Seneca almost dropped her ice cream as she laughed at Daffodils joke “Oh stop so I can eat this” her voice was strained from laughing. Daffodil giggled “sorry, oh, you haven’t been this light spirited in a long time. Couldn’t help but take full advantage. Speaking of which what’s going on?”
“This day you’ve spent with me. Since the men vanished they are all you think about. I mean we’ve had good times here and there but this entire day has been nothing about fun and you haven’t been brooding a single second, something is up” She sighed “let me finish this ice cream and I’ll tell you everything alright”
“deal” they finished and she said “I just…I wanted today to be fun incase its the last time I see you”
“why would it be the last time I see you Seneca?” The worry evident in her voice made Seneca take her only remaining best friends hand “two years ago I found this room in our castle I didn’t know existed. In fact it was odd, like it hadn’t always been a part of our castle. I mean, I spent my childhood running around that castle, why would I have not stumbled upon it? Well, while I was in there I noticed these odd holes in the wall. My sister…the queen caught me in there and she was livid. She berated me, shaking in anger I was in there but only one thing she said stuck with me that day”
“If I ever catch you in here again you’re going to disappear too…You know I have suspected from day one she did this because she couldn’t handle mom and dad picking Eero to be king over her. She did something and I think it had something to do with that room because last week I found these stones in her room that look like they can fit in those holes…I’m going to put them in. I dont know what its going to do or if shes going to catch me and make me vanish too but I have to try…for Isaakios…for all the men and for mom and dad”
“Then let me help you”
“I’m not letting you do this alone. My magic ability is far greater than yours. I wont let her stop you. If she comes in I can keep her away while you finish what needs to be done”
“But..I cant lose you too”
“nor can I lose you either. I’m helping and that’s final Seneca. When do we do this?”
“After she’s asleep”
“Then lets get to our homes. I’ll prepare myself for tonight and you do your best to act like nothing is up okay” Seneca hugged her “you’re an amazing friend”
“and you’re an amazing woman. You’re braver than most could be”
“Wait for me in the trees outside the castle alright? I’ll come for you after I’ve grabbed the stones”
“I’ll be there, I promise”
Seneca was nervous, even scared as she headed home. She knew that anything could go wrong, but if she didn’t do this now then she may never see her parents again, never see Isaakios again. She was proud of how normal she was able to act around her sister. “Where were you today?” Her sister asked her.
“Spending time with Daffodil. We got ice cream and just visited for a bit.”
“What did you talk about?”
“The usual; marriage, maybe taking a trip down to the valley for a couple of days. I haven’t been since I was a kid.”
“Would that be alright?”
Her sister waved her off. “Sure, whatever you want, just stay out of trouble.”
She hoped talking about a trip would help with the rouse nothing was up and her sister would take her normal sleep concoction tonight. Teeka had always struggled to sleep but it was even worse now which was another reason Seneca had suspected her. If she had even a shred of humanity in her it had to bug her, even just a small amount what she had done. If she didn’t take it it would take her forever to fall asleep and even when she did she would be easy to wake so she hoped with everything in her things were going to go as planned. She honestly picked tonight because it was the highest chance of her taking it. She had a meeting early in the morning with an official she was attracted to and had been after a long time but she had no interest in Teeka for the same reason nobody liked her, she couldn’t be with someone with such a rotten heart.
Seneca had half thought she might try to force the woman into marriage once Teeka became queen but she hadn’t. She supposed even her selfish sister realized whats the point of being with someone if they have no choice. After dinner Seneca grabbed a good book then retired to her room. It had been hard to get into the book with everything on her mind so she was glad when someone knocked on her door. When she answered it was her younger sister, Sookie. She was more like a daughter really since when her parents vanished she had been the one to take over raising her. The staff certainly helped when she needed it but she had raised Sookie and emotionally it would always be more like they were mother and daughter rather than sisters.
“Can I go on the trip with you?” Senecas heart fell a little. This was the first thing she had ever kept from Sookie. If she got caught she didn’t want her sister punished too for knowing about it and not tattling on her. “Of course you can”
“May I come in real quick?”
“Um, sure” It was late and Sookie went to bed early most nights because she liked to be up for sunrise so it was surprising she didn’t want to go back to her own room. Once the door was closed Sookie slowly moved her hand through the air and words formed. It would have been cool regardless but they were rainbow colored so it was absolutely stunning “you’re a liar, I know you’re lieing about the trip because I can see the guilt in your face. Just nod if something is up. You’ve been so weird” Just as she finished reading the words vanished. It had either been amazing timing or part of the magic.
