Sorry about the rottenness of this chapter. The writing style is completely horridly off, and it sucks like crap. And it's really short, and it took FOREVER to get out. Sorry bout that.

But on the upper hand, I did come up with a better plot idea!

Enjoy and review!

-----------------

CHAPTER FOUR

Faces of Familiarity

These nightmares that plague my dreams, my thoughts, my actions--this curse, when will it end? I wake once more. The inevitable. The unavoidable. Even my first thought traces back to the castle days. Is it possible to forget? Is it possible to ignore?

I am trying. I trek onward, continuously, tirelessly, determined to walk away from the memories that haunt me so. Perhaps Aquien shall aid in soothing my thoughts. My swirling mind suddenly freezes. Aquien, Aquien, Aquien. The name repeats itself endlessly in my mind, mockingly, singing in a daunting tone.

I let out a groan of frustration. Everything I see, everything I think of somehow reflects back to the palace life. "Sina," I mutter to myself, "think of happier times." And I try--I really do try. Only it never seems to work.

I try and concentrate on anything--a twig, a branch, a tree, a blade of grass. Nothing works.

Perhaps, I think, perhaps if I allow myself to remember, it will leave by itself...

It is worth a try. After all, nothing else appears to be working.

My ears catch the sound of the drifting breeze before it suddenly stops. Halts. Freezes into a silence with a yearning.

Silence...

----------------------------------

Silence had followed the statement immediately. It was awkward, confused, but hungry at the same time. The silence was suffocating, even, choking my throat, preventing any sound from escaping it. My mind reveled in shock. Adrian? The princess's brother? The ends didn't seem to match up in my mind. But yet there was that undeniable curiosity hanging in the air, the wanting, the desire of knowing more information.

The same seemed to be true for Anisa. The silence weighed heavily and contradictingly in the air and slowly she choked out, "Mother... what?" Hastily, her frenzy was made noticable. "Father? Mother? What--what do you mean? My--my brother? I--I thought--"

I could imagine her horrified, shocked appearance on the pretty face of hers, looking bewilderedly from parent to parent. I imagined both parents' tired, weary look as they glanced at each other.

"Yes, Anisa," the queen said, attempting a soothing manner that I predicted would not work very well. One could not simply be soothed into an epidemic such as this. "He is not here for your hand. He is here for a reunion with his family. We... we thought this the best way..."

"The best way?" the princess said, followed by a thunk. I assumed that she had stood up and, in her rage, knocked over her chair. "The best way would be to tell me when I was younger! Not--not by disguising it as such--"

I heard the king's tired sigh. "Anisa, dear, understand--you didn't need to struggle to act, you simply responded. We can't have you slip up with other people around--it would defeat the purpose of disguising the ordeal as a marriage proposal, a--"

"Oh, yeah, that's another thing," she said angrily. "What do we do? We aren't to be wed, but he is to come live with us? Why is this all kept a secret? Why can't you all just say, we have a son and he is returning to us? Wh--"

"It would look bad to have a son--a crown prince being raised by another countr--"

"Crown prince? Crown prince?" I could vividly imagine the princess's horrified, aghast face, her mouth agape. "I thought I was heir to the throne! It's what you've told me my whole life! 'When you take the throne from us,' 'when we leave the throne to you, Anisa,'--were all those lies? The lot of them? I cannot believe you! The very idea--"

"You will be heir to the throne," the queen said, her tone starting to border impatience. "The neighboring country does not have an heir, and they have raised Adrian. So, he will remain their heir, and you will remain ours. But the two kingdoms will not be joined."

Silence followed the queen's speech and I myself was a bit confused. Two separate countries ruled by the same family? Ontop of that, brother and sister? How would it all remain a secret?

"You see, dear," the king said in his tired voice, "offering our firstborn son was not only a necessity for us, due to the circumstances, but it also garaunteed us an alliance with the country. Adrian, though a part of our family, is not a part of our kingdom. Adrian will continue to rule in his own country, Shaquare. Do you understand?"

