"Will she be alright?"

Kathryn saw a woman standing at the foot of the bed. She was a pretty woman indeed, but her vision was blurred and she could not see her face. But somehow, Kathryn knew she was beautiful. Brown hair. Blue eyes. A very nice dress, far from the ones Lady Juliet loved. Beside the pretty woman stood an old man. His weathered face was blanked too, and he wore the yellow robes of a physician.

"Yes, Your Majesty. The maiden will recover rather quickly. With enough rest and fruits, she shall be fine within the next few days."

Outside, a thunderstorm raged. Lightning struck, its electric blue reflecting in the walls of the room. Kathryn shivered and wrapped the blanket around her, half-dead as she was. She hated thunder. They'd always gave her bad dreams. The tiredness overwhelmed her though; in a few seconds, the weight of her eyelids came crashing down on her consciousness.

Kathryn dreamed. She liked to think that whatever being up there - maybe an angel, but angels don't exist in her world - would flip a coin before every sleep she took. If it landed on the heads, she would get a good dream. The opposite went for the tails. But in this particular dream, it seemed as if the angel had gotten bored and took out two coins from its sleeve, tossing them again and again.

She was running through a field of flowers - lavenders, sunflowers, you name it. Kathryn must have been around seven, when her life was still happy and all smiles. When the sky was always blue and she could climb a hill and look far beyond the fields, the mountains, and at the very end of what was visible from there was the tiny dot of the capital city. In her dream, her laughter echoed onto every corner of the world. She looked up; not far away stood Mama and Papa. Their faces were plastered with smiles. Mama's blue eyes gleamed with bliss.

Soon, Kathryn found herself rushing towards her parents. "Mama!" she cried, as the blonde-headed woman scooped her up. At first glance a stranger might have never thought that they were related. Where Kathryn had black hair her mother had golden ones, and the amber pool in Kathryn's eyes was complemented with her mother's sky blue ones. A true Hasler, one might comment, referring to the blood that ran through her father's veins. The Haslers were a distinctive lot; they held an ancient lineage from the olden ones who had first settled before in these lands.

With their jet black hair, pale skin and gold-coloured eyes, it was impossible not to not recognise the Haslers. After all, they'd been the most influential noble family in the entire country for centuries. One that kings feared for people loved them. In Cyvernia common joke was that the Haslers had a far greater claim to the throne than the Royal family, but of course these jokes were only spoken behind closed doors and windows; it was treason to question the Royal lineage in any form.

Mama ruffled Kathryn's hair, snuggling her on the nose. Once again came the echoes of laughter throughout the world, the laughter of a young innocent child with not a care in the world. "Aren't you a darling?" Mama said. She had a sweet voice that reminded Kathryn of honey. It made the young Kathryn's world seem a little brighter and less lonely.

"Indeed she is," bellowed a loud, deep voice. Papa was as handsome as Mama was beautiful. He was where Kathryn got her hair and eyes from - and a love for the stars. Stargazing was their favourite activity; Grandma disliked the family wandering out after night, but Papa would always sneak Kathryn out for a stroll behind the fields. In one hand he would hold a lantern and in another hand he would hold hers, and in the dead silence of the night they'd lay against the tree at the edge of the field, gazing at the star splattered skies.

Those were the times of pure happiness. But like everything else perfect, a crack was bound to form.

This time, a nine year old Kathryn was not awoken by the sound of the thunder, but a loud banging on her bedroom door. She sat up in her bed terrified like any other child would be. Her fists had turned white from clenching on her bedsheets. At the boom of every thunder, she flinched. "Papa…" muttered the poor girl. Tears had formed in her eyes.

"Get out of here, Kathryn darling!" the door burst open. It was Mama. She never looked or sounded like that; in the dim candlelight Kathryn could see the terror in her eyes, of which tears streamed down from. She was clothed in only her nightgown. "They are climbing up to the windows, John! JOHN!" She screamed at the doorway. In the same way she had scooped Kathryn up in the field, Mama did the same to her from the bed. Only this time it was more frantic and rushed.

Mama dashed out of the room and down the corridor, the staircases, and finally into the basement. In there Papa was already waiting, along with a few of their other servants. Where was Grandma? Kathryn thought. Grandpa? She went into a corner and sat down, rubbing her hands together for some warmth. She'd never been the kind to stand cold as much as she loved it.

Then, Mama flew into Papa's arms. Her wails echoed the dream-world. Kathryn rubbed her bleary eyes in confusion. What was going on? Heavy footsteps rattled above them, along with the shouts of few men. The child looked at a servant. "What is happening?" she asked.

The servant knitted her eyebrows and knelt before her, placing an aged hand on her shoulder. "My lady, the maiden is afraid that she can not answer your question and apologises for it."

Kathryn was about to walk over to her sobbing parents, but it was then that the basement doors flew open. She stifled a scream when a barrage of soldiers came in and dragged them away by the arms. The servants immediately formed a wall around Kathryn. Their efforts were fruitless when they, too, were taken away. Dream-world - eighteen year old Kathryn wanted to get out of here immediately.

