I bolt up and out of bed, falling to the floor with a crash. This isn’t the palace; instead, I am in what looks to be a tiny cottage, complete with rows and rows of books, a deep, dark fireplace devoid of flames, dirt floors and thatch walls and roof.
“Where am I? This isn’t the palace! I demand to know what’s going on–”
My voice dies in my throat when I see the television: There I am, head bowed for the coronation crown, a glittering confection of gold, topaz, rubies and sapphires. My mind reels, stuffed to the brim with questions.
Who could have done this? I had guards stationed both inside of my chambers and out of them, and I’m capable of magic, just like everyone else in the kingdom, but even I don’t hold the ability to be in two places at once.
Before I can further vocalize my confusion, I am grabbed from behind–manhandled, really–and pushed back into bed.
“I assure you, Highness, all of your questions will be answered in due time,” A voice murmurs, so softly that I can’t identify it. I look up, trying to catch sight of something, anything, to help me figure out just who this is.
“In the meantime, would you kindly shut your trap? Gods, you always were loud.”
All I can hear is that the tone is female, though it is deeper than I’ve ever heard before, but it isn’t familiar. My head feels as if it’s been stuffed with cotton, and I try to remember what happened at the feast last night. Try as I might though, it doesn’t come back to me. There was food and more than the lion’s share of drink, as well as three very pretty serving girls, with their hands all over me…
Okay, focus. Focus, you blither-brained idiot. Now is not the time to be getting all hot and bothered, and it’s quite possible that your lust got you into this situation in the first place.
“I do apologize for inconveniencing you, next time I’ll be sure to make sure to know the names of my captors,” I snap at my jailer through gritted teeth, and receive nothing more than a blow across the face for my insolence. I wince, spitting on the floor when my mouth fills with blood; my mysterious companion just barely jumps back to avoid getting the saliva on her toes.
Serves her right.
Though I am bloodied, bruised, and dizzy, I cannot take my eyes off of the television screen, glued to my own face.
What kind of blood magic had made this feat achievable? Certainly nothing I’ve ever studied.
It’s all I can do just to maintain the semblance of calm, but it would not do to cause much of a ruckus; I might be killed, especially with that doppelganger on the screen saying the beginnings of my speech. I look around the room, wincing when I am yanked to my feet and put on the bed, none too gently.
“If you can’t find it in you to stay quiet, I’ll tie you up. Then I’ll feed you poison right before I slit your throat.”
I narrow my eyes, but do my best not to be rattled by her statement. I haven’t been the best prince that ever lived, sure, but isn’t this a tad… Extreme?
My jailer disappears again, but this time, I hear multiple sets of footsteps; it sounds like a herd of elephants are pacing in the next room. I want to creep over to the door and eavesdrop, but somehow, I don’t think what she said was an empty threat. Fear is not a familiar emotion to me, but I can feel its tightening hold on my throat, in the constant turn of my stomach, in the shaking of my hands, sweat dripping down my face in rivulets.
I get up from the bed and limp over to the television, transfixed by my own image upon it.
Who had done this to me, and why?