters and check your schedule. It has been changed.” 

“Changed to what?” 

“You no longer have time to see the princess. You shall spend all your waking hours working and they all shall be within my proxmiety so I can monitor you. I cannot have you getting your unworthy paws on the princess.” 

Brent felt numerous muscles within him tighten in anger. His fist squeezed the sponge so tight, a suddsy waterfall poured onto the floor beside him. A cold smile spread itself across Bedelia’s face as she fixed her glasses. She turned on her heel and headed towards the door. 

“You can’t do this,” said Brent, turning towards her. “What about the mandatory days off?” 

“Your time will be split over several days, during hours when you cannot meet with her.” 

Brent balled his fists. “I will let the King and Queen know what you have done.” 

Bedelia’s smile twisted upward. “With what time?” 

With that, Bedelia walked out the door and slammed it shut. 

Brent took a small breath of air through his nose and held it for a moment, listening to Bedelia’s footsteps disappear into the distance.

Then he let out a high-pitched, painful scream. He chucked the sponge against the wall, which promptly bounced back towards him and off to the side. He fell to his knees and hit it with his fist. 

It is no mistake. Bedelia is purposely keeping me away, preventing me from seeing her. ‘Tempt her’? Is that what it looks like? Does it look like I am tempting Angelica? But how? Have I ever even once made a gesture that could be misinterpreted by both of us? I cannot even see the king and queen. Perhaps if I went now, but…what would Bedelia do if I did? 

Brent let his body keel over, laying down almost as if he was a rag doll. The stone floor underneath him was chilly, but it did nothing to sooth the heat of his anger. The most he could do was scream. A fountain of self-hatred began to rain down at him. The stone ceiling staring back at him seemed to mocking him. “Why couldn’t I have been born a noble?” His voice trailed off. 

He covered his face with his hands as tears began fall from his eyes. The room seemed to hold its breath with each quiet sob he made. 

Then a caw caught through the silence. Brent rubbed his eyes and looked towards the open window. There sat perched a raven with dark purple-black feathers and an ever-so-slight purple glow. Attached to its foot was an envelope clearly made of high quality paper. The raven stared at Brent and Brent stared back at the raven. 

Angelica does not have any ravens, does she? I don’t think we use birds as messengers. Brent wiped the remaining dampness of his tears and walked over to the window. Cautiously and curiously, he reached out towards the bird, who followed him with its eyes. 

“May I?” he asked, his fingers hovering just above the envelope. The raven cawed in response. Brent grasped the enevelope firmly enough to detach it from the bird’s anklet. He pulled it to his chest. The raven continued to stare at him. 

Brent turned over the envelope to the front. On it was his name, written in some of the most beautiful calligraphy he had even seen. Who’s handwriting is this? 

He flipped the envelope back to the back and carefully opened up the flap, which had a reinforced seal of wax, stamped with an emblem that made him slightly uneasy. He saw it somewhere before, but he could not pinpoint exactly where.

He slid out the paper perfectly folded inside. The paper was just as high quality as the envelope had been. He was impressed with the thickness of it and the indiviudal fibers that stood out, perfectly interwoven into each other. The writing inside of it matched the beautiful calligraphy of the outside. It took Brent a few moments to adjust to the style, but soon, his eyes were reading each word carefully. His eyes widened more and more with each sentence. He then reached the end of the letter.

And he gasped. 

My father?! 

He began to tremble. The letter was from his father – a man he knew existed and whom his mother would occassionally talk about fondly, as if she were still deeply in love with him. He somehow had only just heard that his mother had passed away three years ago and was now inviting him to go live with him at his villa on a neighboring world. 

Brent was surprised at himself. He never thought his father would reach out to him. Sure, he had imagined before how he would feel if that had happened, but he never thought it actually would. Not to mention, his reaction was nothing like he thought it would be. He imagined he would be more angry or nonchalant about it. 

But instead, Brent felt as if a lightning bolt had run down inside of his body, jolting him up. For him, the letter was clearly a door to what he needed to do next, an answer to a cry to the stars. 

He pulled the letter tightly to his chest, turning to the raven. “Please reach out to me tonight at midnight. I shall write him a response.” 

The raven cawed and nodded its head, before suddenly disappeared into a puff of purple smoke. Brent looked at the disappearing purple smoke with slight fright, before looking down at his own hands. 

