Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

Before the sun had risen, the castle was ablaze with activity. The servant's quarters were usually active so early, but today it was the royal family who were awake.

It was an odd occurrence, and anyone who didn't know about the search would be confused at the happenings.

At the front of the castle the family were stood in a line saying farewell to Andrew, Oscar and James. They were about to leave to travel to the village of Grea to find their lost princess.

The three men were mounted on their horses, with three guards behind them, just in case of any trouble.

"You will be careful, won't you?" The queen questioned, fusing over Andrew. All three men were warmly dressed and had enough food to last for a week, all thanks to the Queen.

"Of course, mother." Andrew replied.

"Promise me that you will bring her back safely?" Danny asked. He was so nervous about them going to find her, and so worried that they would be too late. He had wanted to travel with them, but was not allowed.

"We will try our best." Oscar said, nodding his head once at Danny.

Daniel still wasn't convinced, but he accepted the fact that nothing was certain.

When final goodbyes had been said they began riding away from the castle.

It was a cool day. The sun was still not up but the sky had begun to become lighter. There was a light breeze through the air. It would be colder the further north they travelled.

The ride would only take a few hours, but it was difficult and windy road that the horses did not like.

The majority of the ride was spent in silence. They were all too nervous about seeing her that they didn't know what to say. James had tried to start a conversation several times, only to be answered with single syllables every time. He had soon given up his attempts.

They were currently riding through a forest. It was midmorning and the sun had risen quite a while ago, bringing a new warmth to them. This heat was hardly noticed though, as it was cancelled out by the steadily dropping temperatures that they were travelling into.

They reached the top of a hill and pulled their horses to a halt. They were riding in via the back of the village, trying not to draw attention to themselves.

They were stood in the treeline, still hidden from view to anyone who would be passing. James didn't think that anyone would walk around here, but the fresh footprints in the mud said otherwise.

This was the hill that Elle had taken James when they had waked together. It hadn't been very long ago, but it seemed like an eternity.

It was almost exactly the same on the hill as he remembered, but without Elle there it didn't seem right.

"Let's have a quick drink before we go any further," Andrew said, grabbing his water container.

Oscar and James quickly copied him.

"Which house is it?" Andrew asked, looking out over the village.

"That one just there," James pointed out.

"Is that a house? It looks abandoned." Andrew said, shocked. He must be looking at the wrong house.

"Yes, that's what I thought when I first saw it. It's actually a book shop but I think most people are too afraid to visit."

"My baby sister has been living there?" Andrew could hardly believe it. The conditions looked awful. He could only hope that it was well kept and clean when he was there.

"We'll leave our horses up here, we don't want to draw attention to ourselves." He turned to one of the guards. "Will you stay and watch them?"

"Of course," he replied.

They began to walk down the hill, towards the bookstore. Andrew was so nervous. His hands were clammy and he was breathing fast.

When they reached the door Oscar knocked loudly. They could her some movement inside, and they waited for the door to open. But it didn't.

"There is definitely someone in there," James said.

"Why is the door even locked if it is a book shop?" Andrew asked, confusion showing on his face.

"Mr Winters isn't a very friendly man," James explained. "He doesn't like to have customers."

Oscar once again knocked loudly on the door. This time the door was pulled open with such force that Andrew was worried that it would fall of the hinges.

"What do you want?" A rough voice asked.

Mr Winters was exactly how James had described him. He was absolutely foul in appearance. His knotted hair was flying all over the place, and his eyes just seemed so evil.

"We have come to see Miss Elle Winters," Oscar explained, his voice deceptively calm.

"Well she ain't here!" Mr Winters tried to slam the door, but James caught it before it could close.

"Well where is she?" Andrew asked.

Mr Winters' attention was drawn to him.

"Ah, the prince is even here. I'm afraid you are too late." He smirked, pulling the door closed again.

"What do you mean?" The door was stopped by James again.

"Little Elizabeth has already gone. You were too late. Although I find it very sweet that her big brother even came to get her." Mr Winters said.

"But we can't be too late!" James said, panicked. "I heard you tell that other man that you would send Elle in two days"

"It seems Zelroth was correct about us having a spy. You'd do well not to listen to other people's conversations."

Before anyone could see what was happening, Mr Winters pulled a knife from behind the door and brought it up to James' neck.

"Maybe this will teach you to mind your own business!" He laughed as he pressed the knife up firmly against the skin on James' neck.

James stood completely still, afraid that even the smallest of movement would result in the knife being pushed into his skin. His breathing was heavy and his eyes were full of fear.

"You really should have stayed away from my daughter!"

"She isn't your daughter!" James relied, only for Mr Winters to tighten his grip.

"She didn't think that I knew that she had spoken with you, but I know everything." He continued. "I don't know what you spoke about, but it nearly ruined all of my plans. And I expect you to pay for that!"

If Mr Winters had been paying attention to the other men he would have noticed Andrew slip away. But he was too caught up with James to even realise.

James tried not to let the relief show on his face when he saw Andrew approach Mr Winters from behind, with his sword drawn.

"You really should shut your windows, Mr Winters." James said. Smirking at him.

Mr Winters looked at him in confusion, and then turned around, loosening his grip in the process.

His eyes filled with fear when he saw Andrew stood there with a sword. He tried to grab James again, but he had already escaped and was out of reach.

Andrew pulled the sword down, and it pierced straight through Mr Winters' chest. He screamed in agony, before falling silent. He was lying on the floor, in a puddle of his own blood.

"I didn't think you had it in you," Oscar smirked at his friend.

"When it involves my little sister I would do anything!" he replied, finally looking away from the dead body. He walked out of the door and shut it behind him.

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