I began to understand the reasoning. They were now allies, and Aigesworth would have heavy influence over Shaquare when Adrian discovered his true family ties. But he was not brought up to raise Aigesworth, just as Anisa was brought up to inherit the throne. So he would remain as a prince of Aigesworth, as it was planned... Inwardly, she hoped that Adrian would not allow the family ties to bend him. What would the royal family care more about--Aigesworth's prosperity, or their son that they had not had contact with since birth? I was quite certain that they would opt for the former.

Perhaps this was my chance to redeem my family, by supporting Shaquare despite Aigesworth's influences. It just so happened that I had entered the palace as a political mess was happening. Was it coincidence?

But yet, there was still one thing...

"What had caused you to give Adrian away? What was that epidemic?"

The princess had voiced my question aloud. I heard another sigh being emitted, but from who, I did not know. I was certain that the queen and king were glancing at each other nervously as I waited for their response, my fingers itching with a desire to know. My curiosity was peaked.

With dismay and horror, I heard footsteps approaching. Hastily, I ducked away into another corridor and hid, watching the well-dressed man with a feathered hat knock on the door hiding the royal family sharply. It was quickly opened and I slipped away from the scene, knowing that the conversation would not be pursued with the man in their presence.

But that didn't stop my imagination from wandering.

Why was he given away? They had referred to the incident so dramatically, as something that could not possibly be avoided. Perhaps it had been a part of a deal that they had made, to sacrafice their first born son for something of some sorts and gave their son away and faked his death? The idea seemed unlikely, but so did the truth of what she had discovered that day...

A new thought flickered across my mind. Did Adrian know? Chances, he did not--or he was a far better actor than I had ever imagined him to be. Should I tell him first? Prevent him from falling under Aigesworth's pressure? Keep him loyal to his country--our country--alone? Or should I let him discover the circumstances the intended way and pretend I never heard the conversation?

The latter would likely be a better choice, I finally decided with a sigh. He would not likely believe me, anyways, being a hideous creature. And besides, what was I to say? "I had dropped my eaves and I was picking them up when I chanced to hear a conversation..."

Rounding a corner, I slammed into something. No; I slammed into nothing and nobody. Somebody slammed into me, sending me sprawling on the floor, hard against my spine. Hoisting myself up, I found an oustretched hand willing to help me up. Accepting it, I looked up to see who it belonged to.

Adrian.

Figured he'd be the one to send me down.

"I'm sorry," he quickly apologized, seeming somewhat troubled.

I brushed away his apology; he shouldn't have said it if he didn't mean it. Manners were always lost on me. "Pray tell, why were you running?"

At this, he sighed. "To this, I cannot quite say," he said at last. "I--I was leaving my room, when I noticed the hallways seemed somewhat familiar. I don't know how, you know? I don't, but... it has a certain unknown familiarity of it, similar to when you see someone and think you've met them before, but they find you a stranger... And I just followed my feet, and..." His voice trailed off as he grew more aggravated. He wasn't quite literate enough to express his thoughts.

Regardless, I understood, perhaps to a further extent. Was this implying he had some memory of his past in this castle? How old was he when he had been moved? The opening was brilliant. Perfect, even. I could tell him what I had overheard only moments earlier, but I held back the information. He didn't deserve it now, and he would find out in due time.

"So you came here," I said instead, determined to keep my knowledge a secret. "Where were you headed?"

"That's just it!" he cried aloud. "I don't know! My feet recognized the path, not my mind!"

I attempted a look of apathy and disinterest, but the topic had caught my attention. "Of course." I paused awkwardly. "Well, why not continue your way to see if it reminds you of anything?"

He hesitated, looking down the corridor, an uncertain expression painted upon his face. Perhaps he felt guilty for intruding in a castle where he was a guest, or perhaps he didn't know if he wanted to understand this curiosity or not. Slowly, he exhaled. "Yes, perhaps that is best," he determined, letting his feet guide him.

I followed. Noticing this, he stopped. "You're coming?"

