Eirian Casimir winced at the sound of her own footsteps as she tottered down the kitchen stairs. The castle seemed eerily quiet to her, though she had expected it to be. The full moon hung from the stars, she had waited for it to be centred high in the sky before making her escape.
She reached the bottom of the stairs, paused a moment, before glancing around the empty kitchen. Occasionally there would be a maid or two floating about, but tonight the entire castle appeared to be sleeping soundly. She winced again as she pressed her hands to the door to her left, as the heave of her effort caused it to grunt in resistance. Beyond the door, she entered the royal stable – where only the finer mares were kept during their breeding season. Luckily, there were none present on this night. Luck seemed to have favoured Eirian so much of late, despite discovering her good friend Owen was being sent to work in the mines – she had made the acquaintance of a young gentleman who was willing to assist her in her daring escape. And there he was, as he said he would be, waiting just within the gates of the stable, cloaked and leaning patiently against the wall.
Eirian approached him, “You’re really going to help me?” She asked.
He tipped his head back, revealing his colourless complexion and frightening teeth. “Of course, little princess, anything for the daughter of the king” he said.
“The king has many daughters,” Eirian replied.
She had never thought of herself as the king’s daughter, the entire castle was full of little girls with red curls calling him papa, as if he needed another. Eirian glanced down at her virgin hands, soft and delicate like a doll’s. When she had thought of the idea to runaway with Owen, she hadn’t realised what it would entail until her friendly gentleman had told her. She would have to earn her keep among the other workers, she would have to behave and speak as though she was one of them – stolen from her home and sent away at the king’s order.
She clenched her hands into fists, “I’m ready” she said.
Her friend nodded his respect, and straightened. “You may call me Shen,” he told her. “I will guard and protect you for as long as I am alive, and shield you from your foes.”
“I don’t have any foes.”
“Not yet, little princess” Shen smiled gently, “But you will.”