- Chapter 2
~ Eugene Fitzherbert Frees the Feral Princess
Eugene worked his lock-picks into the shackles. He could feel the rust in the mechanism. How many years had it been since they were last opened?
Solara whimpered as his face screwed up in anger.
"It's okay. I'm sorry, it's just a bit rusty. I'll get you out in just a minute." Eugene said trying to reassure the Lost Princess and calm himself. Then the lock clicked and the shackled fell free.
Solara just stared at her free wrist for a long moment while Eugene got to work on the other. She started moving her free wrist around, a look of wonder on her face as her arm felt so weightless without the heavy shackle on it or having to move her other arm with it.
"There you go. You're finally free," said Eugene, smiling, as the other lock clicked open.
Solara turned and jumped around the room, her arms flailing wildly as she felt so free. Eugene smiled, as he caught the crown, that flew off her head. She was sure taking delight in her new found freedom.
Then she turned and his jaw dropped to his chest. She didn't have clothes on, but even that was the least of what he saw. She was eighteen years old and she looked like the skeleton of a little girl! He could clearly see her ribs and collar bones, the muscles of her arms and legs, even the veins and organs in her belly were outlined by her pale skin. How could the kidnapper treat the princess like this!? Worse than an animal. It was like she was starving the princess to death!
Solara stopped jumping, whimpered and backed herself into the corner opposite him as anger enflamed his eyes, covering herself with her hair.
Eugene was beginning to understand she was afraid of people being angry and after what he had seen the kidnapper do to her he could understand why.
"I'm sorry, it's okay. You need clothes. Do you know where the clothes are?" He plucked at his vest, not sure if she even knew the word for clothes.
Solara, with a scared look on her face, shook her head.
Eugene tried to smile, "It's okay, we'll find something."
Stuffing the crown and his tools back into his satchel he went to the main room and strode over to the wardrobe. He dug around in it for a little while. Why did women's clothes have to be so complicated? He finally chose what looked like a blue nightgown, it was much too big for the princess, but it would be simple enough to cover her.
Solara peeked out of her room as he ransacked the wardrobe, she padded up to him, and peered over his shoulder at what he was doing. Eugene shoved the dress at her, which she caught and said, "Here, put that on. I'm going to check the kitchen."
He strode over to the kitchen area and tried to see if there was any food handy. She needed to eat something. There were braids of onions, shallots and garlic; useless, he didn't have time to cook them. The bread he found was stale and hard, the cheese was moldy; both useless. The apples were good though, so he stuffed a few in his satchel.
Eugene turned and found Solara still standing there with the nightgown, gently stroking the soft fabric against her cheek. He sighed, "Princess, we have to hurry. The kidnapper may be back anytime. Please, put on the dress."
She just looked at him like she didn't understand. Bringing the Lost Princess home might earn him a pardon, but bringing her home naked would just get him killed.
He took the dress from her and gathered up the fabric and put it over her head. She just stood there, her arms inside the nightgown, her mouth open like a codfish, looking down at it, like it was the strangest thing ever. It was on backwards too.
"Okay, let's try that again," said Eugene apologetically, as he took off the nightgown and turned it around.
"Hands up, please," and he held up his hands up as he wanted her to do. She held up her arms too, he slipped the nightgown over her head, got her arms in the holes and he realized the hair was inside the nightgown now.
Eugene groaned as he took the nightgown off the princess again. This was taking too much time! He was much better at getting girls out of their clothes than into them, but this was getting ridiculous. The look she was giving him told him she was thinking the same thing.
"This has got to be the strangest thing I've ever done!" The thief declared. This time he had the princess step into the nightgown as he held it out for her and pulled it up so it covered her without the hair being under it.
"There, that's the way to do it." Eugene declared with some satisfaction, smiling, once it was on her.
It draped over her like a circus tent, but she was covered. She started flapping the overly-long sleeves like a bird. Solara smiled back, responding to his smile. She began to twist and enjoyed the feeling of the fabric moving around her legs.
"Come on, let's go. I'm going to take you to your parents." He spotted a cloak by the window, grabbed it and put it over her shoulders to keep her warm.
* * *
At the bottom of the stairs, the Lost Princess stopped. Her toes at the edge of the bright sunlight. It was like a line, one she had never known before and she was so scared.
"Come on. We have to get out of here." Eugene said anxiously, as he looked toward the exit to the canyon.
Solara could only look with pleading eyes toward the stranger who was taking her away from pain and darkness. What was light and love like?
Eugene looked around, he needed to get her moving, the kidnapper could show up at any time. She had somehow snuck into the royal nursery, stolen the baby Solara and vanished. He should be able to take her in a fight, but she seemed like a good sized woman. However, she was a lot younger then she was supposed to be. That threw magic into the mix and the was dangerous. The smart thing to do was get the princess away and safe first.
Eugene spotted a patch of dandelions. He carefully grabbed a few and went back to the door. "Look at this," he said and blew at one of them.
"Ooo," the princess cooed and stepped out of the tower and into the light. She squinted her eyes against the light as he handed her one of the flowers.
She blew on it and it was so wonderful to see the seeds fly. She chased after them until she felt grass under her feet, which was strange and new and tickled her feet. She lay down on the grass and rolled around.
"Princess, see, another one." Solara saw Eugene hold out another flower. She got up and reached for it, but he pulled it away slightly. She looked at him but there was a smile on his face. He was playing with her. Soon they were running through the exit and out into the world.
She stopped stunned. The trees were so big and beautiful. Everything was green and amazing. She felt a tickle on her cheek. Eugene had stroked her with a bright red flower, and he trotted off. She smiled and chased after him.
But she couldn't run very far. She was getting tired, she had no energy reserves in her body to speak of, the magic had been keeping her barely alive. She hadn't eaten in so long, there was hardly anything left for moving around. So she began to walk.
Eugene saw how tired she was looking and slowed. They were passing by some caves. He gave her the flower, there were plenty of others. She took it and stroked it against her lips and cheek.
Eugene took out a pair of apples and gave one to Solara. She just held it.
"You can eat it, it's okay." He encouraged her as he bit into his own apple. She watched him, she held up the apple to her lips but she couldn't get her mouth open enough to bite the apple. She hadn't opened her mouth that wide in a very long time and the tight muscles didn't let her.
"Here, let me cut that for you. That way you can eat it," said Eugene pulling out a knife.
Solara saw the knife and panicked. "Knife bad," she screamed and dashed into a nearby dark cave, a safe looking place to her. She curled up and rocked back and forth, afraid and so tired. She cried for a few minutes and then fell asleep.