"Swords?" I thought the moment I heard those sounds, and the next moment, realization hit me. "War?"
Two groups of soldiers arrayed against each other, one side clad in red while the other group was in blue. I felt like my soul had been teleported in the middle of a cruel slaughter. The soldiers were charging at each other, fighting mercilessly with their swords.
The bright moonlight allowed me to see everything clearly, but before I could get the gist of the situation, a soldier marched towards me as if he intended to kill me.
Can he even see me? I panicked and shut my eyes on reflex.
Far away, standing by the window of my bedchamber, my real body gripped my dress, prepared to feel the pain of the sword slash with my eyes shut tightly. But before that sword could reach me, another blade whizzed by.
Hearing the scream of the soldier, I opened my eyes, only to see one tall man in a perfectly fitted long black robe standing in front of me. As his broad and robust back faced me, all I could see was my savior's sword piercing the soldier's stomach, thrust deep enough the blade went all the way through his back.
The tall man retrieved the sword from the soldier's body and was ready to kill more. Pushing the dead soldier aside, he grabbed the soldier's sword and continued his slaughter, swinging both blades with precision.
Observing him from behind, I could guess he was not an ordinary man. His perfectly fitted black robe was embroidered with gold threads in what appeared to be a royal crest, and his long hair was tied in a pony with a gold accessory at the upper back of his head.
My sight followed the left side of his neck, which was visible whenever he turned slightly to one side.
"A tattoo...Is it a snake?"
I couldn't see it clearly. He was so fast that it was difficult to see even the side of his face.
My vision followed his every movement, the quick footsteps, and the skilled swordsmanship as his knotted hair kept dancing in front of my eyes. I felt like he was protecting me by killing the soldiers surrounding me and found myself curious to know more about him.
"No, it's impossible." I narrowed my eyes at him. "How can he protect me when I'm not present here physically, and he can't even see me?"
"I want to see him...ahh...why can't he turn around for once?" I tried my best, but there was no use. Although I did all I could to follow him, my sight allowed only his back view.
Though he couldn't see me, feeling helpless, I blurted out, "Who are you?"
As if he heard me, he stopped slaughtering and froze in his place.
It startled me. "Did he just hear me?"
He was about to turn...
"My lady, it's time to sleep."
The images in front of me dispelled the moment someone spoke, and I couldn't see the man anymore. Feeling disappointed, I turned to look at the middle-aged, grey-haired woman who entered my bedchamber and disturbed my scrying.
"In some time, Martha," I replied and continued staying by the window.
I focused my inner vision again towards the faraway mountain range as the bright moonlight shone on me. As the night breeze played with my long red-brown hair, my delicate veil, which covered the lower half of my face, waved playfully along with the wind while my long blue dress danced in harmony.
To my dismay, I couldn't see the scene of the war again, and I sighed in disappointment.
I am Seren, the infamous daughter of a witch, the ugliest creature that no one wished to see. Although I am a princess, no one wanted to acknowledge me because I have the blood of an unholy creature flowing through my veins.
I lived in the tower at the farthest end of the Royal Palace of Abetha, away from the main palace and its pomp and pageantry. I was placed up high, away from the crowd, in a place where no one was allowed to enter because a witch's daughter lived here.
As if being a witch's daughter was not enough, I was also cursed. But if one was to look at it in another way, my curses were more like a boon than a bane as those who try to harm me would have misfortune befall upon them.
"My lady, the bed is ready," Martha called out as she stepped towards me.
"Hmm," I nodded lightly.
Martha stood beside me at the window of my room. "May I ask what my lady is looking at?"
"If I tell, will you choose to ignore it like always?" I countered.
"What is it?" Martha insisted, trying to follow where my sight was fixed at.
"There," I pointed towards the faraway mountain range, "Across those mountains, some men are fighting."
Martha didn't comment on it. "I understand. It's time to sleep."
I wasn't surprised by her reaction and sighed, "Good night, Martha."
Without saying more, I stepped towards the bed while Martha kept looking at the mountain range.
Martha grunted disapprovingly, closed the window, and pulled the curtains.
I knew Martha was aware I told the truth, but she chose to ignore me as usual. Whenever I said anything strange, she always advised me to stay away from it.
Having spent seventeen years of my life in this tower—a place where no one comes, not even servants—only my nanny, Martha, had stayed here with me. She was my everything: a sister, a mother, a friend. She is family.
Martha taught me to control my emotions and protected me from any harm. She never wished me to cry, or scream, or get angry, as it would end in catastrophe because of my cursed life.
"Tomorrow is the day we go out in the palace," Martha informed before adding more wood to the fireplace.
"Is it the King's birthday or the Queen's or someone more annoying?" I asked.
As far as my memory serves me, the King's birthday was the last time when I went out and mingled amongst the people in the palace. It's the same every year. I was only allowed to go out on special occasions, which was only because I was officially required.
Ahh, I almost forgot, even though it's for the namesake, I was a royalty of the Kingdom of Abetha too, and they had to let me out.
"No, this time it's the Second Princess' engagement," Martha replied.
"Won't it be ominous for the witch's daughter to be there?" I asked sarcastically. "What if I burn the bride and groom?"
Martha looked at me. "Instead, I wish my lady to smile, so the people will see pretty flowers blooming everywhere."
"I can't be the only one who is unfortunate," I said and lay down on the bed.
Since I stopped smiling, it was rare to see flowers blooming within the kingdom, and they had to bring them from other places. Well, there was no reason to smile and feel happy, so it's not my fault.
Moreover, this one was my favorite among all the curses that I had, as I could make them devoid of the beauty of flowers blooming. I knew being cursed was not good as it's the sole reason my life turned into this, but I had long learned to live with it.
Martha came closer to my bed and fixed my quilt. "Everything will be better one day."
"There is no such day."
After I closed my eyes, I heard Martha go to her room which was just beside mine.
Though she was a nanny, she was privileged to be in the room next to me. It was her reward for looking after the witch's daughter.
As I fell asleep, my head was filled with curious thoughts about the man I saw in my earlier scrying, at the same time, not willing to wake up the next day and face all those annoying people in the palace.