The Long Road Ahead
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The Princess falls in love with the guard boy.
"Shanaquil..." he said, moving closer to her under the warm covers of his bed. She lifted her head from its downward gaze to meet the smokey-blue eyes of her love, Rook. Not saying a word, he gently wiped a few strands of her brown-blonde hair out of her face. Leaning down he kissed her gently, her lips soft. As he kissed her, she put her hands on his cheeks, turning the light kiss into one of passion. He made lover to her for the first time.
Rook held her close, his arms around her waist, he gave her a loving and protective kiss on the forehead as she fell asleep.
The next morning Shanaquil awoke to find Rook gone. Wrapping the sheet around her small and delicate frame, she walked out of his room, searching for him. "Rook?"
"I'm in here." he called back from the kitchen.
As she walked into the kitchen, Rook greeted her with a loving kiss. He stepped back looking at her, in what only could be described as awe. Shanaquil shyly brushed her hair out of her face, "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"You...you look absolutely stunning. There is some kind of glow about you."
He took her by the hand and sat her in a large cushy chair, also giving her one of his tunics to wear for the time being. He made up a small breakfast for the two of them and they sat blissfully in each other's company. Shanaquil turned toward him, giving him a loving kiss and softly biting his lower lip.
"Why must you do that?" he said with a quiver in his voice.
"Because it does that to you." she smiled.
Rook sat back in the chair, relaxed, watching Shanaquil as she removed his shirt and pants from his body. She kissed him from his lips to his neck, down to his chest. When she sat up, Rook slipped the tunic off over her head, admiring her naked form. He ran his hands over her chest and stomach, around her hips, holding her hands and gently playing with her finger tips.
"You're beautiful." He whispered.
Shanaquil stood over him, positioning herself so she could sit down on him. Rook held her hands as she stood over him, and watched as she slowly brought herself down onto him. Her grip on his hands suddenly tightened.
"Does it still hurt?" he asked the concern apparent in his voice.
Shanaquil nodded, keeping silent.
"It's ok. Just go slow, if you need to, stop. I know it's only our second time, you aren't use to it yet."
Rook gave her hands a reassuring squeeze and a loving smile as he looked at her.
Taking a deep breathe, she continued to lower herself down onto him. Her grip becoming increasingly tighter the further she went down. Coming down on to his remaining length, Shanaquil let out a painful whimper. Rook put his arms around her, “It'll stop, I promise."
"I know." Shanaquil responded softly.
He gave her a kiss on the cheek, “Whenever you're ready, sweetheart."
After a few minutes, Shanaquil began to rock her hips back and forth. Taking Rook by surprise a bit, he let out a moan. His hands moved down to hear hips where he slowly began to work her hips. As he did this, Shanaquil moaned softly in his ear.
With a loud quivering breathe, he came into Shanaquil, "I love you." he confessed.
"I love you too." She rested her head on his chest.
After sitting in silence in each other's arms, Shanaquil slowly got up and walked backed to his bedroom. Picking up her white dress, she slipped it back on and put on her cloak over it.
"I'm afraid I need to get back" she said, walking back up to the now shirtless Rook.
He nodded, giving her a kiss, "I know."
"Visit me tonight?" she asked hopefully.
Rook smiled, "As soon as I can."
With one last kiss, Shanaquil hurried back to the castle.
Coming in through the garden to make her absence less known, she met her father, the king.
"Shanaquil, my darling where have you been all morning, Ci said you were out quite early?"
"I was...I couldn't sleep well so I went out for an early morning walk in the garden."
"Ah, yes. Well, do not forget you have a meeting with Madame Silenna today, very shortly in fact." he said, looking out the window at the sun. "Let me escort you there now."
Shanaquil and her father mounted their horses and rode down to the city's center.
Upon arriving at Madame Silenna 's, they dismounted their horses. "I shall wait for you here, Shanaquil."
Shanaquil entered the small stone building of the fortune teller, Madame Silenna.
"Princess, princess, come closer dear, I can already sense something of utmost important in your future." Madame Silenna grabbed her hand as she came across the room. She stared at Shanaquil's palm then looked up at her, "I hope you and the Prince are marrying soon."
"You're with child."
"But the Prince and I..." Shanquil's voice trailed off.
"It isn't the prince's child?" Silenna asked with surprise.
Shanaquil shook her head, "No...It's Rooks."