***

After Brent took a look at the updated schedule, with urgency in his step. He crept quickly through the corridor and up the steps towards his room. He didn’t even look around, a sense of fear that if he did, he would lose time. Once he was at his bedroom door, he opened and closed it swiftly, as not to draw attention. He turned on his lamp and sat down at his desk, pulling out the letter earlier from his father.

He reviewed the letter once more ensuring he understood each word and each sentence written on the fine paper. “A villa,” Brent mumbled. Is this the truth? Who is this man? Brent stared at the invite once more. Did the stars truly answer my call? 

He placed the letter aside towards the back of his desk and took a piece of stationary himself and began writing: Dear Father, please forgive my handwriting and the low-quality paper I write on. I have been living the past 10 years a servant to the Royal family of Astral Isles. Brent paused for a moment and shrunk back – he felt inadequate. A glance outside up at the stars, however, kept him going.

They have treated me well and I have favour with them. The King and Queen treat me almost as if I were family. The Princess, Princess Angelica, and I are best friends… He cracked a smile. And very much in love. Neither one of us can shake off that we are meant to be together. The only reason we are not marrying this year is because our social standings are holding us back. I suspect that there is more going on than it appears, but I cannot confirm it. 

I am replying back to you to exxpress interest in living with you in your villa. Although my life here in Astral Isles is better than I could have asked for, the barrier to my love keeps getting greater. I do not know much about you, besides that you are my father and mother, when she spoke of you, spoke fondly of you. I would like to get to know you better. 

Brent tapped his pen to his mouth. His face lit up as another question formed in his mind. As you said, mother died 3 years ago. Who informed you of her death and why so late? I am curious if I know who they are. I also must ask – why does the raven disappear in purple smoke? 

Brent re-read the letter and gave it a nod of approval. Awaiting for your response, Brent. 

He fanned the paper in the air, folded it, and slipped it into an envelope. He then wrote “Father” on it in the neatest handwriting he could manage. As he finished off the “r” in father, the bell tolled, signalling midnight. Brent sealed the envelope and turned to his window, seeing a puff of purple smoke form into a raven. 

Brent opened the window. “Right on time,” he said, taking the envelope and securing it to the band around it’s leg. “There you go.” 

The crow gave him a gurgling croak and disappeared into the purple smoke once more. 

Brent shut the window and collapsed onto his bed. He stared up onto the faintly lit ceiling. He watched the dancing light of his lap fade and brighten haphazardly upon it. I don’t want to leave Angelica, but if this is…if this is at all possible, that he could be of someone of higher social standing…could it be possible for Angelica and I to wed? 

Brent sat up from his bed and moved over to his desk. He took out an empty medium-sized box from his shelf and stored the letter from his father inside it. A warm smile grew on his face – his mother had done something similar whenever she had gotten letters. Brent put the box away and pulled the stack of books from earlier in the day towards him. 

Brent cocked his head. Why is this pile so… He then gasped. The small pile of books contained three, rather than the two he was expecting: his notebook, the history of Astral Isles, and the book that brought started to set off the blue flame. He jumped up from his chair and stumbled backwards, taking a look at the book from afar, completely baffeled. How did that get there? I left it in the library. 

Brent stared at the book with fear for a few more moments before he shoved the books to the back of his desk, got undressed and into his night clothes, and shut off the light. He hopped into bed and pulled his head underneath, as if trying to hide. What is going on…

***

Clack clack clack clack 

Brent tossed himself to his other side. 

Clack clack clack clack 

He then laid straight on his back. 

Clack clack clack c–

Brent sat straight up and turned towards his window. Outside was the raven, knocking on the window with its beak. Brent walked over to it and opened it. “Back so soon?” 

“Back,” croaked the raven. It lifted up its leg, another envelope attached to it. Brent unlatched it and felt it in his hand. Again, he could feel the fibers of the high quality paper. 

“Thank you. Please, return at midnight once more. The sun is coming up over the horizon, so I must be leaving soon.” 

The raven croaked and disappeared. Brent shut the window and went down at his desk. He took a frozen glance at the book on his desk before turning back to the letter in his hands. He opened it carefully and slipped out the letter inside.

Dear Brent,

It is wonderful to hear from you. There is no need to apologize for your handwriting or paper quality. I am sorry that we have never had a chance to meet before. I do not know if your mother ever spoke of our family histories. I suspect she did not due to her family’s history. We will be able to discuss more when you arrive at my villa.

