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Cal held her in his arms, not knowing what to think.

Was this the end?

How could he move forward?

She was meant to be his queen, she was the love of his life, the woman of his dreams. He couldn't imagine the world without her. It would be unbearable.

He cupped her head and her side, trying to stop the bleeding with his jacket and shirt. It had been ages that he had been calling for help. He wouldn't risk her falling again if he tried to pull her up himself.

He watched her lifeless body, her white chemisette soaked in her own blood. Her breaths were scarce and uneven. She was barely alive.

The kings guard and a few noble men arrived almost an hour after Cal had found her. They peered down into the grave-like hole to find the Prince entangled with Ariella, holding her in his arms as if she were a child.

The girl was pale as ice.

They helped the Prince and Ariella up to even ground and sent Ariella immediately back to the château, still unconscious.

The nobles tried to console the Prince, though he seemed distant. His body was covered in dried blood, his face pale and uneasy. The noblemen ushered him back to the château as soon as they had inspected the scene and asked him questions.

Cal insisted on riding horseback back to the château. He wouldn't waste a moment he had left with Ariella.

When he arrived, Ariella was laying on a sofa in one of the parlors. The du Bois physician hovered around her, handing different tools and cloths to nobles who offered to help. Cal watched from the back of the room.

His blood ran cold at the sight of it all, his eyes frozen on her as she seemed to effortlessly fall deeper and deeper into unconsciousness. He wanted to beg her to stay with him, he wanted to tell her how much he loved her, how he could never live without her.

But he instead stared unemotionally at the chaos around him, eyes focused, unwavering, motionless.

After the doctor declared that he had stopped the bleeding, Ariella was moved up to her room where Mae was to watch over her. Her wounds weren't entirely fatal, but by the amount of blood she had lost, the question of whether she would live or die couldn't be answered.

It had been almost three hours that Cal had been in her room, watching her take rigid breaths as she lay unconscious. He held her usually warm hand, strangely cold from lack of oxygen.

The door to Ariella's room at the Château du Bois creaked open to reveal Mae, her face creased with worry. She held a new tub of cold water and cloth, along with Ariella's nightdress.

"I fear it's getting late, Your Highness. I should dress her for the night," Mae muttered, her voice quiet.

Cal looked up to the maid, almost as if he hadn't heard her. His eyes were blood shot, his hair tasseled. He still wore the white, blood-soaked chemise from earlier, his khaki colored trousers ripped and covered in dirt. He looked as though he'd been shot, buried, and revived all in the matter of ten hours.

Mae cupped Ariella into her arms, bringing her up from the bed so she could remove her clothes.

"Here," Cal started, reaching out to help the maid, almost as if he were stopping her from touching Ariella, "Let me.. help," he caught himself.

He felt an underlying urge to protect Ariella, now that she'd been hurt. He didn't know who to trust and who not to trust, he felt like someone was trying to hurt her.

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