"It's Rooks baby.'
"You mean...the guard boy?"
Shanaquil nodded. "Please don't say anything, Silenna." She said pleadingly.
"My lips are sealed. But, you need to something and soon. If you don't, you will be in a great deal of trouble and so will this Rook." Madame Silenna warned
Shanaquil slowly walked out of the Madame's place.
"Shanaquil, are you alright? Did you get good advice for when you are queen?"
"Yes, yes." She responded, mounting her horse.
Upon reaching the castle gate, there was Rook, standing guard. They caught each other's gaze and silently stood looking at each other longingly.
"Open the gate, boy!" a superior guard shouted, clubbing him with a stick. Shanaquil looked away, hurt, hearing Rook cry out in pain.
The hurt was even deeper now. Besides loving Rook with all her heart, she was now carrying his child.
"Stop it!" she shouted, "Never do that again or I'll have you beat!"
Rook leaned against the open gate in pain, looking at Shanaquil. Before riding through the gate, she looked at him, wanting so much to go hold him in her arms. He gave her a nod, as if knowing exactly what she was thinking and also knowing that she couldn't do it.
She gave her horse a hard kick and into the castle, seeking the solace of her warm bed and later, Rook's loving arms.
Locking her door behind her, Shanaquil threw herself on to her bed, hiding under the plethora of covers. She fell fast asleep, feeling emotionally exhausted. She awoke hours later to the darkness outside and a shuffling out on her balcony. Shanaquil quietly got up and walked over to the curtain which separated the balcony and her bedroom.
"Rook?" she asked, pushing back the curtain.
"Who, my dear?" asked the prince, turning from the edge of the balcony.
"Oh...no one." she said, acting like she was shaking off sleep. "How did you get in?"
"Ci unlocked the door for me." he explained, walking over and giving her a kiss on the cheek, which Shanaquil shied away from.
"We need to talk about our wedding." the prince insisted.
"I really do not feel like talking about it now. We will talk tomorrow."
"But Princess," the prince protested, irritated, "We only have a few days, there are decisions that need to be made now."
"Tomorrow!" Shanaquil demanded.
The prince turned and walked out, the door slammed behind him.
Shanaquil remained on the balcony, looking out into the dead of night.
Not long after, Rook climbed up over the balcony, "Shanaquil?" She turned around and with a smile, ran into his arms. He hugged her tightly. Taking a deep breathe she took a step back, "I have something important to tell you."
"You're father knows about us and he's thrilled?" Rook asked jokingly.
With a small smile, she shook her head, "No, no...it could be a problem fairly shortly." She stood in silence.
Rook rubbed her arms softly, "What is it?"
"Well, you know that I went to see Madame Silenna today, right?"
He nodded, "What did she say?"
"She said that I'm...I'm pregnant."
"P...pregnant?" Rook asked with disbelief.
Shanaquil turned and walked away, leaving Rook still in disbelief. Realizing she was walking away, he grabbed her hand, looking at her with a worried expression.
"I'm never going to see my baby, am I?"
Shanaquil began to sink to her knees, in tears. Holding her up, Rook hugged her tight.
"This means I have to marry the Prince." she said, sobbing.
"No, no, you don't. You're mine, you're carrying my child, and you're going to marry me." Rook stated, trying to calm her but only made her cry harder.
Picking her up, he brought her over to her bed. Laying her down, he lay next to her. He ran his fingers through her hair and wiped the tears off her cheeks. She laid next to him, motionless, eyes closed. Rook placed his hand on her stomach, rubbing lightly.
"I can't believe it. I'm going to a father." he said after a small stretch of silence.
"But we can't be together. I'm going to have to marry the Prince to cover this up, to protect you and the baby." Shanaquil sniffed.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if anyone finds out that I'm pregnant, and especially if it's not the Prince's baby, they'll take the baby from me and you too." she explained.
"What if you married me first? Once you're married you can't be married again, not legally." Rook smiled a little.
"Here, stand up." he took her hand, pulling her up out of bed. He knelt down on one knee, "If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it right."
"It doesn't matter how you do it." she laughed a little.
"Will you marry me, Shanaquil?" he smiled.
"Yes! Yes, I will." she threw her arms around him.
"A ring...you need a ring." Rook looked around. Looking at his uniform, he pulled off one of the gold rings that adorned it, slipping it on to Shanaquil's finger.
