Lesson 12

241 27 12

Grielle stirred on the cold, stone floor

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

Grielle stirred on the cold, stone floor. She lifted her head to feel the warmth of the morning sun on her face. It felt like she had just fallen asleep. Had she really slept on the floor? She opened her eyes, then froze, staring in horror. She was no longer in the palace of Andor, but she'd been in this place many years before.

Her pulse raced as she recalled the room without a door, only a window. She rushed to the small opening and looked out over the forest far below her. The dizzying height sent her head spinning. Nausea gripped her enough that she fell to her knees while she clutched the stone wall.

"Not here," she moaned, rocking back and forth.

A shadow moved in front of the window and a figure hopped into her tower. "Henrik!" she exclaimed and scrambled to his side. "What are you doing here? How did I get here?" her voice rose with uncharacteristic panic as she clutched the sleeve of his shirt. He looked more handsome than she remembered; his blue eyes sparkled and his dark hair was swept elegantly to the side. He seemed taller, too.

"Prince Benedikt put you here." Henrik said with uncharacteristic sympathy. He took the rope he had slung across his chest and looped it over one of the rafters of the tower, then tossed the ends out the window. "He saw how much I cared for you and grew jealous. But he could never keep me from you." Henrik ran his fingers along Grielle's cheek, stopping under her chin.

"That doesn't sound like Ben—"

Henrik stopped her words with a kiss. Grielle hardly knew what to do for a moment, but the familiar sensation of his lips against hers set fire to her bones. Their kiss deepened as Grielle's hands wound themselves into Henrik's hair as if by their own volition. His arms held her tight against him.

Grielle broke the kiss to gasp for air and yet even in her ecstasy, a flicker of doubt flitted through her mind. She knew the feeling well. She got it anytime something was wrong, when danger was near, and her father had taught her never to ignore that instinct.

"How did Benedikt know about this place? I never told him." Grielle took a step back from him.

Henrik shrugged. "How should I know? It was probably a coincidence." He leaned down to kiss Grielle again but she stepped out of his reach.

"I don't believe in coincidences," she replied with a snarl.

"Come on, my love. Let's just go back to Andor and I shall make you my queen." His voice grew harsh. Commanding. He grabbed her hand.

Suddenly, Grielle's feet felt glued to the floor, too heavy to even take another step away. The sound of her heartbeat rushed in her ears as she tried to pull her hand away from Henrik's grip.

"Let me go!" she yelled, desperately trying to pull Henrik's fingers from her. His face darkened as he glowered at her.

"Fine," Henrik growled, and released her hand.

Her feet unglued from the floor and she stumbled backwards, off-balance. The ledge of the windowsill caught her behind the knees and she tumbled backwards out the window.

~

Benedikt ran through the palace until he reached Grielle's bedchamber. He threw open the wooden door, slamming it against the wall. Reyn jumped from her bed with a dagger in hand, but relaxed when she saw him. He raced past her to where Grielle still slept soundly.

"I think Henrik may have poisoned her," Benedikt said as he unsuccessfully tried to shake Grielle awake. "Grielle!" he shouted. Her face was softened, placid. A faint smile played on her lips.

"I've never seen her sleep so soundly," Reyn said, her voice full of concern. "I'll get Yorick."

Benedikt watched Grielle sleep peacefully until her breath came in shallower gasps. Her face contorted into a look of pain and Benedikt's heart began to race again. He then recalled her inability to fall asleep due to the uncomfortable nature of her mattress, and a thought crossed his mind when Yorick entered the room.

"She won't wake?" Yorick asked, as he ran to Grielle's bedside and looked under the bed.

"Check under the mattress," Benedikt suggested.

Grielle began to writhe in her sleep, struggling against an unseen force. A little cry escaped her lips. Yorick lifted the mattress and felt around before he withdrew a small glass vial. Grielle's thrashing grew more intense, and she pitched off the bed.

Kai, perched in Grielle's open window screeched in panic, wings flapping madly.

Benedikt caught her before she hit the stone floor, and she awoke with a panicked shout. Her arms flailed violently as she tried to make sense of her surroundings. An errant elbow caught Benedikt in the jaw.

"Ow!" he exclaimed, nearly dropping Grielle. She stopped at the sound of his voice and her breathing started to slow.

"Ugh...what happened?" Grielle clutched her head as Benedikt lowered her to the ground. "My head is pounding."

Yorick tossed the little vial to Benedikt, who examined it under the light of Reyn's candle. "It's a tricky little sleeping curse," Yorick explained. "It smells of Lover's Bane and Dreamroot so I think it was intended to make the person who slept on it fall in love with the brewer of the curse."

"Henrik was in my dream." Grielle grasped Benedikt's arm for support. Her legs trembled underneath her. "But he kissed me and I... then it turned into a nightmare and I fell from—" Her voice caught in her throat.

Yorick placed a reassuring arm around his sister. "It was father's training. He taught us to resist Withering Magic like that. The mind is a susceptible place, but he showed us how to recognize malevolent magic and know its signs. Your mind fought back and the curse fought to keep its hold on you." Yorick turned his attention to Benedikt. "How did you know it was under her mattress?"

Benedikt shook his head. "It was a hunch. Grielle mentioned at the banquet she had trouble sleeping. I thought Henrik might have tampered with her bed." He released Grielle from his grasp now that she looked steadier on her feet.

"I told you my mattress felt uncomfortable," she said dismissively.

Yorick's brows pushed together. "You really felt that under your mattress?"

Grielle shrugged. "I'm a finicky sleeper." She lifted the hem of her shirt and fingered a purplish bruise on the side of her hip.

That sensitivity certainly wasn't normal. In shock, Benedikt absentmindedly touched the small bruise himself. He quickly drew his fingers away as soon as he realized the intimacy of such a touch. Grielle only smiled at his mumbled apology, color high on her cheeks. She lowered the hem of her shirt and Benedikt looked around to see if anyone had noticed their brief interchange. Reyn was watching Grielle with a knowing smirk, and Yorick looked like he wanted to vomit.

"Muster the others," Grielle commanded with regained strength. "Assemble your supplies and meet at the west entrance. We leave immediately." She took the small vial from Benedikt's open palm and hurled it against an Andorian battle mural. The glass smashed against the decorative tiles. Black liquid pooled on the floor before evaporating into a swirl of shimmering smoke.

~

Thank you all for reading! I'm sorry this was a shorter chapter, but it was certainly action packed. Make sure to vote and comment. What has been your favorite "lesson" so far? I think today's lesson was one we can all take to heart!

The Prince's Guide to True Love's Kiss {Published Version}Where stories live. Discover now