Chapter 14 - Mystery Mayhem
Kayla had thought that she had left her entire past behind on the day she left for Xenon, but now the most annoying fragment of her past was standing right in front of her.
"My my. Judging from your lack of speech, you've missed me quite a bit too. So what'd you say? Forgive and forget?" The drawling voice of Jay was unmistakable and he looked at her expectantly for an answer. Kayla could only stare at the man in front of her, still trying to process how the hell Jay wound up in Ytalc too.
"My Darling, please say something. I know I am very handsome and charming and all that, but please refrain from staring at me for too long. You're embarrassing me."
Embarrassing him? Embarrassing him? If it weren't for the watching eyes of Alyx, Calvin and twenty or so guards, Kayla would've gladly stalked up to Jay and slapped him silly. Didn't he understand that his silly antics were embarrassing her? But before she could separate Jay's head from his neck, Calvin spoke.
"So, you two know each other?"
There was a moment of silence before Jay let out a laugh. The sound was loud in the quiet room. "Are you incredibly stupid or just incredibly stupid? I just arrived in Ytalc today. Of course I've never seen her in my life. Just thought I'd tease the poor girl." He gave her a wink and turned to talk to one of the guards, leaving her standing there feeling incredibly lost.
"Sirs, the Queen is now ready to see you. However, she would like to see you separately. Prince Calvin, you will go first. Please follow me." Calvin followed the guard out of the waiting room.
"Hey! Why does he get to go first?"
"Maybe it's because we arrived first, not you," said Kayla scathingly. "But maybe if they were asking for the ugliest one first, you would've been it."
Jay pretended to look hurt. "I said I was sorry for earlier. You didn't need to get personal and attack my appearance."
Kayla glared at him before falling into silence. She wanted to know why he was here, but couldn't due to the fact that he said they didn't know each other. He looked normal – no signs of physical abuse so he couldn't have run away like she had. She mentally sighed in frustration. Looks like she'd just have to find him when no one else was around, which would be quite difficult since Alyx insisted on following her wherever she went. She huffily stalked over to the nearest seat and sat down, planning how to get rid of Alyx. After a few minutes, Jay walked over to where she was sitting.
"Hey you. Stay away from the girl," said Alyx, eyeing Jay suspiciously. He did not like the idea of a stranger nearing Kayla.
"I just want to talk to her. I wasn't going to kill her or anything."
"I don't care if you were going to bite her ear off. Just stay away from her."
"And who are you to tell me what to do?" challenged Jay. He wasn't one to take orders from anybody – anybody except his father that is.
Alyx's eyes narrowed in dislike. "Stay. Away. From. Her." The words were uttered quietly, but each word was laced with an undertone of hostility. Jay may have been arrogant and dense sometimes, but Alyx's deadly tone made it impossible for even him to miss. But he wasn't going to back down without style.
"Oh. I apologise. I didn't realise she was taken. Oh well, I guess I'll have to look somewhere else."
If Alyx didn't throttle him for his insolence, Kayla would. But before she could hit him across the head, Jay had already sidled across the room. Since she couldn't reach him, she settled for fuming in silence.
Finally, Calvin returned and Jay was told to have a conference with the Queen.
"I'm afraid that things aren't going to be easy as they seem," announced Calvin. He glared at the retreating figure of Jay and for a minute, Kayla thought he was going to stick his tongue out at Jay.
"They're not accepting out peace treaty?"
Alyx's question brought Calvin's attention away from Jay. "No. But close. You know that other man who just went in? Well, apparently he's after the hand in marriage of Lady Catherine too."
"WHAT?" Alyx and Kayla shouted together.
"I know. I was pretty shocked too. I mean, father didn't tell me that I would have competition. And just look at him! He's such a poncy lady's man! How am I going to win the hand of marriage with him around?"
"Let's eliminate him."
"Stop joking Alyx! I am very distressed here!"
"I was serious."
"He's hiding something."
"What's he hiding?"
