Read the first part of the series here.
Prince Charming watched from his window as a lone horse without a rider cantered towards the castle. He knew at once that it was his sister’s. But where was Eliza? His heart leapt into his mouth. He ran out of the Kingdom to meet the horse without so much as pausing to put his shoes on.
He hoped that it had been some horrible trick, some strange flare of sunlight against the window that made it seem as if the horse’s saddle was empty. As the horse cantered up to the gates his heart sank from his mouth to his stomach. No Eliza. He felt sick. The horse stopped in front of him and he rested a hand on his nose.
“Where is she, Percy?” he asked the horse. “What’s happened to Eliza?”
“Phillip!” his wife called from the door. She had been wandering the castle since dawn. After being cursed to a century of sleep on her 18th birthday, it was now something that did not come easily to her. She would lie awake for hours on end, worried that if she did close her eyes she would never open them again. Or that when she did everyone she knew would have grown old and died without her, leaving her alone in an unfamiliar world.
“Aurora…” Phillip turned to her, but the rest of the words were lost. His heart ached, his chest had tightened it and now his ribs were crushing it.
“What’s going on?” she asked. “Is Eliza back?”
Phillip could only shake his head and then stare helplessly back at the empty saddle. Aurora took his arm and gently led him back inside the castle. She motioned to a nearby guard. “Alert the King,” she instructed. “Princess Eliza is missing.”
The guard’s eyes widened. And then he nodded. Eliza was the most skilled swordsman in the Kingdom. It would take an army to overpower the Princess.
Aurora took her husband into the castle. He whispered his missing sister’s name over and over again- like an incantation, like a chant that might somehow bring her back. He left Aurora to wait for his father and climbed the stairs to Eliza’s room.
Her bed was unmade. There was a plate covered in crumbs sitting on the window sill. It felt wrong to stand here, like he was intruding. Eliza had taken the only map to the mysterious kingdom she had been looking for. He knew it was located at the bottom of the deepest valley between the highest hills, but it’s exact whereabouts were unknown. She left behind partial sketches of the map, of what she thought the kingdom might be and written down every clue she could find in legends and folklore. He gathered up everything that might lead them to her.
When he came back downstairs to the Great Hall his father the King was sitting at the head of a round table. The room was filled with every guard and knight in the kingdom. The room fell silent as Phillip entered. He spread every drawing and every scrap of paper with Eliza’s handwriting out on the table for them all to see. It felt almost like a betrayal of her privacy.
“My sister is missing,” he said, feeling a surge of strength and rage rise within him. “We will find her. And we will burn the kingdom that has taken her to the ground.”