Here’s part 4 of “The Promise”. it’s quite long, and full of action 🙂 enjoy!
Rose shifted her body slightly to get more comfortable. She smiled in her sleep as her hand slowly ran across a silk coverlet. Wait a moment, Rose thought, starting to wake up, Silk? Her eyes snapped open and she sat up, realizing in shock that she was in a bed, covered in warm blankets, a feather pillow beneath her head. She still wore the same ratted dress, but her hair had been loosened from its braid and her dark locks spilled down her back, though quite tangled and dirty. Panicked, she threw back the blankets and scrambled from the bed. She was in some strange room that she had never seen, and it certainly was no common chamber room. The bed, for one, was covered in thick fabrics and silks, and all around there was an adornment of some high quality sort, such as silver and brass candlesticks on the oak table and a deep green chest decorated with bronze plating. Rose shuttered, glancing here and there at the odd items, her mind buzzing with questions that she could hardly think straight. She felt strangely cold and vulnerable, and she wrapped her arms about herself, shaking with fear.
Rose gasped and spun around at the voice. Someone entered the room, and when she saw who it was she unconsciously stepped back a few paces. It was him, and he looked at her with a surprising expression of relief. Cautiously, he took a step forward.
“Rose, I’m so glad to see you,” he said, oddly smiling. Rose shook her head rapidly, stepping further back.
“No, go away,” she muttered. He stopped, his smile fading. He shook his head too, but much slower and emphasizing.
“No, Rose, it’s alright. Don’t you know me?”
Of course she knew him. And she always thought he was dead, or he would have taken her away from the cruel plantation. But Rose shook her head again, too angry and hurt to give him the satisfaction.
“No, I don’t know you. You’ve left me, perhaps to die. I don’t know you,” she answered strongly, standing a bit straighter.
“No, Rose, you don’t understand…,” he began, walking towards her again. She shuffled along the wall, intending to get closer to the door.
“I don’t know you…you promised…,” she continued muttering. To her own ears she was beginning to sound hysterical. He nodded quickly, a look of sadness on his face.
“Yes, I promised. Please, listen,” he followed her as she scooted closer to the door, a few feet away now.
“No…it’s been too long…and you’re not dead…”
“No, I’m not. And I know it’s been a long time, but you must hear me.”
“You said you’d look until you were dead. Nine years is long…”
“Yes, yes very long. Much too long.”
“You’ve left me.”
“No, Rose, I-,”
“I don’t know you.”
“Rose, please, just listen-,”
Rose was inches from the door. His protesting just fueled her pain. She couldn’t stand it anymore.
“You’re a stranger, you are! I don’t know you!”
Suddenly Rose’s foot was lost beneath her. Her back collided with the door momentarily before she fell backward, shrieking, down a flight of steps. She couldn’t stop herself as her whole body was bashed against hard wood, her head, her knees, her legs, her arms, everything. She crashed through another unclosed door and tumbled onto dusty earth, her unfortunate ride finally at a halt. From all over Rose felt immediate aches and pains. Coughing and gasping for breath she lifted her head to see where she was, and what she saw made her heart stop. All around were people, guards and servants and hands and nobles, staring at her in surprise. She was in the courtyard of the main house. And she was on the ground, filthy and bruised. And, glancing up, she realized that she had fallen out of what was one of the highest guest chambers. A guest chamber. And to her horror, he came bursting out of it, blurting her name, his eyes on her for one moment before he paused, looked around and noticing for himself the spectators. Rose dropped her head, feeling utterly helpless.
“That slave was in Sir Edmond’s chambers!” a guard from somewhere announced. The Frenzy began, and Rose went stiff with utter fear.
“The little wench!” another guard cursed. Rose yelped as she was hauled off the ground and roughly grasped about the arms and legs. She began to cry as they carried her towards the stables. Edmond, the man of all her troubles, was too late to understand what was going on.
“No!” he shouted as the men carried Rose off like a sack. He ran at them, but was blocked by other guards. Desperately he fought against them, but they were much stronger than he was.
“Stop! Leave her alone! Rose!”
Rose didn’t want to hear his voice. Solemnly she watched as they brought her into the stables. They took her to the very back of the building and threw her against the wall. She slammed into it and slumped to the ground, too in pain to make a cry. The guards all left but one, who drew his sword and stared down at Rose with a deathly smirk on his face. He raised the blade high over his head, the point aimed at Rose’s chest. Sadness gripped Rose at that moment more than anything. She thought of her sister, and hoped that, if she was still alive, she would not mourn too much for Rose. She might not even ever find out about her death. It didn’t matter anymore to Rose, though. With a shaky breath she prepared herself, her eyes ever fixed on the glinting steel. It finally moved. But, just as it was coming down, it jerked abruptly to the left, and fell with a ringing clang right beside Rose. She looked at it with breathless shock, and then looked up to discover the reason for the miss. The guard was struggling against someone who had knocked him off his feet from behind. The attacker was about his size, and he easily made him stumble and crash into a stall door, causing a loud boom that upset the horses. Rose watched in horror when she realized that the attacker was Edmond, his fist coming back one moment and then impacting with the guard’s cheek. The guard lost his grip on Edmond’s arms when he had attempted to throw him off and fell momentarily limp. Edmond wasted no time. He spotted an already saddled horse, tied to a pole near the stable entrance, waiting for its rider. Rose was in such pain she didn’t bother to protest when Edmond abruptly picked her up, carried her over to the horse, and set her in the saddle. Rose subconsciously gripped the horse’s mane to keep from falling. As Edmond hurried to untie the reins Rose glanced up, her heart beginning to pound harder when she saw at least a dozen guards running towards them while others came around, glancing into the stables, confused and curious expressions on their faces. Edmond seemed to ignore them as he flung the reins over the horse’s neck and leapt up into the saddle behind Rose. The horse emitted a flustered whinny as it burst out of the stables and past stunned and shouting guards. They tried to grab at them as they passed by, and Rose nearly fell off when one caught the hem of her billowing skirt. Luckily the fabric was so flimsy and thin that it tore clean off. Rose made sure to keep her eyes open as they raced through the courtyard, swiftly approaching the main gate that lay wide open. At the sight of it her breath caught in her throat. Her only thought became of freedom, and unconsciously she smiled against the rushing wind, anticipating the moment that the walls would be behind her. The moment was so quick and sudden, she was thrust with the sight of open grassy hills so fast, that she physically fell back. That was when she remembered Edmond, who wrapped an arm around her torso as he held the reins with the other hand, keeping her steady on the saddle. Suddenly, Rose’s anger melted away. Surely, the fact that he had just saved her life, helped her escape, and the way he held her now, couldn’t possibly mean that he had forgotten about her. He couldn’t have forgotten his promise. The wind that lifted Rose’s hair and blew away the dirt and weariness and memory of that place was proof.