There once was a girl in a tower, she had been there since she was seven years old. I was the highest tower in the castle.
The castle sat upon a high cliff face, overlooking the kingdom. Which was mostly made up of moors and lush green Rolling Meadows and fields. With Forests to the south and east, desert to the west and mountain regions to the north.
The girl had been in the castle, since her mother had past. The king, her father, could not bear, to look at her. For the girl bore an identical appearance to her mother. And his grief was too much to for him to handle. His heart broken, furthermore, he wanted to keep her safe. She was the last piece of his dearly beloved.
The girl saw no one, except a monk. Who tutored and took care of her needs. She did not want for nothing, though she rarely spoke and asked for very little. She was never given her freedom. When she was younger, she was taken and was allowed to visit the stables and the grounds. But always under careful guard. She did try to run away, she knew her father’s men. Overtime however, she was allowed out less and less.
For as she got older, and became more womanly, more beautiful, the king became paranoid. He did not trust his guards and locked her away permanently.
Not long before that however, the king remarried a woman from a faraway land. A woman with fair hair and almond eyes. She was tall and slender and said very little. They had a daughter, who was beautiful and looked like her father.
The youngest daughter was allowed to visit her sister in the tower. She joined her for lessons and though they did not say much to one another, an unspoken bound formed. The king never visited, nor did his new wife.
On the day of the girl’s, 15th birthday, the monk visited her in the early hours. She was sitting on the ledge of the arch window, the only window in her tower cell, when he entered.
She often spent hours, overlooking out, at the valley and life castle life and happenings below.
The monk approached her and told her in a soft voice that she had to leave. That night.
The King and his wife, had lost themselves in gambling and raised an extraordinary, large amount of debt. And now the coffers were empty, their people were hungry. The kingdom on the brink of civil war.
The monk then told her, how her King had struck a deal. The Tribal men of the northern borders and their allies, the soldiers of the moors, had agreed to marry her to one of their chiefs. A brutal man, whose heart had turned to stone and crumbled to dust, cycles before she was born. He would not treat her well. He would be there the next evening to claim his bride.
So the girl nodded. She dressed out of her night clothes and into a heavy dark blue cotton gown and warped her black cloak around her shoulders. She strapped her boots on and also slipped a small knife, she kept hidden with her books, into her boots. The monk nodded with approval and then he showed her a hidden trap door beneath her bed. The Monk showed her that even if she had found it, she would never have known how to open it. For the trap door had no key and needed to be pressed in a special place to appear and then open.
Before they entered, she asked the Monk, what would become of her sister. The monk replied he would watch over her.
He then handed her a very tall, thick candle and a box of matches. He told her that when the candle got low, she would find the entrance out and to always walk forward. Go down the stairs of which were many and then go straight, never turn and don’t look back.
He then closed the trap door over her head. Then she struck a match, lit the candle and kept walking.
She did not know how long she walked for and she could hear nothing but silence. The stairs did indeed for go on for a long time. The candle however was large and slow burning and offered just enough light for her to see where she was stepping. Eventually the stairs stopped and she found herself in a very open, cavernous tunnel. Except for the candle light, everything else was pitch black. Not a sound could be heard, which told her, she was very deep below her castle home and now far away from her tower prison.
She did not stop to think about things and kept walking forward. Just as the monk had instructed.
She wondered if anyone had noticed she was missing yet and she knew she had until morning. She walked as quickly as she could through the tunnel. The candle ever so slowly burning away, with every step. The candle light faintly bouncing off of the tunnel walls as she walked.
After what felt like the longest time and when the candle was half burned, the walls of the tunnel turned from large cold stone, to harden earth and then after a while, she could smell air. Sweet and salty. Then not long after that, the candle was starting to die out and ahead of she could see light. Although faint and a slight breeze toyed with her hair and the sweet salty smell had gotten stronger. Moreover, the hard dirt floor beneath her feet had turned to sand.