"For your own sanity," I replied. He didn't understand what I meant, and neither did I. An answer was what I needed at the moment, and it was the best I could conjure in the limited time frame.

He let this comment pass and allowed me to follow. The portraits watched us as we passed with their unnerving eyes, though the pig seemed not to notice. Our footsteps fell in harmony against the cold stone floor that I had been thrown upon only moments before.

A turn. Adrian was picking up his pace now, almost in a run. His eyes were glazed over and his brows furrowed. I lifted my skirts to keep up with him; perhaps this was like legendary fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, with a prince instead of a princess, following some unbeknownst force dazedly.

Another turn. Hurry down that horribly long corridor in a fashion that made my heels hurt. I was never athletic; not with my health condition. My panting grew worse with every step and my right leg was beginning to ache, but I forced myself to push away the pain for the sake of satisfying curiosity.

The prick never noticed, nor did he care to slow down. In fact, he sped up with every passing corridor, until reaching that running speed that had knocked me over. My temple was starting to throb and a cramp was stretching out in my stomach and chest. I began to fall behind, try as I might to keep up. However, just as I began to lose him completely, he stopped, staring at a large wooden door.

He did not speak, nor did he move. As I fell in step beside him, I asked, "Is this it?"

He did not respond. Slowly, he reached out and ran his fingers against the roughly sanded door before pushing it open. It swung lightly in response to his touch, revealing a loud and noisy room with people bustling about. Pans and pots lined each table and to the corner was a fire.

Adrian entered the kitchen, and I followed close behind, still regaining my composure and breath. Hardly anybody noticed, being busy with something or another. "Addy, you got them carrots?" a man called out, his back facing us.

"This... is it?" I muttered under my breath to him. A kitchen. He'd made his way to the kitchen. Figured, him being the pig he was. "You followed your feet to a kitchen. Are you sure it wasn't your stomach? Or maybe your nose?" I continued mockingly. "Well, then? Does it remind you of anything? Perhaps those pastries your old cook used to make before you fired him?"

He didn't respond. In fact, he seemed disbelieving himself, looking around.

"Hurry up with them carrots, girl. We ain't got the whole day. Quit your yammering at the door and get 'em to me," the man shouted out again.

"I... I don't understand," he said. "It--it does look a bit familiar, I suppose, but..."

Well, he must have been quite the pig when he was young and residing in the Aigesworth castle as well to have memorized his way to the kitchen at so young an age. I scoffed slightly.

The man turned around toward us, a chef's knife in one hand, celery sticks in the other. "Addy, if you ain't gonna..." He stopped when he met our faces, freezing solid for a moment. As if on que, a few other people stopped in motion and turned to look at us.

So many faces, so many eyes. Fixed on us. I had been used to such attention before; people staring at my hideous face, my distorted body. However, it had hardly ever felt as awkward as it did now.

Hurriedly, the man set down the objects he held in hand, bowing down. "Prince Adrian," he said, flustered. "I--I'm sorry about the misunderstanding-- I thought you were--I apologize, my prince, profusely--If you should want anything to eat, I mean--"

Others began to bow down in mumbled acknowledgement. The majority, having never met with royalty before, tripped over themselves. "It's fine," Adrian said. "I apologize for intruding admist such an urgent hour." Quickly, he turned around, right at the moment the door had swung open, revealing a petite girl with carrots in hand. Pushing past her, he disappeared behind the door, muttering a faint apology.

I stood in shock for a moment before bowing out and following his lead.

But I couldn't forget about the way that girl with the carrots was staring at me. There was some kind of shocked expression lined within, as if she wanted to speak but couldn't find her voice or the words. The expression almost resembled one of... recognition?

I pushed the thought away. I was probably overthinking it; she was only staring at me out of horror of my appearance.

But even though I swear I've never seen that face before, it seemed that she did.

She recognized me.

----------

Just wondering. For a romance, would rather it be between Aquien and Sina or Adrian and Sina? I'm leaning toward Aquien and Sina, though Adrian and Sina is extremely probable, considering the next few plot twists. XD