"I don't know yet, but I hope to find out." Alyx glanced at Kayla, but she didn't seem to be listening to their conversation. That Jay person might've said he didn't know her, but judging from Kayla's reactions, she knew him. Were they collaborating together? Alyx was determined to find out.
"Well then, there's nothing much we can to for now. It's getting late and we're all very tired. The Queen has organised rooms for us. They're in the West Wing."
The trio made their way through the halls in silence before Kayla broke it.
"Isn't there some other princess you can woo? Why does it have to be her?"
Calvin immediately looked aggrieved. "That was just what I was thinking! If only there were more princesses to go around, I wouldn't have this problem. But unfortunately, Ytalc only has one princess. It's weird because Kings...you know...have a lot of children, but yes... She only has one brother and well...I can't exactly marry him can I? He's not as good looking as his sister and he doesn't like me very much. I -"
A lovely voice interrupted his tirade. "OOOOOOH. Look Joanna! It's Calvin! Didn't think he'd visit again did you?"
They turned to the source of the voice and saw that it was a young lady. Her voice was melodious and mature, but the words coming out of her mouth sure weren't.
"Catherine. Didn't expect to see you so soon," acknowledged Calvin.
The lady hugged the white cat closer to her body and gently nuzzled her cheek against its soft fur. "Oh Joanna, can you believe it! It's really him! Calvin's back!"
"Yes, I'm back. This is Alyx and ah...this is Kayla."
Brown eyes smiled cheekily at them both before turning to her cat again. It was a white fluffy cat with big green eyes. Tiny pink ribbons tied the fur on its head in a fashionable manner and the texture of the coat told everyone how pampered the little thing was. "Look Joanna. Calvin brought his friends with him. Oh how charming. Say hello to his friends my dear."
"Meow," meowed the cat.
"That's a good girl! Let's go find you a nice snack. Pumpkin soup? Lettuce, tomato, onion?" And with that, the lady elegantly glided away.
There was a silence for a few moments. So that was the infamous Lady Catherine. Through the haze of her mind, Kayla remembered Veronica mentioning her once. She always thought that Veronica was being biased, but now that she met Lady Catherine, she was surprised to agree with Veronica. Lady Catherine was...well unique to say the least.
"You know, she's not as bad as you made her sound," Alyx finally commented.
But Calvin was too busy staring at her graceful retreating form and didn't seem to have heard what Alyx said. "Something's wrong. Catherine used to make weird comments, but this is ridiculous!"
Alyx frowned, "It's been years since you last saw her, people change."
"No no. Something is definitely wrong. Catherine didn't have three quarters of the Ytalcian male population fawning after her for no reason. She was known to be bizarre at times and her obsession with her cat was well known across the land, but more often that not, she was just a normal lady who was gentle, sweet and all those other characteristics princesses have. And Alyx – where are you going?"
Alyx was making his way towards the direction in which Catherine had gone, but turned to face Calvin, "Do you think she's a spy and just using her bizarreness to cover up her evil deeds?"
"Of course not!" Calvin's reaction was immediate. "She wouldn't do that!"
"That's what you said when..." he shot a meaningful glance at Kayla and Calvin turned red.
"That's different...I mean...I'm tired. Let's just go to bed tonight. I'll have a talk with the Queen again tomorrow. I'm sure there's a legitimate explanation for her transformation."
Alyx gave his friend a searching look before nodding. "Alright. Tomorrow then."
The corridor was empty, except for a lone man. There were many things that plagued his mind and the secretive atmosphere of the castle didn't help. Having given up on sleeping hours ago, he decided to patrol the corridors. Hopefully, he might catch Kayla and Jay in a secret meeting. Just as the thought crossed his mind, a person entered his line of sight. The person disappeared from his sight just as quickly.
Following the black shadow with his eyes, Alyx ran to follow the intruder. He saw the person turn the corner and as he turned the corner, a shrill scream echoed through the hallways. He ran past the dead guards and into the room they were guarding, unsheathing his sword and getting ready to battle. He immediately saw the shimmer of a silver weapon and used his sword to slash at the arm holding the deadly weapon. There was a cry of pain as his sword drew blood. But before he could land another blow, the assassin threw another dagger in the direction of the victim.