As the last soldier was about to exit the room, he turned around. Through the small slit made on his armour Kathryn saw that his eyes widened with surprise. He scanned her carefully. He did not hit her. He did not yell at her. Just a child.

"Sir," the soldier called out. Another soldier came back in. His armour was more decorated than the other one - the Royal coats of arms was plastered on it - a superior. In his hand he held a bloodied sword. Unlike the other soldier, his eyes were stone cold. They showed no sign of life. Kathryn's stomach churned at the thought of what he might've done, and a lump formed in her throat. Unable to contain her emotions, she started sobbing uncontrollably. The nicer soldier turned to his boss. "What shall we do with her?"

Like his eyes, the boss's voice was emotionless. "Bring her back to the palace first."

"Yes, Sir!" the soldier saluted. He took Kathryn by the arm, albeit awkwardly, and led her out. There had been a huge war in the house - paintings had been torn down and statues hammered. The drawers had been pulled out, a huge number of things missing. Most of all, there was blood everywhere. Whose blood? The child couldn't bear to know.

It was just tears and screams as she was led out of the manor grounds and into a carriage.

That was the day when angels stopped existing and Kathryn started to hate thunderstorms.

This time, Kathryn woke up for real. Beads of cold sweat trickled down her forehead despite the freezing weather. She looked around her. On the walls hung some lit candles and beautiful tapestries, and the bedsheets were soft and silky. The sky had turned dark outside. Then, it hit her.

She didn't have a room, nor did she have a bed. Maids shared quarters with other maids. To be here - that was a crime! Kathryn quickly leaped off the bed, only to be hit in the head with a bout of dizziness. She gripped onto the edge of the dresser nearby, knocking off a small vase onto the floor. It was smashed into smithereens, and all she could think of was what punishment awaited her for firstly, sleeping in Royal bedrooms and secondly, breaking Royal property. What had happened? How did she get here?

The room's door swung open. Kathryn flinched, and stumbled for the bed. A young man of around twenty strolled in, his face filled with more curiosity than concern. He wore blue robes with golden insignias, and Kathryn got a flashback of a memory from around six years ago. The Third Prince! Frantically, Kathryn got up with all her strength and bowed to him. "The maiden wishes… wishes…"

Of all times, she had to run out of breath then. She felt her joints disconnect within her, falling back onto the bed. The maiden's face was flushed with embarrassment. She hung her head down, whispering, "The maiden apologises for… for inconveniencing… the Third Prince."

The Third Prince, Jasper, merely nodded. "Take a rest. And drop the formalities."

He surveyed her with those intense blue eyes; he still had the same strong features from six years ago; Kathryn had remembered those few seconds so very clearly. It was the first and only time she had met a real Royal family member - not a mistress, but an actual child of the King. The silence was very uncomfortable, and Kathryn struggled to find something to say.

However, Jasper was the first to break the quiet atmosphere. "Do you know why you are here, in my very own palace house?" he asked. His voice was stern and sharp. It intimidated lots of people, including Kathryn. She bit her lip. No? Yes? Maybe?

She went for an honest no.

Jasper raised an eyebrow. For a moment - just a moment - Kathryn saw the corner of his mouth curve up. Then, he sighed and continued, "If that is what you say and claim the truth as then I shall let it be. You are the servant of Lady Juliet, am I right?"

Kathryn nodded. To be sitting not the same bed, no, to be even in the same room as a Prince, was too surreal for her. Maybe she was still in Dream-world. But dream-world usually contained old memories; some good some bad. This memory was new. Perhaps she was really awake after all…

"You were found laying on the ground in the rain this afternoon, by me actually. We had you brought in, and your identity found out. Kathryn, are you not? Anyway, my sister was none too happy about the fact that Lady Juliet had let a servant out to die like that in the freezing rain, and thus has appointed you to my household. Is that fine with you?"

The maiden's heart skipped a beat. Working for the… Prince? That was incredible enough itself already. The memories came flooding back - accidentally tearing one of Lady Juliet's curtains, being ordered to stand outside for the whole afternoon, and blank. Pure darkness. Kathryn pieced everything together: she had fallen sick in the rain.

"Have you heard my question?" Is that fine with you?

Kathryn hesitated to answer the question. She recalled what the soldiers had said when she was first brought in: do not, under any circumstances, reveal your last name to anyone. And never ever get close to the Royals. Simple as that. But now here she was; to reject an offer like that would be treason itself. You'd never know the temper of the Royals, they may beat even that of the Lady Juliet. The wretched woman had beat her, slapped her, and done so many other horrid things that couldn't be named.

But what was done was done.

"Yes, Your Majesty, the maiden graciously accepts your offer."

"Your Majesty, your Queen suggests that you retire to sleep now. It is getting late, my lord."

