Writing Prompt Response, Part One (Mlle_)
The tower loomed out of the darkness of the forest, gilded silver by the moonlight. The knight rode on, the only sounds accompanying him the quiet clink of chains, the wind, and his mount’s hooves quietly clomping on the dry earth. The shingles on the roof gleamed as if giving a hint to the secrets hidden inside.
“Come on, you,” The knight snarled through gritted teeth, one hand wrapped around a long, thick length of rusted chain, the other guiding his horse’s reins. Trodding along on the path beside him, a hooded figure shuffled along the chain in the knight’s grip connected to a manacle around the poor creature’s neck. The knight yanked the chain, provoking a cry from his companion. “Make any more noise and I’ll make you regret it!”
The knight was not handsome, valued more for his years than looks, with thinning hair the color of a murky river, eyes that were deep-set in his face, and a rather large, hawkish nose. “Quiet!” He snapped, though the creature’s head was bowed, silent tears streaking crystalline down a dirty face, barely able to be seen under the hood. But sweet, gentle music began to float above the trees, as much a siren’s song as the dangerous ocean dwellers’ music. It was in a language that neither individual could understand, but the knight smiled, baring sharp yellowed teeth. “That must be her. It has to be. Hurry up, you lazy thing!” He yanked on the chain again, and the hooded figure hurried to keep up. By now, the poor thing’s throat was coated in blood, dyed black in the moonlight. It could be heard gasping for breath, its ragged breathing breaking the silence, even over the seductive music coming from one of the darkened windows at the top of the tower.
At last, after what seemed like an age, the motley pair reached the doors of the tower; the singing had grown louder, and the hooded figure looked up. The hood fell backward, revealing a young woman with bronzed skin, dull brown eyes, and dark hair that came to a stop just below her chin; she looked more like a little boy than a young girl. Her face was dirty, the only clean spot on her cheeks from her tears of agony earlier. “It’s locked, Master,” She said at last, her voice timid and little more than a whisper.
“Do you think me a fool, child? I may be getting on in years, but I’m certainly not blind!” The knight hissed in reply, gesturing to the door, covered in old signs and rusted chains. He hopped off of his horse with surprising agility and landed in front of the door. “Tie up my horse to a tree,” He added, reaching behind him without looking at the girl, holding out the reins. She obeyed without question, and the knight thought that this was the end of it. But he found himself to be wrong.
“Please, Master, couldn’t I go with you?” She asked, her voice raw and hoarse from strain and thirst. “I want to see the princess. We’ve traveled all this way–”
“Absolutely not!” Her master replied, turning his gaze back to the girl to sneer. “Do you somehow harbor the delusion that one such as you is fit to look upon royalty?” He laughed a cruel and derisive sound that cut her to the quick. “You’re little more than filth upon that princess’s shoe.” He reached over and patted the girl on the head, paying her less attention than one of his prized hounds. “I will see you when I retrieve the princess from this squalor. Thankfully she will not have to deal with it for long.”
“But sir, if something attacks me, I will have no way to defend myself–” She pleaded, and the knight held up his free hand, silencing her. “Very well. I grow tired of your arguing.” He removed his blade from its sheath, the sapphires gleaming in the pommel, surrounded by roaring ocean waves. The girl could almost hear the waves caressing the shore, smell the salt. It made her think of home, of happier times in her life. The snick of the blade made her flinch, but when her master raised the weapon, he sawed through the old chains as though they were made of old paper. He pushed the door open with his shoulder, and the worn oak obliged, groaning inward.
The music grew louder, and the girl took a step forward, drawn to the dulcet sound in spite of herself. “Are you mad? You’ve no weapons!” The knight hissed, yanking the chain so that it was wrapped around his fist. The girl fell to her knees, gagging, her vision spotting from lack of oxygen. “What if there are guards? Foolish wretch.” He spat, and walked forward, into the tower’s first chamber, with his companion stumbling along behind him, trying desperately to keep up.
The room was empty, inhabited only by spiders lurking in the thick, dusty cobwebs that stretched from one side of the room to the other. But both of the explorers could still hear the music, and it was all the girl could do not to run toward it, to find the source of that lovely voice. Could it be that the woman this voice belonged to the long lost princess, the child who’d mysteriously disappeared from her crib all those years ago?
“Come, stop dawdling,” The knight whispered, tugging her along as he crossed the room, searching for the set of stairs that would lead up to the tower room. She hurried to keep up, though her throat closed from thirst, and her knees and feet were screaming with fatigue and pain. “Yes, Master,” She said, though from the knight’s gaze, roving all about the room, she could tell that he wasn’t paying the slightest lick of attention.
At long last, he found an open door, from which leaked golden light, and she could just barely see the outline of a stairwell. The knight was chuckling to himself, already imagining what he would buy himself with the gold the monarchy was offering as a reward. “Ah, here we are. Hurry up, and mind your step. And you’re not to enter that room without my say so, do you hear me?” When the girl didn’t answer immediately, he shook her chain. “Will you pay attention? Gods, you can’t even blame me for keeping you chained up. Your head is always in the clouds!”
Before she could even think of retorting, they were walking up the stairs, the knight ahead of her; she studied the dull gleam of his armor, the only spot of light in the dusty darkness, smelling of cold stone and loneliness. The musical clink of the chain blended in with the princess’s song, and the girl wished that she could make her master, his bones creaking with age, move faster; the curiosity was eating her alive.
Finally, they arrived at the landing, and the knight smiled to himself, already victorious in his mind. He stood in front of the door, one hand poised flat against the wood. The girl sucked her lower lip in between her teeth, her master’s anxious energy infectious. The voice still floated from behind the closed door, making her heart race. The knight pushed open the door, and darkness, even deeper than that of the tower and stairwell, swallowed them both.
Part one of a writing prompt response I started, check it out guys!