It had only been two weeks since the royal couple’s ghastly murder. King Garret and Queen Olana were found in the throne room, beaten, slashed, and blood pooling all over the floors. It was the high pitched scream of his younger sister that had alerted the entire castle something was amiss. Being the next in line, in another two weeks Nicholai would be crowned Artolia’s new king. He wasn’t ready to be king. Sure his parents gave him the best education in the world to ready him for this day, but this day wasn’t suppose to come so soon.
The young prince sat on top of his bed looking up at the ceiling in the dark room. He brushed a few strands of dark honey colored hair from his face as he thought in silence. The last two week’s events had gone by so fast he felt he hadn’t had a chance to catch his breath. Nicholai knew he wasn’t the only one that had been under pressure. He’d seen how his cousin Faith was running around, trying to distract people away from himself and his sister. Faith had such a strong sense of family and responsibility to them, despite being only being a few years older than he and his sister.
That was another problem in itself. His sister, Serenity, was going on with business in a most unnatural way. He had hardly seen her much since their parents’ death, but every report he had on her said she was picking up her assumed duties with the same steadiness she did everything. He worried that his younger sister was just burying herself in work to escape reality. She was perfectly poised, taking care of her duties without missing a single beat. Even he had not been able to function so flawlessly.
Though things where in chaos, Nicholai decided there was nothing so urgent going on that he couldn’t go out for a ride tomorrow afternoon and take his sister along. He had missed her company, and riding with the horses was always their favorite activity. It was one of the few things they shared that wasn’t about duty or being responsible. Afterwards they could have dinner with Faith and then it would be back to their different courses. Putting up faces for the people for the good of the kingdom.
This did not seem like much of a solution to the heir, but it would have to do for now. There was only so much one could do in the face of a crisis, and he was growing tired. Slowly he felt his eyes get heavy as sleep started to gain control. Just as he was about to drift asleep he felt a hand over his mouth as several arms tried to hold onto his legs and body. He tried to struggle, but there where several of them armed with weapons and only one of him. Nicholai had already undressed and was situated in bed without anything that could be used as a weapon.
With quick efficiency they gagged him and tied him up so that he could barely move as he struggled against the ropes. A pair of them took hold of him, one his shoulders the other his legs and moved to the wall next to his dresser and to a passage that opened up and lead down. No one would know there had been a struggle and no one would know where he was taken.
One of the men snorted as they carried the Prince along the hidden tunnels. “Guy weighs as much as a ton of bricks… why didn’t we just stab him?” He grunted as one of his comrades promptly socked him on the head.
“‘Coz, you numbskull! He’s worth more in ransom than he is dead!” He muttered a few obscenities under his breath. For some reason he always had to get saddled with the lackies that weren’t too bright.
“Oh. Y’think the boss will mind if we break any of his bones?” Another grunt suggested he was thoroughly smacked for another bad idea.
Nicholai would have rolled his eyes if he were in such a predicament. With his arms and legs bounded, and so means to yell to the guards for help, he was stuck being lugged off by a bunch of idiots. He was at least comforted by the fact they didn’t mean to kill him. As soon as he was given the chance he would have to escape. All he could think of then was how much his disappearance might hurt his sister. First their parents and now him.
The small band of men hefted the prince through the tunnels until they came to their final stop. It was deep underground the Artolian castle, were a small underground river flowed. A boat was waiting in the waters. Carefully easing Nicholai in to the boat and boarding themselves, the men cast off down the stream. Nicholai sighed as he watched the banks disappear as they floated deeper in to the underground tunnels.