Seneca sighed, knowing she was caught by her baby sister so she nodded “should I be worried?” The next words read so Seneca spoke “don’t worry, this trip will be absolutely safe. Just go rest and be ready right after breakfast” Sookie hugged her then backed up, waving her hand again “I love you, be careful. You know as well as I do Teeka is vengeful” Sookie could read her too well and prayed again that her elder sister couldn’t. It wasn’t likely since they hadn’t spent much time together since they were kids. Sookie only could because they were so close. Seneca kissed her head as she had countless times before, saying with her eyes how much she loved her too before Sookie left.
Once Seneca was confident her sister would be out then changed her clothes, wearing form fitting shorts and a tank top. She also put on shoes that were easy to run in and grabbed a few items and her dagger from the box she kept them in. It was for trips in case she needed to defend herself and if this didn’t go well she may very well have to defend herself against her sister tonight. She put the items in a small backpack she had and tightened the straps so it wouldn’t be slamming against her as she ran. It was also one she could simply reach into from the top so she wouldn’t have to struggle to grab anything in a hurry while she fought.
She took an incredibly deep breath and slowly let it out before stepping out of her room. Her heart was already thudding in her chest as she walked the halls she grew up in. When she got to the queens room she listened at the door. No sound was coming from the room so she ventured in “Please please please be drugged so you’ll sleep” she pleaded in her head as she approached the container she saw the stones in. Carefully she grabbed the lid and pushed it open. She could feel sweat running down with how tense and focused she was on not making noise. Her heart nearly stopped when she opened it and the stones were gone. Seneca looked over at her sleeping sister. She was drooling so Seneca felt comfortable Teeka was truly out “where would she have moved them” Seneca thought to herself.
She got down on her knees, seeing another box under the bed. It was big though and she wasn’t sure how she’d get it from under there without it being too loud but she had to try. She silently crawled towards the bed and slid under, grabbing the box and pulling it out. Moving it was even noisier than she expected but her sister still seemed to be sleeping.
She glanced at her sister as she flipped the lid open and stifled the sigh of relief at finding the stones. Underneath it she found a leather bound book and she quickly put the stones in her bag before lifting it out and flipping it open. It was in her mother’s handwriting and she realized it was her journal. She closed it and put with the stones then closed the box, deciding to leave it where it was in case pushing it back under woke her sister. She gave her sister another quick glance as she slowly got to her feet and backed toward the bedroom door. She froze when her sister rolled in her sleep, holding her breath as she waited for her to settle back down. When Teeka finally did, she left the room, closing the door behind her.
She wanted to sprint to Daffodil, but she knew she had to take her time. If she didn’t she might rouse suspicion, she might be caught by the new guards her sister had employed or she might become clumsy and noisy. She could do this, her family and Isaakios were counting on her.
It felt like it took her an eternity to get outside but she finally did but she forgot to think about the night guards in front of the castle when she asked her friend to meet her outside. “Princess Seneca, what’re you doing out here and why a backpack?” The only man amongst female guards out front asked, his name was Jude and he was her least favorite guard for reasons that just then spilled from his mouth “I like how tight that shirt is on you”
“I’m your superior, stop it”
“we’ve been through this before kitten, your sister doesn’t care how I flirt with you. I get what she needs done and thats all that matters now why are you out here in that glorious outfit”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you”
“You do when you’re walking outside at night”
“Do you really want to wake up my sister right now when she’s seeing Leera in the morning. She’ll be pissed and I will go wake her if you don’t piss off”
“Princess, your daddy would pop your mouth if he heard such language”
“You don’t know what my father would do. You didn’t work for him, he didn’t like you and it’s pretty bad to make someone hate you when you only met them twice. He shrugged “How about flash me your chest and I’ll let you leave”
“Let me leave?” she asked incredulously. She couldn’t believe this dick. Of all the men she had to bring here from a different world when all of theirs vanished it was him but once again, this was the type of people she liked to be around because she was terrible as well. Teeka found his obnoxiousness funny instead of what it was, rude and incredibly disrespectful. Obviously Daffodil had had enough “She was just coming to get me”
“Yes, I’m here a lot aren’t I”
“Not at this hour”
“Look loser, leave us alone or we seriously will wake her sister”
“she’ll be mad at you not me, nice try on the bluff” Seneca didn’t know what to do. Keep arguing and maybe wake her sister that way or just give this man what he wanted so she could help her family and the men that belonged here. She sighed, hating herself a little already but this was for her parents and for Isaakios she flashed him and there wasn’t a single face that wasn’t surprised “let my friend come inside damn it”
“yes mam” Daffodil glared at him, her eyes showing pure rage as they walked in “I” Seneca started.
“you don’t have to explain yourself, I get it, that could have gotten out of hand, it has before”
“I feel so embarrassed”
“You were trying to keep the peace” As Seneca guided her friend along she worried that might have been for nothing. She couldn’t imagine ever having to face that guard again now that she had given him what he wanted. She didn’t know what he might try and honestly she didn’t want to see the other guards either, she was almost painfully embarrassed.