She used the sand to stub out the last of the candle and then placed the remains of the candle in her dress pocket. She wanted to leave no trace behind. She knew her father would be furious when he had discovered she was gone and would tear the castle apart. Hidden tunnel or not, she was not going to risk it.
It was not long until she came upon the exit. A large cave archway; that led out onto a small, isolated beach cove. She stepped cautiously out of the tunnel, cave and her eyes squinted at the sudden brightness of the daylight. It had been dark when she had left the tower. Once her eyes had adjusted she studied the position of the sun and guess it to be early morning. She again wondered if they had noticed her disappearance yet.
She pushed back the hood of her dark cloak and looked about the cove. She had never been there or seen it before, furthermore she could not recall the last time she had been near the ocean. She also did not recognize the surrounding landscape, meaning that it was possible she was on the border of her Father, The King’s land. There was no one about and the Monk had not given her further instructions but. Then a boy, who looked around her age emerged from a very large nearby rock.
For a moment she hesitated, remembered the knife in her boot and then she realized the face was familiar.
“It’s alright, Your Highness. You can trust me. I was sent by..” The boy said, however, the girl cut him off and stated,
“I recognize you. You’re the stable boy. We once played together.”
“Before they locked you away, Your Highness.” He replied.
“You don’t have to call me that. Not anymore.” She told him flatly.
He then looked at her with hesitation. He had never known her name. They had played together many times as children, but he had always been reminded of his station. As was the way of the castle. He had been taught from a child, she was a princess and he was nothing but the boy who shoveled shit. To the point where he had never ever called her anything but, Your Highness. Then they had locked her away. What she did not know and no one else knew was that every day, since that day, he had passed the tower, where she had been kept. Every morning and every evening. He had been even clever enough to make sure she had never once seen him. He had his reasons and his secrets but he had never told a soul.
He looked at her and nervously shuffled his feet and when he looked at her, he look just passed her. Avoiding her steel green eyes. Her Dark hair had grown down to her slim waist. Her skin pale and ivory from being locked away for most of her life. He did remember, however not very well, the late Queen, her mother and she did indeed look identical to her and just as painfully beautiful. A fact he wanted to ignore.
“Shouldn’t we leave now or has my once friend become now my foe?” She said to him coolly. It was not that she was intending to be unkind or straight forward, it was that his behavior was confusing her and she knew they had little time. He after all was just standing there, shuffling from foot to foot. For a moment she wondered that, if the Monk had sent him, perhaps he had chosen poorly. Though she did not say these things out loud.
“Yes M’lady. Sorry.” He told her and bowed slightly, only after realizing his mistake.
Then before she could reply, he went back behind the rock and began to pull out a dory, to not only hurry but hide his embarrassment. The boat was worn but looked strong. She guessed that they would either be going out and around the cove or there was another boat, a ship, waiting elsewhere for them. She had not yet asked where they were going.
The boy, although of slim build was surprisingly stronger than he looked and pulled the boat from behind the rock with ease. He had kept it incredibly well hidden and the girl realized that she may have misjudged him, however she said nothing.
He dragged the boat to the shoreline and rebuffed all advances for the girl to help him. Once in the water, he then offered her his hand, position the boat in the water. For a moment she though he was going to push her out into the ocean and watch her drift off. It was a relief to her when he got into the boat with her. Again however she did not say this or express it in anyway. She kept her face as expressionless as cold stone. The boy began to row. He too remaining now silent. He wondered why she did not pester him with questions.
She looked at him and studied him closely. As children, they had both been all legs, bones and knees. Now both had grown and changed. His fair hair had grown long and unruly. Yet his round face remained clean and soft. Olive skin, not yet leathered by time. He was not yet a man, but soon would be. His clothes were the uniform of the castle grounds keepers. They were worn and heavily patched. His hands were rough and calloused and he rowed the boat with ease, displaying the strength once again that his slim build showed no sign of. His eyes seemed darker than they use to be.
There was a decent sized satchel at his feet, he kicked it too her as he rowed.
