[Prompt from http://daily-writing.blogspot.com/ . Look there! More Alchemic Maiden for my older followers. Sorry if this gives things away!]
Chevalier was beginning to come to by the time I gathered his spare clothing from Syn’s discarded pack and ran back to the tree he was flung into.
Seeing the clothing in my arms, his began to shift back into his human form. I politely looked away until I was certain he was covered.
“Where’s Syn?” He asked, straightening his shirtfront.
“The guards took him. How are you feeling?”
His long russet hair was sticking up at the top and there appeared to be a large knot in the strands near his right ear, but he gave me the same large and obnoxious grin that he did when he first revealed himself to me.
“I’ve been beat up worse than this in a more vulnerable form and lived to tell the tale. What are you doing?”
I had begun to pick through the remnants of our camp. We would only be able to take the utmost necessities with us.
“I’m going to trade myself for Syn. Dominique wants me so he can secure the throne, right? He’ll let Syn go if I give myself to him.” I looked longingly at the portrait of my parents in my hand. I had rested it near the fire the night before, looking at their smiling faces in the flickering light until I was able to slip of into slumber. Even though it broke the small remaining slivers of my heart, I laid the portrait on the ground and went through my meticulous sorting. There! My dagger. The hilt fit perfectly into my palm. “But the good Duke Loic won’t see that I’m not the same ice princess everyone at court thought I was. Not anymore.”
I stashed the dagger into my stocking.
“Vice Duke Loic, you mean,” Chevalier said near my shoulder. “And your plan might not work.”
I stared up at him, searching his face for any telltale signs of humor. I knew Orane trained him with the ability to hide not only his true self, but also everything that crossed his mind. But I would have liked to think that after the time we spent together I knew enough of him to know when he was joking.
He was not joking now.
“What do you mean? I thought—“
“Everyone thought the young Duke had wondered off and been killed one way or another, Syn made sure no one would go looking for him. He thought he would have to become someone entirely different in order to find the answers to the Alchemic Maiden myth. Dominique will not trade Syn for you, Belia. Crown Princess or not, Dominique has no claim to the throne until he is actually the Duke of Loic. And until he kills his older brother, Cyprien Lewsyn Evrard, or the man you know as Syn, Dominique is still nothing but a Vice Duke with no power, money, or claim.”