"Tomorrow night, we'll get married." he kissed her lovingly. "We'll be together, we'll be a family. I'm not letting you go without a fight."
Shanaquil put her arms around him tightly; he shied away in pain, "I'm sorry..."
"Its ok." he said, mustering up a smile.
Shanaquil unbuttoned his shirt and as she walked behind him, she slid it off. "Oh, Rook..." she lightly ran her fingers over his bruises, which were a deep purple, border on black. He pulled away from her touch, as light as it was, it hurt him immensely.
"Please, I'll be ok." he insisted, picking up his shirt and putting it back on.
There was a long silence. Shanaquil looked at him, "I'm sorry."
She shrugged, "I just am."
"Don't be. You haven't done anything. If anyone should be sorry, it's me. I got you into this position, I'm causing you the heartache." he said with a sigh.
"But it's the best heartache I've ever had." Shanaquil said with a smile. "I'm having your baby, that it the best thing I could ask for."
"Really." she kissed him softly on the lips.
She took Rook by the hand and pulled him into bed with her, lying in his arms, his hands placed protectively on her stomach. Softly, Rook kissed her neck as she fell asleep in his arms.
The following night, Rook met Shanaquil out in the garden. Together, they snuck through the garden as they made their way to the main road that lead to the far side of the kingdom. On their way through the streets and alley ways, they passed many little shops and stands, occasionally stopping to look.
As Shanaquil admired a stall of elegant dresses, Rook stood back as he searched in his pocket for something, eventually producing a small wooden box. As Shanaquil turned around he stepped up close to her, “I have something for you.”
She smiled, “Oh really? What might that be?”
“Let me see your hand,” he said, reaching for it. Shanaquil held out her hand and Rook removed the ring he had given her the previous night.
“What are you—“she began to say.
“Shh. This should be much more suitable as an engagement ring,” presenting Shanaquil with the box open, revealing a small gold with diamond inlayed in it.
“Oh Rook, it's beautiful, but you really shouldn't have. The other ring was perfectly fine.” She stood admiring it in the setting suns light.
“I thought this would be much better for you. It was also my mother's, she would want you to have it. I wanted to give it to you when the time was right, but that time came much sooner than I expected and I was also not prepared.” He explained with a slight smile.
Shanaquil smiled and threw her arms around him, kissing him deeply in the middle of the street.
“Before we go, there is someone I'd like you to meet.” Rook said, taking her hand and lead her down a branching street to a row of small cottages. Walking to the end of the row, Rook knocked on the door and slowly pushed it open. “Father?” Rook called out.
An older man stood up from the fire place where he was cooking in a small pot, “Rook, Rook, my dead boy!” He walked over to the door, giving his son a loving hug, “How've you been? Are they treating you well?”
“Good enough, father, good enough.” Rook nodded. “I'm afraid I don't have much time to visit, but there is someone I wanted you to meet.” He said, gesturing for Shanaquil to come over from the door way where she had been standing.
“My, my, she is lovely Rook, although, she does look familiar.” His father said, studying her closely.
“Father, this is Princess Shanaquil, Shana, my father, James.” He introduced them.
James stepped back, seemingly stunned, “This…she is why you wanted your mother's ring?!” he exclaimed. He could not believe what he was hearing; his son was set to marry the Princess.
“Yes, she is why I wanted mother's ring.” Rook said, putting his arm around Shanaquil. “We're actually getting married tonight.”
“Tonight?” he asked. Rook nodded. “No, no, absolutely not, you can't marry her, she belongs to the Prince. Do you know what he'll do to you if he finds out?”
“Father, you don't understand. She's…she's pregnant and I love her. The Prince doesn't love her, he only wants her so he can have more land to control.”
“Pregnant? Rook, I always knew you were reckless, but not like this. Not only have you endangered your life terribly, but you have ruined hers!” James shouted.
“James,” Shanaquil interjected. “We know that things aren't going to be easy. I love your son very much and I couldn't be happier to be having his child. He has always been there for me, protected me when no one else would. The Prince could never do those things for me, nor does he want to. I know you want to see your son happy, so, if anything, will you please support him in this?”
James looked at her with a sigh, “Alright, I hope you both know what you're getting into.”
Rook smiled, “Thank you, father. One more thing…will you be our witness?”
James nodded, “Yes, I will Rook.”
