3: A Dashing Rescue(r)

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Aghast, Fitz asked, "Sophie?"

Instantly, she stiffened, and straightened. She stepped back slightly, reaching for the doorknob.

He shook off his shock and sprung up, rushing to her side. He pressed his hand against the door, using his weight to hold it shut so she couldn't escape, "Sophie, what happened?"

Before she could answer, he heard a frustrated growl from outside, and a woman with a pinched voice asking, "Where is she?! She isn't too far ahead!"

"She think she can outsmart us, but little does she know-" another voice was interrupted by a third.

"Look! That's part of her dress! She's hiding in the king's study!"

A fourth gasped, "How dare she?"

"Let's go get her," the first voice decided, and Fitz heard the footsteps grow closer to the door.

Quickly, he stepped back and roughly pulled Sophie against him, holding her protectively. With his other hand, Fitz reached for his sword.

The door flew open and he saw six maids' faces fall from a triumphant grin to a crestfallen look of dread. Rage bubbled up in his throat and his hand fell away from his sword, as these girls clearly trembled at the power of the crown. He held Sophie tightly, though when he felt her whole body wince, he relaxed his arms a little, worried about hurting her any further, but didn't want to let her go.

"What did you do?" he demanded.

When they didn't answer, he roared, "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"

"N-nothing," the one in front stuttered, keeping her head bowed down.

Another one tried to help their case, "Yes, your majesty, we just came by to clean the study-" Fitz cut her off abruptly,

"Liar," he seethed, "not only did I overhear you in the hall, I know for a fact that Sophie cleans my father's study on Thursdays."

A brave girl in the back piped up, "Sir, all due respect, but she has brown eyes."

Fitz felt Sophie look up at him, and he asked, "So?"

"She isn't an elf, sir," the girl said meeker now, "elves only have blue eyes."

"That is not true," he spat, "Sophie has brown eyes, and Sophie is an elf."

"But sir-" started another girl, but he shouted, "SILENCE!"

The six girls froze on the spot, and he continued, "You six will be immediately be released from your service, and I officially hereby banish you from Evertalia for life."

"Y-you can't do this!" the girl in front's eyes widened, "My mother is il, this is my only source of income!"

"Then you should have thought about that before you assaulted her!" spat Fitz mercilessly, "You can find work elsewhere. Evertalia is a kingdom of peace and safety, and you six have just endangered that. You have insulted everything my family stands for in our very own home, and that is yet another unforgivable act you have just done."

"You don't have to do this, your highness," Sophie said quietly, "I-"

"Apologies, Sophie, but I cannot look the other way," he stopped her and turned his attention to the six maids, "you must be gone within an hour, and if my soldiers catch you inside Evertalian borders, they will throw you out of the kingdom by force. And they will show no mercy."

The girl in front squared her shoulders, "You do not have the power to do that, your majesty. You are not king yet."

"But I can," Alden said from behind them, gripping a strip of Sophie's dress in his fist. His irises looked as if they had been drained of life, and his brow was creased with worry, but those soon molded into an angry frown, "get out."

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