The soldiers walked into the throne room with their load, setting it down in the middle of the room. The duke still sat upon his throne, looking smug.
Fools, he thought to himself, if only they knew what I have planned.
He motioned for his Captain of the Guard to open the chest, and when he did, the duke smiled at the sigh of some of the most precious treasures in the land.
"Thank you, this will do nicely." He said. The head soldier bowed. "I suppose now you wish to bring the Lady Marianna home?"
When the soldier nodded, the duke addressed his captain.
"Go and fetch her for us, would you?" The captain bowed and left through the side door.
The duke motioned for his men to move the chest closer, and he smiled when he saw the precious stones and money up close. They were the most vibrant colors.
The captain came running back through the side door, startling the duke. He was accompanied by two more guards.
"My lord, the girl is gone!" The captain declared.
"WHAT?" The duke screamed, standing. "How?"
"The window was open, my lord, she must have climbed out."
"There was a guard posted below!" The duke said. "How did she get past him?"
"I've sent men down to investigate, my lord, we'll find her."
The duke seethed. "Your men are useless. You are useless! I ordered you to keep her in her room, was that so difficult? She was not meant to leave, you imbecile!"
"Is there a problem, duke?" The soldier asked. The duke closed his eyes and silently cursed his outburst. He had forgotten about the soldier.
"No." He said, trying to regain his composure. "Not at all."
"I would certainly hope not." The soldier said. "I will send my best men to scour the countryside for her, if you could send yours to investigate the castle grounds. Do we have any idea how long she's been gone?"
"No," The captain said, looking at the duke cautiously. "But she couldn't have been gone long."
"Then I suggest we get right on that." The soldier said, and turned to his own men. "The Princess Marianna must be found safe, go gather the troops, I will be with you shortly."
The soldiers bowed and then rushed from the room. The head soldier turned back to the duke.
"Is there any where in the town she could hide? Any nooks or crannies she could fit? If she believes her life is in danger, she will do her best to keep hidden, and the Princess is highly resourceful. It would also be good to make sure your men are not armed, at least not visibly, to make them seem more approachable."
The duke seethed silently. How dare this, this commoner tell him what to do, yet he smiled and nodded to his captain. "Do as he says."
The captain bowed after a moments hesitation. "At once, my lord."
"If you do not mind, duke, I will rejoin my men." The soldier bowed and walked out, leaving the duke alone in the throne room, his fury growing with each heartbeat.
* * *
They dragged her until they were as far out of sight as they could manage. "I think here's a good place." Cayle said, letting to of Deanna's arm, while Cadman did the same.
Deanna fell onto the ground, hard.
"Ow!" She said, then raised herself up on her arms and turned over so that she was sitting on the ground instead of being face first on it. "Isn't it bad enough my ankle is sprained? You have to try and break bones?"
"Sorry," They both said, but she could tell they were hiding grins.
"Morons." She muttered and flinched as her ankle started to throb. She unwound the makeshift bandage around her ankle and groaned inwardly when she saw it was beginning to turn purple. "Terrific."
"That doesn't look so good." Cadman said and she gave him a look.
"Wow, really? I hadn't noticed, I am so glad you are here Captain Obvious." She said. "It would have been fine if you hadn't been dragging me over all those rocks; it took all of my willpower not to scream."
"Not my fault." Cadman said.
"No, it's both of your faults." She said. "Get me some water."
"Well, aren't you full of demands," Cadman said. "Cayle I can see why you like her."
Cayle punched him on the arm, hard. But Cadman was still wearing the guards' armor and just smiled.
"For my ankle, you buffoon." Deanna said. "If I wrap it in cool water it should help the swelling, now off you pop."
He rolled his eyes but walked over to the Kings' camp nonetheless.