The three of them made their way to the small church at the edge of the kingdom.
"Priest?" Rook asked, opening the large wooden door into a dimly lit church, with only several white candles lighting the area.
A small man, fairly up in his years appeared from the front of the church, "Yes? Yes, how can I help you two?"
"We would like to get married, father." Rook explained, with a slight hesitation.
"Ah, and when would you like to do this?" he questioned.
"Now." Rook replied with an eager smile.
"Now? We usually do not marriages that quickly." The pastor said, looking over Rook and Shanaquil.
"Father, this is...urgent." Shanaquil begged
"Alright, well, come up here. Is this gentleman your witness?" he gestured towards the altar.
The two of them nodded, walking up to the altar.
Following the priest up to the altar, they stopped and faced each other, waiting for the priest to begin. The priest adjusted his spectacles and brushed through the pages of his tome; he looked up from the tome and took a step back looking startled as suddenly realizing who was standing in front of him.
"Oh, dear, Princess, I had no idea it was you I am marrying this evening." he looked over at Rook, "This young man can't be the prince. What's going on?"
"Priest, this young man is a guard at the castle. He is also the father of my unborn child." she said softly.
"Princess, I cannot do what you ask. You're already set to marry the prince, I cannot marry you twice." the priest said, shaking his head and closing his tome.
"Please priest. I do not want to be with the Prince, Rook is my true love. If I am already married to him, then I will never truly be the Prince's. If I marry Rook tonight, there will be a better chance of him seeing his child once it is born and me staying out of a horrible marriage." her voice on the verge of breaking.
Nodding, the priest opened his tome again and began to perform the ceremony.
Upon leaving the church, James stopped the two of them, “I wish the two of you best of luck and Miss,” he said, turning his full attention to Shanaquil, “I expect to hear when my grandchild is born.”
With a smile, she nodded, “You will. I promise.”
In a short time after, they were back in Rook's home in his bedroom. Rook held her closely in his arms and kissed her. With his arms around her, she reached behind her and untied the ribbon of her dress, loosening it just enough to be able to slide it off at will.
“Are you still nervous?” he asked, feeling her becoming slightly tense as he untied her dress.
She nodded, “Yes, a little.”
“Don't be.” He said, kissing her neck softly and sliding her dress off, letting it fall to the floor.
He slowly laid her down on his bed after taking off his tunic and pants. Leaning over her, she looked over his bruised and battered body, “Rook…” she said softly, he fingers running over bruises.
“Don't worry about them, they don't hurt anymore.” He took a hold of her hand and kissing her again. As he did this, he slowly and gently, pushed himself inside her. Shanaquil let out a soft moan in her his, which drove him absolutely crazy.
He made love to her a little faster and harder, the grip she had his shoulder tightened, “Rook…” she said, unable to finished her sentence before letting out a small whimper of pain.
“Sorry.” He said, apologizing quickly. “I forgot myself for a moment.”
“It's ok,” She replied with a small smile and with that, Rook began again. Being very careful to keep him-self in check, no matter what Shanaquil did.
With a loud moan, Rook cam into her and rested his head on her shoulder as he did so. After a deep breath and sigh, he lay on her for a moment catching his breath. “I love you, Shanaquil. I love you so much.” He whispered.
“I love you too.” She said. Her voice was somewhat teary.
“Are you ok?” he asked with concern, resituating himself next to her.
She nodded as Rook wiped away the tears from her face.
Blowing out the lone candle on the table next to his bed, he pulled Shanaquil close to him, his arms around her. She quickly fell asleep in his arms.
It was only a few short days later that it came for her to marry the Prince. Rook and her both knew what would happen after the wedding. The Prince would take Shanaquil back to her room, where what could only be described as heart-wrenching for Rook, would take place. Seeing as the only idea behind the marriage was for Shanaquil to provide heirs to the Prince.
In front of a large gathering of both royalty and commoner, Shanaquil married the Prince. Rook stood at the end of the long isle way looking at Shanaquil in her lovely fitted white wedding dress. It sat snuggly around her chest with a corset like fit, small white gems flowed down the front and wrapped around her stomach crossing to her opposite hip and fanning out down the remaining length of the dress. She also had two white gardenias woven into her hair. Shanaquil was absolutely stunning.
As soon as the ceremony ended, a large procession pushed out the doors. Rook watched as the Prince escorted Shanaquil back to her room, their eyes connecting momentarily, Rook mouthing “I love you.”