Seneca was relieved when they didn’t run into anyone else on the way to Teeka’s secret room. She didn’t want to have to explain herself to anyone else and even worse she was sure Jude would come running if she and Daffodil were caught. “This isn’t what I was expecting.” Daffodil said as she looked around the room. “It’s so unassuming.”
“I know, it’s strange.” Seneca reached into her bag and pulled the stones out. “Come on, we have to hurry.”
“What do you think’s going to happen? A door or something?”
“I don’t know, but I have to get everyone back, I have to know they’re alive.” Seneca found the holes on the wall while Daffodil watched the door and listened for anyone approaching. Seneca pressed each one in, her heart beating nervously in her chest.
When the final one was placed nothing happened but refused to let the feeling of defeat consume her. Maybe this was why she had their mothers diary. Maybe this was something their parents already had and how to work it was in there. She quickly pulled it out of her backpack, prompting Daffodil to ask “what’s going on?”
“I dont know, I’m just hoping this book will help” Seneca skimmed them pages as fast as she could while trying to make sure she didn’t accidentally skip information about this room. Suddenly a strange smell filled the room and she looked up from the book to see the walls were moving in an odd way. Daffodil gasped and Seneca put the book away. She needed her hands free for whatever was happening and that diary may be the only other piece of her mother she would ever have. Suddenly they were falling, both terrified. Neither screamed until they hit the floor and engulfed in pitch darkness. “Seneca, what happened?!”
“I think I broke my arm”
“shit” Daffodil summoned an orb of light so she could see her friend. She sucked air through her teeth “you must have had it in front of you when you hit. I can make it a little better but it’ll hurt like hell”
“I need as much function as possible, do what you need to do”
“I have to stop the light okay”
“I’ll be fine, I haven’t been afraid of the dark since I was a toddler” The light went out and Daffodil grabbed her arm. It hurt even worse than she expected but she tried to be as silent as possible. “I’m sorry” her friend said once she stopped “dont be sorry for helping me. Its good you came”
“I would have been so angry if I would have found out about this little adventure too late”
“bring the light back and lets figure out where we are. Maybe this is some kind of special prison…maybe…we’re near everybody”
It was cold wherever they were and both could see the walls were made of stone as they walked. “Mom, dad?” Seneca yelled. “Isaakios…anybody?”
“It’s creepy down here.” Daffodil said. “I mean it’s not just me right?”
“It’s definitely creepy.” Seneca agreed and called out again.
“Does your mom’s diary say anything about this place?” Daffodil asked and Seneca reached into her bag with her good arm and pulled it out. She flipped it open, starting at the earlier entries. Since she herself had never seen the room that stones went in, then it was possible it had been there before she was born and if Teeka had stolen their mother’s journal then chances were that’s how she had found out about it. “Wait, I think I found something.” They both paused and Daffodil drew the light closer so they could see the words clearly. “It says they sealed this place up when she was pregnant with Teeka, that it used to be for the most dangerous and violent of criminals, but it was no longer in use and she was afraid one of us might find out way in here and get hurt, like I did. It had not been in use for a long time.” She turned the page. “She did sketch the interior in case they had to re-open it.”
“Oh bless your mom. I mean look at this place. We could die of starvation from getting so lost”
“I know, I’m going to be so pissed if she put them here. Our parents, our own brother…and all the other good hearted men that lived in our kingdom all over the fact she wanted to be queen and couldn’t accept she simply wasn’t fit to rule. She’s even been proving that now. All shes done is make bad decision after bad decision because she chooses things based on what makes her happiest at the time”
“I’m so sorry she did this Seneca but karmas coming to bite her ass all because you were brave enough to try this for them” They followed the guide in her diary to where it would seem like they would all be held, calling out different names until finally “Seneca?” It was her mothers voice “Mom! Mom where are you!” Daffodil shone her light as bright as she could so they could see better. She had been trying to conserve energy up until this moment. Suddenly they could see them, what looked like everyone behind bars like they were some sort of criminals “Mom” Seneca was already crying. Half because she had missed them so much and half because of how they looked after years of living like this and obviously being neglected. If she was feeding them it must be just enough food to keep them alive with how gaunt everyone was.
“stop baby” Seneca had been running to hug them through the bars “why?”