The royals of Astral Isles sound lovely. I am aware of their good reputation. It warms my heart that you have found love in their Princess and from my source, I have heard the love you have for each other is well-known. It is such a shame that you did not meet them under the lineage of your birth, but through an accepted disguise from your mother’s side. I believe that your true social standing will satisfy any requirements they may have. I understand that all of this must be new for you and cannot be fully trusted without proof. When you arrive, you will learn of it all. 

My informant is a man named Ivan. I would assume you would not know him, but may know of him depending on your closeness to the other servants. He meets with them in bars and extracts information, then he reports any of interest back to me. It seems you have notarity among the servants between the open love you have with the Princess of Astral Isles, the way the King and Queen treat you, and the way the head servant trets you. You will meet with Ivan when you come, as well as well as Charlie, who will help escort you to Magirery. 

The raven is named Rae. She is a familiar of our family, therefore has powers that a normal raven does not. We have numerous other familiars available to our family. I believe your mother’s side also has their own set of familiars, but I am not aware of how to connect with them. When you arrive, I shall teach you how to summon them for your own use. I have heard the rumours that your magic has awakened, has it not? Please forgive me if I am wrong and you do not know what I am talking about. 

I am looking forward to meeting you for the first time, my son. Not a day has gone by when I have not thought of you and your mother. I do wish we could have met each other under other circumstance. 

With Love, 

Keagan Arwthorn

Brent’s face was flushed. His heart squeezed with excitement. He knows of my love with Princess Angelica. Our family status is higher than what I know it to be. And magic? Brent looked to the book The Intracties of Dense Other World Magic. He placed the letter aside on his desk and cautiously lifted up with the book. He opened up to the table of contents and scanned it with his eyes. He flipped to the next page and right at the top was “Magirery” for the section title. Underneath it listed “Arwthorn Magic” and “Blackwood Magic”, along with numerous other names. Brent’s eyes slowly widened. The sound of a door sounded like it clicked open in his mind. And then his hands began to glow that omnious blue light once more. 

While his mind initially shouted in fear at the sight, it quickly shifted to the thought: So, this is magic, huh? 

Brent kept an eye on the blue flames, hoping he could control them at a moment’s notice if needed. He flipped to the section on Arwthron Magic and flipped through the pages. ‘The Arwthorns are one of two families of nobility on Magriery. They are just short of royalty, as Magirery is not ruled by monarchy nor hierarchy, but through the collaborations of different citizens. They —’

The rays of sun hit the corner of Brent’s eyes. He shielded himself, feeling annoyed, only to slam the book down and hop up from his seat. The blue flames on his hands disappeared. “I have got to get to the kitchen!” 

Brent quickly got dressed, washed his hands and face, and rushed off, leaving his desk a mess. 

***

Brent dragged himself to the window and opened it. Rae cocked her head, greeted him with a croaking “hello”, and stuck out her leg. Brent took the letter off from the raven’s leg and placed it down on his desk. He shut the window and Rae disappeared. Brent went to his washroom and quickly washed his hands and splashed his face with warm water. He dried himself off and went back to his desk. Dark circles were under his eyes and he was absolutely ready to topple over and fall asleep, but he perservered. He tore open the letter – which, by this point, he stopped opening super carefully – and read it. Inside dropped a smaller envelope. 

Dear Brent, 

I will be sending Ivan and Charlie to get you just outside the castle walls, through the east entrance, tomorrow night an hour after midnight. The letters you have been sending me have been increasingly breaking my heart and I can no longer tolerate the way you are being treated by the Head Servant. I sincerely hope that Princess Angelica is raising her voice in protest, however, as things are at the moment, I cannot wait any longer to bring you to your homeland. 

I have attached photos so that you may be able to identify Ivan, Charlie, the villa, and myself for your convenience. You may bring what you will, but please know that your lifestyle will be upgraded to one more suitable to our family, so you may want to hold off from bringing anything that would relate you back to your life of servitude. 

Despite the struggles that you have had, I am very proud of you. I love knowing that you are studeous – I am confident that it will make our work that much easier. I am glad to hear that you have been gaining control over your magic, even with the little time that you have available to you. We will be working on strengthening it even more when you arrive. I will be enrolling you into Mandrake Academy after you come and settle in, as I believe that is the best place for you to learn magic. I, however, will teach you the basic as well as whatever else you may need to step into your status as a nobleman. 

I anticipate that you may return to Astral Isles within a year and three months, if you so choose. Not as a servant, of course, but as a nobleman. If your love for the Princess is a true as you believe, then it shall be the perfect time to reapproach her for her hand in marriage. 