"Rook!" shouted the gruff voice; Rook jumped slightly startled, a high ranking official stomped over to him. "You are to stand watch outside the Princess' chambers tonight, no one goes in or out except the Prince."
Rook nodded and began to walk towards Shanaquil's room. As he walked he thought to himself, "I can't do this. I can't sit outside the doors and let him do that to her." He came to the doors which were already shut and locked. Inside he could hear movement, of whom or what he didn't know. For quite sometime there was silence, no a sound or word was heard through the entire castle. Then, as Rook was about to let his mind be at ease, he could he Shanaquil's voice.
"No, please don't!" she sounded afraid and scared. Then there was struggling and he could hear Shanaquil sobbing, "Please stop."
"Shut up!" the Prince demanded, Shanaquil still sobbing.
Rook leaned against the wall, his face in his hands, feeling tortured by what he was hearing. He couldn't do anything, he couldn't tell anyone, and he couldn't come to her rescue. All he could do was wait and act as if nothing was wrong.
About an hour had passed when one of the doors finally opened. The prince stepped out, seemingly happy with himself. He looked over Rook waiting for him to bow. Looking back Rook took the bow and watched the Prince stride off down the hall, leaving the door open slightly. Rook leaned back against the wall, looking through the cracked door. He could see Shanaquil's body lying on the bed, motionless, covered in the sheets. Once the prince was out of sight, Rook headed inside, closing the door and locking it behind him, there was no reaction. He slowly walked over to her, "Shana..." he said, his voice low and weak.
She looked at him, her faced tear streaked, eyes red, "I'm sorry, I had to." Her voice was tearful as she spoke.
"I know. I heard everything." Rook confessed.
Shanaquil began to cry, "Oh my god..." Rook put his arms around her. "How? Why?" she sobbed.
"I was chosen for guard duty outside your room." Rook sighed.
“Rook, I...I…,” she sobbed.
“Come on, stand up. We'll go out on the balcony for a little air.” he said softly as he helped her to her feet, the sheet of the bed falling off her naked body. “Here...” he said, pulling his cloak off this shoulder. He wrapped it around her and held her hand and waist as they walked out onto the balcony.
Shanaquil stood silently, doing whatever she could to avoid eye contact with Rook. Her back to him and hood pulled up on her head. Rook kept his arms around her, trying to comfort her and let her know he was there, that he loved her anyway.
“Shanaquil...” he waited for a response of some kind, any kind, just an acknowledgment that she heard him.
“Shanaquil...I love you.” he continued.
She turned and faced him, she looked sad and hurt, “I love you too, Rook.” she managed to whisper. Rook lightly put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her lips gently, his thumbs rubbing her cheeks. Shanaquil held onto his wrists lightly, kissing him back.
As several more months had passed, ones that tortured Rook to no end and brought Shanaquil endless heartache. But once it was noticed that her stomach was starting to grow the next few months became a wonderful paradise. The prince was gone from the castle, to his own kingdom. It was the perfect time for Rook and Shanaquil to spend whatever time they could together, and for Rook to dote over her like he had been wanting to.
“Let me look at you.” Rook said, as they stood in a cool pool of water at the base of a waterfall, not far from the castle. He stood looking at her and her swollen belly, marveling at how gorgeous she looked. She was nearly eight and half months pregnant and gorgeous in Rook's eyes. Walking up to her, he put his hands on her stomach feeling the little child kicking from within. Kneeling down into the water, he kissed her stomach and rested his head against it. Shanaquil softly rubbed the back of Rook's head, running her fingers through his short black hair. Giving her stomach one more kiss, Rook stood up, “Do you know?”
“Do I know what?” Shanaquil asked with a small smile, knowing exactly what he was asking about.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” Rook asked anxiously.
“You're going to have a beautiful baby boy.” Shanaquil smiled.
“That's wonderful, Shana.” He said, smiling ear to ear.
Even though they where blissfully happy in the thoughts of their new family, they had been followed by the Prince. He had suspected that something had been going on between the two, as if Shanaquil was around, Rook was not far away. Seeing what he was now, confirmed his suspicions. The child the Shanaquil was carrying was not his, just a guardsmen child. He watched them climb out of the pool and dress, “I”ll remedy this situation.” he growled to himself.