Alyx didn't even know who the assassin was trying to kill, but he knew he couldn't let them succeed. Lunging towards the flying dagger, he tried to knock it out of its course, but only managed to succeed in making contact with the tip of his sword. The dagger landed where it was aimed for, but there was no cry of pain. There was only silence.
Frowning at the lack of sound, Alyx made his way towards the fallen figure? Who could it be? Was he or she already dead?
"Lights!" The footsteps of guards came running through the hallway and suddenly the room was basked in the glow of candlelight.
A woman was lying on the floor and blood was dripping onto the floor. The dagger had indeed found its mark. The guards came rushing into the room. "Somebody call the medics! The Queen has been murdered. The Queen has been murdered!" Many more guards came running into the room while other ran out to find the medics.
The room was in chaos.
The Queen was dead.
And again, the same dream
Death and blood and remorse. He lay in the mud, blood seeping out from everywhere on his body. One detached arm was near the scene of death and one could swear the fingers were still twitching. His eyes were wide with shock and his mouth was open – blood was still flowing from the open orifice. Blood, so much blood, she was covered in it.
The forest was silent – too silent, but then a moan and the sound of tears hitting the floor would break the suffocating stillness. And the dead body still did not move. The cries escalated in sound until it became an incessant wailing. "Come back to me! Come back to me!"
The girl in her dream ran through the trees, ran away from the dead body, all the while covering her ears to block out the harsh sounds of wailing. The girl ran on and on, the scenery of backgrounds trees never seemed to change. But then the girl stopped running and the forest was filled with the harsh sounds of breathing. Her breathing. She was safe at last. She was far away from death and blood. She was safe.
A bloody hand landed on her shoulder causing the girl to scream. "Come back to me" a voice whispered. The bloody mangled body raised a sharp knife with its one good hand and the girl continued to scream as the blade connected with her neck...
Kayla bolted awake, covered in cold sweat and feeling nauseated. She rolled over in bed and buried her face in his arms, but was surprised to find dry tears. When was she crying? It wasn't the first she's had such a nightmare but they'd been getting more and more frequent since she'd left Wylsoc. Her room was lit in moonlight and the sound of crickets could be heard outside, but Kayla remembered the dark and silent forest of her dreams. Flinging off the covers, Kayla ran out of the room.
Muffled shouts could be heard in the corridors. "Come back to me..."
"No! Leave me alone. I said I was sorry!" A hand landed on her shoulder and Kayla let out a shrill scream before dissolving into tears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
"Kayla? It's just me." Never in her whole life did she think she'd like hearing the voice of Jay, but right now, he was her salvation.
"Is it really you Jay?"
"Of course it's me. Who else could look as handsome as me in the dark?"
Kayla didn't even bother to ask what he was doing strolling through the corridors in the middle of the night. All she knew was that Jay would save her. For now anyway.
"Sing praises to the Gods! She's alive!"
A murmur ripped through the room as the chief medic made the announcement. The guards collectively sighed in relief. If anything should happen to the Queen, the prince would surely order them all to be beheaded. Right on cue, the prince entered the room demanding to see his mother.
"Where is she? How could you imbeciles have let this happen to her?"
There was a mumbling of responses.
"Where is the intruder then?"
Another round of mumbling responses.
At this, the prince started to turn livid with rage. "I pay you all generously and you cannot even protect the Queen! And to add to your incompetence, you let the intruder escape."
"W-we nearly caught him sir," a brave guard offered while the others nodded. "When we came running, the intruder was just escaping and we -"
"Silence!" roared the prince. "I do not care if you nearly caught the intruder. The fact is you haven't caught the culprit. You are all a bunch of bungling fools!" He would've gone on to scold the guards, but then the prince's gaze fell upon Alyx. "Who are you?"
"I'm a friend of Prince Calvin."
The prince narrowed his eyes in suspicion and was about to make some accusations before he was disrupted by a moan. The Queen had awoken and was looking dazedly around her. The prince hurried to her side. "I thought you had died."