This will be my last letter to you before you arrive. You do not need to send one back. We will talk more once you arrive.

With Love,

Keagan Arwthorn 

Brent placed the letter down and opened up the envelope. Inside were three headshots and a top-down view of a large house that seemed to be on a campus. “Oh,” gasped Brent, looking at a picture of dark-haired man. He flipped it over and nodded, knowing he had guessed right. My father. Brent flipped back over the photo and ran his finger over it. The man in the photo had beautiful, long blue-black hair that naturally curled towards the end. The smile on his face seemed both regal and arrogant at once. Brent took his own hair into his fingers and took a look at it. Now I know where I got it from. 

He placed down the photo and looked at the three others. The next two photos with people in them was a pointed-ear older gentleman with an eye patch who looked as if he had seen better days, but had the smile of a trickster and a much younger person who seemed to be dressed up in stylish aristrocratic wears and also had an eyepatch. Brent flipped over the photos and saw that the older gentleman was Ivan and the younger person was Charlie. 

He then looked over the villa. The home itself was a deep, rich black and the exterior folliage surrounding it in a light blue-gray colour, perfectly complimenting the home. It appeared to be located on some sort of slope and the house itself was raised at different points to make sure everything felt even when you were inside it. It’s beautiful. 

Brent placed the photos back inside the small envelope, then placed both the small envelope and letter back into its original envelope. He placed it into the medium box he had kept the other letters – now filling the box all the way, although not tightly. Each letter had room to expand, if needed. 

Brent got undressed, turned off his lamp and collapsed into bed. He pulled the covers up over his head and closed his eyes and reflected on the past month. 

Bedelia had done as she had promised out of spite – his hours increased to the point where he had no time to see Angelica whatsoever. He had to arise early and return back late, every single day. Any moment he could catch his breath, Bedelia would be there to catch him and pull him into another project. In fact, every single project he was a part of seemed to be within the proximity of Bedelia. The only time he had to himself was in the very early morning or late at night, almost midnight, well after Princess Angelica would have gone to sleep. That alone would have exhausted him, but not as much as he was now.

His extra layer of exhaustion was because he was waking up even earlier and going to bed even later every single day as a result from writing back and forth to his father, as well as studying. He had learned that, indeed, his father was a nobleman and that the social standing is also Brent’s birthright. His father wouldn’t answer in detail, but according to him, Brent’s mother also was a noblewoman, however, the status is acknowledged, but denounced by the Blackwood family. Whatever the reason, Brent started to suspect that had something to do with why his parents weren’t together. Brent also learned that even though his parents haven’t been together for at least 16 years, Brent has no other siblings. 

His studying wasn’t too involved – he started to delve deeper into the book on magic from the library, which according to his father was not a bad book to start with, and used it to start tapping into his own abilities. Brent couldn’t do a whole lot at the moment. The most impressive things he could do was heat up water and turn lights off & on without touching them. He mostly practiced manipulating the energy that appeared in his hands. 

Brent silently chuckled remember Aaron’s surprised face when Brent had handed him a boiling pot of water that had been cold the moment before. Brent had been using the magic in subtle ways, but that was the first time he had used it in such a way that involved someone else. How I would love to show Angelica…he thought, before he felt cold. Would she change her mind about me if she found out? 

Brent’s last thought before he dozed off was no, she wouldn’t.

***

Brent finished loading everything he wanted to bring into his knapsack. He had ensured that all the books he had been borrowing were brought back to the library and that everything else in the room was clean. He cleared out what little belongings he had, including his clothes, all packed into the backpack. He may have said not to bring them, but I don’t know what I will be wearing once I arrive.

Brent put on his jacket and tossed the knapsack of his shoulder. He opened the door to the hallway and looked to both sides. He pointed his finger towards the lamp with looking and it shut off, making the room pitch black. Brent slid out from the room and quietly closed the door behind him. He snuck down the corridor and down the stairwell, slipping past everyone. 

Soon enough, he was out in the castle courtyard, heading towards the east entrance. He took in the crisp fall air and took one look at the castle. The full moon illuminated the walls of the castle in its beautiful, but eerie blue light. The gentle breeze of the night rustled the leaves of the trees expertly placed around the courtyard. Brent placed a hand over his chest and let out a sigh. It’s only going to be for about a year, he assured himself before turning back around and heading off. Angelica, I will miss you the whole time.