Instead of heading back to Shanaquil's room, they quietly and snuck through the alleyways and shadows of the newly arriving evening to Rook's small stone house. He helped Shanaquil into the large chair; she sat looking very tired, “Are you alright?” Rook asked.
“Yes, I'm fine. Just tired.” she smiled. Rook walked over and draped a blanket over her.
“Staying with me tonight?” he asked hopefully.
“I would love to...but, if they find me gone...” she began to explain.
“Its ok, I understand,” sighing with disappointment. Rook wanted nothing more at this point than to lay in bed with his beloved wife. It was something that he had been deprived of for months, for reasons other than Shanaquil's pregnancy.
Keeping the blanket with her, Shanaquil got up with a little trouble from her swollen stomach. She walked over to the door, Rook following close behind her. Opening the door for her, he kissed her gently, “You'll let me know when the baby is born, right,” his hand moving down to her stomach.
“Of course, I'll send Ci to come get you. I want you there before he's born,” smiling softly. She could tell Rook was anxious and worried. It had become increasingly noticeable the closer it got to the arrival of their child.
“Ci knows?” he asked, cocking his head.
“Yes, only she and Madame Silenna know.” She said reassuringly that no one else knew. With one last hug and kiss, she walked back to the castle. Immediately, she headed to her room. Not long after she returned, the Prince came to visit her.
“How have you been doing, Princess?” he asked, casually at first.
“I have been dong just fine...without you.” she said, her feisty attitude showing through.
“Princess, I must ask you, who is that guard who is always accompanying everywhere you go?” the tone in voice showing he knew there was something going on.
“Oh, he is my personal guard, for when you are not around. My father insisted on it, especially while I am pregnant.” she smiled, trying to come across as innocently as possible.
“I see.” His brow rose. “I must be off. I shall return when my child is born.”
Shanaquil stood silently watching him walk out of the room. Once he left, she laid down on her bed, closing her eyes, she fell fast asleep.
Early that morning she awoke to a sharp pain in her stomach. She had gone into labor. Slowly and painfully she got up out of bed, making her way to the door. Upon opening, she yelled “Ci, I need you!”
A short, plump lady came running down the hall, “What is it, dear?” her soft voice asked.
“Ci, Ci, I'm in labor. I need you...” she stopped, letting pain pass, “...I need you to go get Rook.”
“Oh, oh, alright dear, go back to your room, I'll be back shortly.” she scurried off down the hall.
Shanaquil went back into her room and lay on the bed, the pain become more intense and much more frequent. She lay in wait for what seemed like hours. Finally, Ci came in through the doors of her room, “I'm here dear. I'm here.” She carried over a bowl of warm water and many, many blankets.
“Is he coming, Ci?” Shanaquil asked tiredly.
“Yes, dear, he'll be here as soon as he can.” Ci replied, laying a blanket over Shanaquil and laying a cool cloth on her head.
Shanaquil lay back on the pillows, anxiously waiting for Rook, time was growing short and she wanted him there before the baby arrived. Not long after, Rook climbed up over the balcony of her room. Stumbling a bit, “Ci, lock the door!” he demanded. Blood ran down from his shoulder down the front of his shirt. Ci got up quickly and locked the door.
“Oh my god. Rook, what happened to you?” Shanaquil asked, reaching for him.
“The prince...” he winces in pain, “He knows about the baby.”
“Did he do this to you?” she asked, gently pulling his shirt back from the large gash on his chest.
“Yes, but don't worry about me. How are you doing?” he changed the subject quickly.
“Um, fine. Fine as I can be.” she sighed, feeling more pain coming through.
“Princess, I need you to push.” Ci interrupted.
Rook took hold of Shanaquil's hand as she began to push. She squeezed his hand hard, crying out with pain. “You're doing great, Shana.” he said, using the cool cloth on her forehead all around her face and neck, trying to keep her cool. She smiled at him, continuing to push.
Suddenly, there was a banging at the door. “Open this door!” It was the head of the guards, “By order of the King, open this door!” the voice demanded again.
Shanaquil looked at Rook, as if asking him what to do. He stayed close by her side, not moving. Ci continued to help Shanaquil deliver the baby. The pounding on the door continued, becoming louder and more violent.
“If this door is not opened, we will break it down!” the voice warned, continuing to bang on the door.