The Queen smiled. "I have a strong life force," she said, still looking around the room. Her eyes widened a little when she saw Alyx standing near her bedside. "Who is he?" she asked the prince.
"A friend of Prince Calvin," replied the prince, somehow knowing who the Queen had been asking about.
"He saved my life you know. I woke up with a dagger pointed at my throat, but then he came. And I don't know what happened after that because I somehow was knocked out, but – I have to thank him."
The Prince restrained her. "No need. You need rest. I'm sure there are plenty of other opportunities." The Queen nodded before exhaustion flooded over her and her eyes closed. "Out!" ordered the Prince and the guards filed out, some still quivering at the presence of the imposing prince. Alyx made to follow them out but was stopped by the prince.
"You rescued the Queen?"
A pause. "Yes, although I didn't know it was the Queen at the time."
"Then you saw the intruder?"
Another pause. "No. The face was covered and the room was too dark."
The Prince studied Alyx and Alyx studied him in turn. Neither man trusted each other and a mutual dislike was already forged. "The Queen would like to thank you for saving her."
Alyx's eyes narrowed slightly. "I'm sure you would've done the same." And with that, he exited the room.
Jay sighed and repeated his favour, "I need you to persuade Calvin to stop courting Lady Catherine."
"I need you to persuade Calvin to stop courting Lady Catherine."
"Kayla, are you trying to annoy me?"
"You came here trying to find me because of this?"
"Why? What else did you think I would ask you?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe sing me a serenade and beg for my forgiveness again. Or did you somehow decide that I'm not your 'darling' anymore."
"Alright! I apologise. It was supposed to be funny. You were all standing there and looking so grim so I thought I'd lighten things up a bit."
"Thank you for your thoughtful nature."
"I already apologised. No need to be sarcastic." Kayla didn't reply. "Well? Are you going to help me or not?"
"So it's true then. You're here to court Catherine." Jay nodded. "Why?"
Jay looked taken aback. "What'd you mean why?"
"Why are you here? Don't say you're here to court Lady Catherine because I know that's not the whole story."
Jay sighed. "You really want to know the truth?"
"No, I asked because I wanted someone to lie to me. Of course I want the truth."
"I don't know why I'm here either." Kayla was about to interject, but Jay pushed on, "I know it's hard to believe, but I tried everything to find out the truth. And I do mean everything – bribery, seduction, evil torture methods... My father was adamant. I only know that my mission is to win the affections of the princess and that's what I'm going to do."
"So you don't know anything either? And here I thought you were the one to enlighten me with your storehouse of knowledge."
Jay gave her a scathing look, "It's not like you knew anything either when you accepted your mission." He immediately regretted saying the words.
Kayla gasped and face immediately lost all sense of warmth. "Yes. I didn't know anything and look where that got me. Hey, maybe Lady Catherine would turn out to be your long lost sister. Wouldn't that be funny?'
"Kayla, I didn't -"
"I can't help you. I'm just a rag that's being dragged around."
"Just leave me alone!" She gave him a shove before running back towards her room. So much for Jay being her salvation.
She locked the door and jumped onto her bed, making sure to pull the covers entirely over her head. And she stayed hiding under her bedcovers until the next morning.
Kayla stepped out of her room and watched as Calvin stomped about in the hallway. It didn't take three guesses to know what was agitating him. She watched him pace a few more times before turning to make her way to the dining hall.
"Wait Kayla! You can't."
She turned. "And why not?" she asked inquisitively.
"Uh...breakfast's not ready yet."
Kayla mentally rolled her eyes. "Calvin, you're a horrible liar. It's already eight in the morning."
"It's Alyx isn't it? That's why you were pacing outside my room? Because you were keeping an eye on me?"
"No! No. It's nothing like that. It – alright, alright. I admit. I was told to watch over you, but I was pacing because I was genuinely nervous."
"Does Alyx know we are in a palace? With thousands of guards. Even I cannot get away with murder in this environment."
"Sure you can. Someone did last night."
She looked at him to decide whether he was lying or not. "He thinks it's me?"