He only took a few steps when he heard “BRENT!” echo from behind him. He jumped, turned around, seeing Princess Angelica look exhastperated. Brent felt his heart sunk. 

“Brent, what’s wrong?” 

Brent’s cheeks slightly flushed, seeing Angelica’s thin nightgown dance in the breeze. He balled his fist, trying to negate the pain in his heart. “…Angelica, you really should be inside. It’s not proper for a lady such as yourself such as yourself to be dressed in your nightgown.” 

“I am not worried about that. We are still in the castle walls, after all.” 

“It’s late.” 

“It’s late for you too!” 

I can’t tell her, thought Brent. He stared up into her eyes and pressed his lips hard together. The rumours are too grand about my father and the last thing I need is for her to think of me as murderer, even if that is what I did.

“Brent are you feeling alright?” 

Brent froze, feeling himself pulled into a million directions. The only thing that brought back was the quiet sound of the ticking clock in the courtyard. He turned his head to it, seeing its illuminated face ticking away. It’s just past one now… He turned to Angelica. “I really must be going.”

“What?” 

Brent bit his lip and turned around, walking off. Tears threatened to push out of his eyes. He rubbed them, attempting to surpress them. 

The next thing he knew, he was being yanked back by his jacket. He gasped and turned around, seeing Angelica tearing up and covered her mouth with a hand. “Are you leaving me?” she asked, her voice cracking. 

Panicked, Brent grabbed both of her shoulders. “No!” I am not. 

“T-then why are you carrying a bag? And your jacket? It’s too late for anything to be open!” 

Brent took one look into her crying face and pulled her in close. He shut his own eyes heard, trying to not to cry as his heart sunk deeper. He stroked the back of her head. 

Angelica attempted to pull away. “Where are you going Tell me!” she cried, her voice changing in volume every few syllables. 

Brent grabbed her hands. “My lady, Princess Angelica, I —” 

“Brent, stop it with the ‘lady’ and ‘princess’ speak!” 

“But if someone hears us…” 

“I do not care about that! Let them all hear! Everyone knows we are in love anyway. It does not matter. Just…where are you going?!” 

Brent took a deep breath and tightened his grip around Angelica’s hands. What can I say to her? He gently stroked them with his thumb and then looked at her in the eye. Then the words floated to his mind.  “I’m going somewhere to make our dream a happen.” 

“What?”

“I’m going somewhere that will allow me to do my part in making our dream come true.” 

“W-what is that supposed to mean? How does leaving make our dream happen?” 

Brent gave her a gentle smile. His aching heart relaxed and instead seemed to swell with love. He placed a hand on her cheek and gazed into her beautiful eyes that reflected the moon and stars above. “I’m going somewhere that is similar to this, but not the same. It’s somewhere where I’ll be able to gain all that I need to come back and fight.” 

“Are you going to another castle?” 

“No. As I said, it’s somewhere similar, but it’s not the same.” 

“Why do you have to leave?” 

“Because there is something I must do there.” 

“A-and how long will you be gone?” 

Brent’s smile stretched and he chuckled. Oh goodness. “Due to my inexperience, it is estimated I will be there for a year and three months.” 

Angelica stared at him, bug-eyed. “Inexperience?” 

Brent’s smile became gentle once more and leaned into her face. He could feel Angelica’s grip tighten around his hand. In a low voice, he said to her, “I will explain it all to you when I see you again.” He glanced at her slightly agape lips and brushed his thumb over it. He could feel her shiver. 

Brent glanced over his shoulder at the clock. Ack! It’s already been 10 minutes?! “I must go.” He kissed Angelica’s hand and parted ways with her, walking down the cobblestone path to the exit. The breeze felt extra cold against his cheeks – he was crying. 

***

“Hey, you must be Brent!” 

Brent wiped his eyes and turned, seeing a smiling older gentleman and a resting-faced younger person just a short distance behind him. Brent sniffled. “Yes, that would be me.” 

Wow,” said the older gentleman, followed by a whistle. “You really look like both Master Kegan and Lillian!” The man then leered at Brent. “Why you cryin’. lover boy?” 

Brent brushed his face again, removing most of the moisture from his face. “You must be Ivan.” 

“Heeeeey, you know my name!” 

Brent nodded. “Yes. My father provided me both of your names.” Brent leaned over to look at the younger person behind Ivan. “And you are Charlie, I presume.” 

“Yes,” replied Charlie. “It is a pleasure to be in the presence of the Master’s only child.” 