Shanaquil lay, staring at the door. She was exhausted and afraid. Looking back at Rook she silently mouthed, “I love you.” Rook leaned down and kiss her, “I love you too.” he said.
“Alright, Princess, one last push.” Ci said over the banging of the door and voices shouting outside.
Letting out a loud scream of pain, she gave one final push. For a brief moment, there was silence. A deafening silence. The banging and voices from outside the door had stopped, and there was no other noise that could be heard. Then, there was the crying of the newborn baby.
Ci wrapped up the crying baby in one of blankets and handed him to Shanaquil, “Beautiful baby boy.” she smiled.
Shanaquil held her newborn baby, Rook sitting close beside her. “He's beautiful. He looks just like his daddy.” she smiled. This statement couldn't have been more true to the fact; their baby boy had his father's hair and eyes, also lips, only getting his nose from his mother.
The door swung open violently. There stood the head of the guard, her father, and the prince.
“Seize him!” shouted the prince.
“No! No!” shouted Shanaquil with what little strength she had left. She watched as two guards, directed by the head officer, tackle Rook to the ground. The bleeding of his wound, which had stopped during the birth, had torn open again. Pulled back up on to his feet, Rook had been chained and shackled. He couldn't stand on his own from the immense pain he was in. The two guards on either side held him up by his arms.
“Get the child.” the prince gestured.
“Why?” one of the guards questioned.
“Because, it is not my child, it has no place in this castle or with my wife.” the prince growled.
As the guard approached Shanaquil, Rook lurched forward attempting to escape to his wife and child's aid, “Don't touch him!” he shouted. Shanaquil mustered up her strength and got out of bed, the baby in her arms. The guard backed her against a wall, “I'm sorry, Princess.” he said quietly, holding out his arms for the baby.
“Shanaquil, don't. Please don't.” Rook begged.
Looking at Rook, she kept a firm grip on their baby, “No, never.”
The guard looked back at the Prince, “Kill him.”
“Stop.” The king said in a solemn, but strong voice. “I cannot allow this kind of cruelty, especially not towards my daughter. Rook, you shall be punished, Shanaquil you and I will need to have a serious conversation about what you have done. Prince, I believe it would be best if you left for now. We'll have a conference in a few days. And let him out of those chains for heavens sake.” With a gesture, the king, prince and guards left the room, leaving Shanaquil with her newborn babe, Rook, and Ci.
The guards removed the chains from Rooks wrists and ankles; he dropped to the floor, weak and in pain. Ci went to Rook's side, helping him up and into a near by chair, where he sat bleeding. She pulled over the portion of unused water to Rook's side, gently wiping off the excess blood from his clothes and around the wound, which she then softly dabbed. Taking the remaining clean cloth, Ci applied a steady pressure to the open wound to stop the bleeding. Once she stopped the bleeding, she pulled a curtain from its rod and shredded it, making what would hopefully be a suitable bandage. Once she wrapped him up, she helped him over to the bed where Shanaquil joined him.
Shanaquil sat down next to him, a look of concern on her face. She kissed him, “Oh baby, I'm so sorry.” she said as she wiped his hair out of his eyes.
“Don't be sorry.” he kissed her back gently. He looked down at his son in Shanaquil's arms.
“Would you like to hold him?” Shanaquil said with a smile, gently putting the baby into Rook's arms. He smiled as he held his newborn son. “Shanaquil, he's perfect.”
“What do you want to name him?” She rested her head on his shoulder.
“I...I haven't really given it a thought,” he confessed, “how about...Ciaran.”
“Ciaran.” Shanaquil repeated. She obviously enjoyed the sound of the name, nodding in approval. “That's a perfect name.”
Rook spent the rest of the night with his newborn son and Shanaquil. He sat by their side until they had fallen asleep, then he too fell fast asleep on the sofa next to Shanaquil's bed.
It was quiet that evening, only the occasional sounds of the baby cooing could be heard.
As Rook and Shanaquil slept, two guards crept into the room. They quietly approached Rook, careful not to wake him. Quickly, they bound and gagged him. Wide awake now, his calls for help muffled by the gag as he was carried out of the room, struggling.
Once out of the room, Rook was able to look up at his captors, they were the two who he thought were his friends, Leary and Logan.
“Sorry, Rook. We don't have a choice.” Leary said, as he hit Rook hard on the back of the head, knocking him out cold.
