Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Lock and Key (08/21/14)
- TITLE: Scarlet Cheeks
By Helen Curtis
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Weeks became months, and months years. Her parents thought her need to dance might subside, but alas, she continued with greater passion.
One afternoon a stranger arrived in the village; an older man, whom the village tailor identified as a footman from the kingdom beyond the mountains. As the footman prepared his carriage to return, his gaze fell upon the girl's beauty and graceful form, and he knew in his heart that she was the one for his master, the Prince.
"Madame, might I enquire of your parents if you may visit our kingdom and dance for our Prince?"
The girl smiled at the footman and silently beckoned him to follow her home. After the usual pleasantries, they made arrangements for her visitation to dance before the Prince.
The grand day arrived. The girl wore an enigmatic gown hand made by the tailor; flowing silk tendrils threaded with glistening riverlets of gold and silver. She danced her best for the Prince, and he watched with sincere devotion in his heart.
From this day on the Prince spent all his days with her, sending his carriage to bring her safely to his side, and personally escorting her home in the evening. He was the perfect blend of chivalry and honour.
Day after day, week after week, the girl visited the Prince and danced before the royal family. With every visit her love for the Prince increased until her heart was bursting with love.
Far and wide, people waited eagerly for news of a marriage proposal.
Another who waited, behind the throng hiding in the shadows, was the Prince's younger brother; a very handsome man, though the girl had never noticed him. That was until the day the strap on her shoe became inexplicably loose, tripping her and sending her sprawling across the floor. Laughing, she reached for the hand offered to her. It was not the hand of her prince that aided her; this was far stronger than the hand she knew, its grasp intense, bewitching. Looking up she was struck by his piercing gaze, the way his lips were pursed together in a firm, overly-flirtatious line. She blushed and excused herself.
Believing she would not be tempted to look upon his countenance again, the girl kept visiting the royal household; alas the harder she tried to resist, the greater became the urge to steal one small, barely noticable glance at the younger Prince. One particular night she could resist no longer; her dance became erratic, her heart beat faster, until she fell to her knees, ashamed at her outward display.
What had happened to make her eyes stray from her Prince? She had given him the key to her heart, promised that he alone would be permitted to release the lock and see her innermost thoughts and feelings. So what had changed? Did she still love him? Did he still hold the key...
With scarlet, tear-streaked cheeks she ran from the great hall to the carriage where the footman waited. Upon seeing her troubled countenance he guided her to a polished marble seat.
"My dear child, you have done nothing wrong."
She sobbed. What if he found out?.
The footman continued, "It has been said that one should "Guard one's heart." You are not the only girl to fall prey to the younger Prince; many have come and danced for your betrothed, as you have, and given their hearts to him, but his brother is a hard-hearted man, void of morality and incapable of knowing right from wrong. He has made it his business to steal the keys to every heart of the Prince's betrothed; just as you have seen the lust in his eyes, so did they. The question is, will you allow him to keep it and let him into your heart? Or will you might be the one who is finally strong enough to fight for what is rightfully yours? It's your choice, but know this; allow him to release that lock, and it will be your undoing. "
For some time the girl sat and wept. She felt so weak; could she really fight against one so powerful?
Someone approached; it was her Prince.
The girl arose. She had made her choice.
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