Ivan placed his arm over Brent’s shoulder. Brent leered at him and frowned. 

“Ivan, get off the Master’s child,” snapped Charlie. 

Ivan laughed. “Yeah, yeah.” He leaned in towards Brent. “What took you so long? I thought we were going to get frostbite before you arrived.” 

Brent pulled away from Ivan and stood in front of him. Before he opened his mouth, Charlie piped up behind him. “Did you not hear their conversation? He was very clearly with the Princess.” 

Ivan lifted up his hand. “My bad!” He stuck his pinky into his left ear. “I’m legally deaf in this ear. Can’t hear too well anymore.” 

Charlie stuck up their nose before turning to Brent. “I apologize for Ivan’s behaviour. He is too overly familiar.” 

Brent shook his hand. “That is a’right. I figured as much from his photo. I suppose that is why my father sends him as an informant.” 

Ivan slapped his hands together and rubbed them together. “You got that right!” 

“He certainly knows how to weaseal his way in and out of places,” said Charlie. 

“You know it!” 

Brent looked between the both of them. “It looks like my father treats you both well.” 

“Of course Master Kegan does,” said Charlie. “I suspect his kindness is on-par with the King and Queen of this kingdom. Ivan talks about them all the time.” 

Brent felt like he wanted to cry again. He placed a hand over his heart. “Yes, that would be right. They are very kind. I feel sad leaving them. I hope they will accept me when I come back.” 

Charlie nodded. “They will. They must. If they love you as much as it sounds.” 

Brent grinned with a tinge of melancholy. 

Ivan yanked Brent’s bag from his shoulder’s, causing him to jump. “Hey, now! Don’t be gettin’ all sad on us. You’re about to meet your father for the first time. We better get going – he’s expecting you soon and we’ve got a half hour ride to the opening.” 

“Opening?” asked Brent. 

“Yeah, a realm opening – one of the doors,” replied Ivan. “I thought they were teaching  you stuff.” 

Brent racked his brain. As he scanned what he could remember from lessons, he could remember from the numerous books on the history of Astral Isles that there were mentions of doors to other worlds, but they were called by a different name in Astral Isles. “Ah, do you mean the vortexes?” 

Ivan smiled and snapped his fingers. “Yeah, that’s right!” 

“Are they common knowledged?” asked Brent. 

Ivan and Charlie began to walk, Brent following close behind them. Ivan nodded. Charlie put up their finger. “The knowledge of them varies world to world. Tarhé, for instance, has almost no knowledge save for a few indiviudals. From my own studies, Kehllee’s knowledge of them seems to be drastically varied depending on where you live.” 

Ivan yawned. “Your boring me with your intellect.” 

Charlie flicked Ivan who yelped. “I am speaking to Master Brent, not you.” 

Brent’s face flushed and warmed. ‘Master’ Brent…

Charlie pulled out a compact mirror and faced it towards Brent, slightly looking over their shoulder. “Your father will catch you up on what you need to know. While I am sure that you have received a well-rounded education here, it will need to be expanded.” 

“You seem to be well-educated yourself,” remarked Brent. “Did my father provide you with one as well?” 

“No, although he does assist me when I choose to learn more,” replied Charlie.

Ivan chuckled. “Your speaking to Charlie as if they’re around your age.” 

“How old is Charlie then?” 

“Me? I’m 35,” replied Charlie abnormally casual. 

Brent was dumbfounded. 

The three of them stopped at the end of the walkway, in front of a carriage. The carriage appeared fairly basic, although high quality with a few silver embellishments here and there. Attached to it were two horses with glowing green eyes. Brent pointed to them with a furrowed brow. What are these? 

“Oh, don’t worry about them,” said Ivan, slapping Brent on the back while walking to the carriage door. “They’re just tamed fairy horses.” 

“Ah” was the only thing Brent managed to say. Tamed? Can you even do that? thought Brent. 

Ivan opened the door and bowed. “Right this way, Master Brent.” 

Brent blushed once more and stepped into the carriage. “Thank you.” 

Brent settled into the red-velvet adorned carriage. Ivan stepped inside and shut the door. He leaned back and knocked on the window behind him. Brent could see the bottom of Charlie’s overskirt in the window’s view. A moment later, the carriage began moving, the faery horse’s hooves quietly clomping against the cobblestone streets of Astral Isles and into the night. 

*** END ***

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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, situations, and incidents are the products of my imagination OR are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.

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