The valleys in the kingdom of Dumnonia were peaceful. The grass was thick and soft as a feather. There were hundreds of beautiful flowers scattered throughout the vast landscape. This place was also very far away from the castle, which was why Belle spent as much time as she could there. It was her eighteenth birthday and she knew that her father planned to sell her away now that she was of marrying age. She knew that he had made a deal long ago that she would be given to the king of Scotland. She had heard the stories. That he had no heart. That he was pure evil that he was cruel and had a tendency to use women for his pleasure. No wonder her father picked him as her betrothed. She would get as good of a beating there as she did here.
Belle was a simple being. She didn't wear extravagant ball gowns or expensive jewelry. In fact she wasn't even a princess anymore. Her father had taken that away from her, he claimed she was unfit to take his place as ruler of their kingdom after he passed and so he remarried and after his new wife had gifted him with a son he made his decision final and took her crown from her.
She didn't believe she was good at being a princess anyway, but it still hurt. However, she found her peasant shirts and rider pants and boots much more comfortable than those irritating dresses anyway. She kept her hair in a ponytail and she often had dirt smeared on her face.
Belle was exceptionally bright for her age. Before her mother passed, she had taught Belle to read and that soon became her favorite activity. After her mother died though, her father began treating her cruelly. He sent her off to the poorest of schools where she knew more than her teachers did, so she soon became a teacher herself.
Belle had heard the guards coming down into the valley. They were about as quiet as her father's knights after winning a battle. They expected her to be a defenseless little girl who would come with them willingly without saying a single word, and she was ready to prove them wrong.
They were coming up behind her and before they said a word she swiped her leg knocking the first man down. She stood quickly dodging the second man's motions to grab her and she was able to knee him him in the groin. Then she ran. She ran as fast as her legs would carry her. Unfortunately she didn't see the rock sticking out of the ground and before she knew it she was falling and then.. blackness.
Her head felt heavy. She tried to open her eyes but it hurt too much so she just let out pained groan. "It's alright princess," Her head shot up at the unfamiliar vie and she quickly took in her surroundings. A carriage. A carriage with two strange men. The men she had taken out. What happened? The pain in her head reminded her of that, she fell. So this was their doing, well they would pay for this. She wasn't going to Scotland, because she refused to marry that vile man her father sold her to. "You took quite the spill, lucky you're alright really. Don't worry you can rest a little while longer, we only have about one mile 'til we reach the gates." He smiled at her and it made her sick. He'd probably heard the rumors. He was trying to use her like everyone else. Well she wasn't having any of it.
"Wipe that smirk off your face, before I smack it off myself. You aren't getting anything from me you sick bastard." To prove her point she spent the rest of the journey tying up her traveling companions. When the carriage came to a stop she took the opportunity to jump out and her heart broke when she realized she was too late. They were here, she was on the castle grounds. The two men in the carriage were easy enough to handle but even her pride wasn't so thick for her to think she could take out the dozens of guards she was sure were there.
She felt everyone's eyes on her as an old woman, a maid she guessed, came up to her and extended a hand to bring her inside. She accepted it because what choice did she have? She was already trapped. She only hoped this man wasn't so cruel that he would demand her attentions on the first night, but she knew that hoping wouldn't get her anywhere. So she replaced her fear with defiance and bravery, even though she was everything but brave.
"My king, the carriage has arrived. Your lady is waiting for you in the foyer." Carl was a humble man. A good servant and the only friend the king had. The only one who knew he wasn't the monster everyone claimed him to be.
"What's with the formality old friend? You know you can speak freely with me." The king smirked at him, and then returned his attention to the book in his hands.
"Sorry Robert, but your betrothed has arrived and is waiting for you. Aren't you at least a tad bit curious as to what she looks like?"
"I could care less about looks. I don't even wish to be married. The only reason I agreed to this union was because it was my father's dying wish was for me to be married and king Maurice proposed a deal a simply couldn't resist." He smiled devilishly and placed his book down on his desk. He stood and adjusted himself. He was wearing black leather pants with a gold silk shirt that hung loosely against his chest. He ran a hand through his hair and followed Carl down to meet his princess.
She definitely was not what he expected. She was a tiny thing, he guessed about ninety pounds at most, her hair was pulled back and she was wearing pants of all things. He thought her rather odd just from first glance. He never was one to bite his tongue and so he let his opinion be known to her. "You look more like a ten year old boy rather than an eighteen year old princess."
"And you look like a thirty-eight year old man wearing pants made for a ten year old boy." He didn't expect a retort, nor one that seemed to flow so easily out of her adorable rosebud mouth. She had a fire inside of her that the other women he'd bedded did not. He decided then that he liked her oddness. But where were his men?
Just as he was about to inquire about them, they stumbled through the hall, still bound in the rope Belle had put them in. "What in God's name happened to the two of you?"
"It was the princess, sir, she got the better of us." the man chuckled at just how unbelievable the whole scenario really was.
Robert looked to Belle, "These are good men! Why would you do this?" He wanted to ask how did she do it, seeing as how David and Graham were two of his strongest men and she was.. well she was a girl, and a tiny one at that.
"They came and took me from my home. They tried to sneak up behind me and then they just threw me into their carriage unconscious. I was protecting myself." She huffed and crossed her arms over chest.
Robert drew his sword to cut his men loose and was beyond surprised when he saw another blade strike against his own. It was Belle, she was fighting him and she was winning. She moved like a goddess, like the cold steel was another part of her, like an extension of her arm. He was so mesmerized by her that he hadn't even noticed that she'd flipped his sword and was now holding it in her other hand. His jaw was nearly touching the floor. Who was this woman?
"How did you do that?" he asked breathlessly. "Why would you do that?" he asked with a bit more anger in his voice.
Belle's sword was still directed toward him as she answered. "You drew your sword on me, the first thing I learned from watching my father's army was that if someone draws their sword on you, you draw yours or you die." She answered without stammer. Her voice was strong, like her spirit. He could tell she was special. Why would her father want to be rid of her?
"Swordplay usually isn't something a princess is required to learn." He grinned at her before reaching for his sword which he used to cut his men free. She was watching him, and when she realized his intention she felt a little silly for assuming that he was going to attack her.
"Well I'm not a princess. I haven't been for sometime now. So I guess that would make matters different." She placed her sword back on the table where she had found it and nervously played with the sleeves of her shirt.
"Yes well.. I expect you to at least dress like one while you're here, Mrs. Lucas will help you to dress and I expect you for dinner in an hour." He waved Mrs. Lucas over and muttered something about the blue dress and Belle's eyes filled with anger.
"What's wrong with the way I dress?!" She practically screamed at him.
He laughed. "I thought we already went over this? You look like a boy. And as my future wife I.." she cut him off.
"I'm not marrying you! And if you can't accept me for what I am then I don't plan on dining with you either." She turned on her heel and politely asked Mrs. Lucas to show her to her room. Mrs. Lucas looked to Robert, silently asking which room Belle would have and his answer shocked the both of them.
"She'll be staying with me, in my bed." He said it with a smile so evil that made Belle believe every vicious rumor she'd ever heard about the man. He had no heart.