“If you touch the bars you’ll get hurt, badly. Some elves have died through persistence trying to get us out” She knew it was a selfish thought but she hoped it was anybody but her family or Issakios. It had her eyes darting for him and soon enough there he was, another heartbreaking sight and what made it worse looking at him, she could see shame in his face. He had always been a proud man so living like this had to be hell for him. “how can we get you out? Or more so, how can I. One of Senecas arms is broken. I fixed it as best I could but I’m just not that good with bones”
“Oh sweetheart, I’ll fix it when we’re out.” Hyacinth verbally walked Daffodil through what she had to do to get them out. It was a long process but it had been made to house the worst of the worst. When the gates opened, out of respect everyone waited for her family then Isaakios to exit first. Her parents were instantly hugging Seneca and to Daffodil surprise Eero went to hug her first. She guessed it was because Senecas parents were already hugging Seneca. After the hug her mother spoke emotionally “let me fix that arm”
“Mom you can’t possibly”
“I haven’t been there for you in so long, let me fix it”
“I’ll carry her if I need to Seneca” she still didn’t want her mom to, she could take the pain but her parents weren’t going to take no for an answer. Hyacinth mended it the rest of the way which had more tears streaming down Senecas face, breaking Isaakios’s heart. He was grateful when he finally got his turn to hold her again.
“I’ve missed you.” She said and he tightened his hold around her.
“Has she done anything to you?” He asked.
“No, I managed to fool her. All I wanted was to get all of you back.”
She leaned back to reach up and tucked his hair back away from his face. “How about you, were you hurt?” That look of shame crossed his face again. “Isaakios.”
“They beat me up pretty bad when they forced me down here because I fought back.”
“He broke the nose of one of your sister’s guards, so they hurt him pretty bad.” Her father said.
“I should have fought harder.”
“You fought pretty damn hard. He only stopped because of the bars.”
“Oh Isaakios, I’m so sorry.” Seneca said. “Did they break anything? Are you still in pain?”
“No, it’s been long enough I’m fine.”
“I’m so sorry figuring all this out took me so long”
“what matters is you found us and set us free. Now to deal with your sister. She took us by surprise last time but we have another disadvantage now, we’re all so weak”
“all you have to do is get out and we need to let the other women know somehow what happened. Your people have missed you. The only person happy you guys have been gone is Teeka”
“I wish I knew where we went so wrong with her” Hyacinth sounded so heart broken but Seneca could only imagine what it felt like to have your own child do something like this to you. “Mom, dad, she isn’t your fault. Some people are just born broken. You guys are wonderful parents”
“Before we go I have to know, how is Sookie? How old is she? I lost track of time down here”
“she’s a teenager now..” Her mother began to sob mournfully for the years she lost so father lifted her mother “go the way you two came. I’ll tell you how we get back out from there”
“Okay” The two girls stayed close, Issakios and Eero at their sides. When they came back to the entrance Royca took over, having the girls help him here and there. Leaving was apparently as intricate as getting them out of this dark dungeon. Soon they were all going back up and cramped into that room. All the men in their world had been down there so this room wasn’t nearly big enough to hold them all so they had to squeeze out, being as quite about it as possible.
“Where should we?” Daffodil whispered.
“If we go the long way then we can circumvent the main part of the castle and maybe take the escape route out.” Seneca said.
“What if that piece of shit Jude is waiting for us?”
Seneca glanced at Isaakios, her cheeks suddenly burning. “Then I’ll handle him…again.”
“No one else can fight right now, it’ll be fine.” She gestured for everyone to follow her. “Come on, let’s just get moving.”
“What did you mean by again?” Isaakios asked softly.
“It’s nothing and it was worth it so don’t worry about it.”
“Did he hurt you?”
“No,” she sighed, “I’ll tell you once we’re out of here okay?” She knew she should have thought of Jude and their escape. “Let’s just focus on not being caught and if we see anyone let Daffodil and I handle them.”
Seneca was obviously distressed and it bothered Isaakios. If they saw this man he didn’t know if he could hold back and let her handle it. Just like her mother he carried guilt too for leaving her to fend for herself for so long. This was the woman he loved and he had allowed himself to be captured in the night like the others. They were all quiet and careful as they made their way through the castle but soon it came time for them to come out and Teeka kept so many guards surrounding the castle they were met by a small group. It was only three at this opening and she pleaded with them silently “Please, please don’t call Jude and the others. You can’t actually like things this way. Please, she has shown us over the years she isn’t fit to rule” Seneca hoped they would grant her request and just let them get out to tell everyone what happened. So far, she couldn’t tell what they were going to do.
“Lady Seneca, you know we must do as our queen demands, but if we were to suddenly be ambushed and restrained then we wouldn’t be able to immediately call for help.” They held up their hands, after all, there are only three of us and against so many, we never stood a chance.”
“Thank you, oh thank you. Some of you bind and gag them, but don’t hurt them and hide them where they can’t be seen.”
“If you hurry princess, you can make it to the gate before the next patrol comes around.”
Seneca stood by while the guards were bound and gagged and led taken out of sight. She knew that if they were found they would raise the alarm, but hopefully by then they would all be away from the castle and alerting their people. “We should get going.” Isaakios said.
“Everyone stay as quiet as possible and move quickly. We’ll have you back to your families soon.” Seneca whispered and lead them toward the gate.