“From the Monk, M’lady” He told her.
She nodded and put the satchel on her lap. The pulled her cloak around her tightly, hiding the contents on her lap.
The boy watched but said nothing and kept rowing, further out to sea, until the cove, its high cliffs and the tunnel she had had come out of had become little more than a dot on the horizon and then they stopped and the boy pulled out a tobacco pipe. The girl looked at her companion with confusion, letting her stoney faced guard down. There was no ship waiting for them, like she had earlier summarized and they had stopped, so they were not sailing around the cove. Seeing the sudden anxious change within her, the boy broke the silence.
“Fear not M’lady, we must wait here. The sea is calm, the mountain tribes are not sea faring folk, preferring land and the king would not look for you here. He would first check the woodlands and the moors before he thought to look toward the seas. For your former home the tower is miles from here and unless you know about the tunnel, it would seem impossible that you could have possibly reached the ocean without crossing the moors or the southern Woodlands.” He reassured her. Also it was because she had not yet ask what the plan was or where they were going. In fact she had spoken very little at all.
What he did not realize was, that it was the most anyone, other than her sister or the monk had said to her in years.
“Don’t call me that” was all that she could muster to say.
The boy slowly packed his pipe and once more avoided looking at her but in a soft voice he said to her, “I don’t what else to call you….M’Lady” His cheeks then going red with embarrassment and slight shame.
“Gavenia.” She replied, just as softly and then added, “My name is Gavenia”
“White Hawk.” The boy then said and then he added, “I shall then call you Hawk”
And Gavenia smiled ever so slightly and then took off her cloak and laid it over the satchel on her lap. She then looked up at the sky and closed her eyes. She had not felt the sun on her skin in such a way in many years. The boy could not help but notice how ivory her skin looked in the light. She was so pale, he thought her ethereal, but did not say as such. Instead, he then reached under where he was sitting and tossed her a large straw farm hat.
“You’ll burn without this.” He told her.
She opened her eyes for a moment and looked down at the hat and placed it on her head. She looked somewhat comical, as the hat did not match the dark gown she was wearing, however she did not seem to mind and then she turned to the boy and nodded at him in thanks.
“What do I call you?” She asked him.
And for a moment, a look of hurt came across his face. He could remember her but she could not remember him and then he realized he was being silly and once more, yet again said nothing of it.
“I’m sorry. I’ve been in that tower so long, I forgot every ones name, not their faces, just the names.” She then stated.
“Dugal” he told her and then they sat in silence for a time. Nothing could be heard by the water lapping against the boat. There weren’t even any birds over heard. Just clear blue open sky.
Eventually a fishing boat, appeared, made anchor several meters away from them and stopped. Dugal then, once more, began to row. They said nothing to one another until they reached the fishing boat.
It wasn’t a large ship, just a plan, average, small sized fishing boat. No one would ever think a Princess would be stowed away on such a vessel. Gavina admired the monk for thinking of everything.
As she climbed onto the fishing boat, she looked back briefly. It was the second time now she found herself making sure that, Dugal was following her. When he did, she exhaled ever so slightly, although she was not sure why. The sun now was high in the sky and she guessed it to be about noon. Her stomach rumbled. She had not eaten since the prior evening. She had not even thought about it, until her empty belly reminded her.
Dugal followed her onto the boat and a few sailors descended down onto the Dory. A large, bearded portly man then appeared.
“Ne’ no worrie lady. The boys will take it back to Shore. The’ tell no one. All me crew be mute and illiterate.” The man told them both and then let out a thunderous laugh.
“Loyal as lambs thou” He then added.
Dugal nodded at the man, they clearly knew each other. Gavina could not pick the man’s accent, however she enjoyed his laugh. She had never heard anyone laugh like that before. In fact, laughter had been something she did not and had not heard very often. Even when her sister visited, most of the time they would just both sit together for hours, saying nothing. Gavina was starting to quickly realize how much silence her life had been filled with.
To Be Continued…..