When Rook awoke, he was alone in the dark of the dungeon, only the light coming through the small and sparsely laid out barred-windows. His hands were stilled tied tightly behind his back as he lay on the cold, damp floor of stone. With a great deal of pain, Rook managed to get to his feet, his clothes wet and bloodstained. His wound had been torn open again, but it appeared there had been some attempt at re-bandaging it.
The door swung open with a loud clang which surprised Rook. He leaned against the back wall of the cell, his face obscured by the shadows.
“Well, well, look who's awake,” an all too familiar and unwanted voice said from the doorway. Upon a closer inspection, Rook confirmed to himself who this individual was, it was the Prince.
The Prince walked down the short set of steps to the cell, he was followed by Leary and Logan.
“Open the door.” The prince gestured and Logan stepped forward with the keys, unlocking the door. The prince stepped inside, Leary and Logan staying just outside.
“Now you listen to me and listen closely.” The prince sneered, his face and close as possible to Rook's. “That little whelp of yours will be…disposed of by tonight, as will you. The princess is my wife and she will learn that today.”
“Do not call him that!” Rook shouted, lunging towards the prince. Immediately, the prince slugged him in the stomach, causing Rook to double over in even more pain.
The Prince stood over him as he lay on the ground, “You see what happens when you interfere in places you should not, and especially being the lowly soldier you are.” Again the Prince gave Rook a hard kick in the side. Rook curled up on the floor, trying to catch his breath which had been knocked out of him by the previously delivered blow.
“By this time tomorrow that little whelp of yours will no longer be in this castle, and you will live out your days here…as my personal punching bag.” The Prince growled, looking down at Rook. With one more kick, this time to Rook's head, the Prince walked out.
“Make sure he lives, I'd like him around for awhile.” He said to the two guards, before slamming the main dungeon door.
The Prince left, Leary turned inside the cell where Rook still lay on the ground in pain. “C'mon, get up.” He said, kneeling down to help Rook up on to the bench in the back of the cell. With a painful moan, Rook got up with help and sat on the bench. Logan removed the binding from Rook's wrists, which had been cutting into his skin the whole time leaving a bloody mess dripping down his back.
“Wha…what are you doing?” Rook asked, speaking through the pain.
“We're going to help you. What else do you expect?” Logan replied.
“After letting him beat the shit out of me I expected you to let me die.” Rook stated, with some distain.
Looking somewhat offended, Leary stood up from the crouched position he had taken next to Rook, “We've been friends for a long time, Rook. We can't let this happen; you've got a baby and a girl who loves you, the Princess, of all girls for that matter.” He said with a bit of a chuckle.
Rook gave a weak smile, now seeing that their intentions were good.
“Let's get you cleaned up and out of here.” Leary said, grabbing some water out of a near by barrel.
Once Rook's wound were cleaned and bandaged, he sat up on the bench as straight as he could, “Logan, Leary, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?” Logan asked.
“I need you two to go up to Shanaquil's room and get my son. I need you to take him to my father's. He'll be safe there. Leave me a key to the cell and the dungeon door, I'll sneak out later and take Shanaquil and myself out of here. Please explain that to her, and if she doesn't believe you, give her this,” Rook said, handing Logan his tags from around his neck.
Leary and Logan nodded in understanding and Leary handed off the spare key to Rook.
Leary and Logan left Rook in the dungeon and made their way to the Princess's chamber. It was early morning, but the Princess was up feeding her son. Leary quietly knocked on the door, “Princess?”
“Rook?” Shanaquil whispered back as the door cracked open.
“No, Princess. Unfortunately he is detained.” Leary said, taking a bow. “However, with his instruction, we have been told to take your son to his father's house for safety. Rook will come for you later.” He explained.
Shanaquil stood for a moment, not sure if she should believe this, “How do I know you are telling the truth?” she asked, holding Ciaran closer to her.
“He said to give you these,” Logan said, stepping forward while holding out the tags. She stepped forward and gently took them in her hand.
“Ok.” She said, carefully handing Ciaran to Logan.
“Don't worry, Princess. We'll take good care of him.” Logan said, taking the small baby into his arms. “Rook will be along for you as soon as he can.”
Shanaquil nodded as Logan and Leary turned to leave.
Meanwhile, Rook had already been making his way up to the Princess' chamber. He slowing crept around the large halls of the palace, unknowingly to him, leaving a trail of blood behind him.
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