It was hard to be careful when they were all so scared but they managed to pass the gate and start for town. By the time they had gotten everyone rallied together the sun was starting over the horizon. Despite having no sleep neither Seneca nor Daffodil were tired, adrenaline was pumping too hard and their was too much on their shoulders. They had saved everyone Teeka locked below the castle but they still had to take Teeka down and all the guards that were on her side and Seneca truly had no idea which ones she could trust. They were going to bring the fight to the castle but before they got their Teeka was already coming with seemingly every guard now working for her. Seneca looked over at her parents then at Isaakios. In the light of day they looked even worse than when they first saw them below and it broke her heart to think of loseing them yet again now.
Teeka may very well just kill them this time and there was no coming back from that, at least that she knew of. Isaakios seemingly could read her mind and took her hand “almost every woman in this town has come to fight with us. We will win” she squeezed his hand and gave him a sad smile. He was confident but just incase this was the end he didn’t want to die with the same regrets he had carried below the castle “Seneca, I need to tell you something before your sister gets close enough for us to fight…” with all the courage he had he said “I love you, I’ve always loved you”
“I love you too” she said instantly, it came so naturally. She hadn’t realized it until he said those three words but she did love him, as far more than a friend. A part of her had always known she loved him. They didn’t get to say anything else before the first attack was launched, apparently Teeka wasn’t even going to talk, she had so much hate in her heart she was simply ready to eliminate them or imprison them again.
Seneca fought hard next her people and was impressed by the strength of the women. They were no dainty flowers, but strong and capable, some of them having grown up on farms and helping their fathers in butcheries and blacksmith shops. Those with medical training helped haul any wounded away, whether they be villager or guard, and any who had ever held anything heavy or sharp jumped readily into the fray without a moments hesitation. Seneca herself headed straight for Teeka, knowing that her sister’s defeat was the only way to end this. She didn’t have a real weapon and she didn’t want to kill her sister, so she opted for punch her as hard as she could. Teeka herself had never been a fighter and was blindsided by the fist connecting with her cheek. She hit the ground hard, her hand coming up to where she had been struck, a look of shock on her face as she struggled to get up.
“Stay down.” Teeka said as she kicked her sister’s feet out from under her and jumped on her, pinning her down.
“You traitor!” Seneca screamed as she wrestled her arm loose and hit Seneca in the face
“The throne always goes to the oldest! They skipped me because I’m a girl!”
“You’re not that stupid! You can’t be! Nobody here has ever been like that! You were too selfish to take the throne. Look at what you’ve done! Look at our men, look at our parents! You did that! You locked them away because you were throwing a damn tantrum! Is that really someone who should rule an entire kingdom!” Teeka screamed and Seneca wasn’t entirely sure why as they continued to fight “stop this Teeka, stop it! You’ve lost! They all know what you did so nobody will listen to you now even if you force them back down to show your so called strength!” Teeka began to cry “all I wanted was to be queen. I always thought I was going to get to rule”
“You can’t always get what you want Teeka. Life sucks sometimes but mom and dad made the right choice. Seriously, look at yourself and what you’ve done. They saw this in you and they chose their only male child because he was second oldest. You just couldn’t accept they made the right choice so you made it into a gender problem when you should know that’s absurd here” Teeka stood somberly “everyone stop!” she had to scream it a few times before the chaos died down. She was still angry but her sister had talked sense into her so shame also made it hard to know what to say “Eero is the rightful King…I step down….I….I accept defeat”
Their parents pushed through the crowd, Eero close behind to finally face her again. She didn’t look them in the eyes until Royca grabbed her chin to force her to look them in the eye “you are still our daughter but this…what you’ve done will be dealt with”
“where is Sookie?”
“I locked her in her bedroom”
“Take your mother to her, she’s been robbed of her long enough. I’ll handle things here with Eero” Seneca and Isaakios followed, Seneca wanting to be there when Sookie finally got to meet their mother. She had shown Sookie pictures and told her countless stories but it was nothing like actually having her around would be. Teeka took them right to her door, unlocking the outside lock and letting her mother rush in. Sookie seemed startled only for a moment then said “my…you’re my mother?” Hyacinth nodded “yes baby, oh my gosh you’re really that little baby I had…you look so beautiful…I’m so sorry” Sookie ran into her mothers arms and Hyacinth began sobbing into her youngest daughters hair.
“This is what your selfishness has done, Teeka.” Seneca said as she watched the emotional reunion.
“I know.” Teeka’s hands were clenched into fists, her eyes staring down at the floor.
Isaakios was relieved when Seneca finally returned. Teeka hadn’t tried anything after her loss and both Hyacinth and Sookie went straight to Royca and Eero. Teeka was taken into custody and taken to her room where she was to wait under guard. Isaakios wrapped Seneca in a hug and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Now, which one of these men is Jude?” He asked.
“Can we just let it go?”
“I can’t, not when he obviously did something to you.”
“It’s not like he touched me.” She felt embarrassment and shame creeping in. “Besides you need rest, not more fighting.”
“Then I’ll get cleaned up, rest, and then beat him up.”
She couldn’t help but crack a small smile “Isaakios”
“I don’t care if he didn’t physically harm you. He’s made you uncomfortable in your own castle and served your sister when she took over this place. Even if he hadn’t, I would never let a man get away with doing anything to you, physical or not…I love you, I meant that out there..however I do wish I could have confessed my feelings more romantically. I was just being selfish. I couldn’t pass into the afterlife without you knowing how treasured you have always been to me” He kissed her head again, deeply desiring kissing her lips but he wanted to wait for her to initiate affection like that. “when you try to wait for perfect timing sometimes things never happen. I’m sure you trying to wait for it to be perfect contributed to you not telling me before” He caressed her face, he simply couldn’t help it. He had missed Seneca so immensely. Being forced to live without her had been the greatest torture of being down there.
“Yes, well, let me get cleaned up and if it isn’t too forward this soon would you at least lay with me until I fall asleep? I’d truly just like to hold you, I swear it”
“after what you’ve been through? Of course I can lay with you” They embraced again, lingering in eachothers arms until he realized how badly he smelled. It was only that that made him pull away. Seneca watched him go then went to her brother. “Hey Eero”
“I know you’ve been thanked a million times but thank you. We may have all died down there without you. I think she was getting to the point of cruelty she was going to starve us all together”
“There wasn’t a day I didn’t miss you. I could never just forget my family”
“Or issakios” there was a hint of teasing to his voice and she punched his shoulder, like old times. His expression changed a little and she couldn’t read it. Before she could have read him like a book but he looked so different and had lived such a different life for so many years “maybe mom and dad should have made you queen instead of electing me. I failed everyone and it was you who saved us”
“Eero I’ll gut punch you and not playfully. I still need to hear the story of what precisely transpired but she played dirty, that I’m sure of. You were a good king for the brief time you were allowed to be and you’ll be a great king now. I mean she even got it over mom and dad and they ruled amazingly for centuries.”
“How were things for Daffodil?”
“she missed you too” Seneca lowered her voice to the softest whisper she could manage before saying “Isaakios wasn’t the only one who went under without telling the woman he loved how he felt was he? Thats barely even a question because I found the ring in your room when you all first went missing I’m assuming was meant for her.” he nodded “I was hopeful she’d be my queen…but..”
“You should still ask her’
“I’m pathetic now sister”
Seneca grabbed his ear and pulled on it. “Either you ask her or I give her the ring and make her bring it to you.”
“Alright, alright, so pushy.”
She let him go and hugged him. “You should know that she could never see you as pathetic. You can’t control everything, Eero, so ask her.”
“I will I promise, once I look more like myself.”
She pulled back. “Just come and get the ring from me when you’re ready, I’ve managed to keep it hidden.”
“I will, now, you should catch up with your man. We’ll all talk once we’ve bathed and had something to eat.”
“I’ll let the cooks know to make something that’ll be easy on your stomachs.”
“Thank you sister.”
Seneca walked to the kitchen and helped the cooks figure out a nice meal for everyone that would be gentle with their stomachs. She knew Isaakios would come to find her when he was clean so she just helped in the kitchen since they had so many to feed. Most of the men had gone home with their families but there were some who didn’t have anywhere to go just yet. She knew her parents would let them stay until they could figure out what they were doing. She hadn’t even realized Isaakios had come in the kitchen before he scooped her up “Isaakios, you shouldn’t be carrying me”
“I want to and you know as well as I you don’t weigh much”
“We wont have terrible long to rest, maybe a half hour”
“Good, all the faster for me to talk to this Jude. You ready to tell me what he did?”
“You’ll get yourself riled and not sleep any”
“I guess that’s a good argument but after we eat I insist, please”
“okay” He took her into a room he had used a few times when they’d hang out late and set her on the bed before climbing in with her “I can still hold you?”
“Of course” he smiled before pulling her into him. He felt self conscious about how boney he was but he just kept reminding himself she didn’t care “are you comfortable?” He asked, his voice already softening with exhaustion. “yes, do you want a goodnight kiss?” her heart was pounding even as she asked and he suddenly looked more alert “a kiss?” she smiled then moved so their lips met. He placed his hand lovingly on her cheek and ran his thumb softly over her skin. When she pulled back she grabbed his hand, kissing it to “rest now okay”
“I love you so much Seneca”
“I love you too.” he closed his eyes, only taking moments to fall asleep with how comfortable and happy he was to be laying with her and receiving his first kiss from her. She woke him with another and he actually had to hold back happy tears. He was really out of their and the woman he loved truly did want to be with him too. “You were sleeping so hard.”
“I finally have a bed and I got to be close to you”
“lets go get something in your stomach” He got up and they put themselves together before lacing hands and walking to the dining room where everyone else was. Right away she noticed Sookie sitting right beside their mother and the two of them talking. The next thing she noticed was Teeka wasn’t there and she was glad for it. Finally she smiled at her brother who was talking to Daffodil, he blushed and she laughed. “hm? Isaakios asked and she said “later”
He kissed her head and soon they were all eating. After their meal she and Isaakios went outside and she knew she finally had to tell him. She walked him through the fact he had sexually harassed her the entire time he had been working at the castle and finally last night she had flashed him so he’d be quite about letting Daffodil inside. Her face was hot and she couldn’t look at him anymore. “who is this Jude?” he sounded mad “Baby, I’m sure he’s gone by now. Teeka was taken down and my dad made it clear before any of this happened he wasn’t welcome in the kingdom. I’m pretty sure Teeka brought him back to this world just to spite dad”
“I want to find him, he may be imprisoned, your father is very thorough.” He stroked her cheek. “No one ever has the right to make you feel cornered or uncomfortable. What if he had taken it a step further and hurt you? He needs to be taught a lesson.”
“Isaakios, you’ve been through so much already, your body needs time to heal, not to be getting into fist fights with jerks like Jude. I know Daffodil would tell me to just let you, she was there and I know she wanted to kill him, but you should give yourself time to get stronger then if you really want to, I’m sure my dad or my brother would help you find him.”
He sighed. “Alright, but I’m not letting it go. If I ever see him, I’m going to make him wish he had never laid eyes on you.”
She sighed, feeling a tug at her heart “I missed you like crazy”
“Thinking of you is all that kept me sane Seneca” She hugged him and they just reveled in eachothers arms until she said “Oh, and I laughed at my brother because he blushed when he realized I was looking at him and Daffodil. You see, right after you all vanished I searched everyones room for any clues, including his and I found a ring. It’s for Daffodil, apparently you weren’t the only one that had gone down there without confessing his feelings. He wants her to be his queen”
“I always did see something between them”
“Yeah, I think she’ll say yes.”
“would you say yes to me if I wanted to marry you?” her heart stuttered “what?”
“I lost so much time down there and I know what I want. I want to spend my entire life with you. If marriage is too fast I understand”
“Marrying you would be amazing, of course I will” He kissed her deeply then swept her off her feet again “can we go lay together again?”
“I want you resting anyway so thats perfect” He kissed her again before walking inside. Seneca just relaxed in his arms and they cuddled through the night. The next day her parents announced what would be done with Teeka. Royca planned to go with her to personally apologize to every man she had imprisoned down there. He would be going with her to make sure she actually apologized and heard each man out if they needed to vent about their experience down there. He hoped being forced to look at their faces and all the pain she caused might finally teach her compassion. He knew she had to have a heart buried somewhere in there that if he tried hard enough, could be dusted off and put to use within her.
After the first day of it she begged her father “dad, please, don’t make me talk to anybody else”
“You’re lucky worse isn’t happening to you Teeka”
“I can’t do it again tomorrow”
“You can and you will. I’m glad this is miserable for you and I hope it isn’t just your pride hurting, I hope it’s your heart finally warming”
“I really am so sorry”
“good, so we’ll start again tomorrow and the next day, until you’ve talked to all that suffered and their families” He stuck by that, taking her out daily until she had apologized to everyone and heard what they had to say to her. A few months later Isaakios hadn’t forgot about what he learned Seneca went through with Jude and talked to her father and brother about finding him “He is in the prison. Everyone who served Teeka knowing what she had done was put there.”
“Teeka really allowed that to go on?” Eero sounded as angry as Isaakios had when he first found out. Isaakios scoffed “yeah”
“jesus, and you wouldn’t believe the crap laws she put into motion I’ve been having to get rid of” Royca spoke now “I just can’t help but feel responsible for her. We truly don’t know why she turned out this way”
“As Seneca told you, it’s not your fault. You and mom were amazing, caring parents. She didn’t learn to be selfish from you two” They could see the guilt plainly lingering on his face but they knew it had to be hard and no amount of words could make him feel better. Teeka growing up is what Royca needed to feel better.
The Final Chapter
“I really need to see Jude.” Isaakios said.
“Let me come with you.” Seneca replied. “I don’t want you killing him.”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“I’ll go with him.” Eero said. “You shouldn’t have to face that ass again.”
“Alright, just please don’t go crazy. I’m really fine, I promise.”
“Just stay here with Daffodil and your family, I won’t be long I promise. Besides, I kind of need to talk to your brother.”
“It’s a secret.”
“Okay, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Isaakios and Eero left together and Sookie grabbed onto Seneca’s arm. “Come on sis, there’s not reason to look so gloomy. You know he won’t get out of hand.”
“I know, sweetie.”
“So what did you want to talk about?” Eero asked as he walked next to Isaakios.
“I asked Seneca to marry me, but I don’t have a ring. I was wondering if you would come and help me pick one out. I also know you proposed to Daffodil.”
Eero blushed. “Seneca told you.”
“Yeah and I was thinking, maybe we could have a double wedding.”
“That would be perfect. I think they would love it since they are so close to one another”
“That’s what I was thinking” They talked about the wedding until they reached the cell Jude was in. They had guards move Jude to a more private room “we have it from here” Eero said to excuse them. They nodded “we wont be far if you need us sire” Jude just looked pissed “what do you two want” his voice dripping with bitterness. “Seneca told us how you treated her” Eero snapped angrily and Jude had the audacity to smile “she’s a sexy little thing” He obviously didn’t know what was good for his health. Isaakios punched him, busting his lip. Jude spit blood onto the floor “jesus, I didn’t touch her”
Isaakios moved closer to him “what you did was bad enough. You’re lucky she doesn’t want me killing your sorry ass because all I want to do is pummel you”
“precisely why you two dont scare me. She and her parents are too fucking soft. Only Teeka ever had any balls”
“they are good people and you are a lowly dog. I swear to you, if you’re ever get out I will beat you within an inch of your life if you harass any woman in our world like you did Seneca” he smirked again and they decided to rough him up a little. They stopped when they knew they should and called for the guards who returned him to his cell. Isaakios sighed “what a prick”
“I’m just grateful he didn’t progress things. I mean that look in his eyes. I don’t think raping her was beyond him”
“Thats why i wanted to be sure he was taught a lesson. I’m back and he needs to know I will kill him for hurting her”
“I don’t plan on letting him out anytime soon either. Everyone down here is to serve double what we did below”
“good, I dont want to look at any of them”
Both Seneca and Daffodil were on their feet the moment Isaakios and Eero were back and they hugged them tightly. “Are you alright now?” Seneca asked.
“Better than I was, but I would love nothing more than to go down there and do it again. He has zero remorse for his actions.”
“Just let it go now, okay, we’re all safe and he’s locked away.”
“You are far more forgiving than I my love.” He pressed a gentle kiss to her lips.
“Isaakios, when you’re ready to go into town, let me know. I know someone who can help us with what you need.” Eero said.
“What you need?” Seneca asked.
“Still a surprise, but know it has something to do with the double wedding we hope you and Daffodil will want to have.”
Both women blushed and he smiled “do you care if I go ahead and go with your brother”
“go ahead” They each hugged their significant other and left. “They are so sweet” Seneca remarked and Daffodil smiled “yeah, I was actually a little surprised when your brother asked me to marry him”
“He’s always had a crush on you. You’re cute and kick ass all at the same time” They began discussing what they wanted the wedding to be like, getting lost in the conversation until the men soon to be husbands were back “will you go on a walk with me Seneca?” he asked and she took his hand “of course, bye Daffodil, bye Eero”
“see you later” they both said and the two left. Isaakios took her out to a field that was known for being filled with rainbow fireflys at night. He would wait until they were out and their beautiful, multi color lights were flashing around them. Telling her he loved her hadn’t been romantic and he didn’t consider when he asked her to marry him very romantic either so when he gave her this ring, he was determined it was going to be romantic.
When they were finally surrounded by darkness, their only light the stars and fireflys he fished the ring out of one of his pockets and got down on one knee. Seneca was so entranced by the beauty of this place since it had been so long since she came here that it took her a second to notice. She gasped, both at the rings beauty and how incredibly handsome her fiancee looked in this light. “Seneca, I love you so much. I came to this kingdom with with no goal in particular. I was just a parentless teenager trying to make my way in this world. I didn’t really have a reason for anything until I met you. You gave my life meaning, you showed me what it was to be truly happy, you helped me grow up and become mature because god knows I wasn’t mature at all when you met me despite the fact I mostly raised myself”
She cracked a smile as he continued talking “Your love and life are worth more to me than anything else in the world. I truly may have just given up hope like a few others below the castle and took my own life but I knew you still lived and no matter what happens, as long as you live I have a reason to live. You’re my will, you’re my heart, you’re why I am who I am and I want to spend eternity with you if you’ll have me now that I can propose properly”
She knew if she spoke she’d just cry due to how sweet he just was so she gave him a long, passionate kiss before taking the ring and slipping it on her finger. He kissed her again, pulling her onto the ground with him where he asked “could we make love out here? It wont ruin the moment for me if you say no so don’t let it ruin this moment for you”
“I know, me too”
“I swear” they began kissing again and were soon losing their virginities together under the stars and surrounded by the flashing colors all around them. They only stayed conscious long enough after to dress so they could sleep without worry of anybody stumbling upon them naked. Her head rested on his chest while his arms wrapped protectively around her. Nothing would take her away and he swore to himself nothing was ever getting him away from her again.
~ The End