The forty-something year old woman pleaded with her husband in her sugared voice, boldly resting her on his. In over twenty years of their marriage, she had borne him only a daughter - and a blind one at that. After that she turned barren, losing every baby she carried, though still madly in love with the King who had once loved her. In her prime she was known as the gracious and kind Queen, but year by year her anger grew as her niceness diminished along with the King's love for her.

She was a tragic woman.

The King gently brushed her hand off his, walking past her nonchalantly. "Olivia, I will soon be going to sleep, thank you very much. However, I have invited Cassandra over for the night."

Her heart sunk at the word Cassandra. The Second Consort. The woman who had truly stolen his heart, though he could never steal hers. The Queen resented her passionately for many reasons. She was able to bear him three healthy, disgustingly beautiful children - two boys at that. She was always so quiet and never responded much, what did the King see in that woman? Like the Queen herself, Cassandra was once beautiful, but alas age had caught up with them and that beauty transcended into her wickedly smart daughter.

But most of all, the Queen's anger - jealousy - reached the boiling point at the thought of the King's love being unrequited with that woman. Who would ever deny the King's love and affection? Did Cassandra not know how lucky she was? How many women in the palace would kill for his love… yet it only belonged to her and God knows whom her heart belonged to. It broke her heart to know that the King's own one was broken too.

She hated her. She despised her.

"My lord…" Olivia's voice trailed off as Cassandra entered the room. She examined the situation and hesitantly bowed to both the King and Queen.

"The Consort wishes both His and Her Majesties a good evening," Cassandra said. Her curly hair was let down, cheeks sunken and hollow. A little trace of beauty was left in her clothing taste, but other than that she looked devoid of any feelings. Her eyes, blank and emotionless.

The King nodded to his second wife. "Come in, Cassandra. Olivia, you should get going."

Having no choice, the Queen was sent out from the room. As she did, she stole a whisper for the woman she resented so much.

"I hate you."

It was always the first thing she'd say when they met each other.

Cassandra sauntered in, taking a seat by the King's bed. The King reached to caress her cheek, but he was pushed away. She avoided his gaze, her chest heaving up and down. "The Consort does not want this at the moment. Please respect my wishes."

The King knelt beside her, and clasped her hands in his instead. It would never be in one's mind to imagine the King submitting to a woman like that. But alas, love conquers all. He lowered his head, eyebrows scrunched in hurt. His stubble brushed across her hand, making her move uneasily. "Cassandra, why? Why are you like that?"

Her voice was shaky. "I thought we have talked about this before."

"Do you know how many women in the world would kill for your position right now?" he asked, a tinge of anger in his voice. "I know you have went through much… hardship, before your life in the palace. But that life is over and now I've brought you into the greatest comfort you'd ever find. Twenty years, my dear, twenty."

Cassandra shook her head. As she spoke, her voice cracked. "I'd only and would only find comfort in him. You took that away."

"Cassandra…" the King cleared his throat. He blinked, and then regained his composure. "Alright then. Your good friend - Delia Hasler - she had a daughter, did she not? A girl by the name of… Kathryn."

The Second Consort widened her eyes. For the first time in forever, she had an expression. Cassandra was a woman of few words and even fewer faces. She gripped the armrests tightly. "Why would you want to know, my lord?"

The first time she'd called him my lord in years.

"Kathryn Hasler, she survived, did she not?" the King questioned. He stared accusingly at his wife, waiting for an answer. "Where is she now?"

She trembled with anger. "You do not have a right to know. You robbed a mere child of her family, and are you now trying to rob her of her life?"

As sudden as her anger showed, his voice raised tremendously. "WHERE IS SHE? I know she is still alive, Cassandra, I have my sources. If you shall not tell me, I shall seek your children and force it out of them."

"They are your children!"

"I have many others."

Cassandra stood up, about to leave the room, only to be pulled back by the King harshly. "Ugh!"

She was spun around to face him, the man she had hated for so many years, whom had forced to bear children she did not choose to have. He had grey eyes and she hated them - the eyes of a man who stole the man she loved most. She breathed heavily, fuming with anger. He spoke dangerously softly now; and they always said that silent anger was the one you feared most. "Where is she?"

"Why do you want to know?" she spat out.

The King breathed in deeply. He thought for a moment, then said, "If we marry her into the family, she will no longer have a direct claim to the throne, but can rather strengthen and secure our claim. There was a reason why she was left alive, not the wretched bastards in her family. And that is, to join ours."

It was nearing midnight and almost all the lights in the palace had gone off. However, being the adventurer that she was, Kathryn went out - she felt better enough to do so - for a stroll. She did not care if she was seen; after all, if the ground belonged to the Third Prince, it should've been safe enough to wander in. She just wanted to see the stars like she and Papa used to do every night.

Then she tripped. For the countless time, she'd tripped again. "Stupid, stupid!" Kathryn cursed herself as she did everytime. It was practically a routine for her now, to fall at night no matter what.

"Need a hand?" a voice from above asked her.

She looked up. The face illuminated by the candlelight glowing in the lantern. The blue robes. The same face. The same clothes.

The Third Prince.