"Well you can tell Alyx that he's a fool and an imbecile."
"No need for that. You already told him."
Kayla mentally swore and counted to ten very slowly. "He's behind me isn't he." It wasn't a question.
"Yes he is," said Alyx.
Kayla spun around to face him, eyes burning with anger. "Well I'm not taking it back. You are a fool and an imbecile. You're also brainless, idiotic and stupid."
"So I'm stupid because I don't trust you? Excuse me, but maybe you've forgotten the little incident that happened a few months ago. You know - the one where you killed my father."
"I said I was sorry," Kayla ground out. Images of last night's nightmares flashed before her and Kayla had to shut her eyes to try to block them. Every time Alyx brought up the topic in a fight, she'd always back down. The overhanging guilt of her deed haunted her and Alyx knew it. Whenever he wanted her to obey his commands, he'd mention the incident and no matter how reluctant she was, Kayla would do his bidding. It was as if she owed him – though when one thought about it, she didn't really.
"And I said I didn't want your apology."
"Well then what do you want? Castel to resurrect and say "Hello son. Can't believe you actually thought I was dead."? Well sorry, but how likely is that?"
"Please! Stop fighting you two. I'm here on a mission and you two bickering doesn't help my image one bit. From now on, I demand you two stop squabbling until I have secured the affection of Lady Catherine. Understand?"
His response was a glare from both Kayla and Alyx. "I mean it. As a prince, I command you to stop it. You can fight all you want after I forfeit my role as bachelor."
And with that lecturing, Alyx and Kayla strode into the dining hall. They were late as when they entered, most of the people were already halfway through their meal. As she scanned the room, she met Jay's gaze, but she immediately turned her attention to the person sitting next to him...Lady Catherine.
"That prat. Why is he sitting next to Catherine?" Fortunately for him, the other side of Catherine was free and Calvin strode over to take that position. Kayla and Alyx sat further down the table.
"Aw. Come on Joanna. You don't like carrots? How about this then? Yummy yummy! " Kayla looked up to see Lady Catherine trying her best to feed her cat bacon and eggs. The stubborn cat refused to eat it and the food was splashing onto the people sitting next to her – Jay and Calvin. It was a funny sight, but Kayla didn't seem to have enough energy left to laugh.
After breakfast, Calvin ran to change his clothes, hoping he would finish changing before Jay did so he could ask Catherine to walk in the gardens. Kayla merely sat at the table and watched them run off. The conversation with Jay last night caused her to wonder whether Jay was lying to her or not. And the more she wondered, the more resolved she was to finding out the truth.
It turned out that Jay was the one who finished changing first, but Calvin insisted that it was only because his room was closer. May as well pay tribute to the Queen and gain some points in that respect. Calvin whispered something in Alyx's ear and he nodded. Then Calvin was gone.
Where was she? They had been walking to the gardens, but then he had looked away momentarily and now she was gone. He walked around the garden a few more times before he spotted her. She was playing with her cat. Indeed, Lady Catherine lived up to the stories. Long chestnut hair cascading down to the small of her back, chocolate eyes that screamed innocence, and fair flawless skin. Delicious.
Purposefully, Jay strode up to his wife-to-be and gave her his most gorgeous grin. "Catherine! My name is Jay and I am your soon- to- be husband."
Catherine was momentarily startled by his bluntness but then smiled shyly.
"Ah. I see you're smiling. Like me courting you then? Why of course you do. I'm only the most handsome, gorgeous and rich man ever. Who wouldn't want me courting them?"
Again Catherine smiled shyly.
Jay plummeted on. "You don't talk do you? Your mother told me about that." He watched her shy smile turn into a sad smile. It was such a shame. A beautiful creature, but a creature that lacked the capacity to communicate.
"Isn't he a silly man Joanna? He thinks I cannot talk."
Startled by the tinkling voice, Jay immediately recovered. "Yes, he is a very silly man. But he's also very charming, wealthy and intelligent."
"Hear that Joanna? Looks like I'm going to be able to get you that brush you wanted after all."
"Uh...So...do you want to walk in the garden?"
"You don't like all those nasty buggies out there do you Joanna?"
"So...is that a yes or a no?"
"They like to bite people, but I won't let them harm you."
"But you like the gardens don't you Joanna? Of course you do! Let's go!" And with that, she raced off, with Jay running after her.
"Is that it?"
"But that seems too simple. It can't be that! Are you sure it wasn't because someone tried to assassinate her too? Or-"
"No Alyx. I mean what I said. She fell off her horse while riding a few months ago. That's it."
"But then why didn't she tell you?"
"She apologised for keeping this from me, but she thought that I wouldn't want to court Catherine after knowing."
"And do you?"
"Do you still want to court her?"
Calvin sighed. "A prince's duty is no light one."
Kayla frowned. Fell of a horse eh?
The gardens have always been Catherine's special place. She liked to surround herself with the sweet smelling flowers and just lie in the sun and forget all her worries.
"You come here often?" she heard him ask.
Yes. I love this place. It is the only place where peace can be found. She wanted to tell him, oh so badly. But she couldn't. She picked her cat off the ground and patted its head. "Joanna loves this garden too, don't you Joanna?"
She heard Jay sigh and she felt herself sigh with him. Why couldn't the words escape her?
They walked in silence a bit more before he spoke again. "That Xenon prince – you know each other well?"
No, we only talked a few times when he came to visit a few years ago. "You hungry yet Joanna? Maybe I can get you some lettuce later. Oh no you are allergic to them aren't you! Oh my poor baby."
They lapsed into silence once more and just enjoyed the nature around them. He glanced at Catherine and saw that she was playing with her cat again. She looked so at peace, so innocent and...normal. But she was far from it. She seemed to be able to understand what was being said to her and yet she always failed to respond appropriately. It was a one sided conversation and one thing Jay hated most was a one –sided conversation. But the Queen had assured him that Catherine's condition was improving. A few months ago, she wasn't even able to talk. So there was some hope after all. Hopefully she'd get better before they got married.
"Let's go inside before you get a cold Joanna. I can't have you sick now can I?" Jay was jolted out of his thoughts and saw that Lady Catherine was now making her way back to the castle.
"Are you sure you don't want to play some more," he yelled. Catherine didn't seem to hear him. Sighing in frustration, Jay ran after her. Things were not going as planned.
Both didn't notice that they were being watched.
The Prince of Ytalc gazed out from his window and watched the young man named Jay try to catch upwith his sister.
A/N: Yes people, that mysterious person is Jay. I'm surprised how few of you guessed - the smirk should've given it away.
And if any of you are wondering what Alyx looks like, you can find a picture of him at www. deviantart view/ 23244487/ (delete the spaces) The picture is drawn by the lovely Moyan. Please take some time and tell her what you think.
beckylouwhoo16: You liked the forest thingy? I'm glad to hear it.
xraspberrykissesx: Calvin is nowhere near marrying soon cos Jay is winnning the lady's affections :) But yes, he's trying.
lonelywriter09: Good guess but no... Sorry about the late updating.
henny:Thanks for your review. I know I didn't update"that" quick, but hey, it's out. And its not a cliffhanger this time so you can all relax.
Klianie-janiko: hehe. No, it's Jay. And I love your chapter 2. It's hilarious. When are you going to update eh?
Annie: I hope this chapter answered your question. Thanks for reviewing.
icistarz: Here's Jay. (notice how I missed out the word my?)
babydrag0nfly: I updated! Hope this answers some of your questions. Not a cliffie this time so we can all relax.
SkepticCritic: Yep, you have a talent for guessing these things eh? Keep your fingers crossed, your Castel theory might just work out too Then again, it might not. Hehe.
KARA: Hope this was hurry enough. Though I have a feeling it wasn't... insert lame excuse
Jessica Hatchett: Yep it's Jay. Well done, you've just won yourself a cookie!
zyryon: I don't usually have cliffhangers - I think this is the only one actually so yes, no more spazzing